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quick OT - the book that defines a generation -- Anneth, 16:13:55 07/14/03 Mon

Maybe a year and a half ago, the New Yorker ran an essay about books that define a generation, by creating a way for readers to relate to the world. I read it a long time ago, and can't remember the specifics of the arguments, but the author's conclusions were this: The books that have been most definitive for their respective generations have been, chronologically,

The Catcher in the Rye,
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,
Bright Lights, Big City,
and, for the 1990s-present,
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

A recent conversation about Heartbreaking Work implicated the article, and led to a discussion about whether or not it actually is "the definitive novel for a generation." Does anyone have any better ideas?


[> LOL! When I saw your post, the first thing I thought was 'Heartbreaking Work'! -- Rob, 16:27:22 07/14/03 Mon

And, nope, I have no better ideas, because, IMO, it is the defining work of this generation. I've read it 3 times in the past year, and no other book I've read lately really captures the psychological mindset of the time quite as well. Of course, time will have to tell if it actually is (odd, isn't it, that you really can only truly classify what "the book of a generation" after it's already passed?) but it's definitely the defining work of my early 20s, which I'm still in. ;o)


[> [> Re: I would add Catch-22 to that list -- Brian, 20:30:32 07/14/03 Mon

As a flower child of the 60's, this was the book that convinced me that I could never go in the army; and therefore,the madness of Vietnam was something I had to avoid at any cost.

[> Re: quick OT - the book that defines a generation -- aliera, 04:59:55 07/15/03 Tue

I wonder if this would be based in number of readers (in western culture only? or multiple?) or ones where you are able to link to actual societal changes. And what about books that become a part of the standard curriculum so they have a sort of enforced impact? And when did books start becoming easily accessible? My grandparents generation didn't have a lot of books. My parents did but you know there was TV and radio. And then I wonder if certain books actually create a way to relate to the world or reflect it? Hrm.

I like Tolkien in here.... possibly, just my bias :-)

[> Nah, 'Bridges of Madison County' and 'Java for Dummies' are the new defining works -- Random, 08:35:33 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> LOL. Don't forget 'Love Story' -- Sophist, 10:50:57 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> [> Can't we? Please? -- Darby, 11:32:15 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> Where do I begin to tell the story of how great a love can be... -- Sara, who doesn't have to say I'm sorry! So there!, 11:51:03 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> ROFL -- Sophist, 12:45:25 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> Nope. The defining words are Buns of Steel, and Women Who Love Men Who Hate Cats! -- Caroline, 13:30:33 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> [> 'Buns of Steel?' Never read the book, only saw the loosely-adapted movie -- Random, 14:01:01 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> Silly Ran! The book's always better! ;o) -- Rob, reading Suzanne Somer's brilliant treatise on non-dairy, 15:33:45 07/15/03 Tue

[> Wow - I feel really out of the loop -- matching mole, 11:22:11 07/16/03 Wed

As I've never even heard of the latter two works.

I'd agree with Brian about Catch-22 - it seemed (at least at the time) more widely read than 'Fear and Loathing'. Also 'Slaughterhouse Five.'

I'm obviously completely unqualified to judge books from the 80s and 90s but I would suggest 'Generation X' if only becuase the title got used to name an entire 'generation' of humans.

[> [> Re: Wow - I feel really out of the loop -- Aliera, 12:30:47 07/16/03 Wed

I think what's tough for me in looking back is that most of us wouldn't like to admit in public that we read. Most of the people I knew actually didn't read, not by choice. TV sure, that got talked about a lot. In fact, I remember reading as being one of my defining geeky traits... comics and books. So when I try to think of what everyone I knew was reading, what I come up with are the things required for class... if it's what we connected to, generally not books.

Today, my son and all his friends, and most of his relatives have read Harry Potter. It doesn't define the generation(s) but it's going to be a defining thing for our time. I have to admit that I only started it because of his nagging. He knows I'm always reading and to find a book that he actually liked that was fantasy he just wouldn't let up. And well, when your child is fifteen, to have something that they actually want to share with you, that's a pretty tempting thing.

But that's looking at the question in reverse. For me, I can't really think of one. Coming at the tail end of the baby boom generation Tolkien fits, but then fantasy and sci fi were my preferences....and it's about the ending of an age. If I ask Ben that question (well, I can't phrase it quite that way), blank stare: Book? Their book, would I guess, come later. But what they involve themselves with will be part of that definition.

So I'd be curious to know what others think.

[> The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold -- Deb, 22:27:35 07/16/03 Wed

The generation where the media made middle-classed, murdered children, especially teenaged females, and their killers into celebrities.

And when a girl, say named Buffy, fights back and saves herself, along with the rest of the world, it must be kept hidden. 'Girl kills fanged attacker in the cemetery' might make local news coverage, but it would never become a media spectacle.

The time setting of this book is perfect. After the 60's and early 70s, the remainder of the 70s decade offered few wars to cover, no resigning presidents, no handy government conspiracy, no more moon landings (actually occurring ON the moon), no more Summers of Love or Woodstocks, no political assassinations (well, not as many high profile) no race riots, no nuclear missle stand-offs that we know of of course. The Cold War started to have a chilling effect on big news stories. The media, like everything else, became postmodern and when it used to be frightening to think about what was happening to everyone else on the other side of the world, all the sudden it became a terrifying experience to walk, alone, the two blocks to the corner mart to buy a soda. The Gentlemen lived around the block and were, at this very moment, lurking behind every bush, and they had their fingers pointed at you. And you had no cell phone! And your hair was long, straight and parted down the middle. And when you got back home safely, just barely, your mother is beside herself in fear that the Gentlemen invited you home for dinner and you had accepted. Then you are grounded to your room for a month, a whole month to think about what might have happened if.........

Book Melee - the votes are in! -- Sara, 22:32:47 07/14/03 Mon

Here's the schedule:

July 28th - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

August 11th - Dracula by Bram Stoker

August 25th - Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

September 8th - The BeeKeeper's Apprentice by Laurie King

September 22nd - Hamlet by William Shakespeare and Rosencrantz and Guilderstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard

Ready, set, get out your books and commence reading!!!

[> I got to find out in chat! Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah! :P -- Rob ;o), 23:48:05 07/14/03 Mon

[> [> And if you think Dawn could whine...you shoulda heard Rob! -- LittleBit (rolling eyes), 00:19:14 07/15/03 Tue

[> Yahh! Thanks for putting it all together, Sara! -- WickedBuffy, 08:00:53 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> lol! ps -- WickedBuffy, 08:27:08 07/15/03 Tue

I was looking for one of the books on Amazon, and accidentally mixed two titles into one.

Went into mild, but deep, shock when I saw the new &used price of "The Beekeepers Daughter" is $114!

My Dumb.

[> Re: Book Melee - Dracula & Frankenstein -- aliera, 07:39:13 07/16/03 Wed

Sorry if this was already mentioned, but Dracula's available as an etext here: Dracula if anyone needs it. Also, at some other mirrors. And they have Frankenstein too, here: Frankenstein

[> [> Thanks for posting those, Aliera. I completely forgot about that option! -- WickedBuffy, 09:25:54 07/16/03 Wed

[> [> [> Re: You're very welcome. -- Aliera, 11:31:58 07/16/03 Wed

Second part of Joss's interview on Buffy season 7 in Cinefantastique (CFQ) magazine -- ECH, 07:07:50 07/15/03 Tue

It all comes to an end in season seven with a return to the basics with Buffy going up against the first (an ultimate evil), along with dealing with a number of Slayers in training, the return of Faith and a genuine relationship with Spike who, like Angel, has been given his soul back. "We had a few things in mind with season seven," explains Whedon. "One, everybody was tired of being depressed including us" "Two, this was the last season. Three, lets get back to where we started. Let's go back to the beginning. Not the word, not the bang the real beginning. And the real beginning was girl power. The real beginning is what does it mean to be a slayer? And, not to feel guilty about the power, but having seen the dark side of it, and finding the light again. To explore the idea of the Slayer fully and to see a very grown up and romantic and confusing relationship that isn't about power, but actually genuinely beautiful between two people in the form of Buffy and Spike."

"I feel that I wrote the perfect ending for the show and wrapped up everything exactly as it should be. We wanted t hit the final chord of a beautiful symphony. That, unfortunately, was in season 5. So with season seven, I sort of had to shut the door on that this was the last episode a bit, because the weight of that was crushing me. I was terrified. But, I also specifically knew what I needed to say and what I needed to have happen. That was in there. But, when you get into actually writing it, your just 'Oh, God, it's not good enough.' Then you are like 'Dude you have to chill,' because its unbearable pressure. You want the last episode to mean something that no other episode has. And, its ****ing large. It was so big and hard to shoot. So we went out with a bang, hopefully and emotional one". "I want it to be remembered as a consistently intelligent, funny, emotionally involving show that subtly changed the entire world."

[> 'Oh, God, it's not good enough' -- ZachsMind, 08:40:34 07/15/03 Tue

The Fugitive. "The day the running stopped!"
MASH. "Whenever I smell month-old socks, I'll think of YOU."
Star Trek Next Generation. "All good things must come to an end."

...and now Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They'd saved the world a score of times before. This was the first time they literally changed the world. Not too shabby.

I think Whedon hit the ball outta the park.

[> wow. Two questions answered for me in that one. A new one came up. -- WickedBuffy, 09:07:48 07/15/03 Tue

First, what it meant when they said: "Let's go back to the beginning. Not the word, not the bang the real beginning."

Joss said: " And the real beginning was girl power. The real beginning is what does it mean to be a slayer?"

I'm just not sure what the answer to that was, though. Was it made clear?

Second, that he wanted Buffy and Spikes relationship to be:
".... to see a very grown up and romantic and confusing relationship that isn't about power, but actually genuinely beautiful between two people in the form of Buffy and Spike."

That's what I originally thought it was. Then it was confusing because there were so many excellent posts discussing why it wasn't that kind of relationship.

I loved hearing how much pressure he felt writing the finale. I can't even come close to imagining how difficult it would be to go out with the bang the show deserved.

[> [> Re: wow. Two questions answered for me in that one. A new one came up. -- ZachsMind, 10:11:11 07/15/03 Tue

"I'm just not sure what the answer to that was, though. Was it made clear?"

What it means to be a Slayer? The answer to that is in the season seven mantra: It's not about right or wrong it's about power. Girl power is about choice.

Faith proved that one CAN choose to do evil with the Slayer Power, but Angel taught her that one eventually has to face the consequences. The Slayer Power itself is not all sugar & spice & everything nice with a dose of Formula X, y'know? The Slayer's power comes from an evil place. The real Vampire Slayer chooses to do good with it.

She chooses to slay vampires, otherwise she's just.. well, whatever Faith was between seasons three and seven. Y'know. An ex-mayor lackey. Eventually in jail. It wasn't until Faith had some time to think and then came back to help Angel that she began to take charge of the power at her disposal and make the choice to do good. Then she was on the road to being a slayer again.

When Buffy chose to give up being THE CHOSEN ONE, something she was never comfortable with anyway, she gave the power of choice to all the Potentials. The very First Slayer was not given a choice. Buffy fixed all that. She went back to the beginning. Told those three wise dudes where they could stuff their black gooey guy. Then with Willow's help and the scythe, she rewrote the tradition. The history and the prophecy. She started the Slayer line anew. She changed the world.

The real fun part for Angel this fall though is how many of those slayers are gonna choose to do good with what they got? You give power to all these girls without any explanation or anything? Unless Willow attached with the spell a little voice-over.. "Your mission should you choose to accept it, is nifty!"

[> [> [> About the power -- MaeveRigan, 10:48:43 07/15/03 Tue

You give power to all these girls without any explanation or anything? Unless Willow attached with the spell a little voice-over.. "Your mission should you choose to accept it, is nifty!"

Some posters here and elsewhere have expressed concern over the sudden appearance of loose-cannon slayers all over the world. Maybe this will be a plot-point in an AtS episode, which is a little more grounded in reality (though not much), but Buffy has always been much more metaphorical/allegorical.

"Chosen" deals with the issue in part through Willow's statement that she can sense the new slayers, wherever they are, and Dawn says, "We have to find them"--with the implication that Willow, Dawn and Giles may form the nucleus of a new Council of Watchers and Guardians.

At the same time, metaphorically the new slayers are all of us. Not just girls or women, though "girl power" may be the origin of the show, but every human being who understands what it means to have the power to choose between good and evil. It is a world-changing power. "Yeah, Buffy. What are we going to do now?"

[> [> [> [> Re: About the power -- ZachsMind, 11:25:22 07/15/03 Tue

I'm hoping that this becomes more than just an occasional plot element in AtS-5. The writers may completely ignore the fact during sweeps, but I like to believe the real reason W&H is bringing Angel into the fold is because they're Circling The Wagons. They knew this was coming - they even gave Angel the talisman that Spike used - and they need Angel to help combat the Slayer menace.

One or two Slayers is tolerable, especially if one of them gets incarcerated. However, a few score to a few thousand scattered all over the world? An army of women each with a superiority/inferiority complex and the power to turn demon meat into compost fertilizer? I think the real villian in AtS-5 could be the slayers themselves. They got no Watchers. Nobody to help them see right from wrong. Even if they all mean well they may cause more harm than good. And Angel will have to do what W&H says anyway, cuz they got Cordy & Connor hostage.

However, the writers will probably just dismiss the "change" that Buffy instigated, and I'll be very disappointed when that happens.

[> [> Re: wow. Two questions answered for me in that one. A new one came up. -- Rina, 11:05:28 07/15/03 Tue

"That's what I originally thought it was. Then it was confusing because there were so many excellent posts discussing why it wasn't that kind of relationship."

You shouldn't have let the opinions of others influence yours. Just stick to what you were feeling about Buffy and Spike, when you first saw them forming a relationship in Season 7. Your original opinion was probably right . . . at least for you.

[> [> [> Other peoples' opinions are worth listening to, I think -- Random, 12:02:28 07/15/03 Tue

I'm a very smart guy...but I come here because most posters on this board are very smart and have interpretations and insights that I didn't consider. And thus I can change my mind because they offer ideas that make more sense or provide a clearer insight than mine. There are quite a few posters here I respect enormously because they almost-inevitably offer very intelligent posts that make it worth my while to re-evaluate my initial thoughts on the shows. (Not gonna get into the name game -- lord, that would take forever.) But I think WickedBuffy wasn't suggesting that she was right or wrong, but that she found other opinions that provided alternatives to her own reaction and she hadn't clarified a final opinion. Everyone's opinion is "valid" regardless of other opinions...input from other peoples' can be an enormous help, though, in making the personal decision whether our own opinions are "right." For us or anyone else.

[> [> [> [> 'xactly, Random! Were you inside my head? -- WickedBuffy ::thinking Random may need a tetnus shot now::, 20:29:27 07/15/03 Tue

But thanks for the support, Rina - I believe that was your very kind intent. :>

What Random said is how it goes for me, here. And "confusion" is such a natural place for me, it's become something positive - meaning my mind is still open and I'm absorbing all kinds of different, new information. Which is the state I love being in!

Hearing Joss's "official" statement about Spike and Buffys relationship is important - but it goes in the "official statement brain file", which is right across from the "here's how I feel about it brain file".

[> [> [> [> Re: Other peoples' opinions are worth listening to, I think -- Rina, 11:40:56 07/16/03 Wed

I have nothing against listening to other opinions. On the hand, there's nothing wrong to sticking with one's original opinion or feeling either. If that person's first gut instinct that Buffy and Spike had a "romantic" relationship in Season 7, it was probably what it seemed to her - despite "intelligent" essays or posts that said otherwise. Sure, that person could change his or her mind. Then again, I've always valued my personal feeling over another's argument.

[> [> ahhh - choice! Thanks, all. Now then that sparks ANOTHER question. -- WickedBuffy, 20:39:53 07/15/03 Tue

Great answers - I got it. :>

One question came up for me reading those - it was about choice and there were lots of different ways and types of choices going on to make that clear.

Buffy didn't like being the only Slayer, she wasn't given a choice. But long before she become more despondant and alienated because of how she felt about it being the only one, she simply didn't like it because it was inconvenient, cut into her social life AND her dating life. (Those early-Buffy years ::sigh::)

But all the new Slayers didn't get a choice about being a Slayer. Yes - they will make further decisions now based on their Slayer status. But remembering how Buffy felt when she felt the job thrust her and protested it - so all these Slayer Newbies didn't get to make the biggest choice.

Just an observation. It feels as if Being a Slayer is about choice. But becoming a Slayer isn't.

[> [> [> About choice -- Plin, 07:31:12 07/16/03 Wed

Here's how I see it: we don't choose our gender, hair color, race, family/religion/location of origin. That's all the luck/unluck of the draw. It's the same with Slayer power, you either have it or you don't, it's a matter of chance.

Buffy, however, didn't have a choice about what to do with it. She was the only Slayer, the Slayer, the one girl in all the world. Shirking her duty meant, essentially, abandoning humanity. Because she was unique, her powers and responsibilities set her apart from everyone else, and this is what fed her loneliness and sense of isolation.

Now that everyone "who can stand up, will stand up", the game has changed completely. These girls don't get to choose whether to become Slayers, but unlike Buffy they get to choose whether and how to use those powers. They will never be isolated or alone because there are so many others who share in the slayerness (and also because, presumably, Willow and Giles et al. will go looking for them and offer guidance where needed or wanted). The Slayers get to choose their own destiny, rather than being simply the tools of the Watchers' Council.

[> [> [> [> Completely agree! -- ponygirl, 07:58:37 07/16/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> I second the agreement ! -- jane, 13:49:07 07/16/03 Wed

[> [> [> Slayer Newbies -- Rina, 11:43:39 07/16/03 Wed

I doubt very much that Buffy and the Scoobies will "force" the new Slayers into performing their duty and becoming supernatural crime fighters.

Whether they have Slayer powers or not, I suspect that the choice will be up to each individual Slayer on whether she wants to pursue such a lifestyle.

[> Re: Second part of Joss's interview on Buffy season 7 in Cinefantastique (CFQ) magazine -- Rufus, 18:14:33 07/15/03 Tue

to see a very grown up and romantic and confusing relationship that isn't about power, but actually genuinely beautiful between two people in the form of Buffy and Spike."

I like this quote because it sums up what Buffy and Spike were about in season seven and it was the perfect destination for a relationship that started on an adversarial note.

In season six we see what happens to a relationship that is based only on physical attraction and lacks love in one of the parties. In season seven we got to see that love relationships don't always include sex to be meaninful and long lasting.

Selflessness Over-Rated? -- Rina, 08:00:32 07/15/03 Tue

Has anyone ever read Paul F. McDonald's essay, "Vampire Slaying and Cultivating Insanity"? It is his take on the Season 6 episode, "Normal Again". While reading it, I came upon an interesting passage on such topics as selflessness and self-absorption:

"It is this steadfast refusal to play by contradictory rules that sets Buffy apart from all the other Slayers. What causes her to be like this could be a subject of great debate. Her sense of humor is certainly part of it, humor being the idea that one's self and the world are not to be taken too seriously. But where does this come from, when everything around her constantly screams death and destruction? Why does she think for herself rather than allow herself to simply be defined by her society? In my opinion, it stems from her remarkable, glorious, and unswerving self-involvement. There are a few Buffy critics out there, and most of them complain about and thoroughly detest her tendency to be self-centered. I can't argue with them that she's not, because they are right - I just feel it's quite possibly her single best quality."

Here is another passage:

"Needless to say, a genuinely self-involved person would never kill themselves by hijacking an airliner and flying it into a building. Quite frankly, it seems to me the world would be a much better place if people stopped falling prey to whatever social system happened to be popular that week, and instead dedicated time to cultivating their own inner life. Maybe even spend more time listening to their own heart than what some babbling idiot on C-Span is saying. Buffy is self-involved. So what? From that point of view, couldn't the same criticism be leveled at Christ? Or the Buddha? The fact of the matter is, every single person that we admire was and is completely and utterly self-involved. To live in a world where no one is self-involved is to live in a world where no would create art, develop philosophy,
play music, or even speculate on spirituality. That's yet another paradox of all this.

All this horribly self-centered people go on to make the world a better place for the rest of us, whereas the responsible, conservative, even selfless people usually just
go around doing what they're told, and that increasingly becomes blowing each other up. It is again a double-bind. The disparity this time falls between the professed and the actual. Everyone is led to believe that being self-centered is a bad thing, when in reality, it improves the whole lot enormously!

The person who condemns ego-centric behavior is indeed relying on their own ego for advice. It's asking "Why can't that other person be as ego-less as I am?" In many cases, the ego wants to get rid of itself so it can take more pride in itself. As Alan Watts pointed out, using the ego to get rid of the ego is really the most invincible form of egotism! Dancing around and calling the ego bad names often
results in nothing but more ego in the form of spiritual pride. Trying to get rid of the ego that way is like trying to grab yourself with your own hands and throw yourself off a roof. It will never work. Again, the only way to diffuse the ego is to allow yourself to be self-involved. It works by virtue of what the Taoist sage Lao Tzu might call the "law of reversed effort." In the spirit of all this, I hereby select Buffy as the Patron Saint of Self-Involvement. May many more follow in her footsteps. I know I have. Can you imagine me sitting down and writing this essay, confident that people are going to read it? How much more self-centered can you get?!"

I don't know about the rest of you, but I found his words very interesting.

[> Dedalus is always very interesting and thought provoking -- Rahael, 08:22:17 07/15/03 Tue

And indeed, Buffy necessarily self involved, as she is the title character, and we see everything from her viewpoint. And in the context of Normal Again, which is the ep that Dedalus aka Paul MacDonald was reviewing, it is even more stark - the entire world of the Buffyverse exists within her.

But I just wanted to add a qualifier - in my view, yes, if people were less self sacrificial, they wouldn't do terrible things like become suicide bombers. On the other hand, the men and women who ask them to do these things aren't very self sacrificial, indeed they are selfish and self involved to say the least.

And the people who have to oppose them are to an extent called to be self sacrificial, simply due to the nature of the threat they are facing (plus I would say that1 the psychology of those who martyr themselves in such a destructive way is very complex, and there is more to it than simple self sacrifice).

Finally, the message of S7 is quite mixed as to self involvement/self sacrifice, especially if you look at Chosen ;)))))

[> [> I can't imagine anything more selfish than Homicide Bombing -- Dochawk, 11:31:41 07/15/03 Tue

What these people are doing isn't suicide, its homicide. What can be more selfish than killing innocent people and destroying them and their families to make a political point? And they believe they get a death with 80 virgins? This is way OT, but waaaay too important to let pass.

[> [> [> terminology -- anom, 15:20:53 07/15/03 Tue

"What these people are doing isn't suicide, its homicide."

But so are most bombings--calling them "homicide bombings" doesn't distinguish them from bombings that kill people while the bomber remains at a safe distance. And the distinction is a significant one to make. It has implications for understanding the mindset & tactics of the bombers & those who send them, which can help in efforts to prevent these crimes or, when that fails, to punish those who order them (usually remaining at a safe distance while they send brainwashed young people to die killing others).

And if the idea is that somehow "homicide bomber" sounds worse than "suicide bomber"--in the case of people carrying out these crimes in the name of Islam, at least, "suicide bomber" is singularly insulting. Islam forbids suicide. Suicide bombers want to think of themselves as "martyrs."

[> [> [> Hard to better anom's reply, but -- Rahael, 16:23:14 07/15/03 Tue

but see my own attempt to explain below, to Ronia "I think it's more complex than that"

I'm not talking about the recent incidents in America - it's way too touchy and, moreover, I am more confident discussing the history of the group that has affected my community - they also seem pertinent becasue they have really developed suicide bombing as a tactic as no other group has done. In fact, after September 11, I was surprised to see a chart on the news which placed them top in the world for successful suicide bombing attempts. A rather macabre achievement for my community.

I can't afford to dismiss them as weak or selfish or cowardly. I have to accept the fact that they are very skilled at battle, very skilled at searching out and eliminating opponents, and are capable of acts great bravery. How on earth would they be winning if they weren't? They've seen of army assault after army assault.

[> [> [> [> I should make clear -- Rahael, 16:42:19 07/15/03 Tue

Well, I thought it was clear but I've been instructed to clarify!

In the second paragraph, I'm talking about the terrorist group as a whole, not just the suicide bombers. They have people who do traditional guerrilla warfare, plus intelligence work, etc. Suicide bombers are used to target specific individuals (they've never done what Al Qauda did). A friend of the family died this way. Just him and the suicide bomber.

Oh, and believe me, the word "suicide bomber" strikes chills down my spine. I know the implications. It chills me in the same way as my skin crawls when I hear an aeroplane, even now. I still associate them with the other kind of bombers. One could say that I need the prefix of 'suicide' to differentiate! As Anom points out, 'homicide' bombers' describes both.

[> The 'virtue' of selfishness? -- Sophist, 08:22:50 07/15/03 Tue

The subject line happens to be the title of a book by Ayn Rand. Didn't think too highly of her argument then, and can't really agree here.

To keep this topical, let me just say that, though I often hear Buffy accused of being "self-involved" (an accusation that, frankly, baffles me), I can't remember ever seeing a poster describe her as "selfish". I do not believe the two terms mean the same thing, yet much of the author's argument requires conflating the two. In any case, Buffy is not someone I'd describe as "selfish" under any imaginable use of that term.

[> [> Re: The 'virtue' of selfishness? -- Rina, 08:29:13 07/15/03 Tue

Maybe she's not "selfish", but she has committed selfish acts. I would not mind if her selfishness did not harm anyone. But in one or two cases, I'm afraid it did. And even she eventually realized it.

[> [> [> Re: The 'virtue' of selfishness? -- Kate, 09:01:35 07/15/03 Tue

Of course Buffy commited some selfish acts that affected others, but so didn't Xander, Willow and Giles (think Sweet, My-will-be-done-spell, and Eygon respectively) and it seems to me that those three tended to get off the hook more easily than Buffy. The reason being because Buffy's negative actions tended to have greater consequences due to her role as the slayer. Yet it is those very actions and consequences that made her human and more remarkable as a hero - she was flawed and we still were able to love her. I have always found it terribly unfair that the characters and a great deal of viewers hold Buffy up to these incredibly high standards of behavior where she had to be perfect or always on the ball, yet I never felt like those judging her (characters at least, can't comment on viewers) were expected to live by their own high standards.

Neither have I ever understood the accusations of overall selfishness and self-involvement that certain viewers have lodged against Buffy. I saw her behavior as no more selfish or self-involved than any of the other characters. Sure it might be highlighted a bit more, but as others have said in the past, the title of the show is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" - it's about her world, her pov and her reaction to the people in her world. Now if Willow or Xander or Giles were the main focus, then I might agree with accusations, but I personally don't. I have always admired and respected Buffy as a character. She's human and that is why I love her.

[> The quote is a little out of context -- Rahael, 08:36:13 07/15/03 Tue

In the context of the essay:


It reads quite a bit differently. The example of the martyred suicide bomber, to be honest, doesn't fit in so easily with the main thrust of Ded's essay.

On the other hand, Sophist, you raise an intriguing question: Ded are you a Randian? cos if you are it might be a repeat of the 'feminist values' debate in chat? LOL! (no! I'm joking! I'll be good thist time!)

Where is Dedalus anyway? Come back!!

[> [> Sorry, this was meant to be a reply to Sophist -- Rahael, 08:52:01 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> You're right, and I was unfair. -- Sophist, 09:27:44 07/15/03 Tue

Actually, Ded didn't use the word "selfish"; that was my interpolation. In re-reading it, I'm not sure that was fair.

OTOH, I can't agree with his description of what it means to be self-involved, with his prediction that self-involved people wouldn't make good terrorists, or with his characterization of Jesus as self-involved:

self-involved: absorbed in one's own thoughts, activities, or interests.

On a metaphorical level, sure Buffy is self-involved. In this sense, the whole show is the story of how a girl grows up fighting her internal demons. They are her demons and we see the fight from her POV.

But from a storyline viewpoint, which is what Ded was talking about and where I've seen the accusations, I don't agree that Buffy was self-involved. By this I mean that she may have been self-involved on occasion, but that it was not part of her character.

By justifying and even praising self-involvement, Ded seems to be accepting this characterization of Buffy. Not only do I not agree, I don't agree that self-involvement would be a good thing, at least not as a permanent characteristic. Self-examined, yes. Self-involved, no.

[> [> [> Agreed -- Rahael, 09:44:03 07/15/03 Tue

On a meta level, which, arguably is where Normal Again dwelt, Buffy is 'self involved', so absorbed by her thoughts and her actions that she lies on a hospital bed, a prisoner of her mind. On the actual level of the story, she isn't. This all boils down to one's view of the importance of Normal Again.

(Mine? the universe of Normal Again is to Buffy, what the world of the Buffyverse is to us)

[> [> [> [> How so? -- WickedBuffy, 09:50:51 07/15/03 Tue

"(Mine? the universe of Normal Again is to Buffy, what the world of the Buffyverse is to us)"

I understand that in a very general sense, but did you have some very specific points about how or why?

(Purely asked as it sounds intriguing)

[> [> [> [> [> Re: How so? -- Rahael, 10:12:49 07/15/03 Tue

Oh, I think that I was trying to say that both universes were true simultaneously, while making the distinction that one of them was 'true' but not 'real'. Just as the world of the Buffyverse is 'true' but not very 'real', to us.

And the Buffyverse has metaphoric value to us, that teaches us to see our real world a little differently, so Normal Again has metaphoric value to Buffy, and thus, in extension, to us.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Thank you! That was quite clear & intriguingly enlightening. -- WickedBuffy, 20:09:51 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> selfless bombers..hmmm -- Ronia, 10:10:40 07/15/03 Tue

Off the top of my head, I can't think of too many examples of people being *more* self involved, than in a suicide bombing. It's all about *their* sacrifice, and *their* cause...not at all about the suferring and unwilling sacrifice of others to their cause of choice. I'd like to see an example of a suicide bomber surviving, and then being interviewed many years later. In fact, I think it'd make a really interesting if heartbreaking read..in my world, when you bomb a building, you ought to have to survive, bury the dead, and console the bereaved.

I'm not certain how I feel about the idea that it is even possible for a person to step outside of their own experience of things, I think we are self involved by imperative. The examples dedalus gives seem more to me examples of wisdom, people who made their decisions with an end in mind, not careless or reckless with their lives, and not unaware that their decisions would affect others. A selfish person would feel entitled to being the only person who counts in any given situation. Buffy has done this on occasion, but these are the occasions that are filled with regret. They cost her more than she anticipated and they also cost others more than she could imagine. These selfish acts weren't even intentionally selfish and still wreaked havoc on everyone within a six mile radius [wink].

OK..I admit, I'm rambling a bit..but..the concept of selfishness as something to strive for, is such a foriegn one, I have trouble wrapping my words around why I think it's not a virtue. I did notice that the term selfishness was used in places where I would have used self aware, perhaps that is the thing I keep tripping over...just adding my somewhat jumbled thoughts into the fray..[Ronia, packing and dreading the yearly Iowa exodus}

[> [> [> [> [> Was this directed at me? -- Rahael, 10:25:01 07/15/03 Tue

or at Dedalus?

Well, I don't really want to talk about the issue of suicide bombers here, not because it's too politically sensitive for the board, but I am too conflicted about it.

I try to see things from the view point of my enemies. I try to understand that they may be misguided, and that they are being sacrificed themselves by cynical evil men. I try to understand this, and it is made easier because I was in too close a proximity to the world they grew up in - the traumatised world they grew up in. Did I say "evil"! about the young children led back to their villages and asked to betray dissenters? You see, the terrorists already knew who the dissenters were. If you didn't name the right ones, you'd end shot, and you stil wouldn't have saved the people you might have protected.

This is a world of heartbreak, so far from the experiences of many, that I find it useless to try to explain it to you using words like 'selfish' and 'selfless'. I see the young children carrying guns, know that they want my family dead, and my heart still breaks for them, and yes, I can think of them as selfless, becasue they are being sacrificed for the wrongs committed by the adults of the community.

(and yet, I have to disagree with your previous comments to me about how I *should* forgive them)

[> [> [> [> [> [> Pre-emptive sorries -- Rahael, 10:49:32 07/15/03 Tue

Reading this back, I realise that this is an overly aggressive response. This topic really oversets everything in me.

But my heart is so torn up about these young men and women. A lot of them were conscripted. They've devastated my world, and yet the very foundation to rebuilding the damage they did is to understand and empathise with them. I also feel badly because they are truly voiceless and trapped. If they survived and were interviewed? Well I know many who have survived. Their stories are indeed heartbreaking. But they live in fear of their lives every single day, and do not come into the open. Moreover, they are truly 'selfless' because their sense of self has been utterly broken.

As has the selves of their victims.

The damaged have no choice but to recognise the humanity of each other, and try to move on.

[> [> [> [> [> [> um, actually.. -- Ronia, 13:55:09 07/15/03 Tue

Nope, not directed at any poster in particular..just reading along and happenned to tack on to the end of your post because I had a thought, and it bubbled to the surface. Having said that, I'll address the ideas you bring up. I hadn't taken children into consideration with the previous post. Would the same rules apply if I had my way? Absolutely. I suspect the use of children is not at all random. Children are selfish, they will choose themselves or people they love every time. They are perfect candidates for this type of abuse. Evil and destruction, however, have far reaching affects, and the fact that they were too immature by far to have understood these affects, does not absolve them. What they have done will follow them throughout their lives, and will help to shape the person that they become. Is it heartbreaking? It is devastaing beyond words. The evil and cynical men that misguide and abuse them, were likely also misguided and abused in their own childhood. These experiences aren't limited to war torn countries, however. Suffering is common to man. It may wear a different face, but pain and choice follow all people. I think it is incorrect to assume that there is always a "good" choice. A choice that will avoid pain for everyone. Often, there isn't. Often, no matter what you choose, there will be suffering. So, the question becomes, how do I make my choice? The selfless choice stands in stark contrast with the selfish one. To say, what you are doing is wrong, and I refuse to embrace the evil that you represent, and let the chips fall where they may...will make it very hard for them to manipulate the general population into contributing to their agenda. The selfish choice is to rationalize, that, hey, someone is gonna die, better you than me. This enables these circumstances to continue, in my opinion. Now, this is easily said, and works very well..on paper..enter the cold sweat and agony of making a selfless decision, and things seem to take on more complexity. I think a reason for this complexity may be the struggle that even a person desiring to do the right thing at all costs would find themselves engaged in. What is the right thing? What do I make these decisions based on, and is it worth my life? Am I really convinced of the beliefs that I profess? Every person who has a difficult and perhaps sadistic choice to make will have these questions and many more. They will need the answer in the space of a few seconds, and will not have a chance to change their minds. Action once taken cannot be undone. Can a person ever be truly selfless? Can a person step outside of their own experience? People have been asking themselves and others these things long before I was around. I think that Btvs asks it as well. I have no more a definative answer than the next person. The only thing I do have, is my own experience, and the beliefs that were shaped by it.

I thought I might also take a minute to address the forgiveness issue..I think perhaps I have been misunderstood..In that particular post, I wasn't addressing you specifically, but rather forgiveness in general, and at the same time defending your opinion. I don't share your belief, but neither do I espouse the idea that a person should forgive because it will make them feel better and enrich their life. I think that true forgiveness is a profound, and rare occurance. It is costly to the person who chooses to do it. It is to look at the offending party, say, you can never restore to me what you took, cut off a pound of your own flesh in payment rather than demand theirs, and consider the debt cancelled. It is an act of mercy. It is to give a person what they need and not what they deserve. It will not in any way gratify you or return to you what was taken. So then, forgiveness is not something to be carelessly hurled around, or taken lightly..it doesn't serve you. This is something we seem to agree on..so, I'm not completely sure where the disagreement is. The only place of disagreement that I can find might be [and take this with multiple grains of salt, I haven't seen that thread in a really long time]why to forgive. I forgive out of obedience and fellowship with a God that I believe exists. I feel directed to do it. I fight and struggle. I have good days and bad ones. Days when having my tongue nailed to the floor looks more appealing then the task set before me. I made my choice though, I cast my lot in terms of loyalty, the reasons were sufficient to me and I live with the fallout from them. This is one of my favorite things about Buffy. I wish that the story could be told as richly as I suspect it would have been, save for the handy tv censors, but..what they give is enough..it makes a wonderful background to discuss RL issues, gives examples of humanity, both shiney and tarnished, shakes it up and watches the pattern emerge.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> I think it is more complex than this -- Rahael, 14:55:20 07/15/03 Tue

I think I was overset because I realized something. I wrote it elsewhere, but I'll put it here because it's the only way I seem to be able to express it. To try and say why I find it utterly impossible to say: These are the selfish ones, and I am free from this. I didn't mean this for this forum, but I'd rather repeat it than re-excavate my emotions. I should point out that I'm not going to start arguing semantics about 'selfless'. I'd certainly try to argue for 'self sacrificial'. It is certainly a great thing, self sacrifice, but it can be terribly abused. (And I should point out that Ded should defend his own word usage, though it doesn't seem terribly cricket when he isn't around to do it.)

"Home hit me hard. Home hit me in ways that I am only now starting to unravel.

During the writing of a rather intemperate post by me about terrorists, a single image flashed to my mind, Connor standing in the shopping mall, explosives tied around his body. When I first saw 'Home', first saw that image, I gasped, but I didn't realise then, what I was recognising.

The children who walked the streets of my town carrying guns, ammunition on their bodies. I feared them, but felt so much pain when I turned my eyes away from their guns, and dared to look them in the eye. I cannot claim it was the disinterested pain of pity. What I felt was fear, that I might end up that way. Some of these children's parents had been killed by the very same terrorist group, put into an orphanage, indoctrinated and conscripted. Some of the children I went to school with ran away to join them.

My mother established a home for dispossessed young women, who had been raped or tortured, who had no where else to go. As a community, they worked together to establish a home and income for themselves. After the terrorists murdered my mother, they walked into the home and conscripted every young woman into their ranks. I had left the country already. I had escaped.

I wonder, will the Connor we saw at the end of the episode, will he ever remember? If he saw himself in the mirror and dimly recalled his old pain, would he be able to comprehend these two lives? Would his present, happy, family memories fall away until all he was left with was the bleak choices, the old wounds, no protective lies left to him at all?

Part of me is standing outside, looking in at myself, right now. Whispering to me of an older, former life. Are you safe enough yet?

I rarely dream of my old home. I can only recall one. I walk around in the darkness, because the electricity supply has been cut off. Everywhere, the stench, the disquiet of death. Why have I returned here? I've left it all behind, haven't I?"

(Just to add, not referring to your post on forgiveness. If I post something here, it is up for disagreement, and it was certainly something I expected. I'm just not so used to being told to forgive so forthrightly in chat! I was just a little indignant when I misunderstood your post and thought you were saying I was too sympathetic to terrorists when you'd told me how imperative it was to forgive them in the past)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> beautifull home... -- Ronia, 15:49:14 07/15/03 Tue

Home hit me pretty hard as well..and you may have landed a finger on why..very nice post

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Thank you. Very powerful ep. -- Rahael, 16:00:11 07/15/03 Tue

Even in his very last moments, Connor seemed to contain several seasons worth of stories within him. Only fitting for a young man who contains universes within him.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Why 'Home' and S4 are so disturbing -- KdS, 03:29:07 07/16/03 Wed

I think that, as usual, Minear et al were going for the tragic, but in traditional European drama tragedy always came from the suffering character's tragic flaw - some failing of their own. The problem with S4 is that it seems that what happens to Connor and Cordelia isn't (mostly) driven by their own flaws, but seems forced by the authors as a new way to torture Angel. We still feel at the end, that Connor may be too badly damaged to be redeemable by anything other than what Angel did, but so much of that damage is because he never got a chance to become a person in his own right - manipulated by first Holtz, then Cordelia and finally Jasmine.

The issue with Cordelia is more complicated, because one can argue that she does have a tragic flaw to an extent, the desire to see herself as something unique and special which drives her decision in Tomorrow. It's hard to explain this without seeming to bash Cordelia as the point is quite subtle, but the best analogy is to compare it with Helpless. In that episode Giles decided that any test which requires you to shaft someone you have a close personal relationship with in the abstract greater good can't be the product of a good source. Cordelia had no problem with that because she was too fascinated by the idea of making a great sacrifice herself, and didn't seem to consider the damage her sacrifice would do to others. But even so, the consequence still seems so disproportinate that it's painful to watch.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Why 'Home' and S4 are so disturbing -- yabyumpan, 05:25:37 07/16/03 Wed

Just a quick reply as I'm off to work..

Cordelia had no problem with that because she was too fascinated by the idea of making a great sacrifice herself, and didn't seem to consider the damage her sacrifice would do to others.

At the time of 'Tomorrow' I don't see how she could have. the only implications really from her perspective where that she would stand Angel up! Yes, the FG would lose it's 'heart', but in terms of what good she could do with the FG and the possible good she could do as a 'higher power' I don't think it's difficult to see why she chose as she did. Yes, her flaw was possibly seeing herself as 'special', but seeing as she'd very deliberatly kept the visions for 21/2 years, even though at one time they were killing her, and agreed to give up part of her humanity so she could continue to 'fight the good fight', I don't think her claim of 'specialness' is to far off the mark. How many of us would suffer as she had done with the visions and then give up a part of themselves (( look on it as the equivalent of chopping off an arm) so we could continue to do good?

Sorry for the spelling, haven't got time to correct it :o)

[> [> [> Re: You're right, and I was unfair. -- Rina, 10:58:20 07/15/03 Tue

I don't know if I agree with you or not. A part of me see nothing wrong with being a little self-involved. As far as I'm concerned, it depends upon the situation.

[> Maybe it's the degree of self-absorption that makes a difference. -- WickedBuffy, 08:48:11 07/15/03 Tue

That essay sounds very interesting. What a great point about Buffy's self-absorption.

I wouldn't go as far as saying she's unswervingly self-absorbed, though she does appear to have a large amount. And the point that it keeps her different from other slayers in a way has merit, too. If she was totally self-absorbed, though, it seems she wouldn't be going out every night to patrol.

Sure she griped about it alot sometimes - and even tried NOT doing it. She really wanted to go to parties and on dates or just sit home watching tv. But she usually didn't. It seems a selfish person WOULD do whatever they felt like - duties be damned.

Just like many other traits, there are good sides to them and bad - an unhealthy amount and a healthy amount. At times it seemed (blaringly) that Cordelia was the most selfish person on the show, but she wasn't unswervingly self-absorbed either. She did step up to the plate at times and made selfless sacrifices. If anything, Cordelias selfishness was out of balance in the early years but it also served to illuminate Buffy's self-centeredness in a kinder light.

Cordy's continually hurt others and Buffys mainly hurt herself.

I'm not sure that the words "selfishness", "self-absorbed" and self-involved are all interchangeable, though. Don't they have different connotations? And I messed them up just now, too. :/

[> [> Agreed re different connotations -- Rahael, 09:09:22 07/15/03 Tue

I should have added, in my previous email that line of argument in the essay was an attempt by the author as a riposte to those who argued that Buffy was a selfish so and so.

But I have funny views about authorial intent!

[> [> [> Selfless vs Selfish -- Sara, 11:44:52 07/15/03 Tue

At work - shouldn't be reading or posting - but got to throw this in. Selfish is not the oposite of selfless, at least not to me. What does 'selfless' mean other than to give up one's self (not a dictionary definition, just my view) and what I took from Rina's post, which I found very interesting, was not a tribute to selfishness but a questioning of selflessness. From what I've seen, selflessness can literally make you lose your self, and having someone whose self was very valuable to me do that, I can only say I believe had she been less selfless, many things would be better. I do not believe that Buffy is a selfish character, but the fact that from the start she looked out for her interests and her concerns made her more effective and probably kept her alive, by allowing her to build and protect the connections that saved her on more than one occasion. Ok, getting back to work now...really...going to start running that report...

- Sara

[> [> [> [> According to Webster's Collegiate, selfless = unselfish -- Sophist, 12:42:32 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> Re: Selfless vs Selfish-this is getting chewy -- Ronia, 14:03:38 07/15/03 Tue

This makes me wonder what defines a person? What makes me myself? What is so great about myself that it's worth keeping around? Is it good to be selfless if you replace what you took away with something better? How will you know with accuracy what is better?...nummy food for thought, thanks sara!

What do we know about Cleave Land? -- ZachsMind, 12:01:26 07/15/03 Tue

There is a thin shaft of light in the darkness that is the place in my heart now for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." That thin shaft of light hints that Whedon and the think tank at Mutant Enemy are pulling our collective legs. I have a theory that they actually do have a show in the works which will run as a continuation of the Slayer story, but will not involve any of the principal players from "Buffy" in any predominant way. Perhaps they'll be occasional special guest stars. We'll learn the truth about this during Sweeps.

Hey. Allow an old man a glimmer of hope, alright?

So I put the question to you. What do we know about Cleveland as a possible location for a comedy action horror tv show? Other than the fact it's already been done in the form of "The Drew Carey Show" that is. Would you watch a Slayer show that took place in Cleveland but didn't feature most of the familiar faces from "Buffy"?

I mean we know Anya, Faith, Buffy, Willow and Spike would probably never show up, cuz the ladies are doing movies and Marsters'll be doing television. Giles is a slim chance at best. Xander and Dawn maybe would be in the Cleveland Slayer tv show. Wood and some of the potentials we know. Amy and Johnathan maybe (I know John's dead but I could write him back in w/o much effort so I'm sure M.E. could too) and then the rest of the cast would of course be all new people.

So what's more important to you? The faces or the story? They could start a whole bunch of new tv shows in fact. Like CSI & CSI Miami. They could do "Hellmouth: Cleveland." "Hellmouth: Hawaii." "Hellmouth: Vegas." I think it'd be fun!

[> d'H is holding the fort in Cleveland. Even the hellmouth is afraid to open there -- Random, 12:11:43 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> Reasons D'Hoffryn is holding court in Cleveland. -- ZachsMind, 13:09:57 07/15/03 Tue

Reasons D'Hoffryn is holding court in Cleveland.

[> [> [> ...wow! Did anyone know Cleave Land was this creepy? -- ZachsMind, 13:36:54 07/15/03 Tue

Creepy Cleveland is yet another end of the world so it's the natural new home for the Scoobies.

Homer (Angel Odyssey 4.22) -- Tchaikovsky, 14:35:38 07/15/03 Tue

Below are just a few, largely unconnected thoughts. I suspect many of
them are very old news to most Angel watchers, and apologise in advance
for this. My only real claim is coming at the series with fresh

A section from the first paragraph of the Odyssey. Still an
surprisingly valid disclaimer- except for the 'a few' bit!

Home is the place where, when you haveto go there, they have to take you in

Robert Frost

Home is a sadness, not a place

Jason Webley

Yes, this is a super-indulgent build-up, but I'm feeling sad about the
end of an era. Here comes 'Dreams of Home', a poem I wrote last year,
about thoughts of family and belonging.

Not often- awkward and accusatory
But it happens.
Momentarily- a homily homeily.
A tedious, edifying spectacle?

Family, tedious, with unedifying spectacles?
Perhaps- careful.
This isn't the whole truth
Neither nothing but the truth.

It may not be full of hedonism
Or wholesomeness.
Somewhere between white and black
Lies the gold of non-visual sparkle.

Not always- half-hearted and sheathed in dull.
Yet nacreous.
The repeated, the grey and grey and grey
Still contains that which shines in sunlight.

It may only be consolation
For loss, love, life.
L for leather- comic platitudes' levity
Levity, the word itself.

But sometimes. Somehow. Somewhere.
How does that end?
Over the rainbow- in a mythical world
Or there's a place for us.

What exactly did that mean?
A mental place
Or a barrier under which the grass is greener
Escape to utopia? Note Atlantis drowned.

Hello everyone. I loved 'Home' from beginning to end. In fact, that
summation goes for this Season I've just finished as well. There were a
couple of makeweights hanging around in the mid-sections somewhere, but,
as so often the case in Angel, (more so than Buffy in my
opinion), the book-ends were glorious. 'Home' and 'Deep Down' are
fantastic episodes. But they are also episodes that fit together a lot
more snugly than 'Lessons' and 'Chosen'. Now considering the latter pair
are a Whedon creation, and the former the separate works of Minear and
DeKnight, this says a lot for the writers of the Season, for their
genius and coherence, and the beautiul themes that have been hiding just
under the surface. I know 'Home' is sad and features some horrible
decisions, but frankly, Minear is so good at these episodes that I feel
uplifted anyway. It's like 'Reprise'- gloriously, hideously sad and
nihilistic, and yet with an odd sense of pleasure that someone can right
so truthfully about the human condition. That elevator ride. That police
dismissal. That break-up.

So for the final time in a while, a title:

4.22- 'Home'

There are as many different meanings of 'Home' as there are people, I
would imagine. Without going for the obvious, 'Home is where the heart
is', (although I suppose 'Home is where the Hart is', would have done as
a title), I found a couple of ideas of home above, without reverting to
phrase encyclopediae and so forth. I think I agree with Webley. Home is
a sadness. That place that is secure, but also denies potential to grow,
that always imagines itself to be enlivening the present, when it is in
fact safeguarding an often outdated past. Yet home is a happiness too.
And it's a place, or a person, or a family, or an experience, and it's
ever-shifting. I often tell people I'm going home, but do I mean my
University Home in Leamington Spa, my family Home in Bradford-on-Avon,
or my father's Home down the road? All of them, at one point or other.
It's when I'm asked where my Home is that I have to think for a minute
or two- and usually answer depending on how much time I have, how well I
know the person and whether they're asking interestedly or with an angry
scowl. In other words, instead of giving the most honest answer I can, I
pander a great deal to expectation. Because Home is an un-pin-downable
place. It seems we know most where home is when we don't have it- it's
the place Spike isn't in 'Pangs'. And the very final, heart-breaking
scene of 'Home' joins in with this. Several moons ago, alcibades
mentioned the framing metaphor for Family in Season Four of Angel. In
the poster's continued absence, it's left to me to point out how
beautifully it's used in the final scene- with Connor's family framed in
the window, and Angel resolutely outside, at that distance that he
himself has chosen for Connor. And, for the first time ever, we see
Connor make a joke. That homely, that re-assuring thing. Sunk in the
bosom of the family, complete with sweet little sister, gruff-ish father
and doting Mother, Connor has found something that isn't a lie- and can
toast 'To Family' without a hint of irony. Of course, the irony is all
too clear to the viewer.

Another beautiful point about this wonderfully directed, nicely acted
scene is the way it so consciously echoes 'Deep Down'. At the beginning
of the Season, and as a lovely trick so carefully portrayed that it
works straight, we see Angel's view of perfection. A meal, with all the
members of Angel Investigations re-united. Lorne back from Las Vegas,
Connor and Wesley reconciled and everyone sharing the best of times. Yet
Angel is the centre-piece of this- sitting at the head of the table,
ladelling out nourishment much as in 'Parting Gifts'. This abundance,
and the dark, rich colour scheme used, is repeated at the end. Now,
again, and so painfully, Angel is the Outsider, the Avenger who enables
society, who enables family but is forced to stay outside in the cold
himself- in fact, in the wilds of the forest in which Connor lives.
There is a family happiness, and it does involve Connor. And while Angel
is at the head of the table in 'Deep Down', Connor takes the lead role
in the family here- the high-achieving student, the loved Big Brother,
the gently cynical but happy child. It would be perfect, but for Angel's
decision, one which, only an episode after he inflicted free will on the
world, tore it away from the one person he cares about more than anyone

So that's the last scene. But actually I was put in a happy, Minear-y
mood right from the beginning here. All sorts of interesting little
lines, and playful direction. There was a bit of one-eyebrow-raised
amusement playing through those first few scenes that worked
excellently. Lilah, inexplicably back from the dead, makes the rules,
and Minear makes his cast play along with him just as they must play
along with Lilah. She sizzles, and every actor is just that little bit
more in character than usual- rather like when Whedon directs.

And so we get the nosensical, pointless, 'what's going on?' of the fake
teaser ending. What we thought was finished, wasn't. Lilah defies
expectation and goes on. Li-la-li, li-la-li-la-lie-lali.

And then we return to the shcoked disbelief. Whedon goes to great
lengths to get rid of the credits in his special episodes by devising
extra scenes or fiddling with the order of things at the beginning.
Here, Minear uses them to stress the length of the character's silence.
It's almost certainly the longest silence in 'Angel', and possibly the
longest period of complete soundtrack silence, (ie, no Chirs Beck
music), on either show, although I'm more than willing to be put right.
And it's funny, and nicely done. We see a lot about the character's
indecisions and personalities just in each one's decision not to speak.
And so we get the first act, where Lilah, (or Minear?) tells us what's
going on. We are told the limo will be waiting. And we, like Fred the
every(wo)man, can't quite resist what's lurking inside. It's almost
certainly nefarious and evil and beautifully planned, but that's the
allure of it. Fred gives into the intrigue as we do. And so, once we've
taken that leap of faith, it seems so much more likely that Angel, he of
'Reunion', Wesley, him of 'Deep Down', Gunn, who has already
half-accepted it in his mind, and Lorne, who despite his glorious
singing voice has never let morals get in the way of a chance at fame,
will follow. It's very important that each comes to his or her own
decision. It's not unilateral- it's the free will of the whole Family.
Each could have said no, but none did. They used what Angel won back
from them to compromise with their definition of evil. How's that for
murky waters, eh?

And as a throwaway line, we get "What's the odds the humans are the
most corruptible?". Well, considering where they're going, Wolfram and
Hart, the Home of millions of evil, ever so human lawyers, the odds seem
to be shortening all the time.

And just as AI come to their personal decisions to go, they are greeted
by an almost tailor-made, perfect guide. Or at least so it might seem.
We might at first criticise Minear for the simplicity of Fred with the
scientist, Wesley with the Watcher, Lorne with the singers of his
dreams, Gunn with the attractive woman, and Angel with his nemesis. But
the plans are somewhat more nuanced and revealing.

-Well, almost all of them are. Lorne's great joke about them having
'everyone I've ever wanted to meet' more or less seals his section.

-For Fred, we are introduced to the nerd's delight. But not just this.
Fred is short with Knox over the Dungeons and Dragons comment, but turns
ona sixpence when she realises that she would be the Boss of the Science
Department. It appears that the timid, babbling cave-girl of Pylea now
craves Power and authority. Perhaps this was a section of her dream back
in college- the day when she could be the Professor testing out theories
and with able scientists and state-of-the-art equipment to help. In a
sense, Wolfram and Hart offer her back what Seidel pinched from her so
painfully seven years ago. And that, the idea of authority mixed with
the continuing delightful nerdiness is what seals Fred's fate.

-I'm worried about Gunn. I'm less than qualified to go into the details
of the imagery of the Black Panther, but suffice it to say that the
never concluded line 'The answer is among you' [any takers anyone? It
wasn't Cordelia, as she wasn't in the White Room], came back to haunt
me. Unlike the only half concluded visitation of Joyce slash the First
to Dawn in 'Conversations with Dead People', Angel's season has seemed
too immaculately plotted to be let go to waste. Maybe someone
plot-minded can explain. Anyway, back to the worry. That big cat seems a
version of Buffy's in 'Intervention'- but on a rather grander scale. I
was definitely waiting for Gunn to say 'Hello Kitty'. But the cat led
Buffy to two things. One, it led her to consider herself- what it means
to be a Slayer. Perhaps Gunn was made to consider what it is to be a
Warrior. But more baldly, Buffy was told 'Death is your Gift'. I
sincerely hope this isn't some nasty foreshadowing for Season Five. We
need Gunn to live.

-For Wesley, it is about getting beyond the visage. At first I was
dissatisified that after we see Gunn's insecurity and Fred's lack of
self-confidence being handled, we se the section with Wesley doing
supposedly the exact opposite. But actually, that's the whole point. I
should have trusted Minear. For distrust, and complete certainty, and
the real books with the real knowledge, not just some fancy English
bookshelf, is what Wesley was given. He was given a physical and
intellectual challenge, which eventually led him to something he could
really admire. Genuine books and files stretching as far as the eye
could see.

I've been wondering about unresolved feelings that Wesley had for Lilah
for a while. The scene where he vuts her head of is wonderfully
portrayed, but since Lilah appears to have been buried away, repressed
like so much of Wesley's past. Here he attempts to free her- to give her
the will to do what personally she'd like to do. But in a small
inversion of what is later to be the crux of the free will exploration,
we see that what Wesley wants for Lilah cannot be inflicted upon her
without her will. She's signed up for life and death, in perpetuity.
It's her choice, just as Wesley and Lilah have always had an equal, if
never healthy, relationship.

-Finally, we have Angel, who is given that thing that he's been lusting
after for ages. Which could be sunlight. And could be Buffy. But he
managed to reject those years ago- in 'In the Dark' and 'I Will Remember
You' respectively. Cordelia is more pressing, but Connor finally makes
him snap. He is the one incredible worthwhile thing that Angel has made,
and he safeguards it. He goes to see Connor,and in so doing is made to split the two things he has been fighting for throughout the Jasmine arc. There was Connor, and there was the ability of others to have free will. After Angel inflicted free will on the world, like it or not, (an extreme irony, as valheru pointed out), he thought he might be able to get Connor, the other thing he was fighting for back, but instead he is given an ultimatum to choose. And straight away, Angel abandons the quest for free will, in two regards. First, he tells the Gang that he has made an executive decision to except Wolfram and Hart's offer for all of them. This goes against the earlier, carefully crafted scenes where they all decide to get into the limo separately. If we were to believe it was a s simple as free will= liberty, we are quickly confused by it. And of course, secondly, Angel forgets Connor's free will in order that he can lead a happy life. A dreadful decision to have to make, and a wrong one. But just perhaps the least worst.

This Minear episode crackles along with plenty of his trademark, almost poetic and entrancing dialogue. Here's a few more highlights to cover some straggling points.

-'And 30% more energy efficient'. This line made me giggle. Wolfram and Hart have the diabolical intent of luring Angel with sunlight, although they already suspect something more dear to his heart will be necessary. But they are endlessly efficient and thorough, like that Kafkaesque research woman from Season Three. That 30% sums up all we may have come to hate about evil lawyers.

-'Come on Charlie, let me show you around the chocolate factory'. Of course, Lilah is working on behalf of Wolfram and Hart, and Mr Wonka was going to give the Chocolate Factory to Charlie, as the tribestial company plan to do to Angel, so the metaphor is apt. Furthermore, the very trait that Wonka requires in Charlie, the sheer childish wonder and love for the factory, devoid of selifishness, gluttony, money and pride, is the one that Wolfram and Hart appear to use for each person. It runs deeper, but the snazzy machinery is the surface layer that means the gang don't immediately ignore the offer. That joy about the things they like, but with the ominous feeling it will soon be corrupted.

-'You live as the world is as it should be'. Another tidy tie in from 'Deep Down', from Angel's glorious speech to Connor. Here, though, we see the compromise. In Lilah's chocolate factory, Angel has the tools to act on what he believes, but will h be interfered with. That line, 'the value of compromise' comes back to haunt Angel as he makes himself compromise both his crusade for free will and his distrust of Wolfram and Hart in order to give Connor the life he feels he deserves.

-Perhaps the most beautiful line of all- so sparse and poetic in a way perhaps only Minear and Whedon can do on the series: 'Flames wouldn't be eternal if they actually consumed anything'. So much duality. The flame suggests old flame, the flame of the burning perpetuity, but mostly Lilah's loyalty to the company, running beyond her life and into her death. Arguably the living flame, the one that in Christian theology burns away self and leaves one through with holy charity as outward vesture, may just have been the Wesley/Lilah relationship. Lilah was starting to be burnt away, confused about her alliances. In death, there is the certainty of the eternal flame, but also the knowledge that there is no such thing as a flame that consumes nothing. It's false even though constant.

Leaving just the scene that made me tearful. It's instructive, more so than perhaps any other individual, to consider David Boreanaz' acting for proof that practice and diligence can lead to strides forward. The power of emotion, the extraordinary desperation and understanding and hurt in his final scene talking to Connor was startling, mostly given just by his facial expression, a crumbling old castle, once again losing its reason for being fortified, even without Tim Minear's writing on top. When you see his glib, detached, wooden performance in 'Welcome to the Hellmouth' and set it aside this, it really gives you hope that you can improve in whatever you do. Here he is stellar, the situation is incredible poignant, and the conclusion is absolutely mind-blowing. Connor, while claiming 'You can't be saved by a lie', just might be, given the opportunity to start again. All the lies and pain have left in life in ruins, and yet it is not reset by simple kindness, consideration and generosity, but by putting the world to 'reset'. The smiling happy Connor that the shell of Angel sees is a lie. We have been taught 'the value of compromise'.

Of course, we see Connor's complete breakdown, and that it is, as Angel fears, all about him. There are the two fatherhood scenes- that with the man away from his family early on, and later berating another Father for not keeping his daughter comforted. This act as nifty prefigurements of the final meteoric offering in the mall.

And so the Season ends as it began, with me spouting superlatives about how the truth is in there, but hidden so deep that Angel mirrors real life. There's a thematic unity in Minear episodes which however never leads to a glib moral or an easy answer, and I will really miss his writing, as I have done for much of this Season. But with Edlund, Whedon, Craft and Fain and Goddard, (and of course Bell and Fury, who I admire less but do have good moments), Season Five of 'Angel' has the ability to match all the previous three in being brilliant. Season Four contained an odd makeweight, but with the Angelus arc, the Jasmine arc, the first and final episodes, it presents itself as a classic in the Angel mould of confusion.

There's a shortish post to be written tomorrow that will contain the following things:

1)Poetry (prepare for Tennyson, guesses welcome)
2) The season ratings
3) Some thank yous at an ending (if not the ending) of the Odyssey
4) A plea for some technical advice that could keep the Odyssey going.

But that's to come. For now, I leave you with a toast:

Connor: (toasting) To family.

PS Please excuse the wacky formatting. As you can tell, this post was written in two parts!

[> Ah, you beat me to it! -- Masq, 14:57:39 07/15/03 Tue

Not unsurprising, given my lead feet where "Home" is concerned.

But I'm working on it, I swear!

[> [> Looking forward to your analysis already -- Tchaikovsky, 00:51:17 07/16/03 Wed

[> Preserving this thread, so can read later. -- sk, 17:50:05 07/15/03 Tue

[> Re: Thanks TCH! -- aliera, 18:48:51 07/15/03 Tue

[> Slaving over season review; will post tomorrow. -- cjl (preserving thread), 21:01:08 07/15/03 Tue

[> Doing yet another thread preservation...Cutprint! Looks good TCH. -- s'kat, 21:08:56 07/15/03 Tue

[> Gratitude, poetry, videos, ratings (Angel Odyssey: Ithaca) -- Tchaikovsky, 05:46:12 07/16/03 Wed

Hello everyone.

I've had this post planned for some time. I was going to do it after 'Tomorrow', but I was allowed to continue through Season Four. Now I've got a healthy amalgam of different odds and ends to say, but I'll try to keep them relatively brief.

Firstly, here's some ratings. The usual boring old disclaimers- firstly that this gives a much more primitive idea of my opinions than the reviews themselves- secondly that some of my opinions may have changed over the course of the Season, which in this case has been a lengthy stretch of real time as well.

Deep Down: 9
Ground State: 6
The House Always Wins: 3
Slouching Towards Bethlehem: 6
Supersymmetry: 8
Spin The Bottle: 7
Apocalypse, Nowish: 6
Habeas Corpses: 5
Long Day's Journey: 7
Awakening: 9
Soulless: 10
Calvary: 6
Salvage: 7
Release: 8
Orpheus: 9
Players: 7
Inside Out: 7
Shiny Happy People: 5
The Magic Bullet: 7
Sacrifice: 8
Peace Out: 7
Home: 9

Year end total: 156/220
For comparison
Season 2: 158/220
Season 3: 156/220
Season 1: 147/220

There are a couple of patches that just let it down from being a Season as good as two, in my opinion. Actually, although these ratings out of ten aren't given with the final ranking in mind, I think they do represent my general feeling about the show- that Season One was weaker, and that the other three are of very similar quality with Season Tow just edging it.

Secondly, I'd like to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who's ever read one of these posts- it really pleases me that anyone goes to the trouble of wading through them. Thanks also for every single reply, each of which I've read an dis valuable. Just to know that you've stimulated some kind of thought is a precious thing.

And thirdly I'd like to thank six particular people who've helped made the Odyssey what it is:

Rahael, who responded to the very first post by saying that there wasn't enough discussion of Angel to balance Buffy, and so I decided to keep going for a while

Rob, who wrote one particularly kind comment after my reviews of 'Five by Five' and 'Sanctuary', which were pretty lengthy by Season One standards, got no responses. I considered giving up at that point, but he made me go on.

shadowkat, who spent what must have been several hours transcribing a Tim Minear interview that gave great insight into the mind of one of the creators, and helped bolster the Odyssey through Season Two

cjl, whose Annoying Series is a very rewarding way to end a season of the Odyssey.

Masq, for just generally being the best, but also for often humouring people who want my threads back, and for her extraordinary website, which has much improved my understanding of the series.

And finally and most importantly of all, to

yabyumpan, through whom I have watched every single episode from 'City Of...' to 'Home', and has helped me battle the postal system with considerable success, and let me off for wrongly dated cheques!

Next, a technical question. aliera has been investigating whether it is viable to send tapes by post for Season Five from America to Britain at a reasonable price. It turns out it is possible. However, I believe the video tapes are different. How would one go about playing an American video tape, or recording a British one? Any ideas welcome. In case anyone's wondering, I don't own a computer, so beyond issues of legality, downloading episodes is just not possible.

And finally, here I am, back in Ithaca, possibly to start out again. So what better excuse than to reproduce Tennyson's Ulysees about the aging warrior and sailsman's perpetual Wanderlust.


It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea, I am becoming a name
For always roaming with a hungry heart;
Much have I seen and known, - cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull is it to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought . . .
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me -
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads - you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are:
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.



[> [> Thanks, TCH -- cjl, 07:00:54 07/16/03 Wed

But the reason why the Annoying Series is anywhere near enjoyable is because your Angel Odyssey forces me to think the themes of the series through and write at a higher level.

Dave Sim, the creator of Cerebus the Aardvark, once said that when he tries to do imitations/parodies of most artists, he can get away with his usual bag of tricks and draw over his mistakes. But when he does an impression of one of the greats--like Hal Foster--he has to be at his best. Three lines on the page and you'd damn well better get them right, or the buzzer sounds and you lose the vacation to Hawaii and the year's supply of Turtle Wax. I feel the same way about your essays--I've got to work for my supper, otherwise you're going to blow me off the page.

Hal Foster's Prince Valiant was the original model for S2 Groo--and so we return to Ithaca once again. The Angel Odyssey is one of the lasting pleasures of this board, and I can't wait for Season 5.

I should post my year-end review tonight.

[> [> [> Re: Thanks, TCH -- aliera, 07:47:33 07/16/03 Wed

TCH I know I generally don't have much to add to these threads; but I do have to say again how much I enjoy what you've done and what you are doing. Here's to the continuation of the Odyssey, virtual and otherwise!

[> [> [> [> Re: Sorry cjl. The above should be under TCH's last post. -- aliera, 07:51:17 07/16/03 Wed

Which is not to say that you are not appreciated also! :-)

[> [> [> Thursday morning treat for the hours ahead Briton- hooray -- Tchaikovsky, 08:02:02 07/16/03 Wed

[> [> Awww, you're welcome, TCH. And thank you again... -- Rob, 08:05:03 07/16/03 Wed

The Odyssey is one of the most enjoyable things on the board, ever, and I'm going to miss reading new ones (for the time being, only, I hope) to the point that part of me wishes you could have been deprived of the episodes longer, so we could have more to look forward to during the summer. Nah, don't worry, I wouldn't be that cruel. ;o)

re: the videotapes, there are 3 ways for you to watch it. 2 involve purchases. You'd need to either buy a US VCR (on-line probably), buy a converter-VCR that can record NTSC to PAL (which is the video format in Britain), or...I know in the US, there are places that will do it for you. I think they'd be in the phone book under "Video Production" or something like that. I don't unfortunately have any idea how much any of these options would cost. I assume the 1st or 3rd would be the cheapest. The 1st, while possibly expensive to begin with, may be better in the long-run, so you don't have to pay each week. But I don't know too much about this.

OnM probably knows more.


[> [> [> Thanks Rob. And attention, OnM! -- Tchaikovsky, 09:18:30 07/16/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> But what about our BehindtheBoard fic? Didn't *that* inspire you? -- Random, preserving like mad. Mad, I tell you, ma-a-a-d!, 23:14:24 07/16/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> Speaking of which, when's the next installment? -- O'Cailleagh, 15:45:17 07/17/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> In the works, in the works.. -- Random, 20:48:31 07/17/03 Thu

[> [> Cordelia, ratings of S4 episodes& thanks tch (Angel Odyssey: Ithaca) -- shadowkat, 11:15:04 07/16/03 Wed

First off, read your marvelous essay of Home this morning and have to say, it's the first review of Home that I absolutely agree with. Not one disagreement with anything you said in that review. You said it very well. That adding anything to it...seems unnecessary.

Thanks for the acknowledgement - anything I could do to keep you doing those essays was well worth the effort.
You gave me better appreciation for episodes I thought less of at the time. Heck, you even made me reconsider the Pylea arc and the Grooslaug...which is more of an accomplishment than you know ;-)

On to the ratings:

My ratings for S4 episodes are somewhat higher than yours, and higher than S2, which while I liked it, had episodes that I basically switched off in mid-viewing or did other things during and didn't fully watch until a friend sent the tapes of them to me, two years later. While I loved the Darla arc in S2, most of the other filler episodes, left me somewhat cold at the time. I have more respect for those episodes now, oddly enough and part of that is due to your reviews of them. So - to an extent - my views can be altered by what I read on line. Not completely, of course. ;-)

As you mention in your Home review - S4 Ats was very tightly plotted - possibly the most tightly plotted season of any show they've done. Every episode seemed to be part and parcel of the arc and build on the next one. The only thing I had major problems with in this arc was Cordelia's storyline. Even if Charisma hadn't gotten pregnant and they'd just made her completely evil with no Jasmine - it still would have felt off. Actually I think Jasmine and Charisma's pregnancy may have saved the arc and the character of Cordelia...in this one circumstance, I think the actress's personal life actually served to make the story much better and she, inadvertently, did the creators/writers a favor, whether they or she realize it.

In fact the episodes in S4 that I had the most trouble with were the ones that concentrated too much on Cordelia or that
wonky storyline, one which they've never really answered to my satisfaction. I'm curious to know what you thought of the Cordelia arc, TCH? You never really say -- or perhaps you did and I missed it?? In Home, I was left with the assumption that Evil Cordy was a pod person possessed by Jasmine, that all her acts weren't done by her at all. And the last time we saw the real Cordy was in either The House Always Wins or possibly Spin The Bottle. I do feel the
writers did the character a disservice here and well understand people who loved the character, being less than happy with S4. In that sense, I suppose I'm lucky to be neutral on her, but that said, it did not prevent me from seeing the problems with her story-arc. I spent a good portion of S4 trying to figure out what the heck they were doing with this character. As I stated in one post: my theory on Cordy changes each episode. That, I believe may be the biggest detractor from the season and possibly adds weight to the objective assertion that S2 was far better overall. It was for that reason alone - we didn't really have any true out-of-character or head scratching moments in S2, not like we did in S3, S1, and S4. (S1 - She and Wes' pratfalls every five minutes, S3- the head-scratching cordy arc starts here, S4 - the cordy arc.)

Looking at the list of episodes, the ones I found myself liking the most oddly enough were the ones dealing with Fred (odd b/c I didn't like the Fred centric episodes that much in previous seasons), the ones dealing with Wes and with Gunn (equally odd b/c up until S3, I wasn't fond of many Wes centric episodes or Gunn centric episodes until S4, so these three characters were actually given a bit more depth in S4.) The one's I was less happy with were the ones that focused on the Angel/Connor/Cordy arc...while I liked Angel and Connor - the Cordelia part of the triangle felt contrived somehow. Too out of character - which may have been the point, not sure. I did like the Jasmine arc and I feel Jasmine may have made up for it somewhat. I also liked most of the Angelus arc, even though I find the whole plan to bring back Angelus somewhat contrived. Again that might have been the point. Perhaps we were supposed to feel that way - since Jasmine tells us all these things were manipulated to bring about her birth. But I'm not sure it worked dramatically...it felt it bit sloppy in places, possibly more a fault of the medium we're in than the show itself?

The episode ratings :

Deep Down: 10 (TCH =9)
(by Stephen Deknight)
After much thought, I'd give Deep Down a 10/10. I honestly don't see anything wrong with this episode. The framing device is stellar and kept throughout the series, also used again brilliantly in Home. We have character development on practically everyone, even Cordy's brief scene where she announces how bored she is. The plot switchs back and forth, building suspense throughout, keeping us guessing,
and rewarding us for hanging in there. Each plot twist paid off with a nice wicked surprise. The whole Wes saving Angel portion of the episode was twisty and morally ambiguous - rewarding the audience's desire to see Justine pay yet at the same time unnerving the audience with how she does pay for her crimes.

Ground State: 7 (TCH = 6)
by MEre Smith
I found the introduction of Gwen to be one of the best introductions ME has done of a new recurring character. She was shown as vulnerable, multifaceted and mysterious with just a few short, dramatic scenes. The myth reference to Dinzani - was appropriately creepy. The pay-off, Cordy's in a better place, nice and ironic.

The House Always Wins: 4/5 (TCH =3)
by David Fury
I liked this episode better than you did. I liked it better than Storyteller (I know, I know, shocking to say the least.) Why? Because I found the whole metaphor about gambling away your destiny to be rather interesting - particularly with the twist that a higher being can interfer and give it back to you. But what I really liked about THAW is how it appears, after watching the entire season. Think about it? In THAW - Angel gambles away his destiny by mistake and is caught in a nice happy loop, reminiscent in a way of his years wandering aimlessly until the PTB send Whistler after him. Here, we have higher being Cordelia - ask the timeless question (taken from Wim Wenders
flick Wings of Angels (not to be confused with City of Angels) where Angles just watch but never ever interfer) - what's the point of watching if we can't ever change anything? Why can't we? What's the harm? So Cordy breaks out of her mystical prison and interfers - breaking Angel out his. And for her troubles she is deposited sans memory right in the middle of the Hyperion. One wonders if that was the moment Jasmine gained control of Cordelia - when Cordy decided to interfer? Was it also the moment Angel's destiny changed? This is commented on again in Home - where this time around Angel is the one who interfers with Connor - changing Connor's destiny. And in Peace-Out where,
Angel flips the switch and throws everyone out of their higher being induced happy loop. On top of all this, we have Lorne who gets everything he ever dreamed of in Vegas yet at a horrible moral price he can't live with. We think he's learned the error of his ways - yet doesn't W&H offer Lorne the same thing in Home? Everything you ever dreamed - all the people you ever wished to meet...oh ignore the
tiny print about morality. Very interesting episode when you think about it.

That's not to say I didn't have problems with it, I did.
David Fury in my humble opinion just can't write Angel well.
Angel's jokes about the rat pack did not work, they fell flat and seemed oddly out of character. From his interviews, I'm wondering if Fury just doesn't understand the character and the soul thing? Not sure. Fury does however write Lorne, Gunn, Fred, Wes, Cordy and Connor rather well - so I try to ignore it. Also Fury's brand of humor? Not always mine.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem: 6
(Jeff Bell??)

Agree. Although I'm tempted to dip it down to a 5. While it was a good enough episode, I keep forgetting what happened in this episode along with where it came in the series, which I guess says it all.
I only rate it higher than THAW, because I found it more enjoyable and less annoying in places. But not overly memorable except for the Wes/Lilah bits that I loved. Actually W/L were the best thing in this episode. The episode did focus on Cordelia and her wonky arc and also started the whole c/c/a triangle so that may be my other difficulty with it.

Supersymmetry: 9 (TCH =8)
Craft and Fain's first episode (they seem to be Ats answer
to Drew Goddard - hitting the ball out of the park on the first throw?)

I know, I know - parts of the Seidel plot was a bit sloppy
and not very consistent with what we learned about the whole Pylea thing. But since I was never that fond of the whole Pylea thing, I was able to overlook it - I liked what they came up with in Supersymmetry better. For the first time, I began to find Fred interesting. Gunn and Fred for that matter - interesting. These characters which had been sitting in stasis for sooo long, finally got to be fleshed out a bit. Every character was used pretty well here. And we got a little less of the whole C/A/C triangle.

Spin The Bottle: 7
Joss Whedon

Agree completely. While incredibly funny in places, it seemed off as well. Perhaps it's the focus on the C/A/C arc?
I liked the bits on Wes, Angel and Connor. But I found Fred and Gunn to be a bit too cliche and off for my taste, making me wonder if Whedon just doesn't feel comfortable with these two characters? Connor and Angel were perfect.
But Cordelia? shrug. Again wonky.

Apocalypse, Nowish: 6
Agree. I wasn't overly fond of this episode. And yes, it also focuses on A/C/C arc. Outside of a few nifty sequences: like the team fighting the Beast, Gunn/Wes
tension, and Cordelia dreaming about watching Invasion of The body Snatchers...the episode seemed a bit overly melodramatic.

Habeas Corpses: 10 (TCH =5)
JEff Bell (I think)

Here you and I completely disagree. I loved this episode.
And I hate zombie movies, refuse to see Resident Evil and have never made it through Night of the Living Dead. Yet, I loved this one. I found the Wes/Lilah portions gripping.
It was actually scary, rare occurence. I had no clue who would get killed, if anyone. And the last sequence in the White Room was chilling. I also loved the metaphor emphasized by the title. For my full opinion on this one, check archives. One of my all time favorites.

Long Day's Journey: 7


Awakening: 8 (TCH =9)
Deknight and Fury
I think this one is overrated. It's okay. But Angel's perfect day played a little bit too much like a sappy version of Raiders of the Lost Arc meets Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom for my taste. If it weren't for the last sequence of Angelus laughing...I probably would have given it a 4. But the twist makes the episode and puts it in the 8 category - since the dream is clearly meant as satire.
And you just have to appreciate someone satirizing the hero myth and Indiana Jones at the same time.

Soulless: 10 (tCH =10)
Craft and Fain, dir: Scean Austin

Completely agree. Favorite all time episode. Loved it.
Also in my humble opinion the best acting David Boreanze has done in his life. He brought out stellar performances in every one else as well. Absolutely adored the interaction between him and Wes. The literary/movie references were also wonderful. Flawless episode. Can't find one single thing wrong with it.

Calvary: 9 (TCH =6)
(not sure who did this baby, thinking it was Bell,smith and Denkight)

Disagree. Had the best twist - Cordy killing Lilah. And was probably one of the few episodes in the wonky Cordy arc, that I liked. Also loved the Calvary metaphor which the board analyzed very well at the time. I won't repeat it all here.

Salvage: 7 (TCH =7)
David Fury

Agreed. Outside of Wes/Lilah and Wes/Faith, this episode seemed a little on the weak side. Angelus just seemed way out of character, supporting my view that Fury just does not understand this character. I think he sees him as just a big misunderstood frat boy, which he isn't at all. (I pray Minear has at some point prior to taking off, sat down with Fury and explained the specifics of souling and vampires and the moral complexity of Angel. Minear writes Angel the best in my opinion - oh I will miss him.)

Release: 8 (TCH =8)

Also agree. Wes/Faith were great. But EvilCordy and the beastmaster voice were silly. And Angelus - better, but still far too light for my taste. But Faith/Angel - superb.

Orpheus: 7 (TcH=9)
Mere Smith

I liked Release better, actually. Orpheus...Willow was completely out of character, so much so that I'm really glad Hannigan has no plans to make an appearence next year.
Cordy vs. Willow was disappointing to me. The best part of the episode was actually the alley three way fight between Faith/Angel/Angelus. Although somewhat confusing - regarding what this whole soul thing means. Apparently Angelus really is a part of Angel, just repressed?
And nope, Angel did not grow one iota b/c of the experience. He still does not acknowledge that Angelus resides in him and is a part of him, not a separate entity.
Apparently Faith was the one who came out of Orpheus with the epithany, no one else. And that was my problem with it -
the recurring character gets the epithany, the other characters seem to just be there for her benefit, seems a bit off or episodic in style for such a tightly plotted serial format. The other draw-back - the C/A/C arc...which was starting to grate on my nerves by this point, particularly with Cordy in the black laced belly dancer outfit. By this point, I wanted to slap Connor upside the head and I happen to like Connor quite a bit.

Players: 8 (TCH = 7)
MEre Smith???
Loved this episode. Gunn was finally given a chance to develop and shine. If this is where ATs is headed? Fine with me. Also really enjoyed the Fang Gang's set up of Cordy, delightful. They successfully mislead Cordy and the audience - giving us a great pay-off at the end. That is how you do a successful mislead. I think it helped to balance the C/A/C arc with a good B plot story.

Inside Out: 7

Agree. I found it to be a confusing episode. Not as confusing as viewers who hadn't seen the last three seasons, I had to explain it to some people. The best part of it was the whole Cordy vs. Darla section - wonderful.
But the whole this is how we manipulated you via Skip?
A tad contrived and sloppy. In this episode, the writers attempted to smooth out and explain the wonkiness of Cordelia's arc and in doing so, proved to me at least how much they flubbed it up. The arc just did not work.

Shiny Happy People: 5
Craft and Fain (I guess everyone has to get a slow episode)
Agree. Not much to say on this one.

The Magic Bullet: 9 (Tch = 7)

I loved this episode. It was so satirical in places. From the scene in the begining which makes splendid fun of the Fred/Gunn/Wes triangle along with numerous other things to the whole magic bullet conspiracy. Wonderful. I am also one of the few people who actually liked Fred's trip down the rabbit hole - the metaphor fit with her character's arc.
Loved Magic Bullet. I was even able to overlook the Karoke scenes.

Sacrifice: 6 (TCH =8)
Ben Edlund
Up until the insect creature...I found it sort of slow.
The insect creature saved it. But wasn't really all that involving.

Peace Out: 9 (TCH=7)
David Fury, Stephen Deknight, Craft and Fain
This episode gets a 9 for four sequences: Connor/Cordelia (the best Connor/Cordy scene in the entire arc and it's so good, it almost, almost makes the arc pay off), Angel/Jasmine/Connor, and Wes/Gunn/Fred/Lorne/Connor, Wes/Fred/Gunn/Lorne/Angel and Lilah. Loved those sequences.
Really great pay-off for a so-so arc.

Home: 10 (TCh=9)

Your essay ironically enough explains fully why I give this episode a 10. I see nothing wrong with it. For the reasons you stated in your essay above. Ironic - since you yourself give it a lower rating. ;-)

Well those are my views, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

Thanks again TCH for a wonderful series of in-depth reviews.
Hoping to see them continue.


[> [> [> Very speedy word on Cordelia -- Tchaikovsky, 12:03:11 07/16/03 Wed

Dashing past- a fascinating read that I'd like to do justic to by reading and replying to at leisure. For the moment, just a note on the Cordelia arc. I found it uninvolving- although I didn't personally consider the writers very interested in the character of Cordelia this Season. The moments I found her engaging was when she was used well for another character- for example, in the fascinating journey of Connor. I may have underplayed how much I loved Connor's story and character this season- not quite Masq/Scroll love, but up there. Also, she was interesting with Willow. But frankly, as Angel, Wesley, Fred, Gunn and Lorne all had brilliant arcs, I let the Cordelia arc slide without too much grumbling, as I would have liked to have done with Dawn in Season Seven.

See my 'Peace Out' review for where I thought they finally tied up Cordelia's story nicely and thematically.


[> [> American video tapes -- Rahael, 17:12:59 07/17/03 Thu

(Wooo! I played a part in the Odyssey!)

My vcr plays american video tapes - I know this because on the front it says PAL/NTSC. Does yours say this?

As for recording, nothing different, you just need to make sure that what you play it on is compatible with the American video.

At least that's what my experience tells me.

[> [> [> Yes, it does. Excellent! -- Tchaikovsky, 12:20:42 07/19/03 Sat

[> Yay! -- ponygirl, 11:54:57 07/16/03 Wed

Congrats, TCH on a fabulous Odyssey! I've had a troubled and rather cranky relationship with AtS in the past, but s4 was a delight, I would rank Home as my favourite episode. I think of it as the equivalent of The Gift, both in terms of quality and also in that it serves as a perfect summation of the series. If Home had been the final episode of AtS (and I'm very glad it wasn't) what a dark and powerful message we would have been left with about moving past idealism, the choices and the compromises we all have to make to live in the world.

It's interesting that both shows had some serious plot threads left dangling this year, but Home made me forget my questions about the necessity of the Angelus arc, the Beast's purpose, and Cordelia -- Chosen, I'm still asking about.

[> Catharsis and the eternal flames -- Random, 15:25:28 07/16/03 Wed

In death, there is the certainty of the eternal flame, but also the knowledge that there is no such thing as a flame that consumes nothing. It's false even though constant.

Wonderfully put, TCH. What I believe we are looking at is - like most traditional perceptions of Hell - an unending catharsis. And a catharsis that never completes itself achieves nothing but suffering. I recall someone complaining that Lilah was offering meaningless wisdom. The contract isn't Lilah, the person said. It is what binds her. Burning it should free her from the spell. This, I think, is a mistake. Lilah watches Wesley's failure and alludes to a greater metaphor, but we need not bother looking past the contract for the meaning of her words. The contract, that little piece of paper, is Lilah. It is everything she is bound up in a few simple (or not-so-simple, if I know legalese) words and sealed with a signature. More on that later, but I just wanted to note that what Wesley attempted to do was, in essence, a quick-fix catharsis sealed with a kiss given far too late. And, unsurprisingly, it failed. She had already damned herself long before she met Wesley.

Perhaps, one of the defining differences between the portrayals of evil and good in the Buffyverse (Yes, dammit, it's still the Buffyverse) is the concept of catharsis. The auto-de-fe in Amiel's abyss of self. Forget about power. It's about catharsis. Who gets it? Who doesn't? The list of good characters who achieve it is short, but still far longer than the evil ones. We can count on the fingers of one hand the number of evil characters who have achieved catharsis in the Buffyverse. Faith, when she faced Angel in the alley, and again when she watched Buffy and Angel suffering the consequences of her actions.. Darla, as she sacrificed herself to save her child. To some imperfect extent, DarkWillow as she poured her rage out against her oldest friend, burning away the darkness in the process. One died. Another almost did...but thanks to an Angel who had already faced the darkness, finally went to jail instead. The third survived, but then came the rebuilding process, this time with purer elements.

No evil being - so far as I recall - has ever managed to complete a cathartic moment. Angelus, I think, was mistaken as he stood before the statue of Acathala. It wasn't about becoming...it was about catharsis. He sought to burn away the baggage of the past - and failed. Was he doomed to fail? I think perhaps he was. Even had he succeeded in bringing about the Apocalypse, I suspect he still would have failed to achieve catharsis. We'll never know, of course. Unsouled Spike never found it...it was only when he attempted to rape the girl he claimed to love that he really faced himself, his own darkness, with clear eyes. He realized that no matter how much he may have seemed to have changed on the surface, the monster was still at the core, still pulling his strings like a marionettist. So he went to seek out a true catharsis - regaining his soul so the real battle to burn away the evil could begin. It was only then that he had a chance to become a "man." As Angel might have warned him, though, it is a slowburning fire. I would suggest that it was only by the grace of the PTB, in Chosen, that Spike truly - and literally - burned away the last of the clinging chaff of monstrousness that had weighed him down for 120 years. His journey was finally complete. I'm extremely interested in what he will be like upon his return. Will he be perfect? No. Catharsis is an end of a chapter, not the whole of the text.

Unfortunately, catharsis is not precisely salvation. It is freedom, change, opportunity - but salvation is an end, not the journey. Connor never found his catharsis - instead, he had a sort of salvation imposed upon him. He lost the battle for himself, so Angel made the toughest of decisions, and destroyed the victor (no pun intended) in that struggle. This galls many of us at the same time as it gives us a small sense of happiness at seeing Connor finally at peace. Thus the powerful reactions to the end of Home. We want to see the story play out because we want Connor to achieve his catharsis. In a sense, he was robbed of it, robbed of his chance. It is a powerful ethical dilemma. Angel does save Connor...but he rips away from him not just his free-will but his chance to truly achieve something, to heal himself.

And so we return to Lilah. She has joined the parade of countless lost souls before her - Holland being the one most of us remember the best - who discovered that evil cannot redeem. It can only corrupt. What Wesley is truly attempting is almost exactly parallel to what Angel did to Connor. He attempts to give Lilah salvation because catharsis is impossible. There's a line derived from Meister Eckhart in the movie Jacob's Ladder that has always haunted me:

"The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won't let go of your life; your memories, your attachments. They burn 'em all away. But they're not punishing you, he said. They're freeing your soul... So the way he sees it, if you're frightened of dying and holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace then the devils are really angels freeing you from the earth."

(I have repeatedly tried to locate the primary source, but have been unsuccessful for several reasons, not the least of which being that I can't read German.) Perhaps this as fair a hallmark of Evil in the Buffyverse as we have ever seen: Evil clings to the past, to its own pain and desires, to everything that makes it what it is. The flames don't burn Lilah because she cannot release her past. She is bound by contract and deed and every selfish motivation that has characterized her life. The flames are false because the catharsis is incomplete. Catharsis is both suffering and essential transformation. One without the other will never be enough. So long as she holds onto her desires - and the profoundly tragic insight here is that she no longer has a choice in whether to do so - the devils will continue to tear away at her without diminishing, the flames will burn without consuming.

I'll be very interested to see how the shanshu plays out. It strikes me as more a cathartic concept than a soteriological one.

[> [> Terrific analysis, Random! -- Scroll, 18:08:00 07/16/03 Wed

The flames don't burn Lilah because she cannot release her past. She is bound by contract and deed and every selfish motivation that has characterized her life.

I think one damning difference between Lilah and Connor is that Lilah has never asked to be saved, never wanted to be redeemed or freed from her Wolfram & Hart prison. She's never felt guilty over her evils, even as Wesley tries to give her salvation. (This joie de vive in evil is kinda why I love her so much!) Like Holland in "Reprise", Lilah doesn't seem the least bit resentful of her lot in unlife, despite now having to call Angel 'boss'.

Unfortunately, catharsis is not precisely salvation. It is freedom, change, opportunity - but salvation is an end, not the journey.

Totally agree with this, which is why I saw Wesley's attempt to burn Lilah's contract to be just as much about his own catharsis as Lilah's. He never considered it to be his salvation though, which I appreciate. Angel's decision to mind-wipe Connor is also about his own catharsis, and perhaps also his own salvation. If Connor/his family is salvation, then "saving" Connor is also about saving himself, I think.

[> [> Burning metaphors in the Buffyverse. (Spoilers to Home/Chosen) -- shadowkat, 20:25:04 07/16/03 Wed

First off - I absolutely loved Random's post. Printed it off and re-read it twice.

I particularly love your last paragraph, which I think says as much about us and how we choose to live our lives as the characters in the Buffyverse. It also comes very close
to my own personal view of heaven/hell and the afterlife.
A view that until now I've never really seen clearly expressed.

So it bears repeating:

"The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won't let go of your life; your memories, your attachments. They burn 'em all away. But they're not punishing you, he said. They're freeing your soul... So the way he sees it, if you're frightened of dying and holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace then the devils are really angels freeing you from the earth."

(I have repeatedly tried to locate the primary source, but have been unsuccessful for several reasons, not the least of which being that I can't read German.) Perhaps this as fair a hallmark of Evil in the Buffyverse as we have ever seen: Evil clings to the past, to its own pain and desires, to everything that makes it what it is. The flames don't burn Lilah because she cannot release her past. She is bound by contract and deed and every selfish motivation that has characterized her life. The flames are false because the catharsis is incomplete. Catharsis is both suffering and essential transformation. One without the other will never be enough. So long as she holds onto her desires - and the profoundly tragic insight here is that she no longer has a choice in whether to do so - the devils will continue to tear away at her without diminishing, the flames will burn without consuming.

Okay...can't add anything to that. Except, agree wholeheartedly. Also in a nutshell describes why I loved Lilah and Spike.

Now moving on to Burning metaphors - which I believe supports yours and TCH's analysis. It occurred to me last night after reading TCH's review and other posts on the board, how truly consistent Spike and Angel's arcs have been and how consistent the whole burn metaphor has been for the evil characters throughout the series, so consistent that it shouldn't surprise us that Spike's sacrifice in Chosen literally involved being burned from the inside by his soul and having his soul immolating all the vampires surrounding him. But it wasn't until I read Random's post tonight that I truly understood why Whedon and Company picked that particular metaphor as opposed to stakes or crosses or swords or a whole host of other things to describe Spike's sacrifice or other similar events.

Let's look back over the seasons.

In Season 1 Btvs - it is made clear that vamps can't deal with sunlight. Buffy defeats them twice in Harvest with this concept. First when she escapes their lair in the old factory, and second when she tricks Luke with fake sunlight.
Later in the season, in the episode Angel, we see Angel avoiding sunlight - literally stuck in Buffy's bedroom all day long.

But it's not really until Season 2, with the introduction of Spike and Dru that the burn metaphor begins to take form.
The first time - is in When She Was Bad - Buffy chooses to torture a vampire by burning it's mouth with a cross.
Next in Some Assembly Acquired - Frankenstein Darryl finally lets go of his life by inadvertently setting himself and his makeshift bride ablaze. Rather than live alone and without her - he allows himself to be consumed by fire and freed. Then we the What's My Line two parter - where Spike sets the church ablaze to keep the Scooby Gange from rescuing Angel and Buffy, so he can escape with Drusilla. Instead of escaping - Buffy drops a pipe-organ on his head, and it is Spike who is caught in the blazing church. The SG believes that Spike and Dru have died, but instead they appear to have gone through a sort of rebirth, Dru now newly reborn in black and evil and powerful (she used to be in white) and Spike weak and unconscious. When they entered the blaze, Spike was strong and powerful, Dru was simpering and weak - now the roles appear to have been reversed and one half of Spike's face? Burned. We don't get
the fire image again until Surprise with the Judge - it appears the Judge has the ability to cleanse the good from the world by burning it away - the opposite of what we'd normally assume. We find out that Spike and Dru who reconstructed the Judge, aren't entirely immune from his power - he can burn them too. And he comes close to burning Buffy and Angel. Yet it is Buffy and Angel's act of lovemaking that truly burns Angel - cleansing the monster of its humanity, its soul - "freeing the soul" from it's life on earth and leaving the monsterous entity in its wake - an ironic inverse (?) of Random's point, perhaps.
The rest of the season's arc in a sense deals with whether Angelus can fully cleanse himself of the taint of his humanity, reach catharsis - the conclusion? Apparently not.
Evil as Random points out never quite achieves it. Spike on the other hand appears to flip...as a result of Angelus attempt at cleansing. The next burn metaphor comes in PAssion - where Giles attempts to destroy Angelus with fire, just as Jenny attempted to metaphorically destroy Angelus with a soul. Both result in burning. Angelus burns Jenny's research, files, computer, everything but the actual curse which conviently falls outside his notice between two desks - where Buffy herself will discover it in a few months time. Giles burns and destroys Spike and Drus'
home, and almost himself - barely touching Angelus. Angelus succeeds in setting Giles ablaze. As the Buffy set him ablaze. But Giles emerges from the flames of his Passion intact.

In Season 3, we get all sorts of interesting fire images.
First there's the daylight dreams Buffy has of Angel, at school in Dead Man's Party, on the beach in Anne, hmmm has it struck anyone else how odd it is that so many of Buffy's dreams of Angel have him standing with her in sunlight?
Yet, when Angel returns in the flesh - we get the burn imagery again - in Revealations the evil Gwendolyn post uses an arm to set things on fire - an arm that can only by destroyed by living flame and once it is the flame consumes Gwendolyn. In Dead Man's Party we got the flaming eyes of the zombie god who freezes it's pray, but once Buffy stabs those eyes, the demon is consumed by it's own flames. Later in Amends - Angel attempts to commit suicide by exposing himself to the sunlight but some higher being interfers and covers the sky with snow. In the Prom - Angel realizes he and Buffy can't be together when he sees her literally consumed by flames outside their wedding chapel. Earlier in Lover's Walk - in a drunken jealous stupor - Spike sets his own hand ablaze and hurridly rushes to put it out with alcohol, burning it more. And finally Graduation Day Part II, where they blow up the Mayor within the school literally destroying it with flames. And Buffy says the line : "Fire Bad. Tree Pretty." We see fire trucks in the distance. Yet...I wonder is she right? Is the fire truly bad? It appears to cleanse the school yet not quite, only buries the evil - making it dormant.

When Angel starts in Season 1 - the fire imagery follows him. In City of ...Angel destroys the evil vampire by throwing him out into the daylight. In Lonely Hearts - he learns that only fire can destroy the parasite terrorising LA. So Angel manevres the parasite into it. In "In The Dark" - Spike for all his trouble to retrieve the ring from Angel - burns his head, and screams in fury. Angel also gets burned in this episode - chasing down a serial killer through the sunlight...falling beneath the sea which succeeds in squelching the flames. When we reach HEro - Doyle sacrifices himself by destroying a device designed to burn out the humanity in anything within a certain distance. Being half-human the device's fire consumes Doyle just as he shuts it off. Much like the Judge's fire consumed humans. Doyle is set free. A fire in Shanshue in LA takes out Angel's workplace - forcing the team to find new headquarters. And it is with fire that the boy in I've Got You Under My Skin - tries to destroy his family and little sister. Instead the fire - reveals the boys horrible deeds to his family and all around him. Just as the fire at Angel's old workplace reveals the nefarious practices of W&H.

Btvs meanwhile counters with the fire imagery of Spike almost getting burned or running around in daylight with a smoking jacket in numerous episodes. The burning of the Initiative or at least mention of it in Primeval. The consumption of Adams uranium heart by UberBuffy's flames.
The fire between Tara and Willow whenever they touch.

In Angel S2 - we get more images. Notably Angel setting Dru and Darla ablaze in Redefinition - an act that changes all the parties in some small way. The metaphor of walking through fire to save Darla in The Trial - all though it was more crosses and stakes. Darla stepping into the sunset to escape Angel's attempts to save her in Dear Boy. Holtz almost setting them both ablaze in numerous flashback sequences.

Meanwhile on Btvs S5 - the fire imagery continues. Spike's movements in daylight - when Riley holds him out in the sunlight in The Shadow, his running through daylight and into the magic box in IWMTLY. Buffy's interaction with the guide through a campfire in Intervention. Spike burning his hand again in Spiral and hurrying through sunlight to shelter. Spike having to risk burning his hands to retrieve the books of Ascension in WTOW. Riley blowing up the vamps with fire in Fool For Love as a reaction to Buffy. Buffy burning them out of their hideout in Into The Woods in reaction to Riley.

In Angel S3 - we have burn imagery with Holtz - who destroys the karoke bar with a grenade setting it ablaze.
Or in the flashbacks when he attempts to kill Darla and Angel and throws his own daughter newly sired outside to burn. When Connor burns Holtz's remains in Tomorrow.
Cordelia burns out the parasites as a cleansing act in The Price.

Buffy S6 - Dark Willow sends the burning ball of flame out to destroy Andrew and Warren. Spike fights a demon with burning hands, and gets burned on his heart and his hands as a result. Spike also receives a soul which seems to fill him with burning white light. The flames of the demon riders in Bargaining, when they attempt to burn down the town - showing a type of hell on earth. The flames in OMWF -when Buffy and the gang sing their passion. And how Spike stops Buffy from burning up, even though his feelings for her are literally consuming him. He sings - this torch I bear is scorching me, while she sings - I touch the fire and it freezes me. She's gone through the cleansing fire, now back on earth...it feels dead. Buffy has gone through a catharsis and is living proof that it is just the end of a chapter not the end of the journey. She also starts that burning love/desire doesn't cleanse so much as consume.
Passion without love ties us to hell. Passion with love, gentle, and caring, cleanses.

This concept is echoed in Angel S4 - where Angel is burned
by Gwen's electric kiss - she literally restarts his heart, but cannot strip his soul. Leave that act to EvilCordelia...
and Angel's own desires of family. Cordelia's passion corrupts Connor...Wes and Lilah's almost dooms them both.
Gunn and Fred's goes out like a blown out candle when Fred's priority becomes the flame of revenge. The Rain of Fire - consumes the evil of LA, oddly sparing the good.
The killing of the Ra-Tet, blocks the healing flames of the sun = depending on who you are. Yet the city gets set ablaze by looters and theives. We see in Ats, both the good and bad sides of fire - how it can consume or cleanse depending on the situtation. Mostly consume or not just painfully burn it seems.

While over on Btvs - it appears to be cleansing for a change, healing. Up until now it just consumed. It was fire bad, tree pretty. But now the imagery changes. To destroy the evil jacket in Him - the characters burn it. Spike shows his pain and remorse by burning himself on a cross.
Willow reveals the demonic energy in the school by doing a locator spell that burns Anya's rug. D'Hoffryn burns Halfrek to grant Anya's wish to undo the deaths of the frat boys, which also makes Anya human again - cleansed through Hallie of her demon. And of course the finale in Chosen,
where Spike burns the vampires, burns himself, and closes the hellmouth.

Fire is consistently used throughout, particularly with Spike and Angel. Be interesting to see if they continue with this imagery next year.

Not sure this added much. Got a bit burned out on remembering all the images towards the end.
Make of it what you will.

Great post, Random.

[> [> [> I am in awe. Amazing posts, Random & Sk. -- jane, 20:56:04 07/16/03 Wed

[> [> [> Thanks, s'kat. That was great. -- Random, 23:41:34 07/16/03 Wed

If I weren't so damned tired, I'd try to think of something coherent and/or lengthy to say. As it is, I think this is excellent stuff. I especially like the points about the Judge and the "reverse catharsis." What is truly ironic is that, in being purged of his soul, Angelus becomes afflicted once more, this time with the goodness that he had embodied as Angel. He becomes obsessed, vengeful, and this is what destroys him in the end. He could have killed Buffy in her sleep, but chooses torment and revenge. Perhaps this is an example of why evil can never offer true catharsis.

[> [> [> You've done it, s'kat! -- Rob, 10:04:36 07/17/03 Thu

You've finally convinced me that "Him" deserves a place in the Buffyverse. While before I had noticed the symbolism linkage between the jacket that makes everyone think RJ is cool and Spike's duster, your line--But now the imagery changes. To destroy the evil jacket in Him - the characters burn it.--has now completely convinced me that Him did indeed foreshadow and reflect the symbolism and plot of the seventh season. Huh. Maybe it isn't all about blood. Maybe it's about fire.


[> [> [> sparks -- Anneth, 11:08:13 07/17/03 Thu

Don't forget the number of times on BtVS that the word "spark" was used specifically to refer to a character's soul -

Spike in Beneath You

Warren to Jonathan in Seeing Red (Refers to him as "Mr. Sparky" at the point where Jonathan tells Buffy how to defeat Warren)

etc. I did a long post about this subject (sparks and fire imagery) earlier this year, arguing (IIRC) that the imagery was used to refer to the philosophical and emotional humanity present or absent in particular characters.

Beautiful posts, Ran and SK!

[> [> Saving for later -- lunasea, 10:31:05 07/17/03 Thu

Got lots to add about Samsara and Nirvana, but I want to take a shower so it will be remotely coherent. Might even look up a few sutras. I will also give the definition of Nirvana which ties to the Indian concept of a fire at the time Sid lived.

I would like to hear how Lindsey would fit into what you have said above.

Here's a prayer hoping that the Voynak had lunch so that this is still here when I get back.

[> [> Nirvana/Nibbana -- Diana, 19:33:54 07/17/03 Thu

Here is probably the most misunderstood concept in Buddhism, but your post made me think about it. In Sanskrit it is Nirvana. In Pali, which is what the Buddha actually spoke (similar to the relationship between Aramaic and Hebrew), the word is Nibbana. The text I am quoting is Theravadin, so it uses the Pali word.

The following is from an on-line publication called "Wings To Awakening" It is writen by the most honorable Thanissaro Bhikkhu. His publications are wonderful and I highly recommend them, if you are interested in learning about the suttas (sutras in Sanskrit)

The book can be found at: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/modern/thanissaro/wings/index.html#toc

I recommend Access to Insight for anyone who wants a good foundation in the teachings of the Tathagata.

The Buddha's choice of the word Unbinding (nibbana) -- which literally means the extinguishing of a fire -- derives from the way the physics of fire was viewed at his time. As fire burned, it was seen as clinging to its fuel in a state of entrapment and agitation. When it went out, it let go of its fuel, growing calm and free. Thus when the Indians of his time saw a fire going out, they did not feel that they were watching extinction. Rather, they were seeing a metaphorical lesson in how freedom could be attained by letting go.

[> [> Fascinating- thanks Random -- Tchaikovsky, 01:35:43 07/18/03 Fri

[> cjl's review of Angel Season 4 (fourth in an annoying occasional series) -- cjl (finally able to post), 09:47:28 07/17/03 Thu

The concept of "home," as in there's no place like plrtz glrb, or home is where the (Wolfram and) Hart is, or Papa was a rolling stone and wherever he laid his hat was his home, all come to mind when thinking about ANGEL S4--and perhaps the series as a whole. Ever since Minear blew our minds with The Prodigal back in Season 1, we've seen that Angel has been constantly searching and/or building a replacement for the home he destroyed in Galway: Darla, Buffy, and Cordy as substitute Moms, Giles and the Master as resented fathers, Dru, Willow and Fred as kid sisters, Spike, Xander, and Wes as competitive little brothers, and Connor as the son he never should have had.

How many times will it go around before Angel finally finds the home he gave Connor in the last five minutes of Season 4? Is it part of Angel's existential burden that he cannot rest while the world is still in motion, that he cannot give up the fight while there is a single wrong to be addressed, even in the midst of paradise (Jasmine)? Is he doomed to build a happy family, a happy home, again and again, and watch it fall into ruin, because the passions that drive him simply will not let him walk away? We saw, in the perfect world every man has in his mind, that if Angel had everything he ever wanted, he would still be fighting as a Champion, still defending humanity, still trying to prove himself to the father who won't stay dead, who rises in the morning above Los Angeles and sends his unworthy child scurrying into the shadows. Angel now has the power to bend the universe to his will as the head of Wolfram and Hart (L.A.), but it doesn't do him (or the world) any good if he simply repeats the pattern, and destroys his latest home in the next battle in the never-ending War.

On to the season 4 review: A wild roller coaster of a season, jumping out of the gate with yet another strong opener, slowing down a bit as the cast reassembles under the familiar roof of the Hyperion, then (from "Supersymmetry" on) plunges off the edge and doesn't stop until we all hit the ground after "Home." As Shadowkat has said, it's one of the most tightly plotted serial storylines in ME history--and yet, there are disturbing logical lapses, especially around mid-season. (Not enough to ruin the season, but disturbing, nonetheless.) Down the stretch, ME turns lemon into lemonade, transforming Charisma's pregnancy into the Jasmine arc. I'm a little leery about the "anti-Dawn" effect at season's end, but we'll have to wait and see...

The episodes:

DEEP DOWN - Joss Whedon gives Steven DeKnight a promotion, a raise, and a "simple" assignment: write the season premiere of Angel and convince the skeptics who thought "Tomorrow" was (let's be nice here) unsatisfying that ME still knows what it's doing. And damned if DeKnight doesn't pull it off. Fred and Gunn work as a couple for the first time in--well, ever; Vincent Kartheiser is brilliant as the traitor in their midst impersonating a sullen teenager; and Wes and Lilah are all but indescribable. (What do YOU think about when you see a bucket these days?) Kudos to David Boreanaz for making the speech at the end sound like an actual Mission Statement instead of empty posturing, and cheers to Amy Acker for bringing back Angry Fred. (Ooh, I like Angry Fred.) The opening dream sequence is doubly heartbreaking when you consider the season closer. (Grade: 9.5 out of 10.)

GROUND STATE - Introducing Alexa Davalos as Gwen Raiden, and ME finally gets the electrified Catwoman of its dreams. (Hey, every detective/adventure series needs a slinky, seductive thief to give it a bit of glamour and style.) With the Axis of Pythias as the MacGuffin of the Day, Angel and what's left of his crew regain their focus, and start the task of reuniting the Fang Gang. Above average caper plot, with interesting diversions into Fred and Gunn's relationship, and the second straight funny-as-Heaven Cordelia capper. (Take a good look at her, folks; we might never see her again.) (Grade: 7.5 out of 10.)

THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS - The concert sequences with Andy Hallett and the Vegas ambience are delicious; you can almost get drunk breathing the atmosphere of Lorne's dressing room. But Fury is sloppy here, and the not-so-secondary plot--the very serious business of Angel and his destiny-gets swamped under by silly chase sequences, OOC moments from Suspicious!Gunn, and offhand comments about Elvis and Priscilla that don't fit in anybody's version of Angel's life. (Bonus points for Amy Acker as a Lornette.) Should have been better. (Grade: 6.5 out of 10.)

SLOUCHING TOWARD BETHLEHEM - Something of a piece with Spin the Bottle, as we see what Angel Investigations might look like to a (relative) outsider, and a chance to shake up an audience who's accepted the innate weirdness of Joss' universe without question. I like all the activity around the periphery of the frame, and Charisma conveys Cordy's sense of confusion with sufficient urgency--but the plot is just way too thin. Wes and Lilah are developing into the Nick and Nora Charles from Hell, but even their gamesmanship can't save this one. (Grade: 7 out of 10.)

SPIN THE BOTTLE - Funny ep, but this isn't first-rate Joss. (Maybe he's simply not as in tune with the Fang Gang as he is with Buffy and the Scoobs.) Great laughs from Dork!Wesley, Stoner!Fred, Vamp!Liam--the bit in the bathroom had me rolling--and Lorne's amazing nightclub narrative/between-song patter should prove to TCH that our man in green has a bright future after Greenwalt. But besides the tiny dab of seasonal arc at the beginning and end, and the confrontation between Liam and Connor in the kitchen, it's very much a standalone--the episode doesn't echo as we move further into the season. In the end, we get Wes back with the gang, and that's about it. "Spin the Bottle" feels like a diversion; it should cut much deeper, but it doesn't. (Grade: 7.5 out of 10.)

SUPERSYMMETRY - Welcome, Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain. My first episode after 17 days in a Joss-less Europe, and what a treat. Not entirely on board with Seidel as evil mastermind (how he could manipulate Fred into reading the book without her realizing he was behind it?), but I'll let it pass. Juiciest character development for Fred and Gunn since their arrivals, both as individuals and as a couple. (They've misread each other for the entire length of the relationship, and the results are tragic.) As a bonus, we get Angel's holographic memory, the comic book store ("chatty rooms," indeed), the Wes/Fred conspiracy, and-how could I forget--a cold-blooded murder by one of the regulars. After two light meals, a dish with real meat. (Grade: 9 out of 10.)

APOCALYPSE NOW-ISH - The final battle has to be one the dumbest action sequences I've ever seen on a Joss Whedon show: it's obvious from the get-go that The Beast is much tougher than the average demon, and the guys' minor-league hardware just won't cut it. Yeah, it LOOKS cool, with all the John Woo-style slo-mo weapons fire, but ultimately pointless. Looking back, The Beast is something of an enigma in this episode. Why does he bring down the Rain of Fire? Why does he choose that particular night club in the center of L.A.? (There's a bit of wry social commentary hidden in there, about the apocalypse rising from the bodies of the sybaritic rich--but nothing ever comes of it.) Is it all just a distraction so a Jasminized Cordy could pull a Jocasta and give Connor his ultimate fantasy? This episode does a great job building tension with scenes of the natural world gone wild, and I appreciate that Gunn has a "Xander moment" and solves the puzzle; but taken in context of the rest of the season, it's gone down a few notches in my estimation. Now that I'm no longer baffled by Connor/Cordy, I can examine the episode as a whole more objectively, and the other scenes don't hold up as well. (Double bonus points for Lilah playing dress-up: "No--keep them on." Thud.) (Grade: 8 out of 10.)

HABEAS CORPSES - In many ways, a haunted house episode, just like "The Price" in Season 3--only done about a million times better. Once we've gotten over the shock that absolutely everybody in Wolfram and Hart is dead, dead, dead, we can lean back and enjoy ME's completely unironic salute to Resident Evil. Other highlights: Lilah, after proudly displaying her "I'm an evil bitch--ask me how!" button in the first half of the ep, adds a few more shades of gray to her pallet when she tells Wes that Connor is still in the building; we get the priceless Angel/Connor exchange about vampires and zombies, the only time in the series when Kartheiser and Boreanaz get to do the funny while in character; there's vintage Wes/Gunn bonding; and there's the not-so-tragic (un)death of Gavin Park, who went out with as little dignity as when he came in. (Rest in pieces, Gavin.) Looking back, this is also the only time when one of the Beast's patented rampages made perfect sense, and the finale of this episode and Gunn's W&H tour in "Home" make me curious about the White Room and its ultimate purpose. Isn't Season 5 here yet? (Grade: 8.5 out of 10.)

LONG DAY'S JOURNEY - Again, the Beast's tactics in this episode don't make a heck of a lot of sense in the overall picture, but this time, I don't care. Mere Smith piles on the mystical/comic book mumbo jumbo like a triple-decker chocolate pudding cake (the Beast, the Ra-Tet, Electro-girl, Eternal Darkness, etc., etc.) but somehow manages to keep everyone in character in the midst of the insanity, and even gives us Manny for good measure. Even though I love this episode, I must echo the cry of millions of Angel fans when Wesley suggests bringing back Angelus: WORST. PLAN. EVER. (Bonus points for the Beast knocking on Connor's door. You gotta love an apocalyptic demon with manners.) (Grade: 8.5 out of 10.)

AWAKENING - A one-joke episode, but it's a great joke. (Gets a big laugh at the end.) A wickedly funny tour-de-force, combining a can't-miss, high-concept premise, David Fury's snarky sense of humor, and Steven DeKnight's faultless grasp of character. Near perfect. (Grade: 9.5 out of 10.)

[Side note: ME plays an interesting game with us and Angel here, with Wo Pang providing a sort of mystical Rorschach Test: hypnotize someone and while they're under, ask them to describe a perfect day, the day when all the problems in your life are solved, and you can finally come up for air. What would it be like? We dive deep into Angel's head in this episode, deeper than we've ever gone before, and we find that, at the core--he's a cheeseball. (But that's why we love him.) However, there's a less pleasant side to Angel's Best Day Ever. In his fantasy, Angel never changes the way HE relates to the world; he's still the vampire with a soul, the Dark Avenger, the People's Champion who's working on the "people" part. In order to achieve that one moment of perfection, he twists everybody else to his way of thinking. Once he's completely remade his friends and family, he gets his big "O" moment, and Angelus emerges. Think about it--what happens in "Home"? Doesn't he twist his friends and family to his way of thinking? Isn't it Angel's fantasy transposed onto the real world? If so, what does this portend for Season 5?]

SOULLESS - More "character demolition" than "character exploration," as Angelus methodically destroys his teammates' fragile psyches in an textbook example of psychological manipulation. Boreanaz looks like he's having more fun than he's had in years as he plays with the rest of the Fang Gang like Miss Kitty Fantastico with a big old ball of twine. More fun, as Watcher Wes finally gets his shot at the big time and Gunn finally works up to full boil. However, there are problems: 1) I can't believe Angelus would even consider taking Cordy's offer (he's supposed to be smart, remember?), and 2) the explanation for Angelus' decided lack of memory loss is astonishingly inept. He's immune to the Beastly hocus pocus because technically, he didn't exist at the time? Are you sure you want to stick with that story, Joss? (Grade: 8 out of 10.)

CALVARY - In retrospect, a brilliant display of sleight-of-hand by Cordelia and the writers; the explanation for why Lorne reads Angel's soul is perfectly simple and logical, and yet, I never would have guessed it in a million years. Again, excellent work by Boreanaz--his Angelus-playing-Angel is every bit as good as his Angel-playing-Angelus ("Enemies"), maybe better. Love and hate ME for teasing us with Lilah, alone and out of options, reluctantly joining up with the Fang Gang the way Spike joined the Scoobies in "Pangs." Will they join forces on a permanent basis? Does Wesley and Lilah's forbidden love actually have a chance? And then they stick the knife in. (Thanks a lot, guys.) Logical lapses: why does Cordelia kill Lilah, and specifically with the Beast's sacrificial knife? It may have been a ritual of some sort, but it's never discussed after Rocky bites the dust. (A frame job? If so, it's a bad one.) And are we ever going to get an explanation as to why the Beast poked a hole in Lilah's tummy? (Grade: 8 out of 10.)

SALVAGE - Almost nothing in this episode works. Wesley's final goodbye to Lilah is halting and awkward, with a tenth of the emotional impact we deserved from these scenes. Angelus is almost completely out of character, hanging with demonic half-wits like a drunken frat boy, and passing up a chance at a hearty meal to check out if the Slayer's in town. (What's next? He's about to rip out another heart from a local shop girl and his beeper goes off?) Angelus stabs the Beast with his own knife (confirming Rocky as the stupidest ME villain ever, passing Harmony by a mile), and lets a patch of daylight keep him from killing a helpless Faith. (This is the criminal genius whose nefarious presence haunts our every nightmare? I am deeply shamed.) But when Faith and Wesley are on screen together, all these problems fade away into the night. From the minute they come face-to-face on opposite sides of the plexiglass, they're mesmerizing, both wearing new personae, but with their volatile history together playing just underneath the surface. Wes and Lilah push each other, tease each other, test each other, and it's a Faith fan's dream come true. I can almost forgive Fury for everything else. Almost. (Grade: 7 out of 10.)

RELEASE - With Faith as the focus, the writing snaps back to form, and this episode sizzles with laser-sharp characterization: Connor's crush on the Slayer and Cordelia's Level 1 crisis management response; Wesley's Dark Watcher tactics, pushing Faith to the limit and testing to see if the old homicidal Slayer is still in there; and Angelus' taunt-a-thon and cliffhanger attempted siring. [Small point: When you consider this episode and most of Orpheus, a new viewer (what are those?) might come to the conclusion that Angel is a character in Faith's TV series, and not the other way around. Not that I'm complaining, but I wonder if--and why--ME planned it that way.] (Grade: 8 out of 10.)

ORPHEUS/PLAYERS/INSIDE OUT - I've already run through these episodes twice on the board, and I'm not going to bore everybody with a third time around. See my reviews in TCH's Angel Odyssey if you need the full story. (Orpheus: 7.5 out of 10. Players: 8.5 out of 10. Inside Out: 7 out of 10.)

SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE - Contrary to popular opinion--that the Jasmine arc is a little slow coming out of the box (yes, it's a baseball metaphor)--I find the first half of SHP as enchanting as a fairy tale. Jasmine, the night-blooming angel, descends to Earth and tells everyone a story about how the world was and how it's meant to be. We in the audience are suspicious (and we have every right to be) but Gina Torres' relaxed demeanor, stately presence and calming voice sort of lull us into a pleasant quasi-suspension of disbelief--and that sets up the whammy in the second half. To be honest, I think the SECOND half of the episode is the problem. For someone who was stark raving nuts in Pylea for five years, Fred composes herself in remarkably short order after she sees Jasmine's true face. (I concede that maybe I'm not giving our Winifred enough credit.) Also, couldn't ME have thought up a more dramatic way for Fred to absorb infected blood? Scrubbing a bloody shirt lacks impact--but maybe that's just me. (Grade: 7.5 out of 10.)

THE MAGIC BULLET - A magnificent pop culture essay on faith and paranoia, melding the Beach Boys, the Kennedy assassination, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with the Magic Bullet bookstore itself standing in as the swirling nexus of the disparate belief systems in play. The only weak spot is Fred's trip down the rabbit hole and her discussion/fight with the "executive" demon. I realize there are shadows of her old days back in Pylea and Bell is toying with the idea that SHE'S the demon now, skulking around in the sewers--but the demon just looks lame, and her realization about the blood isn't much of a payoff for a battle scene. Otherwise, a blast from end-to-end, and Open Mike night at the Hyperion is a funny (and chilling) scene for the ages. (Grade: 9.5 out of 10)

SACRIFICE - First shot at a full script for cartoon legend and Connoisseur of Weird Ben Edlund, and he doesn't disappoint. There are some dropped balls (the Lost Boys angle doesn't work nearly as well as I would have hoped), but Edlund has all of the regulars in proper voice, and when the Insect Demon pops up, we get a taste of what the man is REALLY all about. The Flesh Sculptor is classic Edlund: a bizarre, outlandish character with its own idiosyncratic world view, who nonetheless draws in the audience almost immediately. We feel the creature's pain, we almost admire its artistic efforts (tongue-ripping aside) and we're interested in its point of view about Jasmine and the Nature of Names. The Sculptor and its secrets carry us up to the ending, which is genuinely moving--the Free Will Gang pulls together one last time to sacrifice itself so Angel can continue the fight. (Grade: 8 out of 10.)

PEACE OUT - This is Angel at his most flat-out heroic, battling impossible odds to save the world and more importantly, to save his son. His olive branch to Jasmine at the end is easily the most gracious gesture I've ever seen from him in either series; I've never been prouder of him and it gives you faith that Angel can one day achieve humanity. The fact that Angel contradicts virtually everything he does in this episode in "Home" doesn't diminish his triumph. (Moral ambiguity rules!) As usual, we get a serviceable Acts I - III from Fury and the story takes off into the stratosphere when DeKnight steps in. TCH, I'm beginning to see your point. (Grade: 8.5 out of 10.)

HOME - And so we come full circle. The father will kill the son. The prophecy is complete, and the book is closed on Connor. (Or is it?) We start the season with Angel at the bottom of the ocean, carrying nothing in the world but his principles, and we end the season with Angel as the leader of an absurdly powerful corporation, yet abandoning his principles to give happiness to his only son. Amazing. This episode is a quantum leap over last season's finale. I realize many people liked "Tomorrow," but most of the questions raised by that finale were questions of plot: how and when is Angel going to be rescued? Where is Cordelia going, and is she ever coming back? "Home" asks the tougher, philosophical questions: Has Angel gained the whole world only to lose his soul (metaphorically speaking, that is)? Has he betrayed his carefully cultivated Kantian ethics, or have we underestimated Angel's moral flexibility? Has he been corrupted by Wolfram and Hart, or is the deal for Connor's happiness just one of the moral compromises we all make during the course of our lives? And what the heck's the deal with Gunn and that panther? (OK, that's a plot point.) So many questions, and only 22 episodes to get the answers. Oh yes, and Spike is coming too. Can't wait. (Grade: 9.5 out of 10.)

Let's sum up, shall we?

Deep Down - 9.5
Ground State - 7.5
THAW - 6.5
Slouching - 7
Spin/Bottle - 7.5
Supersymmetry - 9
Rain of Fire - 8
Habeus Corpses - 8.5
Long Day's - 8.5
Awakening - 9.5
Soulless - 8
Calvary - 8
Salvage - 7
Release - 8
Orpheus - 7.5
Players - 8.5
Inside Out - 7
SHP - 7.5
Magic Bullet - 9.5
Sacrifice - 8
Peace Out - 8.5
Home - 9.5

[> [> Some answers to questions that don't seem that hard to me -- KdS, 10:04:47 07/17/03 Thu

What was the Beast up to?

He probably didn't know (as one suspects his death would have been the climax of the plan), but Cordelia/Jasmine was softening up the world for Jasmine's arrival by ensuring that she would come as a Saviour from near-Apocalypse.

Why did the Beast stick his finger into Lilah?

Because he saw a woman obviously in a position of authority, assumed she was Mesektet and went looking for her totem.

[> [> [> 'Give momma some sugar' and other musings on the Cordy/Beast/Jasmine question -- cjl, 11:30:12 07/17/03 Thu

The relationship between Cordy, Jasmine and the Beast is one of those grey areas during Season 4 that tends to hurt the more I think about it. Give a simple explanation--Jasmine is the Savior!--and I'm fine. Dig deep into questions of motivation and practicality, and we're in trouble. Let's look at a number of possible motivations for the Rain of Fire and some of the other bizarre events in the middle of S4:

1. THE BIG DISTRACTION. The Rain of Fire and all the other disasters sent Team Angel scrambling like rats for half the season, and kept them from seeing the real danger incubating under their very noses. If you buy this theory, Jasmine (or Cordy-as-Jasmine) wanted the Fang Gang to bring out Angelus so Angel wouldn't organize the group and take out Cordelia prematurely. (If Willow didn't intervene, Jasmine herself would have converted Angelus back to Angel, and the events of "Shiny Happy People" onward would have unfolded as told.)

The distraction theory only works, though, if you absolutely insist that Cordelia had to be with the Fang Gang at all times. Look at it this way: if Jasmine has been the power behind the power of everything that's happened to Angel and crew since (at least) The Trial, her manipulations have been SUBTLE. The rain of fire, blotting out the sun and all the other catastrophes were anything but. C-as-J could have achieved the same results by precipitating a small, domestic crisis within the FG, manipulating Connor into bed, and then DISAPPEARING FOR TWO MONTHS. (It's not like she hasn't disappeared before.) Cordelia could have bid her friends a tearful goodbye (saying she's stressed-out, "confused" and "betrayed" by her teammates and the PTB), then vanished to a mountain retreat somewhere, and given birth to Jasmine quietly, without Angel nearly decapitating her on delivery. They wouldn't have even known Cordelia was pregnant.

The Big Distriction, on the other hand, drew a lot of unwanted attention anyway, and Angel nearly stopped the birth of Jasmine in both Players and Inside Out. (Side note: Angel's decision to kill Cordy in I/O should have been one of the most dramatic moments of the season, but Jeff Bell underplayed it. Odd.)

Of course, if C-as-J went the quiet route, we wouldn't have had Charisma Carpenter around at all. (No comments, please.)

2. JASMINE AS SAVIOR. This was hinted at during the cocktail party in Players, but it was never emphasized. When Jasmine came on the scene in SHP, Joss and Co. emphasized that she was rescuing the populace of L.A. from the general miseries of the Human Condition, not from the badness of the previous ten episodes. It would have made things a lot easier for everyone watching if Jasmine took credit for saving humanity from the crises she created, but that would have tipped her not-so-pure intentions to the audience, and ME decided not to go there. A solid theory, but I'm not entirely convinced.

3. THE UNIVERSE HAS RULES. Given the ritualistic nature of the summoning of the rain of fire, Lilah's murder, the blotting out of the sun, and the virgin sacrifice, I had the vague impression for awhile that all of these "ceremonies" were necessary preludes to the birth of Jasmine--that is, she physically could not have entered the universe without these events coming to pass. However, once Jasmine herself arrived, the whole sequence of events was dismissed as "birth pains" and the issue was dropped. I think this particular theory might have worked better than the other two, but we're never gonna know.

What does everybody else think? What works, 1, 2, or 3? A combo platter? Or are we just going to have to accept a certain discontuity between the middle of the season and the final arc and move on with our lives?

And as for The Beast mistaking Lilah for Mektet--I'd buy that, except old Rocky didn't make any other mistakes during his quest for the orbs of the Ra-tet. He may not have been bright, but he was generally accurate. If he wasn't, momma would have been angry, and he wouldn't get any sugar....

[> [> [> [> Re: I'll take what's behind the curtain, cjl. -- aliera, 11:49:46 07/17/03 Thu

My sense was we were supposed to believe that it was all necessary for the manipulation of the Gang. Not going to touch the "did it work" question.

You could do a whole subthread on riffs off combo-platter BTW. ;-)

[> [> [> [> I think it's probably... -- Rob, 11:54:49 07/17/03 Thu

Mostly #3, with perhaps a dash of #1. Actually, thinking about it, I like #2 the best, but I don't know how strongly it was supported by the text. Or perhaps. Maybe just the fact that all these horrible occurences happened, and then Jasmine appeared and made everything great was the key. Even though it wasn't expressly stated that she was taking credit for fixing bad situations she herself had created, I don't think the implication is so out there. After all the torture the L.A.-ites had gone through, the subtext is definitely there. Even if she didn't outwardly announce that she had saved everybody from these things.

Okay, here's what I think...I think ;o) :

I think that mainly it's #2. I think all of that was far too huge to just be a diversion, but it did work as a diversion. Thus the "dash of #1". I think, also though that the idea of necessary "labor pains" may have been possible too. It really could be a combination of all three. The rituals were necessary, and suited her purposes, in every respect, to a T...or is that a J?


[> [> [> [> [> Possibly. But #2 has a lot of the same problems as #1.... -- cjl, 12:09:53 07/17/03 Thu

The events from AN/RoF on drew too much attention to themselves. Jasmine may have wanted to act as the Savior of Humankind, but the flashy, apocalyptic disasters almost got her killed before she was even born. A quiet, uneventful birth wouldn't have changed much: she still would have been greeted as Humanity's Savior, even without the disasters she created.

[> [> [> [> [> [> True. *sigh* -- Rob, anxiously waiting for Cordy to wake up and clarify!, 12:25:54 07/17/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> none of the above--the 'hal' option -- anom, 23:01:44 07/20/03 Sun

Here's the cynical view: The rain of fire & the sun's being blotted out were there so something would be happening during the mid-season. Yes, other plot developments were based on them (well, not really on the rain of fire so much), but that was more of the same: stuff that could happen so something would be happening. Vampires feeding at any hour they pleased, Angel's little pub visit...even he couldn't find anything to do once he finally got out into the darkened LA. Eh.

The "HAL option" is a reference to the 2nd time I saw 2001, maybe 15 years after it 1st came out. This time around I realized that the whole HAL-killing-the-crew deal was there basically so something would be happening between the launch of the ship & Dave's lightshow journey. Sure, they made it entertaining, but that time around, at least, it looked to me like "mostly filler," heresy though this may be. (But I'd be happy to have OnM or some other connoisseur talk me out of this view...cynicism's no fun! Just don't try to convince me that lunar transport near the beginning had any means of propulsion. Yes, I know I set myself up for disappointment by wanting movies to get the science right...>sigh<.)

"Given the ritualistic nature of the summoning of the rain of fire, Lilah's murder, the blotting out of the sun, and the virgin sacrifice, I had the vague impression for awhile that all of these "ceremonies" were necessary preludes to the birth of Jasmine--that is, she physically could not have entered the universe without these events coming to pass."

Yeah, it did look that way. It still looks that way to me for the virgin sacrifice. But I didn't think that was true of Lilah's murder. As I said earlier (but lower...I think) in this thread, I think Lilah's murder was to lure Angelus to the Beast so he could propose Cordelia's deal. The only thing about the murder that seemed ritualistic was the use of the Beast-bone knife to kill Lilah.

"However, once Jasmine herself arrived, the whole sequence of events was dismissed as birth pains and the issue was dropped."

Does that mean it was true? Or was it just a convenient thing to tell the believers? After all, they were eager for an explanation that would make them feel better. Once Jasmine arrived, they weren't looking to question such things...unlike us!

[> [> Agree with almost everything. Great review! -- Rob, 10:28:21 07/17/03 Thu

[> [> Re: More than worth the wait. -- aliera, 10:48:25 07/17/03 Thu

[> [> A 'yay' for cjl too! And great side note on Awakening... mmm, brain food -- ponygirl, 11:05:49 07/17/03 Thu

[> [> Supersymmetry, Cordy, and Physics -- dmw, 06:33:54 07/19/03 Sat

What most impressed me about Supersymmetry was that the physics was right down to the equations on the blackboard in the background being taken accurately from modern particle physics. This kind of accurate detail is incredibly rare in SF so it was wonderful to see it here.

While I loved the season for the most part, it did have one great flaw: Cordelia's arc. You've mentioned some of the logical problems with the great plan, but I think it's also important that Cordelia didn't work for me as a Big Bad, or even as a surrogate Big Bad. Like Angel said, the boomy evil voice wasn't more over the top than terrifying and Cordy's evil maternity wear added to that impression of absurdity.

[> Preserving, preserving... -- Random, 19:20:26 07/17/03 Thu

[> [> Me too! -- Rob (who won't let Ran take all the preserving credit ;o) ), 23:29:28 07/18/03 Fri

[> wow! tch + random + shadowkat + cjl = quadruple kaboom!!!! & all in 1 thread--isn't that overload? -- anom, 23:01:43 07/19/03 Sat

[> wait--in a thread titled 'homer,' quadruple kaboom = grand slam! -- anom, 11:56:49 07/20/03 Sun

I wanted to answer a few things from each of the KABOOM posts, & include a favorite line or two from each. (OK, it ended up being more than a few.)
TCH, leading off:
Favorite lines: Your poem. And "li-la-li" (heh)! And, OK, can't leave this out: "...just by his facial expression, a crumbling old castle, once again losing its reason for being fortified,..."

About the panther (jaguar?) in the White Room, I don't think there's much of a parallel w/the puma Buffy saw in Intervention. The puma seemed like a means to an end (leading Buffy to the spirit guide), but the panther seemed more like the end in itself.

"...we see that what Wesley wants for Lilah cannot be inflicted upon her without her will."

Except I don't think she has a choice anymore. I'm not sure if the sadness in her expression as she watches the contract (not) burn is more for herself or more for Wes.

"After Angel inflicted free will on the world, like it or not,..."

Heh--this reminds me of a televised talk I saw by Isaac Bashevis Singer, given to the students of a parochial school. One of them asked if he believed in free will or predestination. He said even if someone thinks they believe in predestination, if they're crossing a street & see a truck coming at them, they don't stand there thinking, "Oh well, I guess I'm predestined to be killed by this truck"--they try to run & get out of its path. Singer concluded, "So you see, we have to believe in free will--we have no choice!"

Great point about the contrast btwn. the individual decisions to get in that limo & Angel's making the decision to accept the offer for all of them. (Of course, each of them still has the choice to quit.)

"tribestial company"--I like that!

'Flames wouldn't be eternal if they actually consumed anything'.

The 1st thing this brings to my mind (hey, I'm Jewish--what do you expect?) is the burning bush that's not consumed. But I can't make any connection btwn. that & the scene in question...anyone else have any ideas? On the other hand, the "eternal flame" in the Hebrew Temple did consume fuel, which was added every evening & morning.
Up next, Random:

"Forget about power. It's about catharsis. Who gets it? Who doesn't? The list of good characters who achieve it is short, but still far longer than the evil ones."

Wow. An amazing insight, Random. Would you say that for Buffyverse characters, it's impossible to achieve catharsis without a soul?

And I'm not sure we can forget about power--not completely, anyway. Power often gives us the means to avoid, or at least postpone, catharsis. For the characters you named as examples, it's only when they face the limits of their power that they're open to catharsis. Faith, for all her physical power, lacks the emotional strength to go on as she has. Darla, again in spite of her physical power, can't overcome her undead body's inability to give birth to Connor. And Willow, for all her magickal power, can't bring Tara back from death and can't heal her own pain. No, it's not about power, but power can't be ignored either.

"Angel does save Connor...but he rips away from him not just his free-will but his chance to truly achieve something, to heal himself."

Always the case in the absence of free will. Even if you appear to have achieved something, if you didn't do it of your own free will, it's not real. The real Connor didn't earn that scholarship--it's as false as his supposed healing by giving up his pain to Jasmine.

"What Wesley is truly attempting is almost exactly parallel to what Angel did to Connor. He attempts to give Lilah salvation because catharsis is impossible."

I'm not sure he's trying to give her either of these, but rather simply release. (I was hoping there might be a connection to the ep w/that title, but that's actually the 1st one she doesn't appear in. Maybe she appears to have been released, although we find out later she hasn't?) Great quote from Eckhardt--I think I've seen it before, but I have no idea where (haven't seen Jacob's Ladder).

"The flames don't burn Lilah because she cannot release her past."

I'd make a distinction here: I think they do burn her, but they can't consume her. That's why she continues to burn. She says in the beginning of Home that she's come back from hell...maybe she gets a reprieve from the burning during her post-death duties for W&H. I'll be looking to see if she tries to find excuses to keep her tour of duty from ending too soon in S5!

"So long as she holds onto her desires - and the profoundly tragic insight here is that she no longer has a choice in whether to do so...."


"I'll be very interested to see how the shanshu plays out. It strikes me as more a cathartic concept than a soteriological one."

Could you elaborate? I can see how, metaphorically, catharsis can bring us back to our humanity--is that what you mean? Angel seems to think of it as something he can achieve or earn, but this sounds different.

And "soteriological"? That's a new one on me (& here I thought I was large w/the vocab!). Had to go look it up: soteriology is defined (at m-w.com) as "theology dealing with salvation especially as effected by Jesus Christ." Strangely, the root soter means not only "savior" but "preserver" & also appears in creosote! ...which breaks down into roots meaning preserver of flesh--interesting contrast w/a savior of souls.
Stepping into the batter's box, shadowkat:

Lots of wows. This is an amazing compendium. Love your contrasting of the use of fire/burning on Buffy & on Angel each season.

Favorite lines: "Yet it is Buffy and Angel's act of lovemaking that truly burns Angel - cleansing the monster of its humanity, its soul - 'freeing the soul' from it's life on earth and leaving the monsterous entity in its wake - an ironic inverse (?) of Random's point, perhaps."


"The rest of the season's arc in a sense deals with whether Angelus can fully cleanse himself of the taint of his humanity, reach catharsis - the conclusion? Apparently not."

Wow again.

"...hmmm has it struck anyone else how odd it is that so many of Buffy's dreams of Angel have him standing with her in sunlight?"

Not so odd, considering her dreams are the only place this can happen....

"Being half-human the device's fire consumes Doyle just as he shuts it off. Much like the Judge's fire consumed humans. Doyle is set free."

It occurs to me that it may be the other way around. Doyle had already found his freedom in his decision to sacrifice himself & become a hero. And if the fire consumes his human half, which aspect of him is freed?

Let me add one more example from S6: Buffy suggests burning her house down for the insurance money to get out of debt, & adds, "Plus, fire? Pretty!" If I can take a stab at interpreting this, it could be another example of fire burning away what attaches her to earth. The house & its associated expenses are trapping Buffy, costing her money by just sitting there. Burning it down could free her from them...except it's hard to disguise arson, & the insurance co. probably wouldn't pay. You ask if "Fire bad, tree pretty" is true in GD II...maybe Buffy's wrong both times?

And if Buffy had her earthly attachments burned away when she died, what must it be like to be pulled back? Does it hurt as much as having them burned away? More? (Is this burning away what we see as Buffy falls after her jump from the tower? The lightning imagery, the pain on her face, the serene expression once it's over?)
And batting cleanup, cjl:

Favorite lines: "...still trying to prove himself to the father who won't stay dead, who rises in the morning above Los Angeles and sends his unworthy child scurrying into the shadows." (I know I'm repeating myself, but Wow.) "...you can almost get drunk breathing the atmosphere of Lorne's dressing room." "Wes and Lilah are developing into the Nick and Nora Charles from Hell...." "Thud." "Faith and Wesley are...mesmerizing, both wearing new personae, but with their volatile history together playing just underneath the surface."

"The final battle has to be one the dumbest action sequences I've ever seen on a Joss Whedon show: it's obvious from the get-go that The Beast is much tougher than the average demon, and the guys' minor-league hardware just won't cut it."

Yeah. And the dumbest thing in it is the gang, not catching on to that. I was yelling at Wes as he fired the shotgun, "Don't walk right up to him!" And I would've like to see someone at least try to pull some of the bodies away to break up the ritual pattern while the Beast was dealing w/one of the others.

"Logical lapses: why does Cordelia kill Lilah, and specifically with the Beast's sacrificial knife?"

I thought it was to lead Angelus to the Beast for Cordelia's employment offer w/the smell of Lilah's blood on it. Only thing that makes sense to me. Now, having the Beast make the knife of his own bones in the 1st place is all too obviously a setup for killing him w/it, & I don't think the writers provided enough independent justification for it.

"Wesley's final goodbye to Lilah is halting and awkward, with a tenth of the emotional impact we deserved from these scenes."

I thought the halting awkwardness was what gave it the emotional impact. Wes' take-charge/cynical armor is stripped away, & this is what's underneath. Agree about everything else about this ep, though.

"For someone who was stark raving nuts in Pylea for five years, Fred composes herself in remarkably short order after she sees Jasmine's true face. (I concede that maybe I'm not giving our Winifred enough credit.)"

I'm sure there were plenty of times she had to dissemble while tempted to panic in Pylea. And she did survive there for 5 years, nuts as she was--her experience there might have stood her in good stead when she saw the real Jasmine.

"His olive branch to Jasmine at the end is easily the most gracious gesture I've ever seen from him in either series; I've never been prouder of him and it gives you faith that Angel can one day achieve humanity."

Absolutely agree.

"The fact that Angel contradicts virtually everything he does in this episode in 'Home' doesn't diminish his triumph. (Moral ambiguity rules!)"

With this too.

And finally, taking this just a bit O/T, I couldn't help noticing how you worked this in:

"Mere Smith piles on the mystical/comic book mumbo jumbo like a triple-decker chocolate pudding cake...."

That the kind you want for your ATPo birthday party, cjl? @>)
Yep, grand slam for our 4 phee-noms. Fantastic thread.

[> [> Not to destroy the baseball metaphor but- make that five! -- Tchaikovsky, 16:50:52 07/20/03 Sun

Brilliant post. This thread is probably my favourite Odyssey thread ever, cos genius in pretty much every reply.

Just a quick few ripostes:

-Thanks for that about my poem. I never know whether to post any poetry- it seems even more self-indulgent than usual, but it tied into the idea of 'Home' for me. And Rah set off that 'li-la-li' thing.

-You're probably quite right about the panther. Having re-watched 'Home', it's clear the cat in 'Intervention' is guiding the journey to the First Slayer, with whom Buffy identifies, while it seems that Gunn is identifying with the cat itself. The animalistic association troubles me a little- as much as I like an enigma, I really hope they clarify well what the panther is supposed to represent and not leave the accidental undertones lurking through Season Five.

-The Wesley/Angel parallel is a beauty- Wesley can't transform Lilah's life, but Angel does transform Connor's- ironically with Lilah's (compromising) help. However, there is that irony that the eternal flame of her devotion to Wolfram and Hart may not have been what she wanted- particularly considering her temptation towards good in 'Calvary'.

-Very interesting idea on the Burning Bush, which I hadn't considered. God's love, his strength for Abraham and Moses' people isn't just the average, terrestrial burning that would presumably be common in Egypt, but instead something more powerful- eternal and celestial. So we have Lilah with Wolfram and Hart? Possibly? Seeming a bit of a stretch. Later in the Bible (though not the Tenach of course), echoing the idea of flames, we get the Holy Spirit with tongues of fire, alighting on people and giving them tongues, but not burning them. Maybe it's not that Lilah's flame consuming nothing is a false image, but that it is a celestial image- one that can only be understood after death.

OK, now we get back to poetry, but this time not mine- here's Bianco de Siena with one of my favourite hymn verses- it speaks to me as an agnostic in a way much of the Christian liturgy doesn't- and as a ten-year serving chorister, those moments feel like pure platinum.

Come down, O love divine
Seek thou this soul of mine
And visit it with thine own ardour glowing.
O, Comforter, draw near,
Within my heart appear,
And kindle it thy holy flame bestowing.

So let it freely burn
Til earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming.
And let thy glorious light
Shine ever on thy sight
And clothe me round the while my path illuming

Let holy charity
Mine outward vesture be
And lowliness become mine inner clothing.
True lowliness of heart
Which takes the hubler part
And o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

And so the yearning strong
With which the soul shall long
Shall far outpass the power of human telling
For none can guess its grace
Til he become the place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.

Great post, anom, thanks.


[> [> [> aw, thanks, tch! -- anom, 18:59:05 07/20/03 Sun

I suppose I could bat 5th, but w/the bases already cleared, that's a bit anticlimactic. Then again, if, as you say, there's "genius in pretty much every reply," we've probably got the whole batting order here, plus a couple of pinch hitters.

"I never know whether to post any poetry...."

Now you do know. Please post it. If it's self-indulgent, well, ultimately, ain't we all?

"However, there is that irony that the eternal flame of her devotion to Wolfram and Hart may not have been what she wanted...."

I'm pretty sure it's not--the regret we've seen in Lilah's expression & heard in her tone several times seems clear. She probably thought it was what she wanted when she signed that contract, though. It must have been almost impossible to have true informed consent to this clause. Someone could be told in complete detail what the implications are but still not really grasp their reality until the clause has already taken effect (not so celestial, but still understandable only after death). Of course, Connor doesn't get even the pretense of consent, informed or otherwise.

"God's love, his strength for Abraham and Moses' people isn't just the average, terrestrial burning that would presumably be common in Egypt, but instead something more powerful- eternal and celestial."

The strange thing is, I never thought of the burning bush's flames as symbolizing God's love. When he sees it, Moses is separated from his people, out in the wilderness. What I've heard/read about the incident is that Moses had to have watched the bush for some time to realize it wasn't being consumed. It was God's way of both getting his attention & making sure that he was someone who paid enough attention to get the message. It's not until Moses decides to approach & investigate this strange occurrence that God speaks to him out of the bush. But again, I don't see what the connection could be between this story & Wes' attempt to burn Lilah's contract.

"...we get the Holy Spirit with tongues of fire, alighting on people and giving them tongues, but not burning them."

I never heard about the "tongues of fire." I know about speaking in tongues & that it's believed to be caused by the Holy Spirit, but not the other part. Where in the Bible does that come from?

I see what you mean about the hymn--beautiful. It fits in w/both the spiritual fire & the celestial image that can't be understood under ordinary circumstances: "For none can guess its grace/Til he become the place/Wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling." But I have some trouble w/this part: "True lowliness of heart/Which takes the humbler part/And o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing." It's the "loathing" that bothers me--I would hope that grace would enable the heart/spirit to understand & forgive itself its own shortcomings. Maybe it can't until that "Holy Spirit makes his dwelling" part happens, but the loathing seems to be spoken of as a good, or at least appropriate, thing. (I have the same problem w/the "wretch like me" line in "Amazing Grace.") And I think I'll end on that, er, note.

General question, + complete waste of time -- Darby, 13:16:57 07/15/03 Tue

The interest in Season One seems to be waning. C'mon, step up, somebody! I know that from this standpoint, six years removed, "Revisited"s will still work, but I'm depending upon the fine minds here to get my gray cells percolating before stepping back myself into The Pack.

Also, for those with a few hour to devote to utter worthlessness, I draw your attention to


warning: addictive! Also, very British, but you can skip the questions about football (no, that other kind of football!)...

Don't trust it, though - I really doubt that that many people have had near-death experiences, or been struck by lightening (sic).

And if anybody can exhaust the database, let me know how many days it took.

[> Interest Waning -- Dochawk, 15:54:54 07/15/03 Tue

Well, The Pack ranks as one of my least favorite episodes along with Moloch the Masquarader or Maurader or whatever he claimed to be, so my interest will pick up after we get through these two. Not that I am the biggest poster on these. Kinda looking forward to what Manwitch has to say about The Pack though.

[> I really liked The Pack -- Sophist, 17:01:08 07/15/03 Tue

It was the episode that made me think "Hmm. There's something deeper here."

I thought we were supposed to treat each episode as airing Tuesday evening. Discussion starts tonight and tomorrow. Or not.

[> [> What Little I'm Able To Remember About The Pack... -- AngelVSAngelus, 19:45:01 07/15/03 Tue

The clique-as-predatory force was an important part of my, similarly to Joss', hellish high school experience. I found this episode extremely resonant in that regard, and especially effective in turning a good friend against the ever sympathetic Will for major creep-factor.
I also vaguely remember seeing the Hyena spirit/essence/possession as the emergence of submerged hormonal/sexual impulses/id. Metaphoric in a way similar to vampires (at least at that point in the series. There are a number of different things they illude to later)
I'm afraid everyone else seems to have a greater handle on memory of some of the eps from this season. I've still got a couple up here *taps temple*, but not much before year 2. Owning S1 on DVD would help. I haven't been able to afford to add it to my 2,3,and 4 yet.

[> [> [> Who really thought -- Cleanthes, 20:18:25 07/15/03 Tue

that Principal Flutie would actually be eaten???

[> [> [> [> I almost stopped watching 'Buffy' after 'The Pack' -- Masq, 22:07:29 07/15/03 Tue

I just thought that whole thing about the students actually eating the principal was Too Much. Grossed me out.

But I went ahead and tuned in the next week, which was fortuitous. That episode was "Angel", and it gave me my favorite character of both series--Angel, of course.

If it wasn't for the coolness that is Angel (the character), ATPo would never have been born!

[> [> [> [> [> Re: I almost stopped watching 'Buffy' after 'The Pack' -- jane, 22:31:03 07/15/03 Tue

Thank the PTB that "The Pack" didn't drive you away,Masq! This board is sooo addictive; I just want to say thanks for making it possible. BTW, that scene kind of grossed me out too. On the whole, I liked the episode.

[> [> [> [> [> Where were the vampires -- lunasea, 10:28:17 07/16/03 Wed

I started watching the show because I love vampires. Luke, Darla, the Master were great. I wanted more vampires, complicated vampires that got a lot of screen time and dialogue.

Nice story about a witch. She-mantis was ok, but the vamp was pretty lame (forgot to add in my thing about fantasy and Teacher's Pet that the claw vampire represents Angel's self-image). The Annoying One, blech. Hyenas didn't thrill me, much.

Then, sigh (a good sigh), vampires got really interesting.

Now looking back on the arc, the series is much more interesting. How each episode is setting up the next one, which we will discuss next week, was truly bril. I will save my stuff for The Pack until next week, when I talk about that arc.

[> 'The Pack' converted me -- KdS, 03:08:11 07/16/03 Wed

I think Whedon said something about The Pack being the first episode in which he consciously tried to see what he could get away with in terms of emotional darkness, how far both the actors and the audience were willing to go along with it.

The death of Flutie is still the most shocking BtVS moment for me, because it's the very first time that you see the creators are willing to kill off a likable, established character if they find it necessary for the story. And the ending still sends shivers down my spine, the way that you think that everything will be forgiven and forgotten, and then you have Xander's admission that he remembers everything he did while possessed.

[> Re: General question, + complete waste of time -- deathdeer, 14:00:12 07/16/03 Wed

Took just over an hour to exhaust their supply of questions, and still have nearly 45 minutes before I can go home.

Official HairCare Haiku Thread -- Anneth, 13:19:42 07/15/03 Tue

Or, maybe, just the Hair Haiku thread? Or just haikus... as you will.

Anyway: (clears throat)


Anyanka: evil brown
(sex) blonde: short long straight curly (sex)
ambiguous brown

or, perhaps, a limrick (unrelated to hair):

There once was a girl from Sjornjost
made vengeful, who did speak a boast:
"I'll exenterate men,
with great acumen,
then eat them all up as pot-roast!"

[> Haiku's a'poppin'!! -- Random, 13:41:10 07/15/03 Tue


A haiku cycle...

"L'orealed Buffy
Overcomes DarkWillow with
Some foundation and

A bottle of bleach.
Or so the original
Shooting script said. But

Joss is too much of
A sentimentalist, so
he wrote a sappy

Speech about yellow
Crayons and didn't just let
Will blast Xander there

And make him shut up.
Sigh. That's the last time I go
To the Trollop Board.

No offense, Rufus.
I'm just funnin' with you, you
Sweet blonde trollop, you."

[> [> lol! -- deeva, 15:08:01 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> Awwwww that is so sweet...... -- Rufus, 22:19:23 07/15/03 Tue


How could I possibly take offence you can have fun with me all you want......(insert innocent faced angel icon)...;)

[> Willow - a Shakespearean Sonnet -- Anneth, 15:16:29 07/15/03 Tue

(apologies in advance to the bard. And, in fact, everyone else as well, because this is a really, really wretched poem...:)

Willow's great hair provides insight
to her mood and general intent;
when it's red there's no need for fright,
you won't straight to hell be sent.
Don't anger her though! You won't like
what her raven tresses portend;
pray instead for whiter than Spike,
which locks fortell you no gorey end.
Yes, Willow has hair like a mood-ring,
keep that in mind if you want
to take her to task 'cause she can't sing;
black roots say "run!" in huge font.
And when you read what's written last, don't pull a Willer,
and flay me - 'cause this line's just filler.

Italian and Spenserian sonnets in production!

[> Re: Informal Hair care -- sdev, 21:35:00 07/18/03 Fri

Hair as ritual-
Trees in season shed their leaves.

[> My Buffy Haikus -- Giles, 18:08:03 07/15/03 Tue

she has died two times
she is really a prissy
ambigious ho

Demon Anyanka
Gives Cordelia a free wish
wackyness ensues

I'm under your spell
Giles has decided to leave
Lets Walk through the fire

more are on their way... I wonder if anyone knows what each one is about (besides you momma)

[> one for The Pack -- msGiles, 06:57:18 07/16/03 Wed

predators at large,
sleek, they eye victims, threaten:
just laughing schoolboys.

[> Re: Official HairCare Haiku Thread -- Rob, 08:38:21 07/16/03 Wed

Buffy's long locks are
Felicitied. Just like her
hair, she is gone, too.


[> [> Non-HairCare Haiku -- Rob, 22:59:00 07/16/03 Wed

I have come to stake
Darla, not to bury her.
Hush, my little lamb.


[> [> [> Non-hair care?!? What are you doing, hi-jacking Anneth's thread?!? -- Random :-0, 23:31:31 07/16/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> Drat! Another nefarious scheme foiled. Or has it been? ;o) -- Rob, 09:25:23 07/17/03 Thu

"Misogyny is
not a word you should just throw
around," murmured Spike.



[> [> [> oh, i thought it was one for gunn & wood! -- anom, 13:55:12 07/18/03 Fri

That is, about care of non-hair--like this:

Hate to tell you, guys,
Shaving it's easier, but
Deacon rolls are ugly!

[> oops, last one not hair/so I try again, for a /hairier effect -- MsGiles, 02:13:24 07/17/03 Thu

'call you goldilocks'
you're not having my porridge
so buffy wigs out

[> hysterical, sorry, historical HCH -- MsGiles, 02:32:37 07/17/03 Thu

key date for certain vampire
hair bleach invented

[> And another...back with the haircare! -- Rob, 12:08:16 07/17/03 Thu

Which is scarier--
Anyanka, or Anya with
platinum blonde hair?


[> From the Anglo-Saxon -- Anneth, 14:09:47 07/17/03 Thu

When I am wet, I portend great evil; innocence to be lost.
When I am fluffy, my youth is a given, and when I am Gone my maturity is uncertain.
When I have bangs, I am as book-ends, signaling Welcome and Day's End.
If I am dark, my days are numbered; when I am light I have many days before me.
I am rarely unkempt. Who am I?

[> [> Eh.. -- Random, 16:11:28 07/17/03 Thu

"I wandered lonely as a..."

[> [> [> Re: Eh.. -- Anneth, 16:59:31 07/17/03 Thu

I wander'd lonely, as a Slayer,
and walk this earth o'er mound and marker,
when all at once I saw a Vampyer,
a host, in fact! led by VampParker!
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
gnashing and tramping in the breeze.

Continuous as stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
they stretched in never-ending line
dragging victims in ancient dray:
ten thousand saw I at a glance,
baring their fangs in evil grimace.

Large steps they took; they did not mince
in pace, they walked in cruel glee
A slayer could not do but wince
in such a fetid company.
I attacked - I slew - but little thought
what horror the show to me had brought:

And now oft, when in bed I lie
in vacant or in pensive mood,
they flash upon that inward eye
which is the curse of solitude;
and then my heart with torment fills
as I recall their dreadful kills.

[> Re: Official HairCare Haiku Thread -- Anneth, clearly overwhelmed with work today, 14:35:13 07/17/03 Thu

Buffy the boxie
must buy color-treatment 'poo;
Dawn uses Pert Plus.


P'rhaps Angel's hair goes
straight up because he never bathes?
Nature's hair gel. (ew)

[> This is Just to Say -- William Carlos Williamseth, 14:43:14 07/17/03 Thu

I have stolen
the hair
that was on the floor
of your stylist's cubicle

and which
you were probably
for Locks of Love

forgive me
it was so pretty
so blond
and so soft.

[> Re: soulful hair -- sdev, 15:17:50 07/17/03 Thu

Spike loves black plum Dru,
Blonde shampoo commercial Buff--
What shade is his soul?

[> [> sleep deprivation=quote ommission -- sdev, 19:15:52 07/17/03 Thu

Spike loves "black plum" Dru,
"Blonde shampoo commercial" Buff--
What shade is his soul?

[> On/ 'Gone' -- Tchaikovsky, 05:38:15 07/18/03 Fri

Haikus need mot justes, not just
Lengthy intros. Well,
Hair today, gone tomorrow.


[> [> inverse haiku, tch? cool! -- anom, 14:02:53 07/18/03 Fri

[> dark roots -- MsGiles, 06:01:10 07/18/03 Fri

no b/s shipper
fanfic complete without the
mutual bleaching scene

[> Hairy moments -- Celebaelin, 07:09:01 07/18/03 Fri

Xander's long hair
Makes him greatly resemble
Neil from 'The Young Ones'

Glorificus' curls
Make me curious about
What she's been up to

The Mayor wanted
Faith to let him see her cheeks
Lucky he can't die

[> wearing thin -- MsGiles, 08:41:41 07/18/03 Fri

does Giles envy Oz
his monthly growth? It's no joke,
male pattern baldness

[> On 'Gone' -- cjl, 09:19:01 07/18/03 Fri

Buffy cuts her blonde locks
And demands opinions on
Hair no one can see.

[> [> Re: Bedecked -- Brian, 13:34:39 07/18/03 Fri

Bottle blonde Buffy
Boinks bad bleach bottle body
By burst beams booty.

[> Giles appreciation -- Anneth, 14:33:53 07/18/03 Fri

Giles has nice hair
too, even if no one pays much
attention to it.

Sometimes he rumples
his hair with his hands because
he's just learned that it's

the end of the world
again. Poor ex-watcher, why
don't you sit by me?

[> non-head haircare -- Anneth, 16:05:19 07/18/03 Fri

We can't forget that
face-hair requires care too.
Wes needs a good shave.

[> The 'Official' reply to a Cordie hair based haiku pub challenge written on the way home post -- Celebaelin, 16:05:39 07/18/03 Fri

Challenge issued at 11.35 UK time

Replied to at 11.57 UK time

Cordie's power leaps
To save the world again
Her hair stays the same

Sadly I think I had a better version of this on the way back from the pub but I lost it 'cos of, like, the beer (on the other hand if I hadn't been to the pub it never would have happened in the first place which, come to think of it, might have been a better reality - whatever)

[> [> As far as I know -- Uncertainabaelin, 16:16:38 07/18/03 Fri

[> [> Cordy, et al (a pattern) -- Anneth, 16:26:43 07/18/03 Fri

Cordy goes blonde and
soonafter back to brown. Then
she becomes evil.

Anya too evolves
from blonde to brunette, and her
color-change denotes evil.

Willow is the most
extreme example of this
trend, that dark hair from

light foreshadows a
female character's turn to
evil. Good thing Buffy

was never tempted
by the box named "Smoldering
Darkest Auburn", eh?

'Cause really, we need
only look to Faith to see
what horrors brown haired

slayers can wreak, and
Faith didn't even start off
as a blonde. (Good thing!)

[> [> [> Re: Unfallow -- Brian, 18:38:38 07/18/03 Fri

Redheaded Willow
Goes dark, veiny, and sallow
To end tomorrow.

[> [> [> [> Re: Hair Mythology -- sdev, 23:02:37 07/18/03 Fri

It's Veronica/
Betty all over again.
Good or bad hair day.

Isn't anybody going to talk about 'The Pack'? I'll start, but not too much to say... -- Q, 19:43:24 07/15/03 Tue

The Pack
My Grade: A-

The second episode in a row that I found to be far more dark, and urgent, than I remembered. I was very (re) impressed!

This weeks High School Horror metaphor-dealing daily with the "pack" mentality of teens, and particularly the cruelty of those packs, and dealing with bully's-was probably the most compelling for me so far. While watching the episode I found myself feeling very sad for all of the school kids in the world today who are having to deal with the feelings created by this behavior. Very depressing!

Although there was no Cordelia, season 1's comic guru, there was some great humor. My favorite scene being between Buffy and Giles in the library (oh how I miss the library!) Giles trying to "Scully" Buffy about Xander just being a teenage boy was great, and his "I'm going to get my books-look stuff up" was brilliant! Oh, and Giles' knockout tally is now up to: 3.

The episode took a very common genre show cliché, the good guy gone bad because of possession story, and made a very compelling hour out of it, because of the broader social statement. On this account, the episode succeeded. However, the 2nd intention of the show is what really hooked me, and that is setting up next weeks HUGE episode, "Angel". Willow and Buffy's Bronze conversation right after the teaser, followed by Xander and Buffy's "pillow talk" really work to get our larder running for the real relationship on this show, which they will deal with more intensely than ever in episode 7.

Like I said in my last review, and will continue to say, one of the strongest aspects of the first few seasons was the music. I'm not talking about the score as much (It improved much with C. Beck), but the rock song backgrounds. Shivers are what I got when the hyenas marched across the quad to "Job's Eye's". Perfect!!!

[> I'm in. -- Sophist, 21:02:41 07/15/03 Tue

As I said below in response to Darby, The Pack impressed me because I realized that the show was going to be much more than just a light comedy. Who would have guessed that, this early on, Joss would have a seeming recurring character eaten, much less that he would have one major character attempt to rape another?

The notion of hyena possession is interesting as it plays out in this episode. Giles says "Testosterone is the great equalizer. It turns all men into morons." Putting aside some of the inaccurate implications of this comment, it is in fact testosterone that is critically important to hyena behavior. What's most interesting, though, is that it is the females which have the high testosterone levels and which dominate hyena social relations.

Notwithstanding this, the possessed kids do not seem led by the females. Xander and Kyle appear dominant. The only dominant female in the show is, of course, Buffy. It looks as if the metaphor contradicts the show's stated purpose.

The way to resolve this seeming inconsistency is, I think, to adopt manwitch's approach. What is the metaphor here for Buffy (and for us-as-Buffy)? It seems clear that Buffy learns how important it is not to abuse the strength she has individually and in conjunction with the SG.

Xander's AR sets up several interesting points of departure for later episodes. JW played down the issue here by having Buffy use the euphemism of "felony sexual assault", letting Xander off the hook pretty easily. But later episodes explore 2 other issues raised by the scene:

1. Xander's fear of his own misogynistic physical abuse of Anya, shown in Hells Bells, raises the same question we ask of Angelus and Spike: How much is demon and how much does the human inform the demon? I find it extraordinary that the show raised such an issue so early on, yet did it so subtly that I certainly never realized it.

2. Xander's denial of his behavior and the fact that he never, in words, expresses regret or remorse, raises the related issue of personal accountability. Was it "Xander" who should be held responsible? Again, I never thought the issue through until, ironically, Xander himself raised it with respect to Angel in Becoming.

That we continue to debate similar issues six years later, with undiminished intensity, is a tribute to the depth of the show. For me, The Pack is definitely an A.

[> [> Agreed. On so many levels. Xander and The Pack (spoilers to S5 Btvs) -- s'kat, 21:47:21 07/15/03 Tue

(Hope referring to future episodes isn't breaking the rules. ;-) )

I agree with what Sophist states above, but I'm going to take a different tact. I'm going to look at the episode through Xander, not Buffy. Just to be different ;-)

The Pack is possibly my favorite episode of Season 1, it's the episode which made me sit up and take notice and go hmmm maybe this isn't just another teen horror drama where they go after the MoTW.

What hit me, was the villain seems to be a lead character, Xander possessed and Brendan does an amazing job of portraying that negative side/evil side of his character.

As to the age old question - how much of it was Xander and how much was the hyena? I'm not entirely sure Xander even knows. We see the issue become re-addressed in other episodes in later seasons. Amongst them: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered where Xander blackmails Amy into casting a revenge spell on Cordelia and he once again encounters the temptation to take something from Buffy that she is not consciously consenting to. In this case, Xander handles it morally and turns her down, he does not take advantage. Nor does he take advantage of any of the other offers. In the Pack - we see him at his worst, yet oddly enough best. He is sauve, cavelier, almost charming, smooth, he saunters with the pack of bad kids with confidence and assuarance - assuarance we don't see again until the Wish, then briefly in The Zeppo, and once again in The Replacement. In fact when Xander is split in two, we like Xander assume that SuaveXander is the villain, because he is sooo reminiscent of HyenaXander.

This is ironic in a way. Since Xander himself considers the geeky version to be a "butt-monkey" - a connotation that actually may date back to HyenaXander - since Hyena's according to the thread on "butt-monkey" are in some way considered that. Big butts. Xander uses this term a lot.
He uses it again in First Date - stating why do I let myself be someone's butt monkey? Did he possibly see his Hyena possession in that context - that the Hyena that possessed him - made him into it's "butt monkey" to do it's bidding? To do gross things, like eat a pig and sexually assualt Buffy? That would make sense, since he states this again in Buffy vs. Dracula, towards the very end - "I'm sick of being someone's Butt-Monkey". Dracula does the same things to Xander that the hyena does if you think about it.

1. Has Xander eat gross things in an animalistic manner
2. Has Xander betray Buffy for his own selfish desires
3. Has Xander get hit by a hero, Riley, in The PAck, Buffy.

At the end of both episodes, Xander is humilated. The difference is in The Pack, he can pretend to have amensia.
In Buffy vs. Dracula he has to own the humilation and
the acts.

But there's another angle - how much of this is Xander?
Well, in The Wish - we see what Xander is without the soul and unlike many viewers, I don't believe a character ceases being that character when they lose their soul, I think they regress or rather their "id" gets unleashed. The actions of the vampire reside in the human - it's just without a soul or moral compass, there's absolutely nothing to keep them from acting on these desires. They no longer
care. It's Want Take Have, baby. All the time. And Xander in The Wish is not that different from Xander in the Pack, actually they are quite a bit alike.

We also, as I previously stated, see glimmers of both The Wish and The Pack Xanders in BBB, The Zeppo, Hells Bells,
Becoming, Dead Man's Party...glimmers but enough to know that part of HyenaXander's evil deeds were Xander. Desires Xander had kept repressed coming to the fore.

So what Whedon and Company do with The Pack is more interesting than just a classic example of animal possession, what they do is explore the negative side of a character, then instead of just dropping that...continue to occassionally highlight different traits that were first brought up in The Pack. Not just highlight, either, they also look at the psychological impact both the experience of the Pack had on Xander and his awareness of these traits have on his character. When we see Xander's father - we see the source of many of them - what Xander would become if he gave into these tendecies, just as we do when we look at RJ or Lance. Xander himself, fears this. It may be the reason he breaks it off with Anya finally, hurts his relationship with Cordelia, and is always attracted to demonic women.
He asks the demon woman in First Date - why she finds him attractive. Wrong question. Why does he find her attractive?
What was it about her, Buffy, Faith, Anya, Cordelia, Ampata, the Teacher in Teacher's Pet, that attracted Xander?
And why does he only get interested in Willow after she starts dating a werewolf and becomes a witch?

I honestly think - The Pack goes a long way to understanding Xander and his arc on the show, his fears.
Especially since, he continues to reference the episode, the episode is never really dropped. In Phases, Xander talks about being a hyena. And later, all those butt-monkey references. Why? Is Xander afraid of becoming this?
Or that deep down this is who he really is? I think we all fear the shadow, the dark side of ourselves - our inner devil, we fear what it means, that it will overtake us, that it means we are bad and doomed.

Buffy fears it - as we see in Bad Girls, Consequences, Who are You, Dead Things, and countless other episodes. Willow is terrified of it. Giles restrains it, but knows it is there and has paid dearly for letting it loose - and probably sees that side of himself every time he looks at Spike. Just as Buffy sees it when she looks into Faith's eyes. And Xander? Does he see it when he looks at Anya or when he looks in the mirror and sees the hyena looking back at him - the Hyena that in his heart represents his father, a HArris?

Sorry for my ramble. Hope it adds something.


[> [> [> Very interesting,sk! Much to think about here. -- jane, 21:56:17 07/15/03 Tue

[> [> [> Re: Agreed. On so many levels. Xander and The Pack (spoilers to S5 Btvs) -- Q, 08:26:24 07/16/03 Wed

Excellent analysis s'kat! The following paragraph really got me wishing for what couln't be:

>>>In Phases, Xander talks about being a hyena. And later, all those butt-monkey references. Why? Is Xander afraid of becoming this?
Or that deep down this is who he really is? I think we all fear the shadow, the dark side of ourselves - our inner devil, we fear what it means, that it will overtake us, that it means we are bad and doomed.<<<<

Wouldn't it have been an EXCELLENT arc to explore this with Oz and Xander, say around season 4. The things you say here I always saw in Oz, and expected them to deal with it in more depth with Oz, but it didn't really happen... I never really thought about it with Xander, but it works.

[> [> [> Re: Agreed-Interesting parallels on the dark side -- sdev, 18:58:36 07/16/03 Wed

"Why? Is Xander afraid of becoming this? Or that deep down this is who he really is? I think we all fear the shadow, the dark side of ourselves - our inner devil, we fear what it means, that it will overtake us, that it means we are bad and doomed.

Buffy fears it - as we see in Bad Girls, Consequences, Who are You, Dead Things, and countless other episodes. Willow is terrified of it. Giles restrains it, but knows it is there and has paid dearly for letting it loose - and probably sees that side of himself every time he looks at Spike. Just as Buffy sees it when she looks into Faith's eyes."

I saw that very clearly in the dodgeball scene. I thought it was beautifully done. First that music with the base sound and thumping beat as the group is thinned for the kill. And then its just Buffy facing them on the opposite side of the room. The music fades and they look at each other. They are sizing her up and she is sizing them up. Equal opponents with different intents. Their differing intentions become clear as the Pack turns and attacks the lone guy and Buffy moves in to save him. The riff on classic animal behavior really works here. They leave Buffy alone and attack the weakest one- also a good playground lesson.

But this scene shows just how much in common Buffy has with these guys. Her difference lies in the choices she makes. Good illustration early on.

[> [> Or ME just didn't know much about hyenas... -- KdS, 03:18:44 07/16/03 Wed

[> [> [> I'm inclined to think they did -- Sophist, 08:00:01 07/16/03 Wed

The basic facts about hyenas are easily discovered. ME surely knew, even this early, that the incipient SG would come to form a group ("pack") with Buffy as the dominant character. Seems like a fairly natural choice.

Personally, I'd have preferred bonobos as the metaphor. The females are dominant in that society, but they maintain control not through violence, but through frequent and indiscriminate sex. Imagine how the show might have developed from there.

[> [> [> I'm thinking that maybe they didn't.... -- O'Cailleagh, 01:36:12 07/17/03 Thu

...since the nature film Willow watches (after the first clip at least) features African wild dogs, not hyenas.


[> the pack hooked me too -- MsGiles, 04:29:44 07/16/03 Wed

Back to 1998 (a year late in the UK). I'd been watching Xena Warrior Princess, but it had started to get too sentimental for me, and the power of an uncompromising female hero ass-kicker was beginning to get lost in increasingly silly storylines. (IMHO hastily adds). I dropped in on Buffy a few times, it was funny, there was ass-kicking. Then the Pack.

I have to say, what caught my attention this episode wasn't the clever writing, the neat use of supernatural metaphor to examine real issues, the slaying of teenage demons. That came later. S2 hammered that home. What made me catch my breath was the style shift. Yes, that bit where the pack stride across campus in slomo to the sound of (as I now know) Job's Eyes. Done before (tick) Corny?(maybe) Pushes my buttons? (tick).

So why isn't it just music video gloss? MTV is full of unsmiling musicians slomo-ing meaningfully. I think it's because of the other stuff, which I didn't even notice at the time. The secondary characters: Willow, Giles, Xander, Cordelia, Angel, even, getting more real, having sharp edges, awkward bits, lumpiness. The edge of danger, the show going into the uncomfortable zone, with Xander threatening Buffy and being cruel to Willow, and with the seriously alarming gang vibe of the H-group. Cuteness, humour. Then the cute pig getting eaten. Then the cute Principal getting eaten.

And alongside the nastiness - the lush appeal of the pop-video aesthetic, the glamour of the pack. Powerful and sure of themselves, they suddenly seem like adults among children, as well as predators among prey. So the gloss floats above the nasty, the messy, the personal, and though we know it's impossible, wrong, it's hurting our friends, we can feel the pull. Who wouldn't rather be predator than prey, winner rather than loser?

Fast-forward to another episode that uses music and visual style to enormous effect: Dead Things, crypt scene. The melancholy music speaks of desire and longing. Spike is in predator mode, temporily allowed out of his whining S6 straitjacket to play the powervamp. While it's clear that Buffy would be wrong to leave her friends and join him in the shadows, that it's impossible, still we feel the pull, through the visuals and the music, no need for words. It's become a hallmark of Buffy, the use of music, especially these key Indie tracks, strong on lyrics, sometimes linked to a band supposedly playing at the Bronze, sometimes just floating in from the ether.

But this early in the S1, the sudden change of pace is startling, refreshing. It's suddenly apparent that this show can switch levels, play with different styles and approaches, and that it's using original music, not just generic background orchestration. The show has been created rather than manufactured, and someone has been paying attention to detail.

Needless to say, didn't think all this at the time, but the show went on the must watch list from here on in.

[> [> Wriggling on the hook too -- fresne, 08:53:53 07/16/03 Wed

It was my hook episode as well. Too. Also. Yeah.

Everything that you said, tick, snap, check, head rush.

That Jim Morrison moment when Xander walked across the Quad and he went from kinda random geek boy to blahyawahaguh, Hello there. I was compelled to go out and find out how old the actor was just so I could feel a bit less, okay he's my age, it's okay.

And if the H-gang were powerful and graceful and predatory, then so too it showed that side of Buffy. If Buffy faces them all alone, standing on that car, looking down, this casts her as the lion to their circling pack. And as The Lion King and Discovery can tell, lions and hyenas don't get along.

It's not that they were more powerful than the foes in the previous episodes, it's that they were more beautiful. Graceful. Just a little wrong. That high pitched laugh. The smiles behind perfectly normal faces. They don't vamp out. They don't cast magic bolts power.

The wrong, the off, the scary is internalized and I found myself drawn to it, even as I was repelled.

The Pack also showed me that well, NB could act. Ergo, fun stuff to come.

Ah. They ate a pig. They ate a principal. They Ate Principle Flutie and his cute little pig too. This show is twisted.

I like twisted.

I liked Flutie. Did not see that coming. Oh, oh, a universe where things are not static. Where main characters that I fall in love with can and will die breaking my heart into widdle bitty pieces and then stomp all over the pieces. Bring on the masochism.

Actually, I briefly contemplate the primary metaphor in Neil Gaiman's Harlequin Valentine, which I'm so not going to explain.

Anyway, yes, this is the episode that felt like the show was starting to hit its stride for weird horrible wonderful changes in mood. This was the inception of a sweet addiction. Or under the circumstances, a salty one.

Now, where is that Sweeny Todd sound track.

[> [> [> The history of the world, my sweet... -- Q, 16:19:46 07/16/03 Wed

>>>Now, where is that Sweeny Todd sound track<<<

Is who gets eaten, and who gets to eat!


[> [> oh, yes -- ponygirl, 10:50:26 07/16/03 Wed

The first time the series shows the real pull of darkness. Yes, there is pig and principal eating, and the circling of the weak, but there is also that walk across the campus, the confidence, the power. Just as Kirk discovered back in Star Trek, and Xander in The Replacement, all the parts are necessary for a whole person. Testosterone was a good choice for an explanation - it causes aggression and anger, but we, men and women, need it for drive and strength. So the question becomes, can the dark be harnessed, can it play a part in who we are? Did the hyena put all those things in Xander or did the hyena just allow them to come out?

[> [> [> Lovecraft and Apathy -- Malandanza, 18:15:41 07/16/03 Wed

"The first time the series shows the real pull of darkness."

I liked some of the classic horror conventions used in The Pack -- especially the pig becoming alarmed at Hyena Xander's approach and the sudden thunderstorm. This sort of suspense, the Lovecraftian style of horror rather than Stephen King horror, where the horror isn't just prosthetics and gore, is more appealing to me. We don't see the pack eating the pig or the principal, but we do get Willow's sudden obsession with nature documentaries to fill in the picture -- and the hyenas in the film provide a much more savage depiction than would shots of teenagers "biting" their victims.

The other side of The Pack is a frank look at life in high school, where even well-meaning principals and teachers cannot protect the victims from the "mean kids". Principal Flutie wanted to help Lance, but Lance knew that if he told on the kids, he'd be in even more trouble with them later. At first, he's just a target of opportunity -- if he went to Flutie for intervention, he would have become a preferred target. They would have sought him out and found imaginative ways to make him suffer. So he covers for them and his reward is more trouble -- they know he's afraid to tell and that opens up more opportunities for abuse. And while Lance is led away to the hyena cage, we see the typical student (in Willow and Xander) sitting on the sidelines, fully aware that Lance is in trouble, and chatting about it rather dispassionately. It is Buffy's presence that spurs Xander into action, rather than his own conscience. Without Buffy, Xander and Willow would have done nothing, just relieved that it's Lance and not them.

[> [> [> [> Hey! Could Lance be RJ's brother from 'Him'? -- ponygirl, 20:31:17 07/16/03 Wed

Maybe RJ wasn't the only one in the family to suddenly blossom out of geekdom when he got the magical jacket.

[> [> Just a gratuitous 'me, too' post but, uh, me too. -- Plin, 11:47:13 07/16/03 Wed

Picture much enthusiastic nodding to everything you said. The first few episodes were okay, but this is the one that really made me sit up and take notice, and start to finally get why my friends were all so excited about this show. Before The Pack I was all, "Yeah, okay, this is cute. But why make such a big deal about it?"

This episode, for me, was the beginning of the Big Deal. (Plus, of course, Hyena Xander had the moves.)

[> Love the dodgeball scene... -- Jay, 19:36:53 07/16/03 Wed

As good as the premiere was, and I liked it, but this was the episode that made me make a point of tuning in every week. Of the first season, I'd rank the premiere and Prophecy Girl ahead of this one, but that's it. The Pack added a lot of substance to the first year. And I'm still around because of it.

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