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BTVS Episode Poll: 6.08 Tabula Rasa

Finally! The Tabula Rasa poll is here!
Poll #1895693 BTVS Episode Poll: 6.08 Tabula Rasa

1. Finally the gang has a discussion about what to do re: Buffy’s trauma after being taken out of heaven. Who is most on the nose?

ANYA Who doesn't look good with a harp?
0(0.0%)
XANDER I feel weird feeling bad that my friend's not dead
0(0.0%)
TARA Not to be Miss Psycho-pep-squad, but I think we've got to stop obsessing about what we did, and start trying to make things better for Buffy
4(80.0%)
WILLOW I know a spell that will make her forget...
1(20.0%)
Other
0(0.0%)

2. Tara calls out Willow for her use of the forgetting spell she used on Tara in All the Way. How thorough is her lecture?

Perfect in every way. Go, more assertive S6 Tara!
3(60.0%)
Pretty darn thorough
0(0.0%)
Moderately thorough
1(20.0%)
Good, but she misses some important points
1(20.0%)
Completely off the mark
0(0.0%)
Other
0(0.0%)

3. Willow responds with a promise not to use magic for one week, which she breaks with breathtaking swiftness and audacity. Does she ever intend to keep that promise?

No. She’s already planning the tabula rasa spell and is deliberately lying
0(0.0%)
Yes. She means it at the time, she just loses her resolve very quickly
1(20.0%)
Sort of. Willow’s denial is so extreme, she doesn’t even think she’s lying
4(80.0%)
Other
0(0.0%)

4. When Willow casts the tabula rasa spell, she leaves her baggie of lethe’s bramble sitting right next to the fireplace, where it can be ignited by a stray spark and turbo-charge the spell. Why was she so careless?

Subconsciously she wants to get caught.
0(0.0%)
She’s extremely distracted, possibly because of her need to deny to herself what an incredibly *wrong* thing she’s doing
1(20.0%)
It’s a symptom of her increasingly compulsive relationship to magic
2(40.0%)
The spell itself is where that compulsion is coming from. Seriously, look at it, that spark WANTS to leap out of the fireplace and mess with everybody
0(0.0%)
Other
2(40.0%)

5. The tabula-rasa’d gang reconstruct their identity and relationships from the clues that emerge as the episode progresses. Most hilarious/interesting/significant?

Randy Giles and Rupert Giles as son and father
0(0.0%)
Joan and Umad realizing correctly that they’re sisters
0(0.0%)
Anya and Rupert as engaged couple
4(80.0%)
Alex and Willow briefly recreating the arc of her early-series unrequited crush
0(0.0%)
Tara and Willow’s almost-smoochies
0(0.0%)
Joan the Vampire Slayer
0(0.0%)
Randy is a noble vampire on a mission of redemption, yada yada
1(20.0%)
Other
0(0.0%)

6. Most hilarious/interesting/significant character reveal?

Xander -- so paranoid! But he slays a vampire by the end.
0(0.0%)
Buffy -- so happy to be a vampire-slaying superhero!
2(40.0%)
Giles -- kinda sexist and old-fashioned, isn’t he?
0(0.0%)
Dawn -- seems whiny even for her
0(0.0%)
Anya -- I feel compelled to take some vengeance on you! (Bonk!)
1(20.0%)
Tara -- awed by magic, hot for Willow
0(0.0%)
Willow -- practical and leaderly, surprised to discover she’s hot for Tara
0(0.0%)
Spike -- doesn’t even realize he’s a vampire until Joan points it out
2(40.0%)
Other
0(0.0%)

7. This is mostly a comedy episode, which can obscure the fact that Willow’s action in casting the spell is pretty darn evil. On a scale of one to ten (with one being least evil and ten being most evil), how evil was it?

Mean: 8.20 Median: 8 Std. Dev 1.17
1
0(0.0%)
2
0(0.0%)
3
0(0.0%)
4
0(0.0%)
5
0(0.0%)
6
0(0.0%)
7
2(40.0%)
8
1(20.0%)
9
1(20.0%)
10
1(20.0%)

8. Buffy begins the episode telling Spike he shouldn’t fixate on the kiss at the end of OMWF and she’ll never touch him again etc., and ends the episode by totally kissing him again. What gives?

!!!SPIKE!!! (he’s just that kissable)
0(0.0%)
The events of the episode have left her feeling particularly low, and Spike kissage seems like it will make her feel better
2(40.0%)
Even at the beginning of the episode she wants to kiss him again, of course, she’s just in denial about it
0(0.0%)
When the gang was tabula rasa’d, Joan and Randy fought side by side. Buffy reaaaaally likes that in a guy (seriously, check out the first time she and Riley get it on, not to mention Angel)
2(40.0%)
Other
1(20.0%)

9. Favorite hilarious/thematic/quotable?

BUFFY If I just stopped saving his life it would simple things up so much.
0(0.0%)
ANYA Who doesn't look good with a harp?
0(0.0%)
XANDER I feel weird feeling bad that my friend's not dead.
0(0.0%)
TARA Not to be Miss Psycho-pep-squad... ANYA I'm with Miss Psycho-pep-squad.
1(20.0%)
TARA If you don't want to fight, you don't fight. You don't use magic to make a fight disappear.
2(40.0%)
XANDER Why are you all staring at me? Is this some kind of psych test?
0(0.0%)
SPIKE Sodding, blimy, shagging, knickers, bullocks -- oh no. I'm English.
2(40.0%)
BUFFY That's sweet, but I think I can name myself. I'll name me... Joan.
0(0.0%)
Other
0(0.0%)

10. Favorite hilarious/thematic/quotable (part II)?

SPIKE Father! My god how I must hate you. GILES What did I do? SPIKE Oh, there's always something.
0(0.0%)
The gang screaming in unison at their “first” glimpse of a vampire
2(40.0%)
WILLOW What did you just do? BUFFY I don't know. (big grin) But it was *cool*
0(0.0%)
BUFFY A vampire with a soul? How lame is that?
0(0.0%)
SPIKE No thought of you staking me. BUFFY Kinda depends on how long you keep yakking.
0(0.0%)
ANYA I never know what you're talking about. Loo, shag brolly: what the hell is all that? GILES Look, there's no way you remember me saying any of those words --ANYA Oh bugger off, you... brolly!
0(0.0%)
GILES Get a different book. Put that book down. Do you hear me? Not that book. Bad book. Bad book!
0(0.0%)
ANYA I feel compelled to TAKE SOME VENGEANCE ON YOU! (bonk!)
1(20.0%)
BUFFY Don't mess with Joan the Vampire --
0(0.0%)
XANDER Sorry. Just got back the memory of seeing 'King Ralph'
1(20.0%)
Other
1(20.0%)

11. Rate this episode

Mean: 9.20 Median: 9 Std. Dev 0.98
5
0(0.0%)
6
0(0.0%)
7
0(0.0%)
8
2(40.0%)
9
0(0.0%)
10
3(60.0%)


Bonus question: In the Season 4 finale Restless, Xander’s dream features Spike wearing the EXACT SAME SUIT, and Giles saying “Spike is like a son to me.” Does this mean Xander has precognitive abilities?
Bonus question two: The shark guy suggests that Buffy think about freelance debt collecting. Is this a good idea?
Bonus question three: Tara’s Cthulhu hair -- why?
Bonus question four: When we enter The Magic Box, Tara and Anya are THUMB WRESTLING. How adorable is this, on a scale of "one" to "basket of kittens"?

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
mcjulie
Feb. 18th, 2013 06:03 pm (UTC)
1 Tara. She’s the only one looking forward, thinking constructively, ready to do the adult thing. This is where her maturity level compared to the others really shines through. Maybe because she’s been so isolated before meeting Willow, and isolation combined with intelligence often makes for a lot of introspection? The others were too busy saving the world to think about their emotional issues? Whatever it is, this episode really points up the fact that Tara is ready to be an adult, and Willow isn’t. Which I think is a major theme this season -- the way we lurch into adulthood awkwardly, mastering one thing, screwing something else up -- and you know, the process is never really finished.

2 Perfect. Go, more assertive S6 Tara! She lays everything out so well, if only Willow was ready to pay attention...

3 Denial. So much denial.

4 Other. I honestly don’t know. It really does look to me like the stray spark is a MAGIC spark and not just random fire behavior, and I’ve always wondered why Willow leaves the whole baggie just sitting there. She has to know she’ll get caught, right? Even if the spell worked exactly as intended, what the HELL was she thinking? But the way this scene is played, like an alcoholic pulling the secret stash from the bookcase -- I just don’t know. It’s all so compulsive. Anyway each one of our three heroes does at least one thing this season that is so stupid and wrong-minded that you just want to shake them, and this is Willow’s moment.

5 Anya and Rupert as engaged couple. Their arc is the best combo of hilarious, interesting, AND significant, although it becomes more significant in contrast with Willow/Tara and Buffy/Spike. During OMWF, Anya and Xander seem like a pretty solid couple. But here, without their memories, there’s no hint of a spark between them. Buffy and Spike bond as fighters, but not romantically. Only Willow and Tara are still drawn to each other romantically. I think this is part of building a case for their relationship being REAL TRUE LOVE -- ala Buffy/Angel -- which naturally ups the pain later.

6 Buffy -- so happy to be a vampire-slaying superhero! There’s something so cute and poignant about her honest joy and delight in her ability to slay vampires. Also, it makes it clear that her depression is very much caused by experience and not just random brain chemistry.

Edited at 2013-02-18 06:06 pm (UTC)
mcjulie
Feb. 18th, 2013 06:04 pm (UTC)
7 How evil? That depends on how you factor in the issue of compulsive magic abuse. I thought a lot about this, because I know that if WARREN were the culprit here, it would easily be at a 10 on the evil scale. Does Willow get points off for good intentions? Or for not being evil in other contexts? Or for being so deeply in denial? Or just for being Willow? Or for having a psychological compulsion? And I realized that if you’re in a relationship with an addicted person, their bad actions are just as harmful, but I’m not sure they’re EVIL in the same way. So that’s where I went -- down to 8. Which is still pretty evil, actually.

8 Joan and Randy fighting side by side -- that’s Buffy’s thing. Prove me wrong!

9 TARA If you don't want to fight, you don't fight. You don't use magic to make a fight disappear. -- Went for the serious quote this time.

10 ANYA I feel compelled to TAKE SOME VENGEANCE ON YOU! (bonk!) -- This makes me laugh so hard.

11 Totally a 10. I love this almost as much as OMWF. It’s just this fantastic collision of giddy, ridiculous fun and insightful character development.

Xander is not the one with precognitive abilities -- it’s the slayer power leaking into everyone’s dreams.

No, Buffy should not engage in freelance debt collecting. But she could be a bodyguard or something. Like one of those people guarding the president. Oh! She could join the FBI! X-Files/Buffy mashup!

Tara’s Cthulhu hair -- I have no answers. I have never had any answers. I don’t know if it’s supposed to make her look cool, or look like a dork. But it is pretty much the only thing in the episode I don't love.

Tara and Anya thumb wrestling -- I can’t believe this is the first time I noticed that.
red_satin_doll
Mar. 8th, 2013 01:19 am (UTC)
Oh hey, you're back! I was about to send you a PM when I saw this - I missed the polls (and I was worried. Hope all is ok?)

I adore this episode too. I know a lot of people pair it with/compare it to Something Blue (Willow casts a spell on everyone that goes wonky but also has a level of truth behind it), but I also compare it to The Wish (my favorite S3 ep), because of the reverse bookending: The Wish is a tragic AU world bookended (or rather, ended) by comedy, TR is a comedic AU world bookended by tragedy. (Not a perfect comparison because I forgot how sad the beginning of The Wish was with Cordy burning the photo.) Anyhoo, to the poll:

1) I think I misinterpreted what on the nose meant, so whatever I put should be ignored. I guess it means "precise" or as it should be; i.e. who has the most accurate assessment of the situation? When I've seen it used, it's been too indicate that something is a little "too-too" if you that makes sense, as in "too literal or overly precise." Ergo, I messed up & put Willow. I'd change it to Tara or Xander now; I think they are both being pretty honest and direct but Tara addresses what Buffy needs, and Xander addresses how he himself feels. Which is not better or worse - each of us can only speak for ourselves, and Tara is getting there in her confidence - I LOVE S6 Tara so much - but she's also a little bossy here in stating what the SG definitively "needs" to do, and she can't speak for Buffy or determine what Buffy needs. They need to ask Buffy what she herself needs. (But then Buffy states just what she needs to Giles and he leaves anyway. *hugs Buffy*)

2) Moderately thorough - I could have put good, but misses some important points and it would have worked just as well. I'm not even so concerned about her "failure" to bring up the "rape" issue, because the mental violation is obviously of primary importance for her, and "violate" covers both IMO. I think she's off the mark when she says If you don't want to argue you don't argue because that seems like circular reasoning. Willow did just that - didn't want to argue so she found a way around having an argument, although withdrawing from the room and taking a walk would be far better than mindwiping someone. That said, the argument is still there when you get back; I think both Willow and Tara would prefer to avoid arguing - Willow's family seems very uncommunicative in ways that matter, and Tara's family probably too willing to yell but not allowed to question her father, so neither of them has a good template for healthy and constructive "fights".

That said - GO TARA! That scene is fantastic - when AB slams her cup on the table and shouts "God what is wrong with you?" it might be her best moment, performatively , in the whole series. It feels very raw and real.


3) "With breathtaking swiftness and audacity" *LOL* I put Other only because I couldn't chose between she means it and sort of - I think it's both. At that moment Willow is perfectly sincere (just as she was very sincere when she said, in the early seasons "I'm very seldom naughty") but she also has a pattern of placating people to preserve her own self-image as well as to keep the peace (again, the impulse to avoid open conflict). I certainly don't think she means to lie, but she clearly did not see it as a wrong-doing at all. (And, AH's face in that scene! Break my heart, 'kay?)

4) Other - writer sloppiness. That's one of those moments I don't even try to fanwank on an in-story level because it just feels like one of those "we need X to happen to advance the plot".

5) I almost went with Joan the Vampire Slayer (but you had a place for that in #6 so, yay!); instead I chose the Giles/Anya engagement. The most significant? Probably not but the funniest? Oh yes very much so - comedy gold. I think it's another "advance the plot" choices on one level - they writers felt they needed to drops hints that Xander and Anya's relationship was not meant to be - but at least in this instance it was hilarious and even somewhat plausible. It even had me wondering if I'd missed some G/A subtext prior to this (I don't think so), and made me wish they had actually gone this route. Bonus: shout-out to Ray Harryhousen! (the skeleton warriors)
mcjulie
Mar. 8th, 2013 01:26 am (UTC)
>(Hope all is ok?)

Yes, things just got super busy for a while.

>so neither of them has a good template for healthy and constructive "fights".

So true. This was set up well in "Tough Love" last season I think.

>when AB slams her cup on the table and shouts "God what is wrong with you?" it might be her best moment, performatively , in the whole series. It

Big ditto!

>Bonus: shout-out to Ray Harryhousen

Oh, I love that bit.

mcjulie
Mar. 8th, 2013 01:55 am (UTC)
The concept of "on the nose" came up at a writer's retreat over the weekend -- it means "exactly right" but when you're talking about dialog, "too on the nose" is usually considered a bad thing (and "too on the nose" might be shorthanded simply as "on the nose.) This was in a context where SF writer Rob Sawyer was talking about adapting a novel to a teleplay or movie script, and it was about trying to insert "things people think" which comprise much of a novel's text, into "things people say" which is what you're working with in a script.

So, what I took from that, is that "too on the nose" is when you are really desperate to get some kind of point across, and can't figure out how to do it using action and plausible dialog, so you have somebody say something very on the nose that nobody would ever say.
red_satin_doll
Mar. 11th, 2013 10:15 pm (UTC)
*mild spoilers for Bones* I've noticed that quality quite a bit while watching S4 of Bones on Netflix my first time through (although I do know how S7 ends.) I'd been warned the quality would go downhill (not to get on a Bones related tangent), but when the show started there was a lot that was underexplained, which I liked; it gave the sense that the writers assumed I had half a brain, but it also reminded me of Brennan herself a bit, expecting me to keep up with the story and only occasionally turning around to say "Are you coming or what?" Or at least that's my memory of it. Maybe people complained, but it's gotten so much dumber (actually from mid s3 on) with the introduction of Dr Sweets the psychologist; suddenly everything is EXPLAINED to us rubes that we previously would have sussed out ourselves. (The ep I saw last night has another psychologist explain to us in a single scene and tell us everything important about the character's childhood and background to create instant sympathy and "layers"; whereas in the early seasons Brennan's backstory unfolded gradually, if imperfectly. The show is telling, not showing. Argh. But at least it's still good for a laugh now and then. (ok, that's off my chest, sorry.)
mcjulie
Mar. 17th, 2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
I kind of like the episodes of Bones that I have seen, but I never followed it regularly. It did kind of bug me that everyone kept telling the lead character what kind of personality she had, like we couldn't pick that up on our own.
red_satin_doll
Apr. 2nd, 2013 08:15 pm (UTC)
I kind of like the episodes of Bones that I have seen, but I never followed it regularly. It did kind of bug me that everyone kept telling the lead character what kind of personality she had, like we couldn't pick that up on our own.

Oh god yes, absolutely. I was watching an S6 ep last night that had both me and my sweetie - who's fairly laid back in this regard - saying WTF? Honestly? I so miss the Temperance Brennan of S1-2.

Which is probably how a lot of folks feel about BtVS and Buffy; but for me, the problem with Bones is that the writing gets really stupid, not "darker". It's less real not more so.
red_satin_doll
Mar. 8th, 2013 01:42 am (UTC)
6) "I don't know - but that was COOL!" Words cannot convey how awesome Sarah is at that moment.

Also, it makes it clear that her depression is very much caused by experience and not just random brain chemistry.

I'd agree that her depression is caused by an interrelation of the two, which I think is what you mean (as opposed to one or the other)? But it's interesting that the spell messes with people's memories and thus affects the brain, it doesn't just wipe out memories, it blocks them - as certain medications can do. Buffy behaves as if she's been put on mood-enhancing drugs. I'm probably reaching there a bit, but the show is a bit dodgy in it's view of psychiatry and psychiatric (or illicit) medications (the demon venom in Normal Again, for instance) so they probably didn't intend to create a metaphor for drugs with Willow's spell...oh, wait....
*sigh* Never mind.

7) I put 7. I tend to see her actions as "misguided" rather than "evil", but then Warren doesn't seem to have any more of a true moral compass (or solid foundation for such) than Willow and it's easy to call him "evil". I've come to the point where I'm more willing to see the "magic addiction" storyline as Willow and the SG confusing the symptom with the cause, that it's easier for Willow to blame the magic (and play the victim in a sense) than fearlessly examine herself. And this goes for Giles (who provided almost no guidance even though he might well have - ok, I give Giles a LOT of the blame about this one, to be honest) and the SG, who worry about the magics but then ask Willow to perform a spell whenever it's needed. So - complicated. local_max makes a much better argument on this point. (He's the one who has probably convinced me that "addiction" is a mislead. Or at least its a fanwank I can go with, no matter the writers' actual intentions.)

8) Joan and Randy fighting side by side -- that’s Buffy’s thing. Prove me wrong!
Heh. I put Other - mostly "she's at a low point" plus "she's in denial" but I'm willing to add on a soupcon of "it's her thing". AKA: it's complicated. With Buffy and Spike it's ALWAYS complicated.

9) I think I went with Miss Psycho Pep-Squad (again GO TARA!) but I may have put Other: "Me like Buffy. Buffy alive. Me glad." (I honestly don't remember which)

10) Now this was the point when I knew that you are evil - EVIL, I say! I honestly could not choose between that set because I wanted to pick them all but most especially I could not decide between the first three listed. Hence, Other.

11) Gave it a ten. That might be overdoing it a bit? But dear god that is such a rich, rich episode; as I mentioned in compare/contrast to The Wish, it opens and closes with intense sadness tragedy, but in between is one of the funniest eps of the series IMO. And it's the contrast and the context that make it so heartbreaking. Tara standing over Willow, silently, her heart breaking; Willow's heart breaking as she sits on the bathroom floor; Giles leaving despite Buffy's pleas; the end sequence alone I have watched over and over again. How can an episode that funny break my heart so damn hard?

red_satin_doll
Mar. 8th, 2013 02:03 am (UTC)
BONUS QUESTIONS!

1) I don't think Xander has any precognitive abilities re: the suit. It was just one of those things the writers thought would be a funny call-back - I think. Sometimes the cheese is just cheese. BUT I always found that part of the dream weird and it didn't fully make sense to me until S7 and especially First Date, but also Touched. The relative position those three men occupy in relation to Buffy in Xander's dream is what plays out in S7. (Which is especially interesting in light of what infinitewhale recently told me, that SMG & NB had asked Joss about pairing Buffy and Xander early in S7. Thank god Joss said no. Every once in a while he got it right.)

2) Buffy as free-lance debt collector? NO. I think she'd be a lousy debt collector. I mean, she had a million chances to stake Spike but didn't because he was "neutered". I always thought she could have become a private fitness or martial arts instructor. (Can't you see Dawn suggesting that?)

3) IDK - why did they give Tara so many shitty hairstyles and oversized sweaters and lousy outfits? WHY? I know she's "shy" but then she wears stuff that's attention-grabbing in a really bad way, like this hairstyle. (the WORST). I suspect that ME had no idea what to do with a woman with actual curves. Have you read The Bitter Buffalo blog "Buffy Fashion Roulette" critique of the fashions in this episode?

4) OMG - Tara and Anya were thumb wrestling? How did I not notice this? HOW? Baskets of kittens for everyone!
mcjulie
Mar. 8th, 2013 02:15 am (UTC)
I have never really figured out where they're coming from with some of the fashion choices on BTVS. I love the Surprise/Innocence combo so much and have watched it out of order many times, and every single time, I can't figure out what is up with those pants Buffy is wearing for much of it.
red_satin_doll
Mar. 11th, 2013 10:20 pm (UTC)
I haven't watched that one in a long time so I don't recall anything except a black coat (wasn't she still wearing Angel's leather coat? Aka "the black leather coat/duster/jacket of sex and death". And btw - why wasn't SMG swamped in it? DB was several times her size, so no way it would have come close to fitting.)

The fashion roulette series reminded me all over again of how much work they put into making AB look frumpy. Memo to M.E. : Shyness and fashion sense (or the ability to dress oneself) have nothing to do with one another. Seriously. When I rewatched Restless I was taken aback by how lovely she looks in that episode.
mcjulie
Mar. 17th, 2013 05:56 pm (UTC)
Buffy's pants -- the ones that look like a giraffe. Here's a link to I think a doll that somebody made wearing the same pants:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v358/buffyfanone/My%20Buffy%20Customs/buffyc2.jpg

Angel's coat definitely had that "boyfriend jacket" look on Buffy when she wore it, but I think that was the point.
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