Aug 19 2013 1:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Slayer Pudding versus the Archnemesises

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gone, Willow

“Gone,” by David Fury and Jane Espenson

“Gone” opens with Buffy, Willow and Dawn at home, unhappily engaged in throwing out all the household magic paraphenalia, including Tara’s leftover crystals and a Kokopelli once treasured by Joyce. Actually, Buffy’s doing all the work, from boxing the stuff to explaining how encountering any tempting spell components might remind Willow right back into a relapse. And that’s when she finds Spike’s lighter stuck in the couch.

Relapsing would be bad, Buffy concludes, but there’s no conviction in her voice.

Over at the Trio lair, they’re having far more fun. Warren has finished incorporating a certain stolen diamond into his new invisibility ray. He tests it on an office chair, successfully. Jonathan takes a seat and is enjoying the invisible ride when Warren proves that he’s not simply another hideous face: he’s already thought through the part where the gadget is no good if they can’t reverse its effects. It turns on! It turns off! It also destroys the invisible thing if it isn’t turned off—but that little revelation will come later.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gone, Warren

Morning comes—next morning, we presume—and breakfast is happening over in Buffyland. Dawn is angry both at big sis and guardian witch, and sulks off to school in a huff chauffeured by Xander.

Buffy doesn’t need Dawn to beat her up, because she’s come ’round to feeling guilty about having ignored Willow’s magic problem. She’s saying as much, to Willow, about how she was all wrapped up in her own “stupid life.” This is a euphemism for Spike, who promptly shows up, covered in a blanket and steaming at the edges. He says he’s in search of the lighter. Buffy tells him he’s making excuses to see her.

This is, of course, true. Spike’s making a serious effort to make a simple errand extra sexy. Imagine if fetching the milk looked that good. Xander interrupts them before Buffy can relapse all over the kitchen counter, and then proceeds to stick his foot in... well, not so much his own mouth, really.  Spike, he reminds us all, had as his previous girlfriends Harmony and Drusilla, both of whom can fairly be considered judgment-impaired. Buffy’s far too smart and together to boink someone like Spike, is his message.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gone, Spike

Haha, Xander—if only you knew!

But everybody’s kicking our Slayer in the self-esteem today. And, unfortunately, Dawn’s social worker is the next person to show up. (I’d say unannounced, but both Xander and Doris Kroger were actually expected.)

The latter appointment goes very badly. Dawn’s late for school and Spike and Willow give a bad impression merely by being in the house. The real problem, though, is that Mrs. Kroger is one of those cardboard tyrants who show up on TV now and then to cause our heroes unconvincing and passing discomfort. They tend to be impossible to like and easily defeated. Sometimes, like Principal Snyder, they grow dimensions before they get eaten. Other times, the story just sets them up and knock them down.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gone

Buffy’s not quite quick enough on her feet to characterize Willow as a paying source of rental income (even if she isn’t, wouldn’t that make her presence seem like a plus?)  The box of stuff they’re getting rid of is lying out, and in it is a bunch of “magic weed.” Oh, dear. By the end of it all, Chez Summers is on probation and Dawn’s in danger of being removed from the household.

Buffy, having now dropped to the end of her rope, overreacts and hacks off the hair Spike was admiring so smarmily just before Doris arrived. Then she goes off to the salon, because young guardians on probation can’t afford to be walking around looking like they fell out of a tumble dryer. Also, she desperately wants to be someone different. . . and a haircut’s all the transformation she can afford.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gone

The first thing many people want after seeing the hair stylist is praise for the new look. But Buffy can’t even have that today. The Trio is about to test their ray—they want to sneak into a spa full of naked women—when they see Buffy coming out of the salon. In one of those bursts of OMG, we’re screwed, so screwed! panic that do tend to get triggered when you come upon your arch-enemy, Jonathan and Andrew fumble the zap ray, shooting Buffy along with many random items on the street.

David Fury and Jane Espenson don’t try our patience with a scene where unseen Buffy realizes she’s no longer rocking the visible spectrum. Instead, we jump right to the Magic Box, and XandAnya, who are trying to figure out who sits where at their wedding. Buffy strolls in, having realized she’s enjoying her new non-look. She asks her friends to do the research thing and goes off to play. Xander—who is about to have one of his outstanding unsung hero episodes—starts worrying that Willow has gotten tempted to play with spells again.

In a not-very-enormous coincidence, Willow is feeling tempted to play with spells again. She’s just considering whether she might get away with a little bit of telekinesis when Xander walks in and asks if it was she who made Buffy invisible.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gone, Willow Xander

Willow’s defensive and insulted. “Now when anything nasty happens, I get conveniently blamed for it?” Off she storms. It’s a little irrational, maybe, but it’s also pretty easy to understand.

The Trio are likewise far from rational. They’re bummed because they broke the invisibility ray. And paranoid that Buffy might be spying on them. She could be right there, learning all their plans. 

But she’s far too busy going on a wee rampage of pranksterage. It’s nothing on the scale of Willow and Amy acting out in the Bronze the other day, but she soon homes in on Mrs. Kroger, and freaks her out—in a completely mean way. You can do any despicable thing to a cardboard antagonist, including making her seem insane at her workplace. And so, driving the social worker away from her desk with a coffee cup that says “Kill, kill, kill,” Buffy accesses Dawn’s file and then sabotages it, thereby buying them a needed second chance at the home visit.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gone

While she’s taking the easy way out on the Social Services issue, Willow is doing things the hard way, engaging in old-fashioned girl sleuth forensics; she has a print of a van tire and paint off an invisible fire hydrant. Since the gang remembers the Triovan from “Life Serial,” this constitutes a serious and promising lead. Xander shows up and they reconcile: then she sends him back to the Magic Box with an invisible traffic cone to do further research on possible spells.

With that accomplished, we move on to the crypt, where InvisiBuffy is having her way with Spike.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gone, Xander Anya

But the traffic pylon confiscated at the scene begins falling apart, and Xander realizes there’s life-threatening danger in the mix. It’s about time, don’t you think? Warren, meanwhile, is clueing Andrew and Jonathan in on this minor detail. They object to the part where Buffy dies as a result of their ineptitude, and he tries to remind them that, you know, they’re villains. They kill people. Um, no, Jonathan says, rather forcefully. I love it when Danny Strong is forceful. Did you all see him do that thing on Mad Men this season? (Blink and you missed it!)

Warren makes a show of backing down, knowing full well that neither of his allegedly equal partners understands the gadget involved. He can do pretty much whatever he wants.

Xander hits the crypt, where he finds Spuffy engaged in vigorous invisible sex. He is uncomprehending but nevertheless squicked out, and leaves without mentioning the danger to Buffy. She’s busy enjoying the odd sense of freedom that can only come when you’re nuzzling your lover without any chance of being seen by your friends. Or even him. Somehow, this manages to hurt Spike’s feelings.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gone, Spike

To her shock, he kicks her out. She returns home, where Dawn is completely freaked out by the invisibility thing. Nobody’s a fan of see-through Buffy except the woman herself. Xander has even gone so far as to leave a message on the household answering machine (which looks paleolithic) revealing that she’s in danger. Some people will do anything to get you to show your face.

Willow is close to the answer, though. She faces down the temptation to use magic as she tries to hack the DMV, and then—for unknown reasons—she also faces down the temptation to phone someone before she goes looking for the villain van by herself, in the dark. She breaks into the Subterranean Lair and finds the Invisibility Ray plans... and the ray itself.

Sadly, the Trio is waiting and they grab her. And it’s rather impressive, isn’t it, that she doesn’t zorch them all on the spot? She even lets them call Buffy to arrange a hostage exchange at the video arcade.

Up to now, Jonathan and Andrew are clinging to the adorable belief that that the point of the meeting is to reverse the invisibility—to save Buffy. Willow bursts their bubble by speaking up before Warren can enact his actual plan, which is to fry her. An invisible combat sequence then breaks out amidst the gamers, complete with comedy pratfalls and random game-smashing.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gone, the Trio

Recognizing that a scene like this can get old real fast, Willow gets the ray gun and visiblilizes everyone. Buffy recognizes Jonathan and Warren. Andrew’s failure to be on anyone’s radar is noted, resented, and forgotten. The Trio declares itself to be Buffy’s three-headed arch-nemesis before fleeing in terror.

In the silence that follows, Willow and Buffy debrief. Willow talks about how hard it was to plod through the investigation without taking magical shortcuts. Buffy admits she was a little afraid to hear she was dying.

It’s progress, and they both know it’s good, but they don’t feel happy about it.

In a season whose theme is growing up, this is one of the moments that strikes a genuine note of honesty. Those things we do because we know we have to—those things that are good for us—do sometimes feel more like a chore and a burden than a blessing. Buffillow’s recognition of this—and their low-key acknowledgment of each other’s pain—makes for a faintly optimistic ending. They are both getting better.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gone, Willow

Better! Wouldn’t that be nice? With luck, Buffy will nail down a source of income soon. Surely once that happens everything will be goslings and puppies.

Next: Meat Mystery

A.M. Dellamonica has tons of fiction up here on! 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. (Watch for the second Gale, story too—“The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti”!)

Or if you like, check out her sexy novelette, “Wild Things,” that ties into the world of her award winning novel Indigo Springs and its sequel, Blue Magic.

Jessica Trevino
1. Ciella
So I don't always agree with Buffy's decisions, but I've never begrudged her those decisions. I can understand why she made them and they've never been way out of line. But in this episode, I just want to jump through the screen and scold her like a 3 year old.

Doris comes to a house being run by an unemployed 20 year-old college drop out to check up on a 15 year old who's been missing school, showing up late and not doing work to find that she late for school again, that there's at least one other crasher living there, that the boyfriend is a leather clad, bleach blonde weirdo with a blanket fetish, and that they keep "magic weed" there. And all she does is give probation, which makes sense!

I really feel for Buffy's situation, it's really tough, and she does start to get her act together almost immediately by get the job at the DoubleMeat Palace. But none of her issues validate going to Doris's work, making her seem crazy. It puts her job in danger and maybe even the families in her other case files in danger. Social Work is an extremely important and difficult job, I hate that Buffy, my hero in so many other ways, is so cruel here :(
Anthony Pero
2. anthonypero
@1: No nothing excuses it... but its EXACTLY what a lot of 20 year olds would do in her situation. WOuld she have gone and harrased her if she HADN'T been turned invisible? Probably not. What caused Buffy to act that way was the sense of invisibility. Almost as if it wasn't happening at all, since she was invisible.

Come to think of it, that whole scene acts as a wonderful metaphor for anonymity on the internet. Lots of people, not just 20 year olds, do and say mean things anonymously on the internet that they would never do in real life. People who are otherwise quite normal and responsible people.
3. Dianthus
I'm a little more sympathetic to Buffy's situation at the beginning of the ep., but she's also wearing that top when poor Doris shows up. See-through fashions come and go, but it's not one of the better examples I've seen. So on top of everything else, she looks kinda slutty.
Doris really does get the fuzzy end of the lolipop here. As Ciella mentioned above, Social Work is a demanding and often thankless job that doesn't pay nearly as well as it should, considering what's involved. Never mind that she might actually have Dawn's best interest at heart. She's just another tool of The Man. Puh-lease.

I can't help but wonder if part of Buffy didn't want to get caught by Xander. Why else take the risk of nibbling Spike's ear right in front of him? Of course, there are none so blind as those who will not see. On top of which, there are certain other auditory and olfactory hints Xander misses.

He's way wrong about Dru's lack of judgement (not that he'd know it). She saw more in William than anyone, even his mum.

I'm not so sympathetic to Buffy's pique, re: Spike kicking her out (tho' I can appreciate the irony), or Willow's poor-little-me whining about doing things 'the hard way.'

This ep also has some questionable scenes about consensual vs. non-consensual sex, and these scenes are played for laughs. I find it a little disturbing.
Constance Sublette
4. Zorra
My taste is never for these sorts of eps in the first place. In the second place the trio annoys, irritates, bores and squicks me so much.
5. Dianthus
I guess I'll always have a soft spot for Jonathan. Otherwise, I've had enough of Warren and Andrew to last me a life time. Sadly, they seem to have elevated Andrew to hero status in the comix, and I can't for the life of me understand why, unless it's some damn meta reason I'm not privy to. Calling Andrew a worm is an insult to worms everywhere. Sniveling little puke.

An aside on Buffy's hair - this was prompted by the WB freak-out over Keri Russell(?) on Felicity cutting her hair IIRC. Ratings for the show dropped and the suits panicked. I think they made a rule about their female stars not getting short hairdos, or some such nonsense.
At least they worked it in well. Spike compliments her hair, and, if he likes it, it's got to go. Thank Goodness she didn't shave her head a la Britney Spears.
6. Gardner Dozois
Some good comic moments here, but overall, not one of my favorite episodes. It's interesting that the perky Buffy, full of snark and mischief, only comes back when Buffy is invisible (letting her off the hook for anything she does, because no one can see her do it?) or has completely lost her memory. In the last several episodes, I think the showrunners were trying to lighten the tone a bit after the grim doom and gloom of the opening two episodes of the season, but it's not entirely successful. Throughout the middle episodes of this season, I continue to find the way they're playing the Trio, as if they're campy comic supervillians from the old Biff! Sock! Pow! Batman show of the '60s, with their silly Freeze Rays and Invisibility Rays and riduclous crimes, annoying. It was appropriate that they all ended up in a Games Arcade, thrashing around in a ball pit. Doesn't fit the mood of the show, particularly with what comes afterward when the season darkens.

As I've said before, I think the show treated Jonathan shabbily. He was the only one of the Trio who was redemable, and who basically had a good heart. He plays at being a supervillian, but his heart isn't really in it--he'll be a supervillian, but he doesn't want to hurt or kill anybody, even their supposed archfoe, the Slayer. All Jonathan ever really wanted to was to be one of the Good Guys--in particular, one of the Scoobies. If any of the three of them was going to get to be redemed and reformed and go on to become a Watcher, it certainly should have been Jonathan rather than that little worm Andrew, as Dianthus aply calls him, who never ever showed the slightest bit of remorse, and who remained a smarmy little shit even after he'd become a Watcher.
7. Dianthus
It's refreshing to know I'm not alone in my disgust for Andrew. I guess a lot(?) of fans like him for his own fanishness, but mostly he makes my skin crawl. I was never a fan of this character in the series, and the comix have turned what was mostly indifference on my part into seething hatred. Honestly. Spike, unchipped and Eeeevil, had a better understanding of human nature.
8. Nicoclaws
I didn't like much of that episode, but for Willow trying not to do magic, the ending with the two friends making progress...
And naked Spike, obviously.
Alyx Dellamonica
9. AMDellamonica
I suspect you all already know I'm on Team Jonathan; Andrew never did much for me either. Even his summoning power seemed largely superfluous. The Trio needed a mage and a gadgeteer. If they hadn't been going for 'three ordinary guys,' a teen demon might have been more interesting. Or someone more thiefy.
10. jmb55
I get that they were going for a little light comedy with Doris-the-social-worker, but for me, it doesn't work. There's two reasons.

First, I agree with Doris. Buffy is not doing a good job looking after and caring for her sister. Dawn is consistently ignored, left behind, forgotten about and abandoned. (Hallfrek will pick up on this...) On this particular day, Dawn's late for school, because Xander's just arrived to take her there. She's also sporting an injured arm, thanks to her adventure with Willow -- which happened the day after Dawn was abandoned for an entire night. Home life fail.

Second, Doris is a sympathetic character (for me). She's a social worker -- which means she doesn't make a lot of money and she has a really hard job. Still, she's trying her best. She wasn't trying to sneak up on Buffy; it was a scheduled visit. And she's not yanking Dawn away; she's putting the Buffy-Dawn arrangement on probabtion and recommending lots of supervision. She gets that there is not a consistant adult in Dawn's life right now.

Then Buffy goes into her office and makes Doris look like a fool, and like she is totally losing her marbles. It accomplishes Buffy's goal - the home visit will be re-done with some other social worker. But it is really, really mean-spirited.

I would have enjoyed this more if Doris had been written more negatively. Maybe have the home visit be unscheduled? And use a more abrasive actor? Susan Ruttan plays long-suffering and earnest characters well, and I find it really hard to hate her.
11. Dianthus
Ah, naked Spike...yes. He's vulnerable; he's got nothing to hide. Pretty, too. Altho' JM felt like he was being objectified (Gee, I wonder why?) and decided he wasn't gonna go naked on camera anymore.

Andrew is basically useless, except for maybe a cautionary tale.

Doris is way too nice not to sympathize with her, and Buffy doesn't come off looking so good in this ep.
13. jmb
Andrew exists solely to be a punch line. "The Trio: Warren, Jonathan, and Who's That?"

Jonathan should have had a heroic story arc. Little-big bad to big savior... It would have been great. Danny Strong would have knocked it out of the ballpark.
Milton Pope
14. MiltonPope
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I think the song Buffy is whistling as she leaves Doris' office is "Going through the Motions". But the whistling is pretty cheery, so I think it was just a tune, not a comment.

Off-topic: Has anyone noticed that Oprah Winfrey's current movie "The Butler" is written by Danny Strong? Not only that, but the TV spot gives that fact its own card, in large writing.
15. Gardner Dozois
I always thought that where they were going was that Jonathan was going to become sickened by the activities of the Trio, particularly Warren's, and betray them to Buffy, perhaps saving the day in the process. But, unfortunately, that's not where they went.

Anybody else notice that Invisible Buffy was apparently attempting to perform oral sex on Spike at one point? Apparently she learned something from all that rolling around in the sack with Riley afterall.

Speaking of which, I was rewatching the stupid Buffy and Riley fuck all day in the frat house episode, generating psychic energy or something, and at one point, Riley opens the nightstand drawer, and it's full of condoms, which I believe is the ONLY mention of birth control in the entire series. Of course, she didn't need to worry about that with either Spike or Angel. (Actually, come to think of it, I think Anya mentions condoms once, "black ones.")
16. Dianthus
@14. Evidently, Strong's made a name for himself as a writer. I'd forgoteen about The Butler, but I saw his name attached to it while reading a short review over at More power to him!
Altho' the review I read basically said it was more an Important Movie than a good one.

@15. How could you not notice? That's what Spike's referring to as "cheating." It's also one of the scenes that, while played for laughs, bugs me (patly b/c it's played for laughs). It's not exactly non-consensual, but it creeps close to the line, IMO, considering everything he's just said to her. She's using his own attraction to her and physiological responses against him. He doesn't even get the chance to say "No" 'cuz she just helps herself.
On top of which, then she gets all p!ssy about it on her way home (or wherever), like: he's gotta lotta nerve thinking he should have a say in this. It's one of the few times in s6 when Spike actually tries to assert himself as an equal partner in their affair.
As for Riley getting her to perform the act, I can only imagine it as awkward. Maybe he brought over a DVD copy of Madonna's concert film Truth or Dare? I've never seen it (and it's been around for ages now), but I understand there's a scene wherein Madonna shows off her technique by making a simple water bottle very happy.
Porn is also a possibilty, I s'pose, but with both of them being so straight-laced, it's maybe a little less likely? IDK. I keep hearing that, in general, residents of Utah watch more porn than residents of other states.
17. jmb
RE: the education of Buffy

I always assumed Buffy took responsibility for learning advanced techniques. She probably picked it up reading one of the glossy mags of the day (Cosmo, probably) that were full of articles like "How to drive your man wild". Of course she bought it for the "Fashion faux pas" and "New styles for summer" articles...

Maybe part of the fun for Buffy was that she could play around with all these things and try them out without having to feel self-conscious.
Jessica Trevino
18. Ciella
Yeah, I don't see where anyone's getting the idea that her previous partners "taught" her anything. There's a billion resources out there to learn about sex, the least of which are magazine Buffy reads regularly. Not to mention the fact that Buffy seems to really enjoy sex and is probably more than willing to try new things without anyone "getting her to perform" it.
19. Dianthus
Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Ev'rybody just calm down.
I never said Riley "taught" Buffy anything, and I agree that there are other sources of information available to her besides just pr0n. I mentioned Truth or Dare b/c it was a pop-culture ref. known for that particular scene. Maybe Riley is the sort who'd just bold faced come out and ask for a BJ. Maybe - tho' it's at odds with her Good Girl persona - Buffy would take it on herself to learn more just to please him.
If any of her partners "taught" her anything about sex, I'd say that honor went to Spike. He clearly introduced her to new things. Plus, she could do stuff with him she couldn't do with Parker or Riley, b/c she didn't have to worry about breaking him. As for Angel, they were only together the one time.
Chris Nelly
20. Aeryl
Maybe - tho' it's at odds with her Good Girl persona

Why? Cuz "good girls" don't do that?
21. Dianthus
@20. Since you ask, Yes. This is/was society's judgement, not mine. Riley's a Nice Boy and Buffy's a Good Girl. He might want it, and she might be willing to provide, but I think it would be awkward btwn them at first.
Look at all the right-wing fundies trying to bring back anti-sodomy laws.
22. GarrettC
I think Alyx has brought up previously that the Buffy universe, at least early on, has some pretty weird messages about sex, sexual ability, sexual freedom, and morality. It's the Buffy/Faith problem from season 2. So there is some textual background behind the vanilla sex = moral and experimental sex = immoral idea, insofar only as the show itself is concerned.

I also think the show re-navigates those messages in more critical ways later on.

Irrespective of that, I hope we can all understand why questions like, "I wonder who taught X to give a blow job?" can come off as immediately creepy or offensive, intent notwithstanding. There are weird voyueristic and patriarchal qualities to such a question which may not be intended, but still certainly exist.
23. GarrettC
As Dianthus indicates, though, and as I should say: That specific question with those specific words was not written here. I don't want to misrepresent the actual words that came up, and I should have been more careful about to begin with it in my last comment.

Certain parts of the thread definitely came off to me, and apparently others, as having that same voyueristic flavor, though.

My larger point in the last comment was a reconciliation of the ideas I was seeing: Group 1) The show at different points has weird ideas about sex so Buffy must be affected by that both in experience and activity, and Group 2) some of the interest above in those effects was expressed in kind of an uncomfortable way.
24. Dianthus
Is it any wonder BtVS offered up mixed messages, re: sex, when we are presented with so many mixed messages on the subject in our culture at large? Let's not forget, the Puritans who came here as colonists thought that other Brits were too libertine.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - aside from the Meta of it (Good Girl/Bad Girl), I've never understood why Buffy was so uptight. Obvs they wanted to comment on the messages women have received from Society and most of them were negative.
We're still seeing that in things like abstinence-only Sex Ed. 'Just Say No' didn't work with drugs, and it sure as hell doesn't work with sex. All it does is hurt our young women.
Buffy also takes some punishment for enjoying sex, thanks to Angel's curse. Nor is she allowed to fully enjoy the best sex she's ever had. "You got the job done yourself" is pretty weak sauce compared to "a bloody revelation."
For me personally, I think it was my grandmother's influence. She was very old-school about most things. I was extremely self-concious as a kid. Acting in school plays and Little Theater helped some. Costume changes in a dressing room full of other people get easier over time until you just don't care anymore. I found acting theraputic in other ways too.
Anthony Pero
25. anthonypero
@ BJ convo...

When I was growing up in Milwaukee (teen in 90s), BJs were known as "Christian Sex". It was a way for "good kids" to have sex without needing to worry about condoms or birth control or getting pregnant. Even Amy Grant, who was a teen in the early 80s, and was a conservative christian, once made a comment in the media about heavy petting being an acceptable alternative to sex for teenagers. She got blasted for it, but it goes to show the mindset of even "good kid" teenagers in the 80s. By the 90s, it had gone much further. And we're talking in the Bible Belt and Midwest.

So I have to laugh at the thought that "good kids" didn't know, or hadn't participated in, BJs. Some did, some didn't, and had far more to do with opportunity (and social pressure) than whether they were "good" or "bad" kids.
Chris Nelly
26. Aeryl
I guess I just don't understand where the idea that Buffy is uptight about sex comes from.

She seems to me to have a perfectly normal sex drive, considering her experience. And girls as much as men want oral sex, do we think it was awkward when she asked Riley to go down on her? In addition, Buffy's best friend is a lesbian. SHE KNOWS ABOUT ORAL NOW! If anything, the level of trust she as able to find with Riley probably opened up both their horizons quite a bit. I don't feel that anything was awkward.

I dislike trying to draw lessons about sex from the show's treatment of characters. Faith, while hypersexual, was also presented in a way that read as damaged, especially with her reaction to Riley in This Year's Girl, so I don't think it's indicative.

And Buffy's known since S3 that she's got a bit of kink in her blood.
27. Dianthus
@25. I've heard that certain kinds of sex were/are considered ok, but the writers of the show weren't interested in an accurate reflection of teen mores at the time. They were pushing an agenda.

@26. There's a scene in s5 where Buffy and Joyce are talking about her and Riley...and Buffy says something about Bible study (when she clearly means something else) and Joyce says she's glad they're spending time with the Lord. Plus, all the times she shies away from Spike's lewdness. Then, in Chosen, when she's talking to Angel about someone 'eating' her cookies, and she gets embarassed about it.
We have no reason to think Buffy and Riley actually engaged in oral sex, or that Riley would give as good as he got. It's all speculation, considering this is American broadcast TV, the standards of which tend to reflect societal values. British TV is far more open to graphic portrayals of sex.
There are opinions (subjective) and then there are facts (objective). We're discussing our opinions, based on our interpretations of what we saw in the show. We don't all see things the same way. Geez.
28. Gardner Dozois
American television USED to shy away from nudity and graphic portrayals of sex, and maybe still does on the broadcast networks. If you've watched HBO lately, though, you know that that no longer holds true for all American TV. I suspect that if BUFFY ran today on HBO rather than when and where it did, it would be eye-poppingly different, and that Buffy would appear topless (and perhaps totally nude) as often as they could reasonably work that in. The sex scenes would be much more graphic too.

Let's not forget, though, that at least for the first season or two, BUFFY was considered to be a "kid's show," aimed at a teenage audience demographic. The influence of that lingered for quite awhile--Xander and Cordelia never had sex, for instance, even though Cordelia had originally been portrayed as a "fast girl," and Willow and Oz had a more-or-less chaste relationship until just before the Graduation, although mention is made once of Oz maybe getting to "second base"--although it has largely worn off by the time we get to "Gone."

Buffy WAS rather straightlaced about sex throughout most of the show, though, as her reaction of at least feigned distaste at Faith's comment about how slaying makes you horny demonstrates--although there is a hint that this is Denial on her part rather than the way she actually feels. She loosened up with Riley, as they spent quite a bit of time screwing, although there are several hints that Riley is a bit vanilla in his sexual expertise, as witness his response to Faith-in-Buffy's-body's question "How do you want me?" and her suggestion that they could play sex games or have rough sex. She may have loosened up more with Spike, certainly their courtship involved beating each other up and almost certainly rough sex, and "Gone" takes place after she's already had sex with him several times. Later on, she tearfully confesses to Tara that being with Spike had made her do "terrible things," things she never thought she'd do, and perhaps oral sex was one of them. Who knows?
Chris Nelly
29. Aeryl
@27, I'm the MOST sexual woman I know, and I shy away from(read: scowl at) lewdness in people I don't want to have sex with, it's not an indication of prudishness, it's an indication that the person being lewd is acting inappropriate, which SPIKE WAS.

And that scene with Buffy and Joyce was hilarious. Buffy was acting the typical young adult, hiding their sexuality from their parents, and Joyce found it funny and played along with Buffy's prevaricating. Again, not indicative, most teens & young adults have issues speaking openly about sex to their parents, likely because it reminds them that their parents had/have sex. The prudishness of American culture contributes to this too.

And she was abashed about the eating "cookies" bit, not because she's a prude, but because she didn't intend for the metaphor to go there, and it was only after she started it that she realized it was gutter minded.

@ 28. IMO, that scene with Faith isn't indicative that Riley's vanilla, it's an indication HE KNEW SOMETHING WAS UP. He didn't follow through with that feeling, and paid for it later, but it's silly to say that because he didn't want the games NOT-Buffy was playing with him, he's a strict "vanilla" guy. He may be inexperienced. They had a sexual relationship for a year, after building a strong foundation of trust. OF COURSE THEY EXPERIMENTED!

And to me, the "terrible things" related more to the public sex(by dumpsters NO LESS) than anything else.
30. Gardner Dozois
I find it interesting that after this season's finale, as far as I can remember, Buffy never really has another Love Interest. In the last season, they flirt briefly with her being attracted to Principal Wood, but, if I'm remembering correctly, nothing ever comes of it. I don't think Buffy has a lover in the rest of the series, after Spike.
31. Dianthus
@29. As I said, you see it your way, and I see it mine. There's no real right or wrong here. What I don't understand is why you seem to have trouble with that concept. It's like no one's ever disagreed with you b4. All caps and exclamation marks aren't that persuasive.

@30. You're right. First Date might as well have been titled Last Date or Only Date. I know you don't follow the comix, but over two "seasons" she's only had one other sex partner (another Slayer - maybe Spike spoiled her for 'normal' guys?), and that relationship basically ended with a whimper. In s9, she's flirted a little with an OC, but that's it. Whether or not that flirting will come to anything more, or she finally gets her head out of her a$$ re: Spike, remains to be seen.
32. Dianthus
Oh, I forgot the spacefrak btwn Buffy and Angel. It's better off forgotten, really. Give me Buffy and Spike in an alley any day.
Chris Nelly
33. Aeryl
I don't mind that Buffy's not dating, there is so much more to her and her struggles than just her love life.

I don't like that it's cut her off from her sexuality, that's how space fraks happen.
34. Dianthus
@33. As you well know, my objections re: the comix, go well beyond whether or not Buffy is dating. She had the perfect opportunity to open up to Spike when he told her he was leaving and why. Of course, since he was leaving for a pre-ordained Meta reason that wasn't integral to the story, she couldn't actually try to talk him out of it. Instead, she sulks about him leaving her to fight on her own. Rather than coming across as an adult capable of having an adult conversation, Buffy comes across as childish and inarticulate. This is bad writing.
As for your claim that I said Buffy was a prude, you're just misrepresenting the situation. Again. IDK why I'm still surprised by this.
The old woman in WTWA is a prude. She judged others based on her own concept of what's proper and punished them unjustly. IIRC, there was some religious connection made there.
Buffy is nothing like that. She doesn't (for the most part) judge others. If she chooses to engange in a certain behavior or not, that's strictly up to her. It has nothing to do with her being a prude. It has to do with other factors like her socialization. She does not try to force her views on others.

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