>> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
>> Season Seven, Episode 1: "Lessons"
> The Buffy-Spike part still fails to satisfy me, just like it has on pretty
> much every viewing. Probably, to lay the groundwork for future
> developments, Joss wanted to show us that there is still more to Buffy's
> feelings for Spike than simple hatred. You know, despite the rape thing.
> But the lack of *any* signs of trauma amidst the confusion and curiosity
> just feels wrong to me. It's disappointing, because I'm sure Joss could
> have gotten those additional layers into the scene if he had tried.
> Beneath You will handle Buffy's reactions much better.
I imagine that this wasn't the right setting for getting into their
history - that was deferred until next episode. This encounter served to
establish a few small mechanical things in support of their next. An excuse
for Spike to show up at her house and for her not to be surprised, which
allows everybody else to get huffy about her concealing her connection with
Spike again. I think mostly it was aimed at introducing Spike's state of
madness. Of course Spike is pretty much always a bit crazy, so I don't
think it instantly proved as interesting as Joss imagined it to.
I don't think Buffy's reaction was really out of character. There wasn't
time for anything but surprise and wondering what the hell is wrong with him
before the phone rang and the matters of the moment demanded attention. I'd
agree that her somewhat sympathetic response suggests he still matters to
her on some level besides loathing. But really, that can also be seen as a
reflexive response to how messed up he is. It's awfully brief, and I think
puzzlement is exhibited more than sympathy.
Be that is it may, I still agree with you that it's unsatisfying to the
audience. In character or not, there's still all the baggage left from last
season that isn't being dealt with. That's what people want to know about.
Not drive-by Buffy and obscure babbling from Spike that makes no sense.
(Not to mention Spike's ghastly hair.)
> Why does Buffy ask Spike "What did you do?" when she sees his wounds?
> Sure, their position shows they could have been self-inflicted, but it's
> not clear that they *had* to be self-inflicted, especially not at first
Slayer instinct. (Hey, I keep telling people it's real.)
> I wonder if it's significant that crazy Spike felt his soul was
> located in his heart, rather than, say, the brain.
It doesn't exactly make sense - his heart doesn't beat. But I think it
sells the notion of Spike's despair OK. I think people usually feel
emotions physically in their body more so than in their head.
(On the other hand I could sort of imagine Spike trying to get at his brain
by putting a power drill to his head. Gross I know, but there's some comic
opportunity. Jerking around when the drill bit seizes... Ok, I'll stop.)
>> (which is itself a pretty good "crescendo of ominous"). But outside
>> the teaser and last scene it doesn't set the thematic stage for the
>> year as much as some season premieres,
> The "It's about power" bookends seem to foreshadow the finale more than
> the season as a whole. Power is a recurring theme throughout the season,
> but usually combined with or buried in other stories like Buffy's struggle
> to be a leader, yet another look at the Slayer trap, various characters'
> crises of identity, etc.
It's probably the most overt statement of theme that any BtVS season opener
has provided. Yet it proves to be surprisingly obscure - not really
clarified until Chosen. I think it's because it's slightly misleading. The
actual theme might be better stated as empowerment. Viewed that way, I
think it can be seen as more pervasive through the season. The Slayer trap
and solution of course. (Take a close look at Bring On The Night. The
episode practically lays it out - problem and solution both. Buffy's
instincts are dead on. Just an epiphany (and a scythe) away from Chosen.)
But it also link into Willow and Spike, whose stories can also be seen as
ones of self empowerment.
That, incidentally, probably is a clue to The First's sometimes obscure
methods. Much of what he seeks with Willow and Spike is to get them to
self restrain themselves - keep themselves down rather than exercising their
true power. (At least for anything other than the First's bidding.) That
eventually leads to Get it Done, another episode that's big on this theme,
where Buffy pushes them to stop holding back and be what they can be. An
exercise in empowerment.
> The final shot when First-as-Buffy repeats
> Buffy's words is neat, but I'm not sure that the First really cares about
> power, as such -- doesn't it simply want to destroy the world? But maybe
> it's thinking like Buffy when it takes on her form.
Someday I'd like to hear what Joss thinks about that. Though I think I've
seen some allusions to it. I think the question preceding what the First
wants is what the first (small "f") evil is. What's the core of evil? One
possible way to look at it is through judeo-christian culture, where the
first sin is eating from the tree of knowledge. The knowledge obtained is
essentially knowing the difference between good and evil - or from another
point of view, realizing that choices matter. Now one might then see evil
as choosing evil - which is true enough. But just as important would be
failing to choose good. I get the impression that the latter concept is
fairly important to Joss's philosophy.
Perhaps the greatest evil is holding people down (or holding oneself down)
so that they cannot or will not choose to be the best they can. Slavery.
Repression. Even conformity. All conspiring to hold people back. I don't
care to argue the point of what's actually the greatest evil, but resistance
to being held back is almost primal in people, and has been the foundation
of cultural movements - including ones that appear to have influenced Joss.
Especially the particular feminist idea of women's empowerment in the face
of a patriarchal society that BtVS as a whole and this season especially is
founded upon. So it makes sense to me that something along those lines
would be the first evil that The First represents.
If so, The First would probably be less interested in destroying the world
than in enslaving it. Which certainly would be a grand exercise in power.
And about controlling everybody's power. (Though killing is OK too - as The
First has conceded multiple times. After all, that also takes people's
power away. It's just better when he gets to control it too.)
Which of them do you imagine is more naturally vulgar?
>> Season Seven, Episode 4: "Help"
> After watching Help again I started to get all proud of myself for
> spotting the similarity between Buffy at the end and Angel's "then all
> that matters is what we do" philosophy on the other show. Then I reread
> the 2006 thread and thought that the idea grew from memories of Scythe's
> post and its followups. Oh, well. It's still interesting to look at it
> from the AtS point of view. Instead of focusing on Buffy's fate as the
> one girl who can save the world, the conclusion of Help focuses on Buffy's
> conscious choice to keep trying even in the face of knowing she can't win.
> I mean, not just "can't win" in the sense that a particular foe looks
> invincible, but in the larger sense that many problems are insoluble and
> there can never be a final victory. It's not about victory, it's about
> how you choose to live your life. It would fit right in on AtS, but it's
> unusual on BtVS. I can only think of a few episodes that take a similar
> approach. There's a bit from Gingerbread, mentioned in the 2006 thread:
> Angel tells Buffy that they'll never win, but "We do it because there's
> things worth fighting for."
While that occurs in BtVS, I think it's there mainly to start establishing
the new Angel for when he heads off to AtS.
> And then there's The Wish, where Buffy fights
> on simply because it's her lot in life, even though she's devoid of hope.
> "World is what it is. We fight. We die." That could be seen as kind of a
> dark reflection of Angel's approach: still fighting without hope of an
> ultimate victory, but rooted in deadened feelings and submission to fate
> rather than personal choice.
The other thing about that is that it's specifically conceived as the
anti-BtVS scenario - what would have happened if Buffy hadn't come to
Sunnydale. So it can't be the BtVS philosophy.
> Are there other BtVS episodes with a
> similarly AtS-like approach?
Not until S7. This season deals so much with redemption and fighting the
evil within, that I can't help but think of Angel. W&H's concept of feeding
off of the evil within people is different than The First's efforts to
control it, but both seem to depend on that natural evil within humanity.
This season of BtVS emphasizes a lot the idea of being the best you can,
which is very much akin to Angel's notion of champion and hero. BtVS has
also always shared the notion of perpetual warrior. And it's explored
pretty often a sense of futility. It never ends. Is it worth it? But even
here in S7 where the notions get a little closer to AtS, I think there's
still a huge difference. BtVS remains forever optimistic, seeking and
finding triumph. Angel actually signs away his noble "destiny", presumably
because he thought it was a false one, and that he's forever consigned to