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Thread: Rewatch revival!

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    Default Rewatch revival!

    Let's face it, season 6 of the rewatch has been just a little bit on and off to say the least. I am hoping though that we'll give it a kick start again now and not only finish up the season but head on to S7 with a new determination to keep the flow and pace going!

    I've been in touch with Aurora who has agreed to a final posting weekend of 17 August for the Seeing Red review and we've discussed the need to move on now, to keep to this as a firm date. So I have sent messages to Willow From Buffy too to try to confirm that the date for Villains is now set to 31st August. The last time we discussed the Villains review they did say it was ready and waiting so, although I haven't heard back yet, I'm hopeful that this date won't prove problematic. I have also touched base with King regarding Two To Go. So we're looking to move through these last episodes of S6 and on through S7 now without any further delays.

    To help get back a focus on season 6 and the sequence of events through it, I'm suggesting that the time leading up to the completion of Seeing Red (8th-16th) is used to recap the season prior to it through a flash mini rewatch over the next eight days. I'll post the links for the reviews of the prior episodes here from tomorrow, two per day, and anyone should feel welcome to make comments on the reviews/episodes leading up to Seeing Red as we go back over S6 so far. Of course you don't need to rewatch the eps or reread the reviews if you don't wish to. You can of course, or you can just make ad hoc observations on each or odd episodes as you like. It is really just an opportunity to bring some light back to the rewatch and get us back on track to complete the season. As we hit Seeing Red and the completion of the review, comments etc will then return back to being on the main rewatch thread.

    I really hope that others will take this chance to revisit S6 and get ready for the final eps of the season.

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    Scooby Gang Josh's Avatar
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    I would certainly like to join this discussion, sounds fun. Kinda wish it was when you guys started the rewatch
    My underachieving self has yet to earn banner privileges.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    I would certainly like to join this discussion, sounds fun. Kinda wish it was when you guys started the rewatch
    The rewatch has been going on for years (I just looked and S1 was March 2014!!). It's just S6 has been plagued with delays from real life interruptions. It'll be nice to run over the season again and get back into it and I hope that you drop in thoughts along the way and continue to join in going into S7 too.

    The main rewatch threads all link to each other at the bottom of the first post and there's also links to all the reviews of that season under a spoiler on that initial post too. Please do feel free to look at any prior to S6 as well but don't forget to breeze over the first eighteen episodes of S6 too.

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    my dear Stoney

    i also promise to finally post my response
    to your brilliant response to my
    review of Normal Again next week—

    it is almost done...

    just this damn conference deadline...

    it is long and detailed—

    so hoping that that, too, will help
    people reconnect...


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    First up is Bargaining pts 1 & 2. I'm hoping to be able to pop these on in the background later today.

    For reference if anyone wants to drop back into the reviews, here are the links...

    6.01 Bargaining (Part 1) (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
    6.02 Bargaining (Part 2)
    Last edited by Stoney; 08-08-19 at 05:19 AM.

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    Could I make the possibly blasphemous suggestion that, in the future, people might consider toning down their ambitions for their episode reviews by even just a little bit? At the risk of bruising some folks' egos, I honestly think that the drive to make some reviews so complex, so deep, and so desperate to show off how thoroughly one has thought about forty-two minutes of a TV show down to the sub-atomic level, that the entire rewatch became off-putting to some of us, damaged this rewatch.

    I'm not asking for 500-words-or-less blurbs, nor for an end to multi-part reviews. But could we at least ask that reviews not take 100,000 words before even starting to talk about the episode that they're allegedly about, to say nothing of not being so danged complicated that real-life events in the reviewers' lives interrupt the reviews (and grind the rewatch to a halt) for months and months, if not a full year?

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    We've always held that people can produce whatever review they like, any style/length etc, and although you aren't the only one to raise concern over the larger reviews I've heard positive responses to the more epic ones and the depth they offer over the years too. Of course you can dip into as much or as little of a review as you like. But saying that I do think that we have learned from this season and Sosa's suggestion that people endeavour to prepare their reviews for posting on the weekends they are due is a good one that we should endeavour to stick to.

    --

    Bargaining 1 & 2

    I've been rewatching the show with a relative who has never seen it before and we have actually reached S6 too. We just watched OaFA this week and we've been watching AtS alongside too. We always used to watch BtVS first but I noticed when we reached S6 that AtS aired first and so we have watched in the order as they aired. This meant that we had watched both Heartthrob and That Vision Thing before Bargaining pts 1 & 2 and the links between them work really well. We see the different responses to heartache and lost love and the emphasis on choices is heavy in them all. I found PuckRobin's exploration of the stages of grief a real highlight of his review and the focus we get on the time without Buffy and the way the roles have shifted in these episodes (especially pt1 obviously) is really interesting. I can certainly see the point that people make that they could have made more of the time before Buffy is resurrected and explored the group's dynamics since her death more, but I think we get a good glimpse and enough to build from going on in the season.

    Aspects of who people are, what is innate and natural to them also features and this helps to emphasise the sense of emotional disconnection that Buffy feels too. And the question of the experiences that people go through and the impact it has is here from the start of the season and as we know is so key to all that follows. The context of how all these people came to be where they are now and what they went through on the way informs everything. As King emphasised the responses are a focus in both the group regarding the spell and Buffy's appearance and Buffy herself as she goes through the horror and victory of emerging from her grave and feeling thrown into a living hell.

    Such kudos to SMG when she plays the bot.
    Last edited by Stoney; 08-08-19 at 10:45 PM.

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    I really think it's better to write your review in advance and just wait for your turn. When posting day comes, you just post. That way we stay on schedule.
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    Day 2 of the S6 whizz through and it's After Life and Flooded today.


    For reference if anyone wants to drop back into the reviews, here are the links...

    6.03 After Life
    6.04 Flooded

    - - - Updated - - -

    Some off the top of my head blatherings on the two eps. Please feel free to offer your own.

    (SpuffyGlitz if you're reading this thread I do tend to talk about AtS through the rewatch for the thematic links but will try to remember to always reference the episode title or lead a remark with a reference such as 'in AtS' or 'for the fang gang' that will flag to you that you might want to skip the following remark. )

    The season's focus on consequences is really pushed in After Life and the hitchhiker that is gaining physical presence as Buffy is feeling so distanced from everything around her. That initial walk through Revello with Dawn is so well done to show how deeply affected she has been and the results of the trauma she's experienced. The effect on her sense of presence, on the connections around her, and her engagement in her life are such major factors in what Buffy is trying to deal with on her return. How life continued without her/because of the loss of her, the changes that have happened, feeds into that sense of disconnection. And there is no escaping that they have all changed whilst they have been apart and working out how to be together again isn't going to be easy. In That Old Gang of Mine we see this reflected too, how experiences inform who we are alongside how people can change, how we respond to the choices of others and the consequences of those choices. If it had truly been a relief for Buffy to have escaped where she had been things wouldn't have been as difficult but it still would never have been what it was again, because life and death has happened in between.

    I actually quite like the metaphor in Flooded of the pressure building up under the surface as the pipes are creaking and straining before bursting. It just appeals to me. As Dipstick raised, the issue of Buffy's finances are certainly a contentious one but her finances and depression just aren't issues that are easily solved. Especially the combination of the two. A degree of avoidance is understandable when there are practical pressures to deal with on top of underlying issues that in themselves are truths that are hard to face or even truly acknowledge or understand yet. The desire to find comfort in roles of the past is realistic. I suppose this works for the way Buffy flees to go to see Angel.

    It is a fascinating missed moment that I'd have loved to see as the only detail we get of the meeting as 'intense' says so little. The inability to articulate all that is felt and happening under the surface I can see playing out then too and rather like the meeting with Giles where there is a degree of emotional connection on the surface, what is being avoided and hidden creates a barrier that due to circumstances has a natural intensity to it too. And that reservation and holding back is a fundamental block in moving forwards. As Dipstick fairly raised when talking of Willow's response to Buffy's behaviour staring at the water, the group still believe Buffy has been rescued from hell. They will be drawing understanding of her from that belief and this context to their responses that they don't realise is incorrect is important. It's there in addition to the natural difficulty to just knowing when your presence is comforting and support reassuring and when it is pressuring and suffocating. As Buffy stays withdrawn and closed and communication is limited they are operating with incomplete information. The fang gang contrasts to the scoobies a lot in the first half of S6-S3 with the emphasis there being on the group functioning together effectively and in Carpe Noctem how they help return Angel to his body sits against Buffy's continuing distance from those around her and the disconnection she feels within from herself and who she is now that will continue for a long time yet.
    Last edited by Stoney; 09-08-19 at 11:08 AM.

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    Stoney, looking back and re-reading the first four reviews of Season Six, it feels like there’s as much drama going on in the Scooby gang as Buffy returning from the dead and maybe that’s why some people were a little put off by Season Six because the point of view changes from Buffy’s inability to deal with coming back to the weird secretive relationships between Giles and his former “students.”

    I mean we’re not just reacting to buffy’s return but also Xander and Anya and his fears about marriage and Willow and Tara arguing over magic. Spike and Dawn are still grieving and also failing to really fit into the group which is even made worse by being kept in the dark about Buffy’s resurrection and the absence of Giles.

    I feel like Season Six is more like the modern television shows of today because all these complex story lines are happening and it’s hard to keep track of them all unless you’re binging the entire season at one time. Watching it incrementally must have been a different experience than how many of us watch it today and it must have been more frustrating then. Maybe that’s why Season Six has a bad rap.

    Flooded introduces even more characters who appear at first glance to be empty villains. Schoolboys playing at being villains which parallels the Scoobys trying to grow up and retain their heroic stature. But it’s easier to dust vampires than to commit to a long term relationship or trust oneself. I think the point is it’s much scarier.

    By the time we get to Flooded, choices that the characters have made seem to catch up with them and the line between heroes and villains becomes even more blurred. I like American Aurora’s mention of a path to redemption for Xander and the others that starts with Seeing Red. With Spike, the journey is literal, of course. But all the early signs of that are laid out in the first four episodes like the start of a symphony or the song ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’

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    There is definitely a lot of hidden issues and insecurities plaguing the group in addition to the troubles Buffy's resurrection brings for sure. I think S6 is certainly an emotionally wrought season because these directions were taken with everyone, but they all feed from aspects of their characters/pasts that are well established which is why I really appreciate it. As you say it is complex with so much under the surface driving what the characters do and how they respond and how they all layer each other too. There's definitely a direction down and then the start of coming back up for them all across the season.

    I think I once read that Joss had said that the show was never meant to be binge viewed. I think the slow drip of viewing these increasingly difficult or developing problems does serve to emphasise the sense of being really dragged down and trapped sometimes. How hard it can be simply trying to find a path and deal with our problems. I know my relative has been surprised at how bleak it has continued to be and how much more is layered in each time but is finding it really compelling and a fascinating exploration of people going through personal struggles. I think it makes it feel more real and not something easily shaken off and is part of why it works so well.

    Hopefully I will get a chance to post later about the two eps for today...

    6.05 Life Serial (start of general episode discussion, no full review submitted)
    6.06 All The Way

    - - - Updated - - -

    The repetition of time that falls through the season and plays into the importance of the past as well as the weight of the present, is heavily featured in Life Serial of course. The pressures of facing responsibilities and the desire to escape them are very much on a continuation from Flooded and through the ep it's clear Buffy feels lost and out of sync. I quite like the episode, but I do find it hard to imagine the scoobies all being so easy to dismiss the opportunity to help Buffy meet her financial obligations as she's adjusting. Fredless gives both a good mirror between Fred and Buffy and also contrast. They have both been drawn from somewhere and are traumatised from their experiences and are questioning their paths. The contrast comes with Fred's sense at the end of having found where she fits.

    I think that Life Serial is an enjoyable episode but the pressure of the finances is lifted by Giles' cheque perhaps a bit too long before it is faced fully again. I can see why they needed to both cover it early and also didn't want it to dominate the season any more than it does though, so spreading it with the temporary relief of the cheque does give that.

    Although All the Way is one of the weakest episodes of the season I actually do like seeing a continuation given to Dawn's issues of her importance, her relevancy and how disregarded she feels on Buffy's return. With the significance of her to Buffy at the season's end, I think giving her sense of disquiet in how things are now Buffy is back for an episode was a good thing to do. It was also interesting to me (it's not how Guy who reviewed the episode felt) to see Dawn relating to her peers a little when she feels so pushed aside by others close to her and her attempt to twist herself to fit. Getting into situations she should know better than participating in is such an interesting reflection of how Buffy ends up finding destructive coping mechanisms too. Dawn is often used in the season to illustrate the consequences of the choices the others are making and is caught in the fallout of their actions, here we see some more insight into the how she is unsettled by change and how feeling adrift and uncertain where things are going negatively affects her. This disregard to the impact everything could be having on her works well with a theme of hidden or dismissed threats. Not just for Justin, the old man and the trio in BtVS but over in AtS the fear of what lies underneath is raised in Billy too.
    Last edited by Stoney; 10-08-19 at 04:10 PM.

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    I've been catching up with the first few reviews and discussions around them (roughly almost caught up to the sixth —All the Way— now) and the discussions have been fascinating and stimulating to read Particularly relating to Buffy's resurrection but many other themes. The reviews are fantastically insightful and the discussions around them have generated a lot of thought... I'm going to hold onto those thoughts till we get to the "Grave" review and/or discussion, in the meantime, it's great to be able to do this in order!
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    I'd love to hear any of your thoughts on the eps SpuffyGlitz. Please don't feel you have to keep them for the season end. Once we get to up to SR on here we'll return to the main thread too and head through the last four eps there.

    At the moment there isn't anyone down to review Grave but we will have a general discussion at the very least (I'm still hoping someone will offer to review it. ). This is just a chance to recap the season and raise anything that occurs here and now. I hadn't, as far as I remember, previously considered Dawn's destructive behaviour and choices here specifically against Buffy's as the same coping mechanism. It feels like every time I read other people's thoughts or reconsider episodes I gain something or adjust my pov.

    - - - Updated - - -

    So day 4 of the quick S6 rewatch recap. Below are the links to the reviews of the next two eps. Again I'll try to get back to comment on the eps later, even if I'm doing so on my own again. I hope at the least this thread is flag waving the imminent return to the rewatch and our completion of the sixth season.

    If you have signed up for reviewing a S7 episode it would be appreciated if you could confirm whether you are still able to participate (here). I am intending to draw up the schedule for when reviews are due in S7 as the SR review completes. Hopefully we won't have any/many gaps to fill of people who are no longer available to join us for S7.

    Plus, if anyone wants to take the review of Grave, that'd also be appreciated.


    Here are today's eps...

    6.07 Once More With Feeling (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7a, 7b, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16)
    6.08 Tabula Rasa (parts 1, 2, 3)

    - - - Updated - - -

    My random thoughts on today's eps...

    OMWF was always a favourite episode for me but I gained such a deeper appreciation for it from Aurora's review through understanding what using the narrative tools specific to a musical episode gave. The disconnection from reality that Buffy has been feeling is just so perfect to begin the episode and lead into the I Want song and her feeling of life as a performance, the sense of expectation and the roles she is playing. The revelation of truths and the ability to use the premise of the randomly triggered musical numbers to present so much within one episode is simply excellent. I love how the complexity of what people are feeling is explored, like the push and pull between Buffy and Spike. And as the group struggles to find their footing in the new dynamics that have occurred through the experiences they've gone through, the passage of time and the consequences (with more to be revealed), the focus on roles and performance is perfect. For one of my personal leanings when viewing, the visual communication in the episodes is also on overdrive, it's such a visually rich episode. The combination with the revelations of the lyrics makes it so full of meaning it is an episode I could watch over and over and still feel like I'm getting more from doing so. In Offspring so much of the above is at play too; consequences, roles, expectations, what is hidden and also a feeling of being trapped. After Billy and As You Were looked at fears of what is within we now have some truths revealed, but how able everyone is to process what they have heard is a different matter.

    With the weight of what Tara learned in OMWF and that sense of losing memory being a loss of self, a loss of knowledge of who you are, coupled with roles and the experiences people are coming from, Tabula Rasa follows really well. The exploration of nature vs nurture that Clavus gave was really interesting for considering how memories and experiences influence and shape us, such a pertinent part of the season. TR is an episode that I really enjoy and find humorous enough, but also feel is limited in how much it can be seen to show the characters as truly having blank slates.

    It is definitely interesting and revealing in some ways, but without understanding the boundaries of how the expanded spell affected them, what it targeted and took away, the characters I don't feel can be considered to have been stripped of the influence of their pasts fully. How the spell affected Spike's connection to his inner demon if his siring counted as an act done against him for example, could explain some of his behaviour. And clearly some residual memories remain that influence them as his suggestion he's a noble vampire with a soul if he's good is clearly not coming from nowhere. The context the group find themselves in of course will also influence their analysis of who they are and this adds into those shadows of knowledge and senses of self that have remained as well. But around all this uncertainty of exactly what was lost, it does still serve to illustrate how past experiences affect perspectives, whilst also looking at roles again, perceptions of self and that of others and how people relate. And of course there is the abuse of power. As I've said in recent threads, this for me is key to Willow's story through the season. It ties back so well through the series to lead into her path in S6 and is something that features as a fundamental part of her use of magic and what drives her choices.

    - - - Updated - - -

    It's Day 5 of the run through of S6, and the eps are...

    6.09 Smashed
    6.10 Wrecked

    Hopefully I'll find time to post later. I'd love to hear any thoughts from anyone else. It doesn't have to relate to the reviews at all, just about this stage in the season and any ad hoc episode thoughts would be welcome.
    Last edited by Stoney; 11-08-19 at 02:58 PM.

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    Ad-hoc houghts on Smashed and Wrecked:

    I'll admit I haven't reached this stage yet specifically, the rewatches are so rich I'm still formulating my thoughts on Bargaining 1 and 2 lol! (Mostly because it's an important aspect of why I love this season sooo much , so I probably will still post on that even though we've moved on from those first two eps now if that's fine.)

    Musings on the titles themselves:
    Thinking about Smashed & Wrecked (and I know Gone comes next-- I haven't come to the reviews yet because I'm terrible at speed reading) makes me consider how much the titles are framed in relation to the impact on the body and the senses (Smashed, Wrecked, Seeing Red, the synaesthetic shock value of Flooded & Hell's Bells), of chaos (Wrecked, Entropy) the preoccupation with repetition (Life Serial, Once More, With Feeling, Normal Again)...with attempts at new beginnings and returns to prior states (Tabula Rasa, As You Were), and the preoccupation with life and death itself and the issue of existence (After Life, Gone, Dead Things, Grave.) There's a lot to unpack about it obviously but I'm just looking at the titles themselves.

    I also find the season's foregrounding of moral rhetoric really interesting: Spike telling Buffy she's come back "wrong" in Smashed is particularly striking. He's amoral at this point in so far as he's a soulless vampire -- so "wrongness" in this sense would not matter to him and his form of unconditional love militates against it, aside from the fact that Buffy didn't come back "wrong" just changed. But more importantly, what does it even mean to be "wrong"? I feel like we're placed in a season that actively questions preconceived notions of normativity and engages with ideas of deviance and what even counts as deviance. This also relates back to Faith's parody of Buffy back in Who Are You when she mimics Buffy in pointed satire: "Because it's wrong!".

    Vantage points:
    I think the spatial metaphor in the way Buffy is pictured at the start of the season (and the way the Scoobies are framed) is not necessarily specific to S6 -- I think it's less a critique of the Scoobies as much as it is a way to show Buffy's new vantage point of the world:



    Because we witnessed this use of spatial metaphor back at the start of S3 when Buffy returned from LA and encountered the Scoobies in Dead Man's Party - they're all pictured beneath her and the vantage point once again functions like a visual statement upon her return, signalling their dependence on her:



    Cursory houghts on Amy:
    Amy is an interesting figure because, unlike Tara, Amy's associations with magic have largely been negative. It's quite likely that Amy's addictions to magic had their catalyst in her unhealthy relationship with her emotionally abusive mother. Catherine Madison (who ultimately ended up trapped in a cheerleading trophy) was a witch who practised magic in secret, whose husband left her for another woman, and who obsessively controlled Amy to a claustrophobic degree, including what she ate and what her priorities ought to be. Amy, who's been a childhood friend of Willow's, and who inherited her mother's magical powers, had a strong impetus for addiction. When her mother would go on "broth" diet fads in the past, as a child Amy would stay over at Willow's where they would "stuff themselves with brownies." For Amy, the pattern of turning initially to food for comfort could easily have been signs of a developing susceptibility to addiction. Unlike Willow, Amy was not naturally talented at witchcraft, she often bungled spells but at the same time, showed no qualms in using magic to help herself. In Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered, when she attempted to do the love spell on Cordy, it was after Xander first sighted her freely and unscrupulously using magic to avoid doing homework. I wouldn't consider it unlikely that she'd discovered Rack during these years. Prior to S6, Amy continued to explore dark magic and it was during the witch hunt in S3's Gingerbread that she turned herself into a rat. I understand why the addiction storyline could bother some viewers— for me personally, I think it would have been far more difficult to comprehend Willow's downward spiral—to understand and empathise with the depths of her fall—were it not for that metaphor. To show Willow become so invested in something — without a clear parallel to some addictive force — would make her too inexplicably opaque in her motivations to be redeemed. The addiction metaphor is universally recognisable —everybody knows it is something that is genuinely difficult to overcome. So the triumph in recovery—in overcoming that draw—is made all the more powerful but I like the fact that it's emphasised as a parallel and not an absolutely literal equivalence ("that's not what it looks like! it's magic weed." Gone.) One would know the path to recovery is a difficult one—particularly in a season delving into the ethics of power - and that there are all kinds of addictions that can go from being healthy to unhealthy.

    Sorry for the cursory outpourings of thoughts! I haven't really been able to focus on these episodes as yet so this is random musing, not thought out (even though these are some of my favourite episodes) because I'm still pouring over Bargaining
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  28. #15
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    Of course you can post on Bargaining whenever you like SpuffyGlitz. This thread was really just an opportunity to brush over the season up to Seeing Red before it completes. The pace is rapid just to gain a reminder of what came before rather than realistically giving time for indepth discussion of all the eps (there should normally be a two week break between each individual review within the main rewatch). Some of the reviews are far briefer than others but reading and absorbing them all two a day just wouldn't be feasible. I linked them more to flick into if people wished. But if you want to pour over Bargaining specifically, that's great and any thoughts and observations will be interesting to read when you get time to post them.

    In the meantime, thank you for throwing some ad hoc season thoughts in here. I love the observation you made about the mix of titles. I think it was Tiny Tabby or Aurora who commented on the group of episodes that together nod to the drug/high metaphor in Smashed, Wrecked and Gone, but I hadn't ever registered the repeating ties that you noted. I especially love the mention of repetition itself in some as it works so well with that idea of being trapped that Buffy feels for so long (and yet has that temporary early sense of freedom from in Gone which works in contrast).

    The spatial work in the season is a great point to raise too and we have this in evidence again in Smashed when Buffy and Spike fall down to the basement together at the end. As has happened before, and will again in the season, they finish with Buffy still above him, even if she has dropped down with him for a time.

    Great thoughts on Amy too! I agree that the little that we see of her and her background influences isn't incompatible with feeling that she could have stepped into abusing magic before she was ratted. I've always found Willow's addiction to magic intrinsically linked to the use of power and the expectations on her/that she feels are on her. I think it works and the mix of metaphors used with magic doesn't bother me personally.

    There's no need at all to apologise for random thoughts, it is all interesting parts of the whole.

    Some general thoughts on Smashed and Wrecked to follow soon.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Smashed sees barriers break and tumble as the group continues to remain unstable in the fall out of all that has happened. Power is abused and there's a complete loss of restraint and control. Not just in Spike's ability to act outside of the chip with Buffy but in the choices people make for escaping pressures, fears and consequences. How people define themselves against others and the sense of personal identity drives actions taken. There's an interesting continuation of the notion of nature and nurture, choices and the capacity for choice here with the sense of freedom the main characters are feeling and seen in the actions of the Trio too. In the sister episode Lullaby these elements around choice and capacity is seen with Darla, affected by Connor's soul. A key aspect often part of the choices people make comes with how they define themselves against others and this touches again to the history between characters along with a focus in both shows on the relevance of time, how the past and knowledge informs the present.

    The exploration of those destroyed barriers and the seductive lure of power, freedom and release that gives escapism as a coping mechanism continues in Wrecked. The pressures of expectations are layered in to self perception, self destruction, social expectations and responsibilities. As SpuffyGlitz raised above, as with Smashed, the ongoing exploration of these includes this sense of what is wrong and normativity. With Amy, Rack and Warren leeching off others we see the representation of the importance of food and sustenance. Often used in the series for contrast and against the experiences that make us and notions of healthiness and caring. And caring for Dawn is a key tool used to illustrate carelessness, consequences and the weight of responsibility. As Buffy continues to hold close her secret of what is happening for her, Willow's issues are more exposed. AtS's Dad also leans heavily on the notion of expectations and responsibility and also the benefit to letting others in to support you.

    - - - Updated - - -

    The new links for today...

    6.11 Gone (parts 1, 2)
    6.12 Doublemeat Palace

    - - - Updated - - -

    Gone is such a good follow up on to the escapism of Smashed and Wrecked for a depiction of the absence and lack of connection to life Buffy is feeling. It works so well alongside where Willow is and her facing temptation but resisting whilst Buffy finds a sense of freedom and distance from her responsibilities that has her acting out even further. The lack of a sense of consequence when you can't even be seen really affects her. The scene with Spike and him calling her on her willingness to be there when she isn't there is great. The temptation to indulge in what she wants and act cruelly towards others sees Buffy fall in a different way to the end of Smashed. Tiny Tabby's suggestion the absence of Giles and Tara as figures that provide a Jiminy Cricket conscience playing into the selfish choices that we've seen in these times of temptation fits so well to the freedom from responsibility both Willow and now Buffy are seen indulging in. Her additional thoughts about the freedom of invisibility and the temptation to do evil that you can truly get away with is a really interesting consideration not only against Willow's resistance compared to Buffy's bad behaviour here, but also when thinking of the choices and behaviour of The Trio too. As Tiny Tabby described there's a dual desire to get away from something as well as to get away with something. So many great points raised about the narrative use of invisibility and psychological meanings.

    Roles and social expectations are certainty focussed on again and we have the contrast between Willow who has come forward and is getting support, is openly attempting to fix her problem, against Buffy's continued secrecy about her own addictive coping mechanism. The contrast of packing away any little reminder of magic for Willow against her own retrieval of Spike's lighter is clear at the start, and this is something which doesn't alter through the episode despite Buffy feeling like she has moved forward in wanting to live by the end. In AtS's Birthday Cordelia faces the choice of escaping her current life and experiences to walk a different path but takes her life back when she sees the consequences and repercussions. For both Buffy and Cordelia there is a positive outcome in choosing for themselves something that someone else had chosen for them originally I think. Buffy now truly wants to have the life which the group reinstated for her, chooses to not let it go, and Cordelia opts to have the visions that Doyle passed on to her. The ownership of those choices always seems a really psychologically positive amendment to me.

    Doublemeat Palace then looks at the grind of life (pitiful pun intended, sorry). After escaping responsibility it feels right that the focus then goes to the complete opposite and facing it. So managing finances and responsibility is front and centre again. The absence of Giles is once more underlined as Buffy is taking on the adult role in becoming a wage earner, his one off cheque from Life Serial wasn't going to support her forever either, and she looks to become the provider for herself and Dawn. The sense of being trapped with time and energy being drained away in trying to meet obligations like this runs through Buffy's time at work. The same theme of financial responsibility runs through the bluntly titled Provider in AtS and the misuse of power in both. The choice to take advantage of your position is something that both Angel and Buffy face. And as secrets continue to be held the general theme of appearances being deceptive is a neat tie in the ep. Not one of my favourites but the wider discussion on this episode certainly helped me to find better appreciation for it.
    Last edited by Stoney; 12-08-19 at 09:40 PM.

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  30. #16
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    I just thought I’d pop in and share a couple of thoughts on the Rewatch Revival thread before AmericanAurora posts the second part of Seeing Red.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    Day 2 of the S6 whizz through and it's After Life and Flooded today.

    The season's focus on consequences is really pushed in After Life and the hitchhiker that is gaining physical presence as Buffy is feeling so distanced from everything around her. That initial walk through Revello with Dawn is so well done to show how deeply affected she has been and the results of the trauma she's experienced. The effect on her sense of presence, on the connections around her, and her engagement in her life are such major factors in what Buffy is trying to deal with on her return. How life continued without her/because of the loss of her, the changes that have happened, feeds into that sense of disconnection. And there is no escaping that they have all changed whilst they have been apart and working out how to be together again isn't going to be easy. In That Old Gang of Mine we see this reflected too, how experiences inform who we are alongside how people can change, how we respond to the choices of others and the consequences of those choices. If it had truly been a relief for Buffy to have escaped where she had been things wouldn't have been as difficult but it still would never have been what it was again, because life and death has happened in between.

    I actually quite like the metaphor in Flooded of the pressure building up under the surface as the pipes are creaking and straining before bursting. It just appeals to me. As Dipstick raised, the issue of Buffy's finances are certainly a contentious one but her finances and depression just aren't issues that are easily solved.
    I also like how it’s not so much a trauma that Buffy experienced that’s affecting her as they walk through the house in After Life. It’s the trauma she’s experiencing at that very moment.

    The metaphor in Flooded is strong, both the building pressure and then the sense of being knee deep in the murkiness of life.

    It is fascinating to look back at season six and see just how long this series spent on the sustained theme of Buffy’s depression. It’s not just a jokey, temporary down-in-the-dumps but a true, lingering depression. I can’t think of any other shows in a similar genre that spent quite so much time on a mature topic like that.

    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a semi-contemporary of Buffy, flirted with the concept in a few episodes. Garak was a supporting character on the series and a member of an alien species known as the Cardassians. They used to occupy the titular space station and the neighbouring world of Bajor. Garak was a spy who had fallen out of favour when the Cardassians cut their losses and left Bajor (and our Starfleet leads came in to help get Bajor back on its feet.). Garak was now left in exile on the station run by humans and Bajors who kept their lights on too bright. To cope with his depression he started abusing an anti-torture device that stimulated his pleasure centres. We find this out when the device breaks down and endangers his life. But at the episode’s end, Garak seems to be dealing fairly well with his issues.

    And then in season four episode, Starfleet everyman Chief O’Brien is sentenced for a crime he didn’t commit. He has 20 years worth of false memories of a prison sentence implanted. He returns to the station, and his wife and child as a broken and depressed man, haunted by these memories. When O’Brien nearly hits his daughter Molly, he decides that the station is better off without a scarred and damaged man like him, and he attempts suicide.



    The station’s doctor is able to stop O’Brien and talk him down. He also prescribes O’Brien medication but he states “It’s a treatment not a cure. It will prevent hallucinations, take the edge of the depression, but that’s all it will do. It won’t take away the memories or the feelings.”

    And yet, we never heard of his depression ever again.

    DS9 began in January 1993 and ended in June 1999, around the same time that Buffy and her friends were graduating high school. It did experiment with continuing story arcs, but the studio was always pushing them to wrap things up in a single episode. Both Buffy and DS9 are at that crossroads of television transforming from what it had been from the 1950s to the 19990s into what television is today.

    But even though television today allows for more continuing character beats, I don’t think most shows even today would allow the sustained glimpse we get into Buffy’s depression.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    It is definitely interesting and revealing in some ways, but without understanding the boundaries of how the expanded spell affected them, what it targeted and took away, the characters I don't feel can be considered to have been stripped of the influence of their pasts fully. How the spell affected Spike's connection to his inner demon if his siring counted as an act done against him for example, could explain some of his behaviour. And clearly some residual memories remain that influence them as his suggestion he's a noble vampire with a soul if he's good is clearly not coming from nowhere. The context the group find themselves in of course will also influence their analysis of who they are and this adds into those shadows of knowledge and senses of self that have remained as well. But around all this uncertainty of exactly what was lost, it does still serve to illustrate how past experiences affect perspectives, whilst also looking at roles again, perceptions of self and that of others and how people relate. And of course there is the abuse of power. As I've said in recent threads, this for me is key to Willow's story through the season. It ties back so well through the series to lead into her path in S6 and is something that features as a fundamental part of her use of magic and what drives her choices.
    You’re right that in Tabula Rasa, not all characters seem that far removed from their influences. I mean sure, Spike might have some degree of vampire immunity – so that his memories and envy are peeking through. Or maybe it’s just an extension of how Spike seems to push against the traditional definition of vampires and soullessness.

    And Buffy’s leadership skills could be considered nature rather than nurture.

    But then we get to Xander when he sees his ID “Hey, I exist!” he says while almost giggling nervously. It’s very similar to his normal humour, which was a defence mechanism used to cope with his abusive family. And then his suggestion that maybe Willow goes out with his brother, reflects his insecurity.

    I think the memories they lose reflect what they consider “normal”. They all lose knowledge that magic is real, even though that should be as an established fact for them as what drivers licences are for. Willow assumes that she’s straight and then discovers she’s gay. (On the other hand, Tara seems to immediately show her attraction to Willow.)

    Quote Originally Posted by SpuffyGlitz View Post


    Vantage points:
    I think the spatial metaphor in the way Buffy is pictured at the start of the season (and the way the Scoobies are framed) is not necessarily specific to S6 -- I think it's less a critique of the Scoobies as much as it is a way to show Buffy's new vantage point of the world:



    Because we witnessed this use of spatial metaphor back at the start of S3 when Buffy returned from LA and encountered the Scoobies in Dead Man's Party - they're all pictured beneath her and the vantage point once again functions like a visual statement upon her return, signalling their dependence on her:

    That’s a great comparison, SpuffyGlitz. Not only do we get Buffy’s vantage point of the world and Scoobies in both instances, but we also see their view of Buffy shift. From someone who is swooping into save them in season three to someone who seems lost and may need saving of her own in season six.

    I’m really excited to see what you have to say about Bargaining.

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    The episode links for today.

    6.13 Dead Things (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
    6.14 Older and Far Away

    I probably won't get time to put towards considering these until much later today, but in the meantime... hey PuckRobin it's great to see you.

    Quote Originally Posted by PuckRobin View Post
    I also like how it’s not so much a trauma that Buffy experienced that’s affecting her as they walk through the house in After Life. It’s the trauma she’s experiencing at that very moment.
    I love this. I think the experiences she has had in being torn from heaven, coming out of her grave and feeling like she's returned into a hellish place probably are so continuously affecting her that they can't be truly separated from how she is processing everything. But yes, the actual sense of disconnection and the changes themselves that she is seeing as she goes around, the very reality of feeling so disconnected from herself and the home that should be a place of security itself I can see is a traumatic experience itself that unfolds as she walks through Revello. This is such an interesting point and is probably true of a lot she experiences in her initial days on resurrection. But this in particular, with all that the house should represent but no longer does, must be specifically significant. It works with a general sense that everything gathers and increases from the moment she wakes in the coffin and in that way feeds so well into Flooded. It's a great point.

    It is fascinating to look back at season six and see just how long this series spent on the sustained theme of Buffy’s depression. It’s not just a jokey, temporary down-in-the-dumps but a true, lingering depression. I can’t think of any other shows in a similar genre that spent quite so much time on a mature topic like that.
    I really agree. Watching the season with my relative, one episode per week, has been quite a different experience to the binge watching I've always done of the series, having first watched it on DVD years after it aired. They really looked at the trauma, depression and disconnection Buffy is experiencing in varying ways, but also in letting it continue and worsen for so long in itself. It really does support that this is something that is deeply affecting her and not easily shaken off as you say. There are so many hits and difficulties that pile up and it is bleak. I think it really draws you in to feeling the despair and the sense of being trapped in a situation that you can't escape or seem to change. Of course I already know where the season will go and perhaps if my first time viewing had been this extended draw into the depression and isolation, I would have felt more drained by it than captured. I don't know, but it really is a very compelling season to me. It was really interesting to hear of the briefer representations given in DS9 in contrast. The desire of wanting to consider the topic but not explore it as actually being a deeply affecting experience that changes the character in itself limits the depth of the representation.

    You’re right that in Tabula Rasa, not all characters seem that far removed from their influences. I mean sure, Spike might have some degree of vampire immunity – so that his memories and envy are peeking through. Or maybe it’s just an extension of how Spike seems to push against the traditional definition of vampires and soullessness.

    And Buffy’s leadership skills could be considered nature rather than nurture.

    But then we get to Xander when he sees his ID “Hey, I exist!” he says while almost giggling nervously. It’s very similar to his normal humour, which was a defence mechanism used to cope with his abusive family. And then his suggestion that maybe Willow goes out with his brother, reflects his insecurity.

    I think the memories they lose reflect what they consider “normal”. They all lose knowledge that magic is real, even though that should be as an established fact for them as what drivers licences are for. Willow assumes that she’s straight and then discovers she’s gay. (On the other hand, Tara seems to immediately show her attraction to Willow.)
    It really is hard to say without knowing exactly how the spell did affect them. But on the basis of it supposedly targeting memories that would "Purge their minds of memories grim, of pains from recent slights and sins." the scope is huge. And even then, we don't know what the expansion of the spell could have done to extend or warp that. I don't think that Spike has any immunity as everyone retains some shadow memories that aren't things that could be considered nature rather than nurture, like Buffy's leadership could. But it is inconsistent, which could be seen as randomness and instability in the spell.

    As the only blood based relationship, that of Buffy and Dawn, it makes sense in a nature way that they feel connected as sisters. And of course the other relationships which aren't blood based are misinterpreted. But why would the spell remove knowledge of each other fully as it does? Their memories of meeting and knowing each other and their memories of who they are can't all be described as memories grim or from recent slights and sins, so the spell has expanded from the original premise wildly. But also not enough to make them genuinely blank slates that are unable to converse or make cultural references, or even recognise the store is a magic one even if they don't believe in magic itself. I think their interpretations of who they are is greatly affected by being all together and in this sense I agree that the perception of what is 'normal' is greatly affecting them. And so the gaps they awake with could be seen to reflect this too, if they are based on a remaining wider sense of normativity. It fits with their desire to assess each other/themselves and find where they fit and goes with the repeated theme of self perception and the social expectations and perceptions of others affecting them which the season features heavily.

    So yes, in this sense Spike is led to believe he is one of the group and isn't separated like the vampires that come to attack them. But his lack of any knowledge of the demon within him at all suggests to me that a more meaningful disconnection has been created by the spell too. He vamps out but didn't even realise he had. The idea that he would be souled if he was a good or 'noble' vampire shows knowledge of vampires being soulless creatures as the default and belief a soul would make a difference. This seems clear shadow of memory to me as why would he suggest such things. As you say, there's probably envy coming through, but such that it isn't connected to a memory that the spell wiped. As much as the episode could be seen to perhaps show the break Spike makes from the typical expectations of vampires it is within the context of fitting to his surroundings/peers and also shows how his nature can break through too despite his beliefs. With the total uncertainty of what the spell has literally done, how factors such as the conditioning of the chip unconsciously remain (or if he even fed recently!), along with the reveal of some remaining knowledge, it's just very hard to draw any confident character summations. But the idea that it does overall emphasise the desire they all hold to assess 'normal' and fit is really interesting.

    I'm really looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts. It's great to be back looking at the season again and heading towards the final season too.

    - - - Updated - - -

    The brilliance of Dead Things is something that I have gained such deeper appreciation for from PuckRobin's review. His consideration of the title alone, what lies beneath to rise again, the ties between the characters and the examination of Buffy and the dream in particular are simply excellent. I think this is one of the hardest hitting episodes in the season and the exploration of the moral complexity of Buffy is just superb. There is so much to unravel in what is shown in the abuse of power and control, consent, romantic obsession, emotional connections, dehumanisation, around fantasy and reality, escapism and time, the performance of roles, duty/responsibilities. All with an overarching consideration as PuckRobin stated, about deeds done and taking responsibility for those actions and facing consequences. The violation of Katrina, the intention to do more, and her murder are simply horrific. The differing responses that we see to the acts that are taken is fascinating and the compare and contrast between Buffy and Warren is incredibly powerful. The sense of self-blame and self-punishment that is woven through Buffy's responses, couples with the considerations of being trapped and missed time in the AtS episode too Waiting in the Wings. And in both there is a heavy leaning into the ability and possibility to take control back. An absolutely incredible episode.

    Older and far Away focuses on relationship dynamics and consequences as some of the things that have been hidden finally are exposed. Although it is a little blunt, the hidden demon in the walls that stirs and unsettles or hurts everyone being something that has to be tackled is an aspect I'm quite fond of in the episode. As with the previous episodes there is also a running consideration towards active engagement with life and interactions. Rihannon highlighted the link in the title to the novel Empire of the Sun mentioned in the classroom scene, and I find the reflection of the distance that can develop through the separate experiences people have which means so much more than time and ageing excellent. The breakdown of the functioning of the group has so much to do with the independent changes that the characters have gone through and the difficulty of coming to terms with that and finding a way forward. The contrast across in AtS between the groups and how they support each other has laced the first half of the season, but there is a shift there now as the sister episode Couplet sees the impact that changing dynamics can have and the ripples it can cause within the group. Oh, and if anyone hasn't seen the completely adorable slug pictures that Rihannon showed, it is a perception shifting moment!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Today's episodes...

    6.15 As You Were
    6.16 Hell's Bells (parts 1, 2, 3)

    - - - Updated - - -

    As You Were is an episode I think I probably appreciate more each time I rewatch it, but it's still one of my least favourites of the season. Whatever you feel about Riley's appearance it is very much there for contrasting the current situation for Buffy against the more level/healthy relationship he has moved on to. The episode serves to get Buffy to view her current choices in a starker light and face what it does to the person she is to make these choices. Ultimately choosing to end the relationship with Spike. The positive message being of course that a current situation doesn't have to stay how it is. When Buffy has been feeling so disconnected and drained, her problems engulfing so that just coping became her focus so often, this assurance that she can make a different choice and follow a different path is one she receives positively. It helps to give her strength to do what she knows she should and draw a line in the relationship. The loyalty that Riley shows to Buffy, his belief in her, is reflected in AtS's (again bluntly named) Loyalty, with Angel and Gunn both speaking of their certainty of Wes' intentions. The interactions in groups, differing dynamics between people and the secrets that lay underneath causing isolation runs in both eps.

    Huge kudos to Sosa for her fantastic run through in the Hell's Bells review of the influences on Xander's character from his childhood that reflect what we see/hear of his main family members' personalities/traits. Her consideration of the varying factors from his past that layered into his response to the experience of living the visions was great. The theme of facing your demons and how our fears can rule our choices and not result in positive outcomes is a really interesting aspect to consider in a season that looks at coping mechanisms and people's abilities to see options and possible paths and opportunities. Again there's that focus on time and the links from the past to the present and future. There's sad irony of course that in trying to avoid a cycle of abuse that he fears so intensely Xander actually makes decisions which generates some very negative outcomes for both himself and Anya, and even leads him to act more like his father soon too. Anya's lack of ability to deal with the abandonment she so deeply feared also steers her to make another negative choice which she will also come to deeply regret, just as Xander does too. I very much agree that Xander had wanted to marry Anya and fully intended to, it was the depth of the fear of what could go wrong in the future and be attributed to ingrained aspects of his own personality that threw him. And the aspect of betrayal follows the consideration of loyalty before and over in Sleep Tight Wes's attempts to protect others and avoid negative outcomes like Xander also actually leads to letting them down and deeply hurting them. Both men have deep fears of what man they are inside, issues from their childhoods, and these fears betrays them too. Trying to predict the future to avoid deeply feared outcomes can simply result in finding different routes to pain. In trying to control what may happen rather than sharing the burdens weighing on them sooner, both Wes' and Xander's isolated choices reap results neither would have wanted. I have to say in watching S6 against AtS S3, the combination of these two episodes really drew greater appreciation for them both for me, such great reflections.

    - - - Updated - - -

    And here are our last two before we return to Seeing Red on the main rewatch thread! (the link on SR here takes you to the first of the parts posted so far for that too, all parts are linked under the spoiler on the first post of the main rewatch thread).

    But today's episodes are...

    6.17 Normal Again (parts 1, 2, 3)
    6.18 Entropy (parts 1, 2)

    - - - Updated - - -

    SoS's incredible review of Normal Again starts with the William Faulkner quote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." I adore this quote, it's perfect and really captures an important element of what makes BtVS such a fantastic show to me. The past constantly informs the present and so plays its part in now and what is to come. And the consideration that Normal Again gives to trauma and pain is so pertinent in understanding Buffy's present and how hard it is to look beyond. The use of the hallucinations to explore the significance of her disconnection to the people and world around her and the need to choose to reengage and be open to possibilities is just quite simply exceptional writing. This is another episode in S6 where time is emphasised as the ties between past, present and future are specifically considered again. True as well over in AtS's Forgiving as Sahjan's manipulation of time and how it led to the present follows on from Wes' attempts to avoid the future he feared.

    SoS's observation about the use and interplay of presence and absence in the episode works so brilliantly with the sense of time and space. With so much attention given to roles and expectations and the interplay of relationships, this is so relevant to how people look to each other, look to those that are missing, and for the importance of the emotional disconnection Buffy still feels and others feel with her. That she is both here and still lost. The consideration of Buffy's situation very much in terms of her health openly looks to explore her mental state and the depression and trauma she's still so affected by. Her relationship with Spike was always a symptom and so the break up in and of itself was clearly not going to be the solution. As SoS examined, this focus on health and time comes with the idea of returning to 'normal' that the episode title raises.

    So not just temporality but normativity are front and centre and key to question for the very idea of health and what determines the ideas of it in our society and the power dynamics and pressures at play. The interplay between the hallucinations and Buffy's reality in Sunnydale, the repetitive need for comfort and security and what destabilises this, her own sense of her absence and rejection of her slayerness and duty, her processing normativity and perceived expectations, considered alongside the impact of her past in major events such as being called, the loss of Joyce and her death is just so brilliantly done around all this. All leading into her choice to save her friends and in doing so to choose to start to have an openness to life again. The review offers so much to consider in picking apart this unique episode, going so much deeper than I had ever thought on it before or would ever have managed to do alone.

    Following this Entropy has a real sense of facing what has happened and considering the future, but the weight and presence of the recent past and greater histories remains too of course. But there's contrast in the wish to repair what was done from Xander with Anya's desire to have vengeance for the hurt she has suffered. Reconciliation may seem possible briefly but Xander's wish to look past it comes with resistance to when they could return to the plans Anya wanted and this different vision for a future just keeps the barrier between them. Both their pain, their separation, her hidden return to vengeance affecting them unseen, and his later turn to destructive coping mechanisms all emphasising how false his belief his actions would avoid negative consequences was. And across it all is a real sense of loss and facing the cost of your previous actions. In this sense the connection with Double or Nothing can be drawn to Gunn's wish to look to his future making him face the cost of a decision he made in the past. Angel's heavy regard of Connor's crib, eventually leading to him packing it away, really drawing that sense of loss of future possibilities forward too.

    There's certainly an emptiness caused by recent events that affects how the future is perceived for some and this plays its part in how Spike and Anya turn to each other for comfort, despite knowing it will be so transitory. Seen to be a step towards moving on, being open to possibilities perhaps, but one so intrinsically bound to the hurt so recently passed and the present effect of such, it doesn't actually change either's sense of loss. As DanSlayer considered, there's a lot about people's perceptions against reality through the episode which runs alongside the revelations as things unravel. The reveal about the relationship between Buffy and Spike just draws emphasis to the distance that has been there between Buffy and the others, the focus everyone has had on their own troubles, and possibly also the wish to turn from truths that aren't ones they want to face. We see the camera network that was being used to spy on the group turn into the very tool that reveals the truth to them. Firstly through Buffy's reaction to what they see, before Spike then later finally outright states it. So what remained hidden is now seen, but as the argument outside the Magic Box and disconnection between Xander and Buffy to come illustrates, not necessarily understood. Anya no longer wants to take vengeance and turns from the opportunity to exact the future she had been seeking. The paths people eventually walk aren't always the ones they thought they would and are ones of so many possibilities before them really giving the sense of disorder and limited predictability.

    - - - Updated - - -

    So my quick recap on aspects of the episodes and some thoughts prompted by the reviews up to Seeing Red is complete. If anyone else wants to post on any of these here still please do feel free, but otherwise we'll return to the main rewatch thread.

    So we'll pass over now to Aurora for the completion of the Seeing Red review. The first post for the parts of Seeing Red that are already up is here and all existing parts already posted are linked under the spoiler on the first post of the main rewatch thread linked above (Aurora also posted them at the top of each part too).

    Last edited by Stoney; 17-08-19 at 10:42 AM.

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  34. #18
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    with apologies for being so late on this—

    just rewatched Bargaining 1&2, reread Puck Robin
    and King of Cretins' brilliant reviews—

    a few thoughts, what struck me this time through:

    the tensions within the group that Bargaining1 draws out—
    tensions born of Buffy's loss, as Puck Robin so finely
    explores; tensions that will then take different forms as Buffy
    remains lost after her resurrection, as Willow and Xander, in
    particular, cannot face either that lostness nor their responsibility
    for it—so much of the entire season to come is sketched out here...

    yet, too, as King showed, the way in which they do come
    together as a group, fully, after they think Buffy to be truly dead,
    beyond their saving, in Bargaining2—something that
    prefigures Grave

    thinking, too, thanks to King, of the mechanical way, amidst
    the hellish world into which she has emerged, that Buffy
    comes into knowledge of something resembling aliveness:
    through fighting, saving others—this is what gives her one
    essential sense of herself, of her being-for-others, her obligation...

    then comes the crucial importance of what follows: what
    we see on Buffy's face in her final embrace with Dawn, that horrified
    recognition of the other aspects of herself, her identity, that they,
    too, are being called to life—and her lack of desire for them to
    respond, her inability, in herself, to respond at all...

    i agree with King that she does not go to the top of the
    Tower to suicide, to repeat her death: she goes seeking answers—

    but the answer she finds—life—proves all but unbearable, as
    the unfolding season will give us to understand...





    - - - Updated - - -

    Thoughts upon just having re-watched After Life and
    Flooded, having just reread the reviews of Stoney
    and Dipstick, as well as most recent postings by
    Stoney and Tiny Tabby

    Stoney's original focus on communication and its lack—its
    impossibilities—was quite revealing: it ricochets off the play of
    presence and absence, the mirroring of Buffy and the demon that
    she also explored...

    I also very much liked her point, in her recent reflection, on the
    affective force Buffy suffers from


    Stoney
    How life continued without her/because of the loss of her, the changes that have happened, [how that] feeds into that sense of disconnection
    This comes into play in both episodes, in everything from her
    financial woes—and here I agree with Dipstick in arguing
    against those who would blame the Scoobies for not doing more
    to solve them, for they were not their responsibility—to the shifts
    in group dynamics that alter the grounds upon which communication
    formerly occurred: in the past, the Scoobies shared a mission, to
    combat evil, as Willow said in Choices, and they had Buffy
    as their recognized leader, Giles as the bulwark of knowledge and
    support...

    Now their mission is, in a sense, the same as it was in Bargaining1
    to complete the task of bringing Buffy back to Life: but this leaves them
    without a leader, as their past leader is their mission, and she is unable
    to articulate her desires, for reasons revealed at the end of After Life,
    and Giles is not to be counted upon, not present fully even after his return.

    Complicating this further: the other untold tensions within the group, from
    Dawn's muted need for Buffy's care to Xander and Anya's conflict over
    their engagement to the only barely spoken, at this point—we hear Giles'
    abrupt condemnation of both Willow's actions and her character, but not
    yet Tara's worry—concerns about Willow's use of magic. All this combined
    with Buffy's increasing turning towards Spike, another matter which
    she cannot make known... As a result, when they come together as
    a group to discuss Buffy's finances, they are unable to truly communicate:
    each speaks from his or her own perspective, missing each other and
    Buffy as well, falling into the secret stories, as Anya and Xander do, or
    simply not knowing what to say, helpful as they seek to be on a practicle
    level....

    And, too, the fact hovers that much as they care, the Scoobies do not really want
    to know: they want their Buffy back, their leader, their stabilizing
    center—so much as they seek to comfort her, to make things as easy as
    they can, they also hide, I think, from the lurking suspicion that something
    happened to Buffy, something she is not saying, something other than
    what they suppose...

    Hence her continuing absence, her continuing inability to respond to their
    various, often conflicting calls—

    I also very much liked the parallel that Tiny Tabby draws:

    Tiny Tabby
    Flooded introduces even more characters who appear at first glance to be empty villains. Schoolboys playing at being villains which parallels the Scoobys trying to grow up and retain their heroic stature. But it’s easier to dust vampires than to commit to a long term relationship or trust oneself. I think the point is it’s much scarier
    This task of growing up also works to turn the group's once-united
    mission into a complex, often unutterable mass of asymmetrical
    desires, desires that they cannot—in Xander's case, especially, but
    not only, given that Buffy, too, is far from knowing her desire, from
    knowing that she even desires at all—articulate even to themselves,
    much less each other—

    And the unsayable haunts: it affects, shapes all that emerges—or
    attempts and fails to emerge—about it...

    That haunting will prove more deadly than the demon whom the
    spell created in tearing Buffy out of heaven—



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  36. #19
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    Lovely post on After Life and Flooded SoS. Communication is such an incredibly important part of the season and obviously it tangles into most things around the group and how they interact. The roles and shifts that have happened and how they aren't who they once were and can never be again yet they all seek the reassurance of the past and don't voice their fears for the present or future. And we see time and again in both the big moments and little ones of how the struggles to communicate affects how they function and their ability to face their troubles. I really like your point about Buffy's inability to communicate and express her desires leaving the group dynamic as still lacking a leader as Buffy's absence continues. This of course goes on for a very large portion of the season as Buffy is physically there and emotionally disconnected.

    I just this week rewatched Hell's Bells and Sleep Tight again and Wes's isolation and inability to share is such a glaring error in judgement. The communication failure in BtVS has more subtlety to it as the group are seemingly coming together somewhat better and are gathered for a life event en masse (although without Giles in attendance still). But Buffy and Willow are there at the wedding, and yet, they are not there at the moments that they would have been if their focus was more fully on Xander. Buffy is distracted by news of Spike's date and stays to speak to Dawn and Willow is helping Tara with Anya rather than being there to sort out Xander's tie and walk beside him into the crowd of guests. But still his choice was to not voice his concerns after seeing the visions even when he sees Willow again and not until he'd made up his mind after walking out into the rain alone. The lack of cohesion and support in the group so often comes back to the uncertainties, secrets and lack of effective sharing.
    Last edited by Stoney; 19-08-19 at 03:56 PM.

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    Thoughts after an again of Life Serial and All the Way, as
    well as a traversal though the original reviews—

    Time has not rendered me more fond of LS, but due to the
    the discussion about it—comments by Clavus and Stoney
    resonate deeply, as does, especially, the way Tiny Tabby
    contextualized within feminist and personal history of women's
    struggle to work, find a place in the world of work, a belonging—I
    do see more in it than I once did...

    Thinking first of Clavus' comment:

    Clavus
    To me the episode kind of hinges on teacher Mike's rapid-fire discussion of the Social Construction of Reality during the college lecture. One student replies to him: "... each individual participates fully in the construction of his or her own life." and later Willow answers: "... social phenomena don't have unproblematic objective existences. They have to be interpreted and given meanings by those who encounter them."
    We interpreted this differently then, but we agreed upon
    its importance—

    What strikes me now is how weird a version of social constructionism
    this is: it focuses upon the power of the subject over her reality, when
    most versions of the theory focus upon the way that the subject is
    constructed, subjected by power—a definition far closer to Buffy's
    own experience...

    (But what is to be expected, given that, much to my despair, teachers are
    not much to be trusted in the verse? Certainly not one who has his students
    call him "Mike"... None of which is to say that I am much of a social
    constructionist—that theoretical model, save for its mutation into
    biopolitics, which is a far more complex cluster of ideas, faded away
    quite some time ago... And I was never caught tightly within it
    before it did... )

    But it does relate to Stoney's comments above about the piling
    of temporalities, Buffy's asynchronous position in relation to the others,
    and how, I would argue, this connects to the asymmetrical relations
    between them, an asymmetry that now emerges as a matter of power:

    Buffy is continually displaced in time, unable to be contemporaneous
    with those upon whom she now depends for a connection to the world—
    and, with Xander, Giles, and Anya, for a livelihood—while they construct
    worlds that specifically exclude her, exclude her so as to render themselves,
    their economic well-being safe, the part of their lives that they see as
    their own, as separate from the dangers of their relation to Buffy, safe,
    uncontaminated, their own—

    Much as I never saw, in Flooded, the Scoobies at fault for not fixing
    Buffy's finances, here, it is hard to not fault Xander, Giles, and Anya for
    abandoning Buffy, cutting her adrift in space and time—an abandonment,
    a cutting that will contribute to her interpretation of her trauma and
    depression as evidence that she "came back wrong," an interpretation
    that will entangle itself with past traumas and earlier senses of wrongness,
    as we discover in Normal Again

    No wonder she turns to Spike, who rather than cutting offers her another
    space, seemingly open and free, in which to experiment with being—

    (And yes, I am still, crazy cat lady that I be, a sucker for Kitten Poker, at
    least once Buffy sets them all free.... )

    As for All the Way

    Yes, weak...

    But again, following Stoney, I appreciate the time given
    to Dawn, to her own sense of placelessness, her wandering response—

    And here, too, time, multiple registers of time: as Stoney, I
    think (apologies if my reference is confused... ), pointed out in the
    original thread, Xander finally announces—and seems to think he
    has done all that he needs to do, that he is finished... Then Anya
    and Giles start the talk about a normative progressive future:
    children and houses and... His breaches go, for that is a time
    he cannot bear, prefiguring Hell's Bells: he and Anya are
    contemporaneous for the moment of the announcement, but
    I think the remain out of time with each other for the remainder
    of the season, and much of the tension lies in this asynchrony—
    in it and in Xander's inability to voice its meaning, given how
    deeply an awareness of it haunts him...

    Finally, we see a longer tension, one dating back to S5, to Tough
    Love
    , boil to the surface: I do not think that it was just the party
    decorations in themselves that moved Tara to speak to Willow about
    magic—they were but a symptom of a deeper worry, one she began
    to voice in TL as a fear of Willow growing so in strength that
    she would power beyond Tara's touch, her love; one she stifled, as
    Puck Robin suggested, in Bargaining1, with regard to
    the resurrection spell; thus one that she simply could no longer hold
    in...

    Willow's response was a turn to her dark side: here, however, I do
    not mean magic—for here, we see a repetition of Willow's dark tendency
    to turn to magic to relieve conflictive feelings and absolute pain, her
    inability to bear both, her willingness to exercise magic upon another
    (Xander) without his acquiescence, without even his knowledge...

    But here, Willow goes further: so deeply scarred by, so deeply fearful
    of the loss of her beloved, given her experience following the tear of
    Oz' departure—given, too, the repeated tears made by her friends'
    failure to support her, redoubling her fear of loss—she erases from
    her mind the violence Glory wrought upon Tara, the trauma Tara
    suffered, so as to erase both time and Tara's mind, thus wrecking
    violence upon Tara herself—

    This is why I will always see the reading of Willow's ethical fall as
    addiction to be an error... But I'll save that for later discussion, for
    the main thread of the re-watch, when we get to the relevant episodes....



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