She Saved The World A Lot 1

September 20th, 2006

Considering the idea that genre fare is ‘merely’ entertainment, and therefore we who create it and consume it aren’t bothered with real world issues.

Yet, you know?  it does seems that often genre looks at real world issues more successfully than some other forms do, sometimes, for us who are living with these issues, experiencing the conflicts and terrible troubles as they are developing and creating consequences in real time and our real lives.

Last night I watched the last episodes of Buffy’s last season, season 7.  What happened is that I watched the last episodes back-to-back more than once.  Why?

Partly because so much was going on, it’s hard to parse it all at one go, and I was trying to get a handle on it all, finally, and for once.

Partly because the events resonate deeply now, post Katrina.  The scenes that were of Sunnydale’s population evacuating, without any official assistance or order, or seemingly any notice from anywhere else of what was going on, were particularly affecting, as were the scenes of the aftermath of the evacuation: Squatting in somebody’s home, who is defending it with his shotgun; the power going out, because those who kept the infrastructure functioning also had to leave.  None of this had yet happened to a major American city when these episodes were shot.  But all of it did happen, 2 years later (Season 7, ep 19, Empty Spaces, broadcast in April of 2003), and more too.  At least no one forced the poor of  Sunnydale to stay inside to die of flood, thirst, hunger, exposure, lack of medical facilities, as was done to so many trying to get out of New Orleans. 

Sunnydale’s evacuation rather mirrors Buffy’s situation.  Her Champion, Spike, hasn’t returned from his mission. She is all alone, without support, as is Sunnydale, ignored by the national power structure. Buffy’s been expelled from her Summers home because even her sister Dawn concurred that she wasn’t trustworthy to lead the Potentials and the Scoobs against the 1st Enemy.

Chosing Clem be the one Buffy talks to out of the evacuees was a good choice to dramatize Sunnydale’s population.  Clem is a type similar to a significant portion of New Orleans’ population. He’s  a demon who isn’t all that good (a yen for eating kittens and all), but not ambitious or vicious enough to be all that bad either, pleasant enough company when no obligation or effort is involved.  Sunnydale’s a good place to a be a slacker demon, like New Orleans was a haven for certain sorts of slackers, who also were neither that good, nor that bad either — with their preferred lifestyle of not working so hard that it would interfere with daily consumption of drugs, alcohol and or food that were no better or worse for them and the community than Clem’s preference to have a non-stress job and consume kittens.

Like Sunnydale’s Hellmouth, New Orleans’ historic legacy of slavery, shipping and corruption also attracted as it does now more than its fair share of the most vicious and violent types (while there is either no way or very little way for the decent people to live there now – no place to live, no schools, no hospitals, etc.).

I dunno about the final shot.  Did you all feel that Buffy was free at last, and happy with the prospect?

 

After all, she had returned to hell from heaven, the last time she died.  Because the Hellmouth had cratered didn’t meanthat heaven had been established on earth.  Angel’s Season 5 makes that clear.

Do you think Buffy’s really free at last?  And what does that mean for a Slayer in a world full of Slayers, ‘free?’

Thank you for your patience with greyish thoughts on a greyish afternoon.
 

53 Responses to “She Saved The World A Lot 1”

  1. kateelliotton 20 Sep 2006 at 5:21 pm

    SPOILERS

    I hate to sound all gushy, but I thought the ending was brilliant, although there are several eps in the lead up to the end that are boringly talky and that I would only see again to get to the end. The business with releasing the power in all those girls all over the world was, I thought, genius insofar as it reflects the larger idea of female emancipation. The montage was great, and I have to say that Jay missed things like the trailer trash girl who is being sexually abused who rises up to confront her attacker.

    I didn’t think Buffy was free or happy at the end (and not having her reply to Dawn’s question – isn’t that how it happens? – was another stroke of genuis).

    I thought that Whedon is suggesting that, like all of us, she doesn’t know what will come next, that a new era in some ways has dawned (you can call this girl power, but it has a larger meaning) and that the future is a mystery and the past is buried. All we can do is walk backwards, blind, into tomorrow.

    Just my two cents worth.

  2. Eugeneon 20 Sep 2006 at 5:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing your sobering insights. I’ll have to watch that episode again tonight with this in mind, but I think you’ve made some interesting connections. This is the power of a good story, its ability to be interpreted and reinterpreted in many ways by different people at different times, and to resonate with events that happen long after the story was created.

    I agree that this wasn’t exactly a happy ending. I think like all of their victories it was “we won for now” and it felt very bittersweet. I guess we’ll find out what happens next in the “Season 8″ comics.

  3. Marie Brennanon 20 Sep 2006 at 5:28 pm

    MORE SPOILERS

    I think the execution of a lot of stuff in the later seasons was deeply flawed, but the underlying structures were well-done. What do you do after you fight a god in Season Five? Bring it home, make it personal; make it Willow. Then ramp it up again for Season Seven, this time not just with one Extra Super-Uber Enemy, but with hordes, and answer numbers with numbers. At the end, don’t just have it be about Buffy; have it be about all of them (with an overtone of, we all have the potential to do great things). I like the triggering of the Slayers not just as female empowerment, but as empowerment in general, and a step away from the one hero(ine) who saves everybody; saving the world required lots of people.

  4. Kristine Smithon 20 Sep 2006 at 5:38 pm

    I had a problem with the ending to Season 7, which didn’t hit me until some time after I’d seen it. I felt that Buffy’s job had just been made a whole lot harder, and the world less better off, because a significant fraction of those empowered girls were going to 1) Go Rogue, 2) do really stupid things with the potential they’d been granted, not because girls shouldn’t be empowered, but because girls are people, too ( a fact that I think sometimes slipped Joss’s mind) and sometimes are sociopathic/cruel/stupid/average. Ten Years or so on, the Slayer version of The Stand, with a lot of Slayer paperpushers on each side screwing up the tactics/logistics. Lots of story potential, but the Buff will have her work cut out for her, assuming she hasn’t retired to a hamlet in Tibet by then.

  5. Kathleen Rettersonon 20 Sep 2006 at 5:57 pm

    Must be Buffy redux time — my daughter and I are watching from the beginning — we’re up to Season 3.

    I thought the ending was fitting and Buffy was finally freed from her burden. Her burden all along had been clearly defined as “she alone.” It was the underlying theme — the thing that motivated her character sometimes to act bravely and sometimes to act stupidly.

    In the end she was no longer “alone” — Joss resolved the center struggle. I thought it was brilliant. Certainly, it was the only real ending (besides, perhaps, her death). For me (as a storyteller) it fell into the category — of “well, duh” while feeling be entirely fresh and unexpected.

    Did she go on to be happy? Who knows? But she was free. In fact, she was so free that I don’t think she necessarily retained responsibility for all of the others. Isn’t that the Watchers’ Council’s problem?

    I also didn’t see it as a “girl power” thing or “female emancipation.” Certainly that can be read there. But unlocking the latent slayers — was foremost about removing the “oneness” from Buffy.

    Last mention of her in Angel, she was in Italy. ;)

    The ending of Angel (while being horrible and unsatisfying) was also an ending that stayed true to the character. Angel can never be let off the hook, principally because he will never let himself off the hook for what he’s done. I hated that ending (I wanted a happy ending) but I was pleased that Joss stayed true to the characters.

  6. Constance Ashon 20 Sep 2006 at 7:16 pm

    Part of this speculation on ‘happy Slayer,’ or not has been provoked exactly because the last almost sighting of Buffy is in Italy, dancing, with a new boyfriend, who happens to be, ah-ha!, a vampire, a spectacularly charismatic, handsome and charming one that all fall in love with. This looks like what I see around here every time I step out into the street — so many overly well-dressed, well heeled, pretty and surgically and drug enhanssed people, doing nothing but being conspicuously useless, and a real pita for those who us living here and trying to make a living here.

    Cosmo Trash ….

    That Buffy would join them just doesn’t seem quite right, yanno? You mean she went through all that and learned all that and gave all that in order to, well, stay up all night dancing? Forever?

    For one thing, her ‘sire,’ JW has such a work ethic, it’s hard to believe that Buffy wouldn’t start at some point looking for work, big and great work, of which the world has so much need, and of which there appear to be so few who are willing to do it, and even fewer who are allowed to do it.

    But like Alis, I too think the end, and even much of the final season too, to be brilliant. However, I do not share JW’s conviction that the tosser trio are always cute and interesting. A bit of tossers hooked on trivia goes a very long way. Still the writers managed to employ Andrew fairly well.

    The thing is the show was exhausted. The actors were exhausted. The characters were exhausted. Seven years of relentless, hard work, as they went from, in some cases very young, and in others just youngish, to getting older, really showed by Season 7. And vamps age very slowly — Angel and Spike were showing their age a lot, and you see it even more so in Angel. The show’s achievement is that they managed to keep it at the high level that it achieved for so long, and with as few sags as it inevitably accumulated.

    It is satisfying though, that there wasn’t that wrong ending of throwing Buffy and Angel together in the future, even in rumor ….

    Love, C.

  7. Madeleine Robinson 20 Sep 2006 at 10:41 pm

    I love the ending. I’ve seen it maybe half a dozen times, and the end–with its echoes of the beginning, and that montage of all those little girls suddenly coming into their power, and that look on Buffy’s face at the end, when she realizes that for the first time in years the future is truly different–never fails to move me. Yeah, it was tired–but there were still moments of brilliance throughout that last year. (The episode in which Andrew is forced, finally, to stop talking to the camera and come to grips with his guilt, is terrific, down to his tone-deaf narration about “Buffy, the slayer of the vampyr…”

    Buffy always talked about things in the real world. I hadn’t thought of the ending specifically in terms of Katrina, but I see entirely what you’re talking about. Or “Earshot,” which was originally pulled from the air after Columbine, but was in many ways the most perfect commentary on it. Or even the protracted metaphor of what happens when you sleep with your boyfriend and he turns into a creep. Whedon is brilliant far more often than he lapses, and I think that working in genre allows him the freedom to make stories that comment on the real world in ways that would seem too blatant or too corny in a non-genre piece.

  8. Constance Ashon 20 Sep 2006 at 11:08 pm

    Whedon is brilliant far more often than he lapses, and I think that working in genre allows him the freedom to make stories that comment on the real world in ways that would seem too blatant or too corny in a non-genre piece.

    Madeleine — That’s what I was attempting to express. Thank you!

    Which also makes Caleb the most terrible Big Bad of them all, really … for it is the foundation of evil, perhaps, hatred of women.

    Love, C.

  9. Mitch Wagneron 21 Sep 2006 at 12:58 am

    How about the original Trek for allegory?

    We watched the episode “Balance of Terror” a few nights ago — that’s the TOS episode where the Romulans first turn up. At that point, nobody in the Federation has seen a Romulan, ever, and nobody’s seen a Romulan ship for 100 years. The Federataion and Romulan Empire have been keeping an uneasy truce, separated by a Neutral Zone in space which neither nation is allowed to enter. Then a shipload of Romulans come out of the Neutral Zone and cold-bloodedly destroy some Federation starbases.

    I was gobsmacked by the parallels in this 40-year-old TV show to geopolitics today. Captain Kirk and Spock were biting their nails, worried that they woud do the wrong thing, and trying to proceed wisely and cautiously, to figure out what was going on before taking action. They didn’t know whether to attack the Romulan ship or hold back, and they knew that whichever decision they made, it might be the wrong one, and the wrong decision would plunge the Galaxy into war and kill millions of people on both sides.

    Meanwhile, Ensign Stiles thought there was only one proper course of action: Attack! Attack! Attack! Kill! Kill! Kill! And he sneered at any display of caution, calling it cowardice, treason, or both.

    At one point, he insisted that the Enterprise fire its phasers at the Romulan ship. Spock pointed out that the Romulan ship was invisible, using its cloaking device, and therefore the Enterprise wouldn’t even know where to fire. That gave Ensign Stiles pause, but only for a moment, and pretty soon he was back to the same song: The Enterprise must attack the Romulans! Failure to attack is cowardice or treason!

    Note that neither Kirk nor Spock were reluctant to attack. They just wanted to be sure that attacking was the right thing to do, before they did it.

    That was 1966. Now, here it is 2006, and unfortunately Ensign Stiles is in the White House, and Kirk and Spock are nowhere to be found.

  10. Kathleen Rettersonon 21 Sep 2006 at 1:17 am

    Speaking of Caleb — well, I was just thinking. Is it coincidence that the only real wound one of the Scoobies suffered in seven long years of finding vampyrs, demons and the forces of darkness was the loss of an eye?

    Can’t you just hear it: “Put that sword down! Someone could lose an eye!”

    Nah! Just coincidence, I’m sure.

  11. Joe Sherryon 21 Sep 2006 at 7:43 am

    Isn’t part of what we learn in that last season of Angel that Buffy and the Scooby Gang are still rounding up and training the activated Slayers? That’s what we get from the episode of Angel with the girl who had been abused and gone crazy when Andrew (think it was Andrew) shows up to claim her and brings with a mini platoon of Slayers.

    So, while Buffy may be out dancing with a vampire…we don’t know who he is now and what his story is. She’s already been with Angel and Spike and while she’s learned, we hope, to be strong and empowered in relationships, there is a recurring theme here where I don’t think she can be with just a normal guy. Even Riley wasn’t “normal” in the usual sense of the word.

    And then there is the Season 8 comic Joss is working on.

  12. gingerifficon 21 Sep 2006 at 9:52 am

    I too thought the ending was brilliant. To Kristine’s point, I think that there are more stories in Joss’s head that show the dark side of Buffy’s plan. We already saw the psychotic slayer in Angel Season 5, and I also think there is something interesting that happens between now and the beginning of the Fray series, where Melaka is the first slayer called in over 200 years. Did all the slayer mojo get used up on that one incredible moment of empowerment?

  13. Darkstaron 21 Sep 2006 at 10:17 am

    I guess we’ll find out some time soon, as Whedon announced a new Buffy comic series written (partly) by himself and taking place after Season 7 (it will play at the same time as Angel Season 5).

    I really liked the end and I think, Buffy now has not the burden of being the ONLY one (ok, there was Faith) but one of many.
    She wasn’t always good as a leader but maybe that’s what she’ll learn with the help of truthworthy friends.

    gingeriffic wrote down the same thing I always thought about:
    with all the potentials being activated at once, will there be another one chosen after the Slayers die one by one???

    In Fray Whedon told us there was one great final battle at the beginning of the 21st century and with all the demons and magics the Slayer(s) left the world…
    … Maybe that was the final fight from Angels last episode which was a perfect ending for *that* series…

  14. Marie Brennanon 21 Sep 2006 at 10:22 am

    I’m not sure I’d agree the Angel ending was perfect; there were FAR too many plots that just got dropped, without warning. But given how the show got canceled out from under them, it may well have been the best ending they could pull off under the circumstances. Rather than a half-assed wrapup of stuff too major to end so quickly, just ignore it all and CHAAAAAAAAAAARGE!

  15. Madeleine Robinson 21 Sep 2006 at 11:42 am

    I have no problem with Buffy dancing with vampires…or werewolves or demons or investment bankers. One of the things I’ve always loved about the show was her valiant and ongoing attempts to have a life–go to the prom (or make sure her friends did); run for Homecoming Queen; have a “normal” boyfriend (well, that didn’t go so well, but she tried). My interior notion of Buffy (and I haven’t read any of the additional materials) is that the mass-empowerment spell gives her a whole different mission, and that sometimes things are very intense for her and sometimes…she gets to eat ice cream. Or go dancing.

  16. Laurieon 21 Sep 2006 at 12:02 pm

    Wow. I’m starting to think I am the only person on Earth who has never watched Buffy. I guess I’ll have to rectify that situation.

  17. Constance Ashon 21 Sep 2006 at 12:07 pm

    It’s not the dancing or the love or the fun or the ice cream that are disturbing, but the possibility that this is all there is. Which, of course, one cannot believe, going by the past. Actions are what tell you who somebody is, not what they say they are.

    As to Xander losing the eye to Caleb — Xander is the one who sees, as is stated explicitly at the conclusion of the episode in which Dawn learns once and for all that she has no super powers, and does her best to assist Amanda, who is a potential Slayer, in a fight. Since he’s not super / special, nobody pays particular attention to him, so he can see clearly what is going on with the others. He’s also the glue that holds the Scoobs together. He’s always ready to go an fight, physically, supernatural critters and villains, even though he’s not a super fighter.

    So this is why it is Xander and his eye that Caleb goes for. The loss of the eye is also traditionally a castration in psychological terms. It’s with the loss of the eye that Xander loses his faith in Buffy, and goes along with her being expelled from the house and leadership both.

    The only one who doesn’t lose faith in Buffy is Spike — and he didn’t lose faith that she would come for him while being tortured by the 1st as Buffy. And he was the one who wasn’t at that disasterous assault at the vineyard (conveniently, for narrative and psychological conveniences of script writing — though script writing is never convenient or easy — ayeeeee!).

    Mitch — Allegory isn’t so much what is happening, maybe?  Because allegory by definition is a one-on-one correspondence.  Genre is far more elastic and flexible than it is allegorical.  But resonances, vibrations, reflections, concerns with what we know and what we see around us in our real lives? As in the 1st episode of Angel’s last season, we see Fred putting up a poster of the Dixie Chicks first thing, when she moves into her laboratory? That’s not an allegory. It’s an action, which is not commented on. It’s just there. If you don’t recognize the poster, don’t know who the Dixie Chicks are, etc., it’s just a poster, you know?  But it does tell us something about Fred. she likes music, presumably, and the music of girl groups.  Or, if you don’t necessarily get that this is a band poster, you do get it is a poster that has three blonde women on it, and that tells us that Fred isn’t hostile to women, perhaps, or — well whatever it tells you.  It’s not ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ but it is enriching of her character as the viewer, individually, parses it through that small action.

    Love, C.

  18. Mitch Wagneron 21 Sep 2006 at 3:37 pm

    I may have misused the word “allegory.”

    My point is that Ensign Stiles serves as a very direct commentary on the events of today, even tough the episode itself is 40 years old.

    I suspect it’s because we’ve always had that conflict: Foolish hawks shouting, “Kill! Kill! Kill! Destroy the enemy!” and clearer heads responding, “Sounds great to me — but we need to know where to point the gun before we fire it.”

  19. Constance Ashon 21 Sep 2006 at 3:46 pm

    Mitch — Absolutely. That was an excellent example too, of course, of genre dealing with the fires in our daily lives, shared by all of us, reacted to, one way or another, by all of us who pay attention, anyway. :)

    Graphic novels do this too — sometimes they are kinda heavy-handed about it, like Vertigo’s Y: The Last Man.

    Do you think that generally television, say, does this often better than genre novels do? Due to factors of lead time, collaboration and so on? Or not?

    Love, C.

  20. Kathleen Rettersonon 21 Sep 2006 at 5:51 pm

    I write genre because I believe to my very core that the strength of genre lies in its ability to explore important themes that would be too heavy, too wrought, too pedantic, too whatever, to explore in mainstream fiction. I don’t write genre because I like neat techno-babble or have a fondness for elves — and I strongly suspect that I’m not alone with my “why.”

    Sometimes the issues are too complex, and genre enables us to isolate a single aspect of being — perhaps by altering it or enhancing — and explore that aspect in ways that can’t be treated easily in mainstream fiction. In Buffy, Whedon explored what it’s like to be different and the loneliness and alienation that comes from being different. (Not the only theme he hit on, obviously.) He did it in wholly entertaining way — but that doesn’t cheapen the thoughtfulness. It’s a hell of a lot harder to be thought-provoking and entertaining, than simply thought-provoking.

    [Some of the great existentialists, in fact, wrote fiction in order to explore deep meanings.]

    Genre just don’t get no respect (now, where have I heard that before?)…

  21. Constance Ashon 21 Sep 2006 at 6:46 pm

    Kathleen — It would be very interesting to hear what sorts of issues, events, problems you are exploring in your work!

    Which also brings up the how?  Do you decide before-hand?  Or does it, more likely, just kind of sneak in because you are alive-o! and living in the world and paying attention?  (That’s how it works with me, anyway ….)

    Genre does get some respect, indeed, quite a bit, when you start looking at the critical work that’s been done on it.

    Of course, all of it put together doesn’t equal the amount that Buffy has received just to itself. It’s the kind of thing that comes along seldom.It would be very interesting

    I haven’t loved anything so much as Buffy, in terms of a story, since I was really young. That’s probably not due to lack of quality, but because I’ve read so much. Not much left to surprise this reader any longer. And, well, I just didn’t watch television hardly at all, and movies were another thing — have never cared for Star Wars or Planet of the Apes, to speak of ‘serial’ stories again.

    In case you all don’t know — serial tales, narrative arc stories, whatever you want to call them, really are my deepest love.

    Which explains why I cut my teeth, so to speak on Middlemarch; that Victorian length — and that it was one of the few — maybe the only — novels that George Eliot published serially — it is like a trilogy.

    Love, C.

  22. kateelliotton 21 Sep 2006 at 7:34 pm

    In reflection of what Kathleen wrote, I note that one of the reasons I am writing the Spirit Gate trilogy is that it gives me a way to look at and try to examine my feelings about the ongoing unspeakable chaos that is the Congo these past years. Writing within genre allows me to come at it obliquely, if you will.

  23. Samer Rabadion 22 Sep 2006 at 8:40 am

    the ongoing unspeakable chaos that is the Congo these past years.

    Wow. That is very, very cool.

    It’s so easy to forget about the human rights catastophes of the world that don’t make the headlines. Yes, it’s good that most people (I hope) know about what’s happening in the Darfur region of Sudan, but there are so many other places in the world that are also hurting.

  24. Constance Ashon 22 Sep 2006 at 7:51 pm

    Sam Clemens / Mark Twain threw himself into this fray against Belgium and the united Euro and implicit endorsement of the U.S. from the gitgo of this most longstanding, most bloody and ugly of white colonial imperialist movement into the heart of the African continent — which wasn’t possible until quinine, and even then, usually ended up badly.

    It’s only gotten worse since.

    Astonishing.

    Isn’t it?

    Let’s also recollect that the largest number of slaves taken out of continental African and brought to the New World were from this vast region ….

    Their souls and their suffering are the base of popular music in the New World, the heralding of the U.S. century (which has been very short), as Modernism and American Popular Culture.

    I could go one for pages on this, but you all shall be spared.

    Love, C.

  25. Constance Ashon 22 Sep 2006 at 7:54 pm

    However, when it comes to writing arc (and, yes, Buffy:

    Check out Jane Espenson’s site, especially her last two posts.

    Love, C.

  26. Kathrynon 25 Sep 2006 at 5:47 am

    I found the end of the series far more upsetting than uplifting. I saw Buffy’s ambigous smile as a many things sad and happy, on the sad side I think she recognised that nothing was going to be made easier by their achievments. It may have been the end of that particular era but the world remains difficult for them, Giles says it wasn’t the only Hell-mouth either. Losing Sunnydale may have removed the old chains but with them every comfort and moment of normality she had known, leaving her with the unknown and the many slayers that were her making.

    I think that the reveleation of her Vampiric Boyfriend in Angel nods to the fact that she is still the ‘cookie dough’. In the end, beating the first was moping up their own mistakes, returning Buffy to the world messed up the order of things allowing the first to break its previous restaints. I can’t remember whether she learned that or if the Scoobs and the first kept it from her but it does add to the poignancy of the scene for the viewer. Time for me to watch them all again and find out, like I needed the excuse ^^

    I also don’t feel that at the ending of the series Buffy would truly stop thinking of herself as alone, neither of the slayers that featured in the earlier series’ (the one after her death or Faith) seemed to help and in series seven she clearly showed them all how she continued to feel/be different and alone in her attempts at leadership. Buffy believed herself to be the choice maker with the burden of the consequences. A slayer among many would never be that alone and I think that Buffy felt she had done that for those to come.

    So free no, she still personally had a long way to go and now with a small army of potential trouble. Less burdened with actual slaying work possibly, but maybe we’d enter the world of Buffy the Slayer General, a job I think she would find much harder.

  27. Constance Ashon 25 Sep 2006 at 12:37 pm

    Kathryn –

    Losing Sunnydale may have removed the old chains but with them every comfort and moment of normality she had known, leaving her with the unknown and the many slayers that were her making.

    Your observation provokes a lot of interesting questions, which ultimately may not be answerable, but which we can’t help but try to find reasons for anyway. One of them is why post-Sunnydale, the Scoobs are no longer together — Willow and Kennedy in Brasil, for instance. Why Brasil? Studying the creolized African religions, practices, fighting techniques, witchcrafts brought to the New World via the hundreds of years of slave ships? Why is it Andrew the one who is with Buffy in Italy (other than the other job committments of other principal actors in the show)?

    I think that the reveleation of her Vampiric Boyfriend in Angel nods to the fact that she is still the ‘cookie dough’.

    Gads, that speech is loathesome, imho. Couldn’t the writers have come up with something less icky than ‘cookie dough?’ Partly, no doubt, caused by Whedon having far less hands on for season 6 and 7 per episode than in the past due his interest in Firefly, etc.

    In the end, beating the first was moping up their own mistakes, returning Buffy to the world messed up the order of things allowing the first to break its previous restaints. I can’t remember whether she learned that or if the Scoobs and the first kept it from her but it does add to the poignancy of the scene for the viewer.

    Could expand on this? I don’t recall that this round with the First was necessary because of something they did or did not do in the past. That doesn’t mean it isn’t so — there’s so much to pay attention to and remember.

    Thank you for your insights!

    Love, C.

  28. Mitch Wagneron 25 Sep 2006 at 5:40 pm

    What was the cookie dough speech? I’ve completely forgotten it.

  29. Constance Ashon 25 Sep 2006 at 7:04 pm

    Mitch — Doubtless, you shall cringe, but here’s an excerpt from the scene with Angel.

    BUFFY: Because? okay. I?m cookie dough. I?m not done baking. I?m not finished becoming whoever the hell it is I?m going to turn out to be. I make it through this and the next thing and the next thing and maybe one day I turn around and realize I?m ready. I?m cookies. And then, you know, if I want someone to eat m? (covers) or enjoy warm, delicious cookie-me, then that?s fine. That?ll be then. When I?m done.

    ANGEL: Any thoughts on who might enjoy? do I have to go with the cookie analogy?

    BUFFY: I?m not really thinking that far ahead. That?s kinda the point.

    ANGEL: I?ll go start working on the second front. Make sure I don?t have to use it.

    If you go here, you can read the entire scene from Chosen, in context, and make up your own mind, as to whether this was truly unfortunate use of analogy or not. :)

    Love, C.

  30. Kathleen Rettersonon 26 Sep 2006 at 1:12 am

    I thought it was a hoot — but then, I have a taste for crude double entendre.

    I’m sure there are a host of other analogies she could have used; certainly the situation called for a sexual reference just to be sure that Angel got a good squirm in — because what would a guest appearance by Angel be without a good squirm-and-brood from the guy? And Buffy does have a fondness for cookies . . .

  31. Kathrynon 26 Sep 2006 at 7:44 am

    Not feeling at all well today so my explanation might be lacking but I did find the reference I made.

    The episode I was looking for was Showtime, Giles and Anya are in another dimension when they are told that the First is doing what it is because of the disturbance in the line. Here I believe meaning the slayer line but I’d have to watch it again to find out.

    To get really nit picky, Faith is the true line of slayers. Buffy may have only been technically dead in series one but it was enough to call Kendra and then to confirm it as her death called Faith. However this technical death was explained I think, they did nothing wrong in reviving her then, but when they tore her back from heaven it fundamentally changed something in the slayer magic and/or the evil to good balance. I think the other references are from the First but there my memory gets fuzzier.

    I had mixed feelings about the cookie dough but I did giggle at the time. The idea does sum up how incomplete she recognised herself to be especially in regards to relationships. Whether or not she needs to grow into having a ‘normal’ relationship or to accept there are no normal relationships is another matter and may have been answered by the time we see her in Italy. Just like her other attempts at normality her view might be clouded by considering herself abnormal.

    Kathleen – I also enjoyed seeing Angel squirm.

  32. Constance Ashon 26 Sep 2006 at 7:06 pm

    Kathryn — Thank you. Now I recall.

    It was that Beljoxa’s Eye; it was not the most successful supernatural manifestation every created on Buffy; and then with Andrew forever blithering on about trivia to further distract one from the Real Stuff. I find in my notes for Showtime around there, I’ve got, “Stupid Demon Eye! It looks stupid!” and, “Can’t Buffy really shut Andrew up? Though his delivery, if delivery of such trive must be, is kinda compelling in a totally creepy way, and there’s way too much of it.”

    And then, Spike’s unshakable belief that Buffy would come for him was anchoring this viewer’s attention … I love the essay about Spike and Buffy and the ladder of Courtly Love here.

    Here’s the pertinent parts from the transcript of Show Time

    GILES
    Are you saying that The First will succeed in—in wiping out the line of slayers?

    BELJOXA’S EYE
    The eye sees not the future, only the truth of the now and before.

    ANYA
    Yes, we’ve all got that—it’s called memory. Can you help us out with something a little bit more demony?

    GILES
    If The First has been around for all time, then why hasn’t it attempted something like this before? Why now?

    BELJOXA’S EYE
    The opportunity has only recently presented itself.

    GILES
    Opportunity?

    BELJOXA’S EYE
    The mystical forces surrounding the chosen line have become irrevocably altered, become unstable, vulnerable.

    ANYA
    Something The First did?

    BELJOXA’S EYE
    The First Evil did not cause the disruption, only seized upon it to extinguish the lives of the chosen forever.

    GILES
    Then what has caused the disruption? What—what is responsible for letting this happen?

    BELJOXA’S EYE
    The slayer.

    33 EXT. ALLEY BEHIND A STRIP MALL – NIGHT
    Anya and Giles step back through the portal they created earlier and back into the alley where they opened it. Both are windblown.

    GILES
    Are you all right?

    ANYA
    (limping) Yeah, I just—I don’t understand how Buffy’s death mucked up the whole slayer mojo. You know, it’s not like she hasn’t died before.

    GILES
    It’s not because she died. The Beljoxa’s Eye was quite clear about that in its enigmatic way. It’s because she lives. Again. Buffy’s not responsible for that.

    ANYA
    Oh. Oh. Willow and me and Xander and Tara. We’re the ones who brought Buffy back. We’re—we’re the reason The First is here, the reason those girls were murdered. No, it’s our fault. The would would’ve been better off if Buffy had just stayed dead. (walks off)

    Originally transcribed for: http://www.buffyworld.com/.

    Gads, people like me who came to Buffy so late have had it so much easier than all of you who watched the show from season one, with all the commercials and the waits between epsisodes and seasons. Additionally there is enormous amounts of accurate information organized on the web — even the episode transcripts – about the show at our disposal. I’m grateful to all the people who have put in so much study, energy, effort and imagination into the ‘verse.

    Love, C.

  33. Constance Ashon 26 Sep 2006 at 7:14 pm

    Kathleen — You’re right about the sexual innuendo and the cookie dough analogy.

    Ah, well, nothing is 100% perfect, is it? This isn’t heaven, after all.

    Love,C.

  34. Madeleine Robinson 27 Sep 2006 at 11:22 am

    The cookie dough speech always seemed to me to be Buffy reverting to her younger, more callow self in Angel’s presence: her inability to keep from innuendo that embarrasses the hell out of her, the flightiness that she’s (largely) outgrown. I thought it was goofy, but in character for her in that moment.

  35. Kathleen Rettersonon 27 Sep 2006 at 11:25 am

    Speaking of heaven . . .

    For me, the most poignant Buffy moment was when she yanked out of heaven. To have fought for so many years, to have done her duty despite everything — to achieve her final reward — only to be yanked back to the front line.

    We watched “Hush” last night. My daughter (age 10) started singing the little girl’s song (with a creepy smile on her face). My daughter thought that it was an old child’s song. I thought it was a song Joss made up for the show. Did some Internet research (quicky) — seems like he did make it up for the show. (Does anyone know differently?) If that is the case, then it’s fascinating how the little song has now made it into child’s play (creepy child’s play, to be sure) without reference to its origin. Less than a decade (in the age of the Internet) and its origin is already obscured — makes you wonder about all of the other stories and songs out there that were written down decades and centuries after the first telling of them.

    My daughter tells me that she and a friend have created two new verses for it — apparently these verses are too creepy for her to share them with me. The oral tradition continues.

  36. Constance Ashon 27 Sep 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Kathleen — Me too. My heart crawled into my mouth, as revived Buffy walks through the terrible landscape of violence and burning. It was a brilliant emotional mirroring of what it must have been like to have been perfectly happy and at rest and then pulled back into life. Just brilliant.

    Mad — The problem is that cookie dough thing was so very out of tune with the context. Don’t think that Angel’s presence can cover up the lack of harmony here either, because she was self-possessed to send him back to his own struggle. And her little speech went on for too many beats — as did so many declamations in seasons 6 & 7.

    But those were terrible seasons to write, and over all the crew managed to not jump sharks or pull any of the most egregious stunts that shout that the well of imagination for this world has gone dry.

    Love, C.

  37. Constance Ashon 29 Sep 2006 at 5:13 pm

    All our information as to what is happening in Buffy’s life post her season 7 comes from Angel, and it is provided via the non-scoobs, i.e., not the inner circle. Moreover it comes from Andrew, whose primary characterization became that of The Narrator, about half way through season 7.

    He’s the one who arrives in L.A. with a posse of Slayers to help the psychotic slayer who escaped the asylum incarceration, in Damaged. He’s the one who tells us that ‘the Slayer of the Vampyrs” is busy working with the activated potential slayers. He’s the one who tells us he’s working with Giles to provide Watchers and training, along with Buffy, for all these countless activated potentials, while searching out other ones.

    But we’ve also always seen that Andrew’s version of events, as Narrator and as participant, are always skewed from what we all saw.

    Interesting though.

    Especially in light of the post that foresees a great deal of trouble with these potentials. How many of them have been abused and mis-used, just for starters.

    Love, C.

  38. Mitch Wagneron 01 Oct 2006 at 7:49 pm

    Cookie dough. Right.

    I didn’t care much for Season 7 of Buffy, and I choose to just pretend it is non-canon. Perhaps earlier seasons as well. I think the show peaked in Season 3, where the Mayor was the Big Bad. Although Spike was a terrific character, and you see most of his terrificness in the later seasons.

  39. Constance Ashon 01 Oct 2006 at 9:18 pm

    A lot of men in particular that loved Buffy actively disliked the last 2 seasons. Let me haste to add, these are the men I know, not all the men in the world. Some of them have, however, revealed that there were some aspects that just disturbed them, and no, they didn’t want to look at what was so disturbing, but it did have to do with the Tosser Trivio Trio as the Big Bad. But they didn’t want to go there. Which is psychologically fascinating … especially as Whedon seems to think they are the best Big Bad of them all. These are interesting discussions to have with a highly talented, intelligent and aware friend over wine and food.

    Maybe, for me, Season 4 is my favorite. I think the first three seasons in aggregate are brilliant. But Seasons 4, 5 & 6 are the seasons I like best. Just because it isn’t high school, and high school really isn’t a concern these days, since I long escaped and do not have any h.s. kids.

    So I guess I identify with the more adult mise en scene.

    Love, Fox.

  40. Mitch Wagneron 02 Oct 2006 at 1:50 am

    Hmm… I don’t remember finding anything particularly disturbing about the last season, or last two seasons of Buffy. In particular, I wouldn’t say the Tosser Trivia Trio were disturbing, they were just a joke that kept being repeated long past the point where it had ceased being funny.

    I’m trying to remember which were the major storylines in Season 4. Was that the season with Riley and the Initiative? If that’s the case, then Season 5 would be the one where Dawn is introduced, and Season 6 would be the season of the Tosser Trivia Trio?

    One of my problems with the last two seasons of Buffy was that I think Willow got off way too easy for attempting to destroy the world.

  41. Kathleen Rettersonon 02 Oct 2006 at 4:55 pm

    I remember the seasons by the apocalypses:

    Season 1 – The Master
    Season 2 – Bad Angel
    Season 3 – The Mayor
    Season 4 – Initiative, Riley, Adam
    Season 5 – Dawn and Glory
    Season 6 – Bad Willow – Once More, With Feeling
    Season 7 – The First Evil (but most definitely not the Last Slayer)

  42. Mitch Wagneron 02 Oct 2006 at 6:06 pm

    Ah, yes. Good mnemonic, Kathleen.

    My reason for holding up Season 3 as the best season is based solely on the character of the Mayor, and the performance of Harry Groener, who played him.

    Don’t get me wrong: The rest of Buffy was great that season. But the rest of Buffy was great for all of the first five seasons.

    Season 4 is a respectable choice for the best Buffy season ever. As Constance noted, it had the Scoobies dealing with adult issues for the first time. Had some great individual episodes too–the Gentlemen, of course, and was that the season where Xander meets his not-so-evil twin?

    Season 5 was deeply flawed, but had some interesting things going on. I loved the way Joss boldly retconned Dawn into the storyline–and it worked, too. I know Glory is an unpopular Big Bad, but I liked her–she was campy fun.

    By episodes 6 and 7, Buffy was pretty disappointing all around.

    Which season was the musical episode?

    And I just figured out why I hated the episode The Body. Which season was that?

  43. Constance Ashon 02 Oct 2006 at 6:23 pm

    Hush was Season 4.

    The Body, was Season 5. I thought Season 5 was brilliant. The burial of Joyce brought home that the cemetery was Buffy’s true home. She stays, with Joyce, she can’t leave, though the others urge her to, and they go. Angel comes to her. She knew he would. He stays until sunrise. I wept and wept and wept. I never cry at movies or television. It’s so damned manipulative. This was different. Season 5 was an astonishing season. How they pulled that off ….

    Once More With Feeling was Season 6, about in the middle.

    Love, C.

  44. Constance Ashon 02 Oct 2006 at 6:26 pm

    Kathleen — And the First comes to all the characters in these apparitions of the previous seasons’ Big Bads — the Mayor to Faith, Warren to Willow, etc. I thought that was pretty brilliant.

    They all talked too long though. The First really loved to hear itself go on and on.

    Love, C.

  45. Kathleen Rettersonon 02 Oct 2006 at 6:38 pm

    I have two words that will make all your problems disappear: “miniature golf.”

    I LOVE the Mayor; Groener clearly had fun playing that part.

  46. Mitch Wagneron 02 Oct 2006 at 8:18 pm

    Nobody asked, but here’s my two problems with The Body:

    Inadequate setup: Yes, Joyce had battled cancer several episodes earlier, but as far as we knew she’d beaten it. Joss should’ve led into it; we should have seen Joyce failing over the course of several episodes, until finally she dies.

    How long would it have taken to build up? Not long. I’ve heard about people go from having no symptoms other than a persistent cough, to death, within six weeks.

    Joss made the same mistake in Serenity.

    Reproduced the boring parts of the grieving process: Everybody standing around shellshocked wondering what happened and what they’re going to do next. Yes, that’s realistic, but it doesn’t make for compelling TV.

    And, yes, I realize I’m in a tiny minority among Buffy fans for disliking that episode. And if anybody loved it, I hope they’re not offended by my harsh remarks, this is entirely subjective.

  47. Constance Ashon 03 Oct 2006 at 10:20 am

    There was a great deal of set-up for Joyce’s illness, starting in Season 4. Mentions of headaches and so on. Subtle, which I didn’t retain upon first viewing, which is natural with so very much going on. Then the eps. of Joyce in the hospital. There wasn’t an episode of season 5 that didn’t deal with Joyce in one way or another, and her illness.

    And Dawn, and the additional complications of having this additional member of the family, that wouldn’t be there except under these super mystical circumstances.

    Personally? I suspect that Joyce’s brain troubles came about with the massive alterations of a mother’s memories. Joyce’s brain death, so to speak, was just one part of the price paid by the Summers for the monks’ plan to keep Glory from getting back to her own universe and destroying all the dimensional boundaries between universes on the way.

    I’ve not see that suggested by anyone else though ….

    My problem with all this, is if that order possessed that much power to so drastically, impeccably and meticulously change the reality of so very many people’s memory and create such a whole human as Dawn, couldn’t they have come up with another solution other than burdening poor over-burdened Buffy even more?

    Yes, this was the season that Whedon and Co. decided the love interest had to be family — and more adult responsibilities.

    I resisted like crazy the first time around. But now it feels so right. And brilliant.

    That others feel otherwise makes for horseraces and interesting dinner conversation.

    Love, C.

  48. Michael Phillipson 05 Mar 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I just finished watching Buffy for the first time, and I’m a guy who really liked seasons 5-7, with some caveats.
    6 and 7 had some seriously clumsy writing in them.

    I love the fall of Willow as documented through seasons 5 and 6, it felt entirely in character, even if it was really painful to watch her betraying Tara. Tara’s death on the other hand, it was very poorly done.

    Seven had some filler in it, which was especially unfortunate since the last 7 or so episodes felt very compressed to me. My biggest problem with 7 was the lead up to the end. We’ve got a fair amount of betrayal without any confrontation, with minimal remorse, and without even a strong sense of “We’re going to deal with this when everything is done.” (Which is supported by the season 8 comics. They really don’t end up facing what they did to each other, at least not through issue 11.

    More on the ending to 7 and why it wasn’t the betrayal that bothered me, but the reactions to it.

    I’m not really sure that Willow deserves the “Did I ever tell you about my best friend?” line in issue 4.

    I have noticed that Whedon does occasionally use singe note deaths in places where they are not effective story tools.

  49. Constance Ashon 05 Mar 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Hi Michael!

    Are you sure you wanted to post to this old thread or to the new entry re Season 8 that I posted today?

    There is nothing at all wrong with you posting here, not at all!

    It’s just that probably no one will see it because this is old — I just saw it because we get auto notice of any comment that posts to our entries.

    Your first time around the Buffy-verse …. I’ve done it 4 times now. Maybe not any more. And Season 8 has been beyond my possession. I’ve never figured out this comix buying thang, since I’m not that much a fan.

    There are some special ones that I can sometimes get complete runs of from the library when I find out they exist, so it’s not as though I don’t respect the form.

    Love, C.

  50. Michael Phillipson 05 Mar 2008 at 8:31 pm

    I meant to post here. I’d not yet read the book that today’s post was about. One of the best parts about the web is its timelessness. I had something to say on this subject and I’m probably not the last person who will see this particular thread. I get two to three comments a year on old threads in my own (very low traffic) blog, and I’ve taken part in years old conversations elsewhere where people check in every month or two to see if anything interesting has been said.

    There’s a couple routes to getting comics like this one. My local friendly comic book store (and they are actually quite friendly.) Actually still has copies of all 12 issues. Dark Horse seems to be printing compiled editions for each set of five books (one 4 part plus a stand alone I suspect.) As with any well loved setting with a large fan base, I also suspect that about 5 minutes with google on a non-dialup connection would find a torrent of whatever format the fans have scanned these books into (usually pdf or jpg.) Then there’s Amazon and Ebay, both of which frequently have sellers offering most any comic book you are looking for. (That’s actually how I generally got comics I was interested in when I lived in rural Indiana.)

    I’m probably going to start putting the Buffy trades on my library purchase request list, not because I don’t own them, but so that other people will be more likely to find them.

  51. Constance Ashon 06 Mar 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Terrific! You knew exactly what you were doing.

    Your tips are excellent, but as I’m not what you’d call a comix consumer, therefore not a customer, that probably won’t work in this market where people are so frenzied that I can’t even get to the racks to just browse, so many are the customers at any old time of the day, the week, the month.

    And I’m not an e-bay person either.

    So I depend on serendipity, I guess.

    Love, C.

  52. Michael Phillipson 06 Mar 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Well, it appears that you can still order all of them straight from Things From Another World which appears to be Dark Horse’s preferred net shop. . I’m not really a big time buyer of comics either. I’ve got about a dozen comics (50/50 US/Japanese) that I want to get complete sets of either the comic books or the collections.

    *chuckles* Of course, if you don’t mind waiting, the collections can also be ordered from your friendly local book seller (my preferred route for most of this stuff. It takes longer than Barnes and Nobles or Amazon, but any FLBS who will take my orders without snarking at me? They are friendly enough to deserve my business.)

  53. Constance Ashon 07 Mar 2008 at 4:28 pm

    I don’t mind waiting. I prefer to have an entire series before embarking upon it.

    Otherwise I get bored during the wait times, and I miss the full impact of what’s really going on.

    Love, C.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply