Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 2: Favorite Episode

Okay, this one was actually kind of hard. Buffy has some of the best episodes of any television series I have ever watched, so to pick just one feels like a less-depressing version of Sophie's choice. But I had to make a decision, and so here it is:
This is the episode that I think I've watched more times than any other Buffy episode, and each time, I figure out something new and appreciate the series even more. I love how it's less of a narrative and more of a character study, with beautiful cinematography and imagery and foreshadowing.
Also, Riley as Cowboy Guy is quite possibly one of the best things in "Restless."
Dream Giles, obviously still the resident brain (which plays into his own dream in the episode), tells us the meaning of "Restless" - "It's all about the journey, isn't it?" Well, this can actually describe the entire fourth season, which I think is an underrated one. Yes, it had the mind-numblingly annoying Big Bad, Adam, and the plot was scattered*, but it really does improve with repeat viewings.
Oh, Tony Head, how I love you.
I'm not even going to try doing an analysis, since there are many already out there (here, here, and here are great places to start), and I would just be rehashing things already better said. But I will say this: "Restless" played a huge part in my desire to write speculative fiction when I watched it the first time it aired. To this day, it still has me thinking about my own writing, trying to figure out exactly how to do exposition and foreshadowing correctly.
I may have used this phrase in real life.
Not that it doesn't have its problems. As with all things Joss Whedon, he simply just cannot write for a woman of color. The First Slayer, an African who "speaks" through Dream Tara (a white woman speaking for a minority is so incredibly annoying to me), is shown as a lesser person than a more modern, very obviously white Buffy, who chooses to mock her for having dreadlocks because hahahaha it's not professional or something?
Buffy, the original Accidental Racist
But, as a whole, the episode just shows that TV can do metaphor just as well as the best art house film. It tells a story without telling a story, and can I again note that the cinematography is just GORGEOUS?

Good work there, Buffy team.

Honorable Mentions: "The Wish," "Becoming, Parts I & II," "Once More with Feeling," "Hush," "This Year's Girl/Who Are You," "Helpless," "Forever," "Selfless," "Bargaining, Parts I & II," and "Band Candy"

* I actually think this was kind of the point of Season Four. When you start to grow up in high school, it seems like you've got direction (Season Three), and then you get to college (or possibly just real life) and then you're all WTF and OMG FREEDOM. There's a ton of confusion, and your friends start to act differently because they're growing up in ways different from you. Usually, the government isn't involved in covert demon operations (at least I hope not), but the spastic aspects of Season Four really do sum up that idea pretty well.
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