Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yikes. The quality of mercy is not Buffy.



Here we are, five episodes after Innocence, and we’re still dealing with the consequences of that episode.

Buffy is pretty hard on Ghost James for a while, and it’s largely because she sees a lot of herself in him, and, well… she’s pretty hard on herself. All the time, really.

It’s fitting that I Only Have Eyes for You deals with ghosts, because there are a lot of ghosts hanging around the Scooby Gang lately. Well, okay, two. But still.

Giles is still dealing with Jenny being gone, and it shows.


For a chunk of the episode, he blindly clings to his idea that Jenny might be back, and his desperation not only destroys me, but makes Buffy heap even more guilt on herself.

I have a confession to make:

Before this episode, I felt a lot like Buffy re: forgiveness. I saw it as something that’s given because someone’s sort of earned it, and I never considered that may be the wrong way to approach the whole concept.

I blame it on my Catholic upbringing. In religion, forgiveness is granted at a price. Even after “accepting” that Jesus “died” for your sins, you have to earn your reward. Criteria vary, but the concept is the same.

And then I saw this episode.


And my mind was just so fucking blown. This was 1998. I was mmmfmteen, for fuck’s sake! I didn’t even know that I understood it completely then, but I took it and internalized it, and this quote remains one of my Top Five All-Time Favorite Buffy Quotes ever.

I mean, sure, one can strive for redemption, but that is slightly different than being forgiven. One may well never redeem oneself (and hey, that’s a topic for another show! *wink wink nudge nudge*), but all one needs to be forgiven is for someone to simply… do it. Or for one to do it for oneself, as Buffy begins to do at the end of the episode.


The rambly point is: forgiveness is not about worthiness—it’s not about making the wrong party jump through hoops in order to earn a silver star. It’s not a weapon to hold over someone’s head. It’s a new starting point. A mutual acknowledgement of a mistake and an agreement for both sides to do better next time—whether they share the blame or not.

I won’t say I don’t still get it wrong. In fact, I’m told I can be quite the stubborn, uncompromising person, but… I try. And that’s what matters, right?

Anyway, this got a little deeper than I intended, and now I’m kind of a little hurty in the heart region. Which, hey! Proves I have one! Yay, me!


Stray observations:

  • I was listening to Charge, the song that opens this episode right before I put the episode on. Weird.
  • “I pretty much repress anything math-related.” Yet another thing Buffy and I have in common!
  • Hey, that guy’s name is Ben!
  • Wow, these guys are acting the shit out of the James/Grace scene.
  • “I’m no stranger to conspiracy. I saw JFK.”
  • Aww, Willow as a teacher.
  • … And so starts Willow’s interest in magic.
  • :’( Giles.
  • Willow: Xander, what happened? Did Cordelia win another round in the broom closet?
    Xander: You're just a big bucket of funny, Will. I'll have you know I was just accosted by some kind of, um, locker monster.
    Giles: Loch Ness Monster?
    Buffy:Locker monster” is what he said. But it wasn't really a monster. It was, like, this big arm that came out of the locker, but then we opened it again, it was gone. Nothing.
    Xander: This was right after Buffy's history teacher starts doing some freaky channeling thing in class.
    Giles: Ooh! Sounds like paranormal phenomena.
    Willow: A ghost? Cool!
    Xander: Oh, no, no. No. No cool. This was no wimpy chain-rattler. This was “I'm dead as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!”
    Giles: Well, despite the Xander-speak, that's a fairly accurate definition of a poltergeist.
    Xander: I defined something? Accurately? Guess I'm done with the book learnin’.
  • :( :( Giles.
  • Hey, there’s jasmine outside the vamps’ new mansion! Jasmine, you guys! You know… Jasmine.
  • “Yes, well, I, uh, I appreciate your thoughts on the matter, I, in fact I... well, I encourage you to, to always, uh, challenge me, uh, when you feel it's appropriate. You should never be cowed by authority. Except, of course, in this instance, when I am clearly right and you are clearly wrong.”
  • … Snyder knows about the Hellmouth. And so does the mayor?
  • Willow: Remember the plan to contact the spirit and talk to it? Scrap that plan. Buffy, you were right. The time for touchy-feely communication is passed. I've done some homework and found the only solution is the final solution.
    Xander: Nuke the school? I like that.
    Willow: Not quite. Exorcism.
    Cordelia: Are you crazy? I saw that movie! Even the priest died!
  • I’m starting to be seriously annoyed by Drusilla.
  • Also, I… feel bad for Spike?
  • Hey, that version of that song didn’t come out until 1959!
  • “I shall totally confront and expel all evil!”
  • Buffy: No. James destroyed the one person he loved the most in a moment of blind passion. And that's not something you forgive. No matter why he did what he did. And no matter if he knows now that it was wrong and selfish and stupid, it is just something he's gonna have to live with!
    Xander: He can't live with it, Buff. He's dead.
    Cordelia: Okay. Over-identify much?
  • Love that the ghosts possess the “wrong” people. James is so clearly more “Buffy” than Grace would be.
  • It was an accident. :(
  • All the things James needs to hear to move on are pretty much what Buffy needs to hear.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

We’re all concerned about how gross you look.


Okay, seriously? This fucker is one of the most relentlessly creepy monsters Buffy’s ever had.

It’s not just that he’s just so ugly, but it’s… the hat. I don’t know why, it just gives him that little extra “gyeurgh!” Also, he does this:


Besides that special little cupcake up there, there’s really not much to say about Killed By Death. Except… well, Cordy was pretty on in this episode. I mean, besides my title for this post, she got some brilliant lines in this one, including one of my personal favorites: “Tact is just not saying true stuff. I’ll pass.”

Oh, and she also was the one to find and identify Monsieur Creep up there.

And I know I’m using “and” a lot here, but she also joins Angelus in dropping some truth bombs on Xander re: his White Knight syndrome when it comes to Buffy. She’s right, too—it’s not attractive, and it’s insensitive to Cordy, which I’m pretty sure is against most of the laws of man. Not that he ever gets reprimanded at all for it, but this is my issue, and it will come up many times, I’m sure. Someone has to do it, and it might as well be me.

As for other things… well, Buffy has to face her fears in this one, and at diminished operating power, too, since Der KindestOhGodWhatIsThatThing can only be seen when one is burning up with fever.

Not to mention that Buffy’s freaked out by hospitals anyway (right there with ya, Buff) because her little cousin died in one when she was 8 and hey, by the way, that thing you have to fight is exactly the thing that killed your cousin, so…

Enjoy that.

Oh, side note: How cute is it that bitty Buffy used to pretend to be a superhero? The phrase “be careful what you wish for” comes to mind, but it’s also another layer in the delicious cake that is our petite heroine. Is it now any wonder that despite how thoroughly it fucks up her life, she still does her duty by mankind? The girl has the savior gene.

Now. About this metaphor… I’m not sure what to make of it. It can be one of many things: facing mortality at an early age (something done so much better in Prophecy Girl, imo), Angels of Death (those scary people that kill sick people in hospitals because of… reasons?), or—and I think I’ll go with this last one—people who prey on children especially.

As Giles so aptly says, there are lots of monsters that grown-ups can’t see but children can, and many times it’s just plain old people… Wait, not old people… What I mean to say is people who appear “normal.” And just like Der Kindestod, they can very well suck the life out of children—figuratively, if not literally. Fuck, now I’ve gone and depressed the shit out of myself.

Ahh. That helps.


Stray observations:

  • Why did I think it was impossible for Buffy to even get sick?
  • Really? Angelus is scared of the mean ol’ crossie wossies?
  • Cordelia: No, but while she’s in here, she might as well get that thing done. You know, that thing on her face? You know that thing.
    Willow: Do you think Angel will attack Buffy in here?
    Xander: He can come in, it’s a public building.
    Willow: That’s true.
    Cordelia: Am I the only one that’s noticed that thing?
  • … Don’t hospitals take off all your jewelry?
  • Okay, that kid saying “he comes at night” gave me a feeling of dread. It’s the resignation and matter-of-fact tone, like it’s inevitable… It’s just… Maybe I need a trigger warning for that. :(
  • I kinda like the lady doctor.
  • Buffy: Homework!
    Willow: It’s my way of saying, “get well soon.”
    Buffy: You know, chocolate says that even better.
    Willow: I did all your assignments. All you have to do is sign your name.
    Buffy: Chocolate means nothing to me.
  • Xander saw The Seventh Seal??
  • “So this isn’t about you being afraid of hospitals ‘cause your friend died and you wanna conjure up a monster that you can fight so you can save everybody and not feel so helpless?” Cordelia/Tactlessness, OTP
  • Xander: Cordelia, someone’s gotta watch her back.
    Cordelia: Yeah, well, I’ve seen you watch her back.
    Xander: What is that supposed to mean?
    Cordelia: Well, I was using the phrase “watch her back” as a euphemism for “looking at her butt.” You know, sort of a pun.
  • I love that Cordy brings donuts and coffee without a word. Look, I just love Cordy, okay?!
  • So cute that Willow plays “Doctor” wrong.
  • Xander: Finding out who this thing is takes priority. Cordy, you should go with Giles.
    Giles: Why do I have to have—Uh, good thinking. I-I-I could do with a research assistant.
    Cordelia: Let’s go, Tact Guy.
  • Cordelia: Ouch. Wait, what does this one do?
    Giles: It asks endless questions of those with whom it’s supposed to be working so that nothing is getting done.
    Cordelia: Boy, there’s a demon for everything!
  • I love Buffy’s gray top. I want me to have it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

So what you’re basically saying is, “just ignore him, and maybe he’ll go away”?


In which Buffy basically puts on its big girl pants and punches you right in the daddy bags.

… Er, spoiler alert.

It occurred to me somewhere between Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered and Phases that at some point, I would have to shift my focus from viewing Buffy strictly as a growing-up narrative and start to maybe do reviews of the sort that I do for Doctor Who, where it’s sort of a mix of all the elements of the show, and not just the one. That’s not to say that that part of the narrative completely disappears, because it really doesn’t, but at some point the mythology of the show gets larger and it’s harder to talk about one without the other—not because the mythology overshadows it, but because they’re so inextricable that focusing on just one thing makes you lose something in translation.

… And here you thought we were just talking about a petite blonde who fights monsters. When you make an assumption, you make an ass out of “u” and “mption,” buddy.

Anyway, I mention this because I think Passion is about that time where I have to widen my focus.

Now, since Innocence, Angelus has been steadily working on his douchebaggery to where it culminates in his murdering Jenny Calendar—partly to stop her from re-cursing him, which I can’t help kind of agreeing with (what? Angelus is a helluva a lot more fun than Angel, I have no problem admitting that—and I like Angel), and partly to fuck with the gang.

And, well…

He’s kind of good at it?

But the fallout of his actions both up to and including killing Ms. Calendar are what interest me the most of this episode. Angelus just fucks up everyone’s goddamn day in this one, in very different ways, and it’s worth looking at them one by one:


Buffy isn’t on the greatest terms with Jenny Calendar, and that’s because she sees Angelus being Ms. Calendar’s mistake as well as her own. Angelus doesn’t exacerbate this intentionally, but his existence is enough to do that on its own. And because of Buffy’s animosity towards Ms. Calendar, everyone kind of silently chooses “sides,” with the possible exception of Willow, ‘cause she’s a big ol’ nerd.

This puts Buffy’s relationship with Giles in a bit of an awkward space, because he loves Ms. Calendar, but he wants to stand in solidarity with Buffy, so he sort of sacrifices his feelings so that Buffy doesn’t feel conflicted about essentially acting like a bratty kid—I love you, Buff, but it’s true.

But it leads to a great scene where Buffy comes back and actually makes an effort to set aside her own feelings for Giles’ happiness.

O hai, acting like a grown-up!

Speaking of acting like a grown-up, our favorite day-fucker-upper also spills the beans to Joyce about Buffy’s first time (what a prince!), so Buffy has some ‘splainin’ to do.

And for once, I’m not side-eyeing Joyce’s parenting, since I think she handled it pretty well. It’s difficult, sometimes, to put ourselves in Joyce’s position because we know why Buffy keeps things from her. But in this instance, I can understand her—even knowing what I know about the entire thing. It’s hard to effectively parent when your  kid isn’t often around to parent in the first place, but there are still some things that a mom feels entitled to know, especially if she feels they’re things that might put her child in danger.

However, I like that Buffy doesn’t try to shut her mother out this time. Maybe because she can’t, but also because she knows that her choices may have not been the right ones—I am not saying having the sex is wrong. Sex is good. Have it; have it anywhere you want with whomever you want (make sure they CONSENT!), but everyone knows that teenagers can make mistakes. And while Angel loved Buffy, and Buffy loved Angel, the word “caution” comes to mind. Well, my mind, anyway… Not so much Buffy’s. Or Angel’s.

So, yeah… Good talk.


The part of Spike tonight will be played by Xander, Patron Saint of Wounded Masculinity.

Spike doesn’t have a lot of grown-up moments in this one, but I wanted to discuss him because I find the Angelus/Drusilla/Spike dynamic fascinating, and it’s one of the highlights of this season.

Spike hasn’t had a lot of good days lately, and at least half of the blame falls squarely on He Who Excels At Fucking Up Days.

…Yep, that’s him.

As a result, Spike is having a bit of buyer’s remorse, along with epic jealousy, and just generally being a Mr. Cranky Pants.

I mean, I can understand—for a long time, Drusilla was the one who was the invalid, and Spike must’ve got used to it. Not to mention that back in his day, the womenfolk were expected to be weak, and the only men that let a woman feed them (or run shit) were either mama’s boys (*cough*), children, or feeble. Even considering the fact that vamp society (I feel like that may be a thing?) seems to be pretty enlightened when it comes to equality between the sexes, it’s gotta rankle. Especially when you have Alpha Asshole prodding the wound at every turn.

We get it, Angelus, he’s in a wheelchair and you’re banging his chick. Go take a long walk off a sun-dappled pier. And Drusilla isn’t really helping, what with the smiling and not denying that she’s riding the Angel Express.

I say stake ‘em when they’re sleeping, Spike. Make it look like an accident.


Oh. Oh, Giles. I cried when Jenny died because I knew it would destroy Giles.

As I mentioned before, Giles was taking pains to move slowly with Jenny because he was trying to spare Buffy’s feelings, so when the possibility of a full reconciliation was raised, the happiness on his face… Well, look at it! Look at him up there, pleased and hopeful and excited. Giles, with the possible exception of Buffy, is the one fucking person in the entire Buffyverse that deserves a goddamn reward, and instead, he gets this:

… Fuck you, Angelus. Fuck you, and the horse you rode in on.

I wanted to talk more about how this is now the second time that Giles is destabilized and how it shakes Buffy’s foundation at its core, and how in both instances it was the loss of Jenny Calendar—first figurative and second literal—that triggered it, but I can’t handle Broken Giles. I just can’t.

Jenny Calendar

… He killed her. I’m pretty sure getting murdered would fuck up anybody’s day.


Stray observations:

  • Never dance again, Xander. Please and thank you.
  • I’m usually not a fan of voiceovers, but this one was pretty effective.
  • Giles: “This is a school library, Xander.”
    Xander: “Since when?”
  • “Why doesn't he just slit her throat, or strangle her while she's sleeping, or cut her heart out? What? I'm trying to help.” Cordy, never change.
  • Jenny: “I know you feel betrayed.”
    Giles: “Yes, well that's one of the unpleasant side-effects of betrayal.”
  • I’m impressed that Joyce remembers Angel, actually. Keep surprising me, Joyce… I like it.
  • Poor fishies.
  • Omg, so tense during the Joyce/Angelus scene. He’s pretty good at acting like an obsessive stalker… I guess that’s ‘cause he is an obsessive stalker?
  • “Hicce verbis consensus rescissus est,” the last words of Willow’s spell, mean “and with these words permission is rescinded.” Latin majors, feel free to correct any mistakes, as well as question why in the world you’d choose to major in a dead language.
  • Uh, are invitations really needed for public places?
  • “I’m sorry, but let’s not forget that I hated Angel long before you guys jumped on the bandwagon. So I think I deserve a little something for not saying ‘I told you so’ long before now. And if Giles wants to go after the, uh, fiend that murdered his girlfriend, I say ‘faster, pussycat, kill, kill.’” Oh, well, allow me to give you a goddamn cookie, Xander. I’m absolutely sure you hated Angel on moral grounds and not because he got the girl you wanted. Just… shut the fuck up. Argh. Douchebag.
  • (Source)
  • “Uh-uh. No fair going into the ring unless he tags you first.” I love you, Spike.
  • Angelus’ full narration, because it’s actually kind of cool: “Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping ... waiting ... and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir ... open its jaws, and howl. It speaks to us ... guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments; the joy of love ... the clarity of hatred ... the ecstasy of grief… It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.”