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Old December 15 2011, 07:29 AM   #89
DevilEyes
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

(continued)

The fight: oh, now it’s clear why the special weapon in the finale had to be a sword: cool sword fight between Buffy and Angel!

Spike gets some overdue satisfaction in hitting Angel over the head with… whatever that object was, but he seems interested in giving him some pain, but not killing him (which makes sense given their complicated sibling-like relationships). Dru’s anger at Spike for betraying them is one of the rare moments when we see her really angry – she is obviously really invested in the whole apocalypse thing. It’s a bit funny to see Spike apologizing to Dru during the fight for having to hurt her. Incidentally, the line: “I don’t wanna hurt you baby… (after she attacks him) Doesn’t mean I won’t” were recycled in season 6 when Buffy told the same to Dark Willow (minus the “baby” part, obviously). Always the tender boyfriend to his princess, not blaming his princess openly for cheating - and not treating her as an adult responsible for her own actions, or worrying about what she wants. Instead, his solution is to get rid of his rival, grab his darling and drag her into his cave… err, car.

The climax of the fight is the iconic moment when Buffy, apparently in a hopeless situation (deprived of her weapon, with nobody to help as her ally just walked out, with the villain about to kill her), stops Angel’s sword with her hand and replies that she’s still got herself, and proceeds to kick his ass. He was already on his knees in front of Acathla and she was about to send him to hell to save the world, but Joss had to have Buffy beat him first, and then have Willow resoul him at that moment, so Buffy would have the maximum amount of heartbreak for having to send him to hell. And now is the time to say something about…
Angel/Angelus: I guess that the moment when Angel doesn’t remember what happened for the last few months is what some fans are basing the two entities theory on, and probably what the writers of AtS season 4 used to write Angel/Angelus dychotomy as something akin to a multiple personality disorder. But part 1 set it up by having the Gypsy Elder explain that Angel doesn’t remember (which the Gypsy wasn’t surprised by) but that he soon will. And in season 3, Angel does remember everything, just like he remembers everything he did before the Gypsies cursed him. In the Doylist interpretation, the not-remembering was simply a device to have a situation where Angel would have his soul back and Buffy would have to kill him (and feel even more guilty because he had no idea what was going on). If Angel had immediately remembered everything, the scene couldn’t have played that way – he’d have stabbed himself or agreed that she do it.

So right after getting him back, Buffy sends Angel to hell, after stealing a few more moments to hug and kiss him for the (as she believes) last time. She tells him “I love you” (in my count of Buffy’s ILYs: this is the 3rd time she told Angel ILY, and the 3rd time she’s told anyone ILY romantically; the first time was in Lie to Me when he asked her to tell him, the second when he dumped her in Innocence.)She tells him “Close your eyes” (echoing Darla, who said the same words before she killed Liam and made him a vampire) and kisses him for the last time, before stabbing him and letting him get sucked into hell.

Does this iconic scene feel as tragic as it would’ve if Becoming II was the end of the series? Well, no – it can’t, when you know that Angel comes back in season 3. (And while Angel being in a hell dimension for 100 years must have been awful, we never really saw the psychological consequences, the way we did see them with Connor.) But it still affects me, watching Buffy’s heartbreak (SMG’s acting is amazing), and knowing that this is the moment that shapes so much of her personality in the future. She won’t be emotionally the same – not because Angel was her “one true love” as some would like to think, but because it was a formative trauma of her life, and she learned the hardest possible way how dangerous it is to give your heart, especially when one has the responsibility of the Slayer. She becomes more emotionally closed down and far less willing to “risk the pain”.

The closing scene has the first (but not the last!) perfect use of a Sarah McLachlan song for a BtVS season finale, this time it’s a sad, desperate “Full of Grace”, capturing Buffy’s feelings as she leaves her mom a note and decides to leave everyone and walk away from her old life, feeling unable to go on being who she is. She’s watching her mom and her friends from afar but can’t go and talk to anyone – and the lyrics seem to explain why better than anything. Not only does she feel that they wouldn’t understand what she’s been through, but, in her emotional state, she wouldn’t be able to be their friend and daughter (and from what we’ve seen in When She Was Bad and later in season 6, a depressed, PTSD Buffy really isn’t good for anyone around her).

I never thought I could feel so low
Oh darkness, I feel like letting go

If all of the strength and all of the courage
Come and lift me from this place,
I know I could love you much better than this

It’s better this way.



Best lines (so many to choose from!):

Spike: We like to talk big. Vampires do. 'I'm going to destroy the world.' That's just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You've got... dog racing, Manchester United. And you've got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real... passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye, Piccadilly. Farewell, Leicester Bloody Square.

Buffy: The whole Earth may be sucked into hell, and you want my help 'cause your girlfriend's a big ho? Well, let me take this opportunity to not care!

Giles: It's a trick. They get inside my head, make me see things I want.
Xander: Then why would they make you see me?
Giles: Oh, right. Let's go.

Angel: Now that's everything, huh? No weapons... No friends...No hope. Take all that away... and what's left?
Buffy: Me.

One I love to quote (especially to comment on Buffyverse mythology): Oz saying „this all is making the kind of sense that’s not“.

Also worth a mention: Buffy telling Whistler “I'm gonna pull out your ribcage and wear it as a hat” – now that’s how you make a threat!

Mythology:
This is the first but certainly not the last time that the other dimensions, and the idea of blood of specific people used for opening and closing portals to other dimensions., is a big plot point. When I watched the show the first time, I thought that the hell that Acathla was going to suck the world in was the Hell – that there’s just one as in Christianity – which made Angel being sent to hell seem much graver and less reversible. I think we all, just like Buffy, thought of it as “killing” Angel, but technically, he didn’t die in Becoming II, even though it seemed like the character was being “killed off”. But now we know that there are lots of hell dimensions, and that people can come back from them. This particular hell seemed to be one that evil demons enjoy (or else I suppose he and Dru wouldn’t have been so eager to end up there, and Spike would’ve been more concerned about ending up in there) but that’s presumably awful for humans or good souled vampires (based on how feral and tortured Angel seemed when he came back in season 3). Too bad we never found out more about what it was like in there.

Buffy meets Whistler in this episode, twice, and he doesn’t really offer much help beyond some vague advice. He tells her that nobody saw it coming that she and Angel would fall in love (really?! A teenage girl meets a handsome, mysterious older guy; a guy who’s spent 100 years alone with no purpose in life, is told that he can be important by protecting a beautiful innocent girl that kinda looks like his long-time ex-girlfriend? The possibility never even occurred to them?). Why did Whistler want to bring Angel and Buffy together? Apparently he thought Angel would help Buffy stop the Acathla. Due to Whistler’s role in seasons 8 and 9, there’s been some speculation if he had other reasons, but I’m not sure I like such huge retcons a la Jasmine. And I like the idea that messengers of higher powers can do things based on misinterpreted prophecies.and really screw up.

Inconsistencies: Spike makes Drusilla lose consciousness – by choking her?! The best fanwank I’ve heard is that Dru probably forgot that she doesn’t have to breathe.

Spike badass-o-meter: After a long period of doing nothing but making snarky remarks from a wheelchair,Spike is back to being a major player. He gets major points for being his own man and doing the unexpected, not caring for vampire rules (again) and having the audacity to suggest an alliance to a Slayer and a mortal enemy he tried to kill several times. In the only season that he spent mostly as a villain, Spike’s most important action was being the good guys’ ally. He’s also shown to be smart, resourceful, On the other hand, one might ask how much courage it takes to only take on Angel when he’s got the Slayer as an ally and when he can attack him from the back (kind of like one could ask how much courage it takes for Angel to only pick on Spike when he’s in a wheelchair).. but Spike is a pragmatist, and as Garak would say when asked if he’d shoot a man in the back: “well it’s the safest way, isn’t it?”

Buffy bad liar: “I’m in a band…with Spike here!” – “She plays triangle…” - “Drums.”

Nicknames: or rather sarcastic terms of endearment. Spike addresses Buffy with “Hello, cutie”. Buffy taunts Angel(us) with a snarky “Hello, lover”, the way he taunted her in the previous episode.

Pop culture references: Spike’s "Goodbye, Piccadilly. Farewell, Leicester Bloody Square" is apparently a quote from a British World War I marching song called „It's a Long Way to Tipperary“,which I’d have no idea about if it weren’t for BuffyGuide.com.

Foreshadowing: Unintentional – when Spike says “I want to save the world”, who’d think that he’ll really do it one day.

Fully intentional: as Buffy is leaving town, we see the sign “You’re leaving Sunnydale – Come back soon” or in other words, come back for season 3, viewers, because Buffy won't stay away from Sunnydale for good.

Rating: 5
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my Buffy/Angel rewatch
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