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.
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