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Old April 18 2011, 04:25 PM   #31
DevilEyes
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

1.11. Out of Mind, Out of Sight


This is another great example of the show’s use of supernatural as a metaphor for a real life problem. This time it’s the classic SF/F theme of invisibility, which is here a metaphor for outcasts, people who get ignored and who would desperately want to be seen. As we learn in this episode, the Hellmouth makes metaphorical invisibility into a literal one. The invisible girl Marcie (Clea DuVall) is arguably the first sympathetic villain of the show. Cordelia, her intended victim and counterpart, shows she has some unexpected depths, and starts getting friendlier to the Scoobies, if only because she needs Buffy’s help when she realizes that the invisible villain is targeting her, by first going after the people in her circle and then after herself.

The main theme of the episode is loneliness and what it’s like to be an outcast. We’ve seen that Buffy has been an outcast one since she was called and lost her previous ‘popular girl’ status in Hemery High; most Sunnydale students seem to think of her as a weird girl, a freak, and are perhaps a little scared of her (Cordelia says in this episode that she knows Buffy has a lot of weapons and that she thought she was in a gang), which is why Marcie thought that Buffy could understand her (even if Buffy’s problem is the opposite from Marcie’s – she stands out too much while Marcie wasn’t remarkable in any way and never stood out at all.) In this episode there’s an atypical moment when Buffy feels excluded even from her friends, when Xander and Willow are wrapped up in laughing over something from their past, and Buffy is reminded that they’ve known each other for far longer than they’ve known her. (This is something that will become irrelevant in the next years when the Scoobies’ shared experiences.) We’ve also seen that Willow and Xander also get mocked by Cordelia and her gang and aren’t the most ‘popular’ in school, with their nerd/geek status, but some other students have it worse, like Kyle from “The Pack” who was the favorite target of the bullies. But Marcie turns out to be the ultimate outcast - she literally had no friends, she’s not mocked or hated or bullied, but simply ignored by everyone, students and teachers alike. Everybody unintentionally victimized her, including Willow and Xander. Cordelia on the other hand seems like the complete opposite of Marcie, with her status of the most “popular” girl in the school, and a bunch of sycophants following her around all the time. The flashbacks make it easy to sympathize with Marcie, while Cordelia is very unsympathetic, as when Marcie is making unsuccessful attempts to talk to Cordy and her circle, and her minions ignore Marcie’s joke but Cordelia then repeats her joke and gets everyone to laugh (since they’re not really paying attention to what she’s saying anyway). But the irony is that Cordelia’s “popularity” is actually very questionable – some people like the Scoobies despise her, while the people who are always around her and seem to hang on to her every word are actually trying to up their own status, and most of them don’t really seem to know or care about her as a person, and as it turns out she’s aware of it. The guy she is dating, Mitch, doesn’t even know what color her eyes are, and both of them are mostly interested in each other just as trophies to look good on each other’s arm and in pictures. She seems to be the most visible person in the school, but at the same time nobody really sees her. It’s also interesting that Cordelia is aware of how badly she treats people and casually calls herself evil (about Marcie: “Wow, she is evil, way eviler than me”). Cordelia is not just Buffy’s frenemy but a reminder of what Buffy used to be before she found out she was a Slayer (Buffy mentions she used to be the “May Queen” in her old school, and in this episode Cordelia is about to be crowned “May Queen” at the Spring dance), and Cordy opening up to her prompts Buffy to admit for the first time that things weren’t that great when she was “popular” in LA because she always felt something was missing from her life (one of the first signs of Buffy accepting her calling as a part of her life, rather than something that has been forced upon her). Buffy ends up saving Cordelia for the 3rd time (“The Harvest”, “Witch”) but the new almost-friendship between Cordy and the Scooby gang doesn’t last, since peer pressure is too strong and Cordy is still not ready to lose her status by hanging out with a bunch of ‘losers’. She’ll get there later.

There’s a meta moment early in the episode in the scene where the class are having a discussion about the difference between hero and protagonist. In the show as a whole, Buffy is both, but one can say that this episode is more about Marcie, who can be seen as a villain/antagonist, but maybe also as a protagonist in this particular story (but not the hero) – in a way that Shylock is the villain/antagonist of The Merchant of Venice, but has been treated as the protagonist in many contemporary productions. Another scene has the class discussing The Merchant of Venice, introducing the theme of the episode - an angry, vengeful outcast, and drawing a parallel between Shylock and Marcie. Willow is unsurprisingly the one to defend him, probably not so much because she’s Jewish but because she also feels unappreciated and, as we later see, has a strong vindictive streak. Cordelia's unsympathetic view of Shylock, while presented as one of 'Cordy's wacky interpretations of classics', is in fact probably closer to the original idea of the play, and she makes a good point except for the irony that she's the one talking about someone being self-centered. But Marcie actually proves her right in the end – as a result of what happened to her, she has become self-absorbed and can’t see that everyone else has their problems and feels lonely as well. Nowadays we're so used to that "if they prick us, don't we bleed?" speech being used as an example of the downtrodden and oppressed groups of people speaking up and demanding to be heard, that we forget that Shylock's speech is not about equality but about vengeance, he is saying that he has a desire and a right to vengeance just like the Christians do. Of course he tries to represent it as justice, but it's really revenge. And just like Shylock, Marcie is a sympathetic villain, but she's still the villain of the piece. No matter how much we can't help but feel sorry for her and sympathize with her for what happened to her, the fact is that she cruelly and intentionally tried to hurt people in a way that's very disproportionate to the cause; Antonio (like the other Christians) treated Shylock with contempt, so Shylock wants to have him killed in a gruesome way; Cordelia (like the other students and even teachers) ignored Marcie, so she wants to horribly disfigure her, not to mention trying to kill innocent people as collateral damage. Buffy realizes that this is where Marcie crossed the line - yes, you've suffered, but you're still not justified in what you're doing and you need to be stopped.

A B-plot has Angel coming to see Giles to talk to him about a book of prophecy. This is the first time Angel and Giles meet, and is Giles is extremely uncomfortable – that’s probably the first time he’s had a conversation with a vampire. Another addition to the mythology: it is confirmed that vampires have no reflection. (Which makes me wonder how Angel styles his hair. ) There’s a moment of show’s classic self-irony when Giles says that a vampire in love with a Slayer is “poetic, in a maudlin sort of way”. Later on Angel saves the lives of Giles, Xander and Willow (who were ticked and trapped in the basement by Marcie with gas leaking) but they don't thank him and Xander isn't any nicer to him.

Snyder has some funny moments in this episode, showing again that he cares a lot more about the order and the good image of the school rather than the wellbeing of students, and Xander and Willow show again how useful they can be in their non-superpowered way when they come up with a way to distract Snyder with a story about Mitch suing the school. The ending of the episode is very X-Files-ish (the men in black taking Marcie to the government facility with invisible kids learning skills such as infiltration and assassination), which makes me smile since I used to be a big X-phile.

Best/Funniest lines:
Cordelia: This is all about me! Me, me, me!
Xander: Wow, for once she is right.

Cordelia: Um, I know we had our differences… but despite that… I know we share this feeling, deep inside…
Willow: Nausea?

Cordelia: People who think their problems are so huge craze me. Like this time I sort of ran over this girl on her bike. It was the most traumatizing event of *my* life, and she's trying to make it about *her* leg! Like *my* pain meant nothing.

Best/Most meaningful lines:
Cordelia: Hey! You think I'm never lonely because I'm so cute and popular? I can be surrounded by people and be completely alone. It's not like any of them really know me. I don't even know if they like me half the time. People just want to be in a popular zone. Sometimes when I talk, everyone's so busy agreeing with me, they don't hear a word I say.
Buffy: Well, if you feel so alone, then why do you work so hard at being popular?
Cordelia: Well, it beats being alone all by yourself.

Pop culture references:
The Merchant of Venice (yes, it counts as pop culture becauseShakespeare was a popular entertainer).

Foreshadowing:
The prophecy Angel talks about is the subject of the season finale “Prophecy Girl”. When Buffy and Cordelia are tied up in the chairs of May King and Queen and about to be disfigured or killed by Marcie, it seems like foreshadowing for Buffy being the “sacrifice” needed to free the Master.
Buffy will try to beat Cordelia for the title of the May Queen in season 3 “Homecoming” and will try to bribe the voters with chocolate just like Cordy did in this episode.
More irony when Willow wonders if the invisible girl is a witch and says the Scoobies can fight a witch (referring to the events of the episode Witch).
This isn’t the last time someone is invisible on BtVS -Buffy will turn invisible in S6 ”Gone”, while Willow will be invisible to her friends in S7“Same Time, Same Place”.
Buffy says the invisible girl is petty for a god. She hasn’t met a god yet, when she does in season 5 she’ll learn just how petty and self-absorbed gods can be!
Cordelia’s speech about feeling alone despite being surrounded by people and being popular sounds a bit like


Rating: 4
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Old May 1 2011, 10:34 PM   #32
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

1.12. Prophecy Girl

I had forgotten how good this episode was. Although it’s not perfect (it has one serious flaw), it is the first great episode of the show, in addition to being a very satisfactory season finale that wraps up the relationship stuff very well as well as the season’s main arc, having Buffy finally face up to not just the Master but also her destiny. The cheesy elements that the season has a lot of, especially in the early episodes, are missing here. This episode is quality drama/horror – without much humor, but too much humor would be out of place here, except for a few lines that undercut the seriousness and apocalyptic doom (and what’s better, most of them don’t come from the usual comic reliefs but from the Master or Buffy bantering with him; see Best Lines).

The juxtaposition of life and death, normal high school reality and the monsters that are threatening to destroy it, is most obvious in this episode, as the teenagers are preparing for the Spring Fling dance and are absorbed in their romantic problems, while Jenny is informing Giles about the signs of the upcoming apocalypse and while the Master is about to rise and the vampires to take over the world. Buffy is worrying about everyday things like biology class or having to romantically reject a good friend that she doesn’t see that way, unaware of the prophecy that Giles has learned of and isn’t able to tell her about. Her breakdown when she overhears Giles and Angel talking about her imminent death at the hands of the Master, might be the strongest and most memorable scene of the season. When she decides to quit her calling, it’s what makes Buffy a convincing and relatable hero – she’s not a perfect superhuman, super-selfless person that’s ready to sacrifice herself without a second thought, she is a real human being who doesn’t want to die before she’s really lived. Another touching scene is between Buffy and her mother – Joyce offers comfort to her daughter the best way she can even though she doesn’t know hat her real troubles are and mistakenly assumes it’s just boy trouble and regular teenage problems. (We also learn about how Joyce and Hank met and get the first hint that Joyce was pretty independent and assertive, not hesitating to go alone to the dance, and that she probably stole Hank from his date.) We really see in “Prophecy Girl” how Buffy is the Slayer who draws strength from her ties to the world, her friends and family: Willow is the one that makes Buffy go back to her mission instead of running away from it. When Willow and Cordelia find several students dead at the school AV club, killed by vampires, Willow is shocked to realize that the monster world is not something far away from their everyday life anymore – it has invaded their world and cannot be ignored anymore. When Buffy puts the leather jacket she got from Angel over the beautiful white dress that Joyce gave her for the dance and goes underground to face the Master, it’s the reconciliation of the duality of her character as “Buffy”, the girl who wants to live and love, and the powerful “Slayer” focused on the mission of killing monsters and saving the world. The first sign that the prophecy might not come true completely is when Buffy makes a choice to ask the Anointed One, fully aware who he is, to lead her into the Master’s lair (contrary to the prophecy that she will not know him and he will lead her into hell). But then the Master tells her that she’s the “lamb”, not the hunter, turning her into a scared and vulnerable victim, the kind of character she was meant to subvert, the teenage blonde horror victim, as well as the older archetype of a virgin sacrifice whose blood ritually restores the strength of an old, ailing king. For a moment it seems that her descent to the Master’s lair is a classic self-fulfilling prophecy and the proof that every attempt to beat destiny only results in it coming to pass – by trying to stop the Master from freeing himself from his prison she has given him a chance to do exactly that. The scene is truly dark and chilling and works wonderfully on the symbolic level – Buffy can’t win underground, because she hasn’t yet faced her own subconscious fears and demons that lurk below the surface. After what we’ve seen in "Nightmares", it’s not surprising that the monster that kills her comes in the shape of a demonic father figure, who also stands for Buffy’s unresolved attitude to her duty, tradition and destiny. But then her ties to the world save her again – as Xander brings her back with CPR. Buffy’s victory over the Master is a statement that people aren’t slaves to destiny and that they have a choice. While it’s not made clear in the episode why she finds new strength after her clinical death, that also works on the symbolic level – especially after what we’ve learned about the origin of the Slayers in S7 “Get It Done”: woman gets victimized; draws strength from her anger to fight back and beat the abuser; but there are consequences as she herself becomes more ‘demonic’ as a result (which we’ll see in Buffy’s behavior in the next episode, “When She Was Bad”).

This episode also has great character moments for all other characters. The season-long unrequited love triangle Willow/Xander/Buffy gets a resolution of sorts. The opening scene is a classic mislead as we first see Xander asking a good friend to the dance and saying he wants them to be more than friends – and it seems like it’s probably him asking Buffy out on a date; then we see he’s actually talking to Willow; then a moment later it turns out he’s just using her to practice asking Buffy out. It seems like Xander is totally oblivious to Willow’s feelings for him (or else that would be really cruel and insensitive of him), which is plausible since Willow has been much better at hiding them than he has been in hiding his feelings for Buffy – but it makes me wonder about “The Pack”, when Hyena!Xander was obviously aware of Willow’s feelings, and we know that Xander remembers everything he said and did in that state. My guess is that Xander does know on some level but that he’s ignoring it and suppressing it because he really doesn’t want to think about her that way. I think that Buffy, on the other hand, did notice Xander’s attraction – because, well, it was impossible not to – but didn’t expect it to be that serious, and chose to ignore it because 1) she wasn’t interested in him that way, and 2) she knew Willow was, and the whole thing could have made things too awkward and ruin the friendship. She tried to stir Xander in Willow’s direction in “I Robot, You Jane” and advised Willow to ask him out. Maybe she’s even giving him a little hint that he doesn’t get, when she tells him that she doesn’t think of him that way and that he and Willow are her best friends. The scene of Buffy rejecting Xander is very true to life, Buffy handles it very well – it’s never a comfortable situation, having to reject a friend’s romantic advances – but of course no amount of sensitivity on her part was going to make Xander feel better about it. His reaction is to start dissing her for her attraction to a vampire (and it’s not the last time he’ll do this in the show…) but I guess this time it’s excusable since he just got his heart broken. This is a great episode for Xander because we get to see all sides of his character – one moment he gets to be a bit of a jerk and self-absorbed as he’s confiding his sorrows in Willow and asking her to be his date for the dance, while Willow shows she has more character strength than it seemed when she flatly refuses to be his second choice, and doesn’t show her own pain while Xander goes to wallow in his own by listening to country music in his room. But then the next moment he shows himself to be really brave, devoted to Buffy, and a poster boy for free will, since he’s the one who doesn’t care about the prophecy and goes straight to Angel, a guy he dislikes and is jealous of, to make him take him underground to the Master’s lair. Xander finally gets his wish and saves Buffy, but in a different way than he dreamed of in “Teacher’s Pet”. Back then he was bothered by Buffy’s strength and his perceived inadequacy, which he saw as a slight against his masculinity, and fantasized about being a big manly hero to Buffy’s damsel in distress and sweeping her off her feet. This time he doesn’t go to play the hero and he’s not expecting to win her love, he just wants to help her any way he can, and he gets to save the hero Buffy exactly because he’s human and can perform CRP (which Angel can’t as a vampire).

Cordelia gets to be another unlikely hero, saving Willow and Jenny by picking them up in her car and driving into the library. Earlier on we see her being on rather friendly terms with Willow – that character development from “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” wasn’t for nothing – and she reveals that she even has real feelings for Kevin, the guy she’s now dating. Of course, this being a Whedon show, it meant that he had to die a brutal death, but it’s what later gets Cordelia to sit in their car at their old meeting place remembering him, which in turn leads to her saving Willow and Jenny and fighting the vampires with them in the library.

Unlike Xander, Giles is a believer in destiny and doesn’t hope to subvert it, but he shows his courage and devotion to protecting Buffy, when he nevertheless decides to go to the underground and face the Master on his own, instead of Buffy, even though that would mean a certain death for him – before Buffy stops him from doing that by knocking him out and going to the underground herself. It foreshadows several other important moments in the show when Giles is ready to go put himself on the line despite his lack of super-strength, and to even sacrifice himself to help Buffy save the world, including

Angel is less heroic than Xander or Giles in this episode – not because he lacks courage or devotion to Buffy, but because he’s still ready to give up, before someone shakes him up into action (as Xander does here). He still has a long way to go to become a hero, and as we see later, his fatalistic streak means that he occasionally needs someone like Whistler or Doyle to give him a purpose. The scene between Angel and Xander is interesting as Angel seems to feel as much dislike and maybe even jealousy for Xander as the other way round, once he’s guessed that Xander is in love with Buffy, and because Angel shows a smug, arrogant streak he doesn’t show with Buffy (patronizingly calling Xander a “kid”) that foreshadows Angelus. It’s also interesting that he still won’t confirm or say aloud that he’s in love with Buffy, even though Xander is the second person (after Giles in the previous episode) to (correctly) assume that.

“Prophecy Girl” is pretty much perfect until the last 10 minutes or so, when Buffy is allowed a too easy victory over the Master out of the blue. He had to commit some classic stupid "Evil Overlord" mistakes for that to happen, starting with leaving her to drown in the shallow pool (breaking the rule #13 of the Evil Overlord List: All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff.” ). Now I guess we can put this down to over-confidence. But where were all his minions? Why was he alone up there? It's just too convenient. And while Buffy’s new confidence and strength after coming back from her death and the easy way she kicks his ass makes for a great symbolic moment, it isn’t really explained in the episode. The final scene – a shot of Master’s bones – is ambiguous however, and as much as we can see it as a proof that Master has been defeated, it can also be reminder that he was a special vampire who didn’t simply get dusted, and an ominous hint that he might not be finished… which is going to be confirmed in season 2 opening episode “When She Was Bad”. That episode in a way makes “Prophecy Girl” better as it means it’s not all wrapped up a neat little package with a bow on top.

Best scene: The library scene where Buffy learns she’s destined to die: “Giles, I’m sixteen. I don’t want to die!” Sarah Michelle Gellar’s performance is really great and heartbreaking.

Best lines:
Master: You're dead!
Buffy: I may be dead, but I'm still pretty. Which is more than I can say for you.
Master: You were destined to die! It was written!
Buffy: What can I say? I flunked the written.

Buffy: Y'know, you really oughtta talk to your contractor. Looks like you got some water damage.
Master: Oh, good. The feeble banter portion of the fight.

Master (in booming sinister voice): Yes! YES! Shake, Earth! This is a sign! We are in the final days! My time has come! Glory! GLORY! (As the earthquake stops, looks over at the Anointed One, in normal voice) Whadaya think? 5.1?

Mythology: The Hellmouth is directly under the Sunnydale high school library. The Master is the first vampire we see using “the thrall” – the ability to hypnotize his victims. He doesn’t turn to dust like other vampires but leaves a skeleton behind. As we’ll later learn, Buffy’s temporary death lead to another Slayer – Kendra – being called, while Buffy was cut off from the Slayer line: Faith will be called upon Kendra’s death, but Buffy’s second death in S5 will not lead to another Slayer being called, despite Faith’s incarceration at the time.

Pop culture references:
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Xander doesn’t appreciate Giles’ calmness and calls him “Locutus of Borg”.

What the slashy heck:
Xander accusing Angel of checking out his neck (which Angel denies) is funny because it sounds so much like a guy accusing another guy of checking him out sexually (all the more so with the sexual overtones that vampire biting has in the verse). This is just the first of many amusing slashy moments in the show (Xander gets a lot of those).

The Scoobies, as of the end of S1: Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, plus Jenny, Angel and Cordelia as associate members.

Apocalypses averted: 2 (The Harvest, Prophecy Girl)

Character death: Buffy (sort of), The Master (that was the end of him… right? )

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
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Last edited by DevilEyes; May 1 2011 at 10:44 PM.
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Old May 2 2011, 12:11 AM   #33
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

DevilEyes wrote: View Post
Over 1200 views but so few comments? Is everyone just agreeing with me on everything?
Well, speaking for myself, it's been a considerable length of time since I watched Buffy, so I can't really offer any comments of my own - but as usual your posts are supremely insightful. It's always a privilege to read reviews (of any franchise) from fans who take the time to truly think about their responses. And you know I always appreciate your contributions here.
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Old May 2 2011, 01:19 AM   #34
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Season 1 overview

I remember watching Buffy for the first time on TV. I had seen the 1992 movie on TV a few years earlier, so I expected the show to be similar, i.e. fun but a bit silly and lame. I was pleasantly surprised that the show was witty and mixed comedy, horror and drama so well, and that it was much smarter than I expected, but overall I just thought at first as a show that was entertaining and that its saving grace was that it didn't take itself too seriously. (What can I say? That title does tend to give people the wrong idea. I still have to explain things to people who have never seen the show and who laugh when I mention it.) Then as I kept watching, I liked the way the show touched on real life issues of high school life (I wasn't in high school at the time but it was still very fresh in my mind) through metaphorical MOW stories. And I started thinking: This show is more serious than I expected. It tricks you into thinking you're watching something fun and witty but light, and then punches you in the gut with real drama and tragedy. Well, I'm not sure how much of that I thought during season 1 - since season 1 had its share of drama, especially in the finale, but tragedy didn't strike till season 2. And season 2 is when I realized that this was a really great show. I remember exactly which episode first made me think it was that, and which episode then blew my mind and made me think it was one of the greatest TV dramas I've ever seen. But more about that when I get to season 2. As a result, I remembered season 1 as a solid season, but weaker than the rest of the show, just an introduction to the greatness to come.

And while I still think this is true, this rewatch has made me appreciate season 1 much more and realize that it's much closer in quality to the later seasons. Yes, in the first half of the season there are a lot of cheesy moments, production values are not that good, some of the characters (Giles and Cordelia in particular) still seem like stereotypes at that point, the mythology hasn't been developed yet so there are some blatant inconsistencies with what comes later, there is a lack of continuity, and a jarring habit of ending every episode on a cheerful note whatever happened. The most unforgivable flaw is the lack of follow-up to Jesse's death, even though he was supposedly a close friend of Xander and Willow. This should have been treated as a major factor in Xander's character development, especially when it comes to his later black and white views about vampires and his animosity towards Angel and later Spike. In addition, Angel's personality undergoes a drastic change between "The Harvest" and "Teacher's Pet", Buffy is all over Owen in one episode than seems to forget she was ever attracted to anyone in Sunnydale except Angel, and the events of "The Pack" are swept under the carpet even at the end of the episode itself. However, there is a noticeable rise in quality around the middle of the season, starting with "The Pack" and then especially evident in "Angel" and the last 3 episodes of the season, and the season finale is the first really great episode of the show.

Watching the season now, I've also come to enjoy it and appreciate it more because I see the characters with different eyes now that I know how they would develop later, and because I can see a lot of foreshadowing (whether it was intentional at the time or just something that the writers picked up later and developed). BtVS is one of those rare arc shows longer than a couple of seasons where almost everything holds together well and fits in the overall story and characterization, from the first to the last season, and since so many of the developments weren't planned, I'm guessing it's just because of the writers' ability to look back and build up on what has come before. For me it's particularly different to watch Xander's development now, since he was a character I disliked in early seasons when I first watched the show, but later grew to like. I liked him and understood him much better this rime around.

One element of the show I really disliked the first time around was the unrequited-love triangle Willow/Xander/Buffy (or the love quadrangle Willow/Xander/Buffy/Angel), both because I thought it was a teenage drama/romcom cliche, and because I think those kind of triangles and real friendship are unmixy. I was very relieved in later seasons when they moved on from that and all found other love interests. But now that I know how the triangle develops, and that it doesn't last forever, I appreciate the story much more. I can now see that the show actually played with and subverted the "Betty and Veronica" romcom cliche, or two of them: the geeky guy in love with a hot girl who only thinks of him as a best friend and prefers another, more confident/glamorous guy (but of course eventually she's going to Have Her Eyes Opened and see how the geeky friend is the best guy for her and they'll end up happy together...) and the guy caught between the girl he's pining for and the girl who's pining for him (but of course eventually he'll realize that his friend who's pining for him is the right girl for him and they'll end up happy together...). Of course, those two "obvious" solutions cancelled each other out, but the show didn't go for either of those stereotypical teen romcom resolutions. And it also subverted the hell out of another Betty/Veronica triangle with Willow/Xander/Cordelia, but that's a story for seasons 2 and 3.

Season 1 is simpler than the later seasons of the show; the lines between good and bad are still strongly drawn, things are black and white compared to what will come later; most of the monsters are not just unambiguously evil but usually also inhuman and monstrously ugly (with the exception of Darla, who is the only vampire other than Angel and the Anointed One who gets to be out of vampface for more than a moment or two). There won't be many occasions in later seasons when Buffy will be able to again say to a Big Bad "...but I'm still pretty, which is more than I can say to you". The Master is an embodiment of this, as an ancient, very inhuman vampire who has disposed of human features and looks similar to Count Orlok from Nosferatu. But while I prefer the unconventional villains of the next seasons, it has to be said that the Master was an excellent classic horror villain, who worked perfectly for season 1 (even if he would have been out of place in one of the later seasons). I really liked that aspect of season 1 on this rewatch - now that I'm so used to the different, more human and more anarchic vampires we'll meet later, it's interesting to be reminded of the Master and his minions with their strict hierarchy and an almost religious vampire traditionalism. The Master might seem like a classic Evil Overlord, but he's also a stern patriarchal figure who commands respect and loyalty from his minions, he has his own set of beliefs, a father/daughter relationship with Darla and a mentor/student relationship with the Anointed One (which both serve as dark mirror to the budding relationship between Giles and Buffy), gets some moments of gruesome humor, and even gets to display some human emotion and affection when Darla dies. And in the end, he's still the only villain to ever kill Buffy (in both this one and in the alternate Wishverse).

Big Bads are a representation of some important part of Buffy's life and a dark mirror to the main characters. In season 1, the Big Bad is an evil father figure, who represents the dark side of authority and tradition. It goes hand in hand with Buffy's issues about her father, which we learn about in "Nightmares" (her parents' divorce and her father leaving is the first big formative trauma of her life, other than being called); high school principals (particularly the authoritarian Snyder, but ineffectual Flutie is not all that positive either) as negative authority figures; Buffy's struggles with duty, tradition and destiny, and the development of her relationship with Giles, mentor figure who becomes a more positive father figure. In season 2, we get introduced to very different, attractive, youthful and rebellious villains who embody sexuality and romance - foreshadowing the moment when Buffy's boyfriend becomes the Big Bad after she loses virginity to him. Season 3 introduces Faith who becomes a dark mirror to Buffy, and this time it's not about father figures or boyfriends but her issues with herself and her Slayerhood. (Though the Big Bad is again a father figure.) Season 4 is the only one that doesn't fit, which may be why its main arc and especially its villain is so forgettable, Adam doesn't have close ties to any of the main characters and doesn't serve as a dark mirror to anyone except maybe Riley, which is not enough. Season 5 is about family, and season 6 about real life struggles, with the Trio mirroring the Scoobies, and Warren being a dark mirror to several of the main characters, until one of the Scoobies becomes the main villain. And then of course season 7 has the First, whose very nature is to mirror people's darkest sides (which sadly got kinda lost once it stopped looking like anyone except Buffy; they could have developed it much better).

It also has to be said that season 1 does have some elements of moral ambiguity. We got to see one of the main characters show his dark side (Xander in "The Pack"). Two of the Monster-of-the-Week episodes have ordinary human villains. (Three have human villains, if we count the witch Catherine Madison.) One of them is a very sympathetic character we can relate to and feel sorry for - Marcie Ross from "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" - and that episode reminds us that sometimes we are all (unintentional) victimizers. We also get to meet the first "good" vampire with a dark past, even though his uniqueness is explained by the introduction of the concept of "soul". Darla is the first one of the evil soulless vampires to show a recognizable human motivation that isn't related to blood sucking or destroying humanity - wanting to get her lover back and to destroy her romantic rival. Having a child as a villain could have been brilliant, but that didn't work out so well because the boy cast as the Anointed One just wasn't up to task and didn't make the character creepy enough.

Overall, the season did a very good job of combining its two elements - the high school setting, with characters such as ineffectual or authoritarian principals, bullies or bitchy cheerleaders, and with Monsters of the Week that were representations of real life teenage issues; and its arc about the Master. The brevity of the season worked in its favor in that respect - I'm not sure if the storyline could have been stretched out to 22 episodes without becoming stale and ridiculous, with the Master being kept underground all the time. Yes, the metaphors in this season were most of the time very obvious. But it all worked, for a season that laid the foundations for the rest of the show.

Episode ranking:

  1. Prophecy Girl - 4.5
  2. Out of Mind, Out of Sight - 4
  3. Angel - 4
  4. Nightmares - 4
  5. The Pack - 3.5
  6. Welcome to the Hellmouth - 3.5
  7. The Puppet Show - 3
  8. Witch - 3
  9. Never Kill a Boy on the First Date - 3
  10. The Harvest - 2.5
  11. I Robot, You Jane - 2.5
  12. Teacher's Pet - 1.5
Average rating for the season: 3.25
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Old May 2 2011, 01:38 PM   #35
saturn5
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

SPOILERS Buffy season 8
I would rate WTTH and The Harvest a lot higher personally, Buffy season 1 starts and finishes strong but with some quite weak eps in between.
As for the love triangle well, Xander and Will smooch and if we're to believe the comics Buffy still has a thing for him. But instead he ends up with Dawn which Joyce aside is the closest thing to her
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Old May 2 2011, 02:04 PM   #36
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Yay, finally a comment!

saturn5 wrote: View Post
SPOILERS Buffy season 8
I would rate WTTH and The Harvest a lot higher personally, Buffy season 1 starts and finishes strong but with some quite weak eps in between.
As for the love triangle well, Xander and Will smooch and if we're to believe the comics
Well, 3.5 still means it's an above average episode, so I don't think I was that harsh on WTTH... The two-parter is a good start to the show, but early episodes suffer from some cheesy music, acting and production values, which is more obvious in The Harvest. And I really didn't like the ending of The Harvest, they were trying to be too upbeat and it didn't fit the story, Xander had just lost one of his best friends and, what's worse, it never gets referenced again.

Bander was practically absent from the show in seasons 3-7,


Like I said, the Willow/Xander story was a total subversion of the John Hughes cliche. When he finally does get interested in her - while she's in love with another guy - and they do hook up, it doesn't make them look good since they're cheating on Oz and Cordy, it ends up making Cordy (the classic 'Veronica' character) the victim, and in the end Willow chooses Oz over Xander. And instead of the 'he finally realizes she was the right girl for him all along', it turns out they really aren't good for each other as a couple.

And then later she finds out she's really into girls.
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Old May 7 2011, 09:23 PM   #37
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

2.01. When She Was Bad

This episode feels like a finale to season 1 as much as it does as the opener to season 2, dealing with Buffy’s trauma over her death as well as the attempts of the Anointed One and the Sunnydale vampires to resurrect the Master using his bones. Buffy only reaches real closure at the very end of the episode, smashing his bones, and symbolically doing away with his shadow over her life. I didn’t really understand this episode when I first watched it many years ago – I knew that Buffy was acting that way because she was traumatized, but I didn’t really understand her emotional state. Now I can also see that the darkness Buffy shows with in this episode wasn’t a fluke, but the first sign of psychological issues related to her calling, which would be dealt with more in later seasons.

The opening scenes give us the state of affairs in Sunnydale at the start of the new school year. Buffy has been absent, spending the summer with her father in LA. There hasn’t been much of a need for her to be there, since there’s been a lull in vampire and demon activity in Sunnydale as a result of Master’s death. Later we see a group of vampires, with the Anointed One as their figurehead, trying to restore the Master. At this point at really feels like the ritual-obsessed, traditionalist vampires with their over-dramatic speeches and dated language have overstayed their welcome – without a figure with a presence like Master’s, they’re just dull and not terrifying enough.

Giles and Jenny are starting to flirt in this episode, and Xander is beginning to develop some romantic interest in Willow: he nearly kisses her in the opening scene when she gets ice cream on her nose. But then as soon as Buffy comes back, he goes back to ignoring Willow as a possible romantic interest. Yet later in the episode, after he’s gotten fed up with Buffy’s bitchy behavior, and when Willow, Giles, Cordelia and Jenny are kidnapped by the vampires in order to be used in the ritual, Xander tells Buffy: “If they hurt Willow, I’ll kill you”, showing for the first time that Willow is the person he cares about the most. Just what is Xander’s deal? One moment it seems like he has a clue that Willow has some interest in him other than friendly, the next moment he seems completely oblivious or isn’t thinking about her feelings at all. At first I thought he just had no romantic interest in her, but knowing that he’ll get very interested in her later when she’s in a relationship with someone else, I wonder if it’s a case of wanting the unattainable (which he talks about in the next episode) or if there’s a deeper reason why he needed to see Willow as nothing but a sexless best friend. The best explanations I’ve come across in fandom is that she was closely connected to his childhood, or that her he was uncomfortable with her meekness and was drawn to more assertive women because he felt they could stand up to him if he ever turned out the same as his abusive father. (Of course we’ll only learn more about Xander’s family later on.)

The title comes from the Mother Goose nursery rhyme: “There was a little girl… (…) And when she was good, she was very, very good/And when she was bad, she was horrid.” Buffy is really bitchy in this episode, because she’s clearly suffering from PTSD – and while she gets back to normal at the end, and her friends forgive her, her behavior reveals that deep inside she feels resentful and ambivalent about Giles, Xander, Willow and Angel. The first hint is when she calls Xander and Willow “losers”, but they take it as a joke. She’s flinching every time anyone mentions the Master or the events of the last year. From the conversation between Hank and Joyce we learn that Hank felt that Buffy was distant throughout the summer – it must have been difficult for her to carry it all inside without being able to talk to anyone or tell her parents about her temporary death. (This is the last real appearance of Hank Summers in the show – i.e. not counting “Normal Again”. Maybe the reason why he ended up abandoning Buffy completely was that he felt inadequate and unable to understand her and really be her father.)

Buffy’s nightmare in which she casts Giles as the Master is particularly interesting and revealing when it comes to her feelings about her friends that she wouldn’t consciously admit to herself. It starts as an everyday scene with her in school, talking to Xander and Willow (Xander - talking about being a friend but revealing a sexual interest in her: “We’re your bosom friends… The friends to your bosom”; Willow – letting it slip that she dreamed about Xander and then unconvincingly trying to cover it up, which is the first hint it’s not real since Willow is better at hiding her feelings than that, Buffy is the one who’s a bad liar), until Giles casually mentions having killed Buffy once before, and starts strangling her, and when she pulls off his mask it reveals the Master. Meanwhile Xander and Willow are just calmly watching and eating apples. Taken literally, this would of course be very unfair to all of them, since Giles wanted to protect her and fight the Master himself, and Xander went underground and saved her, but these are not rational feelings. On some level Buffy feels that Giles is “killing” her like the Master did, by being the one who’s sending her to fight the monsters, and she feels distant from Willow and Xander because they can’t really understand what she’s been through. It’s the feeling that she’ll admit to Holden in S7 “Conversations with Dead People”, feeling superior to her friends because they don’t know what it’s like to be the Slayer, and then as a result feeling like a horrible person – inferior, ‘beneath’ everyone. Buffy’s bitchiest moment - her sexy, seductive dance with Xander at the Bronze, in front of Willow and Angel – is a deliberate attempt to hurt and punish all three of them; Xander is almost as uncomfortable during that dance as the other two are, and after trying to believe for a moment that she was really attracted to him, he quickly faces up to the reality that Buffy’s unusual behavior must be a sign of something wrong. Another very revealing moment is her comment on the line from the book about people who were “the closest” to the Master (which was actually a mistranslation and misinterpretation of the actual line, people who were “nearest” to him at the time of his death) – that she’s the one who was closest to him, because they killed each other. That’s one of the ongoing themes of the show, that Buffy in some ways feels closer to the monsters she’s fighting because they share her world, and that she fears that she may be monstrous herself.

Buffy’s conflicted feelings about Angel are for a different reason than her ambivalence about her friends. Despite the soul and his good behavior, he’s still a vampire, just like the creature who killed her, he is her natural enemy and on some level she knows she shouldn’t trust him. Of course, we now know her instincts were actually right, and this episode hints that she wasn’t completely blind to his dark side, even if she usually chose not to see it. Maybe Faith wasn’t that off the mark when she suggested in S3 that Buffy’s love for Angel wasn’t that pure and innocent as Buffy liked to think of it, and that was attracted to danger. Maybe a part of her ambivalent feelings about him is that she feels monstrous for being attracted to a vampire. Angel first appears in this episode right after Buffy wakes from her nightmare, asking if he may come in – which implies that he’s been outside watching her sleep and waiting for her to wake up. It’s one of these early Bangel moments that may make some viewers go: “Oh, that’s so sweet” and others: “Wow, that’s so creepy”. (And it is creepier in retrospect, when we know that as Angelus, he’ll also watch her sleep in “Passion”.) She acts hostile to him the way she hasn’t since “Welcome to the Hellmouth”, drives him away and then whispers as emotional “I missed you” when he’s already gone and can’t hear her. Then, after deliberately making him jealous at the Bronze, she tells him she doesn’t trust him (which is just the first of the several times throughout the years Buffy tells Angel she doesn’t trust him), insults him for being a vampire (she got him where it hurts the most, since we later see just how much Angel is bothered by what he is and wants to be human), calls him on his stalking, telling him that, whatever some may think, it’s not a turn-on for girls (…tell that to Stephenie Meyer), and claims that she isn’t interested in him anymore and has moved on “to the living”. (Which is very ironic since she won’t move on from Angel for years, and it’s still debated whether she ever completely emotionally moved on from their relationship – and if she did, it certainly wasn’t to the “living”.) Then she taunts him to attack her, saying he must have thought about it and pointing out that they’re natural enemies as vampire and Slayer – and it feels like a sexual come-on as much as a taint. For a moment we see her conflating sex with violence in the way that foreshadows her relationship with Spike. All this will get forgotten later in the first part of S2 when Buffy and Angel’s relationship gets lovey-dovey, and later when she makes a romantic ideal of it in her memory, but it shows a part of Buffy's nature that was already there although she was very uncomfortable with acknowledging it.

Buffy’s behavior in this episode is also very Faith-like, confirming that Faith in season 3 was a “shadow” character for Buffy: in her behavior at the Bronze, and when she is torturing a vampire for information, which we’re supposed to see as a disturbing moment since Angel and Xander seem uncomfortable about it… Now, I have to say that I found it a bit silly, since Buffy dusts vampires, so what’s wrong if she also tortures them when she really needs information ASAP to save her friends. But I guess Angel and Xander were bothered because Buffy seemed to be taking out her anger on the vampire in the way she doesn’t normally do – usually she just treats Slaying as a job (and she’ll be upset at Faith in S3 for obviously enjoying violence). When Buffy goes alone to fight the vampires and save Cordelia, practically calling her friends useless, it also makes me think of the alone, hardened and cynical Wishverse Buffy.

Best scene: Buffy’s dream.

Funniest scene: Snyder ranting to Giles about his hatred of teenagers: “Somebody's got to keep an eye on them. They're just a bunch of hormonal time bombs. You think they're thinking about learning? Every time a pretty girl walks by every boy turns into a bumbling idiot. I try to teach them the important things in life. Discipline. Respect. Punctuality. I might as well be talking to myself.”… not noticing that Giles has meanwhile turned into a bumbling idiot when Jenny Calendar appeared, that the two of them got too busy flirting, and that they left before he ended his speech.

Best lines:
Buffy: Cordelia, your mouth is open, sound is coming from it, this is never good.

Buffy: You're a vampire. Oh, I'm sorry. Was that an offensive term? Should I say 'undead American'?

Pop culture references: Xander and Willow seem to be SF/F fans – the movies they’re using in their Guess the movie quote game are The Terminator, The Planet of the Apes and Star Wars. They also reference The Witness. Cordelia compares Buffy, Xander and Willow to the Three Musketeers, not realizing that she’s paid them a compliment, as they point out to her; Xander says she should have compared them to Three Stooges instead. Cordy calls Buffy on her bitchiness telling her she’s acting like Joan Collins.

Destroying the English language: When Giles tells Buffy that it’s pointless to punish herself for her behavior, Buffy replies that it’s actually “entirely pointy”. (Actually, that’s not destroying the language, that’s more like building quite useful new words. ) Xander isn’t very good at spelling and when Willow spells “ b-i-t-c-h” he thinks she said Buffy was a ‘bitca”. The Sunnydale vampires don’t have great writing skills, their syntax leaves something to be desired: I guess we can forgive Xander for misunderstanding the sentence “Come to The Bronze before it opens or we make her a meal” to mean they were going to cook Cordy a dinner.

Foreshadowing: There is a lot of foreshadowing for the season finale. Buffy taunting Angel to fight her foreshadows that they will become mortal enemies after he loses his soul. Snyder says he can smell expulsion for Buffy; he will finally get to expel her from school in “Becoming II”. In the same episode, just like in this one, Buffy goes to fight the vampires while Xander saves Giles/the Scoobies

In addition, as I’ve explained, Buffy’s dark side seen here foreshadows Faith, Wishverse Buffy, as well as a lot of Buffy’s own behavior in later seasons. The indifference that Xander and Willow are showing in her dream makes me think of season 6, when Buffy will feel even more distant from her friends after her second resurrection, and when she’ll have good reasons to resent them for ignoring her pain and trying to pretend everything is all right with her, but unlike in “When She Was Bad”, she’ll try too hard to be as nice to them as possible and keep her resentment inside, until it breaks out in “Normal Again” when she tries to kill them while under the influence of the hallucinogenic venom.

Rating: 4
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Old May 8 2011, 10:00 AM   #38
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

A good ep, you can already see that Buffy is beginning to shake off the less sophisticated aspects of season 1 and evolving into the show we love. Some great acting too from SMG both as the sexy siren, high school bitch and damaged girl venting her trauma. Also like Xander's confusion and Willow's forlorn look. The ice cream on the nose bit is heartbreaking
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Old May 8 2011, 03:11 PM   #39
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

I really liked "When She Was Bad". I think it was a strong episode to open the season with. The writing felt noticeably tighter over the season 1 episodes. The show was definitely starting to find its voice. Over the course of season 2, it's voice becomes even stronger. I remember being particularly impressed with the fact that Buffy's trauma wasn't just brushed off and forgotten in between seasons. I wasn't used to a series that paid close attention to continuity, and allowed the character arcs to continue over the span of the series instead of being more stand-alone and episodic. Buffy was probably my first taste of a truly serialized TV show.
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Old May 13 2011, 10:22 PM   #40
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

saturn5 wrote: View Post
A good ep, you can already see that Buffy is beginning to shake off the less sophisticated aspects of season 1 and evolving into the show we love.
Unfortunately, the next episode is not as sophisticated...

2.02. Some Assembly Required

Just two episodes into the season and I’m already reminded of how inconsistent season 2 is. From an excellent episode like “When She Was Bad”… to this.

The main plot of this is one of the worst MOW stories in the show, a lame retelling of “Bride of Frankenstein”… And while I don’t expect the show’s mythology to be completely consistent, this plot really doesn’t make sense. There will be other episodes dealing with the theme of reanimating/resurrecting people, and throughout the show it’s made clear that reanimating people who have died a natural death always leads to disastrous results – you get either mindless zombies (“Dead Man’s Party”, and it’s implied that this was what reanimated Joyce in “Forever” was), or living corpses whose flesh is rotting (“The Zeppo”). But here, the problems with Darryl are just that he doesn’t look great and that he has to hide in the house so he’s gone a bit crazy – but he has somehow retained his mind and is the same guy? There is no explanation how his brother Chris managed to do that – the implication is that it’s through science, since Chris is a scientifically-gifted student, not a magic user… so I’m not sure that even the “but they’re on the Hellmouth!” explanation works. Logic is sacrificed to the attempt to parallel the story of Frankenstein. The plot of creating a mate for Darryl out of parts of dead girls works much better metaphorically – cue thoughts about objectification of women and the ‘ideal’ beauty standards and so on – but taken literally it’s quite stupid. Though if we decide to take the story seriously, an interesting question would be whether Eric and Chris are combining parts of different girls because they want to make her “perfect”, or to make her monstrous enough to be a willing mate for Darryl (as suggested by Darryl’s disbelief when Cordelia tries to convince him not to chop her head and put her on the patched-up body, because she would be with him anyway).

There is some emotional resonance in the story of the family that can’t move on from the favorite son’s death, especially the scene with the mother who is not leaving home and is obsessively watching videos of her dead son’s football games. But it doesn’t help that the actors playing Chris and Darryl don’t manage to make them sympathetic or compelling. And Darryl looks more like a 37-year old than a 17-year old (I don’t think it’s just the zombie makeup that does it).

The episode is mostly memorable as the one where Giles and Jenny Calendar start dating. (This is, BTW, the episode where we learn her first name.) Their cute and fun scenes are one of the saving graces of the episode. The parts of the episode that deal with Scoobies’ relationships are generally better than the MOW story, but I have some problems with those as well. When Buffy, Xander and Willow mockingly advise Giles how to ask Jenny on a date, this is probably supposed to be a cute scene that plays on the reversal of the adult/teenager roles, but IMO they come off as annoyingly condescending to Giles. I’m not sure if Giles being shy and socially awkward to that degree (though he does loosen up a little while on the date) is consistent with what we later learn of his Ripper past – people can certainly go from shy and awkward to wild, but I don’t know about the opposite.

The Buffy/Angel scenes are a contrast to Giles/Jenny not just because one couple is meeting at night in the graveyard while the other is having a date in broad daylight in the football stadium full of people, but also because the B/A scenes emphasize the problems in their relationship, unlike the sunny early happiness of G/J. Bangel is often talked about as a romantic ideal in the fandom, the public, and even in-universe after the end of the actual relationship, but in these early season 2 episodes it mostly consists of tension and awkward conversations. In this case it’s to be expected since it’s their first meeting after the events of “When She Was Bad”. Jealous!Angel is amusing to watch (since he remains poker-faced and doesn’t show it in such a blunt way as Xander), especially when he’s claiming not to be jealous but then immediately showing that he is. But he makes a slip when he calls Xander a kid (just like he did in “Prophecy Girl”), unintentionally drawing attention to the age difference between himself and Buffy, then tries to leave after Buffy angrily asks him if he thinks of her as kid, too. This continues the trend of Angel’s appearances so far: show up out of the blue or follow Buffy, act mysterious, disappear. (Which is sure to get Buffy’s interest; Xander may have a point when he says in this episode that people like the unattainable.) This time however it annoys Buffy, and when she’s shouting at him that he can’t walk away and one can’t get rid of her that easily, I can’t help thinking of Buffy-possessed-by-James in “I Only Have Eyes For You” shouting something similar, and I think of the end of their relationship in S3, when he does walk away from her. In the last scene in the episode, they finally talk openly and honestly about their feelings – Angel admits he is jealous, Buffy reassures him that she doesn’t love Xander, and Angel explains that the reason is because as a vampire he can’t be a part of Buffy’s life the way Xander can.

This episode also marks the first time we see Angel talking to Cordelia, and he actually smiles – an extremely rare thing to see at this point for his character! It seems he was always more relaxed around her - which sets up their later friendship - maybe because he isn’t in awe of her the way he is of Buffy.

Cordelia is a damsel in distress once again (how many times is that now? “The Harvest”, “Witch”, “Out of Mind, Out of Sight”, “When She Was Bad” and this episode). She keeps hanging out with the Scoobies, probably because she figures that, with all the awful things happening to her, it’s better to stick close to Buffy, who can protect her. At one point when she’s flirting with Angel and trying to make Buffy jealous, she does it by overplaying the role of the damsel in need of protection from a big strong manly man (asking Angel to “take” her home – even though it’s her car and she’s driving), which underlines that Cordelia at this point is embracing the traditional gender roles, or at least pretending to because that’s what girls are supposed to do, in contrast to Buffy who is directly subverting them (in the last scene she offers to take Angel home). Giles/Jenny relationship also has gender-reversed dynamics - Jenny takes the traditional masculine role by asking Giles on the first and then on the second date.

At the same time, we learn that no amount of danger will stop Cordy from giving up her cheerleader duties. It turns out that Cordelia had a crush on Darryl, but he ignored her at the time, which is the first time we learn that Cordy is not on the top of the “food chain” of popularity in the school.

There are also a couple of little hints about the future relationship between Cordelia and Xander. He mentions at one point that he finds it a turn-on when someone calls him an idiot – we’ll see soon learn this is true: his relationship with Cordy will mostly consist of the two of them insulting each other. Maybe those two aren’t that different as they’d like to think: Xander is always mocking Cordy’s self-centered ways, but he can be as self-absorbed as anyone: we’ve seen in “Prophecy Girl” and again in this episode, when he’s telling Buffy that people like the unattainable rather than what’s right there in front of them, obviously alluding to Buffy’s feelings for Angel – while oblivious to the fact that the same could be said of him, and not noticing Willow’s discomfort. Later he’s so wrapped up in complaining to Willow that he’s the only one who can’t find a date, that he rudely tells Cordelia to leave them alone when she tries to thank him for saving her life.

I was thinking of giving the episode a 1.5, but I’ve decided that it has more going for it than “Teacher’s Pet” (so far the only one with such a low score). Even the main MOW story has the saving grace that it’s used to comment on the lives of the Scoobies: Cordelia asks “Why is it that every conversation you people have has the word 'corpse' in it?”, Xander makes an interesting mental connection between “love” and “reanimation of dead tissue”, and Willow’s remark (later repeated by Buffy): “Love makes you do the wacky” – could be one of the mottos of the series. Angel is sort of a reanimated dead person too, and Darryl’s desperate and ruthless desire to get himself a woman to love can be seen as a parallel and contrast to Angel’s worries that he is too much of a monster for Buffy and her human world. But Darryl is also like Buffy, once popular and now alone and a “freak”. I wonder if we were intended to see a Willow/Buffy parallel with ginger Chris, talented student-scientist (and a friend of Willow’s) living in the shadow of his blond, athletic elder brother but also being so devoted to him to “do the wacky”.

Best/funniest scene: Xander wondering why he can’t find a date, while ignoring two potential girlfriends right in front of him (Willow and Cordy).

Best lines:
Giles (on American football): I just think it's rather odd that a nation that prides itself on its virility should feel compelled to strap on forty pounds of protective gear just in order to play rugby.

Buffy: Is it 'cause I danced with him?
Angel: 'Danced with' is a pretty loose term. 'Mated with' might be a little closer.

Xander: And speaking of love…
Willow: We were talking about the reanimation of dead tissue.
Xander: Hey, do I deconstruct your segues?

Foreshadowing (?): The reason I’m putting the question mark is because there’s some foreshadowing that’s intentional, and some that probably wasn’t (not that I can always tell the difference). On the intentional side, Xander’s association of love with reanimation of dead tissue foreshadows his romance with a living Inca mummy that will happen in just a couple of episodes. The references to corpses in an episode where Giles and Jenny have their first date sound ominous when you know how their romance would end. Twice in the episode, there’s a sinister music when first Buffy, then later Cordelia, notice someone in the dark, and both times the girls are relieved when it turns out to be Angel; in the second part of the season, they will have good reasons to be scared of him. Cordelia invites Angel to her car – she’ll have to disinvite him after he becomes Angelus.
When it comes to unintentional foreshadowing – Cordelia’s line “Why do these terrible things always happen to me?” feels so much truer when you know what her final fate would be.
And finally – one that might have been unintentional (or not?): Willow’s remark “Love makes you do the wacky” was about Chris’ love for his brother. Since Chris/Darryl has some similarities with Willow/Buffy, I can’t help thinking of Willow resurrecting Buffy in S6.

Rating: 2


Next episode ("School Hard") is Spike's introduction - I'm looking forward to rewatching that one!
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Last edited by DevilEyes; May 13 2011 at 10:35 PM.
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Old May 14 2011, 10:51 AM   #41
saturn5
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Shame we never got to see Chris Epps and Eric again although they do pop up in the Sunnydale High Yearbook (and fanfic dedicited to saving the scoobs). I think we have to accept the Hellmouth genius effect for Daryl, Willow, Ted, Warren etc. Here we also have CC showing her attraction to Xander.
What strikes me about this ep is actually Angel's tan jacket. Boy it's terrible, glad we never see it again.

Here's my review of the ep;
http://boards.theforce.net/science_f...48/30387200/p1
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Old May 14 2011, 03:21 PM   #42
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

saturn5 wrote: View Post
Shame we never got to see Chris Epps and Eric again although they do pop up in the Sunnydale High Yearbook (and fanfic dedicited to saving the scoobs). I think we have to accept the Hellmouth genius effect for Daryl, Willow, Ted, Warren etc. Here we also have CC showing her attraction to Xander.
What strikes me about this ep is actually Angel's tan jacket. Boy it's terrible, glad we never see it again.

Here's my review of the ep;
http://boards.theforce.net/science_f...48/30387200/p1
I remember your rewatch thread on this forum last year. You seem to like this episode a lot more than I do. You're right that the episode at least does subvert the expectations by having the two boys do it for Darryl rather than to make themselves a sex toy, though that's more of Chris' motivation... I get the impression that it was just an excuse for Eric and that he was mostly doing it because he was having fun.

I didn't notice the Sunnydale highschool yearbook pic... Thanks for the info. I hope that Eric really did go into therapy, it's disturbing if they just let an attempted murderer go free and continue to go to school like a normal kid.
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Old May 14 2011, 05:08 PM   #43
saturn5
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

DevilEyes wrote: View Post
saturn5 wrote: View Post
Shame we never got to see Chris Epps and Eric again although they do pop up in the Sunnydale High Yearbook (and fanfic dedicited to saving the scoobs). I think we have to accept the Hellmouth genius effect for Daryl, Willow, Ted, Warren etc. Here we also have CC showing her attraction to Xander.
What strikes me about this ep is actually Angel's tan jacket. Boy it's terrible, glad we never see it again.

Here's my review of the ep;
http://boards.theforce.net/science_f...48/30387200/p1
I remember your rewatch thread on this forum last year. You seem to like this episode a lot more than I do. You're right that the episode at least does subvert the expectations by having the two boys do it for Darryl rather than to make themselves a sex toy, though that's more of Chris' motivation... I get the impression that it was just an excuse for Eric and that he was mostly doing it because he was having fun.

I didn't notice the Sunnydale highschool yearbook pic... Thanks for the info. I hope that Eric really did go into therapy, it's disturbing if they just let an attempted murderer go free and continue to go to school like a normal kid.
Well they've let the Buffy-raping mutated swimteam go in Go Fish, the magic shop owner killing Spike go in Lover's Walk and Angelus just walk away at the end of Innocence, Eric and Chris are the least of their worries
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Old May 14 2011, 05:37 PM   #44
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

saturn5 wrote: View Post
Well they've let the Buffy-raping mutated swimteam go in Go Fish, the magic shop owner killing Spike go in Lover's Walk and Angelus just walk away at the end of Innocence, Eric and Chris are the least of their worries
Well, with the mutated swimteam... I suppose there's no proper way to deal with criminal, presumably non-sapient fish-like creatures... But I don't remember if they ever said what happened with the coach - it was implied that the 'boys' raped him, but did they also eat him?

Buffy letting Angelus go was a major plot point and had huge consequences. As for Spike... hm, Popular Character Immunity?

It's not like they could kill Eric, since he was human, and reporting him to the police would have required a lot of explaining... but I hope that Buffy threatened to beat him up unless he went into therapy. Which reminds me, those 4 kids from "The Pack" must have needed lots of therapy after they ate the principal...
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Old May 15 2011, 09:30 AM   #45
saturn5
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

DevilEyes wrote: View Post
saturn5 wrote: View Post
Well they've let the Buffy-raping mutated swimteam go in Go Fish, the magic shop owner killing Spike go in Lover's Walk and Angelus just walk away at the end of Innocence, Eric and Chris are the least of their worries
Well, with the mutated swimteam... I suppose there's no proper way to deal with criminal, presumably non-sapient fish-like creatures... But I don't remember if they ever said what happened with the coach - it was implied that the 'boys' raped him, but did they also eat him?

Buffy letting Angelus go was a major plot point and had huge consequences. As for Spike... hm, Popular Character Immunity?

It's not like they could kill Eric, since he was human, and reporting him to the police would have required a lot of explaining... but I hope that Buffy threatened to beat him up unless he went into therapy. Which reminds me, those 4 kids from "The Pack" must have needed lots of therapy after they ate the principal...
I think that goes for the whole of SD High!
Buffy's remark about 'those boys really loved their coach' (followed by Xander's smirk) plus the coach's remark about his boys having 'other needs' and Buffy remarking that she's 'doing it with the entire swimteam' and the damage it will do to her reputation don't really leave much to the imagination
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