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Thread: Positives and Negatives - S4

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    Day 6 - Wild At Heart

    Positive - The exploration of different sides within that compel and drive choices runs through so much of the show and is pertinent for many characters. I like the tie in the episode with both Spike's distraction allowing his capture (another 'wild' animal getting caged of course too) and for Willow's progress with magic as well.

    Negative - Oz's cheating. I really dislike that he compared the situation to Willow cheating with Xander as their relationship was at a much earlier/lighter stage and it's pretty safe to assume the cheating was to a much lighter level. But also especially, that he said he didn't know what he did with Veruca but he'd started to kiss her before they were changed.

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    Wild At Heart

    Positive: Willow, Oz, in bed - it's such a cute, adorable, soft scene. I love how it looks, the light, the camera work, it's just beautiful.

    Negative: I'm not happy that Veruca was killed. I think that the character had a lot of that Faith, except werewolf potential. Also, the entire tragedy could've been avoided had Oz been more communicative with Veruca from the get-go. Like, no, you can't just run around Sunnydale, hunting people because, a, werewolf hunters and b, slayer. I don't lock myself in a cage just for other people's safety, you know?
    Last edited by a thing of evil; 11-03-18 at 03:56 PM.

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    Day 7 - The Initiative

    Positive:This episode is much better than I remember. I particularly love the pairings, Giles/Xander, Riley/Willow, Spike/Willow, Xander/Harmony, all so bittersweet.

    Negative: Buffy just doesn't dance very well. We're all meant to think she does, but she really doesn't. And Spike says patronise the American way

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    Day 7 - The Initiative

    Positive: Spike looks incredibly hot in this episode, doesn't he? I also love the Spike/Willow scene. They don't have that many scenes together in the show, which is a shame. I don't get why Spuffy fics write Willow as anti-Spuffy and extremely Spike-hating, Willow was always the most compassionate and nicest towards Spike than any of the other Scoobies.

    I also enjoyed the Willow/Riley friendship, it was adorable. Xander/Giles was so much fun to watch. This relationship in particular is such so wasted sadly.

    Negative: I'm the only out there who hates the Xander/Harmony fight. I just feel so embarrassed for my boy.
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    Day 7 - The Initiative

    Positive - The ethical questions the actions of the Initiative raises are just really great to consider/contrast alongside the actions of our group and the greys of the verse.

    Negative - I find the switch between the extreme violence within the Spike/Willow scene and the comedy they go for just too jarring. The gap between the two is just too extreme. Going from the horror of slamming on the music to hide her screams to making performance gags, just didn't work for me the last time I watched it at all.
    Last edited by Stoney; 12-03-18 at 04:49 AM.

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    The Initiative

    Positive: Unsettling and violent, Spike's attack on Willow is the best sexual assault-y scene in this show.

    Negative: Riley's hair. Which boy band has this man ran away from?

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    Day 8 - Pangs

    Positive: All Spike's scenes are great. He's so pitiful, staring through windows, being on the outside. His scene with Harmony is hot and funny. He somehow manages to worm his way into Giles' home and I enjoy him and Buffy bickering.

    Negative: I'm with Willow, Angel's reasoning for not telling Buffy he's here just seems ridiculous. Buffy is in danger every day, why is this so different?

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    Day 8 - Pangs

    Positive - I like the repeated references during the season to food/nourishment. It is used as a contrast often between human/demon but also against the Initiative's perspective of demons as animals. Pangs obviously has a big theme of giving/sharing food as a part of caring and defining friendship/family. I just really enjoy the many varied meanings connected to this through the season and all the family vibe/group aspects for it we get in this ep.

    Negative - What annoys me most about Buffy being kept out of the loop on the vision/Angel's presence is that it could give her vital information that affects her choices/actions. To keep the information from her because her personal emotions over Angel's presence might be tough to handle is quite simply incredibly patronising and patriarchal.

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    Starting with “The Freshman,” because I’m late to the party:

    Positive: I really like the first interaction between Buffy and Riley. It effectively sets her up to be the misfit in his world, something that the series flips over the course of the next few seasons. And I like that he’s just gracious to her by default. She didn’t get a lot of that from either the students or the administrators in high school, and it’s nice to see her catching a tiny break from the guy she nearly concussed here. (Honestly, whenever people wonder what she see in Riley, I think, “HE’S POLITE.” IDK if he knows his place settings, but he’s courteous and respectful of most people that he meets, in what is, by and large, an incredibly rude town. Even if you don’t count the demons.)

    Negative: Sunday was a flop for me. I mean, yes, monster of the week, no need for twenty minutes of flashback, but she... doesn’t... really... make sense. If she’s been heading up a gang in Sunnydale for years, why have the Scoobies never heard of her? How has she avoided the Initiative? Why, given her excitement at the prospect of fighting Buffy, has she never looked Buffy up before? They both live in the same medium-size town. It’s hard for me to take her seriously when absolutely no major players—not the Master, not Spike and Dru, not the Mayor, not the Initiative— has even deemed her crimes worthy of mention before.
    Last edited by ghoststar; 13-03-18 at 05:57 AM. Reason: Forgot to state the episode name.

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    Pangs

    Positive: I'm not cool with Angel's clandestine nonsense but I enjoyed his interactions with Willow, Giles, Anya and Xander a lot. Great stuff all-around.

    Negative: Why are you wearing a black cowboy hat, Buffy?

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    Day 9 - Something Blue

    Positive:
    Just a fantastic episode. The writing is perfect, the characters are spot on. The chemistry between Spike and Buffy is amazing, they are so good together.

    Negative: There are no negatives in this episode, but if I were to nit pick things that were not as great as they could be, I'd say Buffy's 'do you have something to tell me?' and Riley's reply, 'yes I am a lesbian', is a little cringey, as is Riley's 'teach me' at the end.

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    Day 9 - Something Blue

    Positive - It's a great episode for highlighting both the quality of the scripting as well as the casting as it's the delivery, timing, expressions etc that often make all the funniest moments really zing. Three of my favourites are Spike's annoyance/protests about wanting to watch Passions because 'Timmy's down the bloody well', follow by Giles' snark "You'll do what? Lick me to death?", Buffy teasing Spike about her tender and exposed neck and the whole cookie/wind beneath my wings exchange at the end. But there are simply loads in this ep.

    Negative - The scene between Riley and Buffy at the end is just flat, dumb and not in a funny way. I often find them forced/awkward together and think the actors really lack chemistry and it just underlines how great combinations/actors make the script really sing and other onscreen mixes just don't.

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    "Living Conditions":

    Positives: Um... Buffy isn't fighting Avril Lavigne anymore? Definitely not one of my faves. I guess it's nice to see a throwback to Buffy's "honing" days in her ability to sense Kathy's demonic nature...

    Negatives: ...But, unfortunately, we haven't seen that ability much in the last couple of seasons, so it just makes the continuity problem stand out more.

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    I'm very behind...

    Fear Itself:

    Positives: I love this episode! It's incredibly underrated and it has some really nice cinematography, in particular. I love the opening shot of the camera coming out of the pumpkin, the shot of the frat guy's corpse at the bottom of the stairs, of Oz sitting crouched in the bathtub, of the skeleton coming to life, of Willow's guiding spell multiplying around her, and of Giles bursting through the wall with the chainsaw. I also love the continuity from Halloween with Xander deliberately choosing a cool costume just in case they get turned into their costumes again (even if he'd probably end up a waiter) and this moment never fails to make me laugh -- "What you got in the basket little girl?" "Weapons" "Oh"

    And I pretty much never see anyone in fandom mention the Buffy/Joyce scene in this episode but it's really sweet and lovely. It's like nobody remembers that it even exists even though it's one of the very few scenes where Buffy actually opens up to Joyce and we also get a little more insight into what life is like for Joyce in Sunnydale.

    Negatives: Seth Green's acting in the cafeteria scene is a little cringeworthy. The frat guys are also pretty obnoxious but, then, they're supposed to be.

    Beer Bad:

    *sigh*

    Positives: Um, this is a hard one for me because this is one of my least favourite episodes in the show. I'll always dislike the show's moralising when it comes to beer because I find it neither necessary or believable. My favourite parts of the episode are definitely Willow tricking Parker and humiliating him, Buffy clubbing Parker, Buffy's daydreams at the beginning of the episode, Willow mistaking Buffy's hangover as Buffy suffering the aftermath of "group sex" and describing Veruca as "dressing like Faith with a voice like an albatross", and Giles and Xander's reaction to Caveman Buffy is kind of funny, I guess.

    Negatives: Every scene of the caveman running around campus. Not only is it painfully boring but it's genuinely embarrassing to watch. It's a real low point for the series. I also despise the college guy's condescending elitism towards Xander and, as I said, I just don't really buy the gang's attitude to beer. There's really no reason that 19-20 year old Xander would be that concerned about Buffy drowning her sorrows with a few beers. She's in college... it's pretty much expected.

    Wild At Heart:

    Positives: Another really underrated episode. It's not as good as New Moon Rising but it's still a pleasure to see Oz get more screen time and explore his character more. My favourite moments are definitely the Willow/Oz morning scene, Alyson Hannigan's acting when she catches Oz and Veruca in the cage together, Buffy's "I love you" to Willow and her anger towards Oz, and Willow almost casting the spell on Oz and Veruca which is total foreshadowing to where she is heading. I'm also one of the few who likes the actress who played Veruca and I think she did a great job.

    Oh, and the opening scene of Buffy fighting the vampire is really fun! Not only because Spike returns only to be zapped and dragged away by the Initiative which was a great surprise but also because I love any episode where Buffy tricks vamps into thinking she's a helpless damsel as a way of trapping them. Plus I really miss quippy Buffy with her puns and S4 is pretty much the last season where she consistently does this.

    Negatives: I have a lot of sympathy for Oz throughout this episode but he also pisses me off. Firstly, he does lie to Willow about the extent of his infidelity with Veruca because he does kiss her before they turn into werewolves and Willow is absolutely right that he could have told someone and the solution wasn't only to keep her a secret and lock her away in a cage with him. Secondly, it always upsets me how Oz bails on Willow and their lunch date and leaves her to sit there with Veruca because he finds the situation too uncomfortable. It is so cowardly and selfish to just leave Willow there and it's made worse by the fact that Veruca then makes that nasty comment about Willow's shirt.

    The Initiative:

    Positives: Willow and Riley really do share a lot of great scenes together and Riley is always very sweet to her. I also disagree with people who say that SMG/Marc Blucas lack chemistry as I find the comedic scene of them in the park at night really fun. The scene of Spike attacking Willow is also really well done and pretty horrific in a similar way that their scenes in Lovers Walk were too. However....

    Negatives: It's really disturbing and inappropriate how the writers transition from a scene of Spike attacking Willow, which is clearly and deliberately reminiscent of a sexual assault, to Spike complaining about his "performance" issues and Willow comforting him over his impotence. It's just incredibly jarring and it's one of the few times the series fails to switch between genres (horror to comedy) without it feeling really awkward. What kind of messaging is that even trying to send? I have no idea? The two scenes are both actually great if you judge them individually but when together it makes for a really uncomfortable mix.

    It also really bothers me whenever I watch this episode how blatantly inconsistent Spike's chip is portrayed in comparison to the rest of the series. There's no way he should have been able to throw the scientists around like he did or even throw Willow onto the bed so violently. The Initiative is also portrayed inconsistently with how it's depicted throughout the remainder of S4. The soldier's in the black gear clearly stake Sunday's minion when he and Spike escape despite Maggie Walsh being bewildered that "they use the latest in state of the art weaponry whilst [Buffy] if [she's] not mistaken, pokes them with a sharp stick." She wouldn't refer to Buffy's stakes as "poking" them with a "sharp stick" if her own soldiers already were using stakes as part of their arsenal.


    Pangs:

    Positives: I adore this episode! I love it so, so much! I could literally write a list of practically everything about this episode because I think it's so much fun. So, to try and say something different, I love that the show is willing to 'go there' and portray Spike sympathetically as he watches from outside as a vampire nest share their Thanksgiving meal - a screaming helpless victim. It's so great how they're willing to play around with the narrative like that. Also, the tiny Buffy/Angel shipper in me kind of loves that they can sense each other from afar (like when Buffy is staring out her dorm window irked by Angel hiding somewhere in the shadows -- "Is something out there?"). I also just have this really weird fondness for the scene of Buffy/Willow in their dorm room. It looks so warm and cozy and I love Willow referencing The Master (he kind of feels forgotten as a Big Bad after S1/very early S2) and the very mundane mentions of things like the girls borrowing each other's hairbrushes etc. SMG also looks really pretty in that scene and I love how kind she is about inviting Anya when Willow suggests they don't invite her because "she and Xander seem pretty tight lately." Buffy is always really welcoming to Xander and Willow's partners and I appreciate that.

    Negatives: I don't know how I feel about the episode's portrayal of Native Americans. On the one hand, the episode is kind of ahead of it's time in how it chose to confront the reality of Thanksgiving but at the same time something about Huss' portrayal doesn't sit entirely right with me. I can't really articulate why though which probably also has something to do with the fact that I'm not all that well educated on Native American history.

    My other negative would be that they probably needed to emphasise more the direct role Angel played in helping Buffy. I think it's pretty obvious that the moment he picks up the knife and hurls it into the Native American warrior (as he was sneaking up on an unaware Buffy with his own knife) was what he had been sent there to prevent by Doyle but I've seen that missed a lot in fandom so it obviously wasn't clear enough.

    Something Blue:

    Positives: I love the scene of Buffy taunting Spike with her neck and Xander's reaction to Buffy and Spike's engagement always makes me laugh "How? What? How?" "Three very good questions"

    Negatives: With all that said, I don't find this episode quite as funny as others do. I think it drags a little towards the end with the obligatory demon fight. And, again, the episode's depiction of beer and the gang's reaction to it is a pet peeve of mine. Am I really expected to believe that a bunch of 18-19 year olds react like concerned parents to Willow getting drunk and dancing her sorrows away? PLEASE. They'd all be drinking with her. The gang really overreact to Willow drinking and it always takes me out of the episode whenever I see it.
    Last edited by vampmogs; 14-03-18 at 11:05 AM.
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    Something Blue

    Positive: Buffy teasing Spike with her neck. This is pornography. This is something you'd expect to see in a Buffy the Vampire Layer XXX Porn Parody except it's already in the show. How awesome is that?

    Negative: Don't you touch Willow's beer, Xander! Let her drink and dance like an adorable anime character in peace, you paternalistic anus!

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    Day 8 - Pangs

    Positive: Spike wanting to drink from Xander. I see the Spander in anything. Also, this episode shows Giles being concerned for Xander's wellbeing which is incredibly rare.

    Negative: I didn't like Buffy's "Oh. Very manly. Not at all village people." I didn't like her mocking Xander and calling him campy.


    Day 9 - Something Blue

    Positive - All the Buffy/Spike scenes honestly! Also, Buffy telling Riley she's gonna marry Spike. Oh, and Giles' happy smile when Buffy told him he's gonna walk her down the aisle.

    Negative - I didn't like Buffy and Xander complaining about being tired of Willow's sadness over Oz leaving. Willow has always been patient and listened to them whine about anything. They couldn't do the same for her?
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    Day 10 - Hush

    Positive:
    I like the idea of this episode, that they took the risk to do it and showed that language can often be a hindrance to real communication. The gentlemen are brilliant and there are some legitimately jumpy moments.

    Negative: I really hate the opening and the start of Buffy's dream sequence, it makes me cringe so much. Why is she dreaming of making out with Riley in front of the class and Walsh? Does dreaming of the little one-two between Riley and Walsh means Buffy already thinks of Walsh as Riley's mother figure, with her saying 'be a good boy'?

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    Day 10 - Hush

    Positive - There are lots of positives to this ep, it's one of my total faves. To pick something that is perhaps a little less typical than Xander/Spike waking mute, Riley getting stuck in the lift and the lecture theatre scene which are all great and I've just snuck in mentions to , I'm going to say that the progress of Spike's increasing sense of loss of self, which will hit its rock bottom next episode, is a great feature in this ep. We saw last episode how he isn't being treated as a threat any more, is openly mocked, and now he is passed over to Xander against his will. Having his voice taken away really highlights all of this and with his frustration when he is unable to defend himself against Xander's attack when he believes Spike harmed Anya just adds really well to the deepening distress at what he is becoming/has been reduced to.

    Negative - I haven't watched this in a good while, but I remember thinking Tara was a bit intense in a slightly creepy way when she told Willow she was special at the end.

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    Hush

    Positive: What am I even supposed to say here, this is the best episode in this show! It only excels at everything. It has some of the funniest scenes in the series, some of the creepiest and scariest ones, it has the most iconic monster, the best soundtrack, it introduces a new main character, moves forward the romantic relationships of all of the four core characters and it has Doug Jones for goodness' sake. It's artistic, it's beautiful and it's a masterpiece. So one thing? Willow and Tara, intertwining their fingers, flinging the soda machine. What an awesome, mesmerising, amazingly gay scene that is!

    Negative: Anya's top. What is that thing even? It's like an ugly patterned jumper, except cropped and backless? Anya, no.

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    Sigh - do people actually remember what happened without having to re-watch? I can't even remember where I put the bar of chocolate I was eating when I went to fetch the DVD!

    Day 9. Something Blue

    Oh God! I'm going to spoil the party. Even with the Spuffy, I don't much care for this episode. The acting feels "off" - it made me appreciate the later seasons even more.

    Positives - Xander and Giles - they get the best lines. Oh - and the infamous "cookies".

    Negative Willow's striped poncho in the prologue. It looks like an egg-cosy. I don't like Anya's hair, Buffy's hair or Riley's curtains. There's zero chemistry between SMG and MB.
    Last edited by TriBel; 15-03-18 at 12:30 AM.

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