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BTVS Episode Poll: 6.06 All the Way

Whee! Finally! Let's go all the way!

Poll #1882385 BTVS Episode Poll: 6.06 All the Way

1 Willow’s rant about negative witch stereotypes. Justified?

No. It’s not like witches are an oppressed minority group.
Yes. As a matter of fact, witches are an oppressed minority group.
Maybe. The costume is obviously meant to be a “fantasy witch” type of character and not any real-life witch, Wiccan or magic user.
Either way, she’s obviously channeling her mother.
Where does that stereotype even come from, anyway? In movies, TV, and books, there seem to be way more attractive witches than ugly witches.

2 Buffy and Spike have a scene together in the basement, which could be said to be fraught with sexual tension. Exactly how fraught is it?

Ten. Fraught to an amount of ten.
Pretty fraught, actually.
A little fraught.
Not at all fraught. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

3 Xander is overwhelmed with Anya-love and announces their engagement without consulting her first. Is this jerkish behavior on his part?

Definitely. They announce the engagement the instant he’s ready? What a jerk.
Not really. He already knows Anya is ready to make the announcement and that she’s been waiting on him.
Maybe a little, but he’s trying to get it over with before his courage fails him, so I get it.

4 Dawn’s kleptomania is obviously a cry for attention. But why stealing?

Summers family tradition. Seriously, check out pre-Slayer Buffy in Becoming and “teenage” Joyce in Band Candy.
She’s trying to forge an identity distinct from Buffy’s by being deliberately “bad.”
It’s just very, very typical for girls in her age group.

5 Zack and Justin (the guys Dawn and her friends hang out with who turn out to be vampires -- Justin is the one who goes with Dawn). Jerks?

Zack’s a jerk. Justin is okay.
Jerks, but not atypically so for teenage boys.
Jerks, but I believe Dawn would hang out with them.
Jerks. I don’t believe Dawn would ever hang out with them.
I didn’t believe Dawn would hang out with them until I found out they were vampires. Then it kinda made sense. Seductive powers and all that.

6 The fakeout with Kaltenbach (the weird old man) being set up as the threat -- then, boom, he’s eaten by vampire Justin. How does that work for you?

Okay, but they cheated a little too much.
Dumb. They cheated a lot too much.
I’m not sure it was a fakeout. I think there’s an alternate universe version of this story where the kids aren’t vampires and Kaltenbach ends up killing them all.
Failed completely. I wasn’t fooled.

7 Why doesn’t Dawn figure out sooner that Justin is a vampire?

Because she’s Dawn, remember? The person who actually invited vampire Harmony into their house?
See above. Seductive powers.
Look at all the Buffy/Angel parallels -- the gift of the coat, the mid-kiss vampface -- if Buffy didn’t figure it out until vampface, why on earth would Dawn?

8 All the many vampires who suddenly appear, ready to fight -- why?

Beats me. It doesn’t actually make a lot of sense, as vampire behavior goes.
Eh, baby vamps. That’s why they don’t know about taking Halloween off.
With Buffy out of commission all summer, there was a serious explosion in the vampire population of Sunnydale, and this is the result.
They’re teenagers. Teenagers don’t always make a lot of sense, living or undead.

9 This is it. The moment we’ve all been dreading. Willow’s “forget” spell performed on Tara. WHAT ON EARTH IS WILLOW THINKING?

She’s not thinking at all. She’s simply doing the thing that seems easiest at the time.
She’s trying to “prove” that Tara was wrong to worry about her magic use, by using magic.
It’s fear hiding in arrogance. She is so afraid of losing Tara that she does (dramatic irony alert!) the exact thing that will get Tara to walk out.
Denial, denial, denial.
She’s giving in to a momentary temptation -- who hasn’t wished you could say “forget it” about a dumb fight and have that actually work?

10 Favorite quotable/thematic/hilarious dialog

ANYA This is a special kind of angel, called a
SPIKE I go where I please and take what I want
ZACK What do you know about it, grandpa? GILES Quite a bit, actually.
BUFFY Were you parking? With a vamp?! [...] DAWN Oh, like you've never fallen for a vampire.
SPIKE No, I'm a rebel. You're an idiot.
ANYA It gave me time to plan the bridal shower. Where do we order obscenely muscular male strippers?
BUFFY How's the face? GILES Still ruggedly handsome.
DAWN This the part where you tell me you're not angry, just disappointed? GILES Pretty much. Except for the bit about not being angry.

11 Rate this episode

Mean: 7.21 Median: 7 Std. Dev 1.10

Bonus question: at the engagement party we see everyone drinking from opaque plastic cups, but we never see what is poured into those cups. WHAT IS EVERYONE DRINKING?


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 1st, 2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
1 -- Where does that stereotype even come from, anyway?
My husband and I had a remarkably dumb argument on Halloween that went something like this:

Me: "Why do Halloween decorations always show witches as green and warty and stuff? In movies and TV it seems far more common for witches to be attractive Samantha Stevens or Sabrina types."

Paul: "That's the image of the Halloween witch."

Me: "But why is that the Halloween witch? Aren't Halloween monsters supposed to be a reflection of the pop culture? I'm saying it doesn't reflect the pop culture. There's only one witch that ever looked like that really, in the Wizard of Oz. So why is that the default witch image for Halloween for all time?"

Paul: "Because that's the traditional Halloween witch."

Lather, rinse, repeat. (I did not have magical “forget it” powers, but I would have been tempted to use them.)

2 Ten. Fraught to an amount of ten.

That was the thing that jumped out at the last rewatch. Buffy doesn’t have much to do for most of this episode. But she reacts so strongly to Spike’s “Feel like a bit of the rough and tumble?” -- it seems like a good setup for their relationship in the musical.

3 He’s trying to get it over with before his courage fails him
The first time I watched this scene, I didn’t think anything of it. The second or third time, it occurred to me that maybe he’s being a jerk, not consulting with Anya first. This time, I was struck by how much it seems like he’s rushing it because knows if he doesn’t do it NOW he’ll lose his nerve again. Captain Fear is still at the wheel of the tugboat...

4 Summers family tradition.
I’m thinking, maybe a genetic tendency toward “thrill-seeking” would explain a lot.
Dec. 1st, 2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
5 Jerks. I don’t believe Dawn would ever hang out with them.
It’s kinda the only thing I don’t like about this episode. I mean, I get that they’re supposed to be petty juvie types, with the pumpkin-smashing and the mailbox golf and all, but they seem kind of mean and dumb as well. So I never quite bought the relationship. Maybe it’s just because I have such a strong dislike toward people who engage in that kind of petty nonsensical vandalism. I’m with Spike. “I’m a rebel, you’re an idiot.”

6 I’m not sure it was a fakeout.
Seriously. Check the basement for the bones of last year’s trick or treaters! This is Sunnydale, land of vampires and monsters -- a regular serial killer could pass entirely unnoticed. And he references “that thing” that got him fired -- what was it? We don’t know. It could be something really, really awful. He removes the heads of his toys. He calls Dawn by the wrong name. All disturbing signs of somebody who might be dangerously violent. Those Rice Krispies treats are poisoned, I tell you!

7 Look at all the Buffy/Angel parallels
I have to accept, because the Buffyverse demonstrates it again and again, that people making out with vampires never ever notice that their skin is room temperature or their breath smells funny.

8 With Buffy out of commission all summer, there was a serious explosion in the vampire population of Sunnydale
All of them teenagers, apparently.

9 She’s not thinking at all.
All the answers have some truth, I think. In my mind the difference between “not thinking” and “temptation” is that in “temptation” you have thought about it enough to realize it’s probably wrong, but you’ve decided to do it anyway. I think Willow at this stage is still deeply in denial about how problematic her relationship with magic has become. She might be right when she thinks Tara doesn’t need to be concerned about a “decorate things” spell, but when she treats a spell to move everyone at the Bronze into an alternate dimension with the same attitude? Something is definitely wrong.

10 Buffy: Were you parking? With a VAMP?
I love this whole exchange, especially Buffy and Dawn both telling vampire Justin to shut up.

11 I give it a 7.5, rounded up to 8. It would be a more enthusiastic 8 if I didn’t dislike Zack and Justin so very, very much. A lot of the narrative strength here comes from the idea that Dawn sincerely likes Justin, and I just... I can’t. I guess I believe the character does, sorta, but...

I guess I find it more compelling when characters dislike a character I like (Anya, Spike) than when they like a character I dislike. (Justin, that preslayer Willow dates in season 7, what is her name again... Kennedy, right.)
Dec. 1st, 2012 04:38 pm (UTC)
1. I think she's channeling her mother.

2. Pretty fraught and totally cute.

3. I get the reason in the third opinion. Actually, I understand why Xander would to a similar thing and he was so troubled and worried ... but, in the end, everytime I watch the scene I personally think that Xander is a jerk. A major one. Actually I don't think the same about Hells Bells, but this scene and all the scene in which Xander is all about: "Anya, shut up. Let me handle this" are iincredibly irritating.

4. I don't know much about compulsive stealing, but ... OMG, both Buffy and Joyce also did it! I've never noticed it before!

5. Not so atypical amound of jerkiness and I guess Dawn just wanted to try to go out with them for once. It's understandable at her age.

6. Fine. But the alternative reality thingy is intriguing!

7. Look at the Angel/Buffy parallels for the win! It was all about parallels to me!

8. They are baby vamps. They don't know the importance of tradition!

9. She's doing the easiest thing, without thinking too much. She doesn't understand why people are so concerned about magic.

10. The exchange Buffy/Dawn. SO PERF XD

11. 7. It's a lovely episode, mostly because of the spuffyness in it, the Dawn/Vamp Guy story and the parallels with the bangel and Buffy being supercute. (Look at her hair!) and I like the quite exploration of depression before things go really bad. Also Anya looks fabs as Charlie's Angels.
Dec. 1st, 2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
Anya does look fab! I always like Anya (of course! we all do!), but she's particularly charming in this episode.

This was the first time I noticed just how strong the Buffy/Angel parallels were. Even the coat! That's why it's fun to do these, because I keep noticing new things.
Dec. 3rd, 2012 04:40 am (UTC)
I don't think Dawn has cute guy/jerk radar yet. I suspect, bolstered by a girlfriend that she would go out with anyone cute. Like Buffy went to the frat party!
Dec. 4th, 2012 03:59 pm (UTC)
That's true -- those guys were definitely jerks.
Dec. 3rd, 2012 05:11 am (UTC)
BONUS: they were drinking beer? That's what I always assumed, anyway.

Other answers:

- Doesn't the evil Halloween witch come from Maleus Maleficarum type crap? I can get why Willow finds that offensive, even if it doesn't directly correspond to a modern day oppressed minority group. Whereas movie television witches feature, well, movie stars, so they gotta be all glam.

- The guys are jerks, but Dawn is a freshman in high school, which is not a time well-known for people's strong sense of self. I can see Dawn going along with the guys even though they're jerks, and liking Justin because he's paying attention to her when no one else is. Works well enough for me, even if, like you, I don't like them per se.

- I like the alternative reality explanation. It wasn't a fakeout! Cause it actually makes me kind of sad when they kill that sweet old man. It makes me feel better if I think he's a serial killer.

- I chose Giles' "ruggedly handsome" line, cause it makes me laugh and I totally agree! Head's delivery is great.
Dec. 3rd, 2012 09:03 pm (UTC)
- Doesn't the evil Halloween witch come from Maleus Maleficarum type crap? I can get why Willow finds that offensive, even if it doesn't directly correspond to a modern day oppressed minority group. Whereas movie television witches feature, well, movie stars, so they gotta be all glam.

Exactly. It's not a bit unlike the Nazi propaganda that depicted Jews as subhuman and rat-like, with hooked noses and "swarthy" complexions, etc. I answered for that one that she was channeling a bit of her mother, and it's true - and I know real-life Wiccans who are very sensitive to the way witches have been depicted - not so much as being ugly as being Devil worshippers. (It's strange though that in the one episode we she Sheila Rosenberg in, she's depicted as something of an ivory-tower ninny, seeing misogyny where it doesn't exist, and therefore the show comes off a dismissive of a "certain type" of feminism.)
Dec. 4th, 2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
Willow's mom is definitely meant to be a bit of a parody of super-PC womyn's studies types, although in that episode I think her behavior is supposed to be exaggerated from what it normally would be. But interesting that in that particular episode, it's all about Buffy and Willow and their moms -- Willow presumably has a dad, but he doesn't enter into the story at all.

Good comparison on the Nazi propaganda -- it is very similar imagery, isn't it?
Dec. 4th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
This! I was gonna make the same point RSD! Also - see early stereotypes about any ethnic/racial groups - eating watermelon, cooking cats, etc. I actually do find it offensive but that's from the history of Evangelists (all the way back a few thousand years) taking native traditions and making them out to be evil. (There is no Satan in Wicca because Satan was invented much later - to teach that any version of the horned god was evil).
Dec. 5th, 2012 04:32 pm (UTC)
*nods* We can find that same pattern of traditions either being co-opted (the yearly rituals to the goddess Astarte, and to springtime celebrations of fertility, mating, new life etc, becoming "Easter")or subverted/twisted as you say (the Horned god becomes Satan as you mention. I could think of many more examples but alas my brain won't obey at the moment.) And it's happened in pretty much any religion or culture or political system/ideology, I think. Witness the early 1970's ad "You've come a long way baby" for Virginia Slims cigarettes in an attempt to take advantage of the feminist movement. In all these cases, it's a way or rewriting culture and history, of controlling people esp those groups which are potentially subversive, threatening, revolutionary or frightening to those in power - and getting the rest of the population outside of the targeted groups to agree on this new reading or interpretation.

There is no Satan in Wicca because Satan was invented much later - to teach that any version of the horned god was evil.

I learned that in college when I started exploring "goddess theology" , including Wicca, in college (I'm pretty much an atheist at the moment but that can change on a dime.) I think for myself and the other women I knew at the time, the notion of God as a feminine force was pretty revolutionary even in the 1990's, because it was a possibility I'd never considered; it just didn't exist when I was growing up.

I did join a Wiccan group in North Carolina for a time to learn about it and study. So I got a chuckle out of Willow's dismissal of the college Wicca group, but there's something chilling in it as well - she's not interested in connecting to other women, and she approaches magic as an engineer or computer programmer would, as a system (that insight came to me from local_max and beer_good_foamy so I can't take any credit). She wants a way to be able to do stuff, and isn't interested in personal growth or connection per se. She's not approaching it as a religion. (but then again, a lot of newcomers to it probably see it much the same way, so I doubt she's alone.)

The thing is that "magic/spells" are not a fundamental part of Wiccan religion. You can be a modern-day Wiccan (earth-based religion) and not cast a single "spell". but BtVS seems to use the words witch and wiccan interchangeably. Wiccans whom I've met don't call themselves witches or think of themselves as such because of the negative, mostly misogynistic connotations from the Catholic Church, and because it's simply inaccurate. On the show Tara is the one most associated with Wiccan traditions, but clearly they are not going for any accuracy here; the same with Willow early seasons, I think - we're told but not shown that she is "Jewish", and her faith never really has an impact on the show or the character. (Which is what you get when the show's creator is an atheist, I suppose, but US television shows generally try to avoid the subject altogether.) Of course in S7 Giles takes Willow to a "coven" but whether or not that gives her (or the audience) a more accurate impression of "Wiccan" faith is a separate question, I think.
Dec. 5th, 2012 06:33 pm (UTC)
she approaches magic as an engineer or computer programmer would, as a system

Absolutely! And that's really at the heart of her conflict with Tara this season.

Willow referring to herself as a "Wicca" has always bugged me, because she's obviously not. But maybe she thinks she is. I've never known whether to blame the writers or the character for that bit of fuzzy thinking, so I might as well blame the character.

Some of the confusion -- in the real world as well as in fiction -- comes about because our definitions of what constitutes a "spell" or "magic" are muddy and highly culturally charged. For example: I loved the King Tut exhibit at the Pacific Science Center (if you are anywhere near Seattle you should check it out -- it runs through January 6!) but there were a few places where the placards called something a "spell" where I'm pretty sure that, if we were talking about Christian artifacts, they would have called it a "prayer."

You know, "gods protect this spirit on his journey to the afterlife" sounds like a prayer, while "gods, smite the person who disturbs my remains with various boils" sounds like a spell. But maybe they're both spells. Or both prayers. Maybe there's not that much difference between a prayer and a spell. Is making a gesture to ward off the evil eye a spell? Is crossing yourself a spell? What's the difference between wearing a gris-gris bag and wearing a rosary? Are "prosperity gospel" evangelicals engaged in magic? They're trying to bring about earthly prosperity by ritualistically engaging a powerful deity -- that sure sounds like magic to me. Anyway, in the real world, magic doesn't tend to be agnostic. It tends to involve invoking particular spirits or powers, so it's tied in with religion and spirituality.

But magic in fictional universes tends to be agnostic. (Think Harry Potter.) It is treated as a special kind of natural force, and the use of it as a special kind of technlogy.

BTVS kind of straddles that line, I would guess depending on the needs of the particular story. Sometimes the magic seems more Harry Potter-ish, and sometimes it seems more tied in with religion and spirituality -- they invoke deities and spirits. Willow's spell to bring Buffy back involved petitioning Osiris, an Egyptian god, for example, but her spell to make the house pretty seemed more Harry Potterish.
Dec. 4th, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
Beer is a good guess. I just noticed this time around that we never see what is poured into the cups. I suspect it's because they didn't want to be seen as too openly condoning alcohol? I don't know.

Historic depictions of witches are all over the place in terms of whether they're crone types or (I guess) maiden types (see http://www.etsy.com/listing/106766551/halloween-witch-card-naked-witch-on for reference -- I have that image in a book of Victorian woodcut clip art and I'm particularly fond of it)

I suppose the idea is that if witches are supposed to be evil, they're depicted as ugly, which is itself an offensive notion.

(Say, did you know somebody keeps a Wordpress site all about sexy witches? http://sexywitch.wordpress.com obviously not safe for work.)
Dec. 3rd, 2012 09:16 am (UTC)
Dawn's kleptomania always seemed to me the response of someone who has had so much taken from her. But it could just be a typical teenage/genetic trait..

Kaltenbach's story is one I'd like to see told in fanfic. I think there is something interesting there. I don't really have a problem with his creepiness being a misdirect. I like that the "normal" (jerks) are the real threat, while the outsider may or may not be dangerous. But yeah, why was he fired?
Dec. 4th, 2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
Dawn's kleptomania always seemed to me the response of someone who has had so much taken from her

Oh, I like that!
Dec. 5th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
I had to rewatch this episode to actually answer the poll, and was pleasantly surprised when I did so - I actually enjoy it quite a bit and think it's underrated. Probably because it has the misfortunate of being tucked between Life Serial and OMWF. But there's quite a bit of character development going on here - almost too much, if anything (Xander's feelings/reactions about marriage are really crammed in here.) I had forgotten how much I enjoyed MT in this episode, and how much I really felt for her; I knew it wasn't going to end well, and my heart broke a little for her. Her first kiss is with a vampire? Yeah, we saw how well that went for Buffy.

And not only is her first kiss with a vampire, but she has to then kill him too - just as Buffy did Angel. Anyone who said MT couldn't act wasn't watching the same show I was, because she portrayed desire and nervousness wonderfully, in the scenes in the car, and in the final moments. It breaks my heart when she closes her eyes and calmly submits to his bite, only to stake him instead. She wanted so badly to be loved, to be LIKED, and MT made me feel that, and I wanted it for Dawn too.

1) I went with #4, channeling her mother. But clearly it's also personal now - that stereotype of the ugly witch was a way the Christian Church demonized women, especially old women (it's easier to kill people off if you've convinced everyone else that they are evil; see downthread.)

2) Fraught to the amount of ten (I love that phrase.) Especially Buffy's reaction to his suggestion - the way her eyes widen. (SMG really gives good face in this episode - lots of great Buffy bitchfaces.)

3) I went for the third option. Actually what struck me this time was that he was watching her while she was dancing with joy at the cash register and said "That's the woman I'm going to marry" with something approaching genuine awe or appreciation.

4) The kleptomania? Definitely a Summers thing. (As is kissing vampires, falling victim to love spells, inappropriate romantic choices, sex in public places inadvertently and embarrassingly discovered by friends or family members...etc)
Dec. 8th, 2012 05:02 pm (UTC)
I, too, think it's underrated. And I love the final scene between Dawn and Justin. I thought you liked me -- I do -- then poof. I hadn't even realized that's another Buffy/Angel parallel! Maybe because Justin ends up poof-dead and Angel is sucked-into-a-hell-dimension-dead. Good call.

Now I'm thinking of this bit of dialog from Intervention:
Willow: "Those darn Salem judges, with their Less-Satanic-Than-Thou attitudes!"
Tara: "Oh honey, let's change it. The Discovery Channel has koala bears."
Willow likes to get her outrage on.
Dec. 10th, 2012 07:02 pm (UTC)
In some ways, the S7 episode "Him" strikes me as ATW's counterpart - the focus is on Dawn, but aside from the sister dynamics, the episode is really about Buffy's love life (and also about how much Xander has become an adult compared to the jocks who used to bully him.) Actually, they are both very meta commentary on cultural tropes regarding romance and love. ATW is sadder, more melancholy, at least if you feel any sympathy for Dawn, while Him plays it almost entirely for laughs. In "Him" Dawn says of her "love" for RJ "it's real", but before she lays on the train tracks, "it will be true - forever." Those are the Spuffy and Bangel code words.

I think the comics are attempting the same sort of meta commentary but it ends up being just plain ugly and even mean instead.

Willow likes to get her outrage on.

Remember Pangs, and The Freshman? Those were about abstract ideas. On the other hand, her argument with her mom in "Gingerbread", like the speech in this episode, was similar but more personal, more about her own identity issues: "I'm a Willow group!"
Dec. 11th, 2012 03:39 pm (UTC)
Him is one of those episodes I have a huge problem with. There's something fundamentally icky and grotesque about it, which I definitely don't find in ATW. I think ATW is thoughtful and somewhat touching.
Dec. 11th, 2012 03:48 pm (UTC)
Oh, I get the problems about "Him" but I still enjoyed it in on rewatch, so different strokes? I'd love to discuss this in depth when we get to that poll. (Actually, it was reading the convo about it on gabrielleabelle's LJ that made me realize. "Oh, I should have been more bothered by it than I was? Bad feminist, no cookie for me.")

On rewatch I do skip over the part where Dawn tries out for cheerleading because that's just painful.

Edited at 2012-12-11 03:50 pm (UTC)
Dec. 11th, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC)
Heh. Well, when it comes to feminist cookies, everyone hands them out a little differently.

One thing I don't like -- in pop culture story analysis discussions like these -- is when we seem to automatically assume that the worst-case scenario is always the correct one. So if I think something is sexist and you don't, or you think something is sexist and I don't, the "internet consensus" isn't that it's problematic or arguable or ambiguous, but that it must be, in fact, sexist.

Dec. 12th, 2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
I can see how it can come down to that sort of thing because I've seen forums where one person or a few people (often female) get shouted down or told they are wrong for calling out racist/sexist/heterosexist patterns, so then it becomes a shouting match or everyone hunkers down in their corners and no one is really listening. At all.

But then this extends to just about any topic, and also in any fandom. I've already seen this a lot in this fandom, a la "Everyone should..." "no one in their right mind would...." But that's just human nature - we all want to be right? I think that in truth we all want to be acknowledged; and that civilized conversation goes further than "I'm right you're wrong". So I'm pretty picky about where I choose to hang out, but also in what "fights" I pick. I don't mean fights in the literal term, but simply asking myself is there any point in expressing my opinion here, and am i talking just to talk?

And I think that we can each have different visceral, gut-level feelings towards things (for instance I think the Buffy comics are misogynist; some people don't; and I know no one can shake me from that view because it's not just an emotional reaction but an intellectual one as well. I don't expect I'm going to change anyone else's opinion on it, however.) And either reaction is valid because they are simply that, reactions.

Ok I'm babbling now, I have no idea where I'm going with this. (I've been dealing with a back/leg injury and the pain levels don't help. Yep, find something else to blame...)

I am rather mystified by the amount of simplification that occurs in some fans analysis of btvs (balanced, of course , by an obsessive over-analysis of every single frame on the other hand.) And I think that ties in with what you were saying - everything about an arc or a character or relationship is spun around a single defining event, (the AR, the alley beating, the Lie, etc) rather than read as a whole. (the writers of the show didn't help this with the AR, for instance, but it is possible to look beyond that.) There's so many layers in btvs, so many possible readings, and I'm generally delighted when someone in a convo presents a new way of looking at a situation. I think it's the wrong show to watch if you're wanting to overlay a rather simple moral worldview on it. And those fans who believe in "True love" and "forever" - whether with Angel or with Spike (and I see a lot more of it in "Spuffy" fans than most people want to admit) are always going to be frustrated because that is not where Joss is going with it. (Whether he does so the right way is another matter.)
Dec. 10th, 2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
5) I had no problem believing Dawn might be attracted to Justin. he not only reminds me a little of Angel - but more so of Riley. Handsome, square-jawed, athletic. He's less of a jerk than his friend, and is sometimes even kind...or seems to be. Shades of Spike here but also - Parker. It was impossible for me to tell on first viewing if he was genuinely attracted to her or not. (At least before he killed the old man, but even then - we have Spike as a template, so it was still a possibility.)

And she was with Janice, and there's the peer pressure thing as well. I liked her interaction with Janice - the actresses have an easy-going, relaxed chemistry as friends. I enjoyed watching Dawn at first just being a "normal girl", as she when we first see her in The Body, or CWDP.

6) The twist with the old man totally threw me. I'm easy, I guess? But that sequence reminded me very much of some of the MOTW episodes of the first seasons, in which the "monsters" were human beings instead of demons (Nightmares, Go Fish, etc.) in which there really wasn't much question of "who dunnit?" so much as "how is Buffy going to catch them?" One of the themes of the show is the failure of adults to protect the children in their care (the WC is an example of this writ large in it's exploitation of young girls. Which could be likened to rebel armies across the globe pressing rifles into the hands of children, although I'm not sure JW or ME intended any such metaphor.)

7) I went with the Dawn/Buffy parallels, although it still bugs me - how could you kiss/touch someone and NOT notice things like lack of breath or body warmth? (Suspension of disbelief, I know, but in "Angel" he goes into vampface during the first kiss; Dawn and Justin actually kiss once or twice before he goes into vampface, so it's stretching "suspension of disbelief" a bit thin - at least on second viewing.)

8) Beats me. I think the writers just wanted to be able to write the joke where Buffy asks, "Is anyone here actually parking? Oh, that's kinda sweet. You run."

9) Any one of those works for me regarding Willow (and now I can't remember which one I picked) but one of my favorite summations of Willow's motivation is from deidr1: she's not doing it because she hates Tara and wants her to suffer. She's doing it because she loves Tara, wants them to stop fighting, and wants to keep Tara around. And back in season 4, she talked about doing just that - to Oz.

At heart, Willow wants to "do good" (as she told Buffy in S3) and she wants peace and everyone to be happy. Even as late as S6 (Normal Again) she's playing mediator between Spike and Xander in the graveyard.

I realize it's a lot more complicated with Tara and this scene, so I don't mean to oversimplify it or condone what she does. But I don't like making Willow a demon, either; she's not "evil" - yet, anyway.

I said one time elsewhere that I thought this was "brave" of ME to show normal (sans the witchcraft) domestic abuse within a lesbian relationship, rather than trying to paint them as the perfect, flawless couple. I was then scolded for saying so. But the tendency lately has been to idealize lesbian relationships; if I had a dime for every time a straight married woman told me that she thought being with a woman would be nicer because women are more "understanding" (ha), I'd be able to retire in style. Yes, this is uncomfortable, but it's real.

10) I picked the Dawn/Giles exchange but really my favorite is the one is (misquoted) above. Actually, every line of Buffy's dialogue in that scene where she arrives with Spike and Giles to the parking spot is gold; I love SMG in this episode to pieces, did I mention that?

11) I think I gave it a 7. A solid episode, and like a lot of episodes I rarely rewatch and don't think of as favorites (such as Hush or OMWF, or SB) there's a lot of solid character and thematic development here.

I cannot believe that OMWF is the next one, though.

Edited at 2012-12-10 07:31 pm (UTC)
Dec. 11th, 2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
how could you kiss/touch someone and NOT notice things like lack of breath or body warmth

I know! But BTVS and Angel both have scene after scene demonstrating that people don't notice vampires until they go to vampface. It has to be part of the world building. Maybe it's a kind of glamor?

At heart, Willow wants to "do good" (as she told Buffy in S3) and she wants peace and everyone to be happy

Oh, absolutely. I think the Willow/Tara storyline this season is a very effective metaphor for how things happen in relationships -- you know, how people lie to avoid conflict, and think they're doing all right, and then it blows up in everyone's face? Or how people tell themselves they're doing something for the good of the relationship, but then the other partner calls them on the fundamental selfishness of the act? Willow is screwing up, but not because she intends to do evil.

f I had a dime for every time a straight married woman told me that she thought being with a woman would be nicer because women are more "understanding" (ha), I'd be able to retire in style

That makes me think of a school of feminism that's always bugged me -- the idea that women are somehow better/nicer/more civilized than men, because I think that it *appears* to be feminism, but it's actually old-fashioned sexism. Denying a person's capacity for bad behavior is actually denying their personhood in a fundamental way.

One thing I like about the Willow/Tara relationship is that it isn't put in a special category -- there's relationships, and then there's *same sex* relationships. They're like the other couples on the show, which means they screw up and have problems and act like jerks sometimes.

Dec. 15th, 2012 01:38 am (UTC)
It has to be part of the world building. Maybe it's a kind of glamor?

When it comes to any aspect of romance/love/sex/relationships in the Buffyverse, I'm never certain if things like this are "the writers didn't think about it or didn't think it important" (the worldbuilding aspect) or "another one of Joss' subversions". As in, "people in the throes of love are so overwhelmed by feelings and hormones that they overlook things about that other person" Because subversion of romantic tropes is such a huge theme of the series - and of the comics (which I'm now convinced are partly a parody of fanfiction tropes). I think people who are looking to Joss to "confirm" that Buffy is going to end up ultimately with one vampire or another are bound to disappointment.

Oh, absolutely. I think the Willow/Tara storyline this season is a very effective metaphor for how things happen in relationships -- you know, how people lie to avoid conflict, and think they're doing all right, and then it blows up in everyone's face? Or how people tell themselves they're doing something for the good of the relationship, but then the other partner calls them on the fundamental selfishness of the act? Willow is screwing up, but not because she intends to do evil.

I think that one of the reasons I can relate so much to S6 is because of the nature of the screwed-up relationships that season; both Willow and Buffy are in relationships that are abusive to some degree (with Willow the abuse is one-sided rather than mutual), but both are also contrasted to Warren's abuse of Katrina. Is Warren's abuse a difference of degree or of kind?

I hate to admit that I understand and can relate to screwed-up relationships that aren't pretty and don't conform to the cultural or self-help book "ideas" of what relationships should be, but I do. I've lived in and observed dysfunctional dynamics my entire life. I might cringe at some of the things the characters do this season (and S7) but I really can't judge them in a "so and so shouldn't have done this or that." Or I could, but I understand them too much to get into judgemental mode. (EXCEPT when it comes to Xander in HB or Riley in ITW, there are a few acts I find hard to forgive but I am trying. Honestly.) For instance, "Tara should never have gone back to Willow." Well, objectively no, but the heart wants what the heart wants. there's very little that happens in S6 that I haven't seen in RL relationships (taking away the supernatural or fantastical elements).

the idea that women are somehow better/nicer/more civilized than men,

That "essentialist" notion goes back to the beginnings of feminism but even before that. It's the flip of the common cultural belief, going back to the Hebrews, the Greeks, St Augustine etc that women were mere "empty vessels" designed to carry Man's seed but lacking intelligence, etc. I guess turning that around may have been a necessary step in the evolution of feminist thinking. The irony is, there are certainly lots of conservative women who also share that notion, that women are "nicer" and kinder; it's the old 19th "angel of the household" theory. But it's patently untrue, and i would hope that contemporary feminism has moved beyond that? I don't know; I haven't kept up with academia or current feminist theories. (I don't even know if there is such a thing as "current feminist theories" to be quite honest.)

Dec. 15th, 2012 01:38 am (UTC)
Denying a person's capacity for bad behavior is actually denying their personhood in a fundamental way.

Very much so - and we're back to S6, and Willow and Buffy either denying or overindulging their "Shadow selves" but trying to divorce or disengage from those parts of themselves in some way. It's hard, hard and long work to really see oneself honestly. And I feel so much for these characters esp in this season, as they have no accurate mirrors for themselves. Spike and Tara are not objective observers when it comes to their lovers because they bring their own baggage to bear.

Giles fits in here as well - he never intergrates his darker self, IMO (the "Ripper", killing Ben in secret, trying to have Spike killed, etc) So he takes Willow back to england to learn to integrate her darkness but there's an irony in that. He can only help her so much when he hasn't completely walked that road himself, and it's probably no coincidence that he sends her back before she is ready. Or, indeed, that he ignored the possibility of what Willow might do in his absence, and left Buffy when she asked him to stay. I don't think either Giles or Xander completely intergrate their dark sides (I don't get the sense that Xander takes full responsibility for leaving Anya at the altar, "I had doubts" is as far as he's willing to go, but then claims later to still love her. (Which Dawn mentions to Buffy in "Him".") And so for that reason neither Giles or Xander (or Riley) could ever be Buffy's "champion" the way Spike is (ignoring the sexual/romantic aspect); and it's why Giles and Xander are at the edge of the Hellmouth, part of the team and support system, but Buffy is surrounded in that last shot by Dawn and Willow (her literal and figurative sisters), and Faith behind her (her "grandchilde", who has also faced her own demons.) I don't think it's just to send a "girl power" message.

But I could be giving Joss to much credit there, or I'm reading too much into it, and maybe he just wanted to reinforce the centrality of the female characters.

One thing I like about the Willow/Tara relationship is that it isn't put in a special category

VERY much so. Lesbians do abuse one another, they have messy relationships (the rate of alcoholism amoung gays and lesbians is supposedly higher than average, but the data may for obvious reasons be flawed); I thought one of the great things about the show, watching it as a "middle-aged" lesbian this year who has been in a relationship of over 15 years, was the way Willow and tara are treated as a "normal" couple. Certainly more so than I'm used to seeing in TV or movies (in the US); the way they were depicted still feels fresh and pioneering to me ten years after the fact. (I have issues with tara's death of course but I don't think intentional homophobia was at play, just lack of awareness and lack of sensitivity on Joss's part after the fact.)

The biggest disappointment to me is that they didn't become the seed from which other lesbian characters and relationships emerged in our movies and tv; I don't watch that many tv shows but I can't think of any couple or character who comes close to the way Willow and tara are depicted. (I never watched "The L Word"; HIMYM labeled Robin's doppleganger "Lesbian Robin" with short hair, cowboy boots, plaid shirt, catcher's mitt, etc. Which is a terrible stereotype because people have been harrassed, fired, and beaten to death because of how they looked and were perceived by others as "gay" regardless of their actual orientation. And "Ringer" had a character who was evil and predatory who turned out to be either bi or lesbian, in a relationship with a dark haired, more sophisticated women who lured her to her bed, which is a trope that goes back at least to mid-19th century French pornography as well as 1950's pulp novels.)
Dec. 15th, 2012 03:45 am (UTC)
The biggest disappointment to me is that they didn't become the seed from which other lesbian characters and relationships emerged in our movies and tv

Definitely a disappointment. But then, Buffy hasn't exactly ushered in a whole slew of emotionally complex, kick-ass female heroes either. Although that might be finally starting to happen -- things like The Hunger Games strike me as thematic inheritors of Buffy's legacy. Maybe it just takes longer to happen than it seems like it should.

It really irritated me, incidentally, when JK Rowling came out with her post-facto "oh, Dumbledore was gay, you know." I mean, it's not like she was writing in the 19th century and couldn't talk about that stuff openly in the text. So, I don't like sitting in too harsh of a judgment over mostly well-meaning artists -- but that just seemed like such cowardice in something written recently.

I have issues with tara's death of course but I don't think intentional homophobia was at play

Well, this is a Whedon property, so treating them as the same as any straight couple means that their happiness has to be destroyed.

Regarding Ringer -- I have never been able to fully reconcile my love of horror/noir fiction and the way those genres traditionally make use of "alternative" or forbidden sexuality. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one example that comes to mind. On the one hand, most of the people who watch the movie a zillion times embrace Frank's world -- omnisexuality, men in lingerie, "give yourself over to absolute pleasure" -- but the structure of the story "punishes" Frank for his misdeeds (which include murder, a pretty serious misdeed) and ends with Brad and Janet's heteronormalcy apparently restored. And soooo many vampire movies work that same way. The audience is sort of rooting for the vampire the whole time, but he can't win in the end, normalcy has to be reestablished.

So... yeah, I guess I don't have a conclusion for that.
Dec. 23rd, 2012 12:54 am (UTC)
mcjulie's S6 episode polls - OMG! It's OMWF!
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