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.


  1. I just love this episode so fucking much. Everything. The funny is really funny. And the heartbreak is smashing all the hearts it can find. Including mine. Poor Buffy. Poor James and Grace.





    1. Giles. Mourning Giles gets me RIGHT HERE, man... It just shouldn't be possible!

  2. So much love for Giles in this episode and that quote. So sad. :(

    As much as I am not a fan of Buffy and Angel, I love this episode and was heartbroken when they snapped out of their possessions and Buffy thought Angel was back but he was, of course, Angelus again. I just wanted Buffy to be happy after the emotional beating she gave herself in this episode. :(

  3. I miss your Buffy posts! Daniel and I are totally gonna catch up to you.