Anna S. (eliade) wrote,
Anna S.
eliade

Buffy: The Killer in Me

Cutting away for length and spoilers.



Mixed feelings about last night's ep. My first reaction was *intensity*! *Jazz hands*! I barely moved from the couch, remaining poised and quivering between commercials to see the next act. They finally started drawing the plotlines together, like gathering together the strings of a bunch of loose balloons in one fist. It was cool--it was *busy*. I knew from the previouslies that it was going to be wild--they have their own art, and sometimes it's like you're watching an Iron Chef grabbing all these ingredients in what appears to be a hasty, slapdash manner, and you're boggling at what the results will be. Paprika! Beets! Soy sauce! I liked the braided plots. The Giles plot, the Spike plot, the Willow plot. Braided narratively, I mean--they didn't affect each other.

Stray thoughts.

It's interesting, having Spike chained in the basement. It's the exact inverse of the madwoman in the attic, isn't it?

Xander's geek bondage with Andrew...sigh. I wish I liked this more. I mean, it's okay, but I wish it didn't register as the most common touchstone for Xander's personality when they're doing the ensemble stuff. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen thing was kinda funny, though--I'd actually mentioned that in a post earlier in the day, vis-a-vis something Buffy, and so I giggled.

Kennedy. She's an aggressive thing, isn't she. So, I guess not all the slayerbees are underage. I mean, sure, she *could* be underage and at the Bronze drinking. But I actually have to go meta and say that I don't think the ME writers would let that one pass; I think they've been pretty careful not to show underage drinking over the years. And the way Kennedy's actor plays her, it seems clear she's meant to be older than the others. Even if the other actors aren't young teens, they play young; they're presented young. I really don't think they'd pair Willow up with a sixteen-year old either.

I don't feel especially fond of Kennedy, but she grew on me in this ep. Not so much in the woo Willow scenes, as in the scenes where she doggedly followed Willow and tried to help her; the way she stood by Willow to back her up--just *there*, questioning when necessary, hanging back at other times, just struck me as fascinating. I mean, the dynamic right now is so very different than what Willow has always had with Buffy. It's reversed. Five years ago, it might have been Buffy under some spell, going off semi-cocked to seek help, and Willow tagging at her heels with enormous loyalty and determination. Now Willow has come into her own--she's got all this willful initiative, and Kennedy is completely willing to play second fiddle. And yet we can see the forcefulness of her personality, which suggests that if she did become Slayer, she'd have some of Buffy's traits. So all this boils down to is: if they paired up Willow and Kennedy, they'd be incredibly *balanced*, unlike Buffy and Willow were for the longest time. Kennedy would have all the alpha slayer traits, but Willow would have the experience and mojo, and a more matured personality with which to temper Kennedy's headstrongness.

I didn't have the knee-jerk horror about the kiss that others did. I thought the fairy-tale conceit was interesting and clever. Other people have made some persuasive arguments about the wrongness of that
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Cutting away for length and spoilers.

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Mixed feelings about last night's ep. My first reaction was *intensity*! *Jazz hands*! I barely moved from the couch, remaining poised and quivering between commercials to see the next act. They finally started drawing the plotlines together, like gathering together the strings of a bunch of loose balloons in one fist. It was cool--it was *busy*. I knew from the previouslies that it was going to be wild--they have their own art, and sometimes it's like you're watching an Iron Chef grabbing all these ingredients in what appears to be a hasty, slapdash manner, and you're boggling at what the results will be. Paprika! Beets! Soy sauce! I liked the braided plots. The Giles plot, the Spike plot, the Willow plot. Braided narratively, I mean--they didn't affect each other.

Stray thoughts.

It's interesting, having Spike chained in the basement. It's the exact inverse of the madwoman in the attic, isn't it?

Xander's geek bondage with Andrew...sigh. I wish I liked this more. I mean, it's okay, but I wish it didn't register as the most common touchstone for Xander's personality when they're doing the ensemble stuff. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen thing was kinda funny, though--I'd actually mentioned that in a post earlier in the day, vis-a-vis something Buffy, and so I giggled.

Kennedy. She's an aggressive thing, isn't she. So, I guess not all the slayerbees are underage. I mean, sure, she *could* be underage and at the Bronze drinking. But I actually have to go meta and say that I don't think the ME writers would let that one pass; I think they've been pretty careful not to show underage drinking over the years. And the way Kennedy's actor plays her, it seems clear she's meant to be older than the others. Even if the other actors aren't young teens, they play young; they're presented young. I really don't think they'd pair Willow up with a sixteen-year old either.

I don't feel especially fond of Kennedy, but she grew on me in this ep. Not so much in the woo Willow scenes, as in the scenes where she doggedly followed Willow and tried to help her; the way she stood by Willow to back her up--just *there*, questioning when necessary, hanging back at other times, just struck me as fascinating. I mean, the dynamic right now is so very different than what Willow has always had with Buffy. It's reversed. Five years ago, it might have been Buffy under some spell, going off semi-cocked to seek help, and Willow tagging at her heels with enormous loyalty and determination. Now Willow has come into her own--she's got all this willful initiative, and Kennedy is completely willing to play second fiddle. And yet we can see the forcefulness of her personality, which suggests that if she did become Slayer, she'd have some of Buffy's traits. So all this boils down to is: if they paired up Willow and Kennedy, they'd be incredibly *balanced*, unlike Buffy and Willow were for the longest time. Kennedy would have all the alpha slayer traits, but Willow would have the experience and mojo, and a more matured personality with which to temper Kennedy's headstrongness.

I didn't have the knee-jerk horror about the kiss that others did. I thought the fairy-tale conceit was interesting and clever. <a href=http://www.livejournal.com/talkread.bml?journal=bettyp&itemid=83084 target="_new">Other people</a> have made some persuasive arguments about the wrongness of that <a href="http://www.livejournal.com/talkread.bml?journal=jess79&itemid=114660#cutid1 target="_new">resolution for Willow</a>. On the other hand, as someone points out--does this mean that Kennedy's supposed to be Willow's true love? That's a bit off. I'm just not entirely comfortable with how they've shown Willow's grief process. Granted, individual grief can manifest itself in all sorts of ways. But I hate that the ME writers haven't worked harder to integrate it into the entire season--instead, we've just been shown little islands of grief, separated from the flow of events. If we'd seen smaller, more frequent stepping stones of grief from Willow over the course of the season, seen her moving on, then her progress and gravitation toward Kennedy would be more understandable. As it is, we get a big outpouring of grief in this ep, and then immediately more kissage. The metaphor of the kiss wasn't just "I'm turning you from a frog into a princess" but "I'm bringing you back to life," with Willow being a kind of Sleeping Beauty frozen and grief-stricken, or a Snow White with a bit of poisoned apple in her throat, choking her to muteness. Except, it wasn't Kennedy who broke her silence--she did that on her own, crying out to Tara, voicing her pain, and then Kennedy silenced her with a kiss. So...weird.

I thought Willow was going to threaten to shoot herself with that gun after she collapsed onto the grass. What the hell happened to it, anyway? I think they left in the backyard. Sigh.

Amy's role here was odd. I don't get how she knew so much about Kennedy, or what she's been up to over the past 9 months vis-a-vis Willow. Again, I'm echoing others. I also agree that the motivations for the midfuck she inflicted, as she articulated them to Kennedy, were wonky.

I can't begin to describe how happy I am that they're dealing with the chip. The thing I like best about Buffy, which it does better than so many other shows, is to let the line play out indefinitely on something significant, and then suddenly give it a snap and reel it in. What I don't like so much is the sense of forced pace and contrivance we sometimes get as a result, as here, with the chip pain escalating in the course of a single episode and the Initiative guys being so ready, en masse, to help Buffy remove their handiwork from a vamp without even questioning it. (Never question orders, I guess.) I know why they play things for dramatic effect--having a whole squad of soldiers appear when the lights snap on, guns trained. But what an unlikely waste of resources. Far more believable if Riley had dispatched two solidiers and one doctor to handle Buffy's needs. I mean, what is he now, a general?

Very dark, grainy scenes in the Initiative, recollecting season one film quality--but fun stuff with Mulder!Spike and Scully!Buffy.

Many people have said they're tired of Spike's suffering. Count me in, sadly. I'm growing weary of seeing him so passively used. The First's bitch? Okay, we get it. (And what a line. I think JM must have disagreed with it, but had to deliver it anyway; it rang with a false note.) But even in S4, chip in head, tied to a chair, Spike was more *active*. I must admit I envisioned Spike's soul arc differently. On the one hand, great--we can rewrite it in fan-fiction. But I'd expected by now to hear some angst from him about his century of torture. I'd have expected to see a bit of Williamy conflict, some surfacing of different personality attributes. I'd have expected to see him trying to interact with the world, trying to figure out how he fits now. We've seen him try to make himself back into what he was before, to help Buffy--donning the "costume" of the blue shirt and all. But that's about it. And now that the First is out of his head, what's in it? Where's his soulpain? His existential angst? What a thrash, what a hash it should be, working out what you are, when you're a vampire with a soul. So it feels like there's something missing in Spike when we cut to the basement--visit from Buffy--Spike in chains--and his whole aspect is this round-shouldered, settled resignation, as if the soul is a closed book, and he's an empty vessel, waiting to be filled. I don't get it. I maybe could get it, if I'd had a chance to see more of Spike's struggle. But he's been plot's bitch more than he's been the First's. He's plot-tossed.

As this episode closed out, I was left with the feeling that ME had been overly ambitious--my love of loose ends had a moment's pleasure, but in the end, it didn't feel like a well-told story, because (a) look where we left Giles and company. The fuck? And (b) likewise Buffy and Spike. Their final scenes didn't feel final. It felt as if we were missing tags. ME dropped their threads and focused their remaining minutes on Willow, as if they knew they were running out of time but it was too late to restructure the entire episode. That could be just me. But it read weird. And I think it reflected some bad choices--for instance, all that time they spent yet *again* hashing out Andrew's status, finally deciding that he could come along for the ride--I think that could have been cut and the time better used. The car scene could have been shorter. They could have cut most if not all of the demon-fighting scene in the Initiative. A shorter and pithier Bronze scene, ditto.

Oh, and Spike, writhing on the floor as everyone ignored him? Not funny. It could have been funny. I'm not some bristling defender of Spike who can't stand to see him slighted or in pain. I'm happy to see him slighted and in pain, if it amuses me. But it was the opposite of funny. It was wood. It was a season seven scene wearing season two clothes, like an octagenarian in a mini-skirt--it was just *wrong*. Gah. There's nothing worse than seeing someone try hard to be funny and failing. And I'm not talking about Spike or JM, but of whoever the hell wrote that.

Hmm. Okay, that's all my digestive crit. As I said, I swallowed down this ep breathlessly. But now I've got a few burps.
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