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Thread: Positives and Negatives - S3

  1. #121
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    Anne

    Positive: For something unmentioned, that scene where Buffy is a waitress and these two *******s sexually harass her and Buffy just...takes it. It's incredibly efficient at showing Buffy's depressed state of mind, but also how she's given up on being A Feminist Hero. SMG plays it exquisitely when she has a flicker of her usual Buffy-strength in her eyes but the flicker quickly dies and she moves on. As said before, it's so great that Buffy empowers Lily and we later see Lily as Anne, a heroine in her own right. Anne really stands out for feminism. You also have Willow play-acting Buffy to try to fill Buffy's stylish yet affordable boots because Buffy was the one who empowered Willow.

    Negative: Xander feels regressed. I guess it makes sense that his relationship with Cordelia would move backwards after she was away all summer but it's disappointing that they reached such depth in Becoming but they've regressed back to What's My Line even down to the OTT music. I'm absolutely positive that Xander misses and worries about Buffy as much as Willow and Giles but the ep (and frankly, early Season 3) doesn't pay the same respect to Xander's feelings because Xander doesn't directly express his own feelings of loss and worry for Buffy.

    Dead Man's Party

    Positive: So, I actually LOVE the Buffy/Willow stuff here. So again, other folks' Negatives are my Positives. I mean, I guess it's a little frustrating that we don't see Willow before she doesn't show up for her mall date with Buffy. It has an ambiguity where a Willow-fan like me believes that Willow didn't want to go but Buffy pressured Willow into it and Willow was at war with herself because she wanted to re-connect with Buffy and honor her commitments but she also had no idea what to say to Buffy one-on-one because Buffy said she didn't want to talk about her summer or why she left. Conflict-averse!Willow didn't want to confront Buffy and she really didn't want to do it alone and be the "bad guy" that way. However, Willow also didn't want to just shop gaily and pretend like Buffy didn't really hurt her feelings and drive her crazy with worry for three months either- even though that's clearly what Buffy wanted. Nor did she want to come to some separate understanding with Buffy apart from the rest of the gang with whom she really spent her summer. Meanwhile, a Willow-hater would presume that Willow agreed to the mall date precisely so that Willow could stand Buffy up out of revenge for Buffy "standing her up" by running away. And yet, I do like the ambiguity for my own reasons of wanting a complex soup of Willow-emotions even though I don't like reading Willow-hate online.

    However, the bedroom scene is the real highlight. I think it's wonderfully emotional and IMO, it's very refreshing that the girls are speaking about their feelings without an audience of Pat and SHS classmates muddying up the deeper issues so it's no longer an emotional conversation about Buffy running away but instead, a controversy about how Buffy doesn't have privacy. Joyce/Xander's very public conversations are uglier but they also seem shallower because they're public. I enjoy how much AH's incredibly expressive face can add to a scene. The scene already starts fascinating when we see Willow go to Buffy with a very apologetic face (over avoiding her) and then, turn to contempt and hurt when she sees Buffy packing up to leave again- before a word has been exchanged.

    I was thinking of listing this as a Negative- but I think it's more an Unpopular Opinion. But IMO, Giles did everyone a disservice by banning conversation about Buffy's "summer activities" and Buffy did herself a disservice by agreeing to that. Buffy's homecoming was already awkward enough without banning discussion of the giant pink elephant in the room. Buffy wants empathy and understanding for why she ran away but it's impossible to give those things to her when she won't tell anyone anything and she indicates that she doesn't want to discuss her life. It's annoying that Giles bans the Scoobies straight-forwardly asking Buffy about her running away but then, in the next episode, he manipulates the answer out of Buffy by lying to her.

    However, I don't think it's a Negative because Giles and Buffy are in-character. First, Xander didn't help when he tactlessly asked Buffy to "get to the dirt" and that's how Buffy was first asked about her summer. Giles has a really strong aversion to *unseemliness* in conversations and I think that guides a lot of his choices (and a lot of his problems with Xander.) Giles has trouble distinguishing what's gauche and tacky from what's really wrong.

    "Don't taunt the fear demon"- said with the utmost seriousness and unspoken warning of dire consequences and all...
    "Why? Can it hurt me?"
    "...No, it's just tacky."

    I think it's entirely probable that if one of Buffy's friends asked about Buffy's summer in a classier, gentler way, Giles wouldn't have corrected them and waited for Buffy's answer. Meanwhile, it *is* hard for Buffy to actually talk and deal with what she went through. If her mentor and spiritual guide is giving her an out from having to publicly discuss killing Angel (which she definitely feels guilty about in addition to miserable) and her trashy summer, Buffy will take that out.

    I think Willow really does the right thing to make an attempt to hear what Buffy was going through and then since Buffy rebuffed discussing her own problems, Willow already does her I-statements thing where she discusses how her own life was lacking since she didn't have her best friend to share it. I think Buffy's absence's effect on Willow's life was a thing that HAD to be mentioned because Buffy really did put Willow through pain and worry by leaving. Moreover, it's also the only thing that Willow *can* talk about because she can't ask Buffy about her summer or what prompted her to leave. Also to Buffy's credit, I think Willow's pain at missing her best friend gets to Buffy more than anything in this ep.

    Negative: Ha! I was expecting to see someone list Pat as a Negative. Maybe because she was designed to be annoying but MAN, she annoyed me to the point that she interfered with my enjoyment of the episode.

    To complement my Positive, I think making a party for the SHS students worked to make a big zombie fight with other casualties but it sucked for actual interpersonal dynamics between Buffy and the Scoobies and Buffy and her mom. Buffy's confrontations with Joyce and Xander are a lot weaker than hers with Willow partly because the former confrontations were public.

    Faith, Hope and Trick

    Positive: All Things Faith are my favorite parts of the ep too but to pick something for the first time. I love Mr. Trick's introduction. "But, you know, you just gotta stand up and salute their death rate. I ran a statistical analysis, and hello darkness. It makes... D.C. look... like Mayberry, and ain't nobody saying boo about it. We could fit right in here. Have us some fun." I don't think he was a genius of a villain or anything. The Band Candy plot and the Slayerfest plot were both dumb. But the actor was brilliant and I like his style. He *plays* tremendous intelligence even though his plans were a let-down. Plus, I like the cunning, self-interested vampire, devoid of ritual or being a follower in some Order. Just mainly interested in feeding and having fun. I feel like that's a more relatable type of vampire. So, loved him peacing out on his supposed buddy/boss Kakistos in the middle of the battle, "There's a reason these vengeance crusades are out of style. It's the modern vampire who sees the big picture."

    Negative: I agree that the actor who played Kakistos sucks.

    Beauty and the Beasts

    Positive: This is my least favorite ep of S1-4. It has nice little moments like Giles being tazed and Willow's Scooby Doo autopsy tool kit/lunch box but it's not good. For another little small moment that was not mentioned:

    Oz: Debbie. (Giles looks at him) Well, victim number one, Jeff. He was in jazz band with us. They used to horse around.
    Faith: They were screwing?
    Everyone gives her a look.

    Negative: A lot of posters listed different things but it still doesn't cover all of my negatives. I agree with Sosa that it's infuriating that Xander immediately goes to sleep the second Willow's back is turned. However, it's also bizarre that Xander shows disrespect to Oz like that but there's no effort to tie it in with the Fluking story coming up. If they HAD to make Xander act like a jerk, I would have preferred some character-development lines where Xander acted like he was concerned about Willow dating a werewolf. Like, they could give the Cordelia-judgey lines about Oz eating people to Xander. That would be a start. Giles is way too harsh on Xander when he explodes at Xander for having fallen asleep. Then, Buffy takes over Oz-watch from Faith on this second night when Oz is a suspect for getting out and things are really serious so Oz needed a slayer watching him. Buffy falls asleep on that crucial night. But Giles is completely unbothered and just gently awakes Buffy in the daylight. Watcher's Pet, yeah, but MAAAN. They *just* established that it was crucial that Wolf!Oz be watched because he had a way of getting out of his cage. Seems to me like Giles just wanted to beat up on Xander for funsies.

    I think it's shameful that Buffy starts babbling about Willow and Giles to Mr. Platt when she's about to confess her supernatural life, at least when it comes to Angel. The Scoobies all have a tacit agreement that their work in the supernatural is secret. Buffy had no right to start outing Willow and Giles, especially when both of their futures are tied to the high school. It's even more awful when it's all part of the larger story of how Buffy will keep secrets about Angel being back from Willow and Giles. However, Willow's and Giles's secret lives are apparently fodder for conversation with a high school official. However, this big outing weirdly occurs without consequences because Platt was dead.

    SMG completely messes up her confrontation-scene with Debbie. The subtext of the scene is supposed to be Buffy bashing herself for being an abuse victim of a monster as well. However, SMG just misses that in her performance.

    And I'm on the side that thinks DB sucked at portraying Feral!Angel. I also agreed with Andrew S that Pete/Debbie are one-dimensional.

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  3. #122
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    Homecoming

    Positive: Cordelia intimidating Lyle Gorch at the end with Sheer Force of Personality is one of my all-time favorite Cordelia-moments. It also foreshadows a cool trope from S1 of AtS- Cordelia using her skills as an actress to fight evil. Even without that foreshadowing, it's so correct that personality and confidence are Cordelia's superpowers. Lyle Gorch interrupting Cordelia to correct that Candy Gorch is his WIFE is made even funnier by Cordelia's "Whatever."

    For an underrated moment. Buffy acting like she's not going to guilt Willow for working on Cordelia's homecoming campaign, but then proceeding to guilt her HARD with "I'm sure [your dark forces] are more important than all we've been through together, or... the number of times that I've saved your life" and then, Willow cracks like an egg cracks me up every time.

    Negative: I don't get why Mr. Trick, a vampire, is running a money-making endeavor. Vampires can just steal everything they need.

    Although, that's really my only critique of the Slayerfest. I've come to accept that the threat to the Slayers was over-hyped. Buffy knocks down all of those demons like bowling pins. But I don't think that's a flaw in Mr. Trick's plan or the episode. Mr. Trick was just having fun- I don't think he cared that much about taking down the slayers. He let any person or demon in the game who wanted to play. Asking for money from those who can steal whatever they want is essentially letting anyone play. I think there's room in the 'verse for some threats to be essentially half-hearted and lazy coming from the villains. Even though the fest was weak, it looked very cool and...professional. I get why it intrigued the Mayor, who has demonic aspirations but very human-urges to be dazzled by the cleanly professional presentation. Mr. Trick was ultimately disappointing as a villain because his Homecoming and Band Candy plots were ineffective but so hyped. However, I think it does add to the story where the Mayor particularly adored Faith because Faith didn't go off on showy bullshit with independent contractors and stuff like Mr. Trick. The Mayor could keep Faith on a short leash and she actually loved the short leash because it felt like caring.

    Band Candy

    Positive: It sucks that the writing for teenage!Giles was so superficial and made him out to be a giggly moron just out to steal shit, make out, and pose with faux bad-boy cool. However, ASH sold the f*ck out of it brilliantly. Stand-out moments: "You're MY slayer. Go knock his teeth down his thro...." and then, cheering when Buffy does hit Ethan and jiving to Cream.

    Negative: Past posters attacked the stupidity of the plan and how the adults-turned-to-teenagers are grotesque, stupid stereotypes. To add, I don't believe a Giles who thinks he's a teenager would want to seduce only Joyce or even Joyce at all. If Giles thinks he's a teenager, why does he want a nice but average looking middle aged mother? It's more likely that he'd be making a play for Buffy. Or even better, have teenage!Giles interact with the teen Scoobies. It's excellent fodder for comedy and character development. IMO, I'd guess that Cordelia would be teen!Giles's type. Cordelia looks a tad like Jenny. Giles and Cordelia pretty uniformly have outstanding comedic scenes together.

    Revalations

    Positive: I LOVE this episode. I agree with King of Cretins in how the ep fires on pretty much every cylinder ('cept my Negative). The intervention is fascinating. IMO Buffy and Xander were behaving badly AND making excellent points. Gwendolyn Post is excellent and brilliantly performed- one of my absolute favorites MoTWs. The combined actions of Buffy/Xander/Giles/Gwendolyn Post all do a lot to start alienating Faith. Faith's POV is very nicely articulated here. It's really effective when Gwen Post says that Faith wasn't invited to a secret Scooby meeting, even though she's the Slayer and she's just hanging in her crappy motel room. The Glove is incredibly cool as a villain-prop.

    On a small unmentioned moment, I like the bookcase scene where it seems like Giles may have caught Willow and Xander kissing because he's being so snarky but it's never confirmed. It plays the general nervousness of cheating right to the audience.

    Negative: I agree with TTB that Angel gets a ridiculously easy pass from the gang exemplified by Willow's "He saved me from a flamey death. Sorta makes me like him again." I think the gang was right to be upset with Buffy but it's annoying that she caught all of the anger for hiding him while Angel barely got any anger thrown his way for his S2 rampage and then, his souled-self decision to hide out. I think he was well enough by Homecoming to start living honestly by announcing himself to the group instead of putting Buffy through more crap by hiding him from her friends and delivering blood and attention in secret. But Angel never gets charged with ANY responsibility for putting Buffy and her friends through hell but then, never having the integrity to stop Buffy from running interference and hiding him from the consequences that he brought on himself. What's his "My soul was in my other pair of leather pants" excuse for hiding out?

    It's pretty infuriating that Angel gets this romantic lead status where I'm forced to sit through Angel doing moony Tai-Chi with Buffy but the larger effects of his villain-spree last year are completely brushed under the rug vis a vis anyone but Buffy with the exception of ONE humdinger of a scene with Giles in Amends.

    Angel's lack of interaction with Anyone Not Currently Buffy is particularly weird with Willow who said this "saved me from a flamey death" easy way out. Angel had a great scene with Giles (who Angel hurt the most in S2) when Giles RIGHTEOUSLY called him on approaching to ask Giles for a favor to give him "peace of mind." However, Angel murdered Willow's mentor, broke into her home and stalked her as she slept, killed her fish which, while played for comedy, IS a threat against any living being at Casa De Rosenberg, and was responsible for putting her in a coma and then a wheelchair. And then Willow gave Angel his soul- which is a pretty important, monumental act. But everything between them is supposed to be solved and addressed by Angel pushing Willow out of the way in a larger group fight to stop Gwen Post? I guess it's in character that Angel doesn't bother to care about Willow because he didn't actually kill her. It's in character that Willow forces herself to like and forgive Angel because Buffy started things up again with Angel and IMO, Willow was pretty much desperate to have Buffy as a best friend again because she missed Buffy so much over the summer and hated fighting in Dead Man's Party. However, generally, Angel spending S3 either being Buffy's man-meat or getting fluffed as a Junior Detective for his spinoff instead of addressing his crucial S2 villain-turn turns me off the BtVS version of the character. And I actually liked him in S1-2, despite DB's early weaknesses as an actor.

    Lover's Walk

    Positive: I haven't discussed the Fluking so far. I enjoy it. I wish there was more build-up. I get why Willow didn't want a relationship with Xander afterwards because I think getting caught gave her an epiphany that she was really in love with Oz. However, I don't quite get why Xander didn't make a play to date Willow out in the open because he wasn't ever in love with Cordelia. But you know as conclusions to Buffyverse romances go, seeing Willow and Xander as particularly vicious, dystopic, sex-crazed vampires actually KILLING Cordelia *erotically* together is a HIGHLIGHT. Like, GOAT.

    However generally, I think the Fluking was in-character for Xander and Willow. Not flattering at all- but in character. It helps that AH and NB are actually pretty rare in how they can have every type of chemistry imaginable- friendship, romp-like comedy attraction, classically romantic attraction, wickedly horny. Moreover, I think it's very typical of high school romances where the teens haven't figured out who they are or what they really want yet but they've got raging hormones and childish selfishness telling them to go for everything. In that vein, Willow's "I didn't know what I wanted. I wanted everything. Now, I just want Oz to talk to me again" speech is SO affecting. It's a key prism for how I see the character.

    Speaking of enjoying my faves acting badly, Willow's de-lusting spell is actually played very well here even though she's never done anything like that before. It's been four episodes of Willow and Xander unable to control themselves. They're too tied in with each other's lives to just separate and cool down. Of course, Willow's desperate to stop misbehaving and hurting everyone like this so she resorts to her home-grown version of pharmaceuticals which she's never had before she became a witch. Reverse-Viagra in the form of the de-lusting spell. Her desperation to stop making such a huge mistake that would spin the whole group dynamic out of orbit is clear enough that she'll look for "consent" to the spell in whatever Xander says. However, Willow is still very much connected to her usual "good" character because she did start to stop the spell when Xander objected. She's still a bitch when she snarks that she doesn't need the de-lusting spell because Xander is turning her off by criticizing her.

    Lover's Walk really successfully painted the shades of grey parameters under which Willow would misuse magic on her friends. It's very tightly written as a big step down from Willow's previous moral standing, but still in keeping with her character. In fact, I'd argue TOO TIGHTLY for later suckier plots because her Season 6 actions to Tara and then, her Dark Willow actions feel way too much like character assassination when Willow just randomly skids out of the shades of grey and directly into black. But I guess I'll save my outrage for the Season 6 Positive/Negative thread if I do it. But yeah, the de-lusting spell is a great example of Willow behaving awfully on its own but a disaster as THE MAIN rationalization for Super Villain Willow.

    I also like the connection of Willow doing de-lusting spell, and it resulting in Spike kidnapping her to do a love spell.

    Negative: I agree that Oz's line about Willow giving him something is weird and incomprehensible. I don't think he was saying her virginity because he rejected that in Amends. But I also don't see it as her Willowness because she was already being Willow with him. It's just weird.

    The Wish

    Positive: I really LOVE this episode. It's in my Top 3. Like most people here, Vamp Willow/Vamp Xander and Hardened Buffy are my favorite parts of the alternate universe. But there's so much that's wonderful:

    +The incredibly sweet opening and closing with the Three Musketeers proving that all 3 of their lives are indisputably better because all three came together.

    +Oz telling off Willow with restraint, logic, and empathetic insight- and the telling-off being all the more devastating and on point for it.

    +Willow unspooling with her disconcerting self-hatred. Her body is only for Oz. "Cordelia's of the Justified Camp. We should pay. And pay and pay and pay. In fact, there's not enough pay for what we did."

    +I actually love the Cordelia/Buffy stuff. Cordelia is wrong to blame Buffy but it feels in character. What's more, there's true nuance there. It seems like Buffy is reaching Cordelia outside of the Bronze when Buffy still holds out her friendship and support. CC successfully emotes that she's touched and considering saying something nice back. However then a vampire goes after Cordelia and Buffy has to rescue her and then, the Cordettes laugh at Cordelia for having garbage all over her.

    Cordelia is unfair and she's absolutely proven wrong by the events of the ep to say her life would be better without Buffy. She's actually brutally punished and *killed* for having that wrong opinion. But I get and empathize with why she might think that her life got worse when Buffy came to town. It was a discussion raised by Hyena Xander with a show expectation that Willow could buy into it (even though she didn't). Life *has* gotten harder and more dangerous and scary for the Scoobies since they entered Buffy's world. That's a fact that easily leads to bitterness even if Buffy's world is just the reality of the world but Buffy alleviates real dangers. To be frank, I think it's the kind of thing that I would wonder if I was in the Scooby gang. It just feels like too harsh a coincidence to lead a seemingly peaceful, normal life before Buffy came to town but then in making friends with Buffy, be drawn into a difficult, terrifying, painful vocation without wondering if Buffy is the cause. What's more in Cordelia's defense, she only has that thought idly. I get annoyed with her marathon-grudge at the Scoobies for the affair, including Buffy later. I'll probably list it as a Negative because she's actually less nuanced and human in later eps especially when the pain should have worn off. (Like her "This conversation is reserved for those of us who have a future" bitchery in Choices). Still, she clearly doesn't really think the world is worse because of Buffy because she shows up to fight with the gang for the rest of the season (albeit half-heartedly and mainly because Wesley is there).

    +One of my favorite "Angel as a Pure Hero" eps in the 'verse. I love Puppy!Angel. It's really wonderful that Angel went up against the Master even though Buffy wasn't coming to Sunnydale, even though Buffy was his inspiration for helping others in the first place. It's very cool that he could have been a hero without Buffy, but still due respect to Buffy, he wouldn't have been a successful hero without Buffy starting him off. Given the Angelus/The Master backstory that we get in AtS, it makes perfect sense that the Master would keep Angel to torture, or foist Angel off on his minions to torture. DB's acting when Buffy finds him- "Believe me when I say I want him dead"- is terrific.

    + Giles is magnificent. His heroism is complex because it's nihilism (complete and utter hatred of the current world) married with optimism (even if his world isn't worth saving, there has to be a better one). So, he actually destroys his world to save "our" world.

    +It's intriguing that Nancy and Larry were heroes here. However, it does make sense that open dystopia will draw out resistance fighters where apparent normalcy (albeit with lurking dangers and death) won't. It makes a cool connection to how the Class of Sunnydale did come out to fight the Mayor at the end of the season but once the big danger was solved, none of the other students went to join the Scooby gang or something. Plus, "The entire world sucks because some dead ditz made a wish."

    Negative: Um, I dunno. This is pretty perfect. I think the only problems are that we didn't get enough facts about the Wishverse.
    =
    Last edited by Dipstick; 02-11-18 at 11:39 PM.

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  5. #123
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    Amends

    Positive: The Giles/Angel scene is my favorite. To pick something else, Angel's flashbacks are excellently played. The actress who played the maid was particularly good. It was chilling seeing how Angelus progressed in his torture so that he could destroy the person entirely. It wasn't enough to kill the maid; he had to terrorize her about losing her job and being thrown out onto the streets in disgrace and even unable to provide for her child. I love her apparition's sarcastic "Yeah, cry out. Make a scene." But in the midst of the terror and tragedy, I crack up when Angel protests that he COULDA BEEN A CONTENDER if he got to grow up as a man.

    Angel: A demon isn't a man. I was a man once.
    Jenny: (derisively) Oh, yes, and what a man you were.
    Flashback to Animal House!Liam. Animal House!Liam so uproariously drinks like a fish and tries to pull a woman's dress that he falls off his bar stool.

    Also, small point for Willow declaring a War on Christmas TM Fox News. "War" defined as minority religious practitioners truthfully stating that they don't celebrate Christmas. She's an inspiration. I've gotten to even replicate her lines IRL.

    Real Life person: What are you doing for Christmas?
    Me: BEING JEWISH! Remember, people. Not everybody worships Santa.

    It's pretty fun.

    Negative: It bothers me that Buffy and Willow don't react to Cordelia's snark about Xander having to spend Christmas outside to avoid the drunken fights in his home.

    Gingerbread

    Positive: a thing of evil alludes to Buffy/Willow subtext when they do a spell at the end of the ep. The Wiffy subtext is pretty off-the-chain here. We wonder why the hell Willow is doing magic with these other kids, off the Scooby-books. Seems wrong. Turns out it was a protection spell for Buffy- because thoughts of helping Buffy consumes Willow's outer life on the show but also her inner-life apart from the ep's plot. They have a whole "Ours is a forbidden love" when their mothers both ban them from seeing each other and Shelia Rosenberg practically locks Willow in a tower- but they communicate anyway online. When they're on the stake, Buffy hilariously cottons onto Willow's faux threats of turning the mob into weird sh*t and they do a whole homoerotic buddy cop comedy thing. Then when that doesn't work, Buffy chooses to make her last words *apologizing* to Willow for ever getting her involved in Buffy's mission. Plus when the burning starts, "Buffy, I'm on fire!." <waggles eyebrows> And then the de-ratting pretty spell with the purple smoke. "It did get a little sexy, didn't it" and all before that kind of subtext-becoming-text was actually A Thing.

    Negative: Even if Giles is such a Luddite that he'll never try to learn computers and technology, it's really stupid that he's calling computers a "stupid fad" in 1999.

    Helpless

    Positive: To go with the unmentioned, I love Cordelia in this ep. Her biggest moment is her "Of course" when Buffy wants her to drive her from school where Cordelia so clearly knows something is amiss between Buffy and Giles but she'll just help Buffy while observing Buffy's privacy. I also love Cordelia repeatedly punching that a*shole who punched Buffy, without a second thought to Cordelia's safety or popularity in the school or what.

    Negative: I think this ep is overrated. The previously mentioned stuff bothers me a lot. I dislike that Willow/Xander/Oz are so underused in a plot about Buffy without superpowers. Except under special circumstances, under-using the Scoobies is always a Negative for me. Yes, Faith is conveniently out of the picture. The ep practically teases me with Willow starting a conversation about how Buffy losing her slayer powers can open doors, but Willow never gets to finish her thought because it's interrupted. The concept of Buffy losing her slayer powers is intriguing but it's never developed here even to the point of conversation. I agree that the seriousness of Giles's actions are swept under the rug. I wouldn't want a permanent breach between Buffy and Giles but he really seems to be excused for everything he did because he did the decent thing at the last minute and lost his job because of it. Basic accountability would involve the other Scoobies learning that Giles poisoned Buffy- but the Scoobies seem to be ignorant of everything other than Giles's firing. If Buffy and Giles didn't tell the Scoobies to save face for Giles, that should have been stated as another tragic thing that Buffy has to bear. Moreover, the Cruciamentum would be incredibly relevant for Faith because so much of her downfall is tied to the neglectful and abusive but also demanding nature of being a Slayer. However, Faith's just completely out of the picture and the aftermath.

    I also have no idea why Giles wasn't accompanying Buffy on her nightly patrols before the Cruciamentum test so that he could help her if she needed it. Is that part of the test- that the Watcher can't accompany the Slayer on her patrols as her powers weaken even though Watchers do it for average patrols even if only to grade the Slayer? Or is Giles being the kind of lazy a*shole that he was to the non-powered Scoobies in Anne/Dead Man's Party? I feel like it's not dealt with because the ep wants us to just handwave everything because Giles came through at the last minute. Kralik bores the crap out me. He was getting grating and repetitive by like, his second scene.

    The Bangel scenes are incredibly boring. Angel's gift of a book of poetry basically borders on parody on how wrong he and Buffy are for each other. Does Angel have any idea who his girlfriend is? I feel like the gift just existed to make the Bangel scenes EVEN MOAR pretentious.

    Great concept. Crappy execution.

    The Zeppo

    Positive: I really like the Xander/Oz scene. Oz is so self-possessed and has so much poise and insight for anyone, especially a boy his age, that he really doesn't authentically understand garden variety insecurities. However, he can come around to sympathizing with insecurities because he also has powerful empathy. That could sound a perfect recipe for Marty Stu-dom but it's *not*. It's actually a problem for Oz in most his interactions with the Scoobies that he's had such a charmed life until he got bit that he just can't understand why bothersome things actually bother his friends/girlfriend. And it's ultimately a problem for him that he completely shuts down, compounds the problems, and then peaces out entirely once he does something wrong. It's a great conversation where Xander is very earnestly trying to figure out his problem and what constitutes "cool" but he can't nail down his issues enough to come up with a problem to solve. Oz is nicely and sincerely trying to hear Xander out but between Xander's vagueness and Oz's lack of understanding cool or the social hierarchy that benefits him, Oz can't help at all but just leaves Xander feeling a little condescended to and like he's all alone here. IMO, it's the best executed version of that dynamic where the Scoobies have good intentions but they're condescending to Xander and making him feel alone so that he can go off and be a hero on his own. The stuff about Buffy not letting Xander fight does feel contrived, as previously stated.

    Negative: I agree with vampmogs. The zombies are very annoying. I also find Xander monologuing to himself kind of annoying. I know that Xander's mainly alone in this ep but MAN, it's a little unrealistic how he talks out-loud to himself the entire time.

    Bad Girls

    Positive: I said in my rewatch review that I love the elegant structure where there's a contrast and competition between villains (The Mayor, Balthezar), Watchers (Giles, Wesley), Slayers (Buffy, Faith), and friends-of-Buffy (Willow, Faith). The similarities are the most striking. Balthazar/The Mayor both sit in their tub/city hall and send their army of minions out in the hopes of becoming a bigger, scarier demon. Buffy/Faith both have to navigate this impossible job of being a soldier on the front line when there's just the two of them and limited resources and they're both vivacious, sexy girls who love to party- synchronized slaying, synchronized dancing. Willow and Faith are both deeply insecure and profoundly need Buffy's friendship so they both lean heavily on offering both their supernatural and ordinary skills in a bid for Buffy's friendship. Faith offers dancing and slaying; Willow offers tutoring and minty fresh protection spells. Wesley/Giles are actually the most similar in personality, background, and values and Wesley hammers that home when he reads Giles's <s>Burn Book TM Mean Girls</s> Watcher Diary entry about Buffy from three years ago. Giles tries to explain away his judgmental stuffiness there by saying, "You have to get to know her" and basically just concedes the point that the difference between his ability to relate to Buffy and Wesley's boils down to several years together. And Synchronized Glasses Cleaning.

    Negative: I really love this. Hard to find a flaw. I guess I'll just copy Stoney and say how Buffy/Giles treat Wesley. I don't care how much of a dork he is or even that he crumbled under threat of mutilation; it's insanity to reject a trained researcher (to start) when you're a small army defeating trying to defeat apocalyptic mega-evil. Buffy and particularly Giles were a lot more likable but also fundamentally sensible in their reactions to Gwen Post. Buffy/Giles didn't like her. They snarked about her. They didn't invite her to the Intervention, presumably setting up a pattern where they wanted her boxed away from affecting policy on controversial history-laden choices like what to do about Angel. However, they were trying to work with her and take her suggestions into account. Towards the end of her charade, Giles was even trying to befriend her. It's Peak Gilesian Silliness when Giles mouths off to Wesley, "That would be your demon, you know THE DEAD ONE" when they're captured by Balthezar when Wesley was the first one to identify that Balthazar even existed right when he got to SHS. Meanwhile, Giles didn't have Clue 1 about Balthazar's existence under his feet for the last 3 years or even the similar intellectual curiosity to wonder why fanged vampires would carry swords and research it.

    I mean, I do think it's interesting and in-character for Wesley to be so rejected by Giles and Buffy. I think Giles is that petty and exclusionary. I think Buffy gets into a state of OTT loyalty to her people (in this case, Giles) that it surmounts any other consideration. It also sets up Wesley for AtS. I would say that the writing flaw which makes this a Negative to me is that Buffy exorcises her feelings of betrayal over the Cruciamentum on the wrong Watcher and that makes for a weaker Buffy/Giles story.
    Last edited by Dipstick; 05-11-18 at 08:52 PM.

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    Consequences

    Positive: This ep brings up a very cool "power" that only the Mayor had as a Big Bad. He controls the levers of civic life in Sunnydale, most importantly the police. The Sunnydale police are very scary here because Buffy and Faith WERE near a murder of a high ranking civic official and Faith actually killed him. It was very plausible in on first watch of Consequences that a whole new side plot of investigating either slayer for murder would materialize. However, then the police also serve to draw Faith into the Mayor's orbit because Faith figures out that the side with controls of civic power is the best side to be on. The Mayor is a threat to a good slayer because he controls the police but he's a draw to a bad slayer because...he controls the police. LOL.

    In terms of the longer arc, it's a little disappointing that the Mayor didn't use the police against Buffy more frequently. Like, drumming up evidence that Buffy killed Allen Finch to try to get her put away before the Ascension. But I get that the back half of this season is overstuffed.

    Negative: If the Scoobies' purpose is to make Faith feel comfortable enough to trust them and own up to what she did, Giles completely fails at that when he VERY harshly and scarily yells at Buffy for killing Finch with a promise in his voice that Buffy will face serious consequences. Faith had to be thinking, "Man, I'm glad I framed Buffy for this. Even Buffy, Watchers Pet, isn't going to get any help but only punishment and anger for killing Finch. Maybe I should consider blowing this joint and travelling to another town because now, Giles is going to hear Buffy's side of the story and I may get tagged as the killer anyway."

    Giles should have gently said to Buffy in front of Faith, "Hello. Faith told me that something went wrong in the field and you accidentally staked a human. Why don't we talk about it? I'm here to help." IMO, that would have been worth a million speeches from Angel projecting his centuries of murder on Faith. I feel like Giles played "furious at Buffy" for suspense for the audience the first time around but it really doesn't work on rewatch other than to support Faith's alienation from the gang.

    However, this is a character-problem for Giles. Because ONCE AGAIN, Giles is a Teflon Character because the whole thing is just sold as Giles being Cool and Smart enough to know that Faith was lying. He's not charged with his own role in alienating Faith, nor does he advance any actual ideas on how to handle Faith even though he's the *real* Watcher. Buffy has a ton of conversations with Faith where Buffy tries to get Faith to own up to the murder- designed to scrutinize how Buffy handles the situation. Xander tries his best to make Faith feel comfortable enough to be honest but it's very clear that he steps in it by jumping the gun to talk about testifying in court and the poor guy almost pays with his life for that. Wesley is absolutely charged by following the Standard Operating Procedure of his employer who also brainwashed him his whole life instead of these new people that he's known for a few days who are already keeping information from him. Willow puts herself on the Audience and Scooby Judgment Limb by saying that maybe Faith should go to jail after she committed very serious violent crimes with malice aforethought with no indication of stopping this burgeoning spree. However, Giles isn't an active agent who faces consequences/judgment for his choices even though this story demands it.

    Doppelgangland

    Positive: Like past posters, I think this ep is so packed with hilarity and great ideas and awesome character development that I have trouble narrowing down a positive. It's brilliant that we see *four* "Willows" but still, it's such an ensemble episode that gives hilarious moments and quality character moments to Anya, Giles, Buffy, Xander, Angel, Oz, Faith, Cordelia, The Mayor, Snyder, Percy, and Wesley. So, like everyone in the S3 cast save Joyce. To single out a great non-AH acting moment, I love how SMG occupies Willow's personal space after she first hugs Human Willow like Buffy can't let her go now after experiencing losing Willow. Awww.

    The tragedy of Willow's life really sticks out despite the hilarity of the ep. She has these unique special skills with the hacking and the magic and the tutoring. However, she's in danger from all of them in a way unacknowledged and unknown by everyone, including Willow. The Mayor would assassinate her for because she's the resident Hacker but the Scoobies never find out about the plot. However if the Mayor's Henchavamps happened to run into human Willow heading out of the Bronze, she'd absolutely be dead. However, no one ever thinks of Willow as a specific target even though she has one-of-a-kind skills that render her a particularly logical target. Willow is a target for law enforcement every time that she does hack. Giles can articulate how breaking laws could pose a threat to his security and job but Willow doesn't articulate this and no one speaks for her, including authority figure Giles who's ordering the hacking.

    Willow's burgeoning magical powers make her a ripe target for manipulation for those trying to piggy-back on those powers (in this ep, Anya). However because her powers were never announced as important (like being a slayer) and they start off so silly, she's left entirely on her own to figure out how to deal with them. Her magical powers fundamentally require "emotional control" so every mistake made can be pathologized as a fundamental failure of emotion. She works for her grades and college acceptances but Snyder can threaten to take all of those achievements away if Willow doesn't act as unpaid tutoring or teaching labor.

    These skills should ideally give Willow confidence and make her happier but they mostly don't. Instead they put her a treadmill, motored by increasingly powerful Big Bads, piling up traumas, expanding and changing social dynamics in the group, and Willow's powerful sense of "Bored Now" and "This world's no fun anymore" and "Competition is healthy and natural" i.e. her own insecurities and sadness and anger/frustration. However, people have a hard time seeing the treadmill as a problem because Willow *is* lucky to have these skills. "You have a letter of acceptance from every university with stamp." So, what's the big problem with being forced to tutor Percy i.e. Principle Snyder essentially condoning Percy bullying Willow into doing his homework.

    When Human Willow impersonates Vamp Willow at the Bronze, it's the comedic and action-adventure climax of the ep. However, it's also the most disturbing psychological point.

    Willow: She bothered me. She's so weak and accommodating. She's always letting people walk all over her, and then she gets cranky with her friends for no reason. I just *couldn't* let her live.

    However, the psychological high point gets buried by the comedic climax on a Doylist level and then, buried by the action-adventure climax on both a Doylist and Watsonian level.

    Negative: It's repugnant that Cordelia felt absolutely nothing about Willow dying and just immediately hit on Wesley some more a second after finding out. Willow and Cordelia have known each other through grade school. They've fought shoulder-to-shoulder for years. Willow's helped or directly saved Cordelia's life a few times. In the future, Willow will be the only Scooby to help AI. Maybe I shouldn't categorize it as a Negative because as repugnant as it is, I do think Cordelia does dehumanize people if she feels Righteously Wronged by them, no matter how close they were or the nature of the wrong or the gravity of what happened to the supposed sinner.

    However, it does negatively color every Willow/Cordelia scene for me though, no matter how cute or reunion-y and "nice", because we have proof that Cordelia could not give a sh*t if Willow is dead or alive. It bothers me more than Cordelia blaming Buffy for her attraction to Xander in The Wish, because at least, Cordelia wasn't completely de-humanizing Buffy. Although, I think Cordelia pretty much does verge on de-humanizing Buffy with the "This conversation is reserved for those of us who have a future" in Choices. However even that is Cordelia snarking at an alive Buffy hard instead of just revealing that she could not care less if Willow died once those chips have actually fallen.

    For a more straightforward negative just for this ep, it's weird that Willow is publicly floating pencils on the SHS school lawn when anyone can walk by.

    Enemies

    Positive: ED and DB's performances are the best part of the ep for me. ED, in particular, really makes Faith terrifying and completely evil.

    Negative: Ugh, this one annoys me. I agree with Andrew S that the Gotcha moment failed and it was lot more successful in AtS's Awakening. I have no clue why Buffy/Giles/Angel had to lie to the Scoobies. How would telling Willow/Xander/Oz/Cordelia interfere with the sting operation? They hardly ever interact with Faith or Angel. They weren't invited to the actual sting so no performances were required of them. Even if performances were required, they're on the team. It almost makes me wish that the Scoobies staked "Angelus" with a cross-bow once they got to the Mansion because hey, they thought Angelus was on the loose again.

    Also, why wasn't Giles sticking around the out-of-the-loop Scoobies to make sure they weren't interfering with the ongoing sting operation. Giles knew when this s*hit was going down. I mean, what the f*ck was Giles doing when Willow/Oz/Cordelia/Wesley went to the Hall of Records and Xander hit the streets for info? Why not babysit the out-of-the-loop Scoobies at the Hall of Records to make sure no one goes to the Mansion or runs into Faith/Angel/Buffy by chance instead of chilling at the library alone?

    It makes more sense why Buffy/Giles/Angel didn't tell Wesley because Wesley is more likely to interact with Faith and he could unilaterally elect to follow Council protocol instead of Scooby protocol as he did in Consequences. Still, though, it's annoying that Xander blames Wesley for Faith's turn by saying that Faith is Wesley's responsibility when Wesley doesn't even have a role in the sting operation exposing the very slayer that he's supposed to be responsible for. Moreover, no one sees that Wesley's loyalties have started to switch from the Council to the Scoobies in the field. When Xander does tell Wesley that Angelus is on the loose, Wesley suggests calling Giles before taking action. Xander wanted to stake Angelus without Giles's input. (BTW, which I think Xander had every right to propose staking and skip checking with Giles. As a soullless vampire, Angelus is fair game for staking.)

    The Bangel angst is very annoying. It's like the ONE time that I'm on Angel's side as opposed to Buffy. Because Buffy is being ridiculous. She asked Angel to play this role. She has no right to shut him out or later try spying on his mind because Angel did what she asked. Now while I agree with Angel in this Bangel conflict, I can't have sympathy for him. Not after he knocked Xander out cold and left his unconscious body on the demon infested streets of Sunnydale.

    I put all of the jerk behavior under Negative because (a) the plot is a garbled mess, (b) Team Liar isn't held responsible for their actions but instead, the ep appears to support the lying, and (c) I know that Buffy can be dishonest but IMO, this is kind of a one-off for her to lie in such a silly way or fake angst to Willow. It feels a little OOC.
    Last edited by Dipstick; 07-11-18 at 08:38 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dipstick View Post
    I know that Buffy can be dishonest but IMO, this is kind of a one-off for her to lie in such a silly way or fake angst to Willow. It feels a little OOC.
    I never interpreted this as Buffy lying to Willow. My understanding of the timeline has always been;

    1) Buffy goes to Angel's mansion at night and sees Faith kiss Angel on the cheek
    2) Buffy angsts about it at school the next day
    3) Buffy talks to Willow at school and Willow instructs Buffy to go and talk to Angel
    4) Buffy goes and talks to Angel offscreen and that's when they talk about Faith and then grow suspicious that she's betraying them

    It doesn't really make sense for Buffy to fake angst to Willow at the high school as it would be totally unnecessary. It does nothing but draw unwanted attention to Angel/Faith which Buffy would be trying to avoid. And we know Buffy's angst is real not only because of her expression upon seeing Faith kiss Angel from afar the previous night, in which she gets upset and promptly walks away, but even in Earshot as well.

    Unless you're referring to the moment later in the episode where Wesley asks where Angel is and then Faith and Buffy glumly says "She's missing too" in which Willow responds by saying "Which means nothing! Two unconnected events?" Buffy could be acting there, I guess, but I think her gloominess is mostly authentic. She's worried about what is happening. And then Willow acts the way she does because of their conversation earlier but this is all happening directly in front of Wesley so Buffy wouldn't explain things to Willow even if she wanted to.

    I've always been a big, big fan of Enemies. I will concede that they should have done a better job of explaining how everything came about at the end of the episode ("I went to see Angel like you suggested Will, and he told me that Faith was acting suspicious" etc) but I love the small clues throughout the episode. For instance, I love the moment when Buffy notices that Faith reaches her arm behind the wall and turns the light on in the demon's apartment. How did Faith know where the light switch was when it was hidden and she's supposed to have never been there before? It's a blink and you'll miss it reaction but it's 100% there and I love Buffy's so aware and smart to notice it. Likewise, I guess this one is more of a fanwank then established but I *totally* think Angel was sending Buffy an agreed upon signal when he comes into her room and kisses her on her head. It's a total "the plan is on. Faith is betraying us" moment. The way Buffy reacts after he kisses her totally reads to me as if she's quickly pondering what it means and is letting it sink in. It's brilliant because it initially plays as Angel being "creepy" and going out of his way to walk around the room and give Buffy a pretty awkward kiss, but in retrospect I totally think it was something planned by Buffy and Angel to communicate with each other.

    I also just love the episode overall. It has so many fantastic moments. The Buffy/Faith showdown in the mansion is one of my favourite moments in the entire series ("Admit! You think you're better than me" "I am")
    Last edited by vampmogs; 08-11-18 at 01:13 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vampmogs View Post
    I never interpreted this as Buffy lying to Willow. My understanding of the timeline has always been;

    1) Buffy goes to Angel's mansion at night and sees Faith kiss Angel on the cheek
    2) Buffy angsts about it at school the next day
    3) Buffy talks to Willow at school and Willow instructs Buffy to go and talk to Angel
    4) Buffy goes and talks to Angel offscreen and that's when they talk about Faith and then grow suspicious that she's betraying them

    It doesn't really make sense for Buffy to fake angst to Willow at the high school as it would be totally unnecessary. It does nothing but draw unwanted attention to Angel/Faith which Buffy would be trying to avoid. And we know Buffy's angst is real not only because of her expression upon seeing Faith kiss Angel from afar the previous night, in which she gets upset and promptly walks away, but even in Earshot as well.
    Why couldn't the order be:

    1) Buffy goes to Angel's mansion at night and sees Faith kiss Angel on the cheek
    2) Buffy angsts about it at school the next day
    3) Buffy goes on her mission with Faith to the demon's apartment which holds the KEY moment where Buffy is tipped off that Faith is running her own crooked game because the demon is dead and Faith was familiar in his apartment.
    4) Buffy brings up her early suspicions to Giles and/or Angel that Faith is running another game counter to public Team Good agenda.
    5) Likely that afternoon, Buffy has genuine angst over Angel/Faith that she wants to feel better about. She may want a sounding board on how close a relationship is Angel/Faith to the point that it could be used in a sting operation. So Buffy tells Willow the Angel/Faith jealous angst but she doesn't tell Willow the full context of her Faith-suspicions.

    I think both orders are plausible. They're even reconcilable. Anyway you slice it, Buffy was withholding critical suspicions from Willow in this Faith/Angel angst-conversation. Whether they were light suspicions that Buffy hadn't shared or suspicions that Buffy had shared and was planning on confronting.

    I think Buffy was disingenuous to an unknown degree but I don't think Willow was a pawn here. Buffy clearly wanted to talk about Faith/Angel for her own reasons so she started a heart-to-heart but it wasn't a particularly candid heart-to-heart. I don't think Willow was profoundly injured, but it's kind of annoying. It's mainly annoying in the broader context that I think Xander and Willow, at the very least, should have been informed of the sting because they're on this team and I saw no downside to informing them. It seems OOC and weird of Buffy to have a heart-to-heart with Willow but withhold important details (like Faith may be up to no good) when I have no idea why Buffy was withholding. When's Willow going to talk to Faith?

    Moreover, it's a big flaw in the plan that Xander was ready to stake Angelus because he had no idea about the sting operation. It's a further flaw that Giles was chilling in the library for no reason instead of following the team to the Hall of Records to ensure that ignorant Scoobies weren't interfering with the sting if they HADDA be ignorant.

    My other annoyances are that the timeline of the sting is still unclear (see above). It's definitely a series of contrivances that Buffy had these independent suspicions of Faith RIGHT WHEN the Mayor hires a Mage to remove Angel's soul WHO HAPPENS to be an old friend of Giles who'd report his business to Giles right on time. ALSO, the Mayor's big plan here is to remove Angel's perfect happiness soul JIVES PERFECTLY with Buffy's Faith/Angel angst. (Although admittedly, that last contrivance is connected- Faith wanted a soulless Angelus for her own horny reasons and she's advising the Mayor. Still, not quite sure why the Mayor needs to do all of this legwork to get Angelus in several weeks. I don't think it's worth the help that an Angelus would provide to the Ascension.)

    Earshot

    Positive:

    Quote Originally Posted by vampmogs View Post
    Negatives:...I also think Willow comes across kind of badly in this episode. The scene where she's too distracted by Percy to pay attention to Buffy's concerns is pretty sad. The Scoobies come across as pretty apathetic towards Buffy in this episode overall which is odd as she has legitimate reasons to be concerned.
    I know that the Scoobies/Willow get bashed here and that's unpleasant but putting that out of my mind, it kind of works as...Positive. The whole point of Buffy's speech to Jonathan was that EVERYONE has pain and needs. EVERYONE ideally should get attention but EVERYONE isn't in a position to give this attention because they're wrapped up in their own legitimate pain and problems.

    The Scoobies are an example of Buffy's speech. Percy made a specific point of seeking Willow out to go to his pep rally because they bonded during the tutoring sessions and Willow feels a certain responsibility to him as his tutor. Willow goes to the rally and she's hearing out Buffy's fears of the infection. However, the cheerleaders were doing the round-up of the guys on the basketball team and they called out Percy's name. That's the ONE important time that you cheer if you're there to support Percy, in particular, and it's the main time that Needy!Percy would look out to see who in the crowd cares about him and how loudly the crowd cheered for him in particular. So Willow took her attention from Buffy for two seconds to cheer on Percy before turning back to Buffy.

    The Scoobies were helping Buffy with this case and her power but yeah, they had their own pain and focus on how their minds were no longer private. Since they didn't have any privacy at all from Buffy, they wanted some distance. The pain of no longer having private thoughts is also serious pain. It's just as legitimate as Buffy's pain at being infected by the demon.

    I don't think Buffy's speech applies in a blanket fashion. To a certain point, people ARE responsible for noticing other people's pain and trying to alleviate it. I imagine a number of people did violate their humanitarian obligations to Jonathan in order to him to get to the point of suicide. However, Buffy's speech justifying some ignoring of pain does apply in certain situations and they're definitely brought up in this ep to support the theme. It definitely applied to Buffy's refusal to give Jonathan a pity date even after seeing him suicidal. In addition, this speech deliberately applied to the Scoobies in this episode because there was a fair contest of priorities in all of the times that Buffy felt rejected. If the episode demands that the Scoobies have to cheerfully submit to complete loss of privacy in their own heads to be supportive of Buffy or Willow has to renege on her promise to support Percy at the pep rally so that Buffy doesn't miss a literal second of Willow's focus, than Buffy's speech is a lie. I wish that it was more clearly stated (maybe that's a Negative), but IMO, Buffy makes this speech to Jonathan because she walked away from the experience better understanding other people's pain and how that pain can be block to Buffy getting all of the attention she wants or even NEEDS because of her own legitimate pain.

    Negative: The jello stuff is really stupid. Also, it's completely weird that Jonathan would commit suicide with a long rifle and he'd choose to do it from a tower looking out over the school. It almost makes me want to doubt Jonathan's denials that he wasn't trying to kill other students sniper-style.

    Choices

    Positive: The tackle-hug scene and the Faith/Mayor relationship were mentioned. I love how Willow is such a force of her very idiosyncratic personality while being kept hostage. "I'm looking for a sucking candy, cause my mouth gets dry when I'm nervous, or held prisoner against my will. And suddenly I'm thinking sucking isn't a good word to use around vampires. HEY! DID YOU GET PERMISSION TO EAT THE HOSTAGE? I DON'T THINK SO." Same thing with how she's drawn to reading the Books of Ascension or how she just HAS TO tell Faith off with a knife at her throat with particular emphasis on how Faith had FRIENDS LIKE BUFFY. Both can be criticized as fool-hardy. IMO, I don't think Willow was so clearly wrong about the books. Willow tried to escape but the Mayor and Faith were still roaming the hallways. She was definitely fool-hardy to insult Faith with a knife at her throat, though.

    But yeah, Willow's gonna Willow even on her night for suave. She sauves like an oddball. Willow staking that vamp from behind with the floaty pencil while she cringes to his face like a helpless damsel is Peak Willowness.

    Negative: I don't think the Box, a very probably fungible unknown item which hadn't been credibly sourced as indispensable to the Ascension , was worth Willow's life, especially with two weeks left to the Ascension. That said, it's frustrating that the Scoobies didn't try....opening the Box even if they were never going to trade Willow for it. Just to learn the contents so that they could better research how to foil the Ascension. They should have spent a little time discussing another plan to get Willow and the Box.

    Quote Originally Posted by vampmogs View Post
    Choices:
    Positives:

    I also like that both Giles and Angel stay quiet throughout most of the debate. Angel even looks down at the ground guiltily. I think it's obvious that they are the 3 'big picture' guys in the room and that whilst they may not be as committed to the idea of sacrificing Willow as Wesley is, they aren't as enraged by the suggestion as Buffy, Xander and Oz.
    See, that's a *negative* for me. I also wonder during the debate which side Angel and Giles are on. I *think* Giles is on Wesley's side when he mildly cuts in with "Let's deal with this rationally" but it's hard to tell because he only does it at the end and he shuts the hell up when Buffy accuses Giles of being on Wesley's side. Angel is just completely silent. I think the debate could have been VASTLY more interesting if Giles and Angel, authority figures who Buffy actually respects and mature socially-skilled players who know better than falsely to promise Buffy a ticket out of Sunnydale if she walks over Willow's corpse, spoke up that Willow should be sacrificed or that they should look for a third option.

    It's not about audience opinion at all. Based on my reading fannish opinions, a LOT of fans take Wesley's side to some extent, either believing that Willow should have sacrificed outright or that they shouldn't have sacrificed but they should have looked for a third option and run the risk that a little delay may have on Willow's life. I think Wesley argues his case REALLY BADLY, but I actually don't think he needed a better debater on his side to make the issue more grey for audiences. Wes still does pretty well for himself with audience opinion because utilitarianism, by design, is popular. I just think that it would have resulted in a more complex, layered scene if Giles and/or Angel took Wesley's side and Buffy/Xander/Oz had to deal with that.

    It would be particularly interesting if Angel took Wesley's side because (a) it would add an interesting wedge as Bangel was about to break up, (b) it would be quality foreshadowing for Angel's and Wesley's later partnership on AtS, and most importantly, (c) we actually do get to see how Buffy would fight Utilitarianism!Giles in The Gift so it's not like the audience completely misses out on seeing that natural conflict between Buffy and Giles. Particular to this scene, Buffy and Xander would have to engage with Angel's/Giles's points with more depth than "I need a volunteer to hit Wesley" because Angel/Giles can't be dismissed that way. Well, Xander would dismiss Angel that way but Buffy sure wouldn't and neither of them would dismiss Giles that way. Buffy would fight with Giles but with seriousness. "Tell me to sacrifice my best friend!"

    On a character level, I do have this sick feeling that Giles/Angel would sacrifice Willow or risk her dying by trying a third option if they had their druthers. However, what they WOULDN'T sacrifice is Buffy's good opinion of them by honestly saying what's on their mind. In short, Buffy's good opinion of them >>>>>>>>>>>>>> Willow's life. It's gross that Wesley tries conning Buffy by promising her allowances to go to an away-school but actually, even with that, it seems like he's the only utilitarianism guy in that room with any integrity because at least, he's honestly calling this dilemma. I actually do think that's pretty transparently played with Giles in Graduation Day. If Wesley wasn't there to be the Bad Cop, I can't FATHOM Giles not telling Buffy to turn her focus from curing Angel to stopping the Ascension.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dipstick View Post
    Why couldn't the order be:

    1) Buffy goes to Angel's mansion at night and sees Faith kiss Angel on the cheek
    2) Buffy angsts about it at school the next day
    3) Buffy goes on her mission with Faith to the demon's apartment which holds the KEY moment where Buffy is tipped off that Faith is running her own crooked game because the demon is dead and Faith was familiar in his apartment.
    4) Buffy brings up her early suspicions to Giles and/or Angel that Faith is running another game counter to public Team Good agenda.
    5) Likely that afternoon, Buffy has genuine angst over Angel/Faith that she wants to feel better about. She may want a sounding board on how close a relationship is Angel/Faith to the point that it could be used in a sting operation. So Buffy tells Willow the Angel/Faith jealous angst but she doesn't tell Willow the full context of her Faith-suspicions.
    It's entirely possible but as even you say in your previous post, interpreting the timeline this way makes you feel that Buffy is behaving a "little OOC" so I'm generally more inclined to favour whatever interpretation makes more sense for the characters. And there is that key moment where Willow directs Buffy to "go talk to Angel" which, I think, is a key indicator of when she and Angel came together and realised that something was up.

    Either way, I actually can understand why Buffy would be reluctant to share her suspicions about Faith (in regards to going dark at least) to Willow. Willow has made it explicitly clear by this point that she doesn't like Faith and would thus naturally assume the worst of her. Which isn't intended to be a criticism of Willow as I feel Enemies not only proves her right but Faith's treatment of both Buffy and Xander in Consequences was appalling. However, Buffy is still very much trying to give Faith the benefit of the doubt ("I don't know. Under different circumstances that could be me") and Buffy witnessed first hand how much Willow "doesn't like talking about Faith" when Willow's anger and animosity caused the pencil to spin out of control in Dopplegangland. I can buy Buffy talking about the possibility of Faith cheating with Angel but I think Buffy's reluctance to state that she fears Faith may be betraying them makes sense until she knows for sure. And it's not just Willow, by the way. I think Buffy deliberately keeps the plan a secret from the whole gang to avoid turning the entire gang suspicious of Faith on nothing more than a hunch. They've already had two disastrous cases of miscommunication and mistrust with Faith this season and it makes sense Buffy would want to avoid further alienating Faith more if her suspicions about her aren't correct.

    Buffy is really protective of Faith in Season 3 during these string of episodes. I think part of her just genuinely sympathises with Faith and she also really enjoyed spending time with her before things got out of hand. However, it's also in large part because Buffy self-identifies a lot with the struggles Faith goes through as a Slayer and a judgement on Faith could be perceived as a judgement on her too. I think that's partially the reason that when Faith is revealed to have betrayed her she takes it so personally and has so much malice towards her from this point on. In Buffy's eyes Faith let them both down and then Faith pushed Buffy's Angel buttons which just deepens the wounds even further and pretty much guarantees that Buffy is going to vicious about Faith in a way she's rarely been with anyone else.
    "You've got ... a world of strength in your heart. I know you do. You just have to find it again. Believe in yourself."

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    Great pros and cons, Dipstick!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dipstick View Post
    Negative: It's repugnant that Cordelia felt absolutely nothing about Willow dying and just immediately hit on Wesley some more a second after finding out. Willow and Cordelia have known each other through grade school. They've fought shoulder-to-shoulder for years. Willow's helped or directly saved Cordelia's life a few times. In the future, Willow will be the only Scooby to help AI. Maybe I shouldn't categorize it as a Negative because as repugnant as it is, I do think Cordelia does dehumanize people if she feels Righteously Wronged by them, no matter how close they were or the nature of the wrong or the gravity of what happened to the supposed sinner.

    However, it does negatively color every Willow/Cordelia scene for me though, no matter how cute or reunion-y and "nice", because we have proof that Cordelia could not give a sh*t if Willow is dead or alive. It bothers me more than Cordelia blaming Buffy for her attraction to Xander in The Wish, because at least, Cordelia wasn't completely de-humanizing Buffy. Although, I think Cordelia pretty much does verge on de-humanizing Buffy with the "This conversation is reserved for those of us who have a future" in Choices. However even that is Cordelia snarking at an alive Buffy hard instead of just revealing that she could not care less if Willow died once those chips have actually fallen.

    For a more straightforward negative just for this ep, it's weird that Willow is publicly floating pencils on the SHS school lawn when anyone can walk by.
    While Cordelia's blasé attitude about Vamp-Willow isn't one of my favorite moments ever, I don't think it's an example of a lack of regard for/dehumanization of Willow's life on her part, so much as Cordelia just not really understanding the tragedy of what being a vampire means. I mean, later on in "Disharmony", Cordy basically experiences the same thing that Buffy/Xander/Giles experience here when she learns that her own friend Harmony is a vampire (granted, she and Harmony weren't as close as Buffy/Xander/Giles to Willow, but nevertheless...). But instead of grieving for Harmony or feeling sad in the same way the Scoobies were about Willow or Jesse, Cordelia just brushes it off and continues girl bonding with her in that episode. I don't think that was an instance of great writing either but I can accept it as Cordelia just being kind of dumb when it comes to vampires that she knows/has a personal history with (i.e. Willow here, Harmony in "Disharmony", Darla in "Offspring"). I'm a little more bothered by the Scoobies' indifference and carefree snarking about Harmony being a vampire in S4-S5, especially considering that she was turned while helping them in a battle. I can accept Cordy being ignorant, but not Buffy, Willow, and Xander considering their experiences here and in "The Harvest".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew S. View Post
    While Cordelia's blasé attitude about Vamp-Willow isn't one of my favorite moments ever, I don't think it's an example of a lack of regard for/dehumanization of Willow's life on her part, so much as Cordelia just not really understanding the tragedy of what being a vampire means. I mean, later on in "Disharmony", Cordy basically experiences the same thing that Buffy/Xander/Giles experience here when she learns that her own friend Harmony is a vampire (granted, she and Harmony weren't as close as Buffy/Xander/Giles to Willow, but nevertheless...). But instead of grieving for Harmony or feeling sad in the same way the Scoobies were about Willow or Jesse, Cordelia just brushes it off and continues girl bonding with her in that episode. I don't think that was an instance of great writing either but I can accept it as Cordelia just being kind of dumb when it comes to vampires that she knows/has a personal history with (i.e. Willow here, Harmony in "Disharmony", Darla in "Offspring"). I'm a little more bothered by the Scoobies' indifference and carefree snarking about Harmony being a vampire in S4-S5, especially considering that she was turned while helping them in a battle. I can accept Cordy being ignorant, but not Buffy, Willow, and Xander considering their experiences here and in "The Harvest".
    That's a good point but it hasn't been my interpretation. I assume that Cordelia knows that the vampires aren't people but rather the corpses of people with demons stuffed in. She stakes vampires with regularity. On AtS, she says very early on that she'd stake Angel if he lost his soul. Now, she was never tested that way and the Real Cordelia wasn't there for the Angelus arc. However she was on Xander's side in Becoming and agreed that Angel should be staked if he's lost his soul, regardless of his past as an ally on the team and her former crush. If soulless vampires should be readily killed including Angel, who she personally knew, how does Cordelia believe that the original person is still alive in there?

    I will agree that Cordelia's feelings about certain vampires can be guided by her emotions more than the immutable laws of their world. This occurs with her more frequently than the other characters. In Disharmony, Cordelia was resistant to giving Harmony up as a vampire because she was so lonely and wanted that reminder of when she was the queen of the school. In addition, Cordelia had just been hurt by Angel, a vampire that she went to work for because she believed that he had a soul and wouldn't hurt her. IMO, Cordelia was willfully making a big show of equating Harmony and Angel so that she could work through her hurt feelings from Beige!Angel. With regard to Offspring, IMO, Cordelia was already starting to fall for Angel at the end of S2 so I read S3 Cordelia as trying to suppress those feelings to stay friends with Angel. One time-honored way to dance the "I'm not in love with Angel" dance is to be overly solicitous of his ex.

    The Scoobies' snarking on Harmony is annoying and silly but it bothers me much less than Cordelia in Doppelgangland (and for that matter, Disharmony and Offspring as well). For one, Harmony was helping the Scoobies right before she died but generally, Harmony was just a low-grade bully to Buffy/Xander/Willow. Meanwhile, Cordelia and Willow had been fighting together for years and Willow helped Cordelia on a number of occasions, even though Willow cuck-holded Cordelia. Second and most importantly, the Scoobies were snarking on Harmony- but they were trying to get to the bottom of how Harmony would be proceeding as a villain and a threat to public safety. How does this bimbo have minions? What did she mean about "my boyfriend will get you", given her history of lying about having a boyfriend? Will Harmony have a boyfriend-ally in future fights, making her more formidable as she indicated in her threat? I mean, the Scoobies are completely ineffective against a stupid villain like Harmony because they get distracted by snarking on Harmony above seriously considering how to take her out. That's not good. The Slap Fight is the visual representation of this Scooby-fallacy. However, I do see the public-good rationales to dwell on how Harmony has minions or what she meant by threatening to sic a boyfriend on Willow. Harmony certainly couches her villain-threats in her social-hierarchy nonsense of "My boyfriend's gonna get you!" or "I have a gang of minions now!" so the Scoobies have to react to her social-hierarchy nonsense threats as they're made. I don't see any pubic good reasons for Cordelia to hit on Wesley two seconds after realizing that Willow is a vampire.
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    The Prom

    Positive: I like this episode's theme, stated by Willow villifying and grousing, about the importance of doing things for people you care about even if you don't..."get" it.

    Willow: Well, he's a fool. He's just a big, dumb, jerk person if you ask me. And he's a super-maxi-jerk for doing it right before the prom.
    Buffy: It's not his fault. He's 243 years old. He doesn't exactly get the prom.
    Willow: But he should, if ...

    This is an episode about how you don't have to "get it" or fully empathize with a person to try to do the right thing for them. I'm pretty sure Willow would have concluded with "if he's dating you" but Buffy interrupted. Angel gets the benefits of being with a young, idealistic, beautiful, open-hearted, adorable teenager. As a result, he's under obligation to make her teen stuff important to him if he's dating her. If you really love someone, your SO's milestones should automatically be important to you even if you wouldn't care about them left to your own devices. This is validated by Angel appearing for the prom, even though they're broken up, in one of Angel's best BtVS moments. Angel went back and realize that he should have made Buffy's life as important to him as she's made his unlife important to her.

    Xander/Giles/the Sunnydale class do this as well. Xander doesn't comprehend the indignity of being a Name Tag Person. He knows what it's like to be poor but he really can't conceive of how far Cordelia's fallen and her need to preserve face from when she was rich. "Don't you own all the dresses?" elucidates his lack of knowledge on what it's like to have everything. And yet, Xander buys Cordelia the face-saving dress anyway. Giles has put up with Buffy continuing to see Angel because he doesn't want to control Buffy's personal life in a draconian way. However, IMO, Giles *really* doesn't get why Buffy is continuing a romantic relationship after Angelus's tear through Sunnydale. However even though Giles doesn't really get Buffy's pain at the break-up and (based on his S7 comments) thought breaking up was a good idea, Giles will still be there for Buffy and offer to get her ice-cream even if he's just guessing on whether that's the comforting teen break-up food.

    Ultimately, the Class of Sunnydale (sans Scoobies) don't fully comprehend what Buffy does and who she is, nor the extend of how she's saved them. However, they see just enough to give her the recognition in the Class Protector Award.

    Negative: It's disappointing that Buffy never learned that Joyce urged Angel to break up with Buffy. It could have been some very meaty Joyce/Buffy drama. Joyce has two of her most pivotal dramatic scenes in S3- yelling at Giles for collaborating with Buffy to keep the Slayerness secret and asking Angel to break up with Buffy. However, Buffy doesn't find out about any of these scenes. It's a missed chance for drama.

    Graduation Day Part I

    Positive: Hmm, the Buffy-Faith fight, Faith's murder of Lester, the Mayor coming into the library, AND Anya/Evil Girl getting into the mix have all been mentioned already. For smaller moments. Willow's nostalgic moment with the soda machine. Giles and Wesley fencing wherein Giles fends him off while reading the newspaper while Wesley is really working at it - like dad playing catch with a son or something. The verisimilitude of senior teachers doing nonsense like hangman because none of the seniors are even thinking about studying long after college acceptances are out.

    Negative: It was pretty dumb of the Mayor to start killing Lester only two days before the Ascension and thus, drawing attention to Lester's work. You'd think after decades of studying ascending, the Mayor would be familiar with the scholarly work of a Sunnydale professor and would have had him murdered before the final yardline here.

    Also, I think I've alluded to this recently but Buffy, Wesley, and Giles all say silly stuff when Buffy quits the Council. They are respectively:

    "I'm talking about watching my lover die."
    "We're talking about laws that have existed longer than civilization."
    "I've nothing to say right now."

    Graduation Day Part II

    Positive: The Slayer-dream and then, Buffy kissing Coma Faith is my favorite. Capped off by:

    Buffy: Faith told me to play on his human weakness.
    Willow: Faith told you? Was that before or after you put her into a coma?
    Buffy: After.
    Willow (confused): Oh.

    I think it means a lot for Faith's future character development that a part of her didn't want the Mayor to succeed in the Ascension. Faith concludes this season by selling her father-figure out to help Buffy, even though Buffy put her in a coma. It's meaningful that Faith could only get to this "good" place right now in her subconscious. At this point, she wouldn't have the strength to switch sides in the waking world. I also don't think she can find simpatico with Buffy unless Buffy is also on the verge of death. TV dreams always have oblique, space-y, hard to define patterns of speech. That feels very correct for Faith when her subconscious wants to betray the Mayor to help Buffy save the world but she hasn't come to terms enough to say it directly or even to betray the Mayor with direct speech. The TV dream method of speaking gives Faith "cover" so to speak, to do the right thing even when Faith's not ready to live doing the right thing.

    Negative: I think Graduation Day is too Angel-heavy. As far as I'm concerned, Angel got a really great send-off in The Prom. It was entirely thematic because high school proms are typically about romance. GD I and II's other romantic angst about Bangel and even Faith's plot to distract Buffy by killing Angel feels unnecessary. (To say nothing of the aforementioned points that Angel is a jerk to make a big angsty point of not saying goodbye and a jerk to call Buffy a "brat" for no good reason.) The teen Scoobies, who were actually graduating, should have been featured more. Like, Willow and Oz play a pivotal role in designing the explosives but that aspect is mostly buried and just comes out in one line.

    Angel is also ridiculous when he'll all C*ck of the Walk "That puts me in the game!" when he learns that the Ascension comes with an eclipse. By this point, the Scoobies all know that the Mayor has an army of hencha-vamps too. Eclipse puts the greater number of hencha-vamps in the game too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dipstick
    The Scoobies' snarking on Harmony is annoying and silly but it bothers me much less than Cordelia in Doppelgangland (and for that matter, Disharmony and Offspring as well). For one, Harmony was helping the Scoobies right before she died but generally, Harmony was just a low-grade bully to Buffy/Xander/Willow. Meanwhile, Cordelia and Willow had been fighting together for years and Willow helped Cordelia on a number of occasions, even though Willow cuck-holded Cordelia. Second and most importantly, the Scoobies were snarking on Harmony- but they were trying to get to the bottom of how Harmony would be proceeding as a villain and a threat to public safety. How does this bimbo have minions? What did she mean about "my boyfriend will get you", given her history of lying about having a boyfriend? Will Harmony have a boyfriend-ally in future fights, making her more formidable as she indicated in her threat? I mean, the Scoobies are completely ineffective against a stupid villain like Harmony because they get distracted by snarking on Harmony above seriously considering how to take her out. That's not good. The Slap Fight is the visual representation of this Scooby-fallacy. However, I do see the public-good rationales to dwell on how Harmony has minions or what she meant by threatening to sic a boyfriend on Willow. Harmony certainly couches her villain-threats in her social-hierarchy nonsense of "My boyfriend's gonna get you!" or "I have a gang of minions now!" so the Scoobies have to react to her social-hierarchy nonsense threats as they're made. I don't see any pubic good reasons for Cordelia to hit on Wesley two seconds after realizing that Willow is a vampire.
    I agree that the Scoobies were doing public good in trying to figure out what Harmony was up to but they could have taken at least 2 seconds to acknowledge the (haha, literal) suckiness of her death instead of just making cracks like ‘She must be dying without her reflection’. They were largely indifferent about their high school bully being turned into a monster the same way Cordelia was indifferent about the chick who stole her man being turned into a monster. While you could argue that the Scoobies are more justified in their dislike of Harmony than Cordelia is in her dislike of Willow, the two instances are pretty much equal to me in terms of callousness and weird writing.

    Cordelia had helped to save Willow’s life just weeks/months before in “Gingerbread” without any reservations (she could have easily went back home after waking Giles up) so I think she *does* value Willow’s life. And despite their reactions to Harmony in S4-S5, I think Buffy, Willow, and Xander would have valued Harmony’s human life as well. Their cracking about Harmony just bugs me particularly because it seems indicative of a change in their (Buffy, Willow, and Xander’s) reactions to vampires in general that seemed to start around the time that Spike came back in S4 (perhaps to make his transition into the main cast feel more believable/natural).

    I mean, if the Scoobies are going to be so blasé and light-hearted about certain vampires just because they know them and treat vamps like Harmony, Spike and Drusilla as if they’re just annoying next-door neighbors, then why did Buffy have to stake Ford in “Lie to Me”? Or why did Xander have to stake Jesse in “The Harvest”? I feel like a lot of the tragedy/pathos of those moments is really undermined by scenes like the two we’re discussing.

    BTW, I meant to say this in the previous post but for some reason it didn't publish, I agreed with your points about the lack of meaningful interactions between Angel and the Scoobies and the lack of resolution to the ways in which he affected them in S2. I feel a similar way about Faith's return in S7. I also don't like the fact that the first four episodes of the season have no buildup to the clothes’ fluke because there was ample opportunity. There could have been emotional one-on-one moments between Willow and Xander in “Anne” or “Dead Man’s Party” discussing Buffy running away that would have not only made the two of them more sympathetic in those episodes, but would have also been great buildup to their “Homecoming” kiss. But I agree that the fluke (as flawed as I think it was in execution) was in-character and made sense. The Scoobies, in general, are overall horrible to each other in the early Season 3 episodes ("Dead Man's Party"; the fights and interventions; Willow and Xander cheating; Buffy and Cordy in "Homecoming"), but it feels remarkably realistic. While they are all heroic in their own ways, the main characters are not above being petty high schoolers and it's amazing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew S. View Post
    I agree that the Scoobies were doing public good in trying to figure out what Harmony was up to but they could have taken at least 2 seconds to acknowledge the (haha, literal) suckiness of her death instead of just making cracks like ‘She must be dying without her reflection’. They were largely indifferent about their high school bully being turned into a monster the same way Cordelia was indifferent about the chick who stole her man being turned into a monster. While you could argue that the Scoobies are more justified in their dislike of Harmony than Cordelia is in her dislike of Willow, the two instances are pretty much equal to me in terms of callousness and weird writing.

    Cordelia had helped to save Willow’s life just weeks/months before in “Gingerbread” without any reservations (she could have easily went back home after waking Giles up) so I think she *does* value Willow’s life. And despite their reactions to Harmony in S4-S5, I think Buffy, Willow, and Xander would have valued Harmony’s human life as well. Their cracking about Harmony just bugs me particularly because it seems indicative of a change in their (Buffy, Willow, and Xander’s) reactions to vampires in general that seemed to start around the time that Spike came back in S4 (perhaps to make his transition into the main cast feel more believable/natural).

    I mean, if the Scoobies are going to be so blasé and light-hearted about certain vampires just because they know them and treat vamps like Harmony, Spike and Drusilla as if they’re just annoying next-door neighbors, then why did Buffy have to stake Ford in “Lie to Me”? Or why did Xander have to stake Jesse in “The Harvest”? I feel like a lot of the tragedy/pathos of those moments is really undermined by scenes like the two we’re discussing.
    That's a good point about Gingerbread. I generally agree with you about the problem of the Scoobies acting like some vampires are wacky next door neighbors. However, I do find the Scoobies considerably less obnoxious about Harmony than Cordelia about Willow. Some it is a Willow v. Harmony thing. But in addition, even if Scoobies regarded Harmony as a joke, they still regarded her as their responsibility for staking and their problem to manage, given her threats. That sense of considering Harmony a present-day enemy naturally dulls empathy for the human girl that was. By contrast, Cordelia wasn't seeing Vamp Willow as an enemy that she'd have to find and stake or her threats as something to be managed. Vamp Willow had threatened Cordelia but then, Cordelia immediately moved on to hitting on Wesley without considering Vamp Willow further, as a threat or a tragedy. So, Cordelia's reaction just felt like pure lack of concern for Willow's death while the Scoobies were not sensitive to Harmony's death but they were preoccupied to a certain extent by picturing her as a (however wacky comedy) enemy to be staked.

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