Mon
Apr 22 2013 12:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: There is no Joyce in Bloodville

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Body, Scoobies

“The Body,” written and directed by Joss Whedon

We’ve all known this was coming, folks, and we’ve talked about it quite a bit. You’ve debated whether it’s all Dawn’s fault. We’ve talked about this life change being necessary both for the overall story arc and for Buffy’s growth as a (super) human being.

So how do our beloved Sunnydale Scoobs deal with Joyce quietly passing away while everyone’s busy doing their own thing?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Body, Anya

The Girlfriends: Anya and Tara are on opposite ends of the experience curve here. The childlike quality of Anya is ascendant here, without its usual bratty overtones, because she hasn’t been through loss or grief in at least a millennium, and has no clue what to do or how to express her feelings. She has known Joyce awhile, and she’s in pieces, just as the others are. Her attempts to find out what to do and how to deal, her breakdown when nobody has any good answers and her later attempt to comfort Buffy are all very affecting.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Body, Tara

Tara, on the other hand, is the only member of the gang (besides Giles, one assumes) to have lost a mom, and she knows what Anya doesn’t—there’s not much anybody can do besides be there. She’s mostly silent, and when she’s needed she offers up, comforting Willow when she’s freaking out over sweaters, being the one to point out that they’re going to have to take over patrol, and giving Buffy the benefit of her experience and the offer of an ear if she needs it. The scene between the two of them is marvellous; looking at Amber Benson, I completely believe that all of this has ripped the scab off her own loss. And the image of the two young women sitting at a distance from each other, isolated by grief, is a powerful one.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Body, Tara, Willow

The BFFs: What struck me most during Willow’s meltdown over the missing blue sweater is how much it reminds me of her interior monologue during “Earshot.” That need to be there for Buffy and to get “it” right, that sense she has that being the Slayer’s bestie is like an ongoing final exam in a course with no textbook—one she’s failing—seems very strong. She’s so upset; it’s hard to watch. Whether she’s weeping, backsliding into the comfortable old habit of snarking at Anya, rallying to support Xander the first time his anger gets the better of him, or letting Tara help her pull herself together, we are right there with her.

She’s also a pretty good version of Willow in this moment. Which is to say, there’s no talk of reaching for magic to fix things.

As for Xander, there’s not much he can do. He pitches in, he looks for someone to blame, and generally feels every bit as terrible as Willow. Except for that one moment where rage takes over and he puts his hand through the apartment wall, he’s very much at a loss.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Body, Xander, Anya, Willow

Boy Two: Riley is M.I.A. and apparently on the rebound.

Boy One: Angel is coming soon to a guest appearance near you.

Boy Now: Spike, as Elizabeth Bear sometimes says, is “Sir Not Appearing in this Episode.” Given the events of the previous two, this makes perfect sense. Presumably he’s off with Warren, field-testing the Buffybot. And nobody on-screen is missing him but, perhaps, some of us in the audience might be. Because I don’t know how you’d fit it in tastefully, or at all—and I’m not saying anything in this episode is broke or needs fixing—but I still can find it in my heart to wish we had a spoonful of hilarious sugary B-Story to make this particular dose of woe go down.

Also not appearing: any music at all. Many have talked about how effective this was. Man, yeah. It really heightens the tension.

Giles: Joyce and Rupert had such an interesting relationship, didn’t they? For two years, all she knew was he was just that daffy librarian who seemed to be around a lot—around Buffy a lot—at odd moments. Then Joyce found out about the slaying, and she spent a good number of months blaming Giles for Buffy’s departure, and maybe for having usurped a unspecified chunk of her parental role.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Body, Giles

There were times when they worked together to ensure that Buffy’s slaying and home life were balanced, and times when they fought for her limited resources, and then there was magic candy, with bonus crime and sex! (Twice! On the hood of a you know what!) Lately, Giles has had an oddly physical presence in the Summers home, meeting Buffy there for Slayer/Watcher confabs and even keysitting Dawn.

Joyce and Giles were indisputably friends, and losing the only other grown-up in the mix brings a much heavier load onto our favorite Watcher from the moment he arrives at the Summers home to find Buffy dazed with loss and Joyce on the floor. More than any of the young Scoobies, he sets his feelings aside, supporting Buffy by taking on the peculiar workload that comes with a death: making calls, getting people from place to place, and offering to handle the paperwork.

Joss: Claimed at least once that Joyce was the lovable harmless character death he felt worst about.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Body, Dawn

The Key: Dawn was already having a crappy day, for various mean girl cute boy reasons, before Buffy showed up with the horrifying news. At the hospital, she’s furious and in denial, and—in what might have been a funny moment in any other episode—she locks herself in the morgue with a newly rising vampire.

(Also, I feel I should note she’s pretty good at drawing negative space. I’d give her an A on that project. Not that I am an art teacher. Of course, I am just enough of a marshmallow that I might give a student an A on the day’s homework just for having lost a parent before lunch.)

Joyce: is pretty calm, even low-affect, throughout.

Okay, sorry. I must make light where I can this week! Kristine Sutherland is briefly delightful in the flashback scene right after the credits, where Buffy recalls the last big Scooby Thanksgiving—the food, the booze, the family togetherness and burnt pie. It is a lovely farewell for an actress who carried both the happy mother-daughter scenes and the early authority figure you love to hate moments with warmth and conviction.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Body, Joyce

Then we’re right back where Buffy started, staring into her blank eyes and sucking wind.

Ah, Buffy, poor Buffy! everyone is amazing in “The Body,” but Sarah Michelle Gellar is carrying so much of this episode. She finds Joyce, and we see it sink in that she’s dead. Even as she’s calling for help and trying to convince herself she can CPR life back into a cold body, she already knows. She’s far too corpsewise to doubt that her mother is gone.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Body, Joyce

The nightmare of losing a parent suddenly is compounded by everything that follows. Being left alone by the paramedics to wait for the coroner is bad enough. Having to break the news to Dawn is even worse. In one terrible moment she is no longer just responsible for that part of Dawn’s well-being that is her safety bound to the fate of the world. Suddenly she also must be everything to Dawn the Human: parent-figure, financial support, the whole shebang.

It’s impossible not to hurt for anyone who’s going through something so sheerly awful. And that’s even before work intrudes, before it turns out there’s a vampire parked two gurneys over from Mom and his favorite meal is mystic sibling.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Body, Dawn, Joyce

The episode ends right after the vampire beheading: in the skirmish, Joyce’s sheet has been pulled away and Dawn, who can see at last that this terrible thing is really happening, is reaching out to touch the body.

You: How was it this time? How was it the first time? Did you get spoiled?

Next time: Willow says no to raising the dead. On this day.


A.M. Dellamonica has tons of fiction up here on Tor.com! Her ‘baby werewolf has two mommies,’ story, “The Cage,” made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2010. There’s also “Among the Silvering Herd,” the first of a series of stories called The Gales.

Now you can read her novelette, “Wild Things,” that ties into the world of her award winning novel Indigo Springs and its sequel, Blue Magic.

50 comments
build6
1. build6
I cannot watch this episode

I actually didn't read the post either (sorry)

I just feel compelled to say that, in a story about magic and vampires etc., I always liked how the show always did its best to inject "reality", not just in themes etc., but also in a lot of small details

what did it for me this episode was when Buffy was told there'd be forms she'd have to fill up

when my Dad passed away I really didn't want to do anything (I just wanted to lie down on the ground and stop moving, basically) but there were these stupid forms I had to fill and all these other procedural things to deal with
Philip Gonzales
2. BatmanJesus
The moment that always sticks out, is the reveal of Dawn crying in class. The audience is momentarily led to believe that she's just received the news about her mother, but it's just teen stuff. When the news is actually delivered, her outburst is horribly real. It was brilliant on Joss's part to show two different types of crying in one scene in one character. The self-centeredness of teen angst and the gut punch of actual loss. It devestated me on first viewing and continues to do so.
Eric Wyatt
3. SunDriedRainbow
Anya is the moment for me. She's just so devastated that she DOESN'T UNDERSTAND, and that hits really hard for me.
Risha Jorgensen
4. RishaBree
No no no no no a B plot in this would be obscene. The only way to make it less so would be to make the A plot more 'TV' and less real.

I know this episode can be painful to watch, but it's one of the best single hours of television I've ever seen. Would cheapening it to lessen that pain a little be worth losing that?
Bill Capossere
5. Billcap
Just a great show. In so many ways. The many ways we’re shown Buffy’s helplessness against the one Big Bad she can’t beat—the phone numbers, the panic, the vomiting, the irony of her superstrength breaking the ribs. The same with regard to the gang’s helplessness, which leaves Xander to punch a wall and Willow to obsess about dress and all of them to get loads of vending food and Giles being relegated to paperwork. That first awful transformation from “my mother” to “the body” and her realization of it. The way we’re made into uncomfortable voyeurs in the oh-so-intimate scene between Buffy and Dawn—peeping through the glass window, struggling to eavesdrop on the words being spoken. Anya standing in for the great existential cry of everyone. Tara’s reminder that nobody’s grief is special and everyone’s is. The so-unlike-other-fights with the vampire—stripped of banter, graceful choreography, vocalization, clothes, clean cool-sound-effect kills, etc. How the happy ending a la “the hero defeats another villain!” feels like ashes in the mouth. Just overall fantastic. And effective every time. Every damn time.
Chris Nelly
6. Aeryl
This is one of the most beautiful and powerful episodes of television. EVER.
build6
7. Shamrock Jack
I didn't watch the series when it originally aired, I bought the DVDs some years ago. Unfortunately, on my initial watch this episode came on about two weeks after my brother died. Needless to say, I had a very cathartic cry.

In my opinion, this is far and away the best portrayal of death on television. In my experiences, the only things one feels after the death of a loved on is shock, rage, grief, or nothing at all. Throughout the episode our heroes going through all those motions and it's absolutely perfect.

The thing that makes this episode work is all the little things. Buffy just responds automatically to everything around her. Her realization that she referred to her mother as "The Body" is heartbreaking. It's the strength of the show that someone who is always around death can be so profoundly disturbed by it.
Dylan Sprague
8. Ithilanor
I was completely spoiled about this episode...and it didn't help at all. Deeply, deeply affecting. Even on rewatches, it's so immersive, so good, that it feels just like the first time.
Every single thing about this episode is done perfectly; great acting, great writing, great directing. Even among everything else, Anya's monologue is perhaps the most brilliant moment, utterly heartbreaking.
It's crazy that this didn't get any Emmy nominations. *mutters about the SF/fantasy ghetto*
Ryan Reich
9. ryanreich
I haven't been following the comments. Where is the discussion about it being Dawn's fault? (Or is it connected with that episode where Joyce's illness is suspected of being magical, and Dawn is suspected?)
Marie Veek
10. SlackerSpice
@9: Someone made an argument about how the monks changing everyone's memories somehow caused Joyce's tumor, etc. Start at the beginning of the Season Five recaps and work your way forward - should be there somewhere.
build6
11. huntece
I think the reason this episode is so powerful even in a rewatch is that it forces you to experience Joyce's death not just as a passive viewer but almost as a suedo character. From the music and sound choices to camera angles etc it makes it feel like you are apart of the episode experiencing this loss with the characters around you. Plus the acting in this episode is amazing.
Alyx Dellamonica
12. AMDellamonica
@Rishabree - of course you're right. As I said, there's part of me that wishes for the B story just to leaven the sadness. I know it would be the wrong choice.

@Ryanreich - you'd need to go back and read many of the S5 recaps to see this discussion in comments.
Constance Sublette
13. Zorra
The scene between the two of them is marvellous; looking at Amber Benson, I completely believe that all of this has ripped the scab off her own loss. And the image of the two young women sitting at a distance from each other, isolated by grief, is a powerful one.
This could be the basis why Buffy confesses to Tara in Season 6 -- which is also an incredibly affecting scene.

Tara does this more than once for Buffy and the others. She comes through as the most solidly grounded (wicca?) of the Scoobs several times. When she's in these positions her stutter and hesitancy goes away, either entirely or mostly.

Which again makes what happens with Willow toward the conclusion of season 6 so very understandable. The entire Willow Tara arc of season 6 is masterful, or so it seems to me.

Love, C.
build6
14. Gardner Dozois
One of the great Buffy episodes. Certainly in the list of Top Ten episodes, and a good argument can be made for even putting it among the Top Five. All the reactions to death are very realistic, and in some cases, almost too painful to watch without squirming. The lack of music helped this effect quite a bit--interesting that two of the most powerful BUFFY episodes, "The Body" and "Hush," play with sound, losing the background music in one and dialog in the other.

The only criticism I have is of having a vampire show up in the last few minutes. This seemed tacked-on to me, something perfunctory, a Monster Of The Week thrown in to satisfy the requirement for a supernatural element to the episode. I think the episode would have worked better without it.

Otherwise, not a false step in the entire episode, and the ensemble cast does some of its best--and subtlest--acting throughout. Impressive even by the standards of "serious" TV dramas.
build6
15. Gillian Philip
Oh, Anya's reaction, yes. Anya was one of my favourite characters, and this episode cemented it. And the most awful thing for me was the fantasy sequence where Buffy imagines she got home in time, and Joyce is resuscitated in the ambulance, and for a moment I thought... and then *SOB*.

I only watched the whole seven series of Buffy this year (having only seen occasional episodes), and I was smitten. (My excuse is that I was abroad in the 90s with no TV.) And then not long ago I found this blog via Twitter, and I've read the whole thing to catch up, and I absolutely love it. Thank you for doing this, Alyx! Can I add my voice to the ones pleading with you to do this for Angel too? :-)
Emma Rosloff
16. emmarosloff
It's that moment in the beginning, when Buffy imagines everything alright, imagines Joyce in the ambulance, Joyce waking up -- and then it abruptly cuts back to her deathly still form. That always gets me. And the grim, knowing look the paramedic gives her when he's examined her mother's body on the floor. It's unmistakable.

It goes without saying that the writing and acting are superb. Loss shows us a side of people we don't always get to see, and each character's breakdown (or lack of one) is so perfect and fitting to them. It's just what you'd expect, and yet it also brings them that much more to life -- makes them fuller. Starker.

What has always felt so poignant about this episode is that Buffy has experienced so much death, yet it hasn't prepared her for this at all. She's dealt one of the cruelest blows life can give, and being the Slayer doesn't help her one lick. She's completely, utterly powerless. Just a girl who's lost her mom, and her grief strikes home with all of us.

Seriously, great TV.
Susan Davis
17. sue
I'm sitting with my Mom right now. She's at the very end of her fight with cancer, and isn't expected to make it through tonight.

Well played, Tor.com. Well played.
Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
I wasn't spoiled for this episode at all. My reaction as I recall was,"Wait, what? No ... Oh, damn."
Very powerfully done.
build6
19. @miathecanecorso
This was one of the most heart-wrenching Buffy / Angel shows. Ever. Having experienced the loss of a parent only made it feel that much more true, and the absence of magic, mystical Buffyverse increased the loss / 'reality' of the situation even more.

I think Joyce's death has ripple affects throughout the rest of the series, in that she acted like an anchor in reality for Buffy. Once gone, Buffy has no choice but to have to grow up pretty fast and later in S6, make some really bad decisions before realizing her mistakes.
build6
20. wingracer
The single most emotionally powerful hour in TV history.

Even though I have only been able to watch this twice and may never watch it again, I thank you Joss for the experience.
Philip Gonzales
21. BatmanJesus
The end moment of "I Was Made to Love You" left me tense for a week. I dreaded this episode so much.
Andrew Love
22. AndyLove
That first awful transformation from “my mother” to “the body” and her realization of it.
Yes, that always gets me: "We're not supposed to move the body."
The way we’re made into uncomfortable voyeurs in the
oh-so-intimate scene between Buffy and Dawn—peeping through the glass window, struggling to eavesdrop on the words being spoken.
And this too.
Tomas Gerst
23. IamnotSpam
I first watched this with my daughter when she was about 12 or 13 when it aired and it helped introduce the topic for us to talk about in a real way. Last year we lost her brother, my step-son in an accident that left him in a coma for a month before we finally let him pass. There were many times I switched roles but most times I had to play Giles and Tara and just be the rock for everyone. Its a role that I continue to have to play now for the benefit of her and the rest of the family, while privately I agonized like Anya over the imposiblility of him being there everyday and now hes no where to be found. The different roles gave me a name for what I was doing and what others were doing at the time. I could see they were doing the Willow thing with the sweater or my sons friends doing the Xander and beating at walls in frustration. Being able to put a name on exploding and uncontrolable feelings is the first step in guiding them weather others or your own. One of the few shows that ever really gave me someting solid to use in real life.
Jenny Thrash
24. Sihaya
Until now Buffy was an odd superhero in that she had a functioning parent - not a parental figure, an actual parent. Usually "My parents are dead!" is the motivator that kickstarts them into the journey in some way, partly by causing them to be arrested in some sort reckless, not entirely emotionally mature state.

Buffy was one of the few who was being guided through her hero's journey by her mother. The idea that now she has to grow up because mom's not alive seems to run counter to the usual superhero story. Now she has to grow up in spite of the fact Mom's dead. Most of us are lucky enough to be paying taxes and raising rugrats before that unfortunate inevitability.
build6
26. Dianthus
@17. Sue, my deepest sympathies to you and yours.

Full disclosure, I haven't watched this ep in a while. Much too painful, and I've already put myself through it more than once. Maybe that's why I feel like I hafta disagree on something here.
If I were going to cast someone in the role of Innocent Flower, it wouldn't be Anya. This could've been a real 'come to Jesus' moment for her, considering all her past misdeeds.
Obviously, you want to focus on the main story, but I think, since Dawn really is new to the world, it should've been her instead.
Jack Flynn
27. JackofMidworld
Sue, I can only imagine how this week has been for you, and my thoughts are with you and yours.

I started watching Buffy regularly with the S6 opener and then went back to watch it from the beginning after that. Even though I was in my late 20s, I had managed to not have any reason to attend a funeral up until 2001, and then I lost three grandparents in rapid succession and, like Shamrock Jack, there was much catharthis.

The worst/clincher for me in this ep? Anya and the fruit punch. My kids turned 5 and 4 that same year and do you have any idea how hard it is to try to explain to kids that age about death, when you just bought your first funeral suit? I had to pause the playback because when Anya went off, all I could see, all I could here, all I could think was that she was verbalizing all the things that my kids were feeling and couldn't verbalize. Didn't just break my heart but shattered it.

An outstanding episode, on so many levels.
build6
28. GarrettC
Of all the Joss death-offs, this is the one I resent the least, and probably the only one I resent not at all.

For my money, the idea that this death was somehow, in any way, caused by anything supernatural represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the significance of the death. The episode is called The Body because it's so incredibly focused on Death As A Real Thing. And death as a real thing is... I mean... a real thing. If this was anything other than natural, Buffy could do something about it. She might not be able to bring Joyce back, but she could shove something so far down the hellmouth it came back out the hellbutt. But she can't. That option is unavailable. That's the point. Joyce died because she inhabited a body, and for no other reason. That's the power of the thing.

That's... how death happens. Not because this is Sunnydale. Not because the Reavers fight dirty. Not even because some sadsack mysoginist decided not to learn how to aim a gun. But because people die. Because bodies are frail. And at some point, the show had to deal with death in a way that was fundamentally divorced from fantasy.

I blame Dawn for lots of things, sure. But not this.
build6
29. MackTheFife
My boss (who was my age) died two years ago. That's the closest I've come to death, ever. My grown children are healthy; so are my parents, both at age 81. So this story doesn't remind me of dealing with death. But I think it helps me understand a bit.

This death was unique for BtVS, and Joss made sure it stayed that way. Joyce never came back, and after Dawn's chilling experiment, no one ever mentioned it, not even when Willow brought back Buffy.

And after Buffy revealed that she had been in heaven, no one -- not even Dawn -- ever asked "Did you see Mom there?" It's obvious that Joss ruled, "Joyce is gone, and that's that."
build6
30. Dr. Thanatos
Recently rewatched this episode for the first time since I think live broadcast. Still incredibly moving, capturing the reality of coming to grips with unexpected death.

In my line of work, I deal with death and dying on a regular basis and have seen the faces of people who have either just found someone down or been told of it (Buffy and Dawn respectively). I have also had to work with people who are part of the greater circle of relations like the Scoobies and see how they react. This episode captures it more perfectly than anything I've ever seen. The lack of music, the funneling of the "schtick" from Anya and Xander into the main story, all is picture perfect.

And the vampire at the end: I would argue that this is a deft touch. The purpose of the vampire was NOT to be able to say that there was a vampire; it was all setup for the moment when Dawn had to see The Body.

Perfection not seen before or since.
build6
31. Dianthus
@28. I blame Dawn for a lot of things, sure.
LOL! Really well-said. This is Death. It's on our heels, no matter who we are.
In a sense, life feeds on death in the natural order of things. That's part of what makes vampires unnatural - that's death feeding on life.

@30. IMO, the vampire at the end is like paperwork - life doesn't stop for the living.

I've been pretty lucky so far, in that I haven't lost a lot of people. OTOH, I've lost a lot of pets (cats mostly), having been around cats most of my life. They're still loved ones, and it never gets easier.
build6
32. Dr. Thanatos
@31 re the vampire. I see this as saying that slaying monsters is all well and good, but it doesn't change the fact that Mom is gone. Not every story gets a happy ending by virtue of killing a bad guy.
Bill Capossere
33. Billcap
I'm in the same view on the vampire--it's the fake happy ending. It's the assault (and the vampire being naked/near-naked makes it more creepy an assault) on Dawn's innocence that Buffy can can save her from but in this context it's a meaningless "victory," as that isn't the loss of innocence, the "villain" that matters. And Buffy can't do a damn thing about that one (nor can she save herself).

It's giving us the formula (vamp threatens someone--Buffy dusts vamp) and highlighting that the formula doesn't work here.
build6
34. Almos
I have rewatched this episode twice in the 13 years since my mother died of an aneurysm. This first time my husband came home in the middle of the episode and made me turn it off since I was hysterical. The second time, I made it through but it was tough. This is absolutely the most realistic depiction of sudden death and it's aftermath that I have ever experienced. The shock, the way time jumps around, the horrible reality that keeps coming back to you, the practical things that have to be done, telling loved ones what has happened....Joss Whedon, you rip my heart out. Not my favorite Buffy episode, but certainly one of the best.
Jason Parker
35. tarbis
I always filed the vamp at the end under "The world isn't going to wait and let you grieve." But I like that it can be read differently. (Also the dark room and lack of soundtrack made it possibly the most frightening vampire attack of the series.)

Looking back at it this was the first time we really got to see the younger characters grieve for an extended period (Giles got to do it a little in the second half of season two) and the actors carried it off well. Given the body count of the series it feels a little odd that grief was so long delayed, but it served the needs of a series with victims of the week to have the characters bounce back fast. (Even if Xander being perfectly normal after staking his best friend in the pilot keeps looking stranger and stranger.)

The bit with the wall kind sticks out as fridge logic. Hitting the wall is a normal thing, but what on-campus housing is built with drywall? You'd have to patch, sand, and paint it every year. All the universities I've been on used cinderblock or brick with a coat of paint so that they only have to paint it every year, much faster and cheaper.
build6
36. Dianthus
@32. I think we can both be right on this one. Layers, ya know, like an onion (tears, too).
Alyx Dellamonica
37. AMDellamonica
@Sue, I am very sorry about your Mom.

@Thanatos, I like your read on the vamp attack.
build6
38. Darth_Katie
I bawled when I watched this episode. It was the middle of the night, and I was alone and away at college. I don't think I've ever cried that hard at work of fiction before.
build6
39. catherinef
Like most people, I find the moment where Buffy calls Joyce "Mommy" to be heart-breaking, and the moment where she shakes "the body" while repeating "Mom Mom Mom" over and over. I think those two moments perfectly encapsulate Buffy's reliance on Joyce and her sense of herself as being Joyce's daughter - by which I mean that Buffy has always known that she has someone who loves her most in the world and will always be there and do anything to help Buffy when she's in distress. But now, utterly devastatingly, it's that very person who is causing Buffy distress, and will never again be able to help her. It's a powerful image - Buffy shaking Joyce while calling for Joyce to help her. There's a scene in a later episode (The Gift, I think) where Buffy says to Giles, very simply and sadly, "I just wish my mom were here". I love that moment: Buffy's facing a god and the end of the world, but she still feels that Joyce would be able to make things ok. Heart-breaking.
build6
40. Dianthus
It's a testament to the strength of their bond, despite the whole "If you walk out that door, don't come back" fiasco at the end of s2.
build6
41. SrsLii
The night my dad died, I came home and got very drunk and put this episode on repeat until I passed out. Joss nailed it.
Emma Rosloff
42. emmarosloff
While I have not yet lost a parent, I had to be a source of strength for my best friend as she slowly lost her father to cancer over the course of 6-8 months. I remember the day he died -- I went over to the house and she numbly explained that morning to me. Her mother had been up all night with him. Her sister had woken just before dawn to go sit by his side. As for my friend -- she got up just after the sun rose and went into see him; she said it was like he'd held on just for her. He gave her a thumbs up, and a smile, and drifted off.

Her father was a big guy. 6'3" maybe, and broad. I remember her telling me how strange it was to see him lay there, to see his body lay there, and to wonder: what happens next? What do you do with a dead body? They had to call 911, to wait around for the police to show up and ascertain that there was no foul play, and to wait around for a doctor to come and pronounce him officially dead.

I guess with the doctor came a cadre of firemen, like, 11 guys tromping through her house. The family's stilling, intimate moment was suddenly very crowded. After all pronouncements were made, the firemen took the body away. Funeral arragenements were made after the fact.

She was telling me this a few hours later. She hadn't even cried yet. I'd driven all the way out to see her (at her request) and when she was done telling me the story, she said: "You can go now." And I understood. She was in a world entirely divorced of me, and I bet it was tough just to sit there beside me, who was so normal, so seperate from what she'd experienced. So I left. Later, she told me she curled up and cried for 4 hours. It had been a gradual thing, granted -- they all knew it was coming. But still. Nothing in life can prepare you for that. For death.
build6
43. Dianthus
@42. So, your post triggered a memory I haven't thought of in years...
I did some time as a caregiver working thru an angency. One day, they sent me on what was, essentially, a Death Watch. It was a very strange day, me alone in a bedroom with a dying stranger. Her husband was home, but didn't spend a lot (any?) time in the room while I was there. Mostly, it was my job to turn her every once in a while (bedsores). I'd never actually seen jaundice before, or since.
A hospice worker or two stopped by at one point. One of them told me I was doing very well (just for not freaking out, I guess).
The poor woman lingered on for three/four more days. I remember seeing her obituary in the paper later that same week.
None of my other clients was so far gone, tho' I had a couple who were bed-ridden.
Emma Rosloff
44. emmarosloff
@43 -- It's funny to me that I didn't remember that story about my friend right away. It was everyone sharing their own that brought it back to the surface, I think.

My mom works with hospice patients. Or rather, volunteers, to sit with them during their final weeks and days. I'm sure (whether or not the woman was fully aware), she was grateful you were there with her, even if you had a specific task.
build6
45. Katy Sozaeva
I cry just THINKING about this episode. It came out not long after I lost my own mother, so ... damn. Whenever I'm re-watching the series, I put on the background track of people talking about the show to distract myself. This is such a difficult one for some many reasons.
build6
46. Dianthus
@44. Good on your mom. It can't be easy for her, some days.
My mom was a volunteer firefighter for years. One night she came back from a call (traffic accident), and I knew it was bad just by looking at her face. Turns out the driver of the car wasn't wearing a seatbelt. Messy.
*Buckle Up, Everybody*
Thanks for the kind words. That poor woman was pretty zonked on painkillers, IIRC. Except every time I went to turn her, she'd cry out in pain. I felt awful.
build6
47. scaredicat
I remember (vividly) watching this episode when it first aired. I don't usually cry over television shows - and I didn't cry for this one. I sobbed.

It also marked, for me, the point at which I accepted Dawn as a character in the show. A lot of the poignancy and loss are magnified because she is just a kid. Without her, the main loss would have been Buffy's. Instead we experience Buffy's loss, magnified through her need to be strong and to take care of her sister.

The scene where Buffy has to tell Dawn what has happened, and the final scene where Dawn goes to confront the body are just devastating.
Anthony Pero
48. anthonypero
This was the first episode of Buffy I ever watched. I was floored by the show. I got lucky, because the syndicated reairs were at the end of season 1, so I got caught up pretty quick. Hush was slightly better, but that's not saying anything. They are both beyond excellent. Obviously Dawn was confusing for me, having seen this episode first then jumping back in time.

I'm not ashamed to say that as a 22 year old man, I got up and hugged my mom when this episode was over and cried a little bit.
build6
49. leg
the moment shared between willow and tara just before they leave the dorm room where willow whispers "i love you" gets me everytime. no fainfair, just real. and i have always wondered if the blue sweater willow is obsessing over earlier is the same one tara is wearing when she is shot in s6. it's not like she brought an overnight bag to do the "just skip it" speech. must have been willow's clothes. but was it "the blue"?
build6
50. Latecomer
"We're not supposed to move the body!"

That line makes me tear up 9 times out of 10. I'm actually getting a little bit dusty just typing that line and imagine the heartwrenching way SMG delivers it.

It speaks volumes that nobody ever discusses much about the technical aspects of this episode (besides calling them excellent, which they are) or its importance to the plot. It always just turns into a discussion about how everyone felt watching this episode and how it related to their lives personally. That's probably the highest compliment one could pay an episode of television, no?

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