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Thread: Positives and Negatives - S5

  1. #81
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    And I'm guessing unsettling is what they were after.

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    Forever:

    Positive: While I'm not necessarily cool with the whole teenage necromancer thing, I still think that Dawn's incredible in this episode. She's resourceful, she's brave, she's just plain badass and remember, she's, like, fourteen years old! And when she tells Spike you're like stalking my sister it's so satisfying! Dawnie, yay!

    Negative: Spike air quotes helping end air quotes Dawn is the single most stupid and stunningly evil thing he has done in this show. It's just phenomenally rotten, like, it's the only episode where I can unironically use the word Spuke. Dawn's a child (sorry, Dawnie) who's lost her mother and that's on top of all the key/Glory-induced misery and horror, of course she's not thinking straight. And Spike, instead of talking some sense into her, brings her to a shady demon necromancer he doesn't really know well and obviously cannot trust, then, without any weapons, takes her to a lair of a dangerous demon to steal its eggs (and again, that demon's too much like an animal, just like the snake, it's cute, it's minding its own business and Spike and Dawn are being total buttholes attacking the poor creature, it's awful) so Dawn can turn her mom into a zombie, I mean, Doc practically tells them it's walking dead territory. Like, seriously?! Spike, no!
    Last edited by a thing of evil; 13-04-18 at 11:00 PM.

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    Yeah, it's almost like he's soulless and lacking boundaries and good judgment.

    Forever

    Positive - Dawn's initial feeling that she would want her mum back no matter what is really gut wrenching. I completely feel her devastation/loss right there, but her strength of character shines through when she makes the right call in the end for herself, Buffy and Joyce.

    Negative - I'm going with the monster effects too.

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    God it's been ages since I've reviewed so I'm gonna go backwards, hope it's okay!

    Forever:

    Positives: Angel being there for Buffy! I didn't know Angel was going to show up so it was a very nice surprise! It was brief and it was perfect.

    Negatives: Yeah, this is why I dislike S6. Here Spike is all for bringing back Joyce, no magic has consequences or whatever. And Tara is completely against it! But then later she's all for bringing Buffy back, and even kinda scolds Xander when he dares to question Willow's decision to bring her back. What? Willow is the only consistent character. And to this day, I don't understand why they didn't tell Spike, Giles and Dawn about bringing Buffy back if it was the 'right thing to do'.
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    Day 16 - The Body

    Positive: I loved the theme of 'Life goes on' when Xander gets a ticket. I also adored the brief Xander and Tara scene. Such a shame they didn't interact more. They have the abusive father thing in common.

    Negative: I guess the unnecessary vampire attack. Overall, I enjoyed this episode a lot.
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    The Body

    Positive: Every scene with Buffy. The most emotionally gut wrenching scenes, IMO, feature her. SMG is a phenomenal actress and I love that she doesn't ham it - her acting really conveys her terror and helplessness at losing her mother. The first few scenes, like Giles asking Buffy if it's Glory, to Buffy saying "We're not supposed to move the body!" and her horrified realisation, the close up of the dial pad on the phone, the daydream that everything turns out OK, the sound of the wind chimes, amidst the silence. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I love Willow's need to keep changing her clothes, another brilliant, realistic touch. I LOVE Tara in this episode. That was one of the best, most beautiful, genuine, sincere adult moments in the Buffyverse - I just loved her quiet asides to Buffy. Really feeling the Buffy-Tara friendship here. I love Giles/ASH in this episode. Superb.

    Negative: This is probably unpopular, but there are many negatives to this episode for me. One reason is there are too many mixed metaphors for me, which disturb the tone of the episode as it progresses and starts to feel overly dramatised/ bordering on insincere. The monologues are philosophical - and to be philosophical you have to be at least moderately detached. It can make sense for an author, writer or producer to be philosophical - but to place that on a character makes for sorrow that's not genuinely heartfelt. For instance, Anya's famous "speech" leaves me stone cold. This shouldn't be a wordy episode, because speech is inadequate - and yet that's exactly what's thrown at us. Anya's speech is Joss's cutesy, wordy way of musing theoretically on the subject of death. Except here it feels unnecessary, artificial and trite. I think Anya's speech would have worked MUCH better if she HADN'T cried - she can muse about Joyce and fruit punch and appropriate behaviour while not crying--- if she's crying whilst doing it, to me that defeats the whole purpose. There is really nothing wrong with not crying sometimes when suddenly faced with loss, especially when it's the loss of a friend's loved one. I've been at funerals where I didn't really know the person, but I knew they were important to a friend of mine, and so I felt "sad" and often kind of guilty for not facing the same kind of pain (kind of like Willow), but wouldn't be able to visibly "cry" because I can't falsely engineer an "appropriate" response. It doesn't mean I don't feel sad or empathetic. When I've faced death/loss myself, personally, the tears have always come privately. I can't seem to cry easily in front of other people. And there are certain ceremonies I've attended where I've seen people make cruel, callous remarks about the deceased and yet seconds later make a big show about crying, which is blatantly insincere. Making Anya cry, it's like they're saying tears/a breakdown is the only appropriate "human" response, when it's really not.

    Another issue I have is - what exactly is Joss going for in terms of style here? It starts out with stark realism (except for the way in which Joyce is dramatically shot lying on the couch with her legs askew.) Then, we get subjective emotional realism, but there's still a strong sense of verisimilitude. But the classroom scene with Dawn takes off into outright melodrama and pathos - the entire classroom stops their activities to watch Dawn's meltdown. That feels a little unreal to me. No matter how sympathetic people are I find it hard to believe the entire class/ school would screech to a grinding halt to watch Buffy talk to Dawn. Not to mention, how do they know exactly what Buffy's come to tell? I feel like this is pushing realistic boundaries for the sake of stretching out pathos. Then we're back in metaphor territory - the body, negative space. Don't get me wrong, I love the metaphor of negative space as a philosophical concept but it's again - a cerebral concept - it's aesthetic, and you can't mix aesthetics or intellectual engagement when you're also trying to be emotional and gut-wrenching at the same time. Finally - I have a problem with the way Joyce is shot. She's lit in an eerie blue light , her unblinking stare is extremely chilling/ creepy, and she's also sexualised in the way she's shot, both when she's seen lying dead on the couch by Buffy first (and Buffy protectively pulls down her skirt) as well as the way she's about to be undressed as a corpse. I'm glad the negative space concept comes at the viewer, and not at a character or from a character, because I prefer that it's meant for our consumption. But still - on the one hand Joss is stirring up pathos and empathy and deep sorrow and grief, on the other hand, we're veering towards horror movie territory with the way Joyce's corpse is repeatedly shot. I feel like there are too many discordant elements, upon a rewatch, to this episode to feel absolutely sincere as an ode to Joyce or her passing, and too "glib" as an intellectual treatise on death to feel emotionally real all throughout. The stand-alone moments with Buffy on the phone with 911, and her entire reaction through the whole episode, are what make this episode a masterpiece and a classic, all the same.

    Finally, why doesn't Dawn even try to help her sister when she's saving her from a vampire in the morgue? They're BOTH grieving - yet she doesn't even bother to hand her the knife when Buffy's clearly struggling? I really feel for Buffy.
    Last edited by SpuffyGlitz; 19-04-18 at 06:27 PM.
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    SpuffyGlitz Great review. I love Anya's speech in The Body, but I don't think she was crying for Joyce, I think she was crying for two reasons, one because she didn't understand something. She usually doesn't care about things she doesn't understand, but this is a shock to her personally, that she cares about something but doesn't understand it (hope that makes sense).

    I also think she's crying because she has been forced to face the fact that they and she are mortal. She suddenly realises she will die. It's a shock that eventually she (and Xander, whom she loves) will die. It's something I don't think any of us can really grasp, our non-existence, but this is as close as Anya comes and I think that's why she cries. It's grief about loss of self, not necessarily about the death of Joyce.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Day 18 - Intervention

    Positive: I love this episode, it's pretty perfect, and I could go on and on about it (but I won't ) The one tiny thing I'll highlight is the kiss. This is the episode Buffy finally begins to see Spike as 'real' and that she might have feelings for him other than hate/disgust. Buffy kisses Spike and she doesn't kiss people on the mouth that she doesn't like. That kiss is his reward, it's Buffy bestowing 'realness' on him, she sees him and wants him to know that he's no longer just a 'thing' to her.

    Negative: It works really well in this episode, so it's not really a negative, but the scoobies being so 'Buffy's our friend we'll do anything to protect her' . . . except give her any personal freedom to make her own decisions, and we reserve the right to be deeply judgemental about everything she does . . . yeah we're those sorts of 'friends' Even Tara jumps on the 'Buffy's crazy' bandwagon.

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    I Was Made to Love You

    Positives: One word: Xander. Also, I love the subtle Xander character development from Into the Woods, passing Triangle, and ending with this episode: (Taken from my I Was Made to Love You review)

    Into the Woods shows Xander challenging Buffy about her true feelings when it comes to Riley. He points out that Buffy have been treating Riley like a rebound and that she shut down because she was burned with Angel. He gave her the choice: If you don’t love him, let him leave. If you love him, stop him from leaving. It’s no brainer that Xander was clearly rooting for Buffy and Riley to make up and stay together. Xander wasn’t aware at that time that his speech had a negative effect on Buffy: she started blaming herself for Riley leaving.

    Triangle shows Xander and Anya in bed after sex discussing Buffy’s break up with Riley. Anya started blaming Buffy for the break up and I think that moment awakened Xander’s sense of guilt. He defended Buffy, emphasizing that he was more worried about how she was taking the break up. He didn’t think Buffy was at fault and hoped she didn’t see it that way.

    I Was Made to Love You: too late. Buffy was ranting about how dirty she was, about how she chases men away, about whatever that is wrong with her and why she can’t keep a man. Xander reassures her there’s nothing wrong with her.

    “The problem is not you. Don’t do this to yourself. Please.” Xander was the reason she felt this way. ‘Cause at first her anger was directed at Riley but then Xander opened her eyes at the possibility that she didn’t treat Riley right herself.

    Xander does a good job making Buffy feel better and directing the blame to the Hellmouth instead. He does his best throughout the episode to be the greatest best friend: dancing with Buffy at the party and later complimenting her and supporting her decision about not needing to date at the moment.

    Negatives: I really wish Britney Spears agreed to be April in the episode.




    Crush

    Positive This episode makes my heart flutter because it reminds me of Sweet Revenge (A Spander rewrite of S5 where Xander finds the Buffy shrine in Spike's crypt a few hours before Spike officially destroys it because he's in love with Xander now, and it was the most heartbreaking thing ever). But, uhm, Buffy being so oblivious to Spike's so obvious feelings for her is a great character continuity because she was also oblivious to Xander's feelings in S1, and also oblivious to Riley's feelings in S4.

    Negative Harmony breaks my heart, and it's played for laughs, poor Harmony. Drusilla on the other hand deserves everything she gets for cheating on Spike so many times in the past.

    Quote Originally Posted by Priceless View Post

    Negative: It works really well in this episode, so it's not really a negative, but the scoobies being so 'Buffy's our friend we'll do anything to protect her' . . . except give her any personal freedom to make her own decisions, and we reserve the right to be deeply judgemental about everything she does . . . yeah we're those sorts of 'friends' Even Tara jumps on the 'Buffy's crazy' bandwagon.
    I didn't see it that way. Buffy had expressed before how much Spike's feelings for her sicken her and she'd always talked about how much she hated him, so it's not far-fetched for the Scoobies to assume that she's mostly seeking him because she's grieving. Plus, every single one of them was trying hard to be understanding in the episode (Xander's famous and Spandery "No one's judging you" speech for example.)
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    Intervention

    Positive: Tara looks so good in this episode! Red skirt, red top, classic hairdo - simple and flawless.

    Negative: Spike. Buffybot. It's sad and pathetic, OK? And not because it's evil or gross or whatever, though it obviously is, but because, as seen in this episode, Spike's better than this. Spike, no.
    Last edited by a thing of evil; 15-04-18 at 12:13 AM.

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    Intervention:

    Positives: The end scene is one of my favourite Spuffy moments in the show. It's very understated and moving and I admire Buffy for recognising when Spike has done something legitimately good and acknowledging and respecting that.

    I also love the scene of Spike taunting Glory ("the slayer is going to kick your skanky lopsided ass") and some of the Buffybots programming is hilarious ("Angel is lame. His hair stands straight up and he's bloody stupid").

    Negatives: My main criticism is the atrocious acting of Glory's minions. The line delivery of some of these guys is just horrific
    "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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    Intervention

    Positive - The seasonal themes of truth/lies what is real and what is fake are great in this ep. I think the buffybot was very revealing for a lot of what Spike thought/felt about Buffy, what he really wished for. But it is his actions outside of this that give Buffy an insight into him and what is real. The use of the bot is just neat on many levels. And I can't help but give a nod to the hokey-pokey scene which is a verse favourite for me.

    Negative - Well we suspend our disbelief of course, but the idea Warren could create such a perfect replica of Buffy is ridiculous.

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    Intervention:

    Positives: I loved how we get to learn Spike's idea and thoughts on each Scooby through the information he gave Warren. Spike believes that Willow is Buffy's best friend and Xander is listed as just "friend". He even knows when Willow began to identify as gay (he was there, and it was a major plot point in The Yoko Factor so yes, he knows when.) I'm sad we didn't get to see the info on Dawn and Tara.

    Negatives: I don't know why, but I don't buy that Buffy would kiss Spike that soon. Or even kiss him at all. It felt a bit fanficcy to me. She'd appreciate what he did and thank him, sure, but kiss him?
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    Tough Love

    Positive: A turbo-witch is born! Flying, knife hurling, lightning shooting, black eyed badass! Oh shit, I love that scene so much! And even the tight, witch-y red dress is back! You know, like in Choices. So awesome!

    Negative: I feel like Buffy fails as a friend in this episode. Spike says it better than I could - So you're saying that a powerful and mightily pissed off witch was planning on going and spilling herself a few pints of God blood until you what? Explained? Buffy has known Willow for five years and, it's, like, she still doesn't get her. It's so disappointing.

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    Tough Love

    Positive - Tara's never been a favourite character of mine but I'm coming to appreciate her more. This episode sees her do something that is just out and out heroically brave as she sits there and decides to stay silent under Glory's torture and doesn't betray Dawn. It is so heartbreaking when she does give her away after facing down Glory's threat like this, but it doesn't undermine the sheer guts that she consciously makes the choice here to sacrifice herself.

    Negative - I don't think Giles is wrong that Buffy needs to somewhat accept the change and take charge with Dawn, carve their new dynamic. But with how he readily leaves her at an awful time in S6 it leaves me feeling this is more about him not wanting to take on a changing dynamic and responsibility himself. I don't think it is awful or irresponsible of Buffy to look for some parental-esque support now with all she's facing and he's capping what he is offering pretty quickly for me.

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    Tough Love

    Positive - Anya: You know who's not American? French people. Willow: You don't say. (Alyson's delivery was topnotch! She made me laugh. The whole scene was funny.)

    Some little moments I enjoyed like Xander being Buffy's bra, Spike tentatively reaching out a hand to pat Dawn's head and then instantly withdrawing it, Anya suggesting she'd sleep with Willow.

    Also, Willow and Tara's first fight is really interesting.

    Negative - I understand where Giles was coming from about Buffy being Dawn's family and her being firm with her, but that doesn't mean Buffy should do it alone. Willow was more than willing to help Dawn with her homework, but because it appeared fun, Buffy felt she needed to be against it. It wouldn't kill Giles to help a bit.
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    Day 19 - Tough Love

    Positive: It's a choice between the amazing conversations between four women. Both felt so real in a way that BtVS doesn't usually go for. Talk of 'lesbian cred' and 'foster care'. Both conversations are so well written, and are about two women afraid of losing the person they love most. It's really moving stuff.

    Negative: It's still Claire Kramer's performance. I just don't find it very believable.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Day 20 - Spiral

    Positive: Love Dawn's 'thank you . . . for pretty much everything'. She is so proud of her sister going up against Glory, and I love her bragging about it. The Buffy/Dawn relationship is probably the most completely loving and positive relationship in the whole verse and I love it. It's always been beyond me how anyone can dislike Dawn, she's great.

    Negative: Buffy carrying Dawn just looked silly and awkward.

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    Spiral

    Positive


    The small moments: Anya's "drop a piano" then her heroics with the frying pan; Spike's compassion for Tara/Xander lighting his cigarette. Is there an ironic overlap with S7? The General's determination to kill Dawn/Giles telling Buffy to be a General - "It's time to stop playing the role of general, and start being one...This is the way wars are won" and attempting to kill Spike? Here - GILES: "Don't...What you did ... w-was necessary ... what I've always admired...Being able to place ... your heart ... above all else". In S7, he complains her feelings for Spike (who's in her heart) are jeopardizing the mission. Then there's Willow's "Buffy, you have to get up! We need you!" in Touched it's Spike's "They need you".

    Negatives

    Buffy carrying dummy Dawn. Spike should, by rights, have looked like a griddled steak (no pun intended).

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    Tough Love:

    Positives: The moment the earth begins to shake, Glory's apartment goes dark and then the door burst open to reveal Willow is just pure awesomeness. I also love the shot of Willow floating above the ground with her toes just hovering above the floor. It's very The Craft and it's all very well done.

    Negatives: The Willow/Tara fight has always felt totally contrived to me. It's clearly just done to make what happens to Tara seem more tragic and it feels like it comes out of nowhere. If they'd left it at the girls butting heads over what happened earlier at the Magic Box with Buffy I would have felt like it was more organic. But then we jump to Tara being "scared" of Willow's power and then Tara being scared of Willow abandoning her once she moves back to Boys Town and it's all so fast, so inexplicably random, and so completely out of left field.

    I also agree that Giles is being too firm with Buffy/Dawn but it foreshadows his stance in S6. What actually has always bothered me about that scene is Buffy's line "You're way more of a grown up than me!" which is just too juvenile of a thing for any 20 year old to say. It always makes me cringe. In fact, I kind of have this adverse reaction to whenever the gang refer to "grown ups" throughout the show (like when Buffy tells Giles in Halloween that she hates "contemplating you grown ups having smoochies" or Giles says in Where the Wild Things Are that his gig at the Espresso Pump is a "meeting of grown ups. It couldn't possibly interest you lot"). I have wondered if this is a just a cultural thing but in Australia, it would be pretty unlikely you would hear high school students or especially college-aged kids referring to adults as "grown ups." It's something you'd expect little kids to refer to adults as being or for parents to refer to adults as when speaking to little kids. It sounds way too juvenile for the Scoobies to be using that term.

    Spiral:

    Positives: I'm always a sucker for scenes where the heroes are trapped all together (perhaps in a moving vehicle or in a house somewhere) and are having to fend off an enemy so I enjoy this episode for that reason. The Buffy/Giles scene is also very sweet and touching as is the Buffy/Dawn scene after Dawn learns that she is the Key. I will always admire Buffy's fierce loyalty and protection of Dawn. The moment Glory shows up is also legitimately scary. I agree with Priceless that Clare Kramer's acting can be pretty damn bad sometimes but I find the character overall to be very threatening.

    Negatives: The Knights of Byzantium are... pointless. Is this the whole reason they were included in the season? To show up now and all be slaughtered and killed off by the end of the episode? Why even include them at all? Their presence certainly doesn't justify their lame ass clothes or those lame ass priests. Where exactly has this gigantic army of medieval knights been hiding in the 21st century?
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    Day 20 - Spiral

    Positive: I can write pages about the Xander/Spike scene, but I'll just settle with three points:

    1) Xander notices Spike struggling to light his cigarette and lights it for him.
    2) Xander puts Spike's lighter in his pocket!!! (So many Spander fics began with Xander returning the lighter after Buffy's death )
    3) Xander asks about Spike's wounds.
    4) Xander warns Spike about the dangers of smoking.

    Xander cares, damn it!!

    Negative: The Knights of Byzantium were the worst addition. Wish they were some gang or anyone who's current.

    Quote Originally Posted by vampmogs View Post
    Negatives: The Willow/Tara fight has always felt totally contrived to me. It's clearly just done to make what happens to Tara seem more tragic and it feels like it comes out of nowhere. If they'd left it at the girls butting heads over what happened earlier at the Magic Box with Buffy I would have felt like it was more organic. But then we jump to Tara being "scared" of Willow's power and then Tara being scared of Willow abandoning her once she moves back to Boys Town and it's all so fast, so inexplicably random, and so completely out of left field.
    I agree the part about "boy territory" was very weird, but I did like the beginning of the fight when it was about Willow not getting it because her mother is still alive, also Tara's insecurity about hurting Willow's feelings.
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    Spiral

    Positive: This is a very entertaining episode and I like that everybody gets to have at least one awesome and/or cool moment! Buffy fights the knights on the roof of the RV. Willow's big with the witch-fu. Xander lights Spike's cigarette. Giles has that beautiful moment with Buffy. Spike catches the sword. Dawn says thank you. Anya frying pans the knight. It's all pretty epic!

    Negative: Nothing makes sense in this episode. Obviously, everybody can't fit in the Xander-mobile. So why not fit them into Xander-mobile and Giles' little two-door tramp seen in Real Me? Or any other car? Why the RV? You're running away, why not use something speedy? How about a plane? There's an airport in Sunnydale. And horsies! Why? How? And how did the knights even manage to locate the fleeing RV? Why does Buffy call Ben? I mean, if you're bringing normal people into this why not just call an ambulance? Why does Ben come to Buffy? He knows that Buffy's the slayer and understands the situation with Glory, right? I can go on like this. I'm OK with sacrificing sense for the sake of entertainment value but to a point. Spiral straight up tramples over that point.
    Last edited by a thing of evil; 17-04-18 at 05:25 PM.

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