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BTVS Episode Poll: 6.03 After Life

NoShoes
Hey, campers! Time for another Buffy Season 6 poll!


Poll #1873323 BTVS Episode Poll: 6.03 After Life

1. Xander and Spike have this exchange: SPIKE Listen. I've figured it out. [..] Willow knew there was a chance she'd come back wrong. So wrong that you'd have to-- that she'd have to get rid of what came back. And she knew I wouldn't let her. [..] That's why she shut me out. XANDER What are you talking about? Willow wouldn't do that! -- What’s really going on here?

Spike is right. Xander is wrong.
4(21.1%)
Xander is right. Spike is wrong.
0(0.0%)
Spike is more right, but not entirely right.
8(42.1%)
They’re both completely wrong.
3(15.8%)
Wait, when Xander says “Willow wouldn’t do that!” which “that” does he mean?
2(10.5%)
Other
2(10.5%)

2. Willow and Tara have this exchange: WILLOW If it did go right? Wouldn't she be ... happier? [..] TARA You thought she'd say thanks? Be more grateful? WILLOW Am I a terrible person if I say yes? -- Is Willow a terrible person?

Yes
0(0.0%)
Yes, but that's not the reason
4(21.1%)
Of course not. We can’t control our feelings -- she’s just being honest.
8(42.1%)
Not a terrible person. But she is being a terrible friend.
6(31.6%)
Other
1(5.3%)

3. Creepiest manifestation of the Thaumogenesis creature?

Dead faces in photographs
6(33.3%)
Buffy phantom
1(5.6%)
Possessed Anya
9(50.0%)
Possessed Dawn
1(5.6%)
Possessed Xander
0(0.0%)
Misty ghost thing
1(5.6%)
Other
0(0.0%)

4. Buffy’s “You gave me the world” speech thanking her friends for pulling her out of the imaginary hell dimension. How convincing is it?

Convincing enough
1(5.3%)
Convincing -- ish, if you don’t have any reason not to believe it.
4(21.1%)
It mostly convinces the others because it’s what they expect to hear.
8(42.1%)
Not convincing at all. Her friends buying it is a clear sign that they’re not REALLY listening to her.
5(26.3%)
Other
1(5.3%)

5. Buffy’s description of heaven -- would you want to go there for all eternity?

Of course!
5(26.3%)
Well, sure, if the only alternative is a nightmarish hell dimension
4(21.1%)
Actually it sounds kind of boring/lonely
3(15.8%)
I don't think it was really heaven
6(31.6%)
Other
1(5.3%)

6. This episode introduces the Season 6 pattern of Buffy pulling away from her friends and seeking comfort in Spike’s company. What is the biggest thing driving her behavior here?

It’s a little self-destructive. She feels “wrong” and is embracing the “wrongness” represented by Spike
2(10.5%)
It’s still mostly coincidental. “Why are you always around when I'm miserable?” “Because that's when you're alone, I reckon.”
0(0.0%)
It’s all about her resentment toward her friends for pulling her out of heaven. Spike wasn’t involved in the spell, so he’s safe. Plus, she knows he and her other friends don’t really get along.
4(21.1%)
It’s simple: Spike is acting like the better friend, and actually letting her tell him what she needs and trying to provide it.
10(52.6%)
Right now? It’s largely a reaction to that moment of sympathy when he recognized her clawing-out-of-the-coffin wounds
1(5.3%)
Duh. She returns his romantic affections, even if she doesn’t admit it to herself yet.
0(0.0%)
Other
2(10.5%)

7. Favorite thematic/quotable line

Anya: Evil things have plans
2(10.5%)
Demon to Buffy: You're the one who's barely here.
0(0.0%)
Demon to Willow and Tara: What did you do? Do you know what you did? You're like children! Your hands smell of death!
3(15.8%)
Anya: I think we screwed it up. I think she's broken.
0(0.0%)
Xander: Look me in the eyes, and tell me when you saw Buffy alive, that wasn't the happiest moment of your entire existence
3(15.8%)
Xander: She can't fight this thing while it's all misty. So they make it more solid, and then Buffy can kick its newly corporeal ass.
3(15.8%)
Buffy: I think I was in heaven... And now I'm not. I was torn out of there. By my friends.
5(26.3%)
Buffy: This is hell. Just getting through the next moment, and the one after that... knowing what I've lost.
3(15.8%)
Other
0(0.0%)

8. Rate this episode

Mean: 8.05 Median: 8 Std. Dev 1.32
1
0(0.0%)
2
0(0.0%)
3
0(0.0%)
4
0(0.0%)
5
1(5.3%)
6
0(0.0%)
7
7(36.8%)
8
3(15.8%)
9
5(26.3%)
10
3(15.8%)

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
mcjulie
Oct. 19th, 2012 03:24 pm (UTC)
1 -- They’re both completely wrong. There didn’t have to be a particular reason that Willow shut Spike out, for one thing. He’s still only kinda-sorta-nominally a part of the team. But I think it’s clear she only included Scoobies who she knew would accept her authority. Spike, Giles, and Dawn would have challenged her a lot more, and maybe even tried to prevent her from the spell. And when Xander says “Willow wouldn’t do that” I’m not sure even he knows what he’s talking about. Which makes me want to reiterate Willow herself: Of course Willow would do that! She’s the do-that girl!

2 -- Bad friend. On rewatching this episode, I was really struck by the way all the gang -- even Xander, who initially seems the most horrified at the revelation that Buffy had to claw her way out of her own coffin -- go so quickly into a mode of trying to make themselves feel better, without really attending to Buffy’s needs very well. Willow’s "wouldn’t she be happier?” reaction is SO CLOSE to recognizing what’s really going on... and yet... she doesn’t get it.

Still, I will give them credit for one excuse -- they are so used to Buffy being their powerful and fearless leader, the person who takes care of everyone else, that they are set up to miss the signs that she needs care herself. On the other hand, THEY KNOW SHE HAD TO CLAW HER WAY OUT OF HER OWN COFFIN. That would be majorly traumatic even to somebody who hadn’t been pulled out of heaven, don’t you think? Of course, maybe it’s just denial. They have no idea how to make up for what they put her through, so they kinda... don’t think about it.

3 -- The faces. They still give me a chill.

4 -- Not convincing at all. Her word choice and her demeanor should be a dead giveaway that she’s lying. But it’s what they want to hear, so they buy it.
mcjulie
Oct. 19th, 2012 03:24 pm (UTC)

5 -- I don’t think it was heaven. This is one of my more fanwanky theories (like my idea that the Cheese Man from Restless is God) but it goes like this: the established Buffyverse canon re: souls and vampires is that continuous memory is conveyed mostly by the physical brain, while conscience and a certain ineffable selfhood is conveyed by the soul. There are all sorts of gray areas and exceptions, of course -- for example, I don’t think it’s fully clear whether demons have demony souls of their own.

Established Buffyverse canon is that our world is part of a multiverse full of adjoining dimensions, most of which would be perceived as hellish, or at least threatening, to humans. Any talk of “hell” or “demons” is usually assumed to be referring to worlds and creatures of alternate dimensions, and not necessarily to any kind of Christian-ish concept of ultimate and inherent metaphysical evil.

Further, BTVS remains firmly agnostic about the existence of gods as we normally understand them -- inherently “good” beings who preside over the correct ordering of the universe -- and similarly agnostic about the ultimate fate of the human soul for a person who dies in a normal fashion.

Finally, what is the actual mechanism of Buffy’s death in the middle of the dimensional vortex? It has always looked to me as if she uses the chaotic nature of the vortex to *will* herself to death.

So, taking all these things together, I don’t see how Buffy could possibly remember her soul inhabiting a heavenly dimension. I think a more likely explanation is that Buffy achieved a moment of peace while her body and soul, still united, were passing through all the dimensions and that moment is when she chose to die, separating her soul from her body. That moment is also, now, the last thing she remembers before her resurrection -- because it is the last thing her brain experienced.

I guess it doesn’t make any fundamental difference to the story. I just wanted to throw that out there. Because I’m nerdy that way.

6 -- I suspect all of these items are probably factors, but I went with resentment. (The first time I saw it, I would have gone with “moment of sympathy,” which is why that’s on there.) Buffy actually has a lot of stored-up resentment toward the world for constantly dumping on her, and this season is largely about her trying to deal with that. It’s like, heroes aren’t allowed to be resentful for having to save the world over and over and over, right? But Buffy is human as much as she’s a hero, and she’s getting kinda pissed off about it.

Anyway, her telling Spike the truth, then telling him not to tell the others -- partly safe, because she knows Spike and the others don’t really talk like they’re some kind of talking buddies or something, and partly passive-aggressive -- if somebody knows, then there is that chance that the others will find out how they’ve hurt her, without her having to tell them.

7 -- So Buffy can kick its newly corporeal ass. I decided I like this as a theme for not only this episode, but for the season as a whole. Heck, it’s kind of the theme of the whole series -- find a metaphor for emotional turmoil, render it as a literal thing you can fight, then kick its ass.

8 -- 9. I like this episode a lot. It’s creepy, and there’s a lot of great character and thematic stuff going on.

Actually, I think the run of episodes from Bargaining through Smashed is probably the strongest opening to any of the BTVS seasons. I suspect this might be very much due to Once More With Feeling -- there were all those story threads that had to be set up so they would pay off during the musical, then a couple of episodes dealing with the fallout from the musical, and all of that forms a powerful sub-season arc. Then... Wrecked. Sigh. But we’ll talk about that when we get there!

Edited at 2012-10-19 03:26 pm (UTC)
red_satin_doll
Oct. 23rd, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
Finally, what is the actual mechanism of Buffy’s death in the middle of the dimensional vortex? It has always looked to me as if she uses the chaotic nature of the vortex to *will* herself to death.

So, taking all these things together, I don’t see how Buffy could possibly remember her soul inhabiting a heavenly dimension. I think a more likely explanation is that Buffy achieved a moment of peace while her body and soul, still united, were passing through all the dimensions and that moment is when she chose to die, separating her soul from her body. That moment is also, now, the last thing she remembers before her resurrection -- because it is the last thing her brain experienced.

I guess it doesn’t make any fundamental difference to the story. I just wanted to throw that out there. Because I’m nerdy that way.


That's actually a pretty cool fanwank - I could accept that. Time would have no meaning in that state, would it?

I never understood why some fans get upset when she says in CWDP in S7 that there's nothing "definite" on whether there's a god or not. They've said that "she's been to Heaven, how could she not believe in God?" Um, dudes, she was in a "heavenly dimension", i.e. a place of perfect peace that she calls Heaven because that's the closest word/idea to describe what she experienced in our Judeo-Christian culture. And on the show it's stated that there are millions of possible Hell and Heaven dimensions, so - they can't all be Christian. (Plus, Joss, atheist.)

Actually, I think the run of episodes from Bargaining through Smashed is probably the strongest opening to any of the BTVS seasons. I suspect this might be very much due to Once More With Feeling -- there were all those story threads that had to be set up so they would pay off during the musical, then a couple of episodes dealing with the fallout from the musical, and all of that forms a powerful sub-season arc. Then... Wrecked. Sigh. But we’ll talk about that when we get there!

I agree with this so much - another reason S6 is my personal favorite. I think I don't hate Wrecked as much as most fandom does - ok, the Willow/Amy plotline? Completely off the rails. The magic as addiction bit? Gah, the less said the better. And I don't think AH was really feeling it; her performance to me seemed off; and for someone who was SO good at crying onscreen, her cries in that episode just felt forced somehow. But maybe it was supposed to be?

But that opening scene in that episode is one of my favorites that season. to not acknowledge what happened at the end of Smashed, to try to jump time in this instance would have been a huge mistake. We need to see the morning-after, see Buffy's mental state here. I think Marti Noxon wrote the dialogue and it's brilliant stuff, the constant shifts of tone. Just as Buffy is about to allow herself to really lose herself in him again, he fucks it up with his stupid comments - twice (yeah, vampire, I know.) Which to me puts paid to his declarations of love - he may be "in love" with her (as much as he understands it) but he doesn't know how to "love" her - or at least not in any healthy way. But I should wait until we get there.
mcjulie
Oct. 23rd, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
"I never understood why some fans get upset when she says in CWDP in S7 that there's nothing "definite" on whether there's a god or not. "

Well, she doesn't mention meeting any god or gods, so I would think that if you'd been to heaven, and there wasn't a god there, you'd be even more skeptical about the existence of one

But I think Buffyverse cosmology is deliberately flexible that way.
rebcake
Oct. 21st, 2012 06:14 am (UTC)
While I think there are several reasons for why Buffy seeks out the company of Spike -- including that she is romantically attracted to him, deep down -- I think it's primarily the one he voices in OMWF: he is a safe sounding board because he isn't quite as "real". He is still an "other". In a way it's similar to how she is able to open up to Holden Webster in CWDP.
mcjulie
Oct. 22nd, 2012 03:21 pm (UTC)
Good call on the comparison to Holden Webster. One of the recurring themes -- very explicit this season -- is that as much as Buffy loves and depends on her friends and family, she's also burdened by their expectations.

It's not that Spike doesn't want anything from her -- obviously, he wants a very big and important thing -- it's that she doesn't feel like she has to care that he wants it.
red_satin_doll
Oct. 23rd, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
*nods* Yes to ALL of that. I can't wait until we get further into the season.
teragramm
Oct. 25th, 2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
I agree, there was several factors involved in why she seeks out Spike including the fact that he felt "safe" because he was a neutral sounding board.
red_satin_doll
Oct. 23rd, 2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
Ok, I hate when I answer the poll, don't have time to post comments, then come back and can't remember exactly what answers I chose. *sigh* For several of them I could have said "all of the above" (or used "other" as my all of the above option) because in some instances I think nearly all the answers have a bit of truth? I mean #1, 2 & 6 - there are no "right answers" with those, which makes this season so fascinating - because it is so complex, and so far from neat "black and white answers" (demons bad, Slayer good), which began the moment she kissed Angel in S1.

I really love the scene where the demon appears to Tara and Willow - and it's interesting we can't see her face, but SMG's line delivery there is superb; "did you pat its head?" gives me CHILLS - it obviously refers to the fawn Willow killed. But when Tara asks if she knew what the demon meant, Willow says no, and unlike other times ("Forever"), Willow doesn't seem to be lying or covering, she seems genuinely confused. Does she not understand the reference, or has she just gotten better at covering for herself?

I think of the demon in that moment as feeding off of Buffy's emotions in order to exist in that moment, and expressing Buffy's rage; the rage that she keeps bottled up the entire season.
mcjulie
Oct. 23rd, 2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
But when Tara asks if she knew what the demon meant, Willow says no, and unlike other times ("Forever"), Willow doesn't seem to be lying or covering, she seems genuinely confused

I don't know. I kinda think she's lying, and that almost became a poll question item...
red_satin_doll
Oct. 26th, 2012 08:19 pm (UTC)
My impression was that Willow was genuinely befuddled there but I'd have to rewatch.
livejournal
Oct. 25th, 2012 03:29 am (UTC)
Wednesday, October 24
User oni_9 referenced to your post from Wednesday, October 24 saying: [...] BTVS Episode Poll: 6.03 After Life [...]
teragramm
Oct. 25th, 2012 01:20 pm (UTC)
Great poll! Thanks!
mcjulie
Oct. 25th, 2012 02:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks for contributing!
fray_adjacent12
Oct. 30th, 2012 09:55 pm (UTC)
1. I chose "Spike is more right", but I'm pretty convinced by your "They're both completely wrong" argument. I was sort of on the fence between the two. Actually, in retrospect, I don't think it occurred to Willow that Buffy would come back "wrong".

2. "Terrible friend." Though she's not actually being a terrible friend for admitting her feelings to Tara. In fact, by admitting them she's at least increasing the chance that she can sort out her own issues and be the friend that Buffy needs. But of course she doesn't do that, and in general is a pretty terrible friend to Buffy this season.

4. "Convincing-ish". Because the firs time I watched the show, I kept saying, "how do they know Buffy was in Hell? Why does everyone keep assuming that?" Then Buffy thanked them for bringing her back, and I accepted it at face value. I figured she was acting unhappy because she was traumatized from being in Hell.

5. I totally agree with your fanwank! I'm always surprised by how many people take Buffy's declaration "I think I was in Heaven" at face value. (emphasis mine, obvs.) One thing I particularly like about this fanwank is that it more clearly connects Buffy S6 depression to the way that burdens of life and Slayerness piled up on her in S5 to the point that her sacrifice in "The Gift" was kind of partly a suicide.

6. I chose "Spike is being the better friend", but what's cool about this one is that all of the reasons apply at various points and to varying extents this season. (Except the last one; I'm not sure Buffy shared his romantic affections in S6, or at least that I'd put it quite like that). But in "After Life", I think she's still too shocked and dazed to feel much resentment or be self-destructive.

7. "She can't fight this thing when it's all misty." Great thematically for the entire season.

8. I gave this a 10, I think. I love this episode.

Edited at 2012-10-30 10:01 pm (UTC)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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