Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/read

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by DevilEyes, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. saturn5

    saturn5 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    In the Buffy movie Joyce is played by porn-star Candy Clark and when Buffy comes home late from Slaying she asks her 'What time is it?' not because she's concerned but because her own watch has stopped.
    I don't think they 'gloss over' the rape at all, it's the trigger for Spike getting his soul back he feels so guilty. There is no equivalent between Buffy wailing on Spike in the previous episode, they hit each other all the time. There is a great essasy waiting to be written 'Rape in the Buffyverse', by my reckoning she's been raped/sexually assaulted 7 times, by Xander in The Pack, the Master in Prophecy Girl, Larry in Halloween, Cal in his car and the swimteam in Go Fish, Spike in Seeing Red and the Shadowmen's demon in Get it Done. Given Joss' supposed feminist characteristics he puts his heroines through an awful lot. Not to mention Cordy who never meets a demon she doesn't get knocked up by. But the Spike/Buffy scene has the greatest impact because it's REAL, you could actually imagine this happening between boyfriend and girlfriend.
    That said, 2 of the rapes in the Buffyverse are actually carried out by women, Willow on Tara and Faith-as-Buffy on Riley.
     
  2. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    It's not the same as the two of them punching each other like they do in Smashed and plenty of other times. In Dead Things Spike decides not to defend himself and tells her to "put it all on me" and Buffy pounds on him savagely until his face looks like a hamburger. (Apparently, in the first shoot they made his face look even worse, but Joss said it was too much and they changed it.) It's pretty disturbing and, unlike their regular fistfights, it looks like a domestic violence situation, which is why a lot of fans I know never quite got over it. Although I don't agree with people who equate it to a real life domestic violence situation, since Spike starts it by throwing her into the alley, to stop her from giving herself up to the police, and after she first punches him he goes into vampface and goads her into it, thinking that she needs to unload her self-hatred on him rather than herself. Spike is in the one in control of what is happening in their relationship throughout Dead Things, even in that scene. I should also say that I sympathize with Buffy a lot there, she was in a very bad emotional place and at the breaking point, she was really projecting her own self-hatred (when she's screaming "You're dead inside, you can't feel anything real" it's obvious it's not him she's addressing; it's similar to Faith beating up Buffy-in-Faith's body in Who Are You and screaming "You're nothing! Disgusting! Murderer!", really aimed at herself), and the shock on her face when she sees his human face (as it goes out of vampface). Fans who hate Buffy say that she never felt guilty, but it's enough to see the look of horror on her face as she sees his human face and realizes what she's done. (Not to mention that in CWDP she blames herself for "behaving like a monster".)

    The only problem I have is that in the next episode, we don't see them talking about it (except for one angry remark by Spike, "What are you going to do, beat me up again?") and they are on good terms and joking and flirting in Older and Far Away, and Buffy even tells Tara that she's thinking of "coming out" to her friends. And we're left to imagine how they went from the really bad place they were in DT to that. Even Marti Noxon admitted that they screwed up there by making Buffy and Spike so OK with each other right after DT.


    And season 8 has some very murky consent issues.

    I don't think that Master killing her can be called a sexual assault. Vampire biting is often portrayed as sexual, and vampire attack as a metaphor for rape, but not always. It certainly wasn't a literal sexual assault like the others you mention. And it wasn't exactly portrayed as sexual with the Master, as it was with Spike/Willow in The Initiative.

    If we were to include the Master, then we should also include Spike biting her in Out of My Mind and Dracula putting a thrall on her and biting her.

    Oh hell yes. The more he loves a character, the more he's likely to torture them. Probably because it leads to them showing their mettle by fighting back and overcoming the situation.

    Yes, good point. But that's the thing, people don't react to them as strongly even if they realize it's rape (and many don't even see them as rape) because the situations are so far removed from reality. There are no spells and body-switching in real life.

    Oh and just one thing... could you not quote entire posts? It just makes the thread harder to read.
     
  3. saturn5

    saturn5 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Just rewatch the scene where the Master paws and bites Buffy, it's more her reaction than anything else, she's like a pornstar faking it (as indeed she is in Get It Done).

    As I recall Spike doesn't actually get to bite Buffy in Out of My Mind? As for Dracula it was at least semi-consensual, the point being that this is a matter of seduction, whether we think they just had the biting or actually had sex? (what I always wonder is what happened between Dracula and Joyce?)

    As for Joss, I remember watching the scene in Alien; Ressurection where Ripley get's carried away but the drone...

    I think one of the reasons why sci-fi, historic and supernatural erotica is so popular is because it isn't real in the actual world of today and never can be so we can enjoy the fantasy guilt free,
     
  4. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    :wtf: No, she doesn't. It you mean that she sounds orgasmic in either of these scenes... well, no. But in Get It Done it does look like she's getting sexually assaulted. In Prophecy Girl (and yes, I rewatched it just now) she looks terrified and has a tear in her eye while the Master is talking ("If you didn't come, I couldn't go") and then when he bites her, she has an expression of pain for less than a second as this is how long it lasts before she loses consciousness.

    Those must be some really disturbing porn flicks if this is how their stars are acting before and during sex...

    If you want to see a person actually showing signs of sexual pleasure while being bitten, see the William/Drusilla flashback in Fool For Love.

    He pins her to the ground and gets his teeth on her neck, but doesn't get to draw blood before his chip works.

    But when "seduction" includes literal hypnotism, is that actually "consensual"? We've seen Drusilla hypnotize Kendra and then kill her because Kendra was so out of it she had no idea what was going on, let alone defend herself. And I believe few people would argue that Kendra consented to being killed.

    They definitely didn't have sex, though. I never thought they did, because there's no way that Buffy wouldn't have felt terribly guilty both for cheating on Riley and for sleeping with an evil vampire (if she thought she consented to it) or that she wouldn't have been upset if she had been raped, and that the show would just gloss over it. (Of course you also get a confirmation in Entropy when she says she only slept with four guys.)

    Maybe she served him hot chocolate. ;)

    When the show doesn't tell you in any way that a character had sex, especially dubious consent sex, it's always a given that they didn't. Sure, nobody can prove that Joyce wasn't having one-night stands all the time, or that Buffy or Willow or Xander didn't sleep with a bunch of people off-screen (and then lied about it or kept silent about it), but it stands to reason that the show would have let us know somehow, rather than leave us thinking that Buffy, Willow and Xander slept with just 4, 3 and 2 people, respectively, and that Joyce's only love/sex life since moving to Sunnydale was Ted, Band Candy sex with Giles, and the guy she started dating shortly before her death, which was made a big deal of exactly because Joyce so rarely dated.
     
  5. saturn5

    saturn5 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    I know Buffy says that she's only had 4 lovers but you know what those Summer's girls are like at denial
     
  6. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Buffy has never been in denial about having sex with someone she did have sex with, or about something that had happened to her. She might avoid dealing with her feelings, but she's not delusional about the things that she actually did or that actually happened to her.

    And if the story was that she had sex with Dracula, we would know. I don't believe that there are things that happen off-screen that the writers are keeping from us so that they would reveal it in season 15. Not to mention that this certainly didn't happen in season 8 when the character of Dracula was brought back, and the relationship that was focused on was Dracula/Xander, with no romantic or erotic vibes between him and Buffy.
     
  7. saturn5

    saturn5 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Well the scoobs do like to keep their secrets but we'll talk more about it when we get to season 5
     
  8. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    God, it's been a long time, with that pesky real life getting into the way! The good news is that starting with Tuesday, I'll have a lot more time. Maybe I'll get to post a few episodes per week, rather than the other way round!

    This review is another long one that has to be broken in two parts.

    2.22 Becoming II

    When I was about to watch this episode, I wondered if I can still be affected by it, since I’ve seen it several times. Of course, this is one of the most important and iconic episodes of the show, but can it still move me when I almost know it by heart? And…it didn’t exactly make me cry this time, but it’s still an awesome episode you could watch over and over,.

    As a season finale, it’s one of the best. It perfectly resolves so many storylines from season 2: Buffy’ s strained relationship with her mother, Snyder’s attempts to find a reason to expel Buffy, Willow’s relationships with Xander and Oz, the Spike/Dru/Angel triangle, the B/A romance and the “Angel loses his soul” story; and in the best tradition of bittersweet Whedon finales, it manages to have Buffy defeat the Big Bad and stop an apocalypse, but leaves her emotionally devastated.

    Throughout the episode, things just keep going wrong for Buffy, with just an occasional break. First cops want to arrest her for Kendra’s murder and she has to run away, then she finds out that Willow is in hospital with a serious head injury, and that Giles is kidnapped; Snyder uses the opportunity to expel her from school, and later her mother tells her not to come back home, all while she has an apocalypse to stop. If episodes like Prophecy Girl and School Hard were about Buffy surviving because of her connections to family and friends, this one is about coming to the point when you only have yourself to rely on. As foreshadowed by Whistler’s voiceover in part 1, this is where she finds out who she is. And that’s someone who never gives up and keeps fighting, even in the most desperate situation:

    Whistler: In the end, you’re all you’ve got.

    Buffy: I have nothing left to lose.
    Whisler: Wrong, kid. You’ve got one more thing.

    Angel(us): No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away, and what is left?
    Buffy (stopping his sword with her bare hand): Me.

    To make things all the harder for her, she’s put in the position where she has to kill the man she loves to save the world (well, sort of, since Angel gets sucked into hell, but doesn’t actually die). But the emotional cost is too high, and the season 2 finale ends in both triumph and despair, as Buffy runs away from her life, trying to become someone else.

    For an episode with so much pain and drama, it also has an amazing amount of humor, sometimes even at the same time. There are two scenes (Buffy and Spike coming up with the lie that they’re in a band, and Joyce and Spike trying to make small talk) that I would rank among the funniest in the show. There’s self-mocking humor even in show’s ending credits this time, as the Mutant Enemy monster doesn’t growl “URGH-ARGH” but whines “Ooh I need a hug!”

    I won’t even try to choose the best scene, since there are way too many great ones. I’ll just list all the great scenes and major moments chronologically.

    As Buffy visits her friends in the hospital where Willow is still lying unconscious, we see just how serious the situation is, when Xander isn’t able to laugh and joke with Buffy. Cordelia, who has a very small role in the episode, feels bad about running away from the library – the first sign that she wants to be strong and heroic like the rest of the Scoobies, but Buffy reassures her that running away was the best thing she could have done. Those two have come a long way in their relationship.

    Xander/Willow/Oz: The first of two big somewhat ambiguous Xander moments in the episode: Xander pours his heart out to the unconscious Willow, telling her how much she means to him, that she is his best friend, and finally “Willow, I love you” only for her to finally wake up and still half-conscious, call out for Oz.

    Did Xander mean it 100% as a friend, or with a romantic overtone? The scene certainly plays with the latter, or else the significance of this scene in the Xander/Willow/Oz storyline wouldn’t work. But on the other hand, for Xander to suddenly realize he’s in love with Willow would have been a big revelation that would have probably surprised even him, and it seem to be the case – and he doesn’t seem at all crushed with Willow and Oz’s sweet reunion. My guess is that Xander himself isn’t quite sure – he’s reacting to almost losing Willow and perhaps realizing just how strong his feelings for her are, and he’s confused teenage boy who can’t quite sort out his feelings for 3 important girls in his life. He probably started seeing Willow in romantic light only when she found a boyfriend, and he a) came to see her a sexual being, and 2) was jealous because he wasn’t the main man in her life anymore (as Buffy pointed out back in I, Robot, You Jane). I think the entire Xander/Willow early seasons relationship is largely about childhood friends growing up and not being sure if a girl and a boy can be friends or if they are supposed to be more than that because they’re a girl and a boy. I don’t see Xander’s feelings here as classic romantic jealousy, more like realizing that someone else is now the main object of Willow’s affection.

    I always thought this was a perfect resolution to the Xander/Willow/Oz storyline, showing that Willow was really over Xander and in love with someone else – who was really in love with her and was a much better romantic match for her – with the irony that hearing Xander say “I love you” which once would have been all she wanted, now wouldn’t have meant much to her. (Or would have been the perfect resolution – if only the unnecessary Xander/Willow fling in season 3 hadn’t happened, which I’m really not a fan of.)

    Snyder expels Buffy: a pay-off to yet another season-long tension – Snyder finally gets to do what he wanted to do for such a long time and promised a few times already. Afterwards whe calls the Mayor to tell him the good news, but while this confirms that he’s been working at Mayor’s orders, he also really hates Buffy and makes it clear he’s enjoying the opportinity (and even givea an ironic speech about the moments you want to savor and relieve,which is oddly similar toWhistler’s “big moments” speech). But it comes at the time when Buffy doesn’t care as much as she normally would have, since she’s got an apocalypse to stop – the good news it that for once she can openly treat him with the contempt he deserves, after more than a year of torment she had to endure. “You never got a single date in high school, did you?” is a good retort but doesn’t upset Snyder the way it would a normal human being, but an even better retort is Buffy simply pulling out her sword that she’ll use to stop Acathla, walking away from the clerly scared Snyder. Another memorable line is Snyder’s Lampshade Hanging comment “In case you haven’t noticed, the police in Sunnydale are deeply stupid.”

    Spike and Buffy. And finally we see what Spike’s plan is, which cements the Spike/Angel switch – first the good guy went bad and Buffy’s sweetheart became the Big Bad, and now the former Big Bad goes… a little less bad, and becomes Buffy’s unexpected ally. Unlike part 1, part 2 is about people making choices, and whule Angel is the poster boy for destiny, Spike is one for free will – that’s one of the things that are consistent with his character despite all the changes. He’s the one who does the unexpected, breaks rules, a wild card or “loose canon”. Of course, Spike is still nowhere near being “good” at this point, just the lesser evil at the moment, and his motives for offering an alliance against Angel are dubious and mostly selfish, but it’s still an unexpected lucky break for Buffy, who needs all the help she can get. He is pragmatic and irreverent and more grounded, and he does like the world as he explains in his unforgettable speech, and would rather not have it sucked into hell, but getting Drusilla all to himself is still his main motivation, as we see later when he walks away at the crucial moment of the fight, as soon as he got Dru to himself. (He won’t keep the other promise, either – never to come back to Sunnydale.)

    The Spike/Buffy scenes are so enjoyable and the chemistry between them is amazing, whether they’re arguing and negotiating and punching each other, or when they’re fighting together for the first time against Angel’s henchman and immediately working perfectly in synch (something that we’ll see so many times in later seasons, it’s one thing that always works well for them) or when they’re lying to her mom about being in a band – they seem oddly familiar, like people who’ve gone to school together or something, rather than Slayer and a vampire whose conversations before this were always happening while they fought each other. (I remember I used to think when I first watched season 2 how odd it is that I thought Buffy had more chemisty with the guy who was trying to kill her than with her boyfriend – even though I never expected anything to come out of it, and didn’t even entertain an idea at the time.) I love their matter-of-fact, snarky interactions (so much different from the sugarcoated romanticism they showed with their respective lovers, Angel and Dru) and this one is great. When Spike tells her that he wants an alliance to get Dru back, he gets a bit carried away talking about his problems, like he’s using the chance that there’s someone finally there to listen to him talk about his relationship problems – since he can’t make himself try to talk these things through with Dru herself. I love how Buffy points out, not mincing words, how pathetic he is for caring more about jealousy over his fickle girlfriend, than the fate of the world. It recalls Xander’s accusation from part 1, that Buffy wants to forget about Jenny’s murder so she could have her boyfriend back. There are definitely parallels between Buffy and Spike in season 2, in the big fight in this episode they both end up fighting against people they’re in love with; and the contrast, as Buffy puts the fate of the world above wanting her lover back, and Spike doesn’t.

    I always think back to these scenes as one of the obvious proofs that the idea that Buffy really thought of soulless Spike as a “thing” is utter BS. Even when he was the enemy, she treated him as this annoying guy she knows, not some anonymous vampire “thing” – all their interactions were very personal. You wouldn’t criticize the character flaws of a “thing”. It’s funny that she snarkily asks him if he forgot that he’s a vampire, but she’s kinda doing that when she calls him pathetic for being selfish and unconcerned about the fate of the world – as if one could expect better from a soulless vampire? She also tells him “I hate you”, which is only the second time she’s said that to a vampire (the first one was Angel in Angel, when Buffy believed he had attacked her mom and made a point that she kills vampires but never hated one before him). The Scoobies always treated the vampires they actually knew as individuals, as people, even if they people they disliked or hated (we’ll see a lot of that with Harmony as well).

    It’s also funny and feels a bit foreshadowy when Spike says he just needs to kill the cop, and then checks himself after Buffy’s disapproving cough and he remembers she wouldn’t be pleased if he did that. Or when he later can’t help himself feeling proud that Dru killed a Slayer, but then, faced with Buffy’s glare, quickly adds “Though not from your perspective, I suppose”. So many memorable lines from the B/S scenes – another one is Buffy’s “We’re mortal enemies, we don’t get time-outs”. Don’t say that twice…

    The pretending-to-be-in-a-band scene is just hilarious, as is the Joyce/Spike ‘small talk’. Love the reference to School Hard. “You hit me once with an axe, ‘Get the hell away from my daughter’” (a lot of it is in JM’s deadpan delivery). These two will have an interesting relationship. Continuity detail: Spike gets his first invitation to the Summers house, which he’ll use in season 3.

    That leads to a very serious scene between Buffy and Joyce after Buffy ‘comes out’. Fitting term, since the metaphor of a teenager coming out to their parents couldn’t be more obvious in this scene: Joyce asking Buffy if she could try not being gay, err a Slayer; “This is all because you didn’t have a strong father figure”; Buffy sayingshe didn’t chose to be this way, and telling her mother that she should have figured it out ages ago, but she just didn’t want to know. Joyce was never portrayed as a perfect mother, just someone who tried hard but was flawed as a parent – and while learning her daughter was a Slayer must have been a big shock, she really comes off as an awful parent in this episode, refusing to accept that her daughter isn’t a ‘normal’ girl and throwing Buffy out of the house.

    Meanwhile, Giles gets a great badass moment when, while he’s being tortured, tells Angel that he’s going to tell him how to awaken Acathla: “To be worthy, you have to perform the ritual…in a tutu. Pillock!” It’s fun to see Angel really pissed off, but poor Giles barely escaped losing limbs, when Spike had a better idea to use Drusilla’s skills (Spike’s real motive is to save Giles’s life because he has to fulfill his end of the bargain with Buffy). The inversion of the Spike/Angel roles this seasons gets summed up when Angel remarks on Spike surprisingly becoming level-headed, and Spike’s retort that it was right around the time when Angel became pig-headed. Funny that Angel felt happy for having Spike “watch his back, like old times” – it’s a bit late to be all chummy with Spike, buddy, did you really think he’d be eager to help you after the way you’ve treated him?

    Dru doesn’t just have the skill of hypnotism, but also of reading people’s minds, apparently – at least to the extent of knowing what’s on their minds. When she appears to Giles as Jenny to manipulate him into revealing the info about Acathla, it becomes one of the most heartbreaking scenes of a season that’s full of them. It does make a lot of difference when a character who died stayed dead: we get those epic, heartbreaking death scenes in Becoming II, The Gift and Chosen, but they don’t feel as tragic anymore when you know that the character will come back. But when poor Giles is happy to see ‘Jenny’ again, telling her he though he lost her, and when he is seeing who he thinks is Jenny, telling him that they will be together at last, get to have and feel everything they never got to feel (it seems that they never even had sex?), it remains every bit as tragic – even more tragic, knowing that Giles will never find love again.

    At the same time, Willow is trying to curse Angel with soul again, despite having just come out of a coma. This is the first time that magic plays a big role for Willow, and a sign of how determined and dedicated she can be. Even though I can’t see any difference between her “resolve face” and her regular face. It seems that, when the spell was starting to work, she became temporarily possessed by the Gypsy woman’s spirit.

    Xander’s lie: one of big controversies of the season, maybe even the show. From what I’ve heard, debates about his motives went on that summer until Joss decided to put things straight and explain that it wasn’t out of jealousy/hate for Angel, but for tactical reasons. But his main reason was clearly because he thought Buffy might stall and not fight her best if she thought Angel might get his soul back, I’m sure that the fact that he didn’t care for the guy and wasn’t eager to get him back played its role.

    It’s maybe more interesting to think, how did the lie affect the course of events? I’m not sure it made much difference to the fight itself, since the harshest part of it happened after Angel(us) pulled the sword out from Acathla, starting the process of awakening him (and boy, does Acathla need a long time to wake or what), at which point there was no coming back for Angel, soul or no soul. Maybe Buffy would have been less surprised by Angel getting his soul back. But in the end, I think the biggest difference it made might have been for Buffy’s decision to leave Sunnydale. Thinking that Willow, who’s always been the most supportive one of her relationship with Angel, thought that it wasn’t worth trying and just sent her a message to “Kick his ass”, probably contributed to Buffy’s feeling that none of her friends would understand how hard it was for her to kill Angel.
     
  9. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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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
     
  10. saturn5

    saturn5 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Let me ask a question, Spuffer or Bangeler? (Fuffer myself)

    One thing you didn't comment on, Dru's attraction to Giles? 'Daddys home' as Barney would say. Also the Buffy/Joyce scene is heartrending and great, Buffy's mum finally gets over her denial and knows the truth, no wonder the writers kept giving Kristine more and more to do. Plus the Slayer/gay subtext. More and more proof of Spike's humanity if it were needed.

    Becoming pt2

    The Good;
    All of it, every scene between Spike and Buffy, Giles and Angelus and Spike and Joyce. Great scenes with all the Scoobies and the ending just too heartwrenching for words, especially with Sarah MacClachlan's beautiful music, all classic.

    The Bad;
    Are you kidding? It's all too wonderful!

    Best line;
    Joyce; "Have you tried NOT being a Slayer?"

    Character death; Angel or so we think?
    Shot;
    Tied up; Giles and tortured
    Knocked out; Dru which is rather strange, Spike seems able to knock her out with a chokehold despite the fact that she doesn't breathe and has no circulation.
    Women good/men bad;

    Questions and observations;
    Joyce thinks Buffy is the Slayer because she didn't have a strong male role-model. Of course she'll later find out that Buffy is the Slayer because she did, she had Giles. The first (and only unless you can correct me) appearance of Willow's 'resolve face'. Xander's remarks at her bedside set the basis for their relationship in season 3. Willow successfully casts her first spell. Why is Buffy still wanted when Xander and Cordy can back up her story? Spike's reluctance to end the world seems odd considering he was happy to do it earlier
    A couple of points that escaped me about Becoming pt2, firstly Dru seems to be deeply enamoured of Giles but then she always did have a thing for 'daddy'. Secondly as Jenny Dru says to Giles that they'll get to do all the things they never had a chance to implying that Giles and Jenny never did have sex

    10/10 and I need a hug
     
  11. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Spuffer for sure. I used to ship Bangel in seasons 1-3 when I first watched the show, though - but all the Bangel shipper nonsense about about "one true love forever", "soulmates", "can never love anyone else" etc. really puts me off. :rolleyes: In later seasons I got even more into Spuffy (not that I thought back then they would be right for each other or anything, I just find it a lot more interesting), and Angel on the other hand got more interesting on AtS, Angel/Darla is now my favorite out of his ships. I can still enjoy early seasons Bangel, but the attempts to give it fanservice over the years and to revive it in End of Days/Chosen or season 8 put me off that ship big time. It's made both characters regress every time and act like people who can't grow up and who hold onto an immature fantasy about their highschool love and won't admit that they're really both moved on.

    D'OH, I knew I forgot something! I was going to mention how that moment when she smiles an evil girlish green and says "I was in the moment" is both funny and creepy (just like Dru). Another sign of Dru being "mercurial" as Marti Noxon said in What's My Line 2 commentary (or Buffy would put it less nicely - "a big ho")! :lol: It is pretty funny when Spike and Angel are looking at her and doing: "Um, Dru? Honey? It's enough..."... but on the other hand, poor Giles. It's non-consensual on his part since he was tricked, and how awful it must be for him to hope that Jenny is back and then realize the truth - not to mention that he realizes that he's probably just doomed the world by telling Drusilla how to awaken Acathla!

    'Deeply enamoured' is exaggerating... she was just 'in the moment'. ;)

    I'm guessing that they were all trying to stay away from the police for the time being, until they deal with the apocalypse, and they didn't want the police bringing them in as either witnesses or suspects. The charges against Buffy were dropped later during the summer, so they probably later gave the story (or a censored version of it, without the vampire stuff) to the police.

    I commented on that in Surprise/Innocence: I like someone else's explanation from another forum (or was it LJ) Acathla was a one-time irreversible event where all the world would have been sucked into hell, while the Judge was going to start burning people, which would have lasted a long time and resulted in a lot of mayhem and carnage and fun for Spike, so it makes sense he liked the latter but not the former.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  12. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Woo, Innocence Part 2! :)

    I had a bit of a Buffy rewatch earlier this year, and the episode still manages to move in all the right places. I don't cry anymore, but if you know what's coming because you've seen the episodes loads of times over then it's just not going to happen! :lol:

    Buffy telling her mum that she she was the slayer was a brilliant scene. I loved the gay/coming out context that was there, which something close to home for me way back when. I enjoyed how the role of Buffy's mum increased over the series, because by the time she died in season five, I could be heartbroken all over again. We loved her, as well as feeling bad for those that were close to her.

    Anyway...

    Spike's about-turn from his Acathla thing was a bit odd, but I can agree with the rationalisation. We see him revelling in the mayhem during the Boxer Rebellion, and the world wasn't ending then, either. He doesn't want the world to end so he can carry on causing misery and suffering! :evil: Or so he thought.

    I was more 'bothered' by him choking Drusilla! Big, scary Drusilla is taken down by him throttling her? I just laugh at that scene now. :lol:

    The big heartbreaking moment is Buffy having to kill Angel, just after he gets his soul back. Well blow me down. :( I need a hug indeed, Mutent Enemy monster. And then the other heartbreaking moment is when Buffy leaves town, with ol' reliable Sarah McLachlan playing in the background. The amount of times I've listened to that song since is unrecordable! I'd just sort of stopped sniffling after the Buffy/Angel stuff, but the shot of her leaving Sunnydale at the end just finished me off really. Excellent, absolutely essential stuff.
     
  13. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    It's silly, but not because she's big and scary - I don't think she's any scarier than Spike or Angel, apart from the hypnotism, and she has never been portrayed as a great fighter, while Spike has - it's silly because she shouldn't lose consciousness, because vampires don't need to breathe.
     
  14. saturn5

    saturn5 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Yeah Innocence pt2 is a good way to put it and a high standard to reach. And we all loved Joyce/Kristine, certainly the cast and writers did and that's why they kept bringing her back and giving her more and more screentime (initally she was just to be minor background figure as in the movie but they rapidly changed their minds).
    As for Dru, maybe it's psycho-symatic. In season 7 the First tortures Spike by drowning even though he doesn't breathe, maybe it's just the memory of it all that affects them?
    Ok, watched the stop motion comic last night and LOVED IT![​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] It was much better than I thought it would be, I thought it would be like those CGI Buffy porn comics you can get online which you can watch in slideshow form (in order to leave both hands free?[​IMG][​IMG]) but it was much, much better, I laughed, I went AWWWWW! and I great big smile on my face, it was terrific. I just wish they could get the mouths to work better. The voices were for the most part ok although I'd like better matches for Giles and Willow. Especially love Giant Dawn fighting mechaDawn, all the Xander/Dracula stuff and Faith/Giles
    Definitely buy the next set if they're doing them! I'll write a quick review of each ep as I watch them (don't worry, limit them to about 10 lines)
     
  15. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Oops, I think I missed the part about vampires not being able to lose consciousness off my post. I do find it absurd that it slipped through, and my post is silly because I posted my thought not fully realised. ;)

    As for big and scary, I'm probably exaggerating, but I at least thought she'd be able to put up some sort of fight after she'd just killed Kendra in part one. It left me with the impression that something big might have to happen to stop her, which is another reason, for me, why the choking scene falls flat.

    It's a really small thing though - aside from Becoming Part One (and that's only from the hypnotism/slashing Kendra's throat), Drusilla was never built up as a big fighter or anything, so I can undertand why they didn't go down that route. Well I suppose her boyfriend taking her down and away from town is a big thing! :lol:

    I'll get my coat.

    And saturn5, I didn't know there was a stop-motion comic. The concept sounds interesting enough though I don't know what the subject is. I've only sort of dipped my toes into Buffy comics - I have the first three paperback collections from season 8, so I'm a bit behind on everything really. No Angel comics either. :o
     
  16. saturn5

    saturn5 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    I remember Juliet did her 'Look at all the people' line at a convention once and it chilled me to the bone!:wtf::eek:

    The stop motion comics are basically the Buffy comics in animated form and they're pretty great, probably even more so if you haven't read the paper versions and are getting them fresh
     
  17. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    I wish they explained a bit more about Drusilla's power of hypnotism - very few vampires seem to have it in Buffyverse (The Master, Dracula, Dru), unlike in True Blood or Vampire Diaries, where it's a standard power of any vampire.

    I figure that her hypnotism can't work on vampires, or else I imagine she'd at least use it on Spike in Crush, when he tied her up and was offering to kill her for Buffy, or on Angel in AtS season 2 when he fought her or when set her and Darla on fire.

    It's just the first 19 issues of season 8, with some actors (obviously not the actors!) doing the voices of Buffy, Willow etc. You can see the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FmcqGtkHcI and an example: http://youtu.be/8tFYwX2LOak

    I have no interest in the motion comic, it seems lame to me. I've already read the comics, so why would I need to see the same pages with some weird movements and average actors reading the lines. Though it would be really funny to hear them do #34. :devil:
    Imagine the voice actors doing the... uh, sounds. And all the while, their grunting and moaning are interrupted by the monotone voice of Giles-actor and Willow-actress giving endless confusing narration about sentient universes and evolution through intelligent design. It would make the issue even more hilarious than it is.
     
  18. saturn5

    saturn5 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    It is a little lame but if you can't watch the Beatles it's still fun to watch the Monkees.

    As for Dru, maybe the Master taught it to her? Or maybe when she and Spike were fighting sometime she became one of Dracula's chippies?
     
  19. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    But why wouldn't the other vampires learn it? Darla never had that power, and she spent years with the Master and was his favorite.

    I figure it's one of Dru's special powers, like her visions (though she had those even as a human) or her ability to see people's minds. The Master and Dracula are supposed to be special vampires, the Master is incredibly old, and Dracula has powers that nobody else has, like shapeshifting or creating castles (or illusions of them) out of nowhere.
     
  20. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

    Season 2 overview

    This was the season where the show become great rather than just good, and it’s stood the test of time. I’d even say it seems even better now that it did the first time I watched it. I always appreciated the great episodes and the Angel-goes-bad arc, but now I can see how even the standalones that apparently have nothing to do with the arc reflect on the main themes. It’s certainly one of the best seasons of the show.

    Not that it’s perfect: there are still some cheesy MOW episodes that remind me of the weaker episodes of season 1, and there is some poor structuring (like interrupting the momentum of the arc with a standalone episode like Go Fish).

    The theme of the season is growing up, and romance and sex as a part of that process. Spike and Dru as villains represent that, before Buffy’s own boyfriend becomes the real Big Bad. The Slayer mythology is expanded, with the appearance of another Slayer – Kendra – who was called as a result of Buffy’s temporary „death“ in season 1.

    Another part of growing up is a lot more moral ambiguity and complexity compared to season 1’s mostly clear demarcation of good and evil. Season 2 first does that early on when it makes a spectacular introduction of new, unconventional and complex villains with Spike and Dru. Lie to Me feels like a statement, with its closing speech that denounces the black-and-white storytelling as comforting lies. Then we see just what the show is prepared to do when a main cast member and heroine’s love interest becomes the season’s Big Bad. This arc signifies a big rise in quality, and it’s still one of the most compelling arcs of the show.

    The vampires are still the main antagonists, but the vampires of season 2 are far from the traditional, ritual-obsessed vamps of season 1; they can be incredibly evil but also funny, charming, romantic and recognizably human. Who would have thought during season 1 that we’d get to see a punk vampire, or cowboy vampires.

    A number of characters are portrayed as both victims and monsters, at the same time: Dru, Angel, “Ampata” the Inca Mummy Girl, Daryl Epps from Some Assembly Required, Ford, James from IOHEFY, Gage, Cameron and Dodd from Go Fish. Some of the particularly nasty villains are human (the frat boys from Reptile Boy, coach Marin from Go Fish, the original Ted) as are some very annoying/nasty antagonists (Snyder, Cain from Phases, Harmony and the other Cordettes). OTOH, there are several completely inhuman (literally) monsters that usually serve only as plot devices (the Bezoar from Bad Eggs, the reptile from Reptile Boy, the Bug Man from What’s My Line, the Judge, Kindestod, Acathla) and in most cases are secondary to the main villains, because villains with recognizable human traits (good or bad) are far more interesting to watch.

    The recurring theme is point people are not what they seem. The theme of alter egos, “evil twins” pops up everywhere: Giles and “Ripper”, Oz and Wolf!Oz, and of course Angel and “Angelus”. In addition, villainous characters are used as shadows for the “good guys”: Ethan is Giles’s shadow character who reminds him of his past and dark side. Spike parallels Angel in a similar way in the first part of the season; at first Spike is the evil sexy vampire to Angel’s good sexy vampire, until the show pulls the rug from our feet and makes Angel, not Spike, the real Big Bad of the season. Spike/Dru with their overblown romanticism parallel Buffy/Angel. There are some obvious parallel drawn between Buffy and Dru, despite them being two very different women (both have precognitive abilities, and both were “pure, innocent” virginal girls that Angel was obsessed with, and they both get tormented by him in a similar way). There’s also a strong parallel and contrast between Buffy and Spike (particularly in What’s My Line and Becoming II).

    A part of this are the surprising changes in relationships and alliances. It’s not just that Angel and Buffy turn enemies, or Spike and Buffy turn allies. The same happens with high-school relationships and alliances: in season 1 Willow was pining over Xander while Xander was pining over Buffy and Cordelia was the antagonist; in season 2, Xander and Cordelia start dating, Cordy becomes a Scooby, Willow starts dating Oz, who is cool not just because he’s a guitarist in a band.

    Characters:

    Buffy - Even though she still wants to have a life that normal girls do (boyfriend, friends, shopping…), she starts accepting her role as a Slayer, as we see in What’s My Line part 2. She is a different Slayer, who forges her strength from her ties to the world, and who thinks of her emotions as “total assets”. For a while it seems that she’s found a way to reconcile Slaying and (sort of) normal life, having friends who are helping her as much as they can, a good relationship with her Watcher that is half father/daughter relationship, half a friendship of equals, and a vampire boyfriend who can relate to her outsider situation of not belonging to either world. Until it all goes wrong, and she learns how much her emotions can also be a vulnerability and a liability. Bad relationships happen to everyone, but most people don’t have to deal with deaths and apocalypse as a result of love gone wrong. As the show becomes much darker and more serious, Buffy also changes a lot from the bubbly, light-hearted girl we met at the start of season 1. She’s still quippy and full of spirit, but life is really dealing her terrible blows. The season starts and ends with Buffy in a very dark mood; the former as a result from the trauma of her own death from the last season, the latter because of the trauma of killing Angel; in both cases she had to put her duty above personal feelings and proved heroic but at a high personal cost.

    Angel – for the first part of the season, he is just the elusive love interest, and then the boyfriend of the protagonist, and it feels like there isn’t really much for him to do on the show. The only early episodes where we really learn something about him are School Hard and Lie to Me, in which he interacts with vampires from his past, Dru and Spike. For the most part, his role up till Surprise seems to be a the classic brooding mysterious older man with a dark past that just makes him even more appealing as a romantic hero. Until he loses his soul, and turns from the „brooding mysterious love interest“ into „abusive psycho ex-boyfriend“ and becomes the Big Bad. This is Buffy’s story, but the latter part of the season manages to flesh out Angel and make him one of the most complex characters in the verse, especially with the flashbacks in Becoming I.

    One thing I discovered in this rewatch is that the popular Angel/Angelus dychotomy was almost non-existent in season 2, and that the use of the name „Angelus“ for Angel’s soulless alter ego is of a later date. I never thought 'Angel' and 'Angelus' were two different people, but I used to differentiate between Angel and his evil soulless alter ego much more than I do now. I saw as two very different personas, with totally different personality traits. But now, after having seen all of AtS, I can see many of the same personality traits in "Angel" and "Angelus". Now I see "Angel" as less of a nice guy and more flawed/messed up than I did them, but also more interesting as a character. In connection with that: I used to have a visceral hate for "Angelus"; not that I don't hate him now, but now I can much better understand his motives and analyze his behavior.

    Buffy/Angel in season 2 is a great, epic story that I still enjoy – because I can ignore the fanon about „soulmates“, „one true love forever“ and other cheesy stuff that shippers and the media are responsible for. B/A is sad, tragic, ambiguous story about the trauma of first love gone wrong, which can be seen as both romantic or subversive. They didn’t even know each other that well, but for her, it was first love and she was at the time in her life when people still have a lot of romantic idealism and believe in one true love. On his side, he had absolutely nothing in his life for the past 100 years - no friends, no family, no job, no purpose, so he saw her as an ideal and purpose for living. They did have some good, sweet moments with each other, but it didn’t last long before it all went wrong. But that doesn’t change the intensity of their feelings and the pain it brought about, which is why the story moves me, because I remember being a teenager in love – which justifies why B/A is often so melodramatic, because Buffy is a teenager (and Angel is emotionally a teenager in many ways). This is why B/A works wonderfully as a teenage love story, and doesn’t work at all (or only works as a parody of itself) whenever the writers tried to revive it in later seasons without giving it a more adult dynamic.

    Giles – this is the best season for the character and one where he plays the biggest role. And in Whedon’s show, that usually means suffering a lot. Giles is fleshed out this season and we learn that he isn’t just a stuffy librarian; we learn about his wild youth and dark past and his experience with magic. He also falls in love and suffers a truly tragic loss. Since Giles is such a rational, controlled character, seeing him overcome with rage and pain in Passion and attacking an evil vampire who could easily kill him, was all the more moving. He also shows how tough a librarian can be under torture, and his relationship with Buffy in the second part of season 2 is really beautiful.

    Xander – I think this is a really good season for him, too. It’s funny how different I see things since my attitude towards the character has changed. I couldn’t stand him when I first watched seasons 1-3. He seemed to be everything I hated in boys my age and younger – immature, OTT jealous of anyone that Buffy likes (though he growing out of it around the time he started dating Cordy), too judgmental and with a Nice Guy ™ sense of entitlement regarding Buffy, and at the same time insensitive to Willow’s feelings. Which is all true. The difference is that I now think he was meant to be a flawed character, that the show calls him on stupid behavior. He’s an insecure confused boy from a dysfunctional family, struggling with his own masculine identity and is affected by gender expectations that he's been taught. But on the other hand, he’s brave, loyal, proactive when needed, pretty good fighter for a non-superpowered human, and smarter than he gives himself the credit for, and he grows quite a bit during the season (even if he’s still torn on the romantic front by feelings for 3 girls).

    Willow – she undergoes quite a change this season – starting as a shy, insecure girl with a hopeless crush on Xander, gaining more confidence both in her abilities (e.g as a substitute teacher) and as a person. She showed resolution on several occasions, started to date and fell in love with someone who’s in love with her. Her relationship with Oz seemed to be a catalyst for that change. And we should keep in mind that, whatever Willow told herself in later seasons, she had gained a lot of confidence long before she started doing magic, which she only does at the very end of the season.

    Cordelia – She starts off just hanging out with the Scoobies because they know how to deal with the weird goings-on, and gradually becomes an integral part of the Scooby gang, especially when she starts dating Xander. Xander/Cordy is a really fun relationship to watch, very different from the sweetness of Willow/Oz and the epicness of Buffy/Angel. They never stop being antagonistic and snarky even while they’re dating, but over time they start realizing that this thing that has caught them both by surprise might not be just teenage lust and that they might have real feelings for each other. A major moment for her is when she rejects her fair weather friends and her status in school for the right to date whoever she wants. She starts being used by the writers as the person who says it as it is, though she’s also often still in her old role as a spokesperson for all the wrong views, but it often seems like it’s a role she thinks she should stick with, and by the end of the season it seems like she wants to be heroic rather than play the damsel.

    Spike – a great character from the start and brought so much excitement to the show, it’s not surprise that the original plan to kill him off halfway through the season (to make room for Angel to become the Big Bad) was changed and he was put in a wheelchair instead, and even survived the finale. Despite him being evil in S2, his personality traits are consistent with his later developments: his devotion to those he loves, sarcasm, love of violence and boasting, obsessiveness, lack of patience for traditions and rituals, unpredictability. What I find funny is that, despite the myth that Spike was a great villain who underwent the so-called ‘Badass Decay’, his stint as a Big Bad lasted just half of a season and he didn’t get to do much, and his most important action in the finale was as an ambiguous ally; and overall, he was far less ‘badass’ as a villain than he would be as a good guy.

    Drusilla – I didn’t like her the first time, but this rewatch has made me realize what a fascinating character she is, full of contradictions: childlike and scary, a lot like a self-involved child preoccupied with her needs, only in her case what makes her the happiest is death and destruction. She tends to play the traditional helpless feminine role but then show her powerful and dangerous she is. As a human she was a tortured victim, but as a vampire, she’s having a good time. I’ve come to reevaluate her insanity: there’s a method in her madness. She can function, make rational decisions (for an evil vampire), communicate and take care of herself. She just occasionally says things that seem really weird to others but make sense to her – and she does have the visions which aren’t delusions, which may be why it feels like she’s often in her own world.

    Oz was a great character from the start, with his non-plussed reactions, open mind and straightforwardness when it comes to feelings and relationship. He’s a guy that’s really nice and cool rather than trying to be nuce or cool. His werewolfness was meant to be all the more of a surprise since he’s the last person you’d expect to be “a beast inside”, and it of a was portrayed as something that doesn’t affect him except on the days when he turns into a wolf (but we’ll see it’s not exactly true in season 4).

    Like Oz, Jenny was introduced to be a love interest for a Scooby – and her dynamic with Giles was great, with her direct attitude and contemporary tastes as a contrast to his – but she turned out to be connected to the plot more than we could’ve guessed. She managed to remain likeable even after the unlikely Gypsy curse reveal and became the first recurring character we had an emotional attachment to that got killed.

    Joyce was a well-meaning but flawed mother: sometimes she seemed to be a great mom who was there for Buffy despite not understanding what really was going on (Innocence), other times she failed as a parent (Becoming II).

    Kendra was great as a concept, which worked to an extent, but the character was botched due to not-so-great acting and particularly the fact that with her clothes and makeup she could rival Cordy or S1 Buffy, which made no sense for someone who was completely devoted to her duty and without interest in social life or dating.

    Other recurring character worth a mention include Snyder, a really love-to-hate annoying antagonist; Giles’ frenemy Ethan; and among high school students, perpetual victim Jonathan, the new Mean Girl - Harmony, and Larry, who had a brilliant mini-arc for a minor character.

    This rewatch reminded me how much the main characters were still affected by gender roles and expectations, and not just Cordelia, who is a spokesperson for anti-feminism at this point. It’s things like Buffy wanting to be an old-fashioned lady so Angel would like her more (Halloween), Willow worrying that she’s the only girl without a boyfriend, and then worrying that she’d be a „slut“ if she kisses Oz first (Phases); Xander’s ridiculous fantasies of being the savior who comes in his private jet and rescues Buffy from a bad relationship (Surprise), Xander, Willow and Buffy using slurs like „slut“ and „trashy“ to insult Cordy. But this all makes the characters far more realistic than if they were some idealized, politically correct beings.

    The show generally fails big time when it comes to ethnic diversity (i.e. it mostly doesn’t exist). The biggest example of Ethnicity Fail is without a doubt the stereotypical portrayal of the Roma people, what with „Gypsy curse“ and all, not to mention the stereotypical Uncle Enyos character with his vaguely Eastern European (?) accent. Though at least Jenny doesn’t fit the stereotype. And as it usually happens with Hollywood „Gipsies“, the actors are all white.

    I can’t finish this without mentioning the fashion. I often wanted to comment on how the characters were dressed in specific episodes, but it would have taken too much space. So, instead, here’s the seasonal fashion overview. Since BtVS is an example of Unlimited Wardrobe, main characters have worn lots of different outfits. Except for Spike and his iconic black leather duster, or Angel with his long black coat, and during his evil stint, the leather pants of evil. Clothes are used as an element of characterization (except with Kendra, where it doesn’t fit the character at all). Willow still wears one nerdy sweater after another, preferably with a very childish image in it, and Xander also wears some very funny shirts. On the other hand, Cordy is always very dressed-up and elegant, but really not vulgar or „trashy“. Those three didn’t change their style much from season 1. Buffy’s style, on the other hand, has quite changed – she’s still dressing sexy and fashionable, but less over-the-top than she did in season 1. A lot of the stuff she wears at school and in everyday life can now reasonably be seen as something a person would wear to school or in everyday life. She tends to wear simple and comfortable things when she goes Slaying (thankfully it’s not one of the shows where women go to fight bad guys in high heels). Buffy’s wardrobe has been the most versatile this year, and sometimes seems to match her mood, such as the very unusual black dress from Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (talking to Giles in the library about what Angel might do to her on Valentine’s Day) that made her look more mature and darker. She’s even worn overalls, twice. I’m not sure why this particular outfit choice, which goes against her regular style. And the vampires have favorite colors – black and red, which was mocked in Lie to Me, when Angel and a wannabe vampire had the same outfit. Spike seems to really like the red shirt worn with black duster. Dru wore white nightgowns while she was sick, an image of Victorian femininity and innocence/helplessness, until she was restored to her strength, at which point she started wearing sexier clothes, usually red-and-black dresses. Spike and Dru with their punk/goth style also love black fingernail polish – something they share with Oz, who’s also the only person who’s died his hair in different colors this year, even though his natural ginger suits him best.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2011