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Thread: BtVS rewatch: SEASON 6

  1. #301
    Scooby Gang cil_domney's Avatar
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    “With Willow's spell set up and on a trigger as the flames consume the bramble she puts the crystal back into her pocket, gets up and walks off, leaving the pouch with the other bundles of Lethe's Bramble lying on the floor before the fire-place. Given how much care she took before to hide her supply this sudden negligence seems a little puzzling.”

    GOES BACK to Anya’s remarks from the start regarding the Birkenstocks – these shoes were referred to as Earth Shoes – Buffy has been expelled out of her Heavenly Reward, not by her own acts, as Eve & Adam do from their free choice to take the fruit from forbidden tree but by Willow and her friends.

    “With Willow's spell set up and on a trigger as the flames consume the bramble she puts the crystal back into her pocket, gets up and walks off, leaving the pouch with the other bundles of Lethe's Bramble lying on the floor before the fire-place. Given how much care she took before to hide her supply this sudden negligence seems a little puzzling.”
    Willow however does not care and gives little thought and concern for her victims – she is negligent of what is good for them or what they deserve – this could also take us back to the ideas of Nature-Nurture. Willow had the potential for being selfish and wanting to control her relationships and emotional trauma – to not have to deal with it as a natural part of life.

    Late to the discussion and hope these element have not been referenced already just wanted to bring them up. It’s great thinking on this episode again especially after all this time.
    Outstanding Review – really like your beginning section of the history of Blank Slate-Tabula Rasa themes. Back to more reading now.
    Last edited by cil_domney; 10-04-18 at 10:54 PM.

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  3. #302
    Scooby Gang cil_domney's Avatar
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    This is regarding the Gone Review - Sorry for having to be on the "late train" but I'm am trying to catch-up on the reviews and now there is the one by MikeB for DMP. This will be my only comments on Gone so that I don't mess with the current DMP review and discussion.

    Comments on GONE

    Outstanding Tiny Tabby - great analysis and perspective on this episode - Still in the process of reading but I've learned a lot on elements of GONE that I completely missed like the meaning of the Tarot Cards to name only one.

    On the use of Goldilocks by Spike - I'm sure totally unintended by I think of this pet name by Spike as the Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Buffy has to bare the burden of her three loves at this point in addition to having to bare all the burdens of instant guardian to Dawn and now to Willow as well. As for Spike - does he see himself as that "just the right one" as in the fairytale? And Buffy, totally has no real idea of who her "right one is" - she thought Riley was her answer to her great but impossible love tragedy and now her she is wanting absolutely, in her mind and heart, the Wrong One.

    American Aurora talked about Buffy feeling dead and reaching for Spike because he didn’t count. He was dead like her. But Buffy makes Spike feel like he’s alive and even though he tells Buffy that she’ll crave him like he craves blood, it’s really himself who craves her like the necessary nourishment that keeps him “alive.”

    NMCIL – the perfect reconnect to OMWF for whom it’s all about “feeling and not real” for Buffy and as you state for Spike feeling alive and the grand storyline to what ultimately will bring back Spike’s life and humanity at the African Cave trial and transformation journey.
    When she learns that she may die, the fun fades away.

    NMCIL – Buffy, IMO, displays the ultimate selfish act when she is faced with her own death – this is the powerful reality that takes her out of acting out her fantasies and acts of power – it’s about Buffy not about anyone else.

    The responsibilities of adulthood terrify Buffy as much as they do Warren, Jonathan and Andrew. It’s much easier to retreat into a world of fantasy than to deal with an unhappy reality. Like the Seven of Cups Tarot Card, the dream of invisibility allows the characters to ignore their real-life limitations and live out a dream of having total power over other people, mentally and sexually. They justify their actions by blaming everyone around them for their own problems and seeing their newfound power as a kind of revenge on the world for feeling victimized.

    We see this in the lead-up to the invisibility ray hitting Buffy. It is the morning after the magical purge and Buffy is caught between an angry Dawn with her arm in a sling who blames her sister for everything, a remorseful Willow who leans on her friend for help in kitty kat pajamas (a sign that she’s more aligned with Tara’s good magic now because it looks back to Kitty Fantastico and Tara was a “cat” person) and a sullen Spike who won’t let “Goldilocks” deny how great their night of wild sexual passion was. All three have different demands on Buffy and she seems completely overwhelmed and guilty.

    Interesting and tragic that Buffy & Warren share the extreme violation of another being via sex. Warren of course is the extreme case when he kills Katrina who he turns into a slave. Buffy attacks the self-described “willing slave” Spike and their tragic cycle of sexual abuse ends with her personal use of “death & killing” applied to herself with Spike as the symbolic killer. Of course, the only remaining tragedy is the final death stroke in the AR.
    Godfrey Cambridge was a wonderful black actor and stand-up comedian who starred in some classic films of the 60s and 70s. Xander’s delivery of the line is funny and it shocks Buffy out of her sexual fantasy and back into reality. Buffy pushes Spike’s hand away and steps backwards as if nothing had happened as Spike first glares at Xander and then stands with a Cheshire Cat look of triumph on his face. When Xander continues to insult Spike, Buffy imitates a perky housewife and guides Xander to the front door with a chirpy smile to drive Dawn to school as she tells Spike to leave

    There are so many great references in this series and episode – Xander casting Spike as the Black Face/Black Character Lover makes me think as well of the great Petrushka Ballet and the tragic clown puppet who is killed – resurrected and dies once again all for his unrequited love.

    Back to my reading - GREAT COMMENTS and discussion by all.

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  5. #303
    Sunnydale High Student debbicles's Avatar
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    I just want to offer a big thank you to American Aurora for her magnificent review of this unique episode. Practically a mini treatise on the history of musical theatre.

    I have so many episodes to catch up on that I don't think I can even try. But I have read all the posts - it took me ages but I got there and I'm all caught up - in this rewatch thread. And I have enjoyed and learned something new from every single one of them.



    Poor Dawn - she is so alone. When she stands forlornly in the kitchen, having been abandoned by everyone, she wants to stay with some awake people. Perhaps this means also metaphorically awake? They all need their eyes opened.
    She has been left alone all night, to all intents and purposes. Nobody noticed, nobody even thought about her. Just as well Tara did.
    But then Tara storms off as well. So what is Dawn to make of that?
    Her anger at Willow is righteous- I applauded her slap.
    Dawn had desperately hoped that since everyone sang their hearts out all would improve. But things are going from bad to worse. Everyone leaves.

    Her grief stricken expression and then disappointment are heart wrenching. I loved her care for Dawn.

    I don't get the magic sage thing. Is she looking for the recipe for life? And I just hope she found the bathroom in time.

    Xander and Anya

    Yes, I can still write about them as a couple. Even with foreknowledge I still have to peer to see the rifts, even after OMWF.


    Oh, Willow, Willow, what are we going to do with you?

    She tries to undergo a cleansing ritual but it doesn't take.
    The sad little scene where she tries to breathe life into Tara's dress to have a hug brought home vividly to me the notion that when she wiped Tara's memory, she hollowed her out ("Willow, there'll be nothing left of me.") and tried to refashion her to suit herself. A kind of magical reprogramming. Just like with the Buffybot.
    The inflated dress is a doll full of Willow's neediness. She needs comfort but has to accept a substitute, like Dawn did with the Bot in Bargaining. But she's very good at making substitutes.
    She underestimates her power, and she also makes the mistake of thinking it's something apart from her, an instrument to be wielded to achieve a goal. She doesn't realise that it's indivisible from her. Crucially and fatally her friends also underestimate her power, because not only does she hide it from them, she also doesn't know the full extent of it herself. But Buffy should get a hint: even exhausted and near the end of her rope, Willow still has enough "juice" to destroy the hitchhiking demon. Oh and she so deserved that slap.


    Oh, Spike, if only you hadn't opened your big gob...Ah well.
    Man, what a wild night that was!!!
    Spike loves Buffy. I've no doubt of that. The morning after talk is hurtful, sexy, funny and then Spike gets the message loud and clear: he's just an Angel substitute.
    But Spike continues to tell Buffy he loves her. As far as he is concerned she is a sex goddess. And he's sticking around. This is one guy who doesn't love and leave, diametrically opposed to Angel.
    I take Buffy's threat to kill him about as seriously as he does, and he was asking for that punch.
    He loves Dawn as well, and in a wonderful bit of role reversal, while Buffy is kicking demon arse, he runs to Dawn's side and anxiously checks her injuries.
    And he's also not going to be put off with a bit, ok a lot, of garlic and crosses. I find it quite telling that it's clear he at least has teased Buffy with maybe biting her, during their night together. But it's never something he actually does. I also find it very telling that the next time we see him it's daylight.


    She's supposed to be *ahem* addicted to Spike, or at least sex with Spike is supposed to be her addiction. Willow's is of course the magic, or The Magics, as it was always referred to in the show.
    Ok. Monster wrestling.
    I find Buffy really hard to read in this episode, apart from the opening exchange with Spike. In which she seems chiefly focused on inflicting emotional pain on Spike. (As an aside, if he really is a thing without feelings, why exactly is she putting so much effort into doing that?). She admits to being aroused by Spike, but nothing more.
    I was glad to see the fleeting return of quippy Buffy, but then she reverted to black box Buffy.
    She forgives Willow and gives her another chance. So why does she feel her friends wouldn't understand what she is hiding from them? I can only think she must still be hung up on Angel not loving her without his soul. Spike can't love her, it's impossible. If he does, what does that say about her if she's using him? If he doesn't love her, then it's even more meaningless. Either way she's caught.

    So Willow fashions a Tara substitute, while Buffy is slumming it (quite literally) with a third-rate Angel substitute. Big mistake - nothing about Spike is convenient.
    You know what I am. You've always known. You come to me all the same.

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  7. #304
    Well Spiked Stoney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiny Tabby View Post
    Sorry this review of “Gone” is a little late. Both weather and work have taken a toll on my schedule and put me almost a week behind. But here it is and I hope you like it!
    Hey TT, thank you for stepping in and taking on Gone. It's great to have you reviewing with us again.

    The sequence of episodes that show the gradual breakdown of the Scooby characters reminds me of Hogarth’s “The Rake’s Progress” – a series of paintings in which a innocent young man comes to London and slowly falls apart under the influence of gin, gambling, addiction and whoring until he ends up in prison and then a syphilitic mess in Bedlam.
    Ah, sampling a true variety of what London has to offer, good for him. If he'd managed Madame Tussauds and The London Eye too he'd have managed the lot!

    As a child who watched his father fall into debt and then prison, it was very important to Hogarth to show how temptation can lure even a morally “good” person into a life of debauchery. And we see in “Smashed”, “Wrecked,” and “Gone” how Willow and Buffy meet temptation and the urge is very strong but with Tara and Giles “gone”, there’s no Jiminy Cricket conscience to be their guide. They’re on the coach to Pleasure Island and we all know from fairytales what happens when people “act” like selfish beasts…
    It's interesting scoping out where the boundaries are and why what they are indulging in really is considered 'wrong'. There's this sense of falling to temptation emphasised for sure. That these are things that they have wanted, do want, and are drawn towards but trying to resist. But when is the very thing itself deemed 'wrong' and when is it actually the overindulgence and lack of control and boundaries of use that is what is taking it too far? Willow's magic has done good over the previous seasons, and has represented positive exploration of 'self' with her developing relationship with Tara. It clearly isn't only a metaphor for illegal drugs and the ties to power which are threaded in there are focused on the abuse of it too, rather than simply the use. And relationships can go wrong, can fall apart or the power you wield over each other can become corrosive or be abused, as we've seen between Willow and Tara again.

    For Buffy there is certainly a question over there being something inherently bad in giving in to her desire for Spike when he is soulless and this is also being explored from his character perspective too. But the aspect of what they do together being deemed as inherently 'bad' (which we'll see more clearly as the affair continues and through her conversation to come with Tara) is a little more complicated. Some of this is bound into the exploration of Spike's nature and limitation, the greys and the negatives of how he will accept violence in the relationship readily without seeing the abuse in it. But there's possibly too social judgment and pressure on what is seen as 'normal' or acceptable to want against the expression and exploration of passion. Some of which isn't just about how they both hurt each other in ways that aren't healthy in human terms but is just about sexual freedom.

    But with both Buffy and Willow there is this all consuming aspect of their desires, the intensity of response to engaging in what they are tempted by. Both have this sense of losing themselves through giving in, losing who they should be from their indulgence. Putting aside how 'bad' any of it fundamentally is, both characters have been putting giving in to temptation first and forgetting wider responsibilities, considerations and ignoring the potential risks through their lack of restraint and control. So I very much agree that there is consideration here that a certain element of their indulgences is blinkered and incredibly selfish. And I think perhaps this is what Dawn represents as we often look to the affect on her of both Buffy's and Willow's choices and actions. She is the innocent bystander that is hurt by the choices being made both physically (currently visible with her sling) and emotionally (seen clearly in her reaction to both characters). So the selfishness is shown through Dawn who is unavoidably caught in the wakes of their mistakes. Stranded by Tara's absence too she's living alone with them trying to understand why everything is falling apart again, questioning why these things are having to affect all of their lives. So Gone very much follows Smashed and Wrecked as you say, creating this trio of episodes that focuses on 'getting high' and the fallout from it.

    A lot of people blame Willow for a lot of the bad stuff that happens in Season Six. But at the end of these three episodes, it’s Buffy who refuses to examine her own actions and take steps to create a more healthy relationship with her friends, Dawn and Spike. Willow seems genuinely regretful as she admits her weakness to Buffy and goes through the DTs in bed. But Buffy is still hiding her Spike “addiction” from Willow; she’s judging Willow’s terrible collapse after the break-up with Tara without admitting her own lapse of judgment.
    You're right that the two friends are at different points across the episodes even as they somewhat mirror each other's struggles. Buffy is still keeping secret her weakness, despite almost coming to discuss it with Willow before it had gone as far in Smashed. This reluctance no doubt tied up with how Buffy sees her choice as having aspects that are inherently wrong within it but also due to the distance between the friends.

    Of course, Buffy hasn’t hurt anyone else by having sex with Spike. But her relationship with Spike isn’t a healthy one for either of them. Spike is deeply in love with Buffy. Even though he’s a vampire without a soul, he still feels pain at her rejection and hope that she will eventually care for him. But Buffy doesn’t care about Spike in the same way. He’s “convenient” when she needs someone who won’t judge her or try to force her into acting like the old Buffy.

    American Aurora talked about Buffy feeling dead and reaching for Spike because he didn’t count. He was dead like her. But Buffy makes Spike feel like he’s alive and even though he tells Buffy that she’ll crave him like he craves blood, it’s really himself who craves her like the necessary nourishment that keeps him “alive.”
    Their desire for each other is certainly complicated. I agree that Buffy doesn't care for Spike the same, but there is something about him which draws her because they do connect on a level that she has previously turned from within herself, a darkness that she has been shown to fear that relates to being a slayer. There is a likely relief to giving in to connecting to that part of herself, even as she simultaneously is condemning herself for it at this point.

    But as Stoney pointed out, there’s another side to that. The risk of self-destruction temporarily makes both Buffy and Spike feel “alive” when they have sex. Buffy can just give into sensation and physical release without attaching emotion to the sex act and avoid feeling the emotional deadness of her depressing life. Spike can read into that sensation all kinds of feelings that he believes are happening under the surface and imagine that he and Buffy are “making love.” It’s not until he has a soul in season seven that he realizes what a “loving” night with Buffy is actually like and the intimacy terrifies him because he finally understands the level of trust and vulnerability that had been missing.
    Yes definitely, and that misunderstanding of what it means for them to have had sex is shown in his focus on it against Buffy's wish to brush it aside and then in what leads to his attempt to force her to reconnect with him in Seeing Red. It takes Spike becoming souled to understand that the physical act of sex isn't getting as close to someone as you truly can.

    And there’s a scary thrill in not caring whether one lives or dies that makes the sex with an unchipped Spike that much more exhilarating for Buffy. Buffy is like the depressed lead character who has one night stands with strangers in “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” to fill her empty life. A victim of child abuse and plagued by physical illness, the female lead seeks out bigger and bigger thrills until she eventually falls into the hands of a serial killer and almost invites her brutal murder.
    We've definitely talked at different points about the close ties between sex, death and life. People can respond to life and death like we see with Anya in Forever following Joyce's death. Engaging in sex is an affirmation of life. But there are also links which certainly focus on the thrill of life from the risk of death. Some sexual acts such as erotic asphyxiation specifically play on increasing arousal from the potential danger of death being directly used, sometimes with tragic results. As you say, Buffy and Spike aren't in the same place on all aspects of their current relationship, but they are both entering into their escapades by choice and the physical equality, their ability to finally again both hit each other and not hold back really emphasised that.

    Emotionally, though, Buffy’s a mess. And there’s a little bit of hypocrisy going on in the opening teaser as we watch Buffy throw out all of the magical paraphernalia she can find in her house while Willow sits silently on her bed.
    I really appreciated your interesting run through of the meaning of the different tarot cards and the idea of how Buffy's facilitation of Willow's need/desire to go to extremes, possibly overkill, reflects her own struggle to deal with fighting her desire and the subsequent withdrawal she is dealing with too. So there's almost a cathartic release to doing something to help contain temptation that matches hanging the garlic everywhere and this reflection is emphasised with the fertility statue you noted and when she finds the lighter of course. The lighter itself able to spark a fire if you use it, is a great representation of both the passion in their relationship as well as the obvious link to addiction and physical pleasure through smoking.

    Andrew was expecting a Star Wars-like Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic special effect as opposed to Ed Wood’s classically bad Plan Nine from Outer Space in which an alien ship was represented by a toy flying saucer on a string.
    Ah, thank you for that, I had no idea what he was talking about but assumed it was an insulting comparison going by Warren's reaction.

    Warren becomes intensely angry at the implication that he lacks “cool” and almost aims at the two guys instead of finally settling on an office chair.
    There is certainly an edge to Warren that they are pressing now and this momentary pause where he genuinely seems to go through an internal debate of whether to shoot them or not is another hint at his even darker side. We saw way back in Flooded of course that he was clearly happier to go further than the other two, and this will certainly be made unquestionably apparent again in this episode too, but the edge that it can be directed at his own 'comrades' as well is importantly underlined here.

    Unable to think of anything really devastating to say, Jonathan hurls an insult that only makes Warren smile.
    Yes the power dynamics in The Trio certainly gets plenty of attention through their interactions in Gone and there is a sense of an increasing tension under it all. Jonathan's and Andrew's behaviour, although still offensively crossing boundaries at points, seems to have a more selfishly blinkered and careless focus behind it rather than maliciously cruel intent.

    The dark lord Sauron and fellow inhabitants of the demon world can still sense and see them and the ring itself causes extreme possessiveness and insanity that leads to a murderous rage towards anyone who would take it. It’s eerily similar to the BTVS trope that ‘magic always has consequences’.
    Oooo I really like this. It falls in to the much quoted, 'with great power comes great responsibility' understanding that power isn't a simple thing to have. It can have an affect on people, change who they are, how they interact with others. It can be a burden and neglected irresponsibly but it can also be thrilling and be abused too. I'd never really thought through the tie then here from invisibility and the reference to Frodo, it's neat.

    Glacon argues that “Everyone will do evil if he can” if he had such a ring and tells the story of a poor shepherd who finds the ring, amasses power and riches, beds his Queen and murders his King. He says that injustice is more profitable than justice and the power to do anything without penalty or dishonor would be too much for anyone; in the end, we would all lose our moral groundings. And if someone was strong enough to stop using the ring for selfish means, they would be considered a weak idiot by their friends and family.
    I think invisibility has a very important aspect of freedom to it that certainly plays a major part in what Buffy goes through. Providing the opportunity of making choices that you don't feel connected to the weight of.

    It didn’t confer invisibility but it did give the wearer invincibility which would make a vampire like a god among beings. And Angel destroys it because he knows the temptation is too great for anyone. Even himself.
    Although I understood Buffy's wish to send the ring to Angel it has to be one of the most questionable decisions she made when they don't know if Angel could lose his soul again.

    This is ironic considering Angel’s Gypsy curse of perfect happiness because Socrates answers that a sense of personal morality is what ultimately creates happiness. We admire justice for its own sake and if we did do evil, we are still ashamed and guilty unless we have no moral boundaries at all. Which means that we live in despair, a slave to our instincts and appetites. Only a person who can choose not to use power selfishly has the freedom to act which is the definition of happiness.

    Spike in “Smashed” has a choice to do evil. Should he murder the young woman in the alley or not? In many ways, Spike finding the chip inactive is a lot like obtaining the Ring of Gyges because there is no moral boundary in a vampire without a soul to prevent great injustice. Spike is not only led by his demon but he’s afraid of being a weak idiot just as Glacon describes.
    That's a really interesting insight into part of what drives Spike to decide to try and bite the girl.

    Although he knows that he should not kill, it fundamentally goes against his demon nature to feed and create violent chaos that ends in death. As a vampire without a soul, Spike is a slave to his instincts and appetites. He lacks the free will to choose. It is only with the return of his soul that Spike can be his own man and make his own choices separate from Buffy or the instinctive drives of his demon nature.
    I would say that he isn't literally driven to bite her by the demon without thought though. He's clearly struggling but he is making a choice in Smashed. However it is a choice that is affected by all that he is. What wins is the wish to be all that he can be and the desire to not accept himself muzzled and powerless unnecessarily. But although I see the free will to make a choice being exercised, it is still one that is negatively affected by his nature. As a soulless vampire his choices are inherently limited by lacking real breadth and depth of connection to emotions and moral boundaries. His choices aren't informed the same until he is souled, it's the meaningful distinction that Angel references to Faith in Enemies ("I didn't have a choice. But you do. You can stop this.").

    And in “Gone,” Buffy is given her own moment of choice and fails just as miserably as Spike did in the alleyway in “Smashed” and Willow in “Wrecked.” She doesn’t kill anyone, but she terrorizes the social worker, commits small acts of cruelty to strangers and literally play-acts raping Spike several times when he doesn’t even know who or where she is. She also mocks her friends and family to their faces when Xander enters Spike’s crypt and when a lonely Dawn is trying to connect with her in a genuine way. She is monstrously selfish in “Gone” until her bout of invisibility becomes personal. When she learns that she may die, the fun fades away.
    Buffy's choice to try and fix the issue with the social worker is certainly understandable but it is questionable when, like her or not, Mrs Kroger was there with Dawn's best interests in mind. Her lack of true appreciation of the wider situation makes her not really fully qualified to know what is best. But as it sits alongside more openly questionable choices to toy with people and other acts of selfish thoughtlessness as you detailed, and as we are seeing Dawn so openly affected by what Buffy and Willow are going through, it's hard not to question whether concerns for Dawn should be so readily thwarted.

    Buffy and Spike's interactions so often push on these consent issues this season but like they showed Buffy clearly initiating the sexual relationship in Smashed and unquestionably being 'on top', they do have Spike realise very quickly that it is Buffy in Gone. Likely through scent and/or her touch, but his choice to throw her out later when she again tries to physically push when he says no (as he did in the kitchen too) again shows the lines being pushed constantly between them but also accepted or rejected without overstepping a final line such as the misunderstanding that will eventually occur between them does.

    Why does Buffy act like this? The episode is cleverly divided into two parts so we see what drives Buffy into acting like the poor shepherd with the Ring of Gyges. In “Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of Being Unseen,” author Philip Ball says there are only two reasons that a person would want to be invisible: to get away *from* something or to get away *with* something. And for Buffy and the Trio, it’s both.

    The responsibilities of adulthood terrify Buffy as much as they do Warren, Jonathan and Andrew. It’s much easier to retreat into a world of fantasy than to deal with an unhappy reality. Like the Seven of Cups Tarot Card, the dream of invisibility allows the characters to ignore their real-life limitations and live out a dream of having total power over other people, mentally and sexually. They justify their actions by blaming everyone around them for their own problems and seeing their newfound power as a kind of revenge on the world for feeling victimized.
    Oh that's a really great comparison, I love that. And the three separate pressures of expectation from Willow, Dawn and Spike that you note Buffy feels is so true, those roles she is expected to smile and perform again, and this leads us to understand her desire to escape. Although with Spike it is of course in doing what he was pressing her for, in giving in to her own wants that she is freeing herself.

    The ‘goldilocks’ reference was a last-minute addition to the script when Sarah Michelle Gellar finally got permission to cut her hair. During the WB years, she was contractually unable to drastically shorten it because of a ratings disaster for the WB TV show “Felicity” after the lead character cut her hair. At UPN, it was quickly written into the script and there seems to have been a great deal of fan reaction both good and bad. Some of this was a reaction to her shame over her relationship with Spike as he tells Buffy that he loves the way her hair bounces when they are having sex.
    That's really interesting I didn't know it was added because SMG was finally given permission to cut her hair. They worked it in well with all the previous references from Spike about Buffy's hair as you detail.

    This was apparently a sexual fantasy before he actually lived it.
    And as he provided Warren with a wig I think amidst his specifications for the bot, it was always something he wanted. Perhaps his 'fixation' on the way it moves was a delight he found went beyond his fantasies when the person with him was real.

    Spike cares about Dawn so this makes him suddenly play the responsible adult who assures Mrs. Kroger that Buffy is a great mum who makes sure that Dawn doesn’t hang out too much in his crypt.
    Spike is surely trying to do the right thing here, realising that it is important. But despite being a hybrid with the memories of a human he is still affected again by the limitation of his nature. He is hampered by his own ability as a demon to understand whatever he can recall from William's life, the changing times he will have paid scant attention to, his own lack of boundaries and century plus of living outside of human society and he says something so blatantly unhelpful and which would be alarming to someone in Mrs Kroger's shoes. Like his smile at the biker demons and letting Giles fear he wasn't going to help him in Bargaining, his lack of horror that Buffy escaped her grave in After Life, these little moments all tack on to the issues in their relationship that step outside of what is healthy and underline the 'lack' he has unsouled. Despite the potential Spike is shown to have there were always issues in his boundaries that were also shown, whether sections of the audience were ready to face it before (or after!) Seeing Red or not.

    It feels like a bitter slap in the face to say something so cruel to Buffy considering that she literally died to save Dawn.
    It is difficult as their lives aren't something that the authorities are ever going to understand or allow for. But where is the line that it is Buffy's life that puts Dawn in danger. Although Dawn is presented as being just a normal teenager once the threat of Glory has passed it has been shown in the comics that this isn't actually the case. And it is fair to argue even before they learn this so many years on, that having been born from such beginnings as Dawn was she is probably safer to stay connected to the person who was asked to protect her. But that obviously isn't something they can explain to Kroger just as Spike can't 'get' that what he said was supremely unhelpful either and why Buffy is exasperated with him rather than accepting his obvious interest in staying with her after Kroger leaves.

    We didn’t see the moment when Buffy took the lighter out of the box where she threw it and slipped it into her tight jeans the next morning, but Jiminy Cricket would surely go into cardiac arrest.

    Spike knows that she lied about his lighter because she wanted to keep it in her pocket. After Buffy’s “magical clearance” that even included Tara’s innocent crystals, her possession of the lighter proves her to be a major hypocrite about her own temptation.
    Yes it certainly is a 'slip' that indicates her want to remember and 'feel' that connection to him and the memories of what she has done.

    He never does get to see the new hairdo until Doublemeat Palace. For all he knows, Buffy still has the same flowing hair that’s pinned up when they end up in bed together.
    I'd just assume he'd be able to feel it was loose and short later on. I can't imagine him not running his hands into her hair at all and I'd expect him to see it as the direct snub it (partly) is.

    As you say, Buffy's sudden and vicious attack of herself is taking out her stress and frustration on her hair, looking to change herself through changing her appearance. As she expresses to the hairdresser, to be made to be 'different'. But it is also a desperate act for a sense of control too, as well as one that offered cathartic release. As far as self-harm goes it isn't inflicting literal pain on the body as most examples of self-harming or self-mutilating behaviour do. And I'm not sure that what Buffy does would count as being extreme enough to qualify as such. But as a reaction to Spike's words it fits a lot of the dynamic of their sexual relationship for her to do this. Not only in how she is in part punishing herself by giving in to her desire for him, but also in a degree of anger and resentment at having shown her weakness for him.

    But it is also an attempt to change herself by changing her appearance. Spike’s use of “Goldilocks” refers to the fairy tale in the 1849 Treasury of Pleasure Books for Young Children that had a young girl (originally an old women in earlier versions) who wanders into the forest and enters a strange house that is inhabited by three bears. Goldilocks eats bowls of porridge, sits in chairs and sleeps in beds, each time finding the third one "just right". The story is a cautionary lesson about the dangers of wandering off and exploring the unknown as well as the need to find balance between extremes.

    But the most important element of the nickname for Buffy is Spike’s insinuation that she is just a child, unable to make adult choices and can only choose right by trial and error. Spike reminds Buffy that no matter what she accomplishes and how strong she is as the Slayer, she’s still "just a girl". What we're called matters; it's a crucial part of our identity and signals to the world who and what we are. Buffy calls Spike a “thing” many times in season six which upsets him because he wants her to think of him as a man. In response, Spike tries to diminish Buffy here by giving her a nickname that reduces her to a foolish young girl with blond curls.
    That's really interesting to consider the fairytale origination as pulling meaning rather than it just being a purely visual statement from him. You're right of course that Spike's nicknames for people are often about how he tries to control dynamics and against his own focus on image it emphasises the importance to him in doing so like this. Excellent point.

    For Jonathan and Andrew, Warren’s invention of an amazing invisibility gun is little more than a device to spy on girls and create camouflage to avoid the Slayer. But we soon find out that Warren’s invention is unstable – and he knows it.
    Jonathan and Andrew certainly are going to go along with some horrific plans and play their parts in assault and murder, some of which is quite intentional. But Warren's darker intent fits closer to the sinister versions of the invisible men you detailed have happened in film. I can't help but wonder how far Jonathan and Andrew may have gone themselves though, it certainly is going to go beyond just peeking and it feels more like it is their self-delusion over their choices that provides the divide between them and Warren at certain points.

    But we know that Buffy has had trouble dealing with her place in the world after her return. We know that she’s been forced to hide so many aspects of her life from everyone; her return from the dead, her feeling of being in heaven, her attraction to Spike, her passionate night in the abandoned house. In some ways, it must feel like a relief to be removed from it all...

    Such invisibility is not really about being seen. It is about how we see ourselves. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man famously talked about the idea of invisibility as powerlessness. Like Marcie in “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”, the neglected and unnoticed and disenfranchised are psychologically invisible to the “normal” social world. Homeless people can be invisible, gays, lesbians and transsexuals can be invisible, various ethnic minorities can be invisible, women can be invisible, poor people can be invisible. The list goes on and on

    Ellison maintains that this is more than being marginalized by society. It is actually because he is so conspicuous as a black man. People project what they want to see on others and never see who they actually are. So they are unable to see beyond the outward show and their own prejudices and therefore make him invisible.

    In Buffy, almost all of the characters have felt this kind of “invisibility” at one time or another as others label them and try to place them in certain boxes that confine them and make their true selves too difficult to see. So the dream of invisibility is not only the dream of freedom of choice but also the dream of freedom from judgment.
    This is a great aspect to raise and certainly fits with a lot of what we have been seeing Buffy going through as she tries to hide behind the image of the happy Buffy she thinks is wanted in emulating the look of the bot at first and her focus on the weight of the roles expected of her that we saw expressed in OMWF.

    Her current invisibility isn't something Buffy has chosen, but neither is being invisible by drowning in the expectations and judgments on her that you list. She cut her hair to gain control and change herself but then it was through losing herself further and literal invisibility taking eyes off her completely that she finally feels free.

    Willow is doing some exploration of her own as she dabbles in scientific research using her laptop and wearing a Skinny Skulls sweater. She is still obviously feeling the physical ill effects of her magic withdrawl as she drinks from a large water bottle with several empty bottles lying nearby. She looks towards a book out of reach and almost uses magic but stops herself when she realizes what she is doing. If an excited Buffy is suddenly “free” through the magic of invisibility, a glum Willow has deliberately confined herself to the normal world where books don’t levitate.
    Buffy's determination to 'go for a walk' is a great contrast to Willow and her reaction to Xander's arrival and his gentle probing about whether she has done any magic. It isn't unreasonable to wonder if she has dabbled to the detriment of others again. But the strength of Willow's reaction is from the pressure and guilt and feeling watched, what Buffy is currently enjoying the freedom from.

    You're right that as much as she is struggling there is also some sense of positive energy to Willow in this scene at first, pleased with her progress in identifying further details about the diamond.

    The determination to “fix” Buffy is everywhere in earlier episodes of season six. Willow was asked many times to fix the Buffybot in Bargaining, Part One:
    It's a great part of why Buffy feels as observed as she does. She knows she hasn't come back as the person she had been and that her friends/Dawn have been looking for her to recover. This sense of inadequacy, needing 'fixing' of course isn't aided by Spike's assertions she is 'wrong' now, something she'll raise in the crypt scene again. Both are part of the expectations she feels the weight of. But when truly invisible even the changes in herself that worry her and fear of the enjoyment she gets in her time with Spike aren't visible in her behaviour any longer because all concerns feel lifted briefly.

    Willow isn't free like this and whether her response is somewhat unreasonable considering her recent form, the feeling of being looked at as a failure when she has been struggling but managing to resist is too much. She takes herself away not to indulge from getting more freedom but just to remove the eyes on her that make her feel judged. Again her and Buffy are going through such similar things but as you noted at the episode start are in completely different places at this point in dealing with their weaknesses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiny Tabby View Post
    Andrew is obviously feeling social pressure to act like he’s one of the gang. There’s a lot of implied subtext that Andrew is actually closeted in season six, but the need to appear “cool” is more important than being honest with himself and his friends. Warren and Jonathan have already used women as objects to boost their own egos in “Superstar” and “I Was Made to Love You” and Andrew wants them to know that he can treat women badly as well in order to be an equal in the group like his brother Tucker would have been.
    The desire to be accepted is a huge part of being in The Trio. These are guys that have been mocked, maligned and ignored in equal measure through high school and likely since. Although there seems to be a desire in Warren to lead and be feared by his peers too, all three gain something from group membership.

    In 1942, Wonder Woman flew an invisible stealth plane to hide from her enemies.
    Well, those effects are AMaaaaaZING.

    Impersonation isn’t so ridiculous, either. All three men are hiding aspects of themselves from each other: Andrew’s sexuality, Jonathan’s moral scruples and Warren’s psychopathic tendency towards murder. Warren chuckles to himself as Jonathan and Andrew look at him bewilderingly. They don’t know yet about the possible fatal ending to Buffy’s great, big invisible adventure.
    Both Jonathan and Andrew are less deliberately concealing truths I think. Warren's casual dismissal is exceptionally cold, he's wanting it to play out and result in Buffy's death, to beat her and be more powerful and he really doesn't care what the other two say or think.

    Jonathan is remembering the slayer who led an army of Sunnydale students against the Mayor in “Graduation Day” and who saw through his spell in “Superstar.” Like Spike, the Trio measures their level of “badness” against Buffy’s “goodness.” She defines who they are just by being the hero.
    And as the one who presented Buffy with the class protector award it's right that Jonathan should have belief in her.

    Buffy is pretty good at fashion-shaming. She should be. She saw it often enough in Sunnydale High when the “Cordettes” targeted their victims in “Welcome to the Hellmouth.”

    Invisibility not only makes Buffy free; it makes her cruel. Wielding the power of anonymity, Buffy reverts back to the Cordelia-like mean girl she could have been. She follows up with more petty theft by stealing a scooter from a meter man with a Faith-like “S'long, Copper!” and drives to the Department of Social Services where Mrs. Kroger is filing a report on Dawn.
    It's surprising that Buffy is not only carefree and callous enough to pick on the woman for the reason she does, but to willingly scare her like that. The disconnection we saw a glimpse of when she was mulling on how 'kinda sweet' the mugging was is at the start of Smashed is taken further here.

    An inexplicable inner voice telling someone to do something is a common experience in schizophrenia and other forms of extreme mental illness. Known as “command hallucinations,” they can tell the person to harm themselves or someone else. The serial killer “Son of Sam,” David Berkowitz, believed that a demon dog was telling him to kill and Richard Chase, “The Vampire of Sacramento” killed and drank the blood of six people at the command of voices. Both were both diagnosed with schizophrenia. So hearing voices is not a laughing matter. Mrs. Kroger starts to panic as the voice becomes more insistent and she pushes the mug away from her.
    It is that distancing at work again. Mrs Kroger was potentially going to have a detrimental impact on Buffy's life but as you say it was in line with just doing her job. What Buffy does could have significant impact on Mrs Kroger's life too. With her boss offering her a break for the rest of the day, hopefully it stayed as something that was an isolated incident and didn't have any lasting effects. Other than, perhaps, changing her work mug?! But as you suggest, it could have long term impact and even could have cost Mrs Kroger her job.

    ...and merrily dances her fingers across the keyboard of Mrs. Kroger’s computer.
    Hitting keys that in no way reflect what it is then revealed that she was supposed to have typed.

    As she leaves, Buffy whistles the concluding lines of her song in “Once More With Feeling”
    Huh, I don't recall registering that was what she was whistling.

    Of course there is also the contrast to the joke about her invisibility played against the lyrics. Buffy will soon swing from how carefree she feels here to wanting to return to reality when the threat to her existence is understood and she really wants to stay alive.

    Just as in “The Invisible Man,” Buffy’s morals have degraded in only a few hours to the point where she’s amused at the thought of playing with someone’s mind like a toy. And now she’s off to play with someone’s body like a toy.
    There certainly is something eerily familiar here to the power kick Willow and Amy were getting in The Bronze in Smashed. Although it wasn't Buffy herself who manipulated reality here, she is the one left in the position of power with everyone dancing to her tune. Spike is surely an easy target for Buffy to get to play along, or so she thinks.

    Xander himself goes for a walk to investigate the spot where Buffy became invisible only to find that Willow has beat him to the spot, spray painting an invisible dumpster with a giant can.
    The child in me wants that can to have Acme Re-visible Spray on the side.

    Willow immediately thinks the worst: Xander will blame her again.
    I think Xander is being great with Willow here, very patient and calming. He had fair reason to think she could have been responsible for Buffy disappearing. He wasn't being aggressive when he went to see her but I understand why it was hurtful for her and it feels like he does too as he doesn't argue with her but readily also offers his own apologies.

    Willow will use science – research on a computer – rather than magic to find out who is responsible. Willow is going back to her roots of the first few seasons of the brilliant nerdy science-girl who knows computers so well she can teach the class when the teacher is absent or use the chemistry lab for experiments with chemicals to make potions.
    Despite the bumpy start Willow and Xander are working together and handling the situation effectively. There's a 'scoobies' feel as they try to track down the bad guys that have been stalking Buffy and work out what has been done to her but the sparse team is very tangible. Anya's barely paying attention, Tara is absent, Giles isn't around any longer and Dawn probably wouldn't be allowed to help even if she was there. And Buffy isn't even taking part in actively looking to fix it, she's too distracted ensuring that she gets to enjoy it whilst it lasts. The season's emphasis on the disconnection and separation between the characters is stark. Something has happened to one of them, one of their own is at risk and the group isn't all gathered together during researching or during solving this at any point.

    But the “ghost” circles Spike like a predator as he cranes his neck in an effort to watch “it.”
    Spike's assumption it is a ghost isn't far-fetched but as he tracks Buffy's movement you have to wonder if it is just sound that he is detecting or his own predatory instincts guiding him. As I suggested earlier and you consider, it would make sense for him to be able to scent Buffy or recognise her touch rather than just guesswork.

    There’s a range of different emotions that move over Spike’s face as the “ghost” has its way with him. A bit of consternation at first followed by a moment of genuine fear and then disgust at the unwanted physical contact. Finally, his eyes open wide in shock as he feels not pain he expects, but sensual pleasure.

    He reacts uncertainly and then finally realizes who it must be.
    You're right that the play of responses across his face (and JM really is superb at this kind of expressive communication to the audience) do imply that Spike is still clueless at the point that he is pushed up against the wall. It is surprising though that scent wasn't already giving Buffy away.

    This has a lot of different meanings, of course. Buffy had asked Spike to stop stalking her after their sexual night in the abandoned house. But now Spike literally can’t see Buffy at all as she manhandles him. And she prefers it that way. Not only does she want to take control of the relationship, but in her opinion, he needs to stop trying to psychoanalyze her and their relationship.
    That's a great suggestion of an additional layer in this for Buffy that relates to the projection people view others by that you mentioned earlier. What Spike wants from Buffy greatly affects how he responds to her, what he sees in what she does. Being literally invisible is likely to make Buffy feel like she can enjoy being with Spike on a whole new level too as she doesn't have to guard her responses/expressions in any way so as to try to manage him 'reading' her.

    Buffy’s handling of Spike as her personal sex toy is reminiscent of Faith’s monologue as Buffy in “This Year’s Girl”:

    Invisible Buffy started by playing cruel tricks, moved to petty theft and then waged psychological warfare against an enemy. Now she’s moved the moral boundaries even further by play-acting rape with Spike. To Buffy, it’s all a game that’s harmless. Just a little fun. But for Spike, it was unnerving for a few moments. He had no idea what was happening to him or what kind of “ghost” was fondling his private parts. Buffy’s actions are what one would expect from a very selfish person. Or a soulless vampire. Or a person who came back wrong.
    And of course it's a little reflective of Spike's use of the bot too, although for Spike playacting having an emotional connection and acceptance was also a big part of what he wanted from the bot. For Buffy the reflection is through the sexual side of using him in their relationship as she tends to try to restrict emotional connection and flee whenever it feels like they are moving beyond the physical. It isn't just his body that draws Buffy but she isn't wanting to examine and face the connection she feels yet. So not acknowledging how she is playing with Spike's feelings is part of how she is able to justify using him to herself, trying to control and restrict his interest in her. This shows I think when she calls him William when breaking off their affair, acknowledging him in a way that she has been avoiding as she tries to call a stop to the negative aspects of their relationship. Her wish he'll just play the 'robot' lover that she wants, without his own agenda/needs, tends to fall apart, as it will here too.

    Spike’s suggestion that Buffy is not the same person who died on the tower has created its own kind of “gaslighting” effect, causing Buffy to believe that she is different somehow. Once labeled, judgments can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Buffy is slowly losing her moral bearings because she’s started to believe Spike. Why else would his chip fail to work on her and why else would she reject her friends and choose to be with him instead?
    Oh I agree that Buffy is letting the notion of having come back 'wrong' roll in her mind. The fact that she doesn't feel like she used to must seem to support the idea, although of course she feels changed by the experiences she's had it's only natural. But her lack of connection with her family/friends and the draw Spike has which relates to that side of herself she has tried to contain and deny over the years possibly makes being able to consider it as something 'wrong' appealing. As much as it might unnerve her if she faced it, it's a lot easier to consider than this just being a side of herself showing, as we'll come to see when she talks with Tara.

    For the first time, Jonathan and Andrew seem to realize that they’ve been working alongside a murderer. It won't be the last time.
    Warren's safety goggles really stand out to me as a visual, they're just so similar to the ones my kids have for their Nerf guns. It really adds to the image of how casually Warren is viewing all of this when he looks like he is gearing up for play fighting and yet we know that he is casually dismissing that he might be part responsible for someone actually dying and in fact will intentionally try to ensure it happens. Andrew and Jonathan's horrified response really does make the difference with Warren stark here and their belief they have pulled him back in line is clearly foolish as Warren has no intention of curbing what he wants to do just because they tell him so.

    Spike turns back to the bed and does a couple of push-ups as Buffy yelps beneath him. It’s obvious that Xander doesn’t buy this explanation and can only goggle at the fact that he’s found Spike in some kind of freaky vampire masturbation play. Perhaps even imagining Buffy beneath him. The fact that Xander cannot figure out that invisible Buffy *is* beneath Spike for once shows how much the idea of Spuffy is inconceivable to him.
    The fact that Xander doesn't even consider that Buffy could be there, and after finding her/Spike physically close only that morning too, is a bit surprising. His inability to see what is in front of him is, as you suggest, simply illustrative of how inconceivable he thinks Buffy sleeping with Spike is. But the destroyed furniture upstairs indicating that Buffy wanted to enjoy some violent foreplay again before once more ending up downstairs and that just isn't something that would flash as a 'Buffy was here' sign he's just walked past. The side of herself that she is exploring with Spike is a side of Buffy that Xander can't see whether she is visible or not.

    It’s a reversal of roles here. Spike is trying to hide his relationship with Buffy while she is doing almost everything she can to telegraph the fact that she’s having sex with Spike. Usually, it’s the opposite. Xander still doesn’t get it because he can’t accept it. But it’s clear that Buffy doesn’t really accept it either.

    As Spike and Xander talk, Buffy toys with Spike’s ear and continually touches him as he tries to keep their cover. Buffy is obviously making that difficult from all the nervous starts and swats behind him.
    It is somewhat ridiculous that Xander is ignoring the feasibility Spike is with an invisible Buffy here as he is clearly responding to someone taunting him and trying to distract him. Kudos to JM for believably acting as if someone really is touching and teasing him.

    It is interesting that Spike didn't try to clue in Xander, to enjoy proving his words from the morning wrong, as he eventually will do in Entropy. But I think he makes it clear why when he talks to Buffy about his dissatisfaction with this encounter compared to her, he is still reaching for more from these encounters to develop and is unlikely to do something to jeopardise that.

    As she said in Wrecked, he’s convenient and nothing more.
    But this is just it isn't it, he isn't convenient at all. Her attraction to him is totally inconvenient which is why she is trying to pull away from it until, as you say, she can be with him without being there, so to speak. If Buffy simply wanted meaningless sex she could find that without inviting the complications that come with engaging with Spike this way.

    Spike believes that he understands Buffy better than her friends and separating her from them will bring them closer together. His stalking and obsessive behavior in his mind proves how much he loves Buffy. As a vampire, he sees sex as something wild and passionate and bound up with pain and believes that Buffy likes it rough as well. Spike uses sex with Buffy to convince himself that she’ll start to crave him like he craves blood and will eventually fall in love with him.
    Spike's belief that Buffy entering this relationship with him is indicative that he can have more with her is him missing entirely how her giving in to what she feels for him can be something fundamentally negative from her perspective. There is self-punishment in this and he doesn't see that at all. But there is a level of dissatisfaction that Spike is noticing in how things are. He'd never give it up entirely, but now that he has her he wants more from her and wants her to explore her feelings for him rather than just getting physical. So it isn't about her not being visible so much as it's about her not offering him as much as he's offering her. There's something between them but she sees the inherent limitation of his soullessness and this is the aspect of their relationship that she knows is wrong and will cap what they have because it will inherently limit what she feels or what she allows herself to feel. But Spike at this point fully believes that he can be what Buffy wants/needs by his free will alone. So I agree that he sees sex as a starting point, that it is a connection between them which will develop and build for her. This is all indicative of the potential start of something greater for him, if only she'll fully open herself to what is between them and admit to what she feels too. So going against what he said to Riley, now he's in a relationship with her of sorts Spike isn't wanting to just accept whatever he is offered, the inequality at times smarts and this is one of those times.

    But her actions in “Gone” have thrown cold water on that illusion. Spike comes to the realization – like Riley – that raw sex with Buffy isn’t enough for him. He doesn’t want to be her dirty secret. He doesn’t want to be her plaything as he was with Drusilla. He wants to be her acknowledged boyfriend.

    As Invisible Buffy comes up to Spike, he grabs her by the shoulders and holds her away from him. He’s not going to let her get close to him and start the sex all over again. She’s just using him for immediate gratification to forget her troubles. From his perspective, Spike is really the one who is invisible in their relationship – she’s unwilling to define what he is to her and what this thing that they have means.
    Yes this moment has run cold for Spike and whatever fun there was is gone. I agree completely that this runs along with Spike's sense of being invisible himself and his dissatisfaction in Buffy's unwillingness to truly consider what is between them. The visual at the end of this interlude obviously reflects the clear difference between them you've been noting. He is naked, exposed and totally vulnerable in front of her, whereas she is absent. She can be there in the same moment too but keep her responses and emotions totally unreadable. She can go to her knees in front of him but totally limit what is being given.

    Buffy's sulky response about him spoiling the fun when he mentions her attitude as avoiding living shows perhaps that she isn't taking this seriously on the level that she was when she went to confront Sweet. This isn't a deliberate, conscious acceptance that she could be about to lose her life but she is viewing it as a temporary liberation that she's trying to enjoy. The difference in how she is feeling, in her attitude towards her own existence something that she comes to see when she gets Xander's message.

    This rape-y behavior doesn’t excuse Spike’s behavior in “Seeing Red” – but it makes it clear the lack of clear boundaries and issues of consent has creating a toxic relationship that goes even beyond the problematic Slayer/vampire dynamic.
    Oh I totally agree. The continuous way they push the boundaries of consent with each other is part of the negative aspect of their relationship and certainly fuels the incident that occurs between them later. But there is distinction between these occasions that occur from them both and when Buffy is pushing him away in SR, a line that is crossed where he fails to see the truth in her responses, fails to understand the difference, because of all the limitations he operates under.

    There is a brief cut to Willow at the Expresso Pump as she guzzles down even more water and attempts to hack into the Sunnydale Department of Motor Vehicles to find the owners of the van.
    The water drinking is presumably to emphasise taking in 'pure' 'clean' refreshment for her body/mind and it's all for that sense of her current detox. It's the physical purge to back up the house clearing. But the scene like at Revello emphasises that Willow isn't just facing temptation when she sees a candle or crystal, her power is within her and she was abusing it to do any little thing from lifting a book to researching the internet. Every moment she manages to do something the 'hard way' is a success.

    I have to sympathise with Willow's thinning patience here. I think most of us would be heading towards a breaking point waiting for an internet search or load to complete if we could bypass it.

    As she arrives home looking for Willow or Dawn to tell them about her exciting day as invisible girl, Dawn silently enters through the kitchen door. As Buffy flings pizzas through the air like a circus act, Dawn becomes angry.

    This joking reference to X-Files doesn’t even make Dawn smile. Like Spike, she remembers Buffy’s dance in “Once More With Feeling” and her quoting Buffy’s last words back at her before jumping off the tower. “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” And Buffy wants to play it easy.
    I assume this is the distancing I think debbicles was referring to. Buffy is joking and casual, there's nothing to indicate that she is being proactive, and Dawn sees this straight away. She sees Buffy's avoidance and lack of engagement. Even though Buffy is seeming somewhat playful, her true emotional absence from both Dawn and the matter in hand is hurtful to Dawn. It might seem like an overreaction perhaps to be instantly stressed with Buffy, but she carelessly springs this on Dawn with disregard like she just showed towards the people she pushed past in the street and has displayed towards everyone since she got zapped. The worry and shock Dawn will predictably feel just as with Xander, Anya, Spike and other bystanders simply aren't being considered. And Dawn's sense of not mattering is probably underlined by Buffy's lack of interest in her obviously arriving home late too. If nothing she does matters and nothing she will feel in response to what happens matters enough to consider, how is she supposed to have a relationship with Buffy?

    Buffy doesn’t panic or call Giles. She says one word. BUFFY: Wow.
    It is an enigmatic response to leave the scene on. I wonder if it actually is Buffy's response to feeling an immediate internal reaction and panic at the thought of death and her own certainty it isn't what she wants that warrants the 'wow'??

    I was taken aback reading your information detailing the popularity and how financially lucrative the arcades industry was. I've played on computers from the 80s but never went to arcades and didn't realise they were such a big thing.

    It’s surprising that the Trio decide it’s safe to make themselves invisible knowing that the spell will eventually kill them. But Jonathan dutifully calls the Summers house and talks to Buffy as only a master super villain can.
    Yes I thought the same. You would have to feel exceptionally confident that the gun won't burn out or stop working. I'd also worry about the chance that there will be some other side effects that just haven't shown or been considered yet.

    I love Jonathan's voice adjustment and it works like a reversal to Spike's call to Buffy in Smashed when he was putting on a deep villainous voice and then had to give it up and speak normally because she was questioning if it was him. On both occasions Buffy's attention is being demanded and both times her presence is desired.

    The all-important line that contains the title of the episode is delivered by Warren. All Buffy has to do is hold still and all her troubles will soon be gone. She can fade into nothingness and return to “heaven.” Buffy holds up the air hockey puck expectantly as Willow turns to Warren.
    Great call to the episode title.

    Then Willow turns her gun and aims at a bouncy ball cage. Warren appears.
    It seems strangely apt that Warren is sat in a sea of balls.

    Tucker Wells was the student in “The Prom” who summoned the Hellhounds.
    It's such a daft continuous joke but I love the 'Tucker's brother' gag around Andrew.

    Even though the Trio has been following her around for four months, they don’t seem to know that Buffy died. They don’t realize that she has returned depressed and unable to cope with life. And none of them figure out that she’s been having a secret relationship with Spike until it’s over. Some arch-nemesises…ses they are.
    The biggest problem with the ready dismissal of The Trio now is that it's illogical. Willow has seen the plan for the gun so presumably knows that it is using the diamond that was stolen, so it's safe to conclude that the group were behind the heist and, importantly, also the frozen guard. These three, one of which they know is capable of building human-like super strong robots (and blatantly other highly technological gadgetry), one who was able to cast a spell to change everyone's reality to worship him and the other a demon summoner, have committed several fairly cartoonish but highly improbably feats so far. They are managing to plan and execute ideas, to create technology that are just astounding. Let's also not forget that they, well Warren, just showed willingness and intent to kill. Whether they seem silly or not, their comic book geek personas aside, they are clearly dangerous.

    It’s a figure of speech – but Buffy doesn’t tell Willow about her day at Spike’s crypt anyway. The contrast of Willow's honesty and Buffy's duplicity where Spike is concerned doesn't bode well, but Buffy still finds it impossible to tell her friend because it's all mixed up with the idea that Willow might have caused Buffy to COME BACK WRONG. But Buffy does want to share the intimacy of Willow's honest confession and she makes a confession of her own.
    I agree that Buffy's concern about why she is giving in to her desire for Spike is a great part of why she isn't sharing and I think the recent issues Willow has shown have just thrown up a greater barrier between them. This is because of how hurt Buffy has been by the attitude Willow has exhibited for what Buffy has been through because of the resurrection. At worst it could be classed as casual disregard, at best it is an avoidance to consider it. But the distance between her and her friends isn't something that Buffy is particularly happy with and you're right that it seems she wants to share and connect a little with Willow in return here.

    This is a major step for both Buffy and Willow. Buffy's finally able to talk about her depression and her negative feelings about being brought back and Willow is able to reassure Buffy that she's on the right path without becoming defensive. Both women have realized that the pernicious effects of keeping secrets and remaining "invisible" to friends and family is now clear to see.
    In closing off the truth from people entirely you fail to share your life and in doing so remain alone. Offering each other insight into how they are currently feeling is certainly a positive move towards reconnecting but it doesn't smooth things between them entirely or fix the issues that they are dealing with.

    And there’s nothing easier than ignoring something that you don’t want to see – ask the inhabitants of Sunnydale. Letting go of biased perceptions and honest self-examination is the first step towards real freedom.

    It seems that Buffy’s wild invisible ride actually made things clearer than before. Buffy learned that to be invisible all the time wasn’t really freedom from life, but a movement towards nothingness and death. The power that Buffy gained from giving into temptation as an invisible being gave her a temporary high in her darkest moments when she’d gone to take a trip on Pleasure Island.

    As Buffy continues to move forward in embracing life, she will find it harder and harder to maintain her passionate, secretive relationship with Spike. He desperately wants her to stay with him in his isolated darkness but Buffy will end up pulling him into the light instead where a brighter world awaits. Now that she’s back to being the big sister to Dawn, the best friend to Willow and Xander and the heroic Slayer of Sunnydale who battles the forces of darkness, it’s important above all else to be seen.
    There's a real imbalance for Spike in that he does want Buffy to embrace life and stop being self destructive but he also looks to pull her towards him and away from her friends and family, which he knows in truth are so important to her. This is of course all wrapped up further in the negative aspects that his soullessness brings into the mix and why he can't truly be what Buffy needs as he currently is. He wants Buffy to survive but he can't be in the light himself, so he tries to pull her towards him regardless that she needs to be in both light and dark. Until he is better able to span the two himself, beyond just a willingness to race out at flammable times of day, their relationship will be as inherently limited as his morality and his capacity for choice currently remain.

    It is interesting to consider the sister episode Birthday over in AtS. Cordelia who is suffering undeniable pain from her visions and believes she isn't appreciated is given an 'out' and time is changed for her to have taken a different path and become a successful celebrity as she had always dreamed. She escapes her life with the fang gang but gets to eventually see the repercussions of not being there and takes the choice to have her previous life back. In both cases we see a character that wants to escape their burdens, find relief from trauma/pain that was a consequence of a choice that someone else made which affected their lives: Doyle gave Cordelia the visions, Willow resurrected Buffy. But these events are again affected by another: Skip creates the alteration for Cordelia, The Trio change Buffy. It's in seeing some consequences from escaping that they then come to choose that original act which was done to them for themselves now. Cordelia wants the visions back even if it means changing herself fundamentally to be able to do so and Buffy realises that she actually doesn't want to return to being dead any longer (even though she isn't quite all the way to fully engaging with her life again).

    Buffy has, as you say, continued to move forward in embracing her life and we can see improvement. Those repeated mentions of 'time' that I discussed in my responses to Wrecked are prevalent again. It's there in the time they spend together (making time and when is a good or bad time), when things have happened, events in consideration to others (recent times, first times or next times), and of course the possible limitation of time. This concluding scene really emphasises the sense of progression and the need for change that these keep illustrating. But it won't just happen overnight. These may be good first steps but it's a long path still ahead.

    Thank you Tiny Tabby for a really interesting review. I really enjoyed it, especially all the examples of other times invisibility has been used in fiction and the notion of being made invisible by others expectations and judgments. The perceptions of self the characters have and what they believe to be the expectations on them from those around them often feature strongly. Both as strengths that aid them and also as weaknesses they look to work beyond.

    Hopefully I'll be able to watch and respond to DMP before the end of the weekend.

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    I posted some initial thoughts about this a few days ago, because I wanted to thank TinyTabby for opening my eyes to the significance of the symbols on the cards, which I hadn't even picked up on. The reference to the meaning of the cards took me back to Dru in FFL, referring to Spike as the King of Cups.

    Anyway, moving on. I find this quite an enjoyable episode. It doesn't pack much conventional action in yet it manages to move the plot along and provides key character development, some of it unexpected.
    In this episode Buffy explores a(nother) side to herself: an impish, mischievous aspect that spills over into real malice. Willow struggles to stay on the wagon - Lord, I hate that comparison but right now that's all the show gives us. Xander and Anya continue sloping towards matrimonial bliss, they hope. Dawn continues to be ignored by everyone who means anything to her, and the Trio wield power without responsibility. As for Spike: he's the joker in the pack.

    Dawn's anger in the opening scene is understandable. First she loses her mum, then her sister, now she is expected to throw away treasured mementos of her mother. Like losing her all over again. I take Spike's lighter down the back of the sofa as a sign that he still visits, even if we never see that again onscreen this season after this episode. Apart from the party in Older.

    The kitchen scene is so funny. Buffy obviously doesn't want to be left alone with Spike, but he can't resist coming round in daylight. He wants to meet her on her terms. The lighter is just a blatant excuse.

    Xander is wilfully blind, and moreover he insults both Spike and by extension Buffy, all the while happily oblivious. I doubt he'd be joking about it if he knew the truth. So far this season there has been an undertone of veiled resentment towards Spike in Xander's attitude, or else a partial resurgence of his old wariness from before late S5. Buffy picks up on this and ushers him out.

    I like it that Xander is already taking on the fatherly role he will later more fully assume in S7.

    Doris the social worker - oh dear, such a caricature. I find it hard to believe that any social worker would make such a snap judgement on a single visit. But we have to suspend our disbelief and go with this because this is to highlight Buffy's rubbishy situation. Another thinly drawn authority figure for us to hiss and boo at. But later on when she is being tormented by Buffy I felt sorry for her. She may be unconvincing in her day job, but as a human being I relate to her.

    Xander, oh Xander, how is it possible that he can miss the signs that a. Buffy is disconnected b. That she is involved with Spike on a far more intimate level than any of them could imagine? But he does miss them, and it's consistent with everything else so far this season. I'd go so far as to say that, even after the revealing in OMWF, nobody wants to know what's going on still. Hence Xander wincing when Buffy forgets what day it is and pasting on his jovial facade in front of Mrs Kroger.
    Buffy's assessment gets off to the worst possible start with Dawn's bitter quip about car accidents, then goes downhill from there. Despite Spike's well-meant but clumsy intervention, Buffy is faced with the fear of losing care of Dawn. She can't take her anger out on her friends so she takes it out on Spike. He's still "convenient".

    Her hair crisis might come across as an identity crisis, but when she is zapped we realise all she wants to do still is escape this plane of existence altogether.
    Her interrupted little speech to Willow in Smashed - about good and bad choices - takes me back to her righteous riff to Ford in Lie to Me. In the face of a harsh, uncaring universe, all we have is ourselves and the choices we make. Some are good, some are less so and others are downright awful. But we make them. We have to. And she includes Willow in that - she says "we". So to me this puts a whole new spin on Buffy's and Willow's agency this season. I'm with others on this thread who have pointed out that few if any of their actions are forced onto them: they choose to do things, without coercion. And crucially they are aware of that.

    And it has made me reinterpret Buffy's furious hurt rant to Spike in SR: "I stopped you...something I should have done a long time ago." I've realised this was a cathartic moment for her, whereas previously I simply read into it her justified hurt and anger at Spike's appalling action there. Yes, there are those emotions, but that for me is when she takes responsibility for what has happened between them and to my mind explains why she takes Dawn to him in Villains.
    But I'm getting ahead of myself, and of course that's just my take on the season of Buffy's Bad Choices (Tm show producers). Someone else has courageously agreed to review Seeing Red and I don't mean to tread on anyone's toes.

    Back to Gone
    Willow: I can't help but think that her worry should be about her self-control, not what her friends think of her. She is still trying to play down her abilities and I find her attitude mystifyingly childish. It's almost as though she has reverted to school years. Later in Entropy she will say she is still "me", but at the moment she is veering wildly. Does she even know who "me" is?

    When Xander clues her in on what's happened it's great to see her in detective mode. She solves the problem with her considerable brainpower and it's very convincing. When she and Buffy finally have that heart to heart at the end, it's easy to feel some (temporary) relief that they may be regaining some of their old intimacy. But they are both still holding back.

    Xander and Anya provide the comedy relief. I always thought Emma Caulfield was the most underused actor of them all - she's superb here, interacting with InvisiBuffy and reminding Xander that she has her demons too. It's still clear to me that they both want things to work and are working towards this. I must have been the last person to realise there were real deep-seated issues - like Spike, I didn't see that one coming. But it's Anya who realises what's actually going on with the ray - nice one, Anya!

    The Trio - ugh! Silly, silly boys. I'm beyond disappointed in Jonathan. He should know better. Warren here becomes increasingly creepy as we see him indifferent to the likely outcomes of his actions. He doesn't care if he hurts his so-called friends, and I remember his "alliances aren't about trust" in Smashed. If Jonathan and Andrew had any sense or integrity they'd get out now. But they choose not to. They choose to stay and become even more embroiled. This is the Trio's turning point. From here on I have a sense of real foreboding with them.

    Buffy indulges in a series of silly pranks, before making her way to Spike. She buys herself time with Mrs Kroger, but it's a malicious thing to do. I know it's played for laughs but I didn't find it funny.

    How can it be that Xander doesn't realise Buffy is there in Spike's crypt??? There is none so blind as he who will not see. Xander doesn't want to think that such a thing could happen, so he chooses not to "see" it.

    Spike tells Buffy she still has a death wish. What is funny is that you can actually visualise Buffy's pout as she replies. It's a really painful and powerful moment when Spike stops himself from telling her he wants all of her, not just the sexy part. He senses it's not something she wants to hear. When he throws her out I'm cheering, but not for long. He's still her slave. But in the meantime his act of self-respect in this episode is refreshing and much-needed. And it's the last thing Buffy expects, as we hear from her self-righteous whinge.

    For me the real conflict comes with Dawn. It's telling to me that it's she and Spike who can pierce through the veil of deception and call Buffy out on her true desires: not to be there. Anyway at long last Buffy has the revelation that she doesn't want to die, again. But she isn't too keen on life, either. She's in limbo.

    Edited to say I've only just spotted Stoney's review, which I shall now read through.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Edited again to clarify that I meant to say Buffy took her share of the responsibility in SR for her and Spike's relationship, NOT that she took the entire burden of what happened overall between the two of them solely on her shoulders. As the victim in that scene, she should not be blamed for what Spike does in the heat of the moment.

    Stoney, great post. Yes, that is what I meant about Buffy and Dawn.
    Also, Warren in a sea of balls!!! How did I miss THAT???
    Last edited by debbicles; 18-04-18 at 09:26 AM.
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