Tuesday, October 12, 2004

When life gets wacky...turn to Buffy

I've been rediscovering my love of the wonderful show Buffy The Vampire Slayer lately. My sister and I watched the sixth season the past month. Nothing better than watching television shows on DVD. The second time around I totally got the message. Life is the big bad!!!!! It's totally true. The hardest thing about life is living, as Dawn said. And life isn't bliss, life is just living, Spike sang eloquently. Well I can feel that big time. I can understand the isolation and desolation that Buffy felt because I feel it often. Getting up and going to work is like saving the world sometimes. And poor Buffy. She has to do both. Okay I don't have crazy hot sex with a fine, studly vampire or man for that matter, but I did lose my father like Willow lost her true love Tara. I have to struggle to pay bills like Buffy did too. I've dealt with the pain of letting go of something that feels good and comfortable but just isn't right for you like Xander has to do with Anya, and Buffy with Spike. This season takes the viewer and the character to ugly places, where we see the absolute worst of the characters we know and love.The first time around I hated Willow because of her behavior. This time I felt more sympathy for her. I both renewed my love for Buffy and felt deeply disappointed at her also. She truly suffered as she hasn't before. Her friends tore her from the only place that she has had peace, assuming that she was in a hell dimension. But she was in heaven. Now she has to pretend that she's happy to be back. The anguish she must be feeling to go through the motions and to fight to be alive. I felt deep sympathy for her. But I didn't like the way she dealt with Spike. Not the affair part. That was fine and I didn't see it as a big deal at all. No it was how she treated him. She was cruel in many ways to Spike, using him as her punching bag/scapegoat instead of confronting her friends for their selfish actions. She threw his love back in his face instead of accepting it as a gift that it was. He gave acceptance as her other friends didn't. As you can see I fell in love with Spike. He is the best character on Buffy from season five and on. Not perfect but endowed with a humanity that seems lacking at times in the humans on the show. I wasn't crazy about his cruel insistence that Buffy "came back wrong." But I understood that it gave him license to pursue her because she was "a creature of the dark" like him. It was not the thing that Buffy needed to hear in her insecure state. But he was good for her in other ways. He took tender care of Dawn and was always there when she needed him although the group tended to reject him, especially Xander. But their destruction passion isn't good for either of them, as we see in "Seeing Red," when Spike goes to far trying to get Buffy to want him again, leading to a violent altercation in the bathroom that comes far to close to attempted rape to the viewer. For me, I thought of it as his misunderstanding of their sexual relationship. It was violent and passionate and reluctant on Buffy's part. This time her reluctance is downright rejection and he can't seem to see that. This episode was like eating glass to me. Pain on top of pain seemingly is the tone for the season. Season six marked the departure of two favorites: Giles and Tara. Giles' leaving was painful for all, but we knew that he would be back. We even understand that he leaves because he knowws that it's the best thing for Buffy. She cannot go on depending on him to solve her problems. And she will if he's always there. But we know that he's a call away. Unlike Tara. Tara dies horribly and stays gone. And the pain of her absence is acute, gouging and stark. We feel the void that she had left behind as much as Willow and the other Scoobies. Her gentle yet steady friendship, her innate goodness and sense of right and wrong. Her tender humor. All gone away so suddenly. Never to return. We see the continual evolution of Buffy's young sister Dawn as well. Dawn grows into full-blown teenage angsthood, bad attitude and all. What a beautiful young woman she is but so insecure in her role in life and in the Scoobies. So afraid of being left behind again. With the death of her mom, absentee father, and Buffy's sacrificial death, who can blame her? She turns to cleptomania as a solace. It is empty and leaves her aching just as the other Scoobies ache for a sense of purpose. Her pain escalates into a wish heard by a Vengeance demon who happens to be in the right place at the right time. She just wants everyone to stay with her. And thanks to Halfrek, they cannot leave the house the night of Buffy's birthday party in "Older...And Far Away.". But Dawn learns that you can be in the room with a lot of other people but still be alone. We see Xander move on further into adulthood. He has a steady job working construction where he is liked and respected. He even has enough pull to get Buffy a job on "Life Serial". And his relationship with Anya has progressed. They became engaged on the eve of the end of the world last season. But Xander isn't ready to tell everyone. This troubles Anya yet he cannot let go of his insecurities. His parent's bad marriage has left scars. He isn't too keen on embracing Anya's demon origins as she is, and it's sure to have an effect on their marriage. He loves Anya but does he love her enough to pledge his life to her? He thinks so until all his doubts culminate on his wedding day in a heartbreaking fashion on "Hell's Bells." Things are helped along by a vengeful ghost from Anya's demonic past. In the end, those insecurities conquer him as they do the other scoobies, and he leaves Anya at the altar. Watching Anya practice her vows is so heartwrenching knowing that Xander won't be there to hear them. For all her sins, her selfish and avaricious nature, Anya's love for Xander is true and real. He's her best friend, she says in her practiced vows. But her best friend rejects her when he tells her he isn't ready for marriage. Anya turns back to her old way of life as his love lets her down. And she also turns to the rejected, heartbroken Spike as consolation and they have sex. More pain for the viewer as these events play out in "Entropy". Xander is enraged enough to come after Spike with an axe. Buffy is upset too, although she has broken things off with Spike. Spike is dismissed as a soulless monster. Yet his heart cannot let go of his love for Buffy no matter how much he wants it to. Anya finds no consolation in Xander's jealously, after all he didn't want to marry her anyway. It's an ugly scene that lingers in my mind. Let us examine the villains of this season: Warren, Jonathan, and the one nobody remembers: Andrew. Three nerds who unite to take over Sunnydale and to become supernatural kingpins. Why? Because they are tired of their geekdom and nobody status. They start out harmless, although annoying in their relentless plaguing of Buffy. But their criminal actions escalate rapidly into violence when Warren kills his old girlfriend and uses demonic powers to trick Buffy into thinking she did in in "Dead Things.". And they seem to grow more and more formidable. Warren is the more dangerous of the trio in his selfish and cruel nature. He has crossed beyond the pale with his first murder but he becomes public enemy one with the Scoobies and Willow, and the loyal viewers when he kills Tara in the act of trying to assassinate Buffy in "Seeing Red.". Little does he know the Pandora's box that he opens, revealing the one villain that truly has the power to end the world. Willow! Willow's sliding descent into a magic addiction is painful to watch as she manipulates and hurts others around her. It draws comparison to a drug-addicted family member or friend but there is the supernatural element to take things to the next level. She is high on the power of her magic, but all highs end. It seems worth it at first, after all she goes from nobody to the biggest Wicca in the Western Hemisphere. Is it really when she loses the one person she loves more than anything, Tara? And just when she makes the effort to give her magic and turns back into the Willow I adored from the early years, then Warren takes the one person who gives her the strength to change away. All bets are off. She gives into the darkness and absorbs all the magic she can to feed the black-hearted vengeance that drives her. But soon vengeance isn't enough. She wants to hurt everyone like she was hurt. She wants everyone's pain to end permanently. She turns against those who love her the most, but in the end it's Xander who saves her with that love that she spurns initially. After the last episode of this season, I was left spent and drained. Uncertain yet hopeful for the future, but knowing that everything has changed. Season six is about mostly pain...but a little joy and some great laughs thrown in. Because life is the big bad. It always was. Here are my favorite and least favorite episodes.
The Favorites....
3.Older...And Far Away
4.Hells Bells
6.Tabula Rasa
8.As You Were (Riley's back!!!!! Alas it's too short. But I'm happy that he's found the one in Sam. And who can hate her. Even if Willow tells Buffy she's fully prepared to hate her with every ounce of her being)
9.of course...Once More With Feeling! So cool on many levels, including it's a MUSICAL!

The Least Favorites...
1.Seeing Red (just stab me with a butcher knife and get it over with)
2. Flooded (because Buffy finds out how broke she is and it pisses me off that Willow/Tara lived off of her money and didn't contribute anything to the household. I was deeply annoyed at Willow's thinly veiled threat to Giles)
3.Normal Again (Buffy got on my nerves on that one)
Conflicted about...
1.Villains (Willow as exhilirating to watch as she gives into the dark side)
2.Two To Go (Hip horray at Giles' pithy line "I'd like to test that theory..." )
3.Grave (Willow descends into pettiness in some of her lines to Buffy)
4.Entropy (pain, pain, pain!)
5.Dead Things (I found Buffy beating up Spike deeply disturbing, as well as Warren's evil actions)

I give this season an A on second viewing. Cannot wait until Season 7. I'm hoping I will like this one better the second time around.

Thanks for reading...


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