Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We interrupt this broadcast for a special announcement


Okay, yeah, I did that thing where I disappear for weeks. Sorry about that, I kind of got caught up in Doctor Who. However, since I’ve now finished Doctor Who (*sob*), I will resume my Buffy duties, which I do take seriously. Ish.

But. I have decided some things.

I recently met my most favorite unspoiled Buffy reviewer of all time, Mark Oshiro, and it kind of inspired me to branch out a bit. As a consequence of that, I’ve decided that I will, indeed, cover Angel, which… yikes! Especially since I’m nowhere near as well-versed in its metaphors and themes as I am Buffy. But I think it’ll be a good way to hone both my critical eye and my writing skills, so…


Haha, enjoy Bearded Ben Affleck from Chasing Amy. Ah, to be so young again.

Also, more news: I’m gonna go ahead and start another blog. Hopefully, I can sort of link it to this one, à la Mark’s own site. That blog, kiddies, will cover my new obsession:

Yes. I have reached that level of geekiness. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and tremble, because

(Source. Go for a reaction, stay for-fucking-ever.)

So… yeah. I am not planning on having much of a life or sleeping anytime ever. Because when I love, I love completely, and must analyze the things I love to death.

How does my boyfriend cope, I wonder? Wait, I really wonder that. I’m gonna go ask him...

(Next Buffy post will be about The Dark Age, and it will be up tomorrow or the day after. Stay tuned!)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Some lies are necessary.


You know, it’s strange. When you’re a kid, lies are strictly a “get my butt out of trouble” gig. Whether it’s lying about doing your homework, or whether parents will be at the party you’re going to that night, or even what grade you got on that big Calculus test (ugh. Calculus. *spit* Let us speak of it no more!), the end result is that you don’t get your ass beat, and thus, life comes up roses.

But then you grow up, and the lies you tell are much more complicated, and sometimes, yes, they are “necessary.”

And this is what poor Buffy learns in this episode.

Perhaps as a by-product of her desire for a normal life, Buffy harbors resentment for lying about her Slayerdom, which is only noticeable in her relief and happiness when she finds out that she doesn’t have to hide it from her old friend Ford.

This is another person she can treat like Willow, Xander, and Giles. She doesn’t lie to them (most times), and they don’t lie to her. It’s an unspoken agreement. They’re the people she can be herself with, and it’s understandable that she would feel more betrayed if they were to lie to her than say… Ethan Rayne. She doesn’t expect it from them, and she doesn’t feel she should.

Unluckily for her, everybody lies. And everybody in this episode lies… except Spike.


And what’s worse, the lies are to protect her. Is there any excuse less comforting than “I did it to protect you”? I mean, sure, maybe it’s flattering in a way, but seriously? How about not assuming I can’t protect myself? Or letting me decide what I need to know and not know? Or hey, how about not selling me out to my enemies for a dubious reward?

However, it’s hard to stay mad at the gang (but not Ford. Fuck Ford, really) for too long because it’s far too easy to put ourselves in their shoes. Growing up, as Giles tells Buffy in the truly brilliant final scene, means dealing with complexity. People aren’t always recognizably good or bad, and even actions can be interpreted in many different ways, depending on your perspective.

Ford’s actions were wrong, yes, but understandable. I don’t know what a nest of tumors feels like—and I wouldn’t want to, thanks—but I can imagine how it fucks with your moral center. In the end, Ford was a scared guy being cheated out of a life. Unfortunately for him, that doesn’t excuse his cheating everyone else out of a life, and it means Buffy has to stop him.

Growing up sometimes really sucks.


Stray observations:

  • “What? Whatting a what?”
  • “I’m not supposed to have boys in my room.” Ah, Willow… I did love you once upon a time…
  • “Really honed my brooding skills.” Angel’s funny! Who knew?
  • (Source)
  • “It took one of my books!”
  • “I’m a bad, rude man” was the sound my computer made when I signed off. Yes, I really am that big of a geek.
  • Imagine—actually making someone insane and then turning them into a demon. I don’t think “yikes” is a strong enough word…
  • I see we’re doubling down on that flawed definition of “vampire.”
  • Wow, they bury people quickly in Sunnydale.
  • And because it’s perfection:

Buffy: Does it ever get easy?

Giles: You mean life?

Buffy: Yeah. Does it get easy?

Giles: What do you want me to say?

Buffy: Lie to me.

Giles: Yes, it's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.

Buffy: …Liar.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's “come as you aren't” night!


Leave it to Buffy to subvert even its own ‘verse’s traditions. Turns out, Halloween’s not as quiet as we thought.

Halloween is a great episode. I mean, in many ways, it’s still such a “Season Two” episode, but I think it’s great despite that. Why? Well… Why did I think Nightmares was a good episode?

… Never mind, I’ll answer that. It’s ‘cause we deal with my favoritest thing ever in Buffy: character development! Sure, there’s the whole plotline with the costumes and chaos running rampant and Ethan Rayne (hi, Ethan!), but this episode is primarily character development. How, you ask? Well, okay, I’ll tell ya.

First, a note on the Roman god invoked by Ethan, Janus. Giles mentions that he is a god presiding over the division of self, dealing in dualities like light and dark, and male and female. He… is sort of right. Janus is the Roman god of beginnings, actually, and of transitions (which is why he looks both backwards and forwards and our first month of the year is his namesake). Also, doors and gateways, and other things symbolic of beginnings. Wait. I said “transitions,” didn’t I? As in, “the transition from childhood to adulthood”? Hmm. I’m not saying that’s meaningful, I’m just saying that it totally is.

Anyway, Janus is also significant because a transition is exactly what happens to the gang due to Ethan’s tainted costumes. Let’s take these one by one, shall we? Let’s start with Xander (who was very hot in this episode, I must admit).

As I’ve said before, Xander deals a lot with issues of masculinity. We even see it in the beginning of the episode, when he deals with Larry. Two things: (1) Xander, what did we say re: Buffy taking care of herself? Hm? and (2) Xander buys pretty heavily into this whole “being manly means being able to fight” thing. The fact that in their little group, the “warrior” is often a girl (read: Buffy) both excites and frustrates him. It’s a reversal of what he’s used to, and it intrigues him, but it also makes him feel not a whole man.

So his choice of costume is utterly not surprising. If it wasn’t soldier, it’d be cowboy (which he did already), gladiator (he’s not too down with the nudity, though), or suave secret double-0 Xander.

You can see, however, that even as a warrior, Xander is more than happy to defer to Willow when she takes command, so his issues with masculinity are not that he has to “take orders from a woman,” per se (and good for him, too!), but that he’s really not needed to defend their honor, or to express his masculinity by holding his own in a fight. Being the Halloween soldier kinda alleviates all that. It even gives him closure by being able to “express his masculinity” on Larry’s face!

… Er, that came out a lot dirtier than I meant it…

Anywho, moving on to Willow.

Willow is an interesting study. We don’t usually get to explore her psyche, and even in Nightmares, she only had one nightmare to contend with, as opposed to two and even three like the rest of the gang.

I mentioned that Willow fears the spotlight as much as she covets it, and that’s still true. Even though her nightmare was to be put on the spot, her subconscious automatically made her the “star” of the show. And we still see that here. Although the costume that *ahem* comes to life is the ghost, what she’s wearing underneath is still significant, especially since it’s the one we “see” throughout the episode.

Willow wants to be invisible almost as much as she wants to be seen. Notice how she comes into her power after she becomes a ghost; commanding Xander, making plans, contacting Giles. It takes being immaterial (as in “incorporeal”) to make her take charge. It’s easier to take command when it doesn’t physically affect you, I suppose. However, I’m being a little unfair here. Willow’s demonstrated that she takes charge before, in Reptile Boy. And she will again. But so far, this has only happened when Buffy is indisposed. When Buffy’s around, she becomes “invisible” again, and she’s glad of it. The costume beneath the ghost is one that’s usually chosen for her, whereas she chooses to be the ghost. Hopefully that’ll change.

And finally, there’s Buffy.

Buffy’s still trying to be “normal.” By which she means “girly.” Of course, we’re talking “girly” in the traditional sense, in which we’re nothing more than lovely, vacuous airheads who dream of rich husbands and pretty dresses. Now, the good thing about this show is that this is not something she wishes for long. In fact, this show is all about rejecting that view of femininity. Buffy thinks that being the Slayer means losing all that is feminine about her. Someone that thinks beheading rather than nail polish, or ambush tactics rather than facials. That, to her, falls into masculine, and therefore, makes her unattractive and Other. Something that Angel will reject. Which… what the fuck?! She thinks Angel, a vampire, will reject her for being Other? Oh, dear.

What I like about this episode, however, is that this silliness is pretty swiftly rejected. Maybe not overtly by Buffy (yet), but strides are made. Angel isn’t interested in that version of femininity, he’s interested in capable, self-reliant, can-kick-ass-in-Dolce Buffy. It’s funny, because normal Buffy is far from masculine anyway. And normal… well, what’s normal? Oblivious? Ignorant? Constantly in danger? Ill-equipped? I’ll take Door Number Two. And so will Buffy. For now, anyway.

We can also explore Giles, because some interesting scenes with Ethan reveal some sexy—I mean odd traits. However, Giles has an episode coming up, and we can explore him then.

However, it’s interesting to see how the gang handled “Come As You Aren’t” Night, by coming as they aren’t, but wish they could be. I love these kinds of episodes!


Stray observations:

  • Angel and Cordy actually get along pretty well. I think this may be the episode that made me a budding Cangel shipper.
  • I remember when canned soda was 60 cents!
  • Hey, Xander, Buffy can defend her own honor!
  • The Great Watcher Diary Caper is a source of great amusement to me.
  • “Do you stuff your own shirts, or do you send them out?”
  • In 1775, Angel was a lot older than 18, and was already a vamp.
  • Usually, I get annoyed at TV Halloweens, ‘cause everyday teens have extremely elaborate costumes that there’s no way they could afford unless they’re rich, but this episode did okay.
  • …Spike does homework?
  • I love you, Oz. Have my babies!
  • So… that kid dressed as a flower… did she buy her costume at Ethan’s?
  • (Source)
  • How’d that vampire even get in to Buffy’s house? There are rules, mister!
  • …Except Buffy sometimes can’t defend her own honor…
  • Yay, Badass Giles!

Thursday, February 2, 2012



Buffy does not exist after Season Seven. It just doesn’t. I don’t give a fuck what anyone says, not even that damned ginger.


… Sorry, just needed to get that out.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

And you! You’re going to jail for 15,000 years!


Now this episode—this episode isn’t very good for the men. And hey, I’m sorry, guys, but you kinda acted like jerks and so you deserve to be called out on your jerkish behavior.

I’m not talking about the frat guys, because well, those guys get a paragraph or two of their own in a bit.

I guess we can start with how Giles, Angel, and Xander treat Buffy during this episode.

Now admittedly, especially in the context of the show, Buffy can’t afford to be as frivolous and carefree as your run-of-the-mill stereotypical teenage girl. She has the weight of the world on her shoulders, and one misstep could fuck her and the world right the fuck up. I get that.


She’s still a teenage girl, with all its attendant hormone surges and desire for normality. Sure, she can’t blow off Slayerdom completely and have her entire life revolve around cute boys and dances, but dammit, she deserves some of her life to. Did we forget “all work and no play”? That shit leads to creepiness and mass murder. And also, this:


And no one wants crazy Nicholson eyes. I mean, really.

I get the responsibility thing, trust me, but there’s every indication that Buffy does, too! So why is Giles so… totalitarian about it?

And don’t even get me started on Angel!

…Don’t you give me that look, mister. You were infantilizing her, and you know it! And what’s worse, it’s not the first (and also regrettably not the last) time you do it! I don’t give a fuck how many centennials you’ve had, you’re being a—well, I’ll let George Takei say it:

Buffy’s a kid, sure, but she’s not a stupid kid. And she does have the right to make mistakes. I mean, how else is she supposed to learn? I’m also pretty sure she knows how she feels, and while still a bit far from adulthood, she has a pretty good sense of how to run her life.

…. I hope you’re paying attention, Xander, ‘cause that also goes for you. Your jealousy and macho competitiveness is starting to get a little annoying.

Anyway, what I like about this episode  is that even though Buffy does make a mistake by acting rashly, the men aren’t painted as being “right,” either. They were all mistaken, and they all learned a lesson. Well… Hopefully. Not very convinced Xander pays that much attention to lessons.

A quick note on the frat guys: a lot of noise has been made about Buffy being a feminist show, and it has its pros and cons there, but this episode is—I think—on the pro side. Sure, the cutting of the phallic monster (of which there are a metric fuckton on this show.  Okay, “shitton” might be more accurate) in half is maybe a little too far on the symbolism side (not too mention a just plain mistaken portrayal of feminism, but we’ll leave those rants for another day), but a very specific *ahem!* point is made.

I’ve found that fraternities in general suffer from the same problem that religion does: there’s moderate and there’s extreme, but the extreme gets, by a fucking lot, the most media attention. It’s slightly unfair, but perhaps it’s indicative that something is broken with the system?

Anyway, the fraternity seen here is both ridiculous and scary because a lot of the things the show highlights about it are uncomfortably close to the truth. The hazing of pledges (by forcing them to wear women’s clothing, because that’s so gay, dude! *sigh*); the viewing of women as conquests; the emphasis on power and hierarchies… It’s all kind of chilling when you take into account the real-world implications. Which is why I believe—when the show makes an effort to destroy these images and portray them as wrong—that the show means well, and its missteps in the whole feminism thing aren’t malicious or calculated, but actual missteps. Easily corrected with a little education and honest dialogue. So… good job, Buffy! Keep fighting the good fight.

Okay, disturbing soapbox rant/sidenote over.

Here’s pouty Buffy:


Stray observations:

  • Wow, that girl can just run through glass like that?
  • Willow, on Angel’s being a vampire: “That doesn’t make him a bad person. Necessarily.”
  • “And if there was a god, don’t you think he’d keep it that way?” Cordelia’s in top form in this one. See title.
  • Buffy doesn’t really have much luck with older guys, does she? Or History majors, as we’ll see.
  • Haha, Buffy wore black anyway. How did Cordy not punish her for that?
  • Notice how every problem Xander’s had until now has to deal with not being masculine…
  • “When you kiss me, I wanna die.” Now, do you mean “die” in the Shakespearean sense?