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Thread: BtVS rewatch: SEASON 6

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    Moderator Sosa lola's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by debbicles View Post
    I love how protective towards Anya Xander is. I still didn't understand why they broke up, but hey, once I rewatch Hell's Bells I may get a jolt of memory.
    .
    That'll be my turn! I will review Hell's Bells. I'll just say one thing, Xander loves Anya dearly and it's why he won't marry her.
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    Halfrek gives Spike the curse that will change his entire life. Teenage Dirtbag

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  3. #362
    Graveyard Patrol Rihannon's Avatar
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    Thank you, debbicles , good points!

    Quote Originally Posted by debbicles View Post
    Maybe because you do these birthday episode reviews, you should have two birthdays yourself, like HM the Queen? The official birthday could coincide with the Buffy episode and you could have a private birthday on another day. Your actual birthday, as in for example! Two lots of presents!!!
    Hmmm... Interesting idea!

    But boy those slugs are rather special looking!!! Thank you for sharing those snapshots!
    They are something, aren't they...

    Also, it only just occurred to me (belatedly) that being summoned to the counsellor's office might have frightened Dawn, she could have felt it was more bad news. Maybe Halfrek, being the experienced "justice" demon that she is, was actually counting on the shock factor?
    Didn't think about that, but it sounds like something a "justice" demon will do. They do rely on manipulative tactics on an ongoing basis, right?


    What catering school did Anya go to? She seems to be able to handle delicate canaps without fumbling.



    I don't know whether Spike is more worried about Clem thinking Richard is cute or whether Buffy thinks it. Why is nobody wildly curious about Spike's black eye? I have to suppose he's off form otherwise why the frell would he take so long to jump on the demon after it stabs Hallie? But at least he has the presence of mind to realise it's the sword that's the secret here, or is that code for something as well?
    All valid questions. The whole meaning of the sword demon's relevance is confusing to me. I wonder if it wasn't supposed to be considered that much, beyond the obligatory chaotic action-trigger element of the episode.

    At this stage I'm with you in wanting Buffy to show Dawn and Spike some consideration- she seems to be getting on with her friends really quite well but neglecting the two who had nothing to do with bringing her back. What's that about then? I don't think she's bothered about Spike getting knocked down at all, she's anxious about Xander. Given that it was Spike who came to Xander's rescue, she never said a word to him. But she still expects him to watch out for Dawn. Never mind Dead Things, this was the start of my intense dislike of her from this episode onwards.
    Yes I know, and I was right there with you when the show first aired, but now that I'd been through a lot of stuff, I just feel bad about the whole situation. I don't know how much this has been discussed here, but in hindsight (and having now more experience on how clinical depression works), a symptom of depression is taking out the anger and putting the blame on the people that is closer to you, the ones that you know that won't give you up. My read of this is that in Buffy's case, Dawn is her family, looks up to her and depends on her completely. Buffy needs no effort to ensure Dawn's love and loyalty. So, Buffy feels no need of making any effort to "look good" in Dawn's eyes, and even if she is not actively blaming her or emotionally attacking her, she is hurting her deeply by making her feel deserted and ignored. Spike, though, is a more complex thing, as I see it. Spike can be interpreted from his role as Buffy's "dark side", as well as an individual in his own right. From Buffy's perspective, he is the dark, private place where she can go and forget her misery. He is where she can escape from real life, get high on it, and feel good for a little while. Of course, this is a harmful cycle that brings guilt and increases the level of self-hate and overall misery. The "sensible" part of her wishes she could forget about him, ignore his existence and stay away from him. Apparently this also means to ignore any effort of being useful he makes. In the other hand, and in practical means, when it comes to fighting evil (or protecting Dawn, or being helpful in any way) he is a valuable resource she can't ignore, and that would be missed if it wasn't there. Although acknowledging him would mean accepting that he is in fact someone, and that he is really trying to be a better man, and that she just beat the unliving daylights out of him, and what a horrible person would that make her. At the same time, she is not worried about loosing him, either because she doesn't care (or she says so to herself) or because she knows that he is obsessed (in love) with her and will put up with her no matter what. Spike's "you hurt the ones you love", resonates again, right?
    Apparently, she is not that sure about the other Scoobies, namely Willow and Xander. Even after all the tree of them have been through, Buffy fears being something less than perfect to their eyes, and losing their love and respect. Undeservedly so, I think, since both of them dealt with it much better than what she expected.

    Re Halfrek's identity, back in the day I recognised her at once as Cecily, but it seems that not too many viewers did. Which surprised me at the time. Poor Spike/William. Trouble with that theory is that in Entropy he shows not a flicker of recognition so it blew my whole hypothesis out of the water. Even if it has been subsequently confirmed that she was exacting justice at that Victorian party. I haven't read the comic in question.
    Hmm... you're right. I figured that he didn't recognize her in this episode because she wore her demon face during the scene. He seems to find something familiar in her, though. I don't remember well their interaction in Entropy, to say the truth, but it is something we may address when we get to the episode.

    All in all, I do feel that this episode could have been more solid and told its story so much better. The various elements of comedy, angst, drama and mild horror don't quite seem to mesh coherently. I don't think, anyway.
    This is pretty much how it feels, I think.
    Last edited by Rihannon; 18-06-18 at 11:01 PM.

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    All valid questions. The whole meaning of the sword demon's relevance is confusing to me. I wonder if it wasn't supposed to be considered that much, beyond the obligatory chaotic action-trigger element of the episode.
    It might be a stretch, but I wonder if it's because the sword demon can hide. All our main characters have things to hide about themselves and their feelings, and a demon that can hide unseen in the walls.

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    It's great to see there have been a whole bunch of posts. I'm looking forward to watching the ep and reading through them all this week.

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    Rihannon, I could have used your lovely explanation of Buffy's feelings at the time the show aired!!! Everything you say makes sense, but I didn't see that at the time.

    Priceless, that's a great point about the sword. Oh darn it, I made a truly awful pun. Sorry.
    You know what I am. You've always known. You come to me all the same.

    "There's a lot of comedy to be gotten from the world's doom spiral right now." Tracey Ullman, June 2018

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    Ugh my plan for this last week just went totally out the window, in great part because of the S12 start, but also just unavoidable home things. I'll catch up in the next week with OaFA but just wanted to acknowledge it is a lack of organisation and the ability to control everything despite my best wishes that have thwarted me, I'll get to it soon.

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  13. #367
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    All said regarding writers, producers, actors, directors, viewers, readers, etc. are what I remember, my opinions, etc.




    BULLET POINTS AND ANALYSIS FOR “AS YOU WERE” (B 6.15)




    ‘DISCLAIMERS’


    * I consider post-Season 9 cannot be canon; so, I’m not going to address anything in post-Season 9 including the BtVS 12.01 thing.


    * I consider it makes sense Buffy/Spike would get together after Season 9.


    * “As You Were” (B 6.15) happens because of “productions reasons” and it’s a way to end “Spuffy” on-screen sex scenes. It seems Marc Blucas got to look over the script before agreeing to do the episode (because Riley’s awesomeness factor otherwise makes little sense). But I will focus on in-‘verse reasons for things.




    ‘GENERAL THOUGHTS’


    * I reason Spike was ‘The Doctor’ and his contract for the demons eggs was “FOB Shipping Point”—meaning that his contract was to get the demon eggs to Sunnydale and then someone/thing else would pick them up. I reason Spike knew about Riley/Sam and the demon eggs thing was his way to try to find out how Buffy still felt about Buffy/Riley and Buffy/Spike vs. Buffy/Riley.

    Overall, I reason from probably post-“Something Blue” (B 4.09) until “End of Days” (B 7.21) that Buffy/Riley was a bigger factor for Spike than Buffy/Angel. With Angel’s curse, Buffy/Angel wasn’t a threat to Buffy/Spike.

    Buffy got with Riley instead of getting with Spike. By “Wrecked” (B 6.10), Spike realizes he suffered through Buffy/Riley for no good reason.


    * That Buffy probably would have gotten back with Riley hurts Spike. Spike is emotionally sensitive and he’s generally not ‘fair’ when placing blame for the problems in his relationships.

    Buffy in “Something Blue” (B 4.09) continues to date Riley because she didn’t like how Spike treated her during the “Something Blue” spell.

    In “As You Were” (B 6.15), Buffy would have gotten back with Riley because Spike wasn’t “getting any gentler” with her. Riley is comparatively loving with Buffy. Buffy from “Dead Things” (B 6.13) to past “As You Were” considers Spike’s into her because of what her body can provide him.


    * We don’t know whether Buffy/Spike have ‘made love’ before “As You Were” (B 6.15), but it seems they do in “As You Were”.

    Did Spike ever want to “make love” to Buffy before the Crypt Scene in “As You Were”? If anything, it seems Spike was pushing Buffy into kinky and sexually ‘adventurous’ things and wasn’t interested in ‘making love’.

    Given Drusilla and Harmony are vampires and Buffy is the Slayer, Spike likely enjoyed the sexual possibilities of such beings.


    * Xander is remarkably insensitive regarding Buffy/Riley. He fawns over Riley and Riley/Sam even though he considers Buffy hasn’t ‘moved on’ from Riley given Buffy hasn’t dated anyone since Riley.

    It takes at-most around 3 months (the end of the school year to the new school year) for Buffy to ‘move on’ from the supposed love of her life Angel.

    The Scoobies likely don’t know Angel showed up in “Forever” (B 5.17). The Scoobies reason the post-“Flooded” (B 6.04) Buffy/Angel meeting didn’t ‘go well’.


    * Ultimately, Buffy’s ‘break-up’ with Spike was largely like Buffy’s ‘break-up’ with Angel in “Lovers Walk” (B 3.08). Buffy throughout the rest of BtVS S6 considers Buffy/Spike ‘together’ and always refers to the relationship in the present tense.




    TIMELINE OF BUFFY/SPIKE’S SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP


    * I’ve always considered that the ‘time stamp’ in “Conversations With Dead People” (B 7.07) of “November 12, 2002” means that the end of “Smashed” (B 6.09) happened a year earlier on November 12, 2001 C.E.

    “All The Way” (B 6.06) happens on Halloween. “Once More With Feeling” (B 6.07) happens sometime after that, “Tabula Rasa” (B 6.08) and “Smashed” (B 6.09) both happen within a short time.


    * Tara Maclay’s tombstone in “Help” (B 7.04) states she died on May 07, 2002 C.E.


    * The end of “As You Were” (B 6.15) to when Tara’s killed happens within 2 weeks. The Xander/Anya wedding happens 1 week after the beginning of “As You Were”.


    * So, Buffy/Spike’s sexual relationship in BtVS S6 lasted around 5.5 to 5.75 months.


    * And "As You Were" (B 6.15) happens over 3 months after "Older and Faraway" (B 6.14).




    DOUBLEMEAT PALACE USE IN EPISODE


    * UPN made BtVS change the original Buffy/Spike ‘Dumpster Sex Scene’ that was filmed during “DoubleMeat Palace” (B 6.12).

    The one in “DoubleMeat Palace” (B 6.12) was filmed during the filming of “As You Were” (B 6.15) and the writers decided to make the DMP a center focus in “As You Were”.


    * It’s made a big point that a lowly vampire finds Buffy’s smell revolting and even Riley is ‘put off’ by Buffy’s smell. Yet Spike’s so sexually attracted to Buffy that her smell doesn’t at-all repel him.




    RILEY’S INITIAL INTERACTIONS WITH BUFFY ARE SIMILAR TO ANGEL’S AT THE END OF “I WILL REMEMBER YOU” (A 1.08).


    * Riley wants to see Buffy’s reaction to seeing him. He wants to know what Buffy’s feelings still are for him. There’s no tactical reason to not show up with his wife. If the demon eggs things were dangerous enough, Riley could have an entire ‘Initiative’ team with him.

    Riley lets Buffy believe Riley came back to see her and wants to be with her again. He’s relatively very flirty with her until his wife shows up.


    * It seems Riley planned for Sam to talk to Buffy alone to find out if Buffy is dating anyone, has ‘moved on’ from Riley, etc. There’s no other good reason Riley pairs Sam with Buffy.


    * That Riley never mentions Spike is very glaring. Either Riley assumes Spike is no longer slaying, no longer in Sunnydale, or he assumes it’s likely Buffy’s dating Spike.

    “No civilians” on the hunt for the demon eggs and The Doctor? How about Spike? Why couldn’t Buffy and Spike go look for the demon eggs while Riley somehow tries to find The Doctor?

    If Angel were in Sunnydale, would Riley also somehow not include him among those who should try to deal with the demon eggs problem?




    BUFFY’S SEXUAL ATTRACTION TO RILEY AND FLIRTINESS WITH RILEY


    * The only thing that makes any sense to me is Buffy’s attracted to Riley’s possible current love for Buffy. And Buffy’s attracted to how comparatively fun and high-paying a job with the Initiative would be compared to Buffy’s current DoubleMeat Palace job. Buffy likely considers Riley’s been pining for Buffy this whole time and hasn’t ‘moved on’.

    Even in BtVS S8, when Buffy goes to see Riley she knows either Spike’s dust or hasn’t bothered to contact her. Spike in BtVS S6 is not being loving with Buffy and Riley relatively was loving with Buffy.


    * The moments before Sam shows up, Buffy and Riley seem ‘pumped’ from the slaying.




    DID SPIKE WANT RILEY TO FIND BUFFY/SPIKE IN BED TOGETHER?


    * I’ve always reasoned Spike in “In the Dark” (A 1.03) led Angel into a trap and timed Angel’s beating up on ‘leads’ for Angel to get trapped by the torture demon.

    I always reasoned Spike wanted Riley to find out who The Doctor is and that Riley is delusional enough to think the ‘leads’ would be more scared of Riley than scared of Spike.

    I’m not sure Spike considered Buffy would have sex with Spike before Riley finds out who The Doctor is. But there is a good chance she would after finding out about Riley/Sam.

    Spike certainly has the upstairs ‘set up’ for Buffy/Spike sex.




    BUFFY’S HAVING ‘COMFORT SEX’ WITH SPIKE


    * Buffy to Spike: “Tell me you love me.” “Tell me you want me.” If at any time you could argue Buffy ‘used Spike for sex’, THIS is the one time.

    Buffy’s saddened about: Riley’s being ‘over’ Buffy, Riley/Sam, etc. and she decides to have ‘comfort sex’ with Spike.

    If the demon eggs weren’t downstairs and if Spike hadn’t brought Riley/Sam to Sunnydale to find out Buffy’s feelings toward Riley and Buffy/Riley versus Buffy/Spike, Spike would have likely not had sex with Buffy.

    This moment is why Buffy in “Touched” (B 7.20) makes sure to tell Spike that she wants Spike to hold her. Buffy knows how hurt Spike is that she went to him for “cold comfort”.


    * “As You Were” (B 6.15) is also the only reason Spike in BtVS S9 could think Buffy would maybe prefer Buffy/Dowling to Buffy/Spike.




    CHRONOLOGICAL BULLET POINTS AND ANALYSIS



    * The Machiavelli guy seems to be the new ‘Night Manager’ of the DMP Buffy works at. He’s been there 5 years and is going to night school to get his MBA (Masters of Business Administration).


    * Buffy clearly doesn’t want to work at the DMP, yet she’s not gotten a different job and she’s not taken Spike up on his offer of financial support.

    Yet it seems Buffy would work for the Initiative if she could stay in Sunnydale and continue her Slayer duties.

    It’s odd that the US Government seems to have never offered Buffy and the Scoobies money to fight the forces of evil. They know about Buffy and Co.

    I consider part of Buffy’s organization in BtVS S8 got funding from the US Government and perhaps other Governments and that simply Buffy’s thieving activities were to supplement the shortfall as those governments probably didn’t think Buffy needed the Military budget of a small country.


    * Spike has sex with Buffy in front of her house so that she won’t stop by later when the demon eggs arrive.


    * Dawn’s quite slender for someone recently living on fast food.


    * Buffy ‘under her breath’: “He’s not getting any gentler.” Xander of course in “Gone” (B 6.11) is hit with the most blatant and obvious hints that Buffy/Spike are having sex, but the entire Scooby Gang and Dawn are relatively bizarrely unaware.

    Dawn even in “Normal Again” (B 6.17) doesn’t make the connection. Did Dawn think Angel was the vampire Buffy hated? That Buffy had sex with Uncursed Angel?


    * Can Buffy really not afford to take her jacket to the dry cleaners? It seems she spends literally hours trying to scrub the grass stain out.


    * Why didn’t Buffy reapply to UC Sunnydale during “Life Serial” (B 6.05) or near afterward? And did Buffy not check the deadlines ‘checklist’?

    In addition, Buffy in BtVS S4 and BtVS S5 seems to only be taking ‘general education’ classes. Not getting back into UCSD isn’t the end of the world given Buffy can simply go to a junior college and take more general education classes or better yet some introductory business classes or whatever and then go back to UCSD in a future semester.

    “As You Were” seems to try to ‘hammer home’ how ‘pathetic’ Buffy is and how ‘pathetic’ Buffy is doing compared to Riley Finn.

    But it’s very likely Buffy’s net worth is considerably higher than Riley’s. Buffy still owns the Summers’s home, Buffy still has a moneyed father, etc. And in the supernatural world, Sam is quite a step down from Buffy and Spike is quite a step up from Riley.


    * Riley’s body armor seems at least a size too small.


    * Riley’s facial scar seems reminiscent of John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgement Day .


    * Why didn’t Buffy keep the battle armor? Why didn’t the US Government or Riley give the Scoobies battle armor and other ‘Initiative’ technology?


    * Given Riley and Sam are likely together for at least years after Season 9, Riley/Sam is the longest continuous romantic relationship in the Buffyverse among current or former Scoobies of relationships that began after 1997 C.E.


    * Why didn’t Riley tell Buffy to NOT kill the ‘demon eggs’ demon?


    * Riley isn’t actually over Buffy and Sam almost certainly knows that.


    * I consider other than wanting to permanently end Buffy/Riley, Spike doesn’t much care about Riley’s feelings regarding Buffy/Spike. And Spike knows Buffy isn’t going to allow Riley to try to kill Spike. Spike already knew that in “Goodbye Iowa” (B 3.14).


    * I consider Buffy gets dressed so quickly mostly to try to protect Spike from Riley if necessary.


    * Obviously, Riley’s threat to kill Spike is toothless. He can’t even get the location of the demon eggs if Spike is dusted; in addition, obviously, Buffy isn’t going to allow Riley to kill Spike.


    * Buffy punches Spike hard enough to make his nose bleed.


    * Buffy learns Spike’s responsible for perhaps thousands of more deaths and yet he’s able to make her feel guilty about ‘playing games’ with him.


    * Regarding Riley’s ending episode offer to Buffy to kill Spike: Does Riley think he could kill Spike? Maybe, but it’s unlikely given Spike in BtVS S4 was able to evade the Initiative for hours and Spike at the time didn’t have a power base.

    Does Buffy think Riley could kill Spike? Given Spike’s The Doctor and Spike, Spike very likely had a contingency that if Riley and/or Sam ‘went after him’ that either or both would be killed.


    * I consider Riley’s ending speech to Buffy doesn’t much affect Buffy and I consider Sam’s ‘fangirling’ of Buffy doesn’t much affect Buffy.


    * I can see why some would call Sam a “Mary Sue”, but she’s a much lesser version of Buffy albeit taller and better looking.


    * I’ve always considered the most important part of the ‘breakup’ is Buffy calls Spike “William” and that she never calls him “William” again.

    Buffy’s not in love with “William” and doesn’t know “William”.


    * The breakup ends Buffy/Spike ‘on-screen’ sex in BtVS S6.

    Buffy remembers only have sex with Angel twice (including BtVS S8), there were stretches of no sex with Riley, and not having sex with Spike for Buffy doesn’t mean she was no longer in a relationship with Spike.

    And the rest of BtVS S6 happens in a span of a few weeks.

    Given the rest of BtVS S6, BtVS S7, BtVS S8, and Season 9, it seems Buffy’s ‘breakup’ with Spike was Buffy deciding to momentarily stop having sex with Spike.

    I still don’t understand why she decided to momentarily stop having sex with Spike, but it likely revolves around Buffy/Spike not being loving with each other.

    But Buffy clearly expected Spike to act like she considers Angel acted: simply pine for Buffy until Buffy decides to rekindle/renew Buffy/Spike. She’s shocked and saddened that Spike brought a date to the Xander/Anya wedding. Spike/Anya literally hurt Buffy.

    I’d say Buffy decides to try to get herself into a ‘better place’ emotionally before rekindling and renewing Buffy/Spike. But she also decides to continue ‘playing games’ and the ‘breakup’ is part of that.
    Last edited by MikeB; 23-06-18 at 08:47 PM. Reason: added that "As You Were" happens months after "Older and Faraway"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rihannon View Post
    Hello everybody. Sorry for being absent for so long. I can barely tell the time when my life became so incredibly complicated. A lot of things happened to me this last year, suddenly I feel so grownup and overwhelmed at the same time. And I feel that I have to apologize for this review, that is not at all what I would have wished (I haven’t been particularly inspired these last days), but I hope it will do its job as a starting point for the episode discussion.

    Also, and as usual, I warn you of my mostly self-taught use of the English language, and hope it doesn't interfere with your read.
    Well we really appreciate you sticking with us and covering the episode. I hope that you'll consider participating in the final season too when we get to the sign up later this season.

    All this considered, I must say I never hated it. The first time a watched the episode, I remember being almost as starved for a little kindness from Buffy as Dawn and Spike (ok, it was mostly about Spike, to be honest) were. I found sympathy for Dawn’s hormonal and (let’s face it) pathetic display of tantrum, even if it was a little uncomfortable to watch. Maybe it was about not being MT’s best performance, in my opinion it certainly wasn’t. I also found great happiness in every little gesture of reluctant camaraderie (they were playing cards!) and knowing, secret looks between Buffy and Spike. In hindsight, it was an obvious preparation for the literal collapse (cave in, shake out) of their relationship in “As You Were”. Also, even if it is listed and mentioned in the web many fewer times than other episodes, it wasn’t hard to find a few reviews, that I mostly avoided in order to not being influenced, but I’ll make reference to if I find it suitable.
    I definitely think that it is one of the weakest episodes of the season but it is also an interesting one for the snapshots we gain of where some of the dynamics in the group are. That everyone is forced to be around each other, especially as this is something which has been very deliberately avoided in some cases, makes the responses to the context, what it raises and exposes, intriguing to examine. As you say, in hindsight we can see factors raised that shows where things are heading.

    The sister episode over in AtS, Couplet, also gives focus to relationship dynamics. The title there eluding to a pairing that typically is created to work together. Of course in poetry the words communicate and convey meaning and which two 'lines' create the couplet affects this. There are two new dynamics being deliberately viewed between Fred/Gunn and Cordelia/Groo and the effect these burgeoning relationships have on others who have been thwarted romantically is seen (Wes and Angel). There is support and jealousy, plenty of emotional meat in the episode and that sense that when one thing changes between two people the ripples expand to the group and other dynamics within it.

    This is such a fundamental part of the BtVS season and was something that I raised in both the After Life and Smashed reviews, how experiences bring change and that group roles and interpersonal dynamics are affected by ripples from any individual changes and pressures that occur within a group. We see in OaFA some of the consequences of what has been happening to them whilst everyone has been avoiding each other and keeping secrets highlighted a little as they are all forced back together but are somewhat uncertain and failing to function as well as they have in the past. The enforced proximity allows for some of those secrets to run close to the surface too (Buffy/Spike), whilst others are outright exposed (Willow's and Dawn's).

    The disconnections in the group of course aren't something that we as the audience have been unaware of but having the point pressed to the characters themselves creates perhaps the start of a steady swing to change some of what has been developing. Like Couplet, there are important character points which play significant parts of what it to come and it is the emotional notes that are running out of sight as much as those being openly exposed that drive the characters forwards.

    After a brief Google search, I found a post signed by one Mark Field, in the “Fragments of my Imagination” blog. The author explains the origin of the title in a quote from J. G. Ballard’s “Empire of the Sun”. As ignorant as I am in what refers to English literature, I would never had found this bit of information by myself. I couldn’t know either that the beginning of the scene when Dawn is sent to the guidance office was a direct allusion to the book. Probably more than one of you was already aware of this, but at least my feeling wasn’t that mislead after all. In the review, the author also refers to the meaning, or parallel between the quote’s meaning in the book and Dawn’s own feelings.
    Unfortunately, real life didn’t agree with my intention of actually reading the book, so I won’t be able to provide any enlightening thoughts about if there are any important connections to the episode, but probably some of you can.
    Ah, that's really interesting that there is a link between Empire of the Sun and the episode title. It isn't actually a book I've read but I did search what the teacher was saying after seeing the scene in the classroom and came to the conclusion that Empire of the Sun was likely the text being discussed. The quote that contains the title is apparently at the end of the book. At a glance, it seems as if Jim has returned to his family after his years away and despite affection remaining their separate experiences have created a different distance between them now, different points of reference and selves beyond just age, "Jim had told his parents nothing of all this. Nor had he confided in Dr. Ransome, who clearly suspected that Jim had chosen to stay on at Lunghua after the armistice, playing his games of war and death. Jim remembered his return to the house in Amherst Avenue, and his mother and father smiling weakly from their deck chairs in the garden. Beside the drained swimming pool, the untended grass grew around their shoulders and reminded him of the bowers of nettles in which the dead Japanese airmen had lain. As Dr Ransome stood formally on the terrace in his American uniform, Jim had wanted to explain to his parents everything that he and the doctor had done together, but his mother and father had been through their own war. For all their affection for him, they seemed older and far away." (taken from here)

    This it seems ties with the teacher talking about the things lost and the things gained by Jim through his experiences and also then perhaps with Dawn's and Buffy's situations. I wonder then if the "get out, get out" moment is a deliberate tie to the previous birthday episode Blood Ties when Dawn ran off up to her room having misunderstood Buffy and Joyce's conversation and proceeded to have a tantrum, ripping apart her diaries, as she questioned her existence and worth to the others. Again, greatly about this feeling of separation but it emphasises what must be a key difficulty for her in this season, going from being the point of focus last season, the 'key' treated as precious and Buffy's priority, to feeling non-existent again. Everything they have both experienced between then and now has caused a chasm that has pushed them further apart than simple aging could ever have done. They are both changed as Jim and his parents were, but changed independent to each other. I'm sure someone who actually knows the book greater than digging out an extract could perhaps give us more (or maybe has already when I read the rest of the thread!).

    The opening scene shows Buffy in control of the situation, at least about what she knows how to do well: prepare to go hunting and slaying monsters. At the same time, she has no hold whatsoever of Dawn’s need of sharing quality time with her, as her main (only?) parent figure. I wouldn’t think she is entirely oblivious, but apparently she chooses not to acknowledge Dawn’s feeling as a real/justified thing. Dawn behaves as understanding as she can, considering her sisters burden, as any understanding child of a single, working parent would.
    Really interesting points about the scene and the social expectation on women to successfully juggle all the different areas of their lives. I think it works well in the episode actually to give a balance to both Buffy's and Dawn's points of view. Dawn does have reason to feel neglected and we've seen the cry for attention in her negative behaviour/choices already. That she is still struggling with everything she has been through since she was created is not hard to see and accept. But she also swings from behaving with quiet acceptance to losing her facade and suddenly being openly hostile in a way that comes over as unfair and childish too.

    Buffy has to manage a whole heap as well of course and there is absolutely no doubt that she has an extreme burden. The need to leave to go and slay is genuine. Then there is the shallow connection made with someone at the job she has to hold to keep the finances turning over drawn into the episode. It perhaps shows how little her job matches her character/interests if Sophie is the best connection she has made. And then there is the aspect that we also know is a way that she is letting Dawn down unfairly which we/she are reminded of when her relationship with Spike draws her attention during the evening, even when they are pushed into the home context.

    So… I don’t really know if the slug thing matters discussion-wise, beyond the recurrent dynamics between Anya and Xander, where she makes things weird and he makes a discrediting comment about what she is saying or doing.
    I think there is a reference back to Life Serial here when Buffy tried to work at the Magic Box and saw the Essence of Slug candles (again I might be repeating what others have said). There is with this episode, as there was then too, this reoccurring point of the passage of time in the season. Being trapped at home just like she was trapped at work, repeating the day because of The Trio, just as she now often feels trapped when in the environment of the Doublemeat Palace where the artificial lights strip out an awareness of time and the shifts can bleed into each other. The candles are still there, unsellable, permanently stuck slug stock!

    I think the aspect of time as it appears in the season directly relates to the engagement with our lives and always reminds me of Aurora's consideration of how vampires are outside of time but with connections to humans, caring for mortal lives, can somewhat bring them back into it. When Hallie tells them to enjoy their time together as all they have now if time and each other, just before her failed attempt to leave, I think it encapsulates a lot of what the season explores and this episode leans on. Our interactions, our history and how we move forwards together are what mark passages of our lives and give additional meaning to our experiences.

    I feel that I have to put a word in favor of slugs, though. Slugs don’t get turned off by slugs. They are hermaphrodite and mate like crazy and love making lots and lots of tiny slugs. No wonder they can easily become a garden/crop pest. And not everyone hates slugs, and most people wouldn’t hate them if they knew more about them. That would be like saying that you hate mammals because house rats freak you out. Slugs can be incredibly awesome and cute. Just take a look at these guys…
    Okay they are actually so cute that I find it hard to believe that they are real!! My kids are going to love these pictures.

    Of course, Xander didn’t need to really know about slugs, and it is OK that he doesn’t know. This comment is very season 6 Xander. All slugs are creepy, just like all demons are evil. It doesn’t matter if there is a wide variety of slugs, and if demons can be varied and complex, just like humans. I don’t have in mind how much has been discussed here about the meaning of demons in the series. Sometimes I think that demons are represented in a different light than vampires. Could be this that they are peoples “demons”, as in “the part of us we don’t like to talk about” while vampires are the fears/troubles that disappear once people “kill them”. Still, he is incredibly willing to put up with everyone’s demons, even if he’s not entirely happy about it.
    I think this is an interesting point and I do think that vampires are treated differently to how demons are considered more widely. The representation of fear/troubles by vampires as you say makes them things that should be beaten and worked beyond. The show repeatedly establishes that unsouled vampires can't be trusted and can't be reliable. It raises the question, but the answer it reached through Spike's journey was that even with a really positive motivation driving an individual like love drives his choices, an unsouled vampire lacks the emotional/moral boundaries to be able to make the right choices, to be able to see the lines. But demons generally in the verse can be shown to be unnecessary to worry about too. Clem is generally presented as harmless, because he isn't a threat to humans (kittens beware though!). AtS shows in That Old Gang of Mine, if I'm remembering correctly, that some demons operate under the radar because they aren't a concern to us. So what is the difference in what they represent? Multiple and varied options I suppose. I can see that it can be something that is being hidden and part of the secrets/lies that we see being exposed/dealt with and also as things that are harmless that remain within perhaps.

    The demons in this episode are hidden at first and then revealed. The warrior demon is simply a danger that needs locating and fighting off, Hallie needs to be exposed and the truths that are bound to her appearance, how Dawn has been feeling and how self-focused everyone has been, needs to be released. Still there is representation of fears/troubles in there, but perhaps also an acknowledgment that some experiences are things that we benefit from exposing and facing rather than killing off?? Xander was recently astounded by the talk of how many demons would be getting invited to the wedding. His sweeping fear of the demons, like his dismissal of the slugs, is illustrative of avoidance perhaps, his own demons being allowed to lurk underneath. So his fears for their future, from his own upbringing/genetics are what he isn't exposing. Instead of facing his fears over the marriage itself he worries about the demons attending the wedding.

    Tara is Buffy’s friend too, and after the events of Dead Things, I would want to have Tara attending any important (and potentially catastrophic) event too.
    I agree that it is interesting that Buffy clearly sees having Tara there as a wanted support. And this is even though she wasn't expecting Spike to attend. Perhaps it was a 'just in case' scenario or perhaps just having someone there who she felt she had been honest with and revealed her current struggles to was just moral support that felt good to have to hand. It lays a lot of weight to Buffy's worries of what her friends might think of her and how ashamed she feels when she clearly gets a real sense of comfort and support from having opened up, but is still looking to keep the secret from her other friends/family.

    However, against this sense that Buffy has such a strong desire to keep her relationship with Spike a secret is the implication that she was somewhat aware of the opportunity which was presented by Spike turning up to see how he could/would interact with her friends. It again is illustrative of the internal push/pull that Buffy feels towards the relationship.

    I found Willow's response to hearing that Tara was going to be attending interesting as I think it comes across like she may be thinking that her friends are trying to give her/Tara the opportunity to reconnect. That there could be a hint of matchmaking going on as she wouldn't have any reason to suspect that Buffy would suddenly be looking to spend time with Tara and it would be important to Buffy Tara be invited for the moral support she is offering Buffy herself. It is just indicative of the lack of connection and understanding between the group at the moment.

    Dawn comes in and reports no news in the nerd-front and tries to recruit company for her shopping trip. Once again, she is turned down in favor of everyone’s responsibilities. Just like happened with Buffy, the reasons for not spending time with her are real and valid, although she will (understandably, if not very maturely) feel that she is not a priority to anyone.
    It is a tough scene because you really can feel for Dawn and why she feels so alone, but at the same time she isn't being given half thought out reasons as excuses. It does feel like her behaviour is a regression in maturity and I think this could relate to the desire to return to a previous time when she mattered and before the gulf she'd felt before reappeared between her and the others again.

    Dawn tries to act as if all is fine with her, but soon enough the we find out that is not. Evidence points out that the shopping trip was turned into a shoplift spree. Not a very original “call for help”, but definitively one that wouldn’t have happened if an “adult” had joined her in the first place.
    True and there does feel to be an unconscious desire to punish the adults around her. Taking from the Magic Box is obviously easy, she spends so much time there, but hitting out against those closest to her directly like that, for not noticing her, seems to be wrapped up in her actions even if it isn't deliberate. Perhaps even giving Buffy a jacket that is stolen has an unconscious element of lashing out wrapped into the desire to be praised and appreciated for the gift giving too. Having Buffy put on something that she knows is stolen reduces the image of the warrior for good that Buffy is leaving her home alone to go and be. Dawn not knowing that often her sister is heading off to her own form of self punishment.

    I have to say I feel quite a lot of sympathy for Dawn feeling so isolated and although I understand the sense of betrayal I find Anya really unpleasant towards Dawn in the episode. The punitive damages aspect, although not ooc, feels really out of line without speaking to Buffy separately to me and indicative of a lack of consideration for what is under the issues that Dawn is already suffering from to want to add in more.

    In the other hand, there was no reason for not trusting the school counselor, and I don’t think she did trust her that much anyway, since Dawn once again denied her true pain. And got tricked anyway.
    I agree that despite the experiences she has had the context of how Hallie approaches Dawn is very cunning. The setting validates her presence and her reasons for questioning Dawn are brushed over because of that and the need to unburden and feel listened to. It is somewhat sad that later when Buffy is trying to talk to Dawn and they are being more honest we see the repeat of the phrase Hallie uses to win Dawn over given genuinely from Buffy. It really lays bare the blinkered perspective of the judgment Hallie brings. It isn't that Buffy doesn't care or wouldn't want to offer Dawn her love and support, it's that she has missed the signs and is struggling herself right now. Yes Dawn has some genuine issues that she is justified in feeling, but so does Buffy. This reminds me of the link to Empire in the Sun, as I understand it and I wish I was more certain(!), but the idea of how they have struggled separately and grown apart is key here. Hallie is making the group face their own failure towards Dawn, but that isn't by any stretch the whole picture.

    That is something I like in this episode: we get to see people that may or may not have a history together, interact in an environment that is familiar in some ways and alien in others, just like we an actual gathering. Some of the interactions happen within the context of complicated dynamics, like Tara-Willow, Tara-Buffy, or (my favorite) Tara-Spike-Buffy. Some are new and have no baggage, like the ones where Clem is involved.
    Yes the relationship dynamics are at the heart of the episode. I like your point that people often bring extras to a party to act as a buffer and I think that's really true. The inclusion of Clem/Richard/Sophie are very interesting because there is no baggage that comes with them but perhaps they represent aspects of what the characters want for themselves as well as for others.

    Spike is deliberately pushing Buffy and the group by bringing someone visually distinct like Clem to the party, but perhaps unconsciously one who won't be a threat and will try to join in and participate in a human party too. It is both a somewhat belligerent statement of difference and a wish for inclusion. Yet the latter one that he doesn't himself live up to. Perhaps Clem represents the way Spike wishes his demon nature was in terms of an obstacle, rather than the reality a more human facade can conceal.

    Sophie is ill-fitted to Buffy as a friend and within the group overall and possibly represents how Buffy is feeling around her friends in terms of awkwardness. If Buffy is feeling the need for an extra as a buffer it is an interesting choice on top of strongly wanting Tara there too. Is Sophie a distracting element that looks to present as gaining a very safe, very normal additional element in her life rather than Spike who she has been developing a relationship with in truth?

    Likewise Richard is a friendly/nice guy who is clearly interested in Buffy, but his lack of understanding of the nature of their lives just puts him in danger and he plays the literal red shirt for the evening, although luckily for him not with the traditional deathly end. Xander and Anya possibly do wish that there was another average couple in the group that they could share dates with and that element of normal interaction and support is something that Xander possibly craves for reassurance. To have others to compare their plans and experiences against would be very welcome.

    Maybe not an entirely conscious level, since for sure everyone means well: Anya and Xander want Buffy to meet a nice man, Buffy wants to show that she is capable of making friends, and Spike probably just don’t want to be the only demon in the party. But at the end, most people behave better if strangers are present.
    That's an interesting observation that the behaviour of others can be affected by the presence of strangers specifically. I think this is in great part true and helps to underline to Buffy that Spike isn't playing well when his jealousy is flared and in the end he resorts to directly snarking by implying threats of violence to Richard for Buffy to decode.

    Until you observed how lacking presence Sophie was I hadn't really thought about how she features during the party. Amusingly for someone who comes with a list of intolerances she is particularly accepting and adaptable and she is openly comfortable with being unable to go to her shift. Perhaps her easygoing nature actually belies an inner tension to her work situation which Buffy relates to.

    The baggage and the dirty laundry: (Or, the “baggage full of dirty laundry”? Ha! A double metaphor! Is it cool or is it lame? It is yours to proclaim!) So, if we think of the Scoobies as family, as I think it should be done, families usually have lots of baggage. There are old wounds, and not entirely forgiven betrayals, and disappointments, and all that dumb things that for some reason are so difficult to leave behind. Of course, there is the love. Love makes the baggage bearable, to the point that most of the time its weight can be ignored. And well, that’s the way it is, as far as I know, and people learn to deal with the stuff, but it does exist nonetheless. Probably the most notable situation here would be Willow and Tara’s, since their breakup is still fresh and their interactions are tentative at best, but the love is undeniable.
    I really like the metaphors you use and yes there are plenty of these issues within the dynamics of the party. The many relationships that are featured have tensions within them that come from their histories and there are plenty of hidden secrets that add layers on how they are feeling. Willow's struggle and her somewhat false presentation of how she has been coping, Buffy's ongoing struggles and hidden relationship, Dawn's shoplifting and sense of isolation, Spike's deep wish to be accepted by Buffy as he looks to try and use her desire for him and both Xander and Anya's underlying tension over their future together.

    There is in fact an emphasis on what people think and what they know that runs through the episode and is heavily repeated in the script. With the integration of Spike, the possible use of magic, Dawn pressing her unhappiness there is also a sense of testing what you think or suspect too.

    In the surface there is this sort of camaraderie between them that anyone who paid a little attention wouldn’t miss. But if someone lifts the lid, what will find? Material for more than one discussion, for sure, including the origins of Spike’s battered face and Buffy’s short hair.
    This is excellent. Yes we can see that there is that push/pull between them and the implication even that Buffy has wondered if they could feasibly become 'outy' in her exchange with Tara and when she says she was insane to think he could hang out with her friends. As well as the general glances/interactions, I think this is also emphasised when Anya is able to check on Xander when he is hurt but it is uncertain whether Buffy was asking after whether Xander or Spike was hurt, just that she then looks wistful at the interaction between the couple. This contrasts specifically to how Buffy behaves in First Date when both Xander and Spike are injured but Spike is souled. The abusive/negative sides to the relationship are also there still now though and those two visuals you note are stark reminders of how there are some very real aspects which are not good at all between them.

    All things considered, they are handling the situation in a civil (if not healthy) way. Thinking about how Buffy was able to be in such high spirits (faked or not) after what happened in Dead Things, what comes to my mind is her conversation with Tara at the end of the episode. Being able to “air up” a bit the dirty laundry somehow makes it more bearable. It makes sense.
    You are probably right that having spoken to Tara it has made it easier for Buffy to move past some of the recent events. It is sad to consider that, in terms of the buffer of additional guests, maybe Spike brought Clem along to be a support himself as Buffy's need for Tara worked too. The dig of being part of the team at the start even maybe alluding to Spike's bitterness at being excluded at points too and having been attacked for doing what he felt was in Buffy's best interest? Perhaps. Generally I think it is about challenging the group about inclusion, Spike is very accepting of the violence in their relationship, which is part of the negative limitation he works within unsouled.

    But they do manage a reasonably civil interaction around Spike's constant attempts to press for further attention. As Clavus observed in the Tabula Rasa review, both Dawn and Spike are specifically wanting more of Buffy's time and attention, she is their central emotional focus, and both play up during the party increasingly when they aren't getting exactly what they want and don't feel special to Buffy.

    In any case, I suppose Hank didn’t make any effort to get Dawn’s custody after Joyce and Buffy died (It also was never clear to me how much Hank knew of Buffy’s death and resurrection, and if he did anything about it. Maybe someone her can shed a little light on the subject?
    Again this may have been answered already, but they did hide Buffy's death from her dad. When the bot goes to answer the phone in Bargaining pt1 they stop her because it might be Hank and he might realise something was wrong.
    BUFFYBOT: Is my phone manner not correct?
    TARA: It's perfect. It's just ... we can't take the chance that Mr. Summers might talk to you and know something's wrong.
    XANDER: See, if he thought the real Buffy was gone, he could take Dawn away.
    DAWN: And I wanna stay here, with you and Willow and Tara. Understand?


    So, legal status not clear and all, we know that Buffy took the role of Dawn’s guardian after the death of their mother. Buffy’s death, not very long after that, had to be very hard on Dawn. Aside from the comic books (cannon-status also unclear to me), we don’t know much about how Dawn or any of the Scoobies dealt with Buffy’s death, at least until what we got to see in the first episodes of season 6.
    Those comics aren't canon. I think they were offcially allowed or some such distinction, but they aren't actually part of canon. PuckRobin gave a great run through of what they suggested against each character for the time Buffy was away in his Bargaining review. As I remember the Dawn side was pretty well considered, it was the Spike and Xander aspects that had some seriously strange and not very canon-compatible characterisations imo. But yes, Dawn has been through considerable emotional trauma in her very short existence and I think we are seeing a great deal of that playing out now. Buffy's return seemed to throw up Dawn's fears of not mattering, not being real again as she was brushed aside in a way that she struggled to understand initially. Buffy's dissatisfaction with her own return then something that Dawn obviously finds really hard to process, to understand and accept. Her open hurt that Buffy would do something to risk leaving again in Dead Things, when she intends to hand herself in, really exposed this and no doubt was brewing since the OMWF revelation.

    My point here, I guess, is that in real life Dawn would have to be in serious need of therapy. A Summers woman herself (and a magic child made from Buffy’s tough materia prima) she is resilient and brave and has the nerve to take life as it comes. Although, it is repeatedly said that she is human, and having Buffy back couldn’t possibly just erase all the trauma. And all the turmoil that is contained in her skinny body wasn’t that difficult to detect. Probably it would have been obvious to the Scoobies if they weren’t either too tightly wrapped up in themselves, or barely hanging from a thin thread, or both.
    I agree that a lot of why Dawn is neglected is because everyone is dealing with their own problems and the effects of the emotional upheavals and the ripples creating those shifting group dynamics.

    I can see why you feel the disconnection from Dawn's problems here as she does seem to come across as a stropping teenager in a way that undermines her awareness of the other issues and pressures in the group. I think it has to be put down to this sense of regressing to a younger self and wanting to be coddled again. In great part this is because people aren't speaking to her about the problems, they aren't speaking out about them much at all but certainly not with her, and so she feels ignored and probably is limited in how she can understand and process what is happening when she is semi-shielded from it too. This works into the change that has to come at the end of the season where in part to engage in life again fully Buffy has to look to share it more completely with Dawn.

    In any case, from the moment the teen-hormone explodes, everything else goes from bad to worse. But then, somehow wryly and in a way that they make it work, the crisis is what brings out the positive outcomes: Buffy finally realizes her neglect of Dawn, Tara stands up for Willow (which was awesome, really), and Xander takes care of a claustrophobic Anya with a tenderness that reminds us of his great heart.
    This is a great point that the crises do bring out some positive results and the choice Buffy makes to stay with Dawn at the end is indicative of where the season will lead their relationship dynamic, although neither of the other two will be in the same positive position.

    Ah, and it stabbed Halfreck, which was kind of funny.
    It was distracting, though.
    The inability to kill a vengeance demon by stabbing with a sword will of course come back again when Buffy goes after Anya herself in Selfless and Anya remarks that Buffy knows better than that when she stabs her in the heart. This again reminds me of Couplet and how Angel is hit in the heart by the tree draining monster. Although his heart is physically 'dead' and so the tactic stops the demon, it doesn't stop him being emotionally affected by the interactions in the episode that drives it.

    I guess a lot of people wanted to hear the answer to that question (that Buffy asked about Halfrek and Spike), since there is a comic book about it called “Spike: Old times”, just in case you didn’t know. I read it a while ago, but I distinctly remember enjoying it quite a bit. And well, I suppose that since there is not a more canonic version on the subject, that one will remain the most accepted. Fine by me.
    I've not read that one and although I'm aware of it I don't know the details. I think there is issue about how/where it could fit that I've heard commented on before, but it would explain possibly the recognition despite them both appearing very differently, I'm not sure. Obviously it all relates to the fact Halfrek/Cecily are the same actress and although there are issues that would need explaining for that if they were the same person (the lack of pendant in the flashbacks for one and the references to Cecily's family as she must have been a demon already), most things can be found some explanation. I don't like suggestions I've heard however that perhaps Halfrek had used William's rejection/turning to kill party goers as an act of vengeance (I think that just comes from fan theorising). But it isn't compatible to how vengeance wishes have ever been shown to work I don't think. Anyway, I don't see why them being one and the same person can't work as a rough idea, it's just the recognition that requires explanation and Hallie's simpering (as it seemed to me) hardly fits to Cecily's scathing dismissal.

    I mean it works well in an episode so focused on interactions as another dynamic between two people which has history feeding into it I think. But her recognising him readily so out of context, with him looking so different when she was so disinterested and dismissive of him so long ago, just doesn't really make much sense if this was the only time they've seen each other since. To me he seems more unsettled by the use of his human name and uncertain rather than reacting with certain recognition. Without further history there is no reason he would recognise her like that at all. But regardless of the fact it is somewhat awkward to explain/understand, I quite like that it is an interesting, quirky, somewhat ambiguous and unexplained verse moment.

    So, it was a very good thing for everyone involved that Anya was at the party. I don’t think anyone else would have discovered the origin of the curse so efficiently. Once again, she proves to be much more useful and resourceful than what she gets credit for. Halfrek herself, can’t be completely blamed since she is just materializing, in a (twisted) way, Dawn’s wish for attention and company.
    Something I enjoyed about Hallie (aside from being funny and not completely evil, in a totally coldblooded way) and considered a great achievement of the show, was that she made the audience remember where Anya came from. My perception is that after some time of knowing people, we stop thinking about why they are the way they are. Judging is easier than understanding and accepting, and Hallie makes us remember how far Anya has moved forward. This is pretty awesome, I think.
    Intriguing to think of the extent of Hallie's disconnection and coldness, even towards Anya, as indicative of how far Anya has developed. Of course the changes in her are emphasised further in how she ends up responding to her eventual return to being a demon, but you're right that there are clear differences brought up between the two ever since Hallie comes in response to Anya for the wedding.

    Anya's behaviour in the episode is very hard though and I think it is interesting to consider if her fear of mortality is what is driving her reaction and panic. This underlying worry has plagued her since she lost her pendant and has been brought to the fore a few times, particularly around Joyce's death. That Xander's injury may have added in to the tipping point to her going off to raid Dawn's room makes sense when related to this.

    Xander's calm assurance of how they all feel scared but they can plan and get through it but he isn't sure how, just before he is then caught unawares and attacked by a demon, all feels like foreshadowing of how the wedding is going to go so wrong.

    From this point things will take a turn, and this episode gives some glimpses. In addition to a hint of Buffy’s reluctance about keeping the damaging dynamics with Spike, and her acknowledgement of the poor role she has been as Dawn’s parent, we get a real advance in the recovery of Tara and Willow’s relationship. Their last conversation leaves a taste of maturity and hard work from both parts, a little more sweet than bitter.
    I agree that the episode really does serve to indicate changes afoot. I think there is more uncertainty here surrounding Buffy's response to Spike because there is that push away from the negative aspects somewhat but it seems to come alongside that pull still being evident too and the possible consideration of what this could be that is lightly woven through the epsiode. That it is likely seen as further evidence in the end of why the relationship is wrong does work of course into where it gets to when pressed into direct contrast to yet another relationship in the next episode. Things starting to look up might not be seen as positive from every point of view of course, as it certainly isn't about to develop as Spike wants it to.

    Saucy Tara was so enjoyable. This is probably one of the best Tara episodes. Maybe it was totally intentional and aimed to make the audience love her even more. If you ask me, it worked.
    I agree that Tara was great in how she mocked Spike and backed up Buffy through the episode. It does lend into that sense of whether Buffy could ever consider the relationship seriously though as Tara behaved with acceptance and understanding of whatever Buffy's decisions would be, just as she had when Buffy opened up to her originally.

    Hallie being Cecily: As mentioned before, this episode insinuates heavily (and later it was confirmed, if I’m not mistaken) that Halfrek and Cecily Adams/Underwood are in fact the same person, and not two different characters played by the same actress.
    I don't think it was ever confirmed in canon, the Old Times comic isn't canon I don't believe. I do think that Joss has said that he sees them as having been the same person though, rather than it just having been a tip of the hat to the fact it's the same actress.

    Spike’s mirror flukes: Somewhere I read that Spike’s reflection can be seen three times during the episode. Honestly, I didn’t see anything and wouldn’t have noticed it by myself, but after several attempts I was able to make a screenshot that more or less shows Spike’s white head reflected on the mirror.
    Oh crikey, I'd never have caught that, ha. The pic link worked fine for me.

    I wonder if anyone knows what the cartoon was that Dawn and Clem were watching? The rabbit using some form of magic to control and put the pot over the head of the other character seems a very deliberate reference to what is happening in the episode and with some of the character secrets being held. It looked like quite an old one and I just know someone will recognise exactly what it was.

    So, this is it. My brief thoughts on an episode that deserves a little more love than it gets, but that has this uneasy feeling of potential that was achieved completely. Thank you all for the patience, and I hope you enjoyed.
    Yes, I really did and I apologise for my very late reply. Sorry too if I repeated things others had already said within my responses because I haven't caught up on the rest of the thread yet. I'm hoping to manage to read everyone else's responses this weekend and move on to the As You Were review next week.
    Last edited by Stoney; 01-07-18 at 05:52 AM.

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    Thank you Stoney,
    I enjoyed your reply, it made me realize I lost many important aspects. Well, this is the good thing about the discussions, right?

    I don't think it was ever confirmed in canon, the Old Times comic isn't canon I don't believe. I do think that Joss has said that he sees them as having been the same person though, rather than it just having been a tip of the hat to the fact it's the same actress.
    As far as I know it was never confirmed in the show, but I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that it was confirmed... by someone. A writer maybe. Don't rightly remember but I'm pretty sure it was at least a semi-reliable source.

    I don't like suggestions I've heard however that perhaps Halfrek had used William's rejection/turning to kill party goers as an act of vengeance (I think that just comes from fan theorising). But it isn't compatible to how vengeance wishes have ever been shown to work I don't think.
    Hmmm... Spoiler from the comic book:
    Spoiler:
    This is more or less... or exactly what happened. Sorry. I don't remember perfectly well (now I feel like I should go find it and read it again), but I think they bent the mechanics of the vengeance wishes a bit. Since it gives some space to subjectivity, it wasn't completely out of it, I think, but it didn't strike like brilliant writing either.


    I'm glad to see you liked the little slug bugs. Aren't they cute!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rihannon View Post
    I enjoyed your reply, it made me realize I lost many important aspects. Well, this is the good thing about the discussions, right?
    Thank you, and yes, definitely! Often the points someone raises make you think about it differently and prompt you to realise things yourself you hadn't particularly thought specifically before too I find. So it doesn't matter how much time you spending thinking over an episode for a review I think, it never fails to prompt people to add something more and that really is what's great about going through them together. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the episode and have certainly come from it having considered it all more than I ever had before.

    As far as I know it was never confirmed in the show, but I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that it was confirmed... by someone. A writer maybe. Don't rightly remember but I'm pretty sure it was at least a semi-reliable source.

    Hmmm... Spoiler from the comic book:
    Spoiler:
    This is more or less... or exactly what happened. Sorry. I don't remember perfectly well (now I feel like I should go find it and read it again), but I think they bent the mechanics of the vengeance wishes a bit. Since it gives some space to subjectivity, it wasn't completely out of it, I think, but it didn't strike like brilliant writing either.
    I assume you mean the writer confirmed Cecily/Halfrek are one and the same rather than Old Time being canon. I've never seen that included on any lists of canon and what you've said about it puts me off bothering to read it more. But I can completely believe a writer would have confirmed the general connection was true and I'm sure Joss himself has said he sees them as being so but I don't have any specific reference or source for that.

    The connection of Halfrek/Cecily is an interesting quirk to have added in because they used the same actress and I like that it has no other wider significance or prompt to it than that personally. Actually, if it wasn't for confirmed timelines between her/Anya that mean she must have already been a vengeance demon at the time of rejecting William it could have been an act that brought her to D'Hoffryn's attention. Although it lacked deliberate intent I suppose and that is part of why the notion that his turning was in any way part of a vengeance wish being brought to fruition is really very poor for me. It's just such a ridiculously convoluted way of going about it if the wish/aim was just to kill the party goers. Just daft.

    I don't know if it is just me but Halfrek seemed to be primping herself a little too, or seemed a bit embarrassed, either of which seem a weird response really. Anyway, linking the two is certainly interesting but I'm glad they didn't spin themselves in circles trying to expand on it any more than that, I think that would have just been unnecessary and probably led to too many inconsistencies and gaps being raised further. Leaving it as just a fact certainly gives a bit of intrigue that's fun.

    I'm glad to see you liked the little slug bugs. Aren't they cute!
    Ridiculously so!
    Last edited by Stoney; 01-07-18 at 05:46 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    I assume you mean the writer confirmation Cecily/Halfrek are one and the same rather than Old Time being canon. I've never seen that included on any lists of canon and what you've said about it puts me off bothering to read it more. But I can completely believe a writer would have confirmed it was true as I'm sure Joss himself said he sees them as being so.
    Yes, that is exactly what I meant. Sorry for the misunderstanding! I know and I agree in that the comic books from season previous to season 8 are not considered canon. It is better that way, of course, because if they were canon, there would be many inconsistency issues, I'm sure. Although, as far as I understand they do have a certain weight, and should be placed (a little) above fanfiction or any other fanbased headcanon stuff, since at least they are official. I'm not sure what that makes them, though... I mean, they are not cannon, but not fanfiction either. This is what I meant when I implied that I couldn't place their "canon level" (or whatever the scale should be called). Anyway, I know the subject has been discussed before. In any case, the fact that the books in question are not canon per se, or canon at all, gives us the liberty of choosing if we want it to be the way things happened or not.

    The connection of Halfrek/Cecily is an interesting quirk to have added in because they used the same actress and I like that it has no other wider significance or prompt to it than that personally. Actually, if it wasn't for confirmed timelines between her/Anya that mean she must have already been a vengeance demon at the time of rejecting William it could have been an act that brought her to D'Hoffryn's attention. Although it lacked deliberate intent I suppose and that is part of why the notion that his turning was in any way part of a vengeance wish being brought to fruition is really very poor for me. It's just such a ridiculously convoluted way of going about it if the wish/aim was just to kill the party goers. Just daft.
    Yes, well. I've read a couple of fanfics that deal with this better than what happened in the comic book.
    The thing is, it was a Spike comic book, so I had to read it and dumbly enjoy it.

    Leaving it as just a fact certainly gives a bit of intrigue that's fun
    .
    Yay for fanfic fodder!
    Make the sleepless nights shorter and the heart fonder!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rihannon View Post
    Yes, that is exactly what I meant. Sorry for the misunderstanding! I know and I agree in that the comic books from season previous to season 8 are not considered canon. It is better that way, of course, because if they were canon, there would be many inconsistency issues, I'm sure. Although, as far as I understand they do have a certain weight, and should be placed (a little) above fanfiction or any other fanbased headcanon stuff, since at least they are official. I'm not sure what that makes them, though... I mean, they are not cannon, but not fanfiction either. This is what I meant when I implied that I couldn't place their "canon level" (or whatever the scale should be called). Anyway, I know the subject has been discussed before. In any case, the fact that the books in question are not canon per se, or canon at all, gives us the liberty of choosing if we want it to be the way things happened or not.

    Yes, well. I've read a couple of fanfics that deal with this better than what happened in the comic book.
    The thing is, it was a Spike comic book, so I had to read it and dumbly enjoy it.
    Ah, I'm really not calling you dumb for liking it regardless! I didn't intend to insult people enjoying them, or choosing to have them as their headcanon, sorry. There are so many comics/books that most of us do form some arbitrary reasons to pick and choose outside the official canon. I've certainly bought some of the Spike comics too just because they are Spike ones and I wanted the extra stories of my favourite character, so I do totally understand (I just haven't gotten around to reading them all yet and bought them so long ago that I'm not even certain which ones I have now ).

    I know not everyone does, but I tend to draw a stark line between canon and everything else. So although I do see the official non-canon comics as a distinct bunch of stories and appreciate they may have intended them to fit, I don't really think of them much differently to any fanfics that look to work alongside canon to be honest. From what I hear and what I've seen, the official comics don't in fact always work great in terms of timescales against canon and there are sometimes distinct characterisation issues. Although you could always argue the latter is subjective, sometimes the behaviour is too odd and is contradicted or made very questionable because of what canon did specifically show. Whilst I will reconsider my character understanding and adjust my character perspectives when canon contradicts what I expected or would have considered 'in character' behaviour, and have done so a good few times(!), I wouldn't do that because of anything outside canon. And so that's the important distinction to me, they aren't intended to impact canon and canon can always choose to directly contradict anything outside of it. That's why I draw a firm either/or line and in a general sense don't think of them really differently to other fanfic despite the fact they were allowed license to publish them. But I do understand seeing them as a distinct group and I definitely understand wanting to read more and the wish to gain extra stories that can fit in or that explore additional ideas or new suggestions of backstory or missing aspects. I certainly would adopt any non-canon stories I enjoy, or even just general aspects/ideas from them as my own headcanon if they fit, officially produced or otherwise. Plus, there's nothing wrong of course with enjoying a story in its own right, even if you don't think it fits well and don't incorporate it as headcanon.

    Yay for fanfic fodder!
    Make the sleepless nights shorter and the heart fonder!
    Ha, yes. It's great that there are these interesting inclusions that lend themselves for exploration and gaps that people can imagine their own answers for.
    Last edited by Stoney; 01-07-18 at 11:43 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeB View Post
    * I reason Spike was ‘The Doctor’ and his contract for the demons eggs was “FOB Shipping Point”—meaning that his contract was to get the demon eggs to Sunnydale and then someone/thing else would pick them up. I reason Spike knew about Riley/Sam and the demon eggs thing was his way to try to find out how Buffy still felt about Buffy/Riley and Buffy/Spike vs. Buffy/Riley.

    In recent viewing of the episode, I've came to doubt that Spike had ever called himself The Doctor. Some demons must have gave him that name and Sam and Riley assumed he was the one who came up with it.

    I'm not sure Spike keeping those eggs in his crypt had anything to do with Buffy/Riley. He was trying to get some money to help out Buffy (and also pay off his debts.).
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    Stoney,
    Oh, don't apologize. I didn't think at any moment that you were calling me dumb, or anyone else. I know you are a very kind person, and not one that would say something like that, really. I didn't even made the connection with what you said until you apologized. It was just a self-directed joke about my blind spot towards anything Spike-related. I'd never have said it if I thought it would make you feel bad. Now I feel bad for making you feel bad. Please, no hard feelings.

    Plus, there's nothing wrong of course with enjoying a story in its own right, even if you don't think it fits well and don't incorporate it as headcanon.
    I'm pretty sure this is a big part of what keeps fandoms alive.

    MikeB and Sosa lola
    I always thought that "Doctor" name thing was out of nowhere, I even thought at some point that Riley's "informant" or whomever filtered the information just made it up and was taking the Army guys for fools. Just like the demon eggs thing, they were out of the blue and to me it felt a little out of character too. Then I though, "well, it's Spike, he obviously wouldn't be doing something to piss off Buffy, but he does stupid thing sometimes... so whatever". I know it was a plot device and I know every now and then Spike did stupid things as a reminder of his evilness. Still, I always thought they could have come up with something better.
    Maybe the intention was that Buffy would find him repulsive (in a quite literal way) enough to blow up his place (what he has been building for her?) without a second thought. And yes, Spike was not one to go after money (he abandoned the entire Amara treasure after finding the ring, without a second glance), so the only explanation for doing something like that would be trying to help Buffy with her financial problems. In any case, making him doing something that gross somehow justified that she didn't even stop to ask why, and decided to blow everything (he has been doing for her) in his face. It was wrong, and he should have known better. In any case, this whole ordeal always made me feel awkward.
    Last edited by Rihannon; 30-07-18 at 06:39 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rihannon View Post
    In any case, this whole ordeal always made me feel awkward.
    I don't think it's out of character for Spike to do something evil and stupid to get money for Buffy. The end justifies the means. But I feel the story wasn't plotted well. This is what I wrote about this episode from another thread which was also a response to a theohara's Captain Cardboard, or How I Learned To Stop Seething And Love "As You Were" essay:

    The essay is very impressive and well written and it did make me think (that's why I rewatched the episode again) and I agree completely that Spike isn't the Doctor. Theohara puts a compelling argument there:

    1) The lack of reaction from Spike when Buffy asks him about The Doctor and also the first time Riley calls him "Doctor". The second time Riley calls him "Doctor", Spike sounds genuinely confused when he asks "Why do you keep calling me that?"

    2) If Spike was the Doctor, he wouldn't have invited Buffy to have sex with him with the demon eggs right under them. He didn't connect the demon eggs to the whole Doctor thing.

    3) If Spike was the Doctor, shouldn't he know that the demon eggs should be kept frozen?

    4) The last scene with the breakup scene Buffy didn't find Spike as the essay writer puts it:

    Notice what Spike is not, but easily could have been, doing instead:

    1. Begging foreign military powers not to kick his ass.
    2. Raging over the foiling of his plan.
    3. Bitching to Clem about how much money he's just lost.

    Nope, he's kicking his bed.


    However, I found some holes in the Riley part of the essay. First one was theohara insisting that Riley left messages on Xander and Willow's phones:

    We are expressly told in a later chunk of dialogue that he called them, left a message, but did not actually speak to them until he saw them at Buffy's house. Moreover, we're given a Xander line that lets us know that Riley told Xander and Willow in the message that he was married.
    When I first watched the episode, I thought it was clear Xander and Willow were called after Riley's mission with Buffy and the introduction of Sam happened. It felt that Riley didn't want to repeat the same mistake with Buffy and had informed Xander and Willow about his marriage. I also missed the "chunk of dialogue" that stated that Riley called and left a message. Willow simply says "We got your call."

    Also,

    Nope, straight to the Doublemeat. How'd he know she worked there? Man, it's like he's been following her or something.
    As a military guy with lots of nifty equipment, couldn't he track Buffy down easily? Perhaps he did call the house first, Willow who lives there, answered and told him where to find Buffy.

    The reason why I don't buy that Riley would follow Buffy around and waste a whole day because he just wanted to know what her situation with Spike is after spying on them having sex outside of Buffy's house was how urgent he was about the demon and needing Buffy to come with him ASAP. The situation Riley and Sam describe seemed very crucial, and I just can't imagine Riley walking towards Buffy's house, sees Spuffy sex, and then walk back to his wife who is expecting him to go and talk to the Slayer only to come back the next night all rattled and demanding that Buffy would come with and help. It sounds off.


    As for Riley's grim face upon seeing Spuffy naked on bed, throughout the episode Riley kept a straight face about a lot of the things he disliked when he came back to Sunnydale, Buffy working in the Doublemeat Palace and the bad smell. But he did not judge. That was not what he came back for. He came back for the mission and Buffy was the best fighter he knew who lived in Sunnydale where the mission was.

    I'd also argue that failing to tell Buffy about not killing the demon goes to how nervous he was about seeing her again as he puts it "I was terrified about seeing you again." I can see why an important detail about the mission may slip as he was more anxious about how to tell Buffy he was married and trying to find the right time to do it.

    I personally liked Riley in the episode. He was a gentleman, never judged Buffy's choices, asked her if he should kill Spike or not because he was ordered to kill the Doctor and he didn't kill him for Buffy, told her she was amazing and that things would get better, he apologized for not giving her all the details of the mission when she killed the demon, he promised to fill her in on everything and he did, he was nice to her friends and happy to see them, he was aware of Dawn's anger at him and this time made sure to give her a proper goodbye.
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    Thanks for the recommendation and the link

    I personally liked Riley in the episode. He was a gentleman, never judged Buffy's choices, asked her if he should kill Spike or not because he was ordered to kill the Doctor and he didn't kill him for Buffy, told her she was amazing and that things would get better, he apologized for not giving her all the details of the mission when she killed the demon, he promised to fill her in on everything and he did, he was nice to her friends and happy to see them, he was aware of Dawn's anger at him and this time made sure to give her a proper goodbye.
    To me it was a reminder of what a good man is, vs. evil guy who (in the best case scenario) doesn't mind if someone's keeping biological (demoniacal?) weapons in his place if he gets a little cash out of it. Giving Buffy perspective and light on why she had to break up with Spike. I get that, it makes sense (in a preachy way). Maybe I should rewatch the episode before saying much else, but I'm sure I've watched it a few times, and every time it leaves me a bit of a "wtf" aftertaste. It leaves too much to interpretation, maybe, in a less subtle way than other episodes do?

    The lack of reaction from Spike when Buffy asks him about The Doctor and also the first time Riley calls him "Doctor". The second time Riley calls him "Doctor", Spike sounds genuinely confused when he asks "Why do you keep calling me that?"
    True. Spike wasn't a good liar. If he was the Doctor, his reaction to being called that would have given him away immediately.
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    The only debts we know Spike had was 'kitten' debt.

    I've always said that unless Buffy bought those emerald earrings Dawn and she wears at the Xander/Anya wedding with Spike's money, there's around zero evidence Spike ever gave Buffy money.

    Clem's suddenly having a fitted suit for the Xander/Anya wedding and later having a VW Beetle implies Spike gave Clem money.

    Spike had a 'gang'/employees in "The Harsh Light of Day" (B 4.03). Those vampires could have taken the treasure somewhere safe for Spike.

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    Riley Finn is awful in this episode. He flirts with Buffy, failing to tell her he's married. Why does he do this? Surely being married is the best thing that's ever happened to him, Sam is so perfect, yet he doesn't mention it. I don't care what he does after this, it's a horrible, and I hate him. Lani Diane Rich says it so much better than I can. She begins her critique of Riley at 05:47. But really you should watch it all, because Lani is great

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    Every color is Buffy's color. She makes color, IDIOT!
    LOL!!! Ride on, girl!
    Now I have to go comment in her Youtube chanel.

    Edit: comments are disabled.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Priceless View Post
    He flirts with Buffy, failing to tell her he's married. Why does he do this?
    He was trying to find the right time to tell her, as he puts it. I get that it was awkward, especially since he was in such a hurry to get Buffy's help. He didn't want to have an awkward conversation when they were rushing to get the demon.

    Riley was too nervous about meeting Buffy again he also forgot to tell her that they needed the demon to be alive to lead them to the eggs. I honestly don't think there was any evil motive behind this. He was nervous. He messed up. He apologized. Then he was amazing for the rest of the episode.
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