Category Archives: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Real Buffy

Real.  That’s a strange word to ascribe to any work of fiction, let alone one called Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Not content with merely trumpeting the shows fantasy-horror roots, the title also satirises them, promising a series that is, by nature, an examination of art rather than reality.  And the show delivered on that premise with its incessant genre deconstruction, pop culture references, and self reflection. Buffy was a construct through and through, at times not even a good one whether by just getting too far up its own ass with cleverness or grossly missing the mark on issues of real concern.  And yet, “real” is the word I keep coming back to. Continue reading

Final Thoughts – Buffy Season Seven

I’ve never been so tempted to sugarcoat a review. My memories of this show are so great that it just feels wrong to end things on a down note.  I’ll have something to say about the series as a whole next week, but this is the last time I’ll be reviewing a particular season and I must admit that it simply isn’t good.  Not, “not good for Buffy,” but just plain not good.  There are still some great elements here and plenty to enjoy on a selective rewatch but the parts of the series I loved had to compete for scarce screentime with too many that I didn’t.  It’s still Buffy, and I can’t really say that I hate it but, as a season of television, it fails. Continue reading

I’m a Wounded Dwarf with the Mystical Strength of a Doily

The one positive part of this review

The one positive part of this review

Thematically speaking, this ending may be perfect, if only it wasn’t a narrative train wreck.  To be fair, I think that most of the problems with “Chosen” are a product of the preceding season. I cared about very little going into this finale and so it was nearly impossible for anything to really feel like a payoff.  But that excuse only goes so far.  Whedon & Co. set this impossible task for themselves and, as an audience, we’re not wrong to be disappointed when they don’t deliver.  Sadly, the finale’s problems aren’t limited to providing a lackluster end to a lackluster season.  To call the wrap up of the series’ various thread “unceremonious” is a gross understatement.  This finale provides closure in name only as it relies on unearned character beats, flat exposition, and logic that isn’t in order to bring about its ending.  It’s exactly the sort of lazy, hamfisted writing I tune into Buffy to avoid and it’s all neatly encapsulated in the deus ex amulet. Continue reading

I’m Cookie Dough

The more things change...

The more things change…

Where it is the task of the season finale to put an exclamation point on a single arc, a series finale must do so for an entire show.  That’s a tall order for any series, but it’s particularly difficult for one as diverse and innovative as Buffy.  How do you sum up a show that so often defied classification, even by the conventions it built for itself?  “You don’t” is the simple answer.  This episode wisely cuts through the extraneous elements and puts its focus on the show’s core themes.  This was, fundamentally, a show about growing up and while that’s a pretty nebulous concept to pin your exclamation point on, “Chosen” succeeds admirably in showing us just what it means for Buffy. Continue reading

Thank God We’re Hot Chicks with Superpowers

See, best friends again

See, best friends again

As penultimate episodes go, “End of Days” gets the job done.  There’s a lot of obvious movement of pieces into position here and not a whole lot of interest in telling a story.  On the one hand, that’s particularly distracting as the wider season context does nothing to hide how contrived all this is; the season arc’s just been too weak to support such moves.  On the other, it doesn’t much matter if we’re pushed out of a narrative we were never particularly invested in, especially when such is the cost of setting up one helluva finale.  Leaving aside my actual thoughts on Buffy’s ending, the task of this episode is to get the audience excited for it and, in that respect, it’s a triumph. Continue reading

I Don’t Want To Be The One



“Touched” is a very good episode.  You need to get passed the nonsense of last week (and the whole season really) but, if you can, you’ll be treated to some of the best raw storytelling the series has to offer.  And it’s not just that it only works in isolation either as many of the character dynamics I’d thought thoroughly played out or hopelessly boggled are able to yield new drama here.  It’s so good that I think I may have been too hard on Buffy last week.  This is still a great show, just one mired in a bad story.  Whenever it breaks free of that story and simply lets the characters be themselves, it can still sing. Continue reading

I Bet Even Covert Operatives Eat Curly Fries

Hope we're not missing anything back at the house

Hope we’re not missing anything back at the house

Season seven isn’t very good.  I’m normally the first person to follow that statement with “… for a Buffy season,” but, nineteen episodes in, I must admit that it doesn’t just fail to meet the normally high Buffy standards, it misses some rather basic storytelling marks.  This episode leans heavily on tension that doesn’t exist, has characters behaving like their Bizzaro equivalents, and makes ineffectual plays for emotion.  That’s certainly more than enough to qualify “Empty Places” as a bad episode, but all of these things are clearly meant to be the culmination of earlier events.  They’re not.  Episode 19/20 is the point in the Buffy formula where things typically take a turn for the dark (see “Choices,” “The Yoko Factor,” “Spiral,” and “Seeing Red”) and this one follows suit, putting Buffy in the bleakest position ever… without actually having earned it. Continue reading

Why Would Faith Kill a Person Who Studies Vulcans?

I spy with my little eye

I spy with my little eye

Leave it to Nathan Fillion to breathe new life into this flagging season.  Caleb’s able to do in one episode what The First failed to do in 17 as “Dirty Girls” finally starts to make this apocalypse feel apocalyptic.  To be fair, the sudden appearance of a new baddie does nothing to help the season’s structure *cough* Jasmine *cough* but that structure was fairly flat to begin with and the evil, superpowered, misogynist priest is more than worth the trade. Continue reading

This is How Wars Are Won

Aren't I mother enough for you?

Aren’t I mother enough for you?

I called “Storyteller” the last great episode of Buffy and while I stand by that, “Lies My Parents Told Me” is good enough to give me pause.  Not because it comes so close to greatness, but because it stops so definitively short of it.  That’s an odd way to describe it, but it’s not as if this episode tried for greatness and missed the mark, it’s more like it approached greatness and then decided it wasn’t what it wanted.  It’s ironic for the series to cop out this thoroughly in an episode where Giles preaches about the need to make hard decisions.  ME crafted a scenario that could finally deliver on this season’s promise of the elevated stakes and then, much like most of the sixteen episodes that preceded it, delivered nothing but words.  I know that The First is all talk, but surely someone else on this show could do some damage. Continue reading

Why Can’t You Just Masturbate Like the Rest of Us?

Let me explain a few things

Let me explain a few things

Well, here we are; the last great episode of Buffy.  There are still some good episodes left in the season, maybe even a very good one, but this is the last time that the series would truly challenge itself and break new narrative ground.  I’ll admit that my love of “Storyteller” probably has a lot to do with my love of meta-storytelling but, as meta-stories go, this one’s ingenious.  We get the distorted view of Buffy’s world through both Andrew’s shaky cinematography and his melodramatic (and hilarious) imaginings and while the ostensible point is that we shouldn’t lose ourselves in a fantasy, Andrew’s fiction only ends through one on Buffy’s part.  Running through all of this is a summation for the series up until this point.  Buffy declares itself a fictional construct in the same breath that it questions the value of such things.  It’s beautifully layered bit of narrative and by far the best episode of the season Continue reading