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Finally! I finished the poll on the musical. It turned out to be challenging, mostly because it has so much going on -- so many character arcs and important moments -- and it's also such an interesting episode from a meta viewpoint -- I had to rewatch it three times! (Such torture, I know.)
Poll #1886393 BTVS Episode Poll: 6.07 Once More, with Feeling

1. Favorite song (note: you can interpret this as either "favorite song to have going through my head later and sing in the shower and stuff" or "favorite song in context of watching the episode")

Going Through the Motions
4(10.0%)
I've Got a Theory / Bunnies / If We're Together
1(2.5%)
Under Your Spell
0(0.0%)
I'll Never Tell
1(2.5%)
Rest in Peace
5(12.5%)
What You Feel (Sweet's intro)
1(2.5%)
Standing (Giles' song)
7(17.5%)
Walk Through the Fire
16(40.0%)
Something to Sing About
4(10.0%)
Where Do We Go from Here
0(0.0%)
Other
1(2.5%)

2. Second favorite song

Going Through the Motions
4(10.0%)
I've Got a Theory / Bunnies / If We're Together
2(5.0%)
Under Your Spell
5(12.5%)
I'll Never Tell
1(2.5%)
Rest in Peace
7(17.5%)
What You Feel (Sweet's intro)
0(0.0%)
Standing (Giles' song)
5(12.5%)
Walk Through the Fire
9(22.5%)
Something to Sing About
6(15.0%)
Where Do We Go from Here
1(2.5%)
Other
0(0.0%)

3. "Going Through the Motions" -- At the end of it Buffy sings "I just want to be alive," but by the climax of the episode, her refrain is "give me something to sing about" and she’s heading almost willfully into the dance of death. How do you reconcile those conflicting sentiments?

She starts the episode feeling a little better, but the events of the episode send her emotionally back down again.
0(0.0%)
She’s completely on the fence the whole time -- at any given moment she can’t work out whether she wants to try to feel better or just give up.
14(34.1%)
It’s based on association. In cemetery slaying monsters = marginally more cheery Buffy. Remembering her experiences being ripped out of Heaven by her friends = completely the most depressed Buffy.
11(26.8%)
It’s Sweet actively working to bring her to her most negative emotional state -- remember he wants to see The Slayer burn.
4(9.8%)
Other
12(29.3%)

4. "Under Your Spell" ends with a bit of explicit, yet TV-safe, romantic activity between Willow and Tara, including a very juvenile pun. What do you think?

Love it!
6(14.6%)
Sure, it’s juvenile, but it’s also sweet and sexy, so I like it.
5(12.2%)
It’s fine.
6(14.6%)
It’s sweet and sexy taken on its own, but in the context of what Willow did to Tara last episode it becomes a lot more problematic.
18(43.9%)
My reaction is... complicated.
4(9.8%)
I’m more disturbed by the weirdly... intense interest Xander displays in their sex life after we cut back to the gang in the Magic Shop.
1(2.4%)
Other
1(2.4%)

5. "I'll Never Tell" -- Xander and Anya's number. How strongly does it foreshadow the events of Hells Belles?

You know, after that musical number, I really thought those two crazy kids were going to make it
4(10.0%)
The song makes it obvious they aren't ready
17(42.5%)
At this point it could still go either way
17(42.5%)
Other
2(5.0%)

6. The reveal that Xander was Sweet’s summoner -- how does that work for you?

The arbitrary nature of the Xander choice emphasizes the fact that HOW Sweet got here isn’t important to the story, and fits with the idea that Sweet isn’t a “villain” in the usual BTVS sense
16(41.0%)
Drives me nuts. Only flaw in an otherwise perfect episode.
7(17.9%)
As usual, only Xander sucks.
3(7.7%)
Actually it totally fits his character, remember the love spell in Season 2?
9(23.1%)
Other
4(10.3%)

7. Giles’ “tough love” attempt, when he tells Buffy to save Dawn on her own. What do you think?

Makes sense but his timing sucks
17(42.5%)
It seems forced
9(22.5%)
It’s not tough love, it’s cowardice
1(2.5%)
I always fanwank that whole storyline into Giles making excusesfor going back to England because that’s what he wants to do anyway.
11(27.5%)
Other
2(5.0%)

8. When Buffy starts her dance of death, all her friends and family seem rooted to the spot, while Spike actually steps in to save her. What gives?

!!!SPIKE!!! (he’s just that awesome)
9(23.1%)
They are paralyzed by the logic of the musical number
3(7.7%)
They are paralyzed by indecision and guilt
22(56.4%)
They were just ABOUT to do something -- Spike merely beat them to it
0(0.0%)
Other
5(12.8%)

9. The kiss! How did you react the first time you saw it?

I knew it!
2(4.9%)
Finally!
21(51.2%)
Wow! Didn’t see that coming!
6(14.6%)
Did they really just do that?
3(7.3%)
WTF?!?
0(0.0%)
Buffy, no!
1(2.4%)
Meh
3(7.3%)
Other
5(12.2%)

10. The musical frequently gets singled out for screenings at conventions and so on, so I’ve always wondered how common it is for people to see this episode first and then watch the rest of the series --

I watched the series in real time and saw this more or less when it first aired
17(41.5%)
I watched the series on DVD/Netflix/whatever, but all in sequence
12(29.3%)
I saw a handful of episodes before watching the whole series, and this was one of them
6(14.6%)
I saw a handful of episodes before watching the whole series, but this was not one of them
5(12.2%)
I’ve never seen any BTVS episode, I just like clicking on poll questions ;)
0(0.0%)
Other
1(2.4%)

11. -- and if it changes their overall interpretation of the series in a major way

It makes me less likely to watch the seasons with no Spike
2(5.9%)
It makes it harder to see Spike or Anya as real villains in their early episodes
5(14.7%)
It makes it harder to relate to the characters when they were still in high school
1(2.9%)
I don’t think it changes my interpretation much
19(55.9%)
Other
7(20.6%)

12. OMWF is usually on any short list of Buffy "best of" episodes (and for that reason I decided the usual numeric ranking wouldn't be that interesting). What say you?

Yeah, it’s my favorite, or close to it
6(14.6%)
Top five
21(51.2%)
Top ten
10(24.4%)
Top twenty
2(4.9%)
Actually, I kinda think it’s overrated
2(4.9%)
Other
0(0.0%)

13. Favorite thematic/quotable/hilarious

ANYA (in song) Bunnies, bunnies, it must be BUNNIES!
9(22.0%)
BUFFY Well, I’m not exactly quaking in my stylish-yet-affordable boots.
2(4.9%)
GILES I managed to examine the body while the police were taking witness arias.
6(14.6%)
SPIKE Drink? BUFFY A world of no.
0(0.0%)
SPIKE (in song) You know, you’ve got a willing slave, and you just love the play the thought that you might misbehave
3(7.3%)
TARA some Lord of the Dance -- but not the scary one. Just a demon.
1(2.4%)
DAWN Yes, the fifteen year old can spend half an hour alone in her locked house. (Included here because, actually, she can't.)
1(2.4%)
GILES Well, if we hear any inspirational power chords, we'll just lie down until they go away.
1(2.4%)
BUFFY (in song) to save the day, or maybe melt away -- I guess it’s all the same.
1(2.4%)
SPIKE (in song) I hope she fries! I'm free if that bitch dies. (pause) I'd better help her out.
11(26.8%)
DAWN The hardest thing in this world, is to live in it.
3(7.3%)
Other
3(7.3%)
Bonus question: when Buffy confesses that she burst into song while patrolling, Xander exclaims “Merciful Zeus” to express his surprise. Is Xander actually a neopagan worshiper of the Greek pantheon?

Comments

scarlettina
Dec. 23rd, 2012 03:13 pm (UTC)
The Spike/Buffy kiss always felt like fan service to me, and not a very good choice. When it happened, all I could feel was some disbelief, and then curiosity about how Whedon was going to make it work. There's so much toxic history behind the two characters that it felt like a bad choice getting worse by the moment. Buffy never could make a decision about men that made any sense. It always felt like she paid for being a superhero by never learning anything from her previous relationships. She could be a superhero but she just had incredibly poor judgment about men. Always.
mcjulie
Dec. 23rd, 2012 03:48 pm (UTC)
all I could feel was some disbelief

On the commentary, Joss talks a lot about the things he did in the script to "get them to the smoochy place" so he knew it was going to be a hard sell for some people.

It always felt like she paid for being a superhero by never learning anything from her previous relationships

The funny thing is, I think her post-Angel romantic relationships indicate an attempt to learn -- to correct whatever seemed to be the problem last time. Oh, I dated a sexy "good" demon who turned bad, I need to date a Joe Boring. Well, that didn't work out, maybe I'll try a sexy demon who isn't even "good." And that ends badly.

That's actually it for her major romantic relationships.
red_satin_doll
Dec. 26th, 2012 05:48 pm (UTC)
Agree to disagree?

She could be a superhero but she just had incredibly poor judgment about men. Always.

And that's part of what I love about her, and the other characters in the series - I love them but don't always like the things they do, just as with loved ones i RL. They are very complex and that makes them realistic and human to me. If Buffy was perfect, then she wouldn't be a hero in the classical sense, because there would be no "hero's journey", nothing to learn, and nothing to conquer. the exterior demons are just symbols for their internal demons, their shadow selves and that is really what the story is about.

There's so much toxic history behind the two characters that it felt like a bad choice getting worse by the moment.

Unfortunately, it's not the show's fault if fandom has over-romanticized the relationship or turned Spike into a fluffy bunny-hugger and Buffy "is a bitch for not recognizing that!" (Or turning it into Bangel with bleached hair.) And everything Buffy does this season has roots earlier in the season, there was nothing really OCC in terms of her psychology IMO.

I agree with mcjulie's comments about Buffy's attempts to learn, plus there's all the symbolism and metaphor involved, and BtVS is very much a metaphor for the Hero's Journey, which includes a descent into darkness. Buffy has been wrestling with the question of her identify as Buffy/Slayer since the beginning of the show. I mentioned "Nightmares" in S1 above thread and I really think that's a key episode - Buffy's fear of losing her humanity, but within the context of the story, a demon is the only one who can provide any understanding, who she feels she can connect to in the darkness of her depression. (And yes, Buffy likes sex and has been without companionship of the sort since Riley left. Which doesn't mean it's a good idea - in fact, the show makes it very clear that the relationship is an unhealthy one. She's dead inside, he's literally dead (undead) and soulless. S6 and S7 have to be viewed as a single arc, I think. The end of Chosen is their apotheosis; they bring light and love (Heaven) into the Hellmouth (Hell) and thereby destroy it, because Hell cannot exist in the presence of genuine, unconditional love.
scarlettina
Dec. 26th, 2012 06:04 pm (UTC)
Well, like I said, it was how I felt. Feel free to disagree; it's unlikely that my mind will be changed. This may be more exegesis than I'm inclined to get into at this point. I just sometimes felt that Whedon sometimes took the easy stretch for Buffy (by which I mean that it was an easier thing for the writers to write--more commercially appealing, more typical of what Hollywood might pursue than what reality might afford--rather than that they were easier paths for Buffy to follow). She had other challenges through which she could have dealt with some of this Hero's Journey material, but because it wasn't as sexy, Whedon chose not to pursue it. That's just my perception of it; no question there are other ways to interpret it.
red_satin_doll
Dec. 26th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
No worries; I didn't assume I would change your mind. For me, sometimes different opinions challenge me to clarify my feelings on a given subject. So agree-to-disagree.

Did Joss take the easy and commercial way out sometimes? Oh absolutely. That's why they wrote Double Meat Palace out of the show after Normal Again, for instance, because of sponser complaints. (And pretty much the entire S3 Bangel feels like stoking the viewership of teenage fans long after the storyline just got dull, IMO.) The show is "art" in terms of series tv, but it was still a commercial show. I think the reversal of Angel's soul-bomb is brilliant, and the way it directly addresses and reverses Buffy's trauma from S2.

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