Friday, May 31, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 23: Two Characters I Wanted to Get Together that Never Did

Ummmm, I thought about this one for a few days (seriously) and I truly could not think of a single pair of characters that I wanted to "get together" that weren't ever in some sort of doomed romance. To be completely honest, I think most of them work much better as simply friends, since their idiosyncracies and shortcomings tend to be what they hope are resolved by said romantic entanglements. Anya was looking for identity with her relationship to Xander; Xander wanted a woman who made him feel like a man. Neither was self-sustaining outside of themselves, so to fully make it work between them, they'd have to fully address their weaknesses separately, which they did by Season Seven. I'm glad Joss didn't put them back together, though, even if it did mean that Anya was gonna be sliced at the end of the season. Buffy spent so much of her time maintaining a hero's complex that any relationship she had made her weaker and more dependent than she already was. Angel's banishment to a hell dimension was a major turning point for Buffy, since after that, she started to cut herself off from her friends and family, ultimately pushing away Riley and then delving into a deeply emotionally and physically abusive sexual relationship with Spike. Oz and Willow were I think a great couple, in that neither had any type of power struggle during much of their relationship, and then Tara and Willow initially had a similar dynamic, until Willow became a selfish asshole and decided mind-rape was better than dealing with problems. After Tara's death and Willow's subsequent vengeful lesbian act, any relationship was going to be plagued by her past.

Actually, looking back on the initial question, I'd like to rephrase it to "two characters I wished hadn't gotten together," because hello, Willow and Kennedy. This is not because I disliked Kennedy, which I did; the character was insufferable and even called herself "kind of a brat," but I don't think Willow was ready for another relationship. I'm a firm believer in that, if you haven't dealt with your issues (that played a major role in the demise of your last relationship and, oh, turning evil), you probably shouldn't jump into another pairing. And Willow's issues were huge. She murdered Warren, threatened to turn Dawn back into energy, nearly killed Giles, and then tried to destroy the world. A few months spent with a Wiccan coven in England ain't gonna rub that blood out, guys.

I suppose the only character that I wish would have gotten into some type of relationship would have been Giles. His romance with Jenny Calendar was such a tragedy, in so many ways, because I think they brought out the best in each other, despite the fact it only spanned a short time. With Olivia, his world was just too scary for her, which, to be fair, I get. After that, Giles spent much of his time trying to figure out where he stood in Buffy's life, without doing much with his own. It's not that I think he didn't get a sense of purpose without having someone to bone, but I really dislike the notion that, as you get older, romance no longer has a place in your life because it's what frivolous young people do.

Granted, even if he had been given an opportunity to have a girlfriend, it would have probably ended badly, because who am I kidding, this is Joss Whedon we're talking about.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 22: Favorite Xander-Centric Episode

This picture = me
I really DON'T want to do this one, mainly out of spite. Near the tail-end of the seventh season, he shows signs of growth, but I place a lot of that on the fact that he lost his damned eye, so of course his perspective is going to be a little skewed. Plus, there really wasn't an entire episode dedicated solely to him in that season, and that limits my choices to this: "The Pack," "Teacher's Pet," "Inca Mummy Girl," "The Zeppo," and "Hell's Bells." Naturally, I am going with "The Zeppo," mainly because at the end of the episode, I don't want to throttle Xander with a four-hundred-pound mallet.
Queen C tells it like it is.
The episode sums up exactly what Xander struggles with through the whole series: having a purpose. He's surrounded by people who have enormous talents: Willow is incredibly smart and is a powerful witch; Buffy is the Slayer; Giles has almost encyclopedic knowledge of everything; Oz is a werewolf; both Angel and Spike are vampires. The list just goes on. And Xander is just ... there, sometimes getting in the way and almost getting killed, like in the opening scene of this episode. Or he just tries too hard and ends up looking like a tool.
I rest my case. Although his car IS pretty jazzy.
A big part of what's wonderful - and completely out of character for Xander at this point in the series because hahaha he goes back to being a douche post haste - is that he doesn't tell anyone about his experiences with the three zombie dudes, even if he did ultimately save everyone in the library from a bomby demise. I don't necessarily buy that he only needs the knowledge that he can do things in order to be secure in his manhood, but if taken without the rest of the series in context, it was a pretty big moment in the character, even if he didn't ultimately figure it out for another four, nearly five, seasons.
Arrested development much?
Ugh, can I move on now? I mean, I'm having nice feelings about Xander, and it's making me feel uncomfortable.

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 21: Favorite Willow-Centric Episode

I don't think I could "meh" this topic enough. Honestly, after the fourth season, Willow started to lose my interest, and not a lot of episodes prior to that were Willow-centered, unless you count "I Robot You Jane" and ugh, let's not go there. I suppose Season Four's Oz-has-sex-with-Veruca-and-Willow-gets-sad fest could count as Willow-centric, but those episodes are really more about Oz, anyway. Then there's Six's ridiculous magic addiction episodes, and nope, no, thank you. Season Seven's only truly Willow episode is "The Killer in Me," and I really, really hate that episode. For reasons*.
I never realized how much I disliked Willow in later seasons until I started doing this challenge.
So I guess the only choice is really "Something Blue," which is my favorite only because I dislike the others with a fiery passion. What's interesting here is that I am far more interested in what's happening to the other characters - Giles goes blind, Buffy and Spike get engaged, Xander attracts all the demons - than I am with Willow, for the most part. I think her being courted by D'Hoffryn was a great bit of foreshadowing to her vengeful pursuits in the sixth season after Tara's death (as well as her abandoned attempt at harming Oz and Veruca after the above mentioned sexing), and her inadvertently shifting Amy out of her rat form (and back again) was hilarious. But she was in no way the most entertaining portion of this episode, which has to go to Sarah Michelle Gellar's giddy performance as a Vampire Wife.
Although thank GAWD that hair was just a temporary thing.
And with that, I'm done. Which is sad, because I really loved Willow in the first half of the series, before she became so self-involved that she became unrelateable. It's a pity.

* Like really, this episode should have been about the guilt that she and Tara never really reconciled the fact that, oh, Willow violated her, but instead is all about how Willow feels guilty for moving on. Alyson Hannigan just kills it with her crying and being a great actress, but that doesn't make up for the fact that this is the most selfish story arc the writers could have chosen.

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 20: Favorite Spike-Centric Episode

"Lies My Parents Told Me"
There's so much about this episode that I like that it kind of doesn't seem fair to say that it's only because of Spike, and it's in Season Seven, which I know, what? The worst season ever? But it's true. It has great character development, particularly when it comes to Spike, obviously, but also with Buffy, Giles, and Robin. Buffy reveals that she'd let Dawn die if it meant saving the world, showing a tremendous growth as a warrior (and leader) from her near fanatic devotion to keeping her sister alive in the fifth season. Giles once again believes that he must do the worst aspects of fighting a war so Buffy won't have to do them, or can't, in this case, since Buffy cannot kill Spike out of a sense of obligation to the good in the man. Robin has some serious mommy issues, mostly due to the fact that his mother chose her job over him.
Thankfully, Robin was a little too young to have sexual overtones with his mom.
Watching Spike's mother emotionally mutilate him was some of the most beautiful television ever. The First knows how to fuck with people (and God WHY WASN'T THIS SEASON'S BAD GUY MORE AWESOME LIKE THIS), and to see Spike have this realization about himself - that he still felt guilty over turning his mother into a vampire out of selfishness - was just glorious. Painful, but glorious. 
"Early one mooooorning -" and that's all that I remember of the song.
The symmetry of the episode is also one of my favorites, with both Nikki and Buffy stating, "The mission is what matters," and then both Giles and Robin get the door slammed in their faces, literally in the former's case and figuratively in the latter's. "Lies My Parents Told Me" is one of the most perfectly written episodes, with no extraneous bits and pieces and annoying Potentials (they were only in there for like a second, which pleased me so). This is the kind of episode that I wish every major character got as a send-off, but I guess we all have our unanswered prayers. 
This actually kind of creeps me out, since well, Spike's relationship with Buffy is already problematic and ew.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 19: Character I Love That Everyone Else Hates

Let the screaming begin.
Best. GIF. Ever.
Okay, okay, okay. I get that people hated Dawn. I never really got that, particularly since, well, when you were 14 - 16, you were way more annoying than Dawn ever was. I was just as shocked as the next person, when at the end of "Buffy vs. Dracula" (UGH HATE YOU), spunky Michelle Trachtenberg popped up and called Joyce "Mom," but I was intrigued. I enjoyed the idea that Whedon and Co. were trying to give Buffy someone other than a boyfriend to care about, and for the most part, it worked. It seemed a bit forced at times, but I just wasn't used to seeing overprotective Buffy after four seasons of her being a single child.
Awwww, look, she even has Buffy's hair from Season One!
Yes, Season Six brought out the worst in Dawn. I admit this, but hear me out. First, her mom is dead. Second, her sister died, was ripped from heaven and is now depressed (rightfully so), so she's a little absent. Third, her other mother-type figure Willow is going through her addiction (bleargh) to drugs magic and nearly gets Dawn killed. Fourth, she has hormones and doesn't have anyone to talk to about them, save her classmates, and we all know how smart our classmates were in middle/high school. Add to that, she's fifteen and has yet to develop the capacity to properly handle all of these things without any parental guidance, so yes, she's going to be hard to handle. But the thing is, she matures and becomes a sort of Watcher Junior in Season Seven, basically without a lot of help from Buffy and her friends.
Her reaction to Tara and Willow getting back together is just priceless.
Dawn was actually my second choice for Character Who Deserved More Screen Time, but since that title only really applied to Seven, I chose Tara. But Season Seven really is where Dawn is kind of shoved out of the way for the other characters, and if those had been successfully done, I probably wouldn't have minded as much as I did. I've already discussed my issues with Season Seven, so I'm not going to rehash them here. Even Whedon said that he didn't necessarily think that anyone would want to watch a "Dawn goes on a date" episode, but I think that's kind of a cop out. I mean, despite the bonkers shitshow the comics continuation that Season Eight ended up being, I actually enjoyed Dawn's storyline of losing her virginity and going through her multiple incarnations after she was curse. And all of this was going on at the same time Buffy was doing her thing, which yes, did include having sex with Angel while flying through the air. But I digress.
Even Dawn thinks that was ridiculous.
Now, on her controversial ousting of Buffy from their house. I think her choice was spot on, and I don't think that Dawn did it because she was pissed with her sister. Dawn was shown to be one of the smarter characters - I mean, she became fluent in reading Sumerian, guys, like as an extracurricular - and she was also deeply connected to Buffy in ways that no other character was. She understood that Buffy needed time to recuperate and that she couldn't do that while under the constant strain of leadership. But she was also the only person who could have forced Buffy out of the house. Not even Giles, whose relationship with Buffy was already on the rocks after his handling of Spike, could have made that decision. It was a painful choice that Dawn had to make, but like most of Season Seven, she was strong and did what had to be done.
Dawn, always with the adages. 
So yeah, bitch about her "getoutgetoutgetout" all you want, but Dawn was the same age as Buffy was when the series began, and by GOD, the bitch is much stronger and smarter than Buffy ever was and has handled a lot of her issues with much more grace and maturity than Buffy ever did. Maybe it's the younger child syndrome, where you watch your older sibling go through hell (literally and figuratively in Dawn's case), but I give the character much more credit. She deserves it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 18: Character Who Didn't Get Enough Screen Time

This really is kind of a dead giveaway, since I already kind of hinted at this with Day 12's Least Favorite Episode, but oh, well.
I know that this is from "Family," but I love her makeup here. Amber Benson is my favorite. 
This character was supposed to be a "core member" of the Scooby Gang, but even Anya, the oddball who never really fits in because she's Anya, has her own story that comes to its conclusion - albeit an unsatisfactory one, in my opinion - at the end of the series. Tara never gets that. We never get to see any of her backstory, beyond her family being a bunch of misogynists, and we only get glimpses as to what she does while she's separated from Willow (following the latter's horrible treatment of her). She hangs out with Dawn sometimes, and she provides Buffy some type of closure when she thinks she came back from the dead "wrong." And when she dies, after reconciling with Willow, her death is all part of Willow's story, not her own. 
Amber Benson is so purty.
From the beginning, Tara was an object that the creators wanted to use to round out Willow's character, which is fine, but the character deserved more. And honestly, yes, I understand why Amber Benson didn't want Tara's image to be used to fuck with Willow, but I really think the First would have gone there. If they wanted to screw with Willow even more than they did, they would have used Tara's image. Willow's whole arc in the seventh season (well, it was hinted at and didn't really come into play too much, even though they totally should have because that would have been interesting, and this might have redeemed Willow more realistically) was that she was forced to face her actions in Season Six, and to bring Tara back, even in First form, would have really smacked her in the face.
You'd think they'd really want to fuck with Willow, but instead they use Cassie, a character she'd never met before to be Tara's "voice." That always seemed like a weird choice to me.
But see, even in this way, Tara doesn't have any agency of her own beyond what the character can do for the other "more important" characters on Buffy, and this makes me really sad, particularly since Tara spent most of her life (at least, from what we were shown) being incredibly meek and self-sacrificing. Like Anya, she deserved to have a life outside of the Scooby Gang where she could really find a direction that didn't necessarily have to include others for her to be complete. But instead, she got shot in the chest by a stray bullet. Because ... story-telling, or something.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 17: Thing I Hate That Everyone Else Loves

Back on Day 4, I combined 4 & 17 because they were the same, and I would have been repeating myself. That, to me, is dirty, dirty cheating. So for today, I'm going to be bitching about the Cheese Man.
"Restless," my favorite episode of the entire series, was a sequence of the dreams of Willow, Xander, Giles, and Buffy after they "joined" in the penultimate episode of Season Four to defeat Adam, one of the weakest villains of BtVS.
4 RLZ H8 U
But I digress: only two things were common in the four dreams.

  1. The First Slayer
  2. The Cheese Man

Joss explained the Cheese Man was supposed to represent the random parts of dreams that otherwise have no explanation or deeper meaning in the narrative. As a person who dreams, I accept that. As a viewer, however, I do not. I have always really enjoyed surrealistic films on both a personal and artistic level, so when I start watching one, I completely immerse myself in the experience. A lot of effort is involved. Every time that jackass popped up on screen with his damned plate of cheese during "Restless," my concentration was broken and I'd yell at him to get the hell off my TV. The payoff, I guess, was supposed to be at the end, when Buffy referenced the Cheese Man, saying that at least the others didn't have to deal with the guy with the cheese, and everybody exchanged these awkward glances. Hilarious!
It's just hilarious, I tell you.
But then again, I am lactose-intolerant, so maybe I'm just experiencing transference.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 16: Episode I Like That Everyone Else Hates

"Bad Eggs"
I'm not sure how much flak I'll get for this one, but I absolutely love the Season Two episode "Bad Eggs." I remember watching that when it aired, and like Buffy and her mom, my mother and I were going through a argument that dealt with responsibility and obedience. I'm the first to admit that I'm flighty. It's not out of a desire to piss people off in any way; I just get distracted by other things. This was always a major point of contention between my parents and me and the primary reason I got into trouble as a kid and teenager. My mom would tell me to clean my room, and I would go up there, completely intending on getting it done, and end up reading a book or taking out my art supplies and making a bigger mess than there was to begin with. 
This was a common statement.
It's not just the personal connections with this episode that make it one of my guilty pleasures. There's so much about this episode that I adore: Cordy and Xander's bickering and clandestine makeout sessions, Xander boiling his Egg Child, the ridiculous Gorch brothers, the foreshadowing of Buffy and Angel's future (having sex in "Innocence" and him leaving Sunnydale in "Graduation Day"), references to pulp horror and science fiction, Jonathan's cameo, the final battle with the Bezoar queen and the surviving Gorch brother fleeing. It's just pure geeky fun, and it has some of my favorite lines from the series:
Willow: Buffy! How come you weren't in class?
Buffy: Vampire issues. Did Mr. Whitmore notice I was tardy?
Xander: I think the word you're searching for is "absent."
Willow: Tardy people show.
Buffy: Right.
Willow: And yes, he did notice, so he wanted me to give you this. [hands Buffy an egg]
Buffy: As far as punishments go, this is fairly abstract.
Xander: Or perhaps it's the burden of parenthood. Notice how seriously you two have taken this egg this, while I, in turn, have, uh, well, chosen a more balanced approach. [tosses his egg in the air]
Willow: Xander, maybe you shouldn't ...
Xander: That's exactly what I'm talking about. You can't stress over every little thing! A child picks up on that, which is a one-way ticket to Neurotic City. [egg drops on floor]
Willow: It didn't break! [her expression turns disapproving] How come it didn't break?
Xander: Which is another secret to conscientious egg care: pot of scalding water and about 8 minutes.
Willow: You boiled your young?
Xander: Yeah! I know it sounds cruel, but sometimes you gotta be cruel to be kind. I mean, you can bet that little Xander here is thick-skinned now.
Giles: Technically, that would be cheating, yes?
Xander: No! It's like a short cut. You know, when you run a race?
Buffy: That would also be cheating.
Willow: You should be ashamed.
Giles: I suppose there's a sort of ... Machiavellian ingenuity to your transgression.
Xander: I resent that! Or possibly thank you.
Buffy: Nice bear [referring to Cordy's backpack]. Listen, is your -
Cordy: Hey, I'll have you know that my father brought this bear back from Gstaad years ago. Then all of a sudden, these trendoids everywhere started sporting them, so I'm totally not wearing it. Then I thought, hey, I'm the one who started this nationwide craze. What am I ashamed of?
Buffy: Okay, Soliloquy Girl, I just wanted to ask about your egg.
Cordy: My egg?
Buffy: Yeah, your egg. The one Mr. Whitmore gave you.
Cordy: It's in my bear.
Buffy: So your egg isn't acting odd or anything?
Cordy: It isn't acting anything. It's an egg, Buffy. It doesn't emote. 
And yes, I may have quoted Cordy's "It doesn't emote" statement more than once in my life. 

I just don't understand why so many people hate the episode. Sure, it isn't the best, and it ends all tidy with Buffy kissing Angel from her bedroom window, but damn it, I like "Bad Eggs" and nobody can take that away from me. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 15: Favorite Male Villain

Okay, so I got behind again because a) I published my second novella and b) I have been dealing with flea-ridden animals, which is fun, to say the least.

But anyway, on with the Buffy Challenge.
You really outdid yourself with this one, Whedon.
I am not the only person who thinks Mayor Richard Wilkins is the best villain of the entire Buffy universe. The third season by far has one of the most cohesive story arcs of the series (minus the icky that is the Willow-Xander pairing) and gives us the ultimate villain.
No commentary necessary. 
Harry Groener brings his A-game throughout the whole season, effortlessly swinging between a 1950s-ish father-knows-best persona to a sinister evil sorcerer hell-bent on transforming into a demon. The brilliance of it, though, is that he's convincing as both and you never really get the feeling that the character is pretending either way: he is a paradox, one that loves his surrogate daughter (Faith) and wants to rule over the world as a giant snake demon.
In case you were wondering, yes, that does include being able to eat people whenever you want. Ah, to be king of the world. 
In the same way that Faith is a mirror to Buffy, Mayor Wilkins is a mirror to Giles. They both have a violent streak that comes out when someone they care about is harmed in any way (e.g. Giles tries to kill Angelus after he snapped Jenny's neck, Giles beats the absolute shit out of Ethan Rayne - RIP Robin Sachs - because he puts Buffy in danger, the Mayor tries to kill Buffy while she's unconscious at the hospital after he sees what damage she did to Faith, the Mayor tries to kill Buffy again when she taunts him with the knife he gave Faith), and they are extremely paternal to their respective Slayers. Giles even gets fired from the Watcher Council because of his fatherly love for Buffy, and the Mayor turns down a sexual offer from Faith, insisting that he's a family man but also treating her like a daughter he never had by setting her up with an apartment and generally just making her feel wanted and loved.
I adored all his trite adages he spew at Faith, who oddly took it in stride. 
What's sad about the Mayor really stems with how the writing crew kind of peaked with the character. I mean, yeah, Buffy did eventually have to face a hell-god in Season Five, but the followup Big Bad in Season Four seemed to really be just a rehashing of what Three dealt with: authority figures that have and want more power are not to be trusted. And the Initiative and Adam just kinda fell flat, since they weren't even remotely as fleshed out as Wilkins was. We're not even going to get into Six's "life is the Big Bad*" and the First in Seven because ugh. It just pales in comparison that it's almost not even worth mentioning.
Dick is not amused, Six and Seven.
The Mayor is really why Season Three keeps bringing me back to watch it, even though I no longer identify with a lot of the issues that Buffy and crew are going through at the time. He's just so affably evil, and it's absolutely delicious.

*Kind of like how Season Seven could have rocked my socks off, the idea of life being the great evil is such a cool notion, but then it turned into a Willow-is-an-angry-lesbian-world-doomer that didn't go with that theme at all.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 14: Favorite Female Villain

As if there's any other choice?
Drusilla (Juliet Landau)
Like Faith in Season Three, Drusilla is a twisted mirror image of Buffy, particularly after (SPOILER ALERT) Angel loses his soul. Angel told Buffy when Dru was first introduced that she had lost her grip on reality because of his own torture and manipulation, and I always wondered if, had Angel been human or ensouled when he met Drusilla, his obsession with her would have transformed into a pure love and devotion, like his dedication to Buffy. When Angelus began his own crusade against Buffy, the past was repeating itself, and if Buffy hadn't been able to get her shit together, she might have become a twin to Drusilla, both in insanity and in sire. That's actually kind of chilling, if you think about it.
Can I, like, have her hair? Please??
While she's a cautionary tale for Buffy, Drusilla also represents the kind of threat that many girls and women feel when they are dating their supposed true love: the past girlfriend. Buffy is initially intimidated by Dru when she sees Angel talking to her in the park, and then she dreams that Dru takes him away from her. Eventually, Angel turns back into Angelus and he thus returns to Dru (and Spike), which only reinforces this fear. I really have to hand it to Joss Whedon and Co. with this aspect of Buffy. If you want to know what teenagers (at least, white teenagers in the late 90s and early 2000s) think and go through, watch this show.
This woman is just flawless. 
Honestly, a large portion of my Dru-love is her demented babble. For example:
"The King of Cups expects a picnic. But this is not his birthday." - "Fool for Love"
"Your face is a poem. I can read it." - "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered"
"You know what I miss? Leeches." - "Halloween"
In the later comics, apparently, Dru has been cured of her insanity, and I'm not sure I want to live in a fictional world where she doesn't scold Miss Edith for speaking out of turn. It's such a wonderful part of her personality, albeit brought on by tragedy and an evil Angelus, and to have her sane just kind of makes her just another vampire. I haven't read the comics yet, although I'm intrigued since Juliet Landau herself actually co-wrote the story. So I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 13: Favorite Potential

Um. No. None of the above. The least annoying is Felicia Day's character, Vi, so I guess her? I don't even know or care because, like so much of Season Seven, the idea of the Potentials could have been so much more interesting than it ended up being.

You know what? I'm going to do my least favorite Potential, who oddly enough isn't Kennedy, although she is a very close second for obvious reasons. But my least favorite is Lalaine's Chloe, partially because she uses the phrase "TTFN" unironically. She hangs herself because the First taunts her into it, which leads to my least favorite Buffy monologue of all time, which Anya calls the "everybody sucks but me speech."
"Anyone want to say a few words about Chloe? Let me. Chloe was an idiot. Chloe was stupid. She was weak, and anyone in a rush to be the next dead body I bury, it's easy. Just think of Chloe, and do what she did. And I'll find room for you next to her and Annabelle. I'm the Slayer. The one with the power. And the First has me using that power to dig our graves. I've been carrying you - all of you - too far, too long. Ride's over ... [to Kennedy] You're new here, and you're wrong. Because I use the power that I have. The rest of you are just waiting for me."
And really, this is where I was like, "Ugh, Buffy, why are you such an ass." I get that she has to be tough on these girls and remove herself from caring because a lot, if not all of them, are going to die. I don't even know where I was going with this, so I'm just going to stop and say CURSE YOU, SEASON SEVEN.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 12: Least Favorite Episode

I was actually really surprised at how hard this was. There are many, many bad episodes of Buffy. I mean, the show spanned seven seasons, so there naturally had to be a few turds in that salad. And honestly, I can't say that there are any episodes that I just won't watch on principle. Well, that's not entirely true. I can only watch "The Body" once every year or so because it's so emotionally charged, but it's actually one of my favorite episodes of the entire show. I thought about choosing an episode from Season One, but really, I kind of give that season a pass. It's kind of like judging a child for trying to find itself in the world. The other seasons, though, don't get that lenience from me, particularly the latter ones (I'm looking at you, Seven.).

But since I have to choose one, I'm going with "Family."

Now, don't get me wrong. Tara is my third favorite character on Buffy*, and I'm kind of disappointed that this was her episode. All of the other love interests of the main characters had their own subplots going on (Oz being a werewolf, Anya becoming more human/self-aware, Jenny being Roma and trying to keep Buffy and Angel apart because of Angel's curse, Riley being a science experiment/commando, etc.), and Tara got a single episode that was hers. Uno. Sure, she was involved in other episodes, but it was always directly related to another character's arc (Buffy wanted to know if she came back wrong, Willow was becoming addicted to magic, etc.). Poor, poor Tara. She deserved so much more.

Everything in this episode, like Willow and Xander's third season romance (UGH), felt so contrived and pointless, and even the better parts of it were poorly executed. First of all, the scene where Buffy steps in between Tara and her misogynistic family (also, hi, Amy Adams!) made me roll my eyes. Oh, "she's family" now?? Buffster, didn't you but a while ago sit at the table with Jackturd Xander and confess that you had no idea what to get Tara for her birthday because you know next to nothing about her? I mean, yay for standing up to the jerks and Amy Adams, but for real? It's not like you even make an effort ever again throughout the entire series (well, until she dies) to get to know Tara, at least not on screen. When Willow and Tara break up in Six, the only person that is shown to be interacting with Tara is Dawn. So all of this posturing for the McClay's is just stupid. And everyone also seems to have forgotten that, well, Tara nearly just got them all killed with her little spell, which brings me to my next point. While it was nice to see the writers explaining Tara's odd behavior in the previous season (she sabotaged the spell she and Willow were working on to locate a demon), it irritates me knowing that, a year later, Tara gets all Judgy McJudgerson with Willow for violating her mind, when she herself had altered the perceptions of her supposed friends for her own purposes. I'm not excusing Willow's behavior here, either; her mystical rape of Tara was a horrible action, and she had every right to be super pissed about it. But to act all high and mighty about it seemed hypocritical and not-Tara. Her actions in "Family" aren't even brought up, something that I think Willow would have tried to throw in Tara's face because at that point Willow is turning into an asshole.

There's really not much else that I can say about this episode. It just doesn't work in a lot of ways, both as a standalone entity and as part of the narrative whole.

* My top five are Anya, Cordelia, Tara, Giles, Oz. In case you were wondering. Which you probably weren't, but you're welcome, anyway.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 11: Least Favorite Romance

Ugh, ughughugh. This one is a no-brainer and is going to be the shortest entry in this challenge because I hate it so:
Xander and Willow: the worst relationship idea EVAR. 
I really hated how contrived this whole thing was: oh, Xander realizes that he lurves his best friend when she is hospitalized and then ZOMG she calls out her BOYFRIEND'S NAME instead of his and well we just can't have that because who am I kidding this is Xander who just wants whatever he can't have because he's Xander and then they carry on this secret affair where the actors have exactly zero chemistry and UGH UGHUGHUGH. Plus, really, Willow? You cheat on Oz for this? Come ON, bitch.

I guess we all have those nasty spots in our dating pasts, but really. UGH.

And I'm done because I just can't. That is how much I hate this.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 10: Least Favorite Season

This really is a no-brainer: season seven, gah. You could have been so incredibly awesome. The concepts, the unresolved character arcs, etc. UUGGHHHHH. (If we were including the comics, this would be Season Eight because what the hell magickal craziness and Buffy flying and whatever, Joss.)
First of all, let's talk about the First. What the absolute fuck did the First want? Do we know? Nope. Not ever. So the Slayer line was ... somethinged because Buffy was resurrected at the beginning of Season Six, even though Faith is technically the real Slayer so it shouldn't have altered anything and WTF Whedon do you not even pay attention to your own continuity? And they have an army of supervamps or something underneath a seal or something that is waiting to be unleashed and what the hell I don't even know. How can they fight against the IDEA of evil? It's like a war against drugs or terrorism. If I rail against our government for such things, I can do the same for my TV shows.
You're going to be getting a lot of eye roll gifs.
Moving on.
I wasn't kidding about the eye rolls. 
Willow. I've already said that Willow was the character with whom I identified with until around the end of Season Five, and Anya was already taking her place as my favorite everything way back in Season Four. And after the events of Season Six, I was fully expecting a type of resolution to her turning evil (yay, lesbian tropes, you guys) after Tara's death, but nooooooooooooooo. Of course not. She gets off too fucking easily, in my not-so-humble opinion. She returns from England three episodes into the season, and after being invisible (which I think was actually a very interesting way of approaching this) because she doesn't feel like she should be forgiven, the gang is pretty much like, "Oh, you became evil because of magic and now you're coming back to the Hellmouth where there is lots of magic? WELCOME, WE HAVE NO PROBLEMS WITH THIS." And then at the end of the series, Buffy has Willow of all fucking people take the power of the Slayer and put it in all the potential Slayers of the world - which is directly violating their true will, which was what Willow did to Tara back in Season Six, and I'll get to this in a second - which puts her into direct contact with some pretty potent magickal energy. This, to me, seems like playing with fire, and even Willow knows this, although I think that's giving her too much credit here. There were times when I thought they might actually address some real issues that Willow would be dealing with (i.e. her past abuse of Tara, her magic and evil being connected forever, etc.), but nope, they threw all of that out the window.
I know I hate closure. 
And then there are the plot holes and deus ex machina moves that Whedon and Co. continue to introduce in the last season. Because that's just good writing, right? For starters, there's that Beljoxer's Eye (or however you spell it - I don't even care because it's that stupid), which is supposed to be this oracle thingy that both Giles and Anya know about but have never mentioned before even though ... you know what, why bother? Which coincidentally, is what I think everybody on the Buffy team was saying at this point in the game. We also see Amy Madison again, who for some reason has decided that she hates Willow and wants her to suffer because ... again, why bother? The lady in white who's apparently been in Sunnydale forever in a pyramid that no one's ever seen before watches over a scythe that's not really a scythe and is one of the most random additions to the story because it doesn't fit the mythos in any way. Not that Joss seems to really care about that, anyway, considering he basically retcons the existence of the Turok-han, saying they're the progenitors to vampires, which makes no sense but whatever. As much as I love Nathan Fillion, why is Caleb even introduced? Like, really. Why? Oh, so Buffy can do julienne preacher? Okay, then. Poor Spike, too, doesn't really get his due, since he's been away getting his soul back and all. They just portray him as "mad" and have him living in a basement and hugging crosses and shit. I'll argue with you all day that Spike is one of the, if not THE, most fleshed out character in the Buffy series, but like Dawn in Season Seven, the writers are like, "Well, we'll let the viewers imagine what's going on with him because we want to write more episodes where nothing happens!" "Sleeper" could have been a really incredible episode (ahhh, Season Seven's mantra), but they didn't do anything more than what "Conversations with Dead People" did on Spike's return to killing. I could go on and describe every single episode and their contributions to the WTFery, but I'd be here until the end of time.
I don't even know who this girl is, but her eye rolls are CLASSIC.
Oh, and race. The Big R. The thing that Joss never gets and I fear never will. Poor Rona, the only black Potential (??? I mean, really, Joss? Potentials from all around the world and you only got ONE black girl and ONE Asian girl?), is written stereotypically and is given gems like "The black girl always gets it first" to say to the camera to be shown on Logo from now until eternity. The white woman that I mentioned up there that guards the scythe by ... watching it, I guess? She has supposedly existed back when the Slayer was first created. Well, okay, that's fine, even if she's never been mentioned ever, but who am I kidding? This is Joss we're talking about. But then you have to remember that this whole Slayer line started back at the beginning of Man, before we'd evolved into several races and left Africa. So ... this woman was always white? Always looking over the lesser races? Having her be of African descent wouldn't have made her any more plausible a character, but at least it would be consistent with the mythology. But who am I kidding?
This is my favorite evar. 
Alright, and now, my big fucking beef. So, you know how they did that magic box thing where Buffy went and talked to the Shadow Men? And then Buffy found out that the Shadow Men, the original Watchers, essentially raped a young woman with the power of a demon so she could fight vampires? And then they tried to do the same to Buffy to supposedly give her more power to fight the First (which we've already established can't really be killed because it isn't a physical thing and ugh WHEDONNNN!)? Well, Buffy gets to turn around and, using Willow's powers, does the SAME. DAMNED. THING. to all of the potential Slayers all around the world. Without their consent. Because ... then the First loses? Yay, girl power? I don't even know, anymore. Just because a woman does the violating does not make this okay in any sense. Plus, didn't Buffy spend the first, like, two seasons complaining, "I just wanna be a normal girl!" like she was on repeat? But now, because she's older, she knows better and can therefore make decisions for all girls around the world?
Neil, I have yet to forgive you for Pluto. 
Honestly, Seven for Joss Whedon was like the prequel trilogy for George Lucas. The show had been so popular and successful up until that point that I don't think anyone was telling Joss, "Um, dude, that isn't a good idea." I've heard that Angel: The Series was pretty amazing, even in its last season, and that a lot of credit was given to the writers that Joss had passed the torch to. I understand, as a writer, that you want to see your creation through to the end, but there comes a point where you kind of have to let go, especially on a project that big. Plus, he was also doing Firefly during Six and Seven, so he was undoubtedly split between them, and he spent a bit more time making sure the former was up to snuff.

And Firefly still got canceled, anyway.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 9: Favorite Romance

So I went and got sick and so yesterday's post is late, but oh well. I'm feeling moderately better (no fever now!), so onward Buffy soldier, I guess. This post is going to be short because first off, I really don't think that the romances are the most interesting relationships of the show and, two, there is a strange lacking of quality pictures on the internet (at least to me) of my favorite couple.

In reality, I wish I could go into Seasons Eight and Nine here, because - contrary to my general loathing of the male half of the pairing - my current favorite romantic relationship is Xander and Dawn, but I'm limiting myself to the TV series, so ... whatever.

But this also means that I get to talk about one of my favorite things about Season Two, and no, I'm not talking about the pairing of crushed velvet pants and belly shirts (although that's a good guess).
This couple actually is what drew me into Season Two. I was wondering what the writers would do villain-wise after the Master, and they brilliantly chose to go in this direction, with two vampires who were not bound by ritual (very much like Buffy herself is) and obviously crazy about each other.
While Dru is obviously just crazy.
The chemistry between James Marsters and Juliet Landau was palpable. They were just so well matched and played off each other so fucking well that I almost wanted to believe that the actors were desperately in love, as well*.
I'm fairly sure Juliet Landau does not age.
Their relationship is only featured in Season Two, but it had its own ramifications throughout the rest of the series. It calls Spike back to Sunnydale in Season Three and continues to affect his decision-making processes, all the way into Season Seven. What's interesting to me now is, as I was going back and watching the series again recently, that Drusilla is totally the dominant one of the relationship, although Spike is shown to be the more physically active one. Even from the beginning of their story, Drusilla chose to make William the Bloody Poet into a vampire and seemed to be the one who initiated their sexual encounters out of an attraction for the chaos he represented. Her actions (i.e. flirtations with Angel) and needs (i.e. becoming strong again) drive Spike during Season Two. In Season Five, she's the one who tries to return him to the killing fold. I mean, Spike called himself Love's Bitch, and I never really realized how true that statement was.

Another thing I love about these two is the genuine love they share for each other, despite being nearly irredeemably evil. Even the Judge from "Surprise" and "Innocence" recognizes their "stink," and then three seasons later, Drusilla admits that vampires can love well, "if not wisely." Spike's dedication to Dru mirrors Angel's own dedication to Buffy, and actually kind of opens the doors to the graying of Buffy's world: even bad guys can have admirable qualities, and some humans (aka Maggie Walsh) can be even more ruthless and unfeeling than the demons that Buffy fights.

And now I've gone and gotten more philosophical than I intended, so I'll just end this here, since I'm going to cover the last topic more later on this month. Again, I apologize for being behind, but hey, I can give myself a sick day if I need one. Yet another aspect of self-employment that I enjoy.

* When I was little, my parents let me watch Top Gun without any editing, and I was well aware that the people on the screen were actors. However, I was absolutely CERTAIN that Hollywood wouldn't promote infidelity in any way, so when Maverick and Charlie were having Teh Sexytimes, I just knew that they shot it in silhouettes because Kelly McGillis was actually Tom Cruise's wife. Luckily, I've grown up since then.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 8: Favorite Friendship

I really should just make an entire website dedicated to all things Anya, because yay, she makes another appearance here.
Any and Spike
Despite the fact that they later have a sexual encounter, their relationship is pretty much all platonic, all the time. Even their sexytimes was based on a mutual respect of each other and a desire to help the other deal with some pretty deep-seated personal pain (Anya was left at the altar by Jackturd Xander and Buffy had just ended her sexual relationship with Spike). They just get each other in ways that the other Scoobies just cannot, and Spike has even said that he always appreciated how she always spoke her mind without much thought to anything else.
Any reason to use this gif is reason enough for me.
Their stories parallel each other pretty well, actually. They both become regulars in season four, and ha, (SPOILER ALERT) they both die in the series finale, although Spike is mysteriously resurrected in LA to join the cast of Angel, and no, I've actually never watched Angel, so I don't know how all of that fits in. It's on my to-do list, okay?
Anya, your haaaiiiiiiirrrrr. What is that even?
Both have pretty vicious demonic sides that gradually get tempered by learned humanity. Anya is forced to live as a human not once but twice; the first time was thanks to DoppleGiles and the second came from the affable, yet admittedly evil D'Hoffryn. The only difference between the two is that Anya, like I said in my favorite female character post, chose to define herself as a singular entity as opposed to her previous method, identifying herself by who she was dating or by what her job was at the time. Spike, on the other hand, decides to retrieve his humanity after he brutally attempted to rape Buffy (God, the absolute hardest scene I have ever watched on television - well, after That Scene in BSG where Athena was being raped aboard the Pegasus - ugh shudder) so he can be a better man. The end result, for both of them, is that they end up being complete people, and it's at least partially to blame on the people with whom they fell in love.
That's only, like, one point in Xander's pro column. 
Anyway, because I live in a world where my head-canon exists, I like to imagine that these two got together often just to relive their glory days as Badass Demon Types or just to complain about the people who'd always been humans. If I were Anya, I'd constantly bitch about Xander trying to keep me from talking so frankly about sex, and if I were Spike, I'd reminisce about the many ways in which I'd killed people without having a chip send shooting pain through my body. I actually think they probably had those "OMG I WAS THERE TOO!" moments, particularly in the first part of the twentieth century. Then again, I may be overthinking this.
I would love to get drunk with these two. We'd complain about Xander for hours
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