I’m a big fan of Buffy’s sixth season but, having now finished reviewing it, I can understand why many people don’t like it. This isn’t the series it once was. That’s not a bad thing, as shows need to evolve in order to keep from becoming redundant, but the series did (for the most part) lose that “comfort food” appeal of long running television. In exchange, we got a darker, more introspective version of Buffy. Whether or not you think that the trade was worth it is really a matter of personal preference. Continue reading
No snarky caption this time
“Is Buffy still Buffy?” was the central question posed in the season premiere and, until recently, was a fairly constant theme of the season… at least until her on-the-nose (but still awesome) trip to the insane asylum. Since then, we’ve had some solid episodes and a great Willow-arc, but the season as a whole seems to have lost its thread. Buffy tries to get us back on track by asking Giles “Why am I back?” but the exposition wouldn’t be necessary if there wasn’t a problem. The fate of the world rests on who Willow really is, not Buffy, and thus the question doesn’t get answered. Continue reading
Never trust a veiny chick
While “Villains” took time to underscore just how evil Warren was, “Two to Go” is at pains to remind us of how much we like Jonathan and Andrew. “Pains” is perhaps the wrong word, as the
TrioDuo is consistently entertaining, but there were a few too many explicit comments that they’re not the same as Warren. It’s a bit of a backpedal, to be honest. Last week, Willow would be “lost” if she killed Warren, but turns out she’ll only really be lost if she kills Jonathan and Andrew. It’s an oversimplification of the moral issues at play here but, to be honest, I don’t particularly care. Letting us root for the Duo, or at least sympathize with them, makes this episode a lot more exciting by pushing Willow firmly into villain territory. Continue reading
Love that shot
I find myself surprisingly disenchanted with “Villains.” Surprising because this is actually a very good episode, nearly a great one, but I just didn’t find myself glued to the screen the way that Tara dying a Willow getting her darkness on would seem to command. Part of that is a natural product of repeated viewings; I’m familiar with what happens, and thus less interested. But, looking back, this episode doesn’t stick out in the memory the way that “Seeing Red,” “Grave,” or even, in my opinion at least, “Two To Go” does. Being the weakest of four exceptionally strong episode’s is no slight, but it’s difficult not to see “Villains” as a means of lining things up rather than a story in its own right. Continue reading
The fallout from Xander and Anya’s breakup is, fortunately, far more interesting than the breakup itself. Gone are the demonic hinjix, farcical delays, and toothless predictions. Instead, “Entropy” puts its focus squarely on what Anya’s going through and gives her emotions room to breathe. What elevates this story is that it’s all about Anya’s need to have somebody, anybody, validate those emotions. “Revenge is wrong” is a rather tired lesson to trot out and this episode wisely complicates the issue by never questioning Anya’s right to hate Xander or her legitimate desire for others to share this feeling. Continue reading
Where’s your power now?
Let me make clear from the outset that I am not one of those who subscribe to the idea that “Normal Again” presents “the truth” about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The simple fact that there are events in this world that occur outside the awareness of main character is sufficient proof that it isn’t all a product of her delusional mind. That said, this episode is still a fascinating exploration of the boundaries of fictional reality, presenting two alternative worlds without any definitive evidence as to which one is “real.” Despite this, Buffy still makes a definitive choice between them, and her reasons for doing so underscore just how much truth’s to be found in the world of vampires, magic, and heroes. Continue reading
Why is the Slayer ignoring us? Haven’t we killed enough people?
This should’ve been a great episode. Hell, it needed to be great. Not only have two main characters done little more than plan for it all season, one of them caps it with one of the biggest dick moves a character can make. I actually don’t think it’s inconceivable that Xander would leave Anya at the altar, but such a turn required a lot of finesse to feel earned, and finesse is far removed from “Hell’s Bells” as it seems more concerned with emulating every sitcom wedding episode ever than with doing the necessary character work. Continue reading
Don’t pretend that the scar doesn’t make me more attractive
“As You Were” is one deft piece of storytelling. Not an exceptionally good episode or even an exceptionally good story, but a clever one. Much like in Angel’s second season, the writers have been painting our protagonist into a progressively darker corner. It’s been entertaining to watch her fall but it’s also been getting harder to see how she’ll get back to the Buffy we love without some sort of narrative cheat. “Epiphany” was a huge success for Angel but not only has Buffy already slept with her unhealthy love interest, that trick’s been done. BtVS’s solution isn’t quite as brilliant, but it’s still a good one. By tying Buffy’s redemption to Riley’s the series is able to get away with the easy answer that people can and do get better. That’s not nearly as profound as Angel’s life lesson, but this episode’s still able to make it feel satisfying, and that’s impressive. Continue reading
“Great, a Dawn episode.” That’s what I thought during the cold open and I must admit to being pleasantly surprised. Not that this was somehow a good Dawn episode, but that it’s a good episode in spite of her. It speaks a lot about how far the character’s stock has fallen than I, once a staunch Dawn apologist, now sigh anytime she’s on screen. She’s the weakest part of this episode, despite being the ostensible centre of it. Fortunately, the rest of Scoobies are more than capable of carrying the episode, with Dawn’s loneliness driven angst being far less relevant than the increasing stress of their enforced confinement. Continue reading
Gasp! A murder in Sunnydale!
Well, that was grim. Off the top of my head, “Passion” and “Helpless” are the only Buffy episodes (thus far) to go to the kind of dark places that “Dead Things” takes us, and it does it without the aid of killing or terrorizing someone we care about. The Trio has been one of Buffy’s most entertaining villains since their first appearance, but their ability to bring the story to such a dark place indicates there’s more to them than empty amusement. There’s actually very little new here (people die all the time in Sunnydale) but highlighting the impact they have on our characters is enough to illustrate how horrifying they are. Continue reading