Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I know you take pride in being the voice of the common wuss, but the truth is, certain people are entitled to special privileges.


Okay, so… I did that thing again where I was gone for ages. We’re not going into it, but I was just feeling all “what’s the point” and lazy about a lot of things and this (and my other blogs, incidentally) were collateral damage.

It also doesn’t help that this episode is not a fave. I mean, it’s not IWYJ bad, but it’s also not a stunner.

Granted, it bears the ill luck of being sandwiched between two fantastic episodes, but even so…

Although, you do get the delicious privilege of seeing a young Wentworth Miller turn into a fish/tadpole… thing:

And, of course, the one and only time I actually caught myself drooling for Xander:

And there is not one Cordelia moment that isn’t flawless:

… I mean, the hair alone.

But this episode does also have a really obvious “Steroids ‘R Bad, Mm’kay” message, and the one thing I hate more than most things: Buffy almost being sexually assaulted… Again. Let’s stop going to that well, people, okay? That well sucks. Find another fucking well, d’you hear me?

Go Fish did deal with issues of privilege, though—primarily in the context of school sports. Which does happen, by the way… Sometimes in unbelievably gross ways. As a society, we tend to be alternately shockingly permissive and naughtily titillated by athletes’ bad behavior—especially if they’re winners. And, well, in a way, it’s encouraged. Just think of all the incentives offered young athletes when it’s time to go to college. After a while, it’s expected that they get free shit (including women), and a free pass to do whatever they want (including sexual assault). It’s just the way the world works, as Cordy says.  Not always, of course. That would be generalizing atrociously. But it happens.

Thankfully, the show seems to take issue with this attitude—especially since the athletes in question are turning into B-movie monsters. The metaphor is clear: compromising yourself in order to be a “winner” turns you into a monster.

I’ll admit, I don’t even know how big the pressure is in high school to be a winner—I was blissfully unconcerned with my own school’s sports lineup—but I imagine it all starts somewhere.

Anyway, what I’m saying is… actually, I don’t even know. I think I’m out of practice. Hopefully the next one’s better, eh?


Stray observations:

  • “Team? Swim team. Hardly what I'd call a team. The Yankees. Abbott and Costello. The 'A'. Now, those were teams.” I may be going nuts, but I’m sort of liking Xander in this one…. *checks for fever*
  • “Dude, what is that foulness?”
  • I love Cordy’s outfit. I love Cordy’s everything.
  • “You know what really grates my cheese? That Buffy's not here to share my moral outrage about swim team perks… She's too busy being one of them.” Aaaaand he lost me. Fuck you, Xander.
  • Yes, good.
  • Hey, I like Buffy’s outfit. I am now glad you’re a fish thing, asshole.
  • So… no one cares about Buffy being attacked because she can take care of herself. FEMINISM!
  • “Any demons with high cholesterol? … You're gonna think about that later, mister, and you're gonna laugh.”
  • “God, this is so sad. We're never gonna win the state championship. I think I've lost all will to cheerlead.” Aww, poor Cordy…
  • Hey, look, you guys! It’s a Gameboy!
  • Aw, The Bronze has an animal cracker display case. My headcanon is that they put it there after Oz requested it.
  • The only person more obvious at following people than Buffy is probably Lorne.
  • “Who is she—the Chosen One?” I see what you did there, Angel.
  • “No, he just sort of… peed in the pool.”
  • Hey, everyone, it’s Shane West!
  • Cordelia:  You, you, you. What about me? It's one thing to be dating the lame unpopular guy, but it's another to be dating the creature from the Blue Lagoon.
    Xander:  Black Lagoon. The creature from the Blue
    Lagoon was Brooke Shields.
  • Er… fish don’t fuck. At least not like humans do.
  • “Oh, my god, Xander! It's me, Cordelia? I know you can't answer me, but... God, this is all my fault. You joined the swim team to impress me. You were so courageous. And you looked really hot in those Speedos. And I want you to know that I still care about you, no matter what you look like. And... and we can still date. Or, or not. I mean...
    I understand if you wanna see other fish. I'll do
    everything I can to make your quality of life better. Whether that means little bath toys or whatever…” If you don’t love Cordelia, you need to kill yourself.
  • *Monsters head into the ocean* Me: Well. That’s gonna destabilize the ecosystem something fierce…

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.”

Monday, May 7, 2012

Is this love? ‘Cause maybe on you it doesn’t look all that different…


Today, we’re talking about Xander, who—despite his total idiocy and wrongheadedness—kinda inspires my sympathy in this one.

Thankfully, I didn’t deal with a whole bunch of teen love drama when I was in high school. I wasn’t so thankful at the time, especially since I was at my best weight in high school, though my boobs weren’t as big as they—you know what? Forget I even took that detour…

(Source Whee, a DW gif on a Buffy blog! It’s like a delicious fandom sandwich!)

So, yeah… This episode sort of kind of picks up where Phases left off, in a way, because Xander is still trying to define his relationship, only now the problems arise because Cordelia might not be—strike that, is not comfortable with that yet.

Part of it, of course, is that Cordy is very much a girl defined by her social circle, which is to say she defines herself by her social circle. I’m sure we can all agree that’s a normal thing in adolescence—actually, that’s a normal thing, period. People care what other people think. It’s a thing.

Unfortunately, other people are dicks a lot of the time. A lot. Of the. Time.

Teenagers especially. It’s like their job or something.

So… we have a problem. Cordy’s insecurities mean she panics and dumps Xander (actually, considering what an ass he becomes, I kinda wish the breakup had stuck, but… hindsight and all that) in order to regain her status as Queen C. Xander, in turn, having learned nothing at all from the motherfucking HELLMOUTH, ropes Amy (who has also not learned a goddamn thing from the folly of her mother) into casting a love spell that predictably backfires and turns Xander into some sort of teenage girl catnip.

Yup. That guy.

Actually, it’s all-woman catnip…

…but that way lies psychological trauma, so we’re not even going there.

As the jilted, Xander even has a parallel in Spike, who’s rapidly losing Drusilla’s affection to Angelus.

Spike, however, has to deal with his issues elsewhere because it is late, and I can’t think of a way to relate “not feeling vampire-y enough to compete with your vamp grandfather for your vamp mother/girlfriend’s affections” to the “normal teen rites of passage” theme. I’m gonna have to get back to you on that. Although it’s great for in-universe character-building, so… there’s that.

In this episode, both Xander and Cordy get to do some growing up.

Through his and Amy’s spell, Xander finds out that real, actual love is not a compulsion or a punishment, but a freely given gift. As Giles points out, the “love” that these women feel is not about Xander, Xander is an object to them. Real love should be more about the loved rather than the lover. Xander cast the spell because he was more concerned about how Cordy embarrassed and hurt him, and he never thought about why she would feel like she needed to break up in the first place. It was more about how he felt than what was really wrong.

Hopefully, the experience also taught him how to deal with being hurt in a mature manner, but you’ll understand if I don’t hold my breath on that one…

As for Cordy, she realizes (with a really awesome speech) that her coolness isn’t derived from who she hangs out with, but who she is, and as such, she can date whomever the fuck she decides to date, thankyouverymuch, and the haters can familiarize themselves with the left-hand evacuation procedure.

Of course, seeing as she’s revised her entire worldview, she has a little moment of panic when she realizes what she’s done, but in the end, she’ll be okay.

Xander, you so don’t deserve her.

For now, though, live Hellmouthily ever after.


Stray observations:

  • As I said up there, it’s late, so I’m sorry if all that was a little rambly and incoherent.
  • I don’t know, even if Cordy’s stock has plummeted, it’s a little risky to challenge her. I mean, there’s no way Harmony can fill those Manolos.
  • Both Spike and Xander give their girlfriends necklaces. Aw!
  • …And then Angelus makes everything icky with an actual human heart. What a prince.
  • Although… “I found it in a quaint little shopgirl” was kinda funny.
  • Angelus: Dear Buffy. Hm. I'm still trying to decide the best way to send my regards.
    Spike: Why don't you rip her lungs out? That might make an impression.
    Angelus: Lacks... poetry.
    Spike: Doesn't have to. What rhymes with lungs?
  • Amy is a pretty crap witch, judging by the evidence. For one thing, Diana is not a goddess of love, but goddess of the hunt and the moon. In fact, she once asked her father, Zeus, to be allowed to live without love or marriage, and is well-known as a virgin goddess. No wonder the spell didn’t work.
  • Okay, besides the previous bullet point, other theories why the spell didn’t work: (1) the locket protected Cordelia, (2) Cordelia already loved Xander properly, so she was immune, (3) Xander’s failure at life somehow infected the spell. Number 2 is far-fetched, though… not ‘cause Cordelia couldn’t possibly love Xander, but because the spell worked on Willow and Willow’s loved Xander since childhood, apparently.
  • Rupert Giles: I cannot believe that you are fool enough to do something like this.
    Xander: Oh, no, I'm twice the fool it takes to do somethin' like this.
  • Wait. Every woman in Sunnydale… So does that mean Xander’s mom is…? Oh. Oh, god. I’m sorry for that, really.
  • I have to give Xander credit for not taking advantage of Buffy even though he’s not over her. Maybe he isn’t a complete waste of space. :)
  • “Would you quit with the Hecate?!”
  • Oz punch!
  • “Who died and made you Elvis?”
  • “…And keep your mom-aged mitts off my boyfriend! Former!” Cordy, I love you.
  • “I guess I really did drive you crazy…”
  • Hey, look at that, Xander and Cordy, back in Buffy’s basement!
  • Uh, Xander intending to put a love spell on you is not romantic, Cordy.
  •                             “I seem to be having a slight case of nudity here.”
  • Xander: How much groveling are we talking here?
    Buffy: Oh, a month, at least. Xander, come on, I mean... this is worse for [Willow] than anyone. She loved you before you invoked the Great Roofie Spirit.
  • Cordelia: Do you know what you are, Harmony? You're a sheep.
    Harmony: I'm not a sheep!
    Cordelia: You're a sheep. All you ever do is what everyone else does just so you can say you did it first. And here I am, scrambling for your approval, when I'm way cooler than you are ‘cause I'm not a sheep. I do what I wanna do, and I wear what I wanna wear. And you know what? I'll date whoever the hell I wanna date! No matter how lame he is!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Oh, what, so now you’re special?


I once referred to this episode as the “Mixed Signals” episode. And I think it still holds, in some respects.

Willow’s radar is off in relation to Oz, as is Buffy’s in relation to Angel, and Xander’s, in relation to… Larry.

This episode deals a lot with themes of sex and sexual identity, not to mention repression, and it has the added bonus of making the metaphor visual in Oz’s case:

Okay, not the best werewolf I’ve ever seen, but like Giles says, it’s one of the classics!

Lycanthropy lends itself so well to this theme, because it seems so obvious: man literally becomes an animal when he represses his urges. It just so happens that Phases only deals with the guys being asses, but this is an equal opportunity metaphor, since women are just as likely as men to be unable to handle their animalistic side.

Since we have to deal with the guys, however, let’s take ‘em one by one.


To say that I wanted to face-punch Larry repeatedly  in the first half of this episode is an understatement. He was just such a pig.

But then, of course, we find out he was dealing with some pretty big issues. I’ll admit, I have no idea what it’s like to be a gay man in such an image-conscious setting as a typical high school (obviously), so I have no idea how delicately Buffy dealt with this issue. I am sure, however, that there are those who overcompensate so much that there is no way someone would think they’re gay—like Larry. And that other guy from Glee.

What does make me sad is that there are apparently no other out gay students in Sunnydale High so that I can see how in-denial Larry deals with them. I would wish that it wouldn’t be as disgusting as how he dealt with women, but now there’s just no way of knowing.

What I love most about Larry’s realization is that all he really needed was a chance to say it out loud. His silver bullet is just a sympathetic ear. And while Xander was completely clueless about what it was Larry needed to confess, he still served as such. I also love that it’s Xander, who’s so concerned with his masculinity (much like it seemed Larry was), who finds out that Larry’s gay. I daresay it challenges a couple of his preconceptions, just like it does Larry. Or it should.

Which brings us to…


I bet Xander never thought he’d have relationship issues, but hey, there they are!

Now, I don’t wanna get too deeply into this yet, since Xander’s issues aren’t resolved as neatly as Larry’s and Oz’s in this episode (and the episode directly following this will also explore Xander’s character), but I just wanted to point an aspect of his that keeps popping up—he tends to be way overprotective of both Buffy and Willow… but only when there’s another guy involved.

I think it’s tied into his assumptions as to what being a guy means, but I also think it’s his streak of possessiveness. It’ll appear again, so I’ll try to address it then, but I just wanted to mention it now, since it’s brought up in this episode.

In the meantime, let’s turn our focus to…


It could be the benefit of hindsight, but it seems to me that it’s more obvious that Oz should be the werewolf than anyone else.

Of all the guys we’ve seen, he’s the most reserved, the least likely to show overblown emotion.

And in the same way that Larry repressing his true self brought out a monster, Oz being so reserved brings out a real one.  We already know from Willow that they’ve barely rounded first base, and we know that wolf is attracted to sexual energy.

It’s also worth noting that when he tries hardest to hide from Willow, the wolf emerges:

I love that his dismay at discovering he’s a werewolf can be read as mixed signals, too. How often have mixed signals been sent because someone’s trying to figure out their own shit, or worse, tried to hide something? Well, here you got both.

Given the implication, I’m not sure how crazy I am with the solution being to lock Oz up for three days every month, but considering the alternative:

I’ll take it.

At least Oz is being honest with and about himself. And that’s totally a grown-up thing to do.


Stray observations:

  • Hey, look, you guys, it’s a The Witch callback!
  • “That’s great, Larry. You’ve really mastered the single entendre.”
  • So side-eyeing Willow for that “skanky ho” comment. Catty and unproductive.
  • Okay… Half of Sunnydale has personally seen Buffy kick ass and take names. Explain again why she has to pretend to be a “meek little girly girl”?
  • Giles laughed at a Xander joke!
  • “In other words, your typical male.” NO NO NONONO. I love you, Buffy, but I’ll kick you in the shin if you say something so stupid again.
  • Werewolves revert to human form when they die, so they would have normal teeth and a human hide. Cain is a liar and a stupid-face.
  • Cordelia and Willow commiserating over Xander and Oz is a thing of beauty.
  • (Source)
  • “Aunt Maureen? Hey, it’s me. Um, what? Oh. It’s, uh... actually, it’s healing okay. That’s pretty much the reason I called. Um, I wanted to ask you something… Is Jordy a werewolf? Uh-huh. And how long has that been going on? Uh-huh. What? No, no reason. Um... Thanks. Yeah, love to Uncle Ken.” How crap do you have to be at parenting to have your toddler bitten by a werewolf?!
  • Omg, that The Pack callback made me see red for a minute.
  • Haha, Buffy fits the profile.
  • “He—he said he was going through all these changes, then he went through all these… changes.”
  • “Three days out of the month, I’m not much fun to be around, either.”

Friday, April 6, 2012

I’ll just… let it burn.


I’ve mentioned before that Buffy’s relationship with Angel seems to be driven purely by her fantasies.


That’s not to condemn or mock her, it’s just a statement of fact. Buffy’s still a young girl, and it’s not like society doesn’t tell young girls that Princes Charming exist, and that we’re all entitled to “happily ever after.” It’s something she can be forgiven for doing, is what I’m saying. Unfortunately,

(You guessed it)

I mentioned in the review for Surprise that there is a brilliant strategy in this being the episode named Innocence, and now I get to elaborate.

In addition to pushing fairy tale romances, this culture has a habit of linking virginity to innocence and naïveté, and maybe that’s right in some cases, but… not this one. Buffy loses her virginity in Surprise, but she loses her rose-colored glasses here, in one of the most brutal scenes ever (which was flawlessly executed, in my opinion).

Due to a clause in Angel’s curse (which totally makes sense, you guys, really!), his one night with Buffy turns him into King of the Douchebaskets, and Buffy is forced to deal with the monster she’s inadvertently created.

Let’s be clear here: this is not saying that Buffy is to blame. As Giles says, while she may have acted rashly, her decisions were understandable, given the information she had at the time. She wasn’t stupid, she wasn’t tricked, she’s not a slut. She’s a girl in love.

By the way, fuck you, Joss Whedon, for making that scene so goddamn believable. Just—the “I thought you were a pro” line kills, you sadistic bastard.

Also, how awesome is it that the sex scene is shown in this episode rather than last, after we know that Angel’s changed? We’re not meant to be titillated or swoony, Whedon just wants to kill all that is left of joy. Thanks, guy.

Fuck, I need a drink.


Stray observations:

  • This one’s not so stray, but it seemed not to fit with the bulk of the review… The Drusilla in Buffy’s dreams is… well, it’s Buffy. Specifically, it’s Buffy’s shadow self. Which means, that in her unconscious, Buffy knew that she would “kill” Angel. Or that she was afraid to.
  • Spike wants to destroy the world?
  • Buffy worrying that her mom can tell she’s had sex is just fucking perfect.
  • “You can’t see the stars, love, that’s the ceiling. Also, it’s day.”
  • Okay, he’s an asshole, but… Angelus is way more fun than Angel.
  • “Gee, maybe he’s broken.”
  • Buffy:  I—I don’t understand. Was it m-me? (meekly) Was I not good?
    Angelus:  (laughs) You were great. Really. (snidely) I thought you were a pro.
    Buffy:  How can you say this to me?
    Angelus:  Lighten up. It was a good time. It doesn't mean like we have to make a big deal.
    Buffy:  It is a big deal!
    Angelus:  It's—what? Bells ringing, fireworks, a dulcet choir of pretty little birdies? (laughs) Come on, Buffy…It's not like I've never been there before.
    Owowowowowowowowowowow… JOSS WHEDON, WHAT IS YOUR BRAIN?!
  • Seriously, this curse makes no sense. Like, at all.
  • “I am Angel… at last.” Hmm…
  • … Sunnydale has an army base?
  • “Well, we don’t have cable, so we have to make our own fun.”
  • “Oh, I’m not gonna kiss you.” Oz. Why are you not real, Oz?
  • Giles rejecting Jenny for Buffy’s sake. :(
  • MOTHERFUCKING ROCKET LAUNCHER. I hereby decree that whenever I’m feeling down someone has to give me a rocket launcher as a gift.
  • “Best present ever.” “Knew you’d like it.”
  • By the way, don’t think it’s a coincidence that Buffy and Angelus’ fight takes place under a sprinkler shower.
  • “Come on, Buffy. You know you want it, huh?” Jesus, Angel.
  • (Source) Yes, good.
  • "Do you want me to wag my finger at you and tell you that you acted rashly? You did. A-and I can. I know that you loved him. And... he... has proven more than once that he loved you. You couldn't have known what would happen. The coming months a-are gonna - are gonna be hard... I-I suspect on all of us, but... if it's guilt you're looking for, Buffy, I'm-I'm not your man. All you will get from me is-is my support. And my respect." Oh, Giles…
  • Dear god, when will I ever stop crying?!