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The Deflation Effect: ME ennui and the vacuum of S7 criticism -- cjl, 13:52:54 06/18/03 Wed

This is (sort of) a response to shadowkat's post below about negative criticism of S7. However, rather than plunk my answer down in the middle of an extended thread, I thought I'd bring it up to the top, because the topic deserves serious consideration.

Getting straight to the point: I do want to post my misgivings about S7. Since some people on this board seem to equate silence with approval, I'd like to show that some of us are not sitting back on our couches, sated by the wonderment that was S7, but instead, are waiting for an opportunity to vent.

So why haven't I vented? There's plenty of room for constructive criticism of S7. A solid, non-snarky post could conceivably engage the board for weeks. (Heck, it's almost my obligation to do it.)

And yet, I can't summon up the energy to post. Possible explanations:

1. Nothing new to say on the topic.

Extremely difficult to find a fresh angle on the topics of inconsistency in the overall S7 arc, the questionable characterizations of Giles, Anya, Xander, Willow (and to a certain extent, Buffy and Spike). Regurgitating old topics might lead to:

2. The fear of investing energy into a critique that would be ignored.

I see a great deal of resistance on this board to the idea of S7 as creative implosion. My not-so-subtle import of 3strikes' admittedly borderline-raving critique from BC&S elicited almost no response whatsoever. Not sure whether I want to spend days crafting a post that would disappear within a few hours.

3. Sick and/or busy at work.

Nah. Not even I believe that one. It would take a case of bubonic plague to stop me from posting if I really felt the need.

4. Grace period for post-series traumatic stress.

Am I overreacting to (what I perceive as) the crippling flaws in S7 because there's no way to correct them in Season 8? (Maybe I should wait a few months to see if these feelings recede, and I can appreciate the strengths of S7.)

Well, maybe. But there's a darker explanation lying underneath, one that I don't really want to consider:

5. If Mutant Enemy didn't care about keeping the story straight in S7, why should I?

I know--unpleasant. This one hits to the core of an ATP poster. Hour after hour of composing posts extolling the brilliance of ME, the complexity of their metaphors, the way the writers have been so deft in weaving multiple plotlines that reflect upon Buffy's central journey (and vice versa). How can I come on the board now and say I overestimated them? That the ending of the series ("Chosen" aside) was far LESS complex and philosophically engaging than I anticipated?

"Well, what do you expect? It's just a TV show."

Really? Am I prepared to knock my overall assessment of BtVS down from "televisual art" to "just a TV show"? Can my psyche withstand such a deflation?

At the moment--no. Which brings us back around to the not posting.

Is it just me? Does anybody else feel this way?

--cjl, alone in a cold and dark place

[> Come into the light cjl! -- ponygirl, 14:52:54 06/18/03 Wed

Feeling your pain, and the ennui. After some initial venting I've found it difficult to find the desire to even really think about the latter half of the season. I've watched Chosen twice and don't really feel like seeing it again right now. I feel like I would end up picking away at things and end up unravelling far more than I'd want to of a series that I've devoted a lot of brain cells to. Still I don't think I can select option #5 on your list, for me I think this is not a case of ME not caring, but of turning out to be made up of far more human-type creatures than I had ever wanted to admit. Also part of my problem is that I didn't have so many negative feelings while watching s7. The latter half wasn't shaping up to be one of my favourites but a lot of my distaste came after I realized Chosen was not going to address the questions I had with the season.

Last night Showtime was being aired on a local station while Space was showing DMP. I ended up flipping back and forth between the two. It was an interesting comparison especially since DMP is an episode I quite liked but wouldn't put in my top 10. Showtime in the context of s7 I would rate as an average episode. Seen next to DMP it looked really bad.

The first sequence after the credits for DMP is essentially scenes of two people talking - Buffy getting her orientation from Manny. However we go through the restaurant as this occurs, getting the funny video, introducing several characters and getting the first hints of the disappearing employee mystery. It's tight and it moves.

Showtime on the other hand comes back after the credits to Dawn and Kennedy talking. They discuss the situation in the house, with the First, with arriving Slayers, plus some flirting and a bit of Kennedy's past. They tell us all of this, there's no showing, in fact there's no actual moving, they're both lying down. It feels long. Very long. Later on in the Dawn/Andrew scene I counted three places where the scene could have been cut - at a certain point there was no longer any necessary info being conveyed but the scene continued.

So was this an example of ME not caring? I prefer to think of it as ME being sloppy. Whether it was because of the loss of the best people to Firefly, Joss' having to spend more time with Angel, Joss and Marti both having to deal with young babies we can only speculate.

Ack, I must dash, but I must say that whatver failures I see in the last half of s7 I do not feel it negates the series as a whole. When I see how some of the episodes from seasons past that I paid little attention to suddenly turn around and surprise me (see the Fear Itself thread below) I feel the faith again.

Sorry for any mistakes in this post - no time to proofread (that applies to all errors I've made in the past or any I will make in the future!)

[> [> I watched "Showtime" for the first time last night . . . -- Finn Mac Cool, 16:05:58 06/18/03 Wed

And didn't have any of these problems. It didn't bother me that there wasn't much visually going on since the dialouge was entertaining. Also, a big point of the episode was showing the conditions of the Summers' house and how the constant waiting was weighing on them, so not much actual action until near the end is acceptable (plus, if you notice, the Turok-Han attack occurs about 2/3 of the way through the episode, which means the last 1/3 had a great deal going on).

On the quality scale of Fair-Good-Very Good-Great-Excellent, I'd give both "Doublemeat Palace" and "Showtime" a Very Good.

Also, I don't think it helped Season 7 that the first half was very, very good, while the second half wasn't quite as much. In many previous seasons, I've found myself enjoying the second half much more than the first half. In Season 7, it was the reverse, which made the second half seem worse since it had a tough act to follow, while previous seasons had the good act following the less entertaining act.

[> [> [> What I find interesting about Showtime -- Sophist, 16:40:59 06/18/03 Wed

I don't share ponygirl's concerns about pacing in Showtime, nor do I think DP is comparable in terms of quality. However, I do find something interesting about Showtime that I don't believe anyone has addressed.

If you watch BoTN and Showtime together, their plot structure involving the Turok-han, the Potentials' fear, and Buffy's triumph is nearly identical to that with Dirty Girls through Touched (actually, the first scene of EOD). I have to think this is intentional. If so, what is the message we are to draw from the differences?

Those who think it's not intentional feel free to weigh in on that also.

[> [> [> Re: Season 7 exigencies -- Abracapocus, 17:40:43 06/18/03 Wed

OK, this got waaaaaaaaay too long. Please forgive a de-lurker.

Finn Mac Cool said:

Also, I don't think it helped Season 7 that the first half was very, very good, while the second half wasn't quite as much. In many previous seasons, I've found myself enjoying the second half much more than the first half. In Season 7, it was the reverse, which made the second half seem worse since it had a tough act to follow, while previous seasons had the good act following the less entertaining act.

Season 7 was definitely very strong out of the gate--thank you for stressing this. Most seasons, fans have complained at the beginning because things seem to be starting slowly and without clear direction (seasons 3-5, especially--all 3 of which I love and am not criticizing). The fact that for season 7 we were given such goodies to begin with made it that much harder when real-world circumstances derailed the best-laid plans of Joss & ME--and they made some self-defeating choices in the process in terms of logical storytelling and character development.

After those first episodes, the storylines seemed to founder. It didn't help that we also had long gaps between new episodes at that point as well. In the middle third of the season not only did the storytelling become muddled (IMHO), but we also had to wait so long between instalments that when we came back to what felt like yet another hour of treading water with the Potentials Arriving and Buffy Steeling Herself and The First Doing Nothing in Particular and Who is This Giles Person Anyway--well, it was that much harder to take. Given the stellar characterizations and emotional developments of "Lessons" through "Selfless", to be brought into this dry, tense place where our heroes were overwhelmed and not really talking to each other about things that mattered--well, we were as frustrated and bewildered as the characters were.

Strangely, it's all a bit easier to take when viewed consecutively, without those long breaks (and, granted, with the advantage of hindsight). I know I'm not alone in noticing that the storytelling on Buffy over the course of a season can seem very different when you're watching the episodes consecutively on FX or DVD--when you don't have those gaps, and all that time to discuss various elements and fret about what you are and are not getting from the stories. Wasn't there an article on salon.com about this FX effect? :) This observation holds just as true for season 7 as it does for any of the other years.

I have been copying my season 7 tapes for a friend who missed most of it, and have been discovering to my surprise that those middle-third episodes are not as content-free as they felt the first time around. I'm even finding that I hate Kennedy somewhat less. :) Finn is also right that these episodes feel stifling and boxed in because that's exactly what's happening to the characters: our Scoobies are being inundated with strangers coming to live with them in a life-or-death situation that may be the worst thing they've ever faced, and which they keep telling each other may be more than they can handle.

So the writers chose to take the stories and characters into that place. I'm not saying it was the best choice available--but there is a certain sense to it, and I'm not sure what I would have done instead if I'd been in ME's shoes (so to speak).

The writers were given a very difficult situation as the season developed, since the show's future was so uncertain. That dry middle third was exactly when all the questions about "season 8 vs. spin-off" were hanging in the air. SMG didn't make her decision until December; several proposals for a spin-off were tried, but none bore fruit. Apparently, spin-offs featuring both Faith and Willow were strongly considered, but both were nixed by the actors.

In other words, the writers almost *had* to stall like that, since it was so difficult to know how they would be able to resolve anything, or where they could feasibly take the stories. Then, when things *were* finally resolved--no season 8, and no spin-off right away--they had to take what they had and not only try to bring it all back into a coherent season arc, but finish the series in a way that would satisfy as many people as possible, including themselves. I would *not* have wanted to be in their shoes as they tried to get from "First Date" to "Chosen".

There are many criticisms we can level at season 7. It could be extremely frustrating to watch as it aired (at least for me), what with those aforementioned long gaps, and with the decision not to acknowledge most of the goings-on in LA (for those of us who also watch "Angel"). And I add my "Amen" to those who have protested the cavalier treatment of Anya's character after all the possibilities that were opened up in "Selfless".

It became even more difficult to accept the Buffy storytelling as it stood once we learned that this was The.Last.Buffy.Ever. Every hour that had to deal with the nameless Potentials (or, for some fans, the Buffy-Spike angst) instead of our beloved Core Four, and every hour that had to deal with newer characters like Andrew, Principle Wood, and Caleb (all of whom I loved, btw, albeit with some mixed feelings), could feel like a theft from what we really wanted from the end of the show. We wanted our Scoobies back, and there was almost no way to give them to us while still dealing with the plot elements that had been established with the decision to gather the Potentials in Sunnydale.

This was an unwieldy decision indeed. They were going to have to show all these girls crowding into the house, but there was no way for us to get to know more than a handful of them, and even those few whose names we knew we didn't get to know very well beyond how they respond to dangerous, uncertain, crowded situations (not very well, but would I have done any better, especially at age 15 or so?). So the writers gave themselves some rather challenging material, if I may make a rather grand understatement.

To make matters more difficult, we spent much of this part of the season from Buffy's point of view, and Buffy was working hard to distance herselves from these girls so she wouldn't feel it so much when she had to watch them die--so, as Buffy was distant, so were we. It was hard to care about these girls when most of them were, perforce, only extras. And when we knew, along with Buffy, that we were going to see many of them die. They became the girls against whom Joss was reacting when he first imagined Buffy: the helpless girls who go into dark places and get jumped by the bad guy.

I fervently agree with all the people who have said that trying to fake us out about Giles ("is he the First?") was a *very* bad idea. Not only did it contribute to the major feeling of fan-theft, but it just didn't make sense. It wasted time, and required contortions of character logic to maintain over so many episodes. Also frustrating were the few times when Giles' absence was not explained--or worse, not even referred to. I kept wondering why nobody said a word in "Get It Done" about how ticked Giles would be that he missed out on this huge Slayer origins ritual, for instance.

There is a lot more we can, have, and will say. I didn't mind the introduction of the Scythe, since Joss had already established its presence for Fray and it was good to get that into "canon" on the show. I also thought it was a very cool prop, and I liked that wonderful singing sound it made. :) It was harder to take things like the Shadowmen being clearly Swahili (speaking Swahili, at least, which sets them culturally much later and more sophisticated than the early-human appearance of the First Slayer when she was still The Primitive), and having them call the Slayer the Guardian of the Hellmouth (huh? the Sunnydale hellmouth? all hellmouths, since it's not the only one? and if the Sunnydale hellmouth was so important, why didn't the Council know about it? etc. etc. etc.); and then we got the extremely rushed introduction of the Guardian. This kind of thing might work in a comic book (no offense! the graphic novel is an important literary form), but in the context of Buffy's 7-year storyline it was very jarring. Not to mention uncomfortable, with the implication that those bad African men had to be balanced by good, very white women (assuming other Guardians were European...?). Good white women who hid underground and did nothing for thousands of years, because this particular fight would be so important...? There was too much to explain, and it felt like it hadn't been properly thought through. It can make a Buffy fan grumpy when she feels like she's supposed to just sit back and accept something. Man, that's what I got from Christ Carter--not from Joss! :)

There is a lot to praise in season 7, too, and I for one was happy with "Chosen". For me, it did quite possibly the best job it could have done under the circumstances to bring the series to a close; and I love the resolution of the impossible quandary Buffy has always faced as the Chosen One. Whole essays have been and will be written, I'm sure, on Joss' subversion of his own original paradigm of "one girl in all the world", and for his deliberate exposure of it as sexist and exploitative from its beginning. Now Buffy does not have to bear her destiny alone--she does not have to be The Law--and all the stresses that warped her over the years have fallen away. Now she just has "normal" stresses, like figuring out who she is and what she wants and how to make a living. And fighting demons and maybe helping with all the newly activated Slayers. You know--girly stuff. Human stuff. And some super-human stuff.

I know in my own case, one reason I don't post very often is that I tend to get to this point in a far-too-long post, realize I'm rambling and that I don't have time to edit it into a more thoughtfully constructed statement--and I give up and cancel the whole thing. :)

ME didn't have that option. They had to keep churning out the episodes.

So there's that.

For those of you who got to the end of this--thanks!


"Would I knew a little more,
or very much less."
--Dorothy Parker

[> [> [> [> Re: Swahili -- Abracapocus, 17:57:39 06/18/03 Wed

--just to clarify my comment about the Shadowmen speaking Swahili:

Swahili is an ancient East African trade language. Modern Swahili carries significant Arabic and Arabic-derived vocabulary, reflecting interactions with Arab traders and with Islam (i.e., the Arabic influence is relatively new, from the last 1,000-1,500 years). The Shadowmen spoke modern Swahili, with Arabic words interspersed (I'm forgetting the examples off the top of my head, sorry). So, either the Shadowmen have learned modern Swahili but not English, or the Slayer was created in, oh, 1100 A.D.--a couple hundred years after Aud met D'Hoffryn and became Anyanka.

It's a dumb quibble, I suppose, but it bugged me. :) They could have made the Shadowmen Yoruba, for instance (from southwestern Nigeria, whose language and religion play big roles in the Caribbean and in Brazil), and dressed them in traditional clothes, and they would have seemed more appropriately ancient. Maybe.

But whatever--I need to quit doing this! Wheeeeee!!!!!!!

[> [> [> [> That's how I saw Season 7 too -- curious, 18:24:57 06/18/03 Wed

I liked all your points. The season was much easier to "see" on video after we knew where it was going.

ME did seem to be spinning its wheels in the middle due to practical matters - but I think JE said in the Succubus Club interview - that Buffy's emotional arc was laid out well ahead of time. I may not have liked the way all the details didn't get addressed but Buffy's emotional arc and her resolution with Spike worked perfectly for me.

As for the Swahili and the Shadowmen - I think you just have to chalk it up to a detail that they fudged. The very black men and the very white woman thing was a little goofy too. Maybe they hurried these aspects to fit the overall message they were going for. hmmm....

[> [> [> [> Wow, terrific analysis! Please post more often! -- Scroll, 20:33:18 06/18/03 Wed

Thing is, I just finished posting above that, while I do love Season 7, I felt it didn't live up to its full potential (no pun intended). But you've defended the ME writers so logically and eloquently that I'm feeling rather ashamed of my previous post now! As if I haven't been truly appreciative of the behind-the-scenes, production-type difficulties that come with networks and actors and contracts, etc., and how all of it affects the show itself. So thanks for that : )

The rest of your post was great too, and I agree with a lot of it. (Heh, smartness by association!) Totally agree with your Anya and Giles points. Would also like to add that throwing Angel in as deus ex machina felt terribly disrespectful to the character and Angel. IMHO -- but then I'm more of an Angel fan than a Buffy fan.

And I very much agree about the use of the Guardian, and the ultimate "evilness", or at least badness, of the Shadowmen/Council of Watchers. The Guardian had the potential (in hindsight) of being a fascinating character and a great addition to the Buffyverse mythology. But the way she was thrown in so last minute didn't work in Joss' favour. As for the Shadowmen/Council, I agree that they were men and that their patriarchy was harsh and cruel and unfair to the First Slayer and all subsequent slayers. But their reasons for there being "only one" were never addressed, we don't know why there's only ever been just one, why Buffy's answer in "Chosen" (as emotionally satisfying as it was) is the correct and logical one. I had high hopes that Joss would address the Slayer mythos, and while I loved what we got, I wish there'd been more... Okay, now I'm whining again, so to get back on topic --

Maybe once I'm sufficiently recovered from post-series traumatic syndrome, and I get around to re-watching the entire season in one go, I'll better understand/appreciate the middle eps -- which tend to blur together and make me tap my foot impatiently. I think you might very well be right that it all fits together much more seamlessly once we can see it without weeks of re-runs. And seeing the plot arc flow smoothly will probably help me to better understand Buffy's emotional state. I think Sophist has a good point below that the key to S7 is Buffy's character development. Now, I'm one of those fans who sees other characters as independent of Buffy, of having stories interesting enough for Buffy to be sidelined once in a while so that the sidekicks can get the spotlight. But I'll probably be more emotionally satisfied with S7 once I hinge my understanding on Buffy.

So thanks for the uplifting post, I'm feeling much better now! I do hope you'll post more, you have a lot of interesting stuff to say (and there's no such thing as a post that's too long, not on this board!) and you say it very well : )

[> [> [> [> Excellent analysis. I doubt I could've been that concise. -- cjl, 21:20:34 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> welcome, abracapocus! well said! (long? for here? ha!) -- anom, 22:25:49 06/18/03 Wed

I agree w/a lot of what you said, & your points about the demands real life placed on the show's creators help put things in perspective.

I wouldn't call the Shadowmen "bad"; they were doing what they knew how to do in a situation where they & the whole human race were under threat. But they were limited in their thinking; possibly their fear of what a human subjected to what they did to the 1st Slayer & at the same time embued w/so much power might turn out to be--& might do to them--made them feel the need to keep tight control over her. I also don't have a problem w/their being black per se; I thought this (as with the 1st Slayer) reflected the Slayer's origin in a time before any humans had left Africa & developed lighter skin colors. But the Guardian's being white doesn't seem to fit in w/this...although I suppose the individual Guardian we saw didn't necessarily have to have been born as long ago as the Shadowmen & the 1st Slayer. But her speaking modern English (after centuries of waiting around?) was as incongruous as the Shadowmen's speaking modern Swahili.

I'm more bothered by not having had any indication that the "Essence of the Scythe" could be used the way it was. I'm glad it was--I loved the solution of sharing the power--but I would've wanted more of an explanation of how Buffy got from finding the Scythe to realizing it could be used for more than "killing strong bodies 3 ways." Did Willow click on the link w/the "gulpy sound" symbol & find out something about this "Essence"? Did she overcome her fear & do a spell that revealed the Scythe's other power? Did Buffy sense something about the Scythe beyond that it belonged to her? Did she put it together from the fact that Faith felt the same way, meaning that it could "belong" to >1 Slayer at the same time? As far as we saw, she came up w/the idea out of nowhere.

I didn't dislike this season as much as some other posters (loved Baseball Potential!), but I still have my problems w/it.

[> [> [> [> Good analysis...would largely agree. Not that long at all. -- s'kat, 09:48:08 06/19/03 Thu

[> [> A mite more light. -- OnM, 20:54:46 06/18/03 Wed

Currently I'm about 12 pages into my 'Thoughts On' Chosen, and am only about half way there. So, more details will have to come out when this epic finally gets posted this weekend, but you already know that I'm a big fan of season 7, so I can only commiserate in a purely theoretical fashion.

I've been watching the S4 DVD's extensively over the last week, and have been pleased to find that not only was my positive opinion at the time holding up, but that the season was even better than I remembered it. All I can say is at the time, I was in a tiny minority-- the vast number of BtVS fans seems to hate most of the year, and cited many of the same misgivings you are citing re: S7.

Your feeling are your feelings, they can't be argued with, but they can change over time. I want to close by quoting ponygirl:

*** I must say that whatver failures I see in the last half of s7 I do not feel it negates the series as a whole. ***

I confess that the one thing I find hard to accept is that even if the season truly did not succeed as it might have (I disagree, but this is for the sake of argument, OK?) that in no way shape or form diminishes the series as a whole. (I find this same mode of thinking being applied to the X-Files, which truly did have mediocre final seasons. The preceding ones were still brilliant, nothing changes that.) If one adjusts one's thinking so that near-perfection at all times is not a requirement for a happy life (or the appreciation of art), one's life gets much better.

It sucks being a perfectionist-- I know from personal experience. Part of my desire to improve myself over the last decade has been to gradually let go of that kind of obsessional thinking and try to see the positive aspects of whatever and not dwell on the negative. (As soon as I succeed in this effort, I'll let you know.)

It's late + I've been writing most of the day = tired. So sorry if this is a little incoherent, but hope you get the gist.


[> Re: The Deflation Effect: ME ennui and the vacuum of S7 criticism -- BMF (finally delurking), 14:57:06 06/18/03 Wed

I've been reading this site for the past few months (took me awhile to find it), and you've struck on every conceivable excuse that I used to not work up the nerve/energy/creative juices to start posting.
It's your last reason, "If Mutant Enemy didn't care about keeping the story straight in S7, why should I?", that made me finally post, however. I long wanted to put Buffy up on a pedestal and call it "art", thereby making it into something admirable and worth discussing critically as one would, say, a novel. But I couldn't do it, largely due to a small but insistent feeling that, "This is just television, it isn't worth that kind of thought and effort." Rediculous, maybe, as I was already undertaking critical thoughts, but highly effective. I never bothered trying to post because I was too distracted by the literal reality of the show to accept its own reality enough that I would want to seriously discuss it.
Obviously, most other people who read this will not share directly in my problem (you've posted before and often, right?), but the fact remains that much of season 7 really did just feel like "television", not "art". Personally, I'm with whoever said that everything after first date was formulaic, which is what prevents television from being treated as "art". Art, at least the kind that people willfully and critically discuss, does not fall into formula, does not repeat itself; it aims to be something unique at every turn. I, at least, had come to expect nothing less from Buffy, and now feel compelled to post because it fell below those standards, fell into what had prevented me from posting in the first place.
Maybe this helps, maybe it doesn't, but I hope it sheds some light on why people feel compelled to critically discuss anything.

-BMF, happy at finally posting

[> [> Art... -- Rook, 17:47:52 06/18/03 Wed

>>Art, at least the kind that people willfully and >>critically discuss

And I see people willfully and critically discussing it. So by your definition it's art.

>>but the fact remains that much of season 7 really did >>just feel like "television", not "art".

And that's not a "fact". It's still just an opinion.

[> [> Glad you're delurking! -- Scroll, 19:45:39 06/18/03 Wed

You're pretty brave, jumping in to a discussion such as this for your first post! But I do think you have a good point (though I don't entirely agree with you) about how parts of Season 7 have seemed "formulaic". Now, I don't agree with this assessment in the sense that I think Joss is original enough in his final feminist message via "Chosen" to not be formulaic. However, I do believe Joss had that message he needed to get out. And in the process of trying to get that message out, lots of artistry -- "artistic" being storylines more smoothly paced or written or, heck, written at all -- was lost in the process.

I've loved Buffy for seven seasons now, and it's never been "just" television for me. But I won't deny that (IMHO!) Season 7 wasn't as good as I'd hoped for. Things fell through and I was kinda disappointed. Not entirely! Cuz there's lots to love about S7. But yeah, lots of things character- and plot-wise didn't work out, and it was fairly obvious. Generous amount of spackling was needed before this season made sense in my head.

Before anyone flames me, I'd like to add that I really hate admitting all this, because I have touted for years now that Buffy is the best damn show in the world, revolutionary and artistic, and I hate the fact that I don't love it as much as I used to. Only my personal feelings though. I know lots of people love this season. Anyway, I've had my say. Hope that wasn't too ranty :)

[> [> [> On Joss's message -- BMF, 09:25:30 06/19/03 Thu

Thanks for the vote of confidence! I should clarify that I never really thought Buffy was just television myself, either. There was a part of me that did, a highly realist part, and whenever I started giving serious attention to Buffy, that part would somehow seep into my train of thought, keeping me from really going deeply into it. Now that the show is over, and I can look back at it as a complete work, that part of my train of thought has weakened because I can now clearly say to myself, having seen the whole work, that Buffy really was something special and deserving of serious consideration.
I, too, found Joss's message to be the redeeming part of S7. I'm not talking about the feminist message, though. What I was fascinated by was his emphasis on choice, on the need to take control of one's situation through creativity and making unique, decisive choices.
What I loved most about Buffy was the portrayal of loneliness brought on by not choosing to do something about it. I was a high-school geek (actually, I'm still not that far removed from being one), so I empathized with the ways in which the characters, particularly Buffy and Willow, created their own loneliness by refusing to break free from their accepted roles. In other words, the outcast mentality that they demonstrated was brought on through their acceptance of externally defined roles. When Buffy simply threw that role out the window, well, I could have stood up and cheered. In my experience, that kind of redefinition is the most difficult thing to do in life; I've been struggling to do it for the past couple of years with limited success. So seeing it occur on screen, the way it did, made the season for me: I loved "Chosen", and thought it was a great way to end the show because it resolved Buffy's choice issues and suggested a path for Willow to choose. A perfect resolution, as far as I'm concerned. The way it unfolded was far from perfect, but the end result was excellent.

[> Criticize away... -- Caroline, 15:12:59 06/18/03 Wed

I haven't read the posts yet that you refer to but I have to disagree about the amount of criticism. There's been a lot in my view on the board. (Heck, I've made quite a few myself - ask everyone at Vancouver! I spent most of Saturday morning talking about my problems with S7 and Chosen!).

But having concerns and criticisms about the show does not prevent me from being very well-satisfied with the season as a whole. I have huge problems with the season 4 arc as well as some plots in s6 but they contain eps that are standout episodes for me and I still love those seasons, despite their flaws.

Part of the reason that I stayed away from the board for a little while was just the fact that in many ways I've needed the time to mourn and process and digest the ending of the show. Many threads were critical and I didn't agree with a lot of the criticisms made. People have every right to make those criticisms, just as I had the right to disagree and want to not read the board for a while. Another reason I stayed away for a while is that I was sick of talking about Spike! Yes, I love Spike, just as much as I love Cordy, Anya, Tara and the core 4. But that does not mean I want to talk about him all the time! Obviously other people did want to continue talking about Spike (as is their right!) so rather than whining about it or being upset, I took a break to readjust my attitude and came back in a much better frame of mind! People don't always post what I want! (I think that was a good attempt at overcoming primary narcissism, don't you?)

When I came back to the board I found a post by Darby that was again critical. I just sucked it up and got back to defending Chosen and I was cool with that - c'est la vie and all that.

Usually in a situation where I don't agree with what someone is saying, I will come up with a post that communicates my views and hope to get some response. I haven't had the time for long, detailed posts lately - travel, illness and the press of work have all played a factor. This is my first longer post in a quite a while!

I have a preference for posts that are analytical, logical, considered, well thought-out and constructed - just the stuff this board specializes in!! I cannot understand how I could be offended or concerned by a post that fits these criteria even if I vehemently disagree with the writer's opinion on the show.

So, criticize away. Can't wait to read. I'll even start you off:

Giles - they might have been trying to show us that Giles was distant and scared because of his responsibilities to the potentials and ending of the Watchers Council but it would've been nice for ME to show, not tell. Also, the fake-out about Giles being FE was lame and they didn't 'service' that story well.

The potentials could've been introduced later in the season and still fit in with the whole masculine/feminine power deal going on. And it would've left more room to explore Xander/Anya and Willow, which I felt where underexplored.

I shake my head at the characterization of Anya post-Selfless. She was reduced to being a nympho 'unable to give it away' when Selfless promised so much. It wasn't until the end of the season that I saw the Anya from Selfless back again.

The core four standing in the high school facing each other in Chosen would've been so much more poignant if there had been more thought gone into their separation in the first place earlier in the season.

The whole scythe/amulet things felt too plot device-y and the intro of the amulet really smelled of deus ex machina.

In short, I felt like after a great start, the middle of the season went kablooey and only picked up near the end. I have a whole bunch of other stuff which I try to post later but this will do for now - must return to work!

[> [> The Anya thing would be a problem . . . -- Finn Mac Cool, 16:13:56 06/18/03 Wed

. . . if it weren't for her small amount of screen presence. It's hard to get much into the "Selfless" style issues when you give her, maximum, five minutes an episode. Yes, Anya did sorta regress to her, as you call it, "nympho" character later in Season 7, but, as that wasn't the focus of a great deal of time, I have no problem with it. Plus, it's not like the extremely-sex-hungry, speaking-before-thinking part of her went away just because she got an episode that delved deeply into her issues, so at least it wasn't out of character.

[> [> [> Re: The Anya thing would be a problem . . . -- Sophist, 16:47:06 06/18/03 Wed

I thought that Anya after Selfless was quite comparable to Cordy in S3 after Lover's Walk. In fact, I like the ending they gave Anya much better than the one they gave Cordy (in The Prom, not on AtS).

[> Vent All You Want -- Rina, 15:36:54 06/18/03 Wed

Hey, vent all you want. Don't expect all of us to agree. Just as I'm sure you don't agree with those who enjoyed Season 7.

[> Mike is better than Joel -- Rook, 17:24:12 06/18/03 Wed


TPM was a good movie.

There is no God.

T:NG was better than TOS.

The AR was needed character devolpment for Spike.

Villains - Grave wasn't cliche.

Potato is right Potahto is wrong.

And Chosen, and the rest of S7, were fine. Personally I'd rank it 4th among the seasons, ahead of S1, 6 and 4, behind 3, 5 and 2. But I guess you don't see it that way. But it doesn't matter.

You see what you see, I see what I see. What's the point of debating the subjective merits of entertainment? Or the subjective merits of anything for that matter?

I don't know either.

[> [> What's TPM? -- Finn Mac Cool, 17:26:50 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> [> The Phantom Menace? -- I think, 17:31:25 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> Yup -- Rook, 17:42:12 06/18/03 Wed

[> I'm happy to goad you out of your ennui, cjl -- Sophist, approaching with cattle prod, 17:34:30 06/18/03 Wed

"There is no cause for alarm. Actually, there is cause for alarm. It just won't do any good." Just thought I'd try to tie this in to the episode we're supposed to be discussing this week, but aren't.

Let me explain what I liked about S7. That should give you and others plenty of opportunity for piling on.

My fundamental view of the show is that of manwitch: we are to see ourselves as Buffy. She is the centerpiece of the show and should be our primary interest.

I don't carry this so far as to say that hers is the only lens through which we watch, just that it is the primary one.

The important things to Buffy in S1-3 were family and friends. This is typical of high school kids, though family is perhaps less overtly important than it was to Buffy. In any case, I saw S1-3 as Buffy-centered, but with Giles, Joyce, Xander and Willow as the important supporting characters. Angel was important at times, Cordy and Oz were on the periphery and Faith was a foil.

Nobody has to agree with this view. If you saw Faith as a fascinating character in her own right, that's fine. I'm just explaining how I saw it.

Based on my own experience after high school, and what I'm watching my older daughter go through right now, life after high school is different. We gradually lose our high school friends. Family becomes less important and significant others more important. Given this perspective, the natural sequence is for the significant other to become more central to Buffy's story and the high school friends less so. Girlfriends of the friends like Anya and Tara never were all that important. (They were important to Xander and Willow, and I cared about them. But Buffy related to them as you might relate to your best friend's spouse; not the same.)

S4-7 have therefore been heavily influenced by Buffy's relationship to Spike. Lots of people don't like this. Either they don't like Spike or they maintained an interest in Giles or Xander or Willow that they wanted explored more. I think, though, that ME was very realistic in recognizing that this doesn't happen. That's because it didn't happen that way in my life; if you held on to your high school friends till you were 40, you no doubt disagree.

Some of the criticisms I've seen about S7 don't bother me precisely because I think less screen time for certain characters was justified by the life progression ME was showing us. It helps, of course, that I like Spike very much, but even that's not critical as long as I'm seeing the world through Buffy's eyes.

Now, as you well know, I find Willow a fascinating character. I would love to see more about her, and I'd love even more a spinoff focused on her. But that doesn't affect my enjoyment of S7 because, for me, it remains Buffy's story.

For me, then, the only real issue was whether I understood and approved of Buffy's development in S7. I have to say that manwitch called this in advance. I think Chosen played out exactly as he predicted. I don't see how anyone could object to that message, though I suppose some do. I found it uplifting.

I have no doubt there are technical issues to discuss about the execution of S7 and individual eps. But the emotional tone of the season, which seems to bother some people, felt just right to me.

[> [> Re: I'm happy to goad you out of your ennui, cjl -- Alison, 17:58:44 06/18/03 Wed

I really enjoyed season 7. That is, for the most part I liked what I saw on screen. My only problems lie in what wasn't. IMO ME did manage to "lose" the arcs of a great deal of their supporting characters...whereas in earlier seasons screen time was balanced, it really wasn't in this one. However, I don't regret even a tiny bit that was given to Spike's developement- I adored every moment he was on screen. Also...I had hoped there would be more exploration of the dark side of the slayer power, how the first slayer and the first are connected- I had the feeling ME was heading somewhere epic with it...and it was not all that I had hoped. I did love what they did do though...I loved Chosen and the resolution of the potentials and the First. Side note here...I have a theory season 7 is supposed to encompass Buffy's journey in seasons 1-6...so the idea that evil didn't defeat her, but it didn't go away...I liked it..anyway, thats another post. Season 7 was an excellent season- but it had the potential to be bigger, better, than just an excellent season of Buffy..it could have been THE greatest season ever...it had great concepts behind it and great emotional arcs to delve into.

[> [> Hey--easy with the cattle prod there, bucko. -- cjl, 21:12:42 06/18/03 Wed

"Based on my own experience after high school, and what I'm watching my older daughter go through right now, life after high school is different. We gradually lose our high school friends. Family becomes less important and significant others more important. Given this perspective, the natural sequence is for the significant other to become more central to Buffy's story and the high school friends less so."

Ordinarily, I would agree with this assessment. But Xander was an integral part of the Summers household at the start of S7, and Willow's return from England was hotly anticipated. (Is she still evil? Has she got the magic thing under control? Still gay?) Giles told Willow to head back to the 'Dale (even before she was ready) because the Big Evil was brewing and Buffy would need all of her resources to beat it.

In other words, BtVS was not your typical tale of high school friends slowly drifting away from each other after graduation. If Joss DID write the story that way, I would have reluctantly accepted it. Let's say that somewhere in S5, they ran out of plotlines for Nic Brendon (no wisecracks please), and Xander either took a construction job in Denver or died in The Gift. Fine--I'd be upset, but it's a valid artistic choice. Or, say, Willow left Sunnydale after S3 to study at Oxford. That happens. Friends rarely go the same colleges, and they do tend to drift away.

But Joss, very consciously, kept the Scoobs together for the duration--they were a FAMILY. He went through hoops to get Anthony Stewart Head back for S7, because he felt Giles was necessary for the group dynamic.

I find it irritating that Joss and ME went through so much trouble to bring the Core Four into Buffy's young adulthood as a unit--and then didn't bother to make sure all their individual stories were treated with care.

[> [> [> When you've bowed, you leave the crowd -- Sophist, 08:43:59 06/19/03 Thu

In other words, BtVS was not your typical tale of high school friends slowly drifting away from each other after graduation. If Joss DID write the story that way, I would have reluctantly accepted it. Let's say that somewhere in S5, they ran out of plotlines for Nic Brendon (no wisecracks please), and Xander either took a construction job in Denver or died in The Gift. Fine--I'd be upset, but it's a valid artistic choice. Or, say, Willow left Sunnydale after S3 to study at Oxford. That happens. Friends rarely go the same colleges, and they do tend to drift away.

They didn't need to make Xander and Willow leave. Buffy did. She left family and friends behind in The Gift.

Her friends dragged her back. She was, naturally enough, depressed and resentful. In addition, her friends had problems of their own that would have strained almost any friendship. The process has begun.

At the beginning of S7, she has reached a tentative accomodation with her friends. Spike is, she thinks, gone. Even when Spike returns, his behavior is odd and she has lingering issues from S6. This leaves plenty of opportunity to focus on X and W in early S7, and that, in fact, is what we saw.

But then 2 important things change. First, at the end of Sleeper, Buffy realizes she still has feelings for Spike: "I believe in you." Then, at the beginning of the very next episode (BoTN), her "father" shows up and says, in effect, "You need to take over the family business right now. Oh yeah, and I'm here to see that you run it right."

This is the point where we reach the transition that I mentioned. Buffy has little time for her old high school friends. She is re-connecting with her lover and she has new job responsibilities that she could never have foreseen. This is the point in life when we begin to drift away from our high school friends.

I see the portrayal of Buffy in the second half of S7 as very realistic in this metaphorical sense. Does it disappoint those who wanted other stories told? I'm sure it does. By the same token, I was very disappointed that S6 chose not to tell a story of Spike's redemption without the need for a soul. I still think that would have been more interesting. But both my complaint and the ones I've seen here are really side issues because they don't involve us directly in Buffy's journey. They are diversions away from Buffy's journey. It's all about the journey (further proof that ATLTR).

[> [> [> [> Inheriting the family business (and dealing with the employees) -- cjl, 09:29:41 06/19/03 Thu


This is a possible explanation for Giles' wonkiness during the second half of S7--he's like the retired CEO of a corporation watching his son or daughter ruin the business, or Lear raving on the parapet. Not sure if I buy this version of Rupert Giles, but it's worth considering.

As for the whole "drift" theory, I'm simply not buying it as an excuse to neglect the W/X storylines. There was no physical separation between Buffy, Willow and Xander. X/W were practically living in the Summers house, and they were key (no pun intended) employees in the "family business." (Example: B/X/W were telepathically discussing strategy in "Showtime.") And on the emotional side....

I think it was made quite clear that Buffy detached herself from friends and family not because she was "re-connecting with her lover and [dealing with] new job responsibilities" (although that was part of it), but because she loved them so much that she couldn't bear to face the guilt if her leadership got them hurt or killed. Once Spike gave her The Speech in "Touched," and she and Faith had their "hot chicks with superpowers" conversation in "End of Days," she came out of her emotional isolation and reconnected in that old Scooby way.

There was no indication at the end of Chosen that B/X/W are splitting up at any time in the near future. Yes, Dad (Giles) might have gone back to England in the never-to-be Season 8, but we probably would have had Buffy searching out new Slayers, Xander as loyal lieutenant, Willow as Guardian/sage wizard, and Dawn as junior watcher. La plus ca change, la plus c'est la meme chose. Evolution, not separation.

[> [> poking and prodding -- ponygirl, 22:55:36 06/18/03 Wed

I agree that s7 is primarily about Buffy's development, however I had a great deal of difficulty connecting to her as a character after the Potentials and Giles arrived. I believe that this was done deliberately for three reasons:
1. To show Buffy's disconnect from her own emotions and how the leadership style she had adopted was affecting her negatively. We weren't meant to be comfortable with General Buffy and I think the undercutting of her words in Potential, and the literal cutting away from her during a speech in Storyteller underscores this.
2. We needed to have some understanding of why the Scoobies and the Potentials would turn on her. It was a very fine line to walk - since none of the characters could be so right or so wrong that we wouldn't still sympathize with them we had to see from multiple points of view, which may have diminished our connections with all of them.
3. To set up Touched as the emotional turning point of the season. I think that a lot of what was witheld before in terms of Buffy's emotions was done so that Touched would have a greater impact. This was the episode that set up the finale - after Touched Buffy's whole leadership style and attitude changed completely. In EoD she was able to talk to other characters, she was more open emotionally. Touched also gave us the problem and solution of Chosen - Buffy doesn't want to be the one, she can't simply give up who she is, but she realizes that she doesn't have to be alone. Her asking to be held, after a season of fearing weakness and depending only on herself, after a season dealing with a villian who cannot be touched, is the turning point for her.

Or is it? See I wanted more. Not wild Spuffy loving by any means, but more of what Buffy was feeling. She admits that she had cut herself off from the Potentials and from everyone. The admission is great but don't we need to hear the why? Something beyond being the Slayer, some of those deep issues that were touched on in CwDP. Buffy explained to Angel that she didn't know who she was yet, but I think she could have given us a few of the ingredients of her cookie mix. Just something to let us know why it was so hard but incredibly important for Buffy to reach out. I have a pretty good idea but after all this time I wanted to hear it from her.

I may be wrong but I feel that if Touched didn't quite hit you in the right way emotionally and intellectually it was hard to appreciate what the season was trying to do (and I'm leaving aside some major problems with the plot). I too found Chosen's message uplifting and something I can completely agree with, but for me the emotional tone was off. I never found my way back to Buffy like I should have. But I'm willing to accept that this could just be me. :)

[> [> [> I think you've identified the issue -- Sophist, 09:01:33 06/19/03 Thu

It was a very fine line to walk - since none of the characters could be so right or so wrong that we wouldn't still sympathize with them we had to see from multiple points of view, which may have diminished our connections with all of them.

Exactly right. Despite the criticism of "General Buffy", the issues were not that simple. There was a great deal of justification in what she did. At the same time, there was a great deal of justification in the reactions of Xander and Willow (not so much in Anya or the Potentials).

I also think you're exactly right that Touched was supposed to set the emotional tone. I loved it. If someone else didn't, I can certainly see how that would be a problem. As I've indicated above, I was viewing the season through a B/S lens, not a B/W/X lens. That may well explain why I liked S7 so much more than some others.

[> [> [> [> Which is why it's strange that I didn't enjoy it more -- ponygirl, 11:46:52 06/19/03 Thu

I'll admit that I was viewing a lot of this season and s6 through a B/S lens. For me it's the most interesting relationship ME has ever done, so I was surprised that Touched felt off for me emotionally. I wanted the relationship explored more, along the lines of the conversations/confrontations in NLM. Even there Buffy was quick to turn the direction of the conversation away from her inner motivations. CwDP still stands IMO as the high point of the season in terms of Buffy's emotional honesty and self-awareness and that was very early in the year.

[> Okay, I'll re-work and post my critique, until then... -- shadowkat, 20:47:36 06/18/03 Wed

Here's a repost of the message I posted below:

Several people, who are actually amazingly good critics, seem to be reluctant to post criticism...for fear of getting too negative. Don't be. Heck, I'm critical of the show - see my posts in the archives. And I have half-written a criticism of S7, which I've been holding off on posting.

But there is a difference between good constructive criticism and bashing. For examples of bashing or self-indulgent sarcasm go to Television Without Pity - they are experts at it. Actually that's their intent. Or some of the other boards. The reason I love Atpo so much, is the criticim is smart here. I may not agree with it and some of it may push my buttons, but at least people can relate to each other and about the show on a mature level.

Sophist does a good job of pointing out the ways you don't want to criticize:

1. A general condemnation of a season or episode. "S7 sucks" is just not helpful. It tells me nothing. To me, criticism must be phrased in a way such that the author could, theoretically, understand a clear guide for change and re-write the script to implement it.

For example, consider the statement, "S7 is riddled with plotholes". If you believe that, identify one and let's talk about that specific one. Talking specifics about a small part of the whole creates better discussion than sweeping generalizations (to use an old term from my long ago English class).

2. Sarcasm or condescension. This is the hardest to control in a written forum, and we've all discussed it before. Clearly, sarcastic comments like "Geez, if you can't see this go watch Charmed" (to pick a current example from the Board) aren't helpful.* Neither is condescension, which I'm probably guilty of in writing this.

This I would agree with. While it is tempting to give in to this urge it is not conducive to a good debate. You end falling into the trap of name-calling. (On one board - I saw people take up an entire thread with nothing but an exchange of non-text insults - it was actually quite amusing and made the posters look ridiculous.)

I remember people criticizing S6 - a couple came out and said it sucked, they ranted and raved, but they didn't tell us why, except to give generalizations and bash posters who did like it. Calling the posters who enjoyed S6 - sick twisted individuals. Now that's not criticism, guys, that's bashing. Just as coming out and saying Spike is the symbol of misogyny - is not constructive criticism. You need to build the arguement - not make a blanket statement - it just pushes buttons. Which is why I suggest people don't post on issues that are emotional hot buttons - don't know about anyone else? But I'm not very good at writing about something that pushes my buttons emotionally - I tend to fall into bad debate tactics and traps. If you truly despise a character - if that character pushes your buttons and you know that if you post on that character you will come off trollish, condscending, and possibly offend and put off people that you respect? Quick solution - avoid posting on that character. Wood does it to me. Can't deal with the character. Pushes my hot button. And there are posters I respect who like him, so I've tried to back away.
But this is VERY different than writing a criticism of why Giles did not work as a character this year or how you felt Spike's journey for a soul seemed off plot-wise or had too many gaps in it. Or that you felt Buffy was written a little too aloof this season.

It really is all about tone. It's also about respecting the other posters, who disagree with you. Not condsending to them or making them feel stupid and most importantly, avoiding the trap of making it personal.

Comments like: "Well you're a woman and a sucker for Spike's sex appeal so will forgive him anything" is out of line and highly presumptive, considering for all you know, the poster could be a heterosexual male.

Another example: Spikeapologist? Spikeshipper, Spuffyfan,
Ducks(a term for B/A shippers - from the Babble Board), B/Ashipper, any of these phrases - which I admit are tempting - usually start wars.

I think the fear of falling into these traps, may be what keeps some of us from engaging in constructive criticism.
Or rather the fear of someone else falling into it.

I know I've been guilty occassionally of going there, something that I'm always ashamed of afterwards, and really wish someone would delete. The best we can do is try to avoid it. Respect the fact that someone may be viewing the show from a completely different perspective than our own, and attack the writing or structure of the show critically, the argument in the post, but NOT the perceptions, personality, and perspective of the poster.

That said, I think this board is actually pretty good at avoiding these pitfalls.I've seen less of it here than elsewhere. Part of the reason I spend most of my time here.

There, now you guys don't have to hunt for it. ;-)

(off to work on the critique......)

[> A Season in Search of a Spin-off -- Malandanza, 22:14:04 06/18/03 Wed

I thought Season Seven began with extraordinary promise -- all about power, with the FE as the Master/Buffy telling crazy Spike "It's not about right. It's not about wrong. It's about Power" -- echoing Buffy's own lines to Dawn at the start of the episode. We also got to see Dawn and Anya questioning Willow's get-out-of-jail-free cards as the season progressed. An old, undefeated villain was back, potential slayers were dying, Spike was in the thrall of the first -- lots of potential. And then what happened? All the interesting story lines died away and Season Seven became the season in search of a spin-off, with the finale seeming more like a pilot episode of a new series than a conclusion to an epic. Too many questions left unanswered -- like what was the FE doing?

While I think it is possible that ME became lazy and let BtVS fall into ruin, ignoring basic things (like you can't drown a vampire -- so it's not really torture to hold his head underwater for a few minutes at a time) to focus on Willow's new girlfriend's tongue piercing (and when did Willow turn into Anya, anyway?) or Xander's erotic dreams, it's also possible that the things we see as inconsistencies are just setting up the premise of the next series. And was at least one very well done episode later in the season -- Storyteller -- so even at that late date, someone still cared about BtVS.

Like let's assume the FE wasn't the stupidest villain in the history of... well, history. Why would it dig up an item the slayer needed to defeat it? And then let the slayer have it -- order her right hand man not to attack her? Then sit idly by while Caleb is cut in half? And why did the Shadowmen limit the slayer powers to a single girl? Does the source of the slayers' powers matter? Why was it so ineffective?

The source of slayer power is some sort of primal demon -- perhaps even the first demon, since it didn't seem particularly sentient -- bound by the Shadowmen into one girl. A girl they watch and teach -- and kill, if necessary. Suppose the origin of the Cruciamentum was to eliminate girls who had been corrupted by the demon -- let the demonic spirit pass into the next vessel. Why not just empower them all? Harder to keep track of 100 women than one, but it might also be harder to control the demon. Bound as it is to a single outlet, it would have limited control over its environment. If the FE and the First Slayer are the same entity, the FE's motives in wanting the slayers empowered become clearer. Maybe it didn't want an end of the slayer line, but an end of the Watchers, so it could be "made flesh" without outside intervention. The power that Buffy rejected in the Shadowmen's world was distributed to every potential slayer -- a few gave permission, but most had no more choice than did the first slayer.

Buffy as the anomaly also would make sense -- a break in the slayer line -- two slayers now instead of the mandated one. It opened the door for giving the demon access to all the potentials -- the FE just needed the slayer to pull the trigger. Enter Caleb and the Ubervamps -- make the situation dire enough and force the slayer's hand. Drop hints along the way -- lead her to the axe, keep the minion from interfering. Now the FE is made flesh -- all over the world. What Caleb , the Bringers, and the Ubervamps actually did was irrelevant (and we saw just how irrelevant Caleb was in End of Days/Chosen when the First spent its time chatting up Spike while its favorite minion was sliced in half). Anyway, a spin-off about superpowered, young women under the constant influence of the dark source of their powers sounds more interesting to me than Kennedy, the Vampire Slayer (although I'd watch the Junior Watcher's Council if Dawn and Andrew reprised their roles).

I do think they dropped the ball on Spuffy, though. To have Buffy deeply affected by the AR at the start of the season and suddenly, jarringly, and for no apparent reason, switch to

She puts her hand up under his shirt, feels along his rib cage. She looks at him with genuine concern -- his injury's worse than he's letting on.

Potential -- shooting script

without some sort of transition, was unfortunate. They ought to have either kept Spike at arm's length or made it very clear that NewSpike was a completely different person than OldSpike. To make matters worse, they turned the AR into a big joke at the end of the season -- with the "you mean no as in eventually" line.

[> [> Viewers in search of the impossible -- Rook, 05:43:19 06/19/03 Thu

The real problem is viewers that are content to ignore the fact that every single complaint you brought up here can be made about other seasons as well. Viewers that over idealized the technical aspects of prior seasons and then suddenly, when they heard the series was ending, expected the series to do magical things that it hadn't ever done before.

Vampires can't breathe? Then why did Spike act as if he was out of breath from running in The Yoko Factor? Why is Angel panting like a dog when the Beast kicks his ass in Apoc Nowish? MAybe it's an error...but it's an error in one scene and has happened more than once in the past. So why's it's such a big deal now?

Villain has a stupid plan? So WTF was Adam really up to anyhow?

Focus on Kennedy's tongue ring? We saw it once and someone made a joke about it the next episode. Wow...maybe 10 seconds of screen time.

As far as no "transition" for Buffy regarding her realtionship with Spike...how many more times did she need to say "He has a soul now" in order for people to get it?

And Xander's erotic dream! I mean Xander has never had a dream like that before, right? I mean other than every other dream we've seen him have, and the fact that Joss has stated that it's very intentional that Xander relates to every other character on the show in a sexual way.

If you want to flame things about the season, you might want to start with things that A) Actually happened or B) Aren't things that it's been doing for years.

[> [> [> Viewers in search of the impossible, but wanting to avoid the ridiculous -- cjl, 08:16:32 06/19/03 Thu

Point by point:

1. "Vampires can't breathe? Then why did Spike act as if he was out of breath from running in The Yoko Factor? Why is Angel panting like a dog when the Beast kicks his ass in Apoc Nowish?"

Always a problem when we see vampires sucking wind in BtVS or ANGEL. Breaks mythology and yanks you out of the moment. But those scenes you mention flash by in a moment, and we usually don't catch the continuity error until a second or third viewing (I didn't, anyway). The torture scene in Bring on the Night draws attention to the continuity error like a red neon sign. The dramatic thrust of the entire scene is that the FE is cutting off Spike's breathing by drowning him. (Marti? Doug? Which one of you fell asleep in class that day?)

2. "Villain has a stupid plan? So WTF was Adam really up to anyhow?"

Adam was setting up a bloody battle between the demons imprisoned at the Initiative compound and the Initiative's human soliders so he could stock up on spare parts for construction of a cyber-demonoid army. Why couldn't he just grab/kill demons and humans from Sunnydale's general population and cannibalize the parts from there? Dunno. Never claimed the plan made much sense. But at least he had a plan and stuck with it, and I could deal with the lameness. The FE's plan for wiping out Buffy and the Scoobs and to ruuuuuuuuule the world seemed to change every third episode. That drove me nuts.

3. "Focus on Kennedy's tongue ring? We saw it once and someone made a joke about it the next episode. Wow...maybe 10 seconds of screen time."

Kennedy's tongue ring never bothered me. Kennedy never really bothered me. But, tongue ring or no, her character never interested me, either. She was Willow's version of Riley--but ME spent much more time developing Riley's personal dilemmas and quirks. In a way, poor Iyara Limon was in a no-win situation: develop the W/K romance fully, and you have to cut down on everybody else's screen time; cut Kennedy back any further, and you might as well get rid of the character.

4. "And Xander's erotic dream! I mean Xander has never had a dream like that before, right? I mean other than every other dream we've seen him have, and the fact that Joss has stated that it's very intentional that Xander relates to every other character on the show in a sexual way."

Xander's erotic dream was a hoot. Believe me, I appreciated ANY time we spent in Xander's POV in S7.

[> [> [> [> Rook's basic point seems right to me -- Sophist, 08:52:51 06/19/03 Thu

Namely, that other seasons have just as many "plotholes" as S6 and S7. I think we all just noticed them more because of greater internet participation like this Board. Points that I would have missed were identified by others and vice versa. Made it seem like there were more, but there really weren't. That was the point I was trying to make in pointing out continuity errors in WttH last week.

Here's a quick comparison: was the "drowning" of Spike any worse than the "choking" of Dru in Becoming 2?

As for the FE's plan, I saw it as certainly no lamer than Adam's. In fact, it was much more likely to succeed.

[> [> [> [> [> Yes -- Rook, 09:18:21 06/19/03 Thu

And not just the greater internet participation, but even people that were already participating in boards seemed to have their expectations raised to unrealistic levels. Somehow, when ME said "This is the last season", people heard "This is the second coming of Christ." That being the case, I'm not surprised at the dissapointment, but marvel at the unrealistic expectations.

[> [> [> [> [> I respectfully disagree -- Earl Allison, 09:27:14 06/19/03 Thu

Was it? Yes, because the choking of Dru was a minor point in an otherwise (IMHO) excellent season and scene. Spike's drowning only added to the perception I have that ME either didn't know what they were doing, or didn't care. I KNOW why Spike knocked Dru out, to get her out of Sunnydale -- WHY did the FE force Spike's head underwater?

Yes, other seasons had continuity and quality control errors, but here'e the rub, IMHO;

The plots, nuances, and characterizations entertained me, so I could let a few small slips go without them ruining things for me.

In late S5 and a majority of S6 and S7, the flaws only drew more attention because, to me, the plots and characterizations didn't seem well-constructed. Characterization changed from scene to scene,

To be more basic, I can overlook some minor spelling and grammatical issues in a well-written, well thought-out essay. But when the essay in question is largely "Bufi suX!" I'm going to be far more critical of those same errors.

Subjective? Certainly, but I feel that in this case, better to err on the side of a sliding scale than to claim (and I don't say that Rook actually makes this claim, BTW) "if you accepted an error once, it can never be brought up again."

Yes, actors breathe, so I can cut ME some slack in seeing someone out of breath, or seeing the "fog" from the cool air when they exhale (or speak, since technically it's the movement of air that allows one to speak).

I cannot accept what was, IMHO, the slipshod drowning scene -- can anyone give a logical argument for what it was? Sure, I can accept a baptism metaphor, but since (IMHO) S7 was devoid of anything not spelled out, I can't credit ME with that alone. There was no reason for Spike to struggle or panic that I can determine. Surely other torments could have been devised in its place? Short of Spike either shooting Dru with a trank gun or knocking her unconscious with a punch (Spike didn't have a gun, and I think punching her would have made the claim that Spike did it for love more questionable), what other quick options were there?

I still contend that Seasons 1-4 were far better executed, and that has a lot to do with why I will go after S5-S7 more for what might be the same small errors -- there's no grander picture to take my mind away from it.


At the end of the day, we all take our own perceptions away from this, and I know that many don't agree with me that S6 or S7 was bad -- so be it. I can accept that they appealed to others. To me, quality fell sharply, and that had a domino affect on the entire season(s).

Take it and run.

[> [> [> [> [> [> What exactly WAS the FE's plan, anyway? -- cjl, 09:45:15 06/19/03 Thu

In Season 4, ME had to improvise in the wake of Lindsay Crouse's departure and make Adam the Big Bad. They devised Adam's sinister plan "on the run" and followed it through consistently right up to the end of Primeval. Was it the most awe-inspiring plan in the history of the series? No. But the through-line was there.

Was the FE's plan to:

1. Break its ties to the physical universe and shuffle off this mortal coil once and for all?

2. Destroy the Slayer line through the weakness hinted at by Beljoxa's eye?

3. Manifest itself in the flesh and rule the world?

4. Overrun the planet with a Turok-han army?

Does anybody know for sure?

I'm sorry, but I think Earl has a point. Minor consistency errors are a fact of life on a TV series, but this is another level entirely.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Agree -- ponygirl, 10:15:48 06/19/03 Thu

Minor points like the drowning don't bother me in the slightest, but the lack of understanding about what the FE was about, or even what it exactly it was, seem to be too huge a hole. Like why didn't it kill Spike? Or Buffy?

I don't think having a shadowy ill-defined villain for the season would have been a problem except that we kept being told, explicitly, that the First had a plan, a purpose that involved complicated set-ups like Spike's trigger, destroying the Watchers, and bringing back Andrew and Jonathon.

I don't think our expectations about receiving an explanation were unrealistic. ME's usually good about trying to cover up the holes. It could be as offhand as Jasmine explaining away all of the Beast's actions as "birth pains." Or Glory musing that she couldn't use her godlike strength to kill Buffy sooner because of Ben's influence. Even the clunkiest bit of exposition to try and connect all of the loose ends would have been appreciated.

And for the record I really liked s4 and never had a problem with Adam's plan - mainly because it was never sold to us as being one of the driving forces of the season as I feel the First's plan was.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> There was a little bit of explanation in "Chosen" -- Finn Mac Cool, 10:41:58 06/19/03 Thu

That, with an army of the First's overrunning the world, the universal scales would tip heavily towards evil, meaning the First woukld have a greater pull on the world, thus becoming flesh. Also, when it said "done with the mortal coil" in CwDP, we all assumed the First was contemplating suicide, but, really, it's not mortal, so maybe it really meant getting rid of all those pesky mortals and their coil.

Not to say there weren't things that bothered me (the meaning of Beljoxa's eye, why the First told the Turok-Han to kill everyone "but her", what destroying the Slayer line mattered (I know that, if they were all activated, they could form a world wide defense against the Turok-Han, but all the First would have to do is stop Buffy from finding the Scythe, then).

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> There wasn't enough of an explanation in "Chosen" -- cjl, 11:03:59 06/19/03 Thu

It appeared to me that, in the first half of the season, ME was setting up a metaphysical connection between the FE and the Slayer line. The reason the Bringers and/or Caleb didn't simply blow up the Summers house with everyone in it was that the Slayers had to be eliminated in a very specific order, with either Buffy, Faith or maybe even Dawn as the last survivor (kill everyone "but her").

I was also fairly certain that the FE's comments in CWDP did reflect its intention to commit cosmic suicide, taking all of creation with it. (I was probably wrong.) How did this suicide tie in with the elimination of the Slayers? It doesn't matter. The plan delineated in Chosen didn't reflect any of the plot points brought up in the first half of the season.

And you're right, Caroline--maybe a lot of us were expecting something more complicated. Look at Malandanza's post at the end of my "ennui" thread--he thinks Buffy did exactly what the FE wanted her to do, mainly, empower the Potentials. He thinks the FE won!

How silly.

(Or is it?)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> The FE's plan is in the script! -- Caroline, 10:37:37 06/19/03 Thu

From the shooting script for Chosen, courtesy of Psyche:

Have you ever considered a cool name?
Since you're incorporeal and
basically powerless you could call
yourself "The Taunter." Strikes

I will overrun this earth.

You know how many people have said
that to me?

I do, since they all had a small part
of me in them. Whereas I have all of
me in me, so I like my chances
somewhat better. And when my army
outnumbers the humans on this earth
the scales will tip and I will be
made flesh.

The plan is all 4 of your points. Sounds like a takeover of the earth, with lots of pain and death for all non-evil things. And when the FE is flesh, she'll be able to make the pain and death happen herself. The FE knows the slayer stands in the way, (I fanwank that the problem in the slayer line mentioned by Beljoxa's eye is Buffy's resurrection at beginning of S6 and I don't have a time problem here 'cos we know that the FE was messing with Spike before S7 started) so the FE needs to get rid of all the slayers. It's actually rather simple. Perhaps we're having problems 'cos we expected something more complicated?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I think I was expecting "more complicated"! -- Scroll, 10:55:42 06/19/03 Thu

Which might've been an unrealistic expectation. I mean, overrun the world with Turok-Han, have the scales tip so that the First Evil can manifest itself is... well, kinda scary and will probably cause lots of chaos and some massacring. But as plans go? Not really that diabolical. Not... creepy or sinister, the way Jasmine's plan was.

I kinda wanted to see the First Evil as, well, the first evil. The first drop of hate, of sin, of evilness in every human heart. Something that can never be defeated because it pervades every soul on earth. An agent of chaos. The Taunter that could get young potentials to hang themselves in the bathroom out of fear and despair. I wanted to see Buffy and the Scoobies wrestle with their dark sides and overcome them. But even Willow and Spike, who were the closest to having storylines of overcoming past evils, didn't really "overcome" so much as "side-step". IMHO. Anya, I think, could've really developed with this idea of overcoming past evils, but well, I won't keep going over the same ground... :)

Anyway, thanks for posting the quote, Caroline. While I would've liked hints of the FE's plan sooner, I do think "Chosen" at least clarifies what it was. I guess my reaction is kinda like Buffy's (which could be a good thing, I guess?) in that I wasn't very impressed.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The FE's plan is in the script! -- fidhle, 14:56:17 06/19/03 Thu

I agree with what Caroline is saying, for the most part. However, I think that the weakness in the slayer line was not Buffy and/or her resurection, but rather was Faith, and her, for most of the season, incarceration. The statement by Beljoxa's eye is ambigious as to which slayer. Giles and Anya leap to the conclusion that it refers to Buffy, but the eye simply said "the Slayer." The ability of the FE to end the slayer line really came about because of the inability of Faith to fight vamps and demons due to incarceration. While she was locked up, no new slayer could be called. It was in the interest of the FE to make sure that Faith was the last in the slayer line to be killed; otherwise, a new slayer would be called. By hunting down and killing all of the potentials, the FE was implimenting such a plan. (The one flaw in this analysis was the apparant attempt to kill or injure Faith in the prison. That, or course, could have been intended to injure and further incapacitate Faith.) Once the potentials had all been eliminated, Faith could be killed and no new slayer called, thus endeth the slayer line.

As to Buffy, I think that, since Buffy was no longer in the slayer line of succession, the timing of her death really made little difference, except that the FE probably figured, based on observation, that Faith would likely be forgotten while Buffy was still active. Thus it was to the FE's interest to keep Buffy alive until the end. The freeing of Faith thus caused real problems for the FE, because now it was much more likely that Faith would be killed, bringing forth a new slayer, befored all of the potentials could be killed. Also, I like the idea that the FE, being, after all, evil, wanted to keep Buffy around to see all of her friends and charges killed, since Buffy had taunted the FE in Amends. (After all, being evil should mean one can hold grudges, shouldn't it?)

As to the criticism of Buffy's character during S7, I find it very believable that she would become distant and remote, believing that she is responsible for the lives of all of the potentials and that some, if not all, would die in the near future. Buffy is full of love, so sayeth the First Slayer, and such love can be incapacitating under such stress. Distance is needed for leaders in Buffy's situation to avoid going wiggy and burning out. Until Buffy had a way out of that situation, she really had little choice but to be the remote "general," a role that was thrust on her by all.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Tangentially -- Darby, 11:15:52 06/19/03 Thu

Forget how it was done, why was it necessary to torture Spike anyway? He continued to be programmed as a sleeper, effective only if reintegrated with Buffy's group. Why play with him and accuse Buffy of abandoning him when he really didn't believe he was worth rescuing (he changed his mind eventually, but still)?

And what purpose was he supposed to serve for the First? No plan ever appeared to be thwarted, and if the First knew in advance about the Scythe, and the Amulet, and Angel out and Spike in, why didn't It pack for Cleveland?

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I respectfully disagree -- Sophist, 09:51:01 06/19/03 Thu

I'm certainly not going to defend the drowning scenes; they were silly and they did detract from the episodes. But by the same token, I had the same reaction to Spike choking Dru in Becoming 2. While it was shorter than the drowning, it occupied a more significant moment in a more important episode, so it was magnified.

I can think of only one way to convince you that there were just as many continuity problems in S1-4 as in S5-7: to point out all the earlier errors. I suspect that would just make you feel worse about S1-4 rather than better about S5-7. For your own peace of mind EA, I'll refrain. :)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> The drowning scene was really UPN's fault -- Finn Mac Cool, 10:55:59 06/19/03 Thu

The original plan was to have Spike's head dunked into a pool of holy water, causing many ouchies. However, UPN, for whatever reason, put the kaibosh on that. So, ME could either film a new torture sequence for Spike (which would take up a time, something that is very valuable on the quick schedule of making television shows) or they could show what they had already filmed and just not add in the smoky effect that would signal holy water. We can see which choice they chose.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> OK. I officially apologize to Marti and Doug -- cjl, 11:09:15 06/19/03 Thu

I have my explanation. I think that's all I ever wanted. Moving on....

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yes, I heard that too. Although in retrospect, it's strange that UPN would... -- Rob, 11:16:11 06/19/03 Thu

...reject the Holy Water torture, but not Caleb. Those networks really should be more consistent!

I guess from this point on, we'll just have to imagine smoke billowing from Spike in those scenes, and move on from there. ;o)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I'll fix that in my ep analysis -- Masq, 11:53:07 06/19/03 Thu

I just wish people would be able to read it!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> UPN = Weird. Marti & Doug = A-OK. -- Scroll, 11:53:50 06/19/03 Thu

Thanks so much for that tidbit of info, Finn. I don't even care if it's just a rumour and not from an actual interview. This makes so much more sense that I will happily take it and live with it.

*imagines Spike's face hissing from the holy water*

*smiles dreamily*

(Okay, feeling the need to point out that I'm kinky. And joking!)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> There was an interview somewhere...maybe from the Buffy magazine? I'll see if I can find it. -- Rob, 11:56:21 06/19/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Rook's basic point seems right to me -- Malandanza, 09:45:34 06/19/03 Thu

"Namely, that other seasons have just as many "plotholes" as S6 and S7. I think we all just noticed them more because of greater internet participation like this Board. Points that I would have missed were identified by others and vice versa. Made it seem like there were more, but there really weren't. That was the point I was trying to make in pointing out continuity errors in WttH last week."

I don't expect the first few episodes of a new series to be as well crafted as the season finale, but I think in BtVS, the first season had fewer plotholes than the last. Furthermore, where the first season's omissions were things like "how'd they know where to find Willow and Jesse?" the last season's problems were far more serious (and more pervasive):

Did Buffy think 20 slayers could stop 20,000 Ubervamps when she had trouble with one?
What would they have done if Spike's magic amulet hadn't saved the day?
How is it that the man who blew up the WC couldn't kill all the potentials with his bomb in an enclosed area?
The Guardians? Where have they been for the last seven years?
Why dig up the scythe if Buffy doesn't even know about it?
How did those other Ubervamps get out of the Hellmouth if Buffy sealed it with Andrew's tears?
How did Buffy go from mortally wounded to leaping from one building to the next?
When did newly risen vampires become so chatty? (And I place this as a serious problem because it calls into question Buffy's right to slay -- if the vampire is not really that different from the human, why not wait and see if they will be evil instead of immediately slaying?)
Why did everyone evacuate Sunnydale?
And, of course, how could ME turn the attempted rape of the heroine into a joke? (I have a feeling that if things had been reversed -- if Spike had complained that Buffy never "connected" with him and she had remarked that she had connected plenty of times when she beat him to a bloody pulp behind the police station, there would have been more of an outcry).

In addition to a host of less serious problem like:

How is it that Jonathan's blood didn't work, but pig's blood or vampire blood would?
What was the manifestation that appeared to Dawn -- Joyce or the FE?
Vampires tracking day old trails by following the scent in the air.
Angel and Spike both finding Buffy, The Guardian, and Caleb.
A "redeemed" vampire wearing the trophy coat he stripped from a dead slayer.
The most stereotyped villain ever (Caleb).
What did the ubervamps eat while spending the centuries in that extradimensional area? (and why did the collapsing extradimensional cave cause a sinkhole in Sunnydale?)
Why didn't Willow cast the empowerment spell before they opened the seal?
Why didn't they guard the portal (and kill any escaping Ubervamps) instead of spreading out through the school?
What was the point of Wood's character?

Here's a quick comparison: was the "drowning" of Spike any worse than the "choking" of Dru in Becoming 2?

Just because ME did something stupid back in Season Two doesn't mean they can repeat the stupidity and call it continuity. It was a mistake then and was still a mistake in Season Seven -- but worse, because they were using it as torture. Even Glory was smarter than that.

As for the FE's plan, I saw it as certainly no lamer than Adam's. In fact, it was much more likely to succeed.

What was the FE's plan again? I was never very clear on that...

[> Disagreement with the spin-off theory and personal realisation -- KdS, 04:14:48 06/19/03 Thu

Firstly, I don't agree with the idea that many S7 problems were because of the desire to create spin-offs. I saw the final season of Babylon 5, which really did degenerate into a naked attempt to create as many spin-off possibilities as possible rather than end the story in a satisfying manner (in poetic justice, the one spin-off they did try tanked). S7 didn't compare to that. Yes, plot lines were lost, but they were lost in a way which suggested they genuinely fell off the radar rather than being reserved for spin-offs.

Secondly, I recently realised my key problem with the shape of S7, which most of you who read my posts probably realised well before I consciously did. When I heard that the evil this season was going to be the First Evil, I thought that the creators were actually trying to say something significant about evil. Instead the FE was just an antagonist for Buffy, as usual. (If it really had been anything more, the final episode wouldn't have been such a slugfest). I think when I rewatch without that preconceived idea, I may enjoy the lattter half of the season more.

[> [> What could have been -- Anneth, 09:01:57 06/19/03 Thu

When I heard that the evil this season was going to be the First Evil, I thought that the creators were actually trying to say something significant about evil. Instead the FE was just an antagonist for Buffy, as usual.

I agree. The FE started off as a really interesting idea - and ME almost pulled it off. Every season had Buffy (and everyone) battling their inner darkness as well as the external manifestation of that darkness; S6 and S7 tried to make the lines between the two blurrier. For a while, it seemed that S7 might actually succeed in a major way. Buffy didn't have Faith as her noir foil anymore, she had herself, in the form of the FE. Willow, Spike, Dawn, Faith, Wood - each had to deal with ghosts they'd put to rest, including, perhaps most importantly, ghosts of their former selves. Can you imagine the horror, the pain, of coming face to face with your dead mother? How that experience would effect you? With the FE, ME had a way to tap into a vein of human emotion not often expressed (or, at least, expressed believably). The mine (if you'll excuse the extended metaphore) was amazingly rich with possibilities.

So why didn't it work? My major problem with the FE was this - I couldn't figure out what it wanted. Or why it wanted whatever it wanted. And the final answer seemed to be, it wanted to be corporeal. What? The expression of ultimate evil wants to become corporeal on a show that previously illustrated over and over and over again that ultimate evil comes in the form of psychological manipulation? Take Angelus, for example: His murder of Jenny was pretty horrendus, but it was the cruel trick he played on Giles with Jenny's body that really demonstrated his capacity for evil. With six years of history indicating that evil is evil for what it does, not what it is, the fact that the FE just wanted to be able to kill people with its bare hands struck me as a pretty big cop-out.

[> The John Nathan Turner effect or Spiderman vs. The Avengers -- matching mole, 10:34:12 06/19/03 Thu

Wow! This has been a great thread. A lot of really interesting ideas about the season here. Quite a bit that I agree with from a number of different people.

I really, really liked the first third of the season (up through and including Conversations with Dead People) and as noted the rest of the season seems to suffer in comparison. I think there are a number of reasons for this.

1) If you take the 'lt's all about Buffy' point of view repeatedly advocated by manwitch and here by Sophist you can interpret a lot of the early part of S7 very differently than I and others might have been inclined to interpret it at the time. Episodes like 'Selfless' and ' Same Time, Same Place' seemed to me to be hinting at interesting developments to come. But they could equally be considered as epilogues to S6, finishing things off rather than starting new things. Personally I can see the 'it's all about Buffy' view. It makes sense and intellectually it is interesting and enlightening. However it doesn't connect with me emotionally which I think is just a reflection of my own personal tastes in fiction.

2) The opening episodes, as KdS mentions, seem to strongly hint at the conflict with the FE teaching us something about the nature of evil or at least some exploration of 'it's all about power' which seemed to just whither away as the season progressed and what the FE really wanted just seemed to get murkier (and less interesting). This reminded me a lot of a change in the British SF show ' Dr. Who' at the end of the 1970s. Prior to that point the show usually had fairly straightforward plots. Not that they didn't have numerous logical flaws but it was never confusing. At the end of the Tom Baker era John Nathan Turner took over as producer. The adventures took on a much more complicated air with early episodes being often very mysterious. When an adventure wound up a lot of the events early in an adventure were either ignored or quickly explained away.

Much more so than in any other season of BtVs, early S7 appears to really build us up for events ahead. I think that a number of other seasons had excellent early episodes (I am not among those who is really anxious for the seasonal arc to get underway asap) but those episodes generally didn't hint so strongly about events to come. So the expectations of many of us are raised high, higher perhaps than can possibly be met. So plot holes are much more obvious because so much seemed to be hinted at early on.

Another aspect of S7 is a general shift in tone which, to a certain extent, had been going on for a while but really accelerated here. The comparison between Buffy and Spiderman has been made before and seems quite appropriate. Spiderman is a complex character whose alter-ego is at least as important to the story as the webslinger. The supporting characters are often complicated with stories of their own - their relationships are not static. The personal aspects of Spiderman's conflicts with various super villains is at least as important as 'saving the day'.

In S7 the show seems to be more like some sort of superhero team storyline. The slayer mythology, which formerly was only brought up now and then, becomes much more central. The scoobies former structure was pretty anarchistic but during this season it becomes more formal. Characterization sort of falls to the wayside except where necessary to advance the story.

Finally, I have found that having a emotionally complex set of antagonists for Buffy and co is a really important part of a seasonal arc. S2 and S3 are obviously superb in that respect. S6 is also excellent. Other seasons tend to suffer somewhat in comparison but none moreso than S7. Have an incorporeal manifestation of evil itself as a long term villain is a tricky thing to pull off and if I was ME I don't think I would have even tried it. But there didn't seem to be any attempt to really develop the FE, despite all the attention and build up it was given early in the series. And, while Nathan Fillion's portrayal of Caleb was superb, it came rather late in the season and there was no opportunity to really develop him beyond a caricature. Think of how interesting it might have been if, for example, the FE had succeeded in becoming corporeal in Buffy's form and how Caleb might have reacted to that. I think of the excellent use of the character of Jasmine on AtS and how much was done with a character similar to the FE in a short period of time.

Sorry there's no clear unifying principle behind all this, except perhaps that of misdirection. I think that ME, intentionally or not, really hinted at something early in the season to a lot of, something that didn't pan out at all.

Season 7 and Criticism -- Rina, 15:43:46 06/18/03 Wed

It amazes me how so many people are trying to convince others that their opinion on Season 7 is the right one. They say that they're only stating their opinion. Bullshit! Many are trying to force their opinions upon others, whether they liked Season 7 or not.

For the record, I liked Season 7. It is my second favorite season, following Season 5. I don't expect any of you to share my opinion and I absolutely refuse to engage in a debate on the quality of the season. I realize that it had its flaws, but so did the other BUFFY seasons - from 1 through 6. It is nothing new.

If you don't share my opinion. Fine. If you do, it's nice to know someone I can connect with. That's all I'm going to say for a while.

[> Persuasion -- Maura, 18:39:22 06/18/03 Wed

Rina, you make a very good point. There's been a lot more than just stating of opinions going on around S7. I think for most of us, emotions are running pretty high. We're mourning the loss of our favorite show. Some of us are mourning what we perceive as its loss of quality even before the end, which makes the end itself more distressing because -- as cjl points out in the post below -- there's no S8 to iron things out in. All this naturally tends to make us state our positions strongly and perhaps over-emotionally.

But I think there's more than this going on in some of our attempts to persuade people to accept our own views.

(Warning: in the following, there's a lot of harping on the word "moral," which I know can sound sermonizing and annoying. Apologies.)

Let me speak for my own experience: as I discussed in my very quickly archived post of a few weeks ago, I found much of the resolution of S7 morally disturbing. (I'm not going to reiterate why right now.) While many people have commented on elements of S7 they felt disappointing, I appear to be one of the only people on this board who had this kind of visceral moral revulsion (to some, not all of it).

Now when a group of people -- like those on this board -- who you know to be intelligent, insightful, moral, and ethical people based on the posts you read do not see a moral problem in something you find extremely problematic, that is an extremely unsettling experience. In my own admittedly argumentative tract on Chosen (and the arc of S7), I was indeed doing more than just stating my opinion. I was also gauging how many would agree with me; I was looking for help in reconciling S7 to my moral sensibilities (and I got some); and I was attempting to persuade people to my view.

I think for almost all of us, BtVS carries strong moral and ethical messages, and those messages will vary depending on how we interpret the show. In attempting to persuade others that we are "right," therefore, we are attempting to disseminate our understanding of morality. In its broadest sense, this activity is potentially important to "making the world a better place," as corny as that sounds, and that seems to me a valid goal (though it leads to high strung and painful conversations).

Final note: I don't really think that my sense of morality is very different from that of the other folks on this board (or from ME). I expect that 95% of the confusion over S7 is a difference in the interpretation of metaphors.

[> [> Re: Persuasion -- Corwin of Amber, 21:41:52 06/18/03 Wed

Just curious, and you don't really have to answer if it feels uncomfortable, but what were the moral problems you had with S7? I saw problems of plot, characterization and logic, my moral problems were with S6 (which yeah, set up S7.)

Minority representation -- shambleau, 15:44:33 06/18/03 Wed

Thinking about the number of people of color in Season 7. Compared to other seasons, it was huge. For recognizable, continuing characters, you had Rona, Nikki and Robin Wood and Chau An, the First Slayer (briefly),along with that nameless black SIT with the dyed-blonde hair. Both Chloe and Kennedy could be seen as Hispanic, since the actresses who played them were, although it wasn't brought up.

In addition, almost every episode had some scene with minority one-shots, some of them with quite prominent and/or memorable roles. Think of Aliyaa(sp?), the Asian girl in the closet in Selfless, and the three shamans who created Slayers. Then there were the minor roles. The black leader of the Wiccan group, the girl vampire who fought with Spike in the Bronze, Carlos, the cop whom Willow hypnotized, etc. I could go on for a number of eps, but you get the idea. If you look at earlier seasons, the difference is striking, although BtVS always had more minority presence than people realize. Any ideas as to why?

This may have been commented on in some thread I missed long ago. If so, point me to the relevant archive and I'll check it out.

[> I noticed that too -- curious, 18:29:40 06/18/03 Wed

A friend and I talked about the racial diversity earlier in the season too. We thought that maybe it was a reflection of Buffy's world getting more diverse. She was moving away from just her family, friends and little town of Sunnydale and getting involved with more of the "real world".

That and maybe it fit with what they were planning for a possible spin-off.

[> [> Re: I noticed that too -- Yellow Bear, 18:38:47 06/18/03 Wed

UPN appeals to a larger urban (industry speak for African-American) audience than the WB so maybe they asked Whedon to include a few more black cast members if possible. Perhaps this explains Ashanti, who I thought was fine unlike several people who reacted as if the sky was falling

[> [> [> Re: I noticed that too -- LeeAnn, 20:56:57 06/18/03 Wed

Yeah, I think you are right. UPN is focusing on the black audience so more black characters were included starting with Principal Wood, who was supposed to be in the Faith spin-off as Faith's love interest. His presence was supposed to make the premise more appealing to UPN and their audience.

[> [> [> [> The sheer number of supporting roles dramatically increased in the last few episodes. -- WickedBuffy, 21:50:26 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> Re: I noticed that too -- Yellow Bear, 21:52:59 06/18/03 Wed

I never heard about Wood being in the Faith spin-off. Where did you acquire that info?

[> [> [> [> [> Re: I noticed that too -- LeeAnn, 01:13:19 06/19/03 Thu

I think it was in the Succubus Club interview with Minear and Fury. The Faith/Spike spinoff was supposed to have Spike as a ghost and Wood as her love interest. Little wonder ED turned it down. Ghost!Spike indeed. Though I do understand it. If he wasn't a ghost they would have to end up in bed almost immediately because Faith is ...well...a nympho and Spike has proven he can be in loved with one girl (Dru or Buffy) and sleep with another (Harmony). And once it was Faith/Spike that would close down a lot of storylines for them both.

[> Re: Minority representation -- Sofdog, 06:30:22 06/19/03 Thu

"along with that nameless black SIT with the dyed-blonde hair"

Caridad. Not named on-air, but she was Latina not African-American. There were other SITs. There was a girl with strange puff balls on each side of her head who went in against Caleb in "Dirty Girls." With the SITs it made sense. The other characters I'm not sure about.

Buffy Fan Fic? -- goose, 18:39:24 06/18/03 Wed

Does anyone know a place for good fan fiction? I was doing pretty well, since the end of Buffy, but lately I've been suffering serious withdrawl. I've never really been one for fan fiction, but I need something. Recommendations?

[> I suggest the Buffy Fiction Archive -- Scroll, 19:26:33 06/18/03 Wed

I think the Buffy Fiction Archive might be the best fanfic archive for Buffy and Angel on the net. It has an excellent search engine, lots of quality fanfic, and is updated pretty regularly. There's a decent mixture of general versus 'shippy fic, solo characters versus ensemble, and pretty much every Buffyverse pairing known to exist. (But no Darla/Snyder fic, I've checked!)

Of course, there's also our own fanfic archive at Existential Scoobies. I'd link to it, but for some reason I can't get on the site right now! But there's lots of good fiction written by our fellow posters here on the board : )

Hope this helps!

[> Ooh! Hello! -- HonorH, 19:28:42 06/18/03 Wed

I've got several places for you to check out! First of all, there's the good ol' Buffy Writers' Guild, where you can find links to pages for all genres, characters, and relationships:

BtVS Writers' Guild

Then there's one of my favorite places, because they specialize in hosting actual *good* fanfic:

Better Buffy Fiction Archive

Now we come to one of my favorite places to post:

Buffy Fiction Archive

And finally, in case you're feeling adventuresome, there's always:


Warning: it's a rough neighborhood, but there are wonderful things to be had there nonetheless. Try Gyrus, Selena, Yahtzee, Rheanna, mikelesq, and Mariner. I like 'em.

Hope that helps!

[> Re: Buffy Fan Fic? -- LadyStarlight, 19:42:06 06/18/03 Wed

Well, since ATPo seems to like me tonight, here's the link directly to the fiction. Also, there's some fiction pages (including HonorH's page ) up on the links page too.

There's also essays, poetry and lots of other good stuff. Poke around, see what's there!

Angel S3 & S4 -- Yellow Bear, 19:29:54 06/18/03 Wed

I don't go to discussion forums that often (spoilers for one reason) but I've been here (great group here, BTW) often since the close of the season and have noticed several people express displeasure with Angel S3 & S4. I have to say I am surprised as the general perception in the media (sci-fi magazines, net sites, newspapers, etc.) is that the last two years of Angel were far stronger than the first two. Is this the general consensus among the people in this forum (as much as anything can have a general consensus) or do the last two years rank as disappointments?

For my money, Angel has been remarkably consistent since near the end of S1 (Faith two-parter) with the last season being very strong especially with the behind-the-scenes problems.

[> Re: Angel S3 & S4 -- AngelVSAngelus, 22:27:52 06/18/03 Wed

I think Season 2 still ranks as my fav for Angel.
I haven't had any sort of all encompassing disappointment with the last two seasons, but I can identify why the first two seem to resonate with me more:

a) Episodic format and universalized metaphor/motif: The show began and continued into Season more focused on the characters and situations metaphorically representing anxieties that plague city-bound contemporary society. Isolation, trying to make a connection but being surrounded by a pack of wolves, the intimidation that comes with being in this large place, dreams made and then broken by the harshness of reality.
Angel as a character voiced much of the portion devoted to social ineptitude. I HEAVILY relate to that to this day. His search for family was another subject that I could relate to.
Cordelia was the embodiment of lost and broken dreams, of dealing with rejection, and feeling inadequate when you don't live up to the expectations of yourself and society regarding your future.
Doyle and Wesley kind of echoed these traits, Kate was another lonely lost soul, etc.
and there was the perfect layer of Wolfram and Hart, those that stand as the figures of upper-class, immoral elitists that lend a hand to the oppression of the people of the city.
Let me say that from personal experience, all of this was HEAVILY resonant for me.

b) Tim Minear. Love the man. And he's been gone (with the exception of the season finale/season 5 pilot) for quite a while.

The series didn't necessarily lose all of these themes, its just that it seems to me that one of them became 88 % more prominent than any of the others: family. Angel's quest for connections became the heavy focus, as did the breaking down of that entire dynamic to lend drama to the subject. Which is good. A different type of good, however.
I prefer the more widely metaphoric material, I suppose, to that which focuses more specifically on the characters as an end unto themselves.
Its cool, however, that redemption remains a staple in the series, with all the characters that have done something reprehensible and continuing to want to atone. Wesley's character in particular became even more interesting through that process.
Okay, now I'm rambling. My point was, I guess I disagree with the critics, not in disliking S3 and 4, but in not liking it as much as 1 and 2.

[> [> Re: Angel S3 & S4 -- Ray, 02:36:50 06/19/03 Thu

The Darla story in Season 2 was my favorite time for the show. Angel really tried to figure himself out, then isolate himself, then realize that great epiphany "If there's no big plan, and nothing matters, then the smallest act of kindness is the mostimportant thing in the world." I really liked that idea.

However, I will say that Seasons 3 an4 were excellent (especially in retrospect with everything laid out).

[> Re: Angel S3 & S4 -- matching mole, 09:16:52 06/19/03 Thu

S2 Angel is, in my humble opinion, among the best in either series. I liked S1 quite a bit as well. I'm a big fan of good stand alone episodes and, as noted by others, S1 has a lot of interesting stuff to say about life in the city, etc.

I basically like S3. I thought the Darla episodes were great as were a lot of the other early episodes. Also, I thought that Holtz and Sahjan (sp?) were excellent villains. However several things began to irritate me late in the season. The post-'Birthday' direction for Cordelia seemed (and seems more so in hindsight) rather aimless, unconvincing, and not entertaining in the least. All the characters got locked into certain mindsets and stayed there for a really long time.

Which brings me to S4. While I hate to be merely negative (ratherly than analytically negative) I would have to rate the first two thirds of the season as the worst television ME has ever produced. Gunn's description of it as 'a turgid supernatural soap opera' seems all too apt. The pacing seemed glacial, the characters completely self-absorbed. One or the other of these two would be OK but both in combination is deadly. Late season developments really improved the show a lot, otherwise I might have stopped watching next year.

[> [> Finally--a negative opinion about ANGEL S4. Been waiting for this! -- cjl, 12:19:30 06/19/03 Thu

Don't be shy, mole. I'd like to see a more detailed negative critique of ANGEL S4. (No, really. Hey, if I can burden people with my gripes about Buffy S7, I can take criticism of a season I liked.) Were you disenchanted with the Angel/Cordy/Connor and Fred/Wes/Gunn triangles? Sick of the Fang Gang whining about their love lives while Los Angeles was transformed into downtown Hades? Highly upset that the one character who wasn't navel-gazing (Lilah) wound up dead in "Calvary"?

Please elucidate.

[> [> [> It's kind of difficult -- matching mole, 13:04:11 06/19/03 Thu

Because I can't remember much of the details of the first part of the season (and I don't tape the episodes). All I can do is give you my subjective impression. It seemed to combine the weaknesses of the middle parts of BtVS S6 (the self-absorption of the main characters) and S7 (action seems to be rather solely oriented at moving the season arc forward with little concern for any intrinsic interest the action might have).

I didn't really object to any specific plot development but rather the amount of time spent on them with little apparent change (in comparison to the rapid pace of events in S2 and early S3). For example, Wesley was amazing in 'Billy' and gripping in the events leading up to Connor's abduction. Then he seemed stuck for a long time (brooding, sleeping with Lilah, more brooding, savomg Angel, more brooding, more sleeping with Lilah, more brooding, doing something else, more brooding). And the same sort of thing can be said for the other main characters. This wouldn't be fine if it was going on in the background with other stuff taking center stage (as with a lot of character development in S1 and S2). But I have a limited tolerance for brooding as the central focus (but that's just me). It just seems so one sided, with so little sense of humour and perspective (unlike the previous seasons with their rapid changes in mood).

One initial difference from BtVS that I liked (just because it's different rather than an improvement) was the lack of a seasonal villain but rather the constant background presence of W and H. Holtz was the first real deviation from this but he was such a magnificent figure that he carried the end of S3 by himself. The Beast was like the FE in BtVS - a figure of great menace entirely lacking in personality. A figure that both literally and metaphorically wipes out L.A. - a setting that was a big part of the show in the first couple of seasons.

The one plot development that seemed completely objectionable (not just in emphasis but in its very nature) was Cordelia which I find even more unsatisfactory now than I did at the time. I found her character development from S1 to Birthday to be one of the best - subtle, gradual, convincing. Not at all heavy-handed. Then we get jerked all over the place and when an explanation finally is offered it doesn't really make any sense.

The latter part of the season was much better. Jasmine brought the team out of their self absorption and restored L.A. as a focus. I just wish that it had happened halfway through the season and spared us about half the brooding.

[> [> [> [> oops -- matching mole, 13:08:12 06/19/03 Thu

that should be saving Angel, rather than savoring Angel

[> [> [> [> I can see your point on this.... -- cjl, 13:38:37 06/19/03 Thu

Although I didn't think Wesley's brooding distracted from the main plotlines at the start of the season (i.e., rescuing Angel, Cordelia and Lorne, the mystery of Cordy's amnesia, etc.). Besides, Wesley and Lilah's gamesmanship? Fun. Eeeeevil fun.

I will confess that the G/F/W triangle didn't interest me in the slightest, and the warping of Gunn's character to fit the Othello mold irritated me no end. However, "Supersymmetry" brought the muder of Professor Seidel into the relationship and mucked things up for my Least Favorite Couple to my infinite delight. It also brought back and gave new dimensions to "Angry Fred" from "Deep Down"--and I love Fred when she's angry. Her solo turn in Shiny Happy People/Magic Bullet was set up by those early eps.

And Cordy? Yeah, well--as I said above, it was a long way to go for a measly four episode arc, and they damn near destroyed Cordy's character to do it. Still, not a total loss, as Evil!Cordy was the prime mover in Connor's downward spiral. The stunning back-to-back of "Peace Out" and "Home" wouldn't have been possible without her.

[> [> Re: Angel S3 & S4 -- Q, 12:33:09 06/19/03 Thu

Your last paragraph is *dead on*. It was painful. And speaking of not watching. Of all of my "real life" (not inernet) associates who are Buffy/Angel fans, All but me have quit watching Angel.

My sister used to watch both, but quit watching Angel in disgust.

My wife used to watch both, but quit watching Angel in disgust.

And two other friends quit watching Angel all together.

They ask me how in the world I can watch such shallow tripe, and why I don't just turn into CHARMED (an insult people on this board seem fond of) or reruns of 90210, or Dawsons Creek or something.

I say simply-- Faith. I have so much Faith that Joss will save the show. I mean, season 4 of Buffy was pretty bad (although compared with the last 2 1/3 seasons of Angel it is great) and they came back with the MASTERPIECE that was season 5.

So I have waited, for over 2 years, saying trust Joss, trust Joss, he'll save it... And nothing yet.

I am going to give him one more chance. Now that Fray is practically done, Firefly cancelled, and Buffy over, he will hopefully have the time to actually WATCH the show and do something about how plebian it has got. If not, I guess I will be done with ME after this season.

[> [> [> Interesting, I had the opposite reaction -- ponygirl, 13:47:21 06/19/03 Thu

Most of my real life BtVS-watching crowd quit watching AtS in s3 (I stuck with it, but often under protest) but we all came back on board this year. Initially it was all about Faith - the character rather than belief in the show. Everyone wanted to see how her crossover was going to work, but around the mid-point of the season we are were all hooked with varying degrees of enthusiasm (my roommate quite vocally claimed to hate the show yet carefully taped it every week. She may be a bit of a masochist.)

[> [> [> [> Re: Interesting, I had the opposite reaction -- s'kat, 14:14:27 06/19/03 Thu

Had a similar situation. I gave up on it periodically in S1 and S2, didn't get hooked again until Loyalty. Certainly didn't consider taping it until Loyalty. And I know a lot of non-internet fans who got interested for the first time after Loyalty. So I guess to each their own.

For the five people Q mentioned giving up on it, I can come up with five who got interested and not just because of Faith. Same with S4 Btvs. So I guess, it really is true, no matter how strongly you feel about something - there is going to be someone out there who feels exactly the opposite.

[> [> yes, the term that came to mind -- mamcu, 07:29:18 06/20/03 Fri

was indeed soap-opera, even in the acting styles. When Cordy would appeal to Connor on the basis of their little family, I couldn't believe it was the same actress who'd been so excellent on BtVS. And others were similar. I accuse writers, directors, and actors for that.

[> I love Season 4! -- Scroll, 11:40:06 06/19/03 Thu

I rate Angel S4 right up there with Buffy S3. But I love all the AtS seasons, and feel that each flowed smoothly into the next. Taken all together, the series has great resonance and terrific overarching themes of home, family, redemption and forgiveness, and choices/free will vs. destiny.

Season 1
Some really terrific eps; my favourites are "Room w/a Vu", "I Will Remember You", "Hero", "Somnambulist", "I've Got You Under My Skin", "Five by Five/Sanctuary", and "To Shanshu in L.A.". And I thought all the main characters were developed in an organic, meaningful way. Angel's mission and the statement of the show was put forth strongly and given resonance, especially through Faith. Kate and Lindsey were great secondary characters, Wolfram & Hart were set up to be the most versatile, long-term villains in the Jossverse.

Season 2
Loved the Darla arc. Loved the ep "Darla". Some truly spectacular eps this season. Felt this season did a good job of integrating Gunn into the gang, and of developing both Cordelia and Wesley as agents independent of Angel. Loved Angel's epiphany and his reconciliation with the Fang Gang. I really enjoyed Virginia, and Lindsey and Kate's respective resolutions, though I miss all three actors and wish they could make cameos next season! The Pylea arc had me scratching my head a bit, but I enjoyed it and I loved the Groosalugg. Fred was interesting too :)

Season 3
Perhaps my least favourite season, cuz this is when I started to see a shift towards plot over characterisation. I felt there was some ball-dropping with Cordelia's character, and her behaviour in later S3 had me scratching my head a lot. The Angel/Cordy pairing isn't my favourite, and IMHO, not very well set up and/or written. But again, I loved Darla and the introduction of Connor. I absolutely adored Holtz and Justine, and the Wesley-kidnaps-Connor arc. The Wes/Lilah and the Angel/Connor dynamics of the last few eps were what saved much of Season 3 for me. Still, I understand that a lot of S3 was set-up for S4. You have to think of it as a two-part novel.

Season 4
My favourite season, not just for plot but for characterisation as well. Gunn's anger/irritation at being stuck as only "muscle", Fred's sweetness and loyalty mixed with vengeance and neediness. Cordelia lost and confused, and with an evil hidden beneath her skin, slowly being revealed. Connor, manipulated at every turn, spiralling out of control until he just can't take it any more. Wesley, darker than ever yet still absolutely consistent with even BtVS S3. Lilah, snarky and bitchy, in love with a White Hat but still happily evil. Angel, making the hard choices again and again, sometimes in direct contradiction of what he believes is right and good. Not to mention David Boreanaz's acting has been fabulous this season.

So yeah, I enjoyed S1, mostly loved S2, had a love/hate relationship with S3, and completely adored S4. Just my take on Angel though, I'm sure lots of people would disagree with the relative merits of each season :)

[> S3 and S4 Ats were my favorite Angel Seasons -- s'kat, 11:46:24 06/19/03 Thu

I actually in some ways prefer them to Btvs' S6 and 7.
I felt they were tighter and developed all the characters arcs without backing down. Yes there were problems here and there - specifically with Cordelia, but overall? I loved it. Very gripping.

For a good analysis see TCH's Odyssey.

And the consensus I've seen on many fan boards, including the snarky Twop is that Ats S4 and S3 were well-liked.

[> [> I agree... -- Rob, 12:01:16 06/19/03 Thu

...in them being my favorite seasons. But I don't prefer them overall to Buffy 6 and 7. Definitely had stronger plotting than Buffy's seventh season, in particular, though.


[> [> S4 is probably my favorite Angel season (spoilers to "Home") -- cjl, 12:05:35 06/19/03 Thu

Which, to be honest, surprises me. So arc heavy, and the ANGEL staff seemed to take a detour around Pluto before finally bringing the Cordelia plotline (which started in "Birthday") home.

But you can't argue with quality. A truly great lead-off ep ("Deep Down"), the introduction of Gwen in "Ground State," the trip to Vegas (yeah, mediocre ep, but who cares--it's Vegas!), the macabre humor of "Slouching Toward Bethlehem," Joss' "Spin the Bottle" (good, but not classic Whedon), and then, with "Supersymmetry," it's off to the races. A fantastic roller coaster ride from 4.6 - 4.21, ending with the kick-ass final act of "Peace Out" and the startling conclusion of "Home." (Well, what do you know? The father, it turns out, WILL kill the son.)

When TCH finishes his S4 Angel Odyssey, I'll go back and summarize my episode-by-episode marks and compare to S2 (my previous favorite). But right now, I think S4 has got it beat. Easily.

[> [> [> Re: S4 is probably my favorite Angel season (spoilers to "Home") -- s'kat, 13:47:51 06/19/03 Thu

Would agree. I'm waiting for TCH to see the whole season first before I do my own episode by episode breakdown of S4 and why I really loved Angel the Series this season.
A fantastic hour of television - at least in my point of view.

[> [> [> [> Wow. Subjectivity in Action... -- AngelVSAngelus, feeling rather blue..., 22:18:28 06/19/03 Thu

'Cause, man, did I feel off with S3 and 4.
I've already previously posted on the reasons in this same thread, but I don't think I spoke on the more intuitive feeling of... for lack of better words, "offness". From the very beginning the show didn't feel like itself to me, and I must apologize for not being able to articulate very well why I felt this way. Maybe I'm just crazy. Or maybe its all just the reasons I stated before.
I think Spin The Bottle and the last three episodes of the season were the only ones that felt on for me.
I'm starting to notice I'm also not a big Deknight fan, contrary to soooo many.
Does anyone else ever feel a little depressed about being alone in your passions?

[> [> [> [> [> I have. -- Finn Mac Cool, 22:30:56 06/19/03 Thu

For the first couple months after becoming a Buffy fan, I was ashamed to admit I was one. If someone came into the room while I was watching Buffy, I quickly changed the channgel. It wasn't until I began reading fanfic that I found others who also loved this little tale of a California girl who slays vampires on her time off. So, I do know how it feels.

[> [> Re: S3 and S4 Ats were my favorite Angel Seasons -- dmw, 21:09:37 06/19/03 Thu

Seasons 3 and 4 of Angel were my favorites too; I found both much better than seasons 6 and 7 of Buffy. The continual activity of Jasmine's machinations from the Beast to her actual appearance was exciting and compelling, especially when compared to the inactivity of the First Evil. I'm not sure how much of Skip's speech to believe, but overall Jasmine's story was handled much better than Glory's similar one in Buffy s5.

More importantly, I felt that most of the characters, with the notable exception of Cordelia, had arcs that went somewhere and followed consistently from their pasts, which is another contrast with recent Buffy seasons. I also thought Wesley's descent into darkness was an example of how such an arc can be handled well, in contrast to the disappointing dark Willow arc of season 6.

[> [> AtS Season 4: The REAL Twenty-Four -- Valheru, 23:48:24 06/19/03 Thu

IMO, Season 4 was like 24, only better. It was one big story, from start to finish, and ME handled it as superbly as any television series ever has (okay, Twin Peaks is the exception).

ME tried doing this before, starting with the Angelus arc in BtVS Season 2. But as strong as that story was, it didn't sustain from Surprise to Becoming; only Surprise/Innocence, Passion, IOHEFY, and Becoming kept the arc in focus, where the rest pulled back to other stories for a breather. S3 had a similar structure with the Faith arc of Bad Girls/Consequences, Enemies, Choices, and Graduation Day.

S4 got a little bolder, quickly giving us the Initiative in the first episode. But unlike S2/3, that arc didn't dominate very well, often giving way to the character arcs.

S5 was BtVS's most successful attempt at a total seasonal arc. Dawn's introduction in Buffy vs. Dracula was a powerful start to the Glory arc, and once Glory was introduced, the hellgod's presence was felt in almost every episode. But in terms of structure, it was like the Angelus arc, only over the whole season. There'd be a Glory episode, followed by one or two stand-alones where Glory toiled away in the background, and then she'd resurface for another starring role.

ME took this a step further over on AtS in Season 2, with the W&H/Darla/Dru/BadassAngel arc sustaining the spotlight for a large chunk of the season. But it did not dominate the entire season.

S3 was like BtVS S5, with Holtz introduced early and formidably, followed soon after by Darla's pregnancy. Holtz's arc carried through the entire season in every episode, but again, not every episode focused on it. Still, they experimented with the structure and by the end of the season, even the character arcs were tied up within the seasonal arc.

S4 was full-blown seasonal arc practically from start to finish, via a series of character-centered trilogies.

Deep Down, Ground State, The House Always Wins was a trilogy of stand-alones, a kind of prelude to the actual story. But the earliest threads of the story are there: Connor's estrangement, Wes/Lilah, and the search for Cordy.

Slouching Toward Bethlehem, Supersymmetry, Spin the Bottle is the beginning of the story proper, focusing on AmnesiacCordy, leading directly into...

...Apocalypse Nowish, Habeas Corpses, Long Day's Journey, which are the showcase episodes for the Beast, which directly results in...

...Awakening, Soulless, Calvary, the Angelus mini-arc. And because Angelus gets out of the Fang Gang's control, they need...

...Salvage, Release, Orpheus because it brings Faith into the mix. Or you can look at Awakening through Release as an Angelus mega-arc--with Salvage/Release being a sub-arc with Faith--culminating in Orpheus which merges both arcs to an apparent conclusion. Except for one little problem...

...Players, Inside Out: EvilCordelia. These two episodes, while a mini-arc of themselves which contributes to the seasonal arc, act as a bridge between two giant storylines. The AmnesiacCordy/Beast/Angelus/Faith storyline is almost all action-oriented (with some psychological drama mixed in), so the seasonal arc needs the EvilCordy plot to change the tone for...

...Shiny Happy People, The Magic Bullet, Sacrifice, Peace Out, the Jasmine arc. Even though the tone shifted to be more philosophical and theoretical, it's still the same plot that started back in Deep Down. Witness, then, the final scene of...

Home. The story came full circle, back to family.

Season 4 never really let up. Granted, that hurt it sometimes, but it still maintained itself. For example, the plot holes were huge and the story never slowed down to even attempt to repair anything, but the holes were only big enough to damage the story, not destroy it. The sheer fact that the characters didn't end the rollercoaster season as unrecognizable shells of their former selves is enough for me to praise it (Cordelia was ruined back in S3, I won't blame S4 for using her so poorly).

Was it a perfect season? Hell no. Not even close. But it did what it did better than any other show. 24--the show whose entire premise is centered around a sustained seasonal arc--couldn't even sustain it as long as Angel did this year. It did 24 better than 24 did. Not bad for a show that started out as an anthology.

[> Not only were seasons3 and 4 bad Angel seasons... It was some of the worst TV EVER!!! -- Q, 12:24:46 06/19/03 Thu

Season 1 started slow but good, and kicked into high gear at the end.

Season 2 was great, but the season arc ended WAY early. Epipany wrapped up the season, then there were two good episodes AFTER that, and then they tacked on a little something to MAKE the show jump the shark-- Pylea.

The show has NEVER recovered.

Oh there has been some decency-- The Connor being born trilogy and the Connor being kidnapped trilogy (EVERYTHING else in season 3 stank).

Season 4 had NOTHING redeeming to me. The beast was almost as bad a villain as Adam, then it changed to Cordy which was just ridiculous, especially since she slept with Connor BEFORE going evil.

And then week after week of silly, silly, Jasmine episodes.

The season felt like a root canal that would NEVER end.

I only pray it gets MUCH better soon, because now there is no Buffy to carry me through!

[> [> Do you watch much TV? Because while you can dislike season 3 and 4 as much as you want... -- Rob, 12:36:19 06/19/03 Thu

...there are far worse things on TV. Just this season, we've had "Are You Hot?", "Joe Millionaire," "Fear Factor," "Scare Tactics," "Mr. Personality." Sometimes diehard fans of shows like Buffy or Angel tend to overreact when they dislike events on the show. But when you put things in perspective, the worst ep of Buffy or Angel is miles above most other TV, with few exceptions.


[> [> [> Ugh. The Reality Show Phenomena (warning rant on Reality TV) -- s'kat, 15:34:03 06/19/03 Thu

Taking this opportunity to bitch and moan about the current state of television.

Do you remember the days that we had, actually had summer re-runs? Or mini-series? Or new series introduced like the brilliant Northern Exposure? Oh those were the days. If you missed an episode of ER or Hill Street or Buffy or Angel, you could always count on the reruns starting up in the summer - start to finish.

Not any more! Now the reality shows have taken over. I was flipping channels the other night and yep: my choices were For Love or Money, Fame (missing the days when it was a drama as opposed to a rip-off of American Idol), some Bachelor show, Fear Factor, Hotel Paradise...the list is endless. I was hoping to catch an episode of West Wing - since I had to give up the show this year to watch Angel, can't watch both - with my cable system. But was it on? Of course not - Fame was. Guess the network did it's alottment of West Wing reruns already this year. Or the hope that Fox would air in order all of Firefly this summer? Nope more interested in showing us Hotel Paradise. sigh. And no, the reality show is NOT a new thing - it's been around since 1000 Question and What's my Line? And
the Newlywed Game. But at least in those days...it was just one or two shows a week, or on in the daytime. Now? I sometimes think that's all that is on any more. And while I understand how cheap and easy these shows are for networks - ie. no casts to pay, no writers to hire, no special effects, no costumes, no directors really - all you need is a couple of cinematographers, a producer, a host and a bunch of people willing to do anything to appear on TV. Heck there are people out there who will pay for their 15 minutes of fame. So I get that. On the other hand - boy is it dull and repetitive.

I keep hoping the craze will end. That we will return to interesting dramas and comedies soon. That it will only last one more month. I keep hoping....

Apologies to anyone out there who happens to love these shows, I personally just find them painful and irritating.

[> [> [> [> Seconding your rant -- Alison, 15:40:03 06/19/03 Thu

The mere fact that I can't watch Buffy re-runs due to America's Next Top Model is irritating me beyond belief...and who exactly does UPN thinks watches Buffy anyway? They obviously tried to grab Buffy's audience, airing ANTM after Chosen, then saying they would air Buffy reruns...and leaving me to face Tyra Banks instead- do they honesly still believe the only people who watch Buffy are guys who like to watch hot chicks running around!?

[> [> [> [> [> Personally -- matching mole, 15:56:02 06/19/03 Thu

I've considered becoming born again as the loathsome rise of reality television has half convinced me of the existence of the devil! Or at least that Jonathon Swift had it right in book IV of Gulliver's Travels.

On the plus side I'd rather spend less of my time watching television and reality programs do compensate for a certain lack of will power on my part. However that doesn't make up for the repugnance of people debasing themselves and offering up their personal lives as public spectacle. I imagine that it must be making the spirit of Andy Wharhol very happy. If there are enough of these shows then eventually everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.

[> [> [> [> [> [> The existence of the devil I can cope with... -- Tchaikovsky, 16:05:19 06/19/03 Thu

But isn't book four of 'Gulliver's Travels' the one with the rational perfect horses (or Houynhmhnmhms or whatever it is)? I thought this was a misunderstanding of humanity that disappointed me after his really super tales of the small and big people.


[> Re: Angel S3 & S4 -- CW, 17:45:04 06/19/03 Thu

I'm very much the odd one. I liked season one the best. Season two seemed endless until Dru showed up, and the Pylea episodes just didn't fit with anything. Season three had two decent moments: Connor's birth and the point at which he was kipnapped. The Cordy/Angel relationship didn't work for me, and Cordy choosing ascension over going to see Angel (even if Skip was playing mind games) unfortunately seemed all too believable. With the management turnover problems at Angel on the production end of the show last year, it's amazing the show made any sense at all. But, other than vague movement toward what became the Jasmine plot, there just wasn't any overall structure last year. Yes, there were references in the last ep to the first of the season, but that's a far cry from a season long structure. The twists and turns of the Cordy plot served no real purpose other than to have twists and turns. In the end Cordy might as well have been left in a broom closet for all she contributed in the last few eps. Blotting out the sun, and the rain of fire, simply killed my suspension of disbelief. Basically I've given up watching Angel with an eye to analysis. It just isn't my cup of tea anymore.
I'm more wishing than hoping that will change next season.

The Answers to All Your Season 7 Questions... -- LeeAnn, 07:39:31 06/19/03 Thu

A very funny essay that answers all those unanswered questions about Season 7.


[> That explains everything! -- Malandanza, 08:20:38 06/19/03 Thu

Thanks, LeeAnn!

[> (bad words in link, BTW) I saw that, but figured posting a link would get me banned :) -- Earl Allison, 09:33:41 06/19/03 Thu

I did read this, and I think that it does, after a fashion, underscore some of the problems with S7.

IMHO, they knew where the series would end, and didn't care how they got there.

Take it and run.

[> ROTFLOL!! Thanks LeeAnn, that was great! -- Scroll, 12:52:37 06/19/03 Thu

My Season 7 Critique (long) Intro & Part I The TV Grind -- shadowkat, 09:33:13 06/19/03 Thu

i> It's all about having expectations, and then letting go of them. - OnM

I've been thinking a lot about Season 7 Btvs. A season that I felt started out with a great deal of potential then sort of lost it's way half-way through, never quite living up to what it promised. This isn't overly surprising when you realize it is after all an hour television series with a relatively low budget and on commercial television - also at the mercy of a) network censors and producers and b) commercial sponsors. Sopranos and Six Feet Under have no clue how good they have it.

Before I begin - I re-watched all of S7 on tape recently. I watched it from beginning to end within a three week time period. I watched the last six episodes in with three days. The last four in four hours. So my opinions below are not based on frustrations of gaps between episodes or waiting for new ones, or commercials. Nor did my opinion of the season change much after re-watching.

First off? I think the writers were probably trying to do the episodic/stand-alone combo like they'd always done. And they more or less did just that, at least for the first half of the season. The second half? It was all arc. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just the arc felt a little choppy in places. Bear with me as I attempt to explain this in some coherent manner. The themes and plots didn't quite fit the characters' emotional states or arcs in S7, I often felt as some posters have stated that the characters were being forced to serve the story as opposed to the story serving or naturally arising from the characters. It was almost as if Whedon and his writers were intent on conveying a specific message by the end of the series and had to manipulate their characters into conveying it. The message seemed almost more important than the characters or even the story being told, and as result the plot at times felt a little heavy handed, as did some of the metaphors. It also seemed a tad disjointed or choppy in places.

I. The TV Grind

Whedon has stated in numerous interviews what a grind it is putting out a tv show week after week and he's not wrong.
Tough job. And exhausting. But Whedon was doing three tv shows, all three he'd written the main arc for. Also he had a new baby. So needless to say he was spread thin, bad thing to happen for the head of a tv show. Also his co-executive head writer of Btvs was on maternity leave and looking at other projects. Keep that in mind as you think about S7.

A little primer on television production, serial vs. episodic formats, and what I think the writers were attempting to accomplish this season from reading their interviews. (Most of this information has been grabbed from assorted interviews I've read, documentaries I've seen and conversations with people in the know - can't remember the references unfortunately, so you'll just have to take my word for it. ;-) )

Marking this section so you can skip it and head to the critical analysis if you wish. ;-)

TV as many of you know is a tough business. And depending on the TV show, it can either be great or horrible or a combo of both for the writer. If the show is a drama, hour-long format and appears usually at night, then it is probably controlled by writers. The writers produce, occasionally direct, and often create the show. Actors are slaves who do whatever the writers want. Yes, directors are involved - but they are trained to do what the writers want and are on Joss' payroll. He doesn't like them? They are gone.
Fox and Kuzuis may own the copyright to Btvs, but Joss Whedon retained creative control - what this means is that Whedon controls who edits, directs, writes, acts in, and produces individual episodes. He controls how the plot arcs develop, which characters are featured, and how the scenes are written and filmed. And unlike Firefly - which Fox kept interfering with - he was pretty much left to his own devices on Btvs and Ats. Oh they would make suggestions here and there, but overall - it was Whedon's enterprise.

And as Adam Busch stated at the Moonlight Rising Convention, Whedon and Company are watching the actors performances, they called him back to re-do a scene just for one line that they did not like. David Solomon - ME's main director was an editor on Welcome to The Hellmouth and has been one of Joss' main directors since Season 2 What's My Line, his first fully directed episode. He listens to the writers. All of this puts a heck of a lot of pressure on the writer who has about a weekend if that to hammer out a 42 page script, then 7 days to see it shot. If they go over? Scenes get cut and it is up to the writer to decide which scenes. Some writers like David Fury - will grab another writer to help him if he has to do it in a short period of time. Fury prefers 8 day writing schedule and occasionally you can get that if you get the assignment prior to the shooting of the previous episode. (see Fury's interview at City of Angels).

Btvs unlike some shows is loosely plotted. Whedon does not plan out every episode, plot arc or character prior to the first episode of each season. What he does is figure out the general theme and general plot arc of the season - the main character's emotional arc and where he wants everyone to end up. For instance he knew at the end of Season 5 that he wanted to spread the power of the slayer to all the other potentials and that Spike would go after a soul and get more or less redeemed. What he did not know was the specifics. This is very different from the writer of 24 or Bablyon 5 which are thoroughly outlined in advance. The writer of Bablyon 5 knew every character arc and plot arc five years ahead of time, with a few exceptions here and there. The writer of 24 - figures out the entire plot for each year before it films. According to Drew Goddard - the entire plot of Btvs is not plotted in advance, just the general A plot line is, the B plots are left open. They knew FE was the big bad and that Buffy was going to spread her power and Spike would die. But that was it. Everything else was left open.

There are three types of dramatic television show formats. (These don't include documentaries and reality shows.)

1. Episodic: This is the stand-a-lone tv format. Plot and theme usually come first here, with character development a distant third. We only see the characters develop and evolve to the extent that it enriches the plot or theme. Most situation comedies fit in this format. Episodic tv shows can be seen in any order, doesn't matter. That's their main strength - and networks love these babies because of that strength. Makes them a syndication goldmine. And the money is often in the syndication. Examples of episodic tv shows include: Law and Order, Happy Days Twilight Zone and other Anthology series, Quantum Leap, Star Trek, and Voyager.

2. Serial: This is the arc tv format. Characters/Plot/Theme are first and foremost here. The plot usually springs from the characters emotional arcs in a serial. In episodic the characters serve the plot. In serial the plot serves the characters. Good serials such as 24 or Babylon 5 will have the characters emotional arc and the plot entwined. And both will be detailed. These two shows are examples of tightly plotted serials - where extensive season long outlines are made prior to the show's first episode. Soap operas are examples of the form at its worst - where the emotional arcs of characters overwhelm plot. Soap operas also tend to be more loosely plotted, no complete plot outline so much as complete character outlines. The actor or the chemistry between actors will often overtake the whole plot structure in a soap opera. The pro of doing serial is once you hook a core audience they'll drop everything to watch and will come in droves - example is well Dallas and Dynasty. The con is if you don't hook them, you lose them forever, since the plot is far too serialized for them to come in at the middle, example Farscape (yes it had fans, but it couldn't pick up new fans). Serials demand a lot from the television watcher - commitment, either to tape or to watch once a week - some viewers hate that. They want to just watch whenever, they don't want to plan their life around something unless it really moves them. Also extremely hard to show re-runs or put in syndication - big problem that since the money's in syndication. There's a reason we don't see these types of shows in syndicated release very often - you can't show them out of order. Also if they are really expensive and serials? Well you can't make up the production cost in syndication or re-runs. Makes them an expensive gamble all the way around. If I was a network exec - I'd be very cautious about committing to the serial (even though as a viewer I happen to prefer them.)

3. Serial and Episodic: The combo. This is the best of both worlds. The B plot line is episodic while the A is serial. The characters grow and change and develop, but you don't have to necessarily watch all the episodes to figure out what is happening. There are stand-alones and arcs. The arcs are usually more character than plot, since plots tend to be more on the episodic level. The A plot comes from the characters. The B plot from a theme or idea which reflects on them but isn't essential to them. Sometimes you'll get a 4 episode arc which deals with just the A plot. Examples of this form are ER, NYPDBlue, CSI, The Practice, West Wing, Gilmore Girls, Smallville. These babies are great b/c you have the best of two worlds - you get stand-alones to show as reruns and out of order, and you get arcs. You can hook both the audience that prefers the serial and the audience that prefers the episodic. And do syndication. Also note these babies are at the top of the ratings.

Doing the combo isn't easy - because you have to be aware of the A plot and B/C plot and their connection to each other as well as the emotional character arcs which drive the narrative. If you lose one of the balls, you can lose the whole momentum of the season and the audience. In some cases - the writers will excel at the stand-alones and the individual character arcs in the stand-alones but fall flat when it comes to the season arc. Every episode that can be seen as a stand-alone and watched outside of the arc - is extremely strong, while the episodes dealing with the main arc or plot going throughout the season may end up being weak. The opposite can also occur, where the stand-alones are crap and don't make sense, but the central arc is really strong. The best case scenario is to have both and the way to have both is to build the plots from the characters or from themes relating to the emotional arc and development of the characters.

Example of a season that had strong stand-alone episodes and a strong central plot arc: Season 3 Btvs. We had the Mayor/Faith plot arc at the center, with some great character stand-alones, which fed into the theme of SG dealing with authority, shadow selves, and graduation. As a result - most fans of the series probably rank S3 at the top, also and more importantly the ratings for the overall series were the highest in S3. Now this had nothing to do with who the characters were - it had to do with tightly plotted central arc and well plotted stand-alones, which came from emotional core of the characters. Each story dealt with the characters emotional relationships to each other and how they felt about themselves. Yet at the same time, you could also technically watch S3 without having seen the prior two seasons. The action wasn't so predicated on plot developments that occurred in previous seasons that new viewers couldn't jump in. The only plot development that was really based on past seasons was the B/A relationship which was explained fairly quickly and was not the A plot but rather relegated to a more manageable C/B plot, as were all the love relationships in that season. The A plot was the authority/graduation theme and F/Mayor.

Example of a season with strong stand-alone episodes and an incredibly weak central plot arc: Season 4 Btvs. We had the Adam/Walsh/Initiative arc, which through no fault of the writers fell apart when Lindsey Crouse bailed. There was also an Oz/Willow/Tara/Veruca arc that had to be abandoned as well when Seth Green bailed. Actors can affect the show after all. The central arc was confusing, muddled and somewhat cheesy to most viewers, but there were several stand-alones that had zip to do with it or vaguely referenced it that were kick-ass. These stand-alone episodes pulled in new viewers to the show, enabling it to be renewed for another season and scored high in the syndication market. One of the stand-alone's even got nominated for an Emmy: HUSH.

Example of a season with strong central arc but weak stand-alones: Season 2 Btvs.
This season had the strongest central arc ever - rich, full of passion. But the stand-alones were weak and often make it to many fan's worst of lists. It's telling that ratings spiked when the episodes that dwelt on central arc were shown and dipped during stand-alones. But the central arc brought in viewers.

Part of the problem I had with S7 was a feeling that once the writers jumped away from the episodic/serial combo the story got a bit confusing plot wise and choppy.
By Bring on The Night, possibly even before that episode - the story almost became a complete serial - not a combo at all. Even the stand-a-lone episodes, like Storyteller, Lies My Parents Told Me, Killer in Me, First Date, Potential - felt like parts of the serial - Storyteller really made no sense to anyone who hadn't been watching Btvs for a while. And it was filled with flashbacks. LMPTM? Unlike Fool For Love which you could show to a first time viewer without too much preamble, LMPTM really required some experience with the show to understand it. Another problem with LMPTM that Fool For Love didn't have? LMPTM never really got resolved on screen. After Fool For Love - we see the repercussions of Riley's decision to blow up the vamps and his frustration, Buffy's session with Spike and how allowing him to actually comfort her - changes their relationship somewhat, and Giles sense that he isn't really helping Buffy. In LMPTM - Buffy shuts Giles out, Spike gets rid of the trigger, and Giles and Wood try to kill Spike - while this is mentioned in later episodes, it feels unresolved somehow. OR less resolved than Fool for Love did. It's not that they don't refer to the events in the previous episode, they do, it's just they don't resolve or wrap them up or even really make sense of them, they just refer to them. Another example is the trigger. Spike's trigger is a big deal until well Get it Done, and Buffy sort of drops the whole thing, it jumps up again in LMPTM. I've never understood why Buffy stopped worrying about it. Or Willow/Amy/Warren - Amy never shows up again - completely dropped. In previous seasons, her character was usually wrapped up a little neater, here she's been regulated to plot device. Now the chip was dealt with a little better, except it confused the heck out of the audience all season long - we weren't sure he had it, it was working, it wasn't working, and then all of sudden in one episode it starts giving him pain. It's a choppiness or lack of smooth flow between episodes and plot. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what was causing this - except that when I rewatch episodes on FX and rewatch this season - I feel it, this sense that the episodes don't quite flow together as well. Now part of this is due to the grind of doing a television series. TV shows are notorious for getting choppy plot wise. For the best scenes often being the unwritten ones that appear off camera - just due to the time and episode constraints if nothing else. So this may just be a complaint I have with the medium more than with the show. OTOH - previous seasons did flow together better and had a far less choppy feel to them, we could easily track the characters arcs from one episode to the next.

[> Season 7 Critique Part II Character Inconsistencies (Spoilers here) -- s'kat, 09:37:16 06/19/03 Thu

II. Inconsistencies and Misuse of Characters to serve Plot or Further a Theme

This is the only season of Btvs in which I felt as if the characters themselves were confused. There were points in episodes in which I had the odd sensation that a character was looking up at the Writers and saying: "explain why I want to do this again? Because I'm sort of confused here. And tell me again what the heck this thing is you're giving me? And why the heck would I ever in a million years do that? Seems awfully stupid to me." While the writer stubbornly shakes his or her head says: "Hey! Who's the writer here, you or me? You do what I tell you to do. End of story. No arguments."

The poor character is left sputtering and defenseless.

Trust me as a writer - you ignore what your characters say at your own peril. And this season I got the odd feeling, more of an itch, there was a huge disagreement going on between the characters and the writers. Not so much out of character moments...just moments that did not come logically from the characters themselves. Almost as if the characters were being used as pawns to push forward the plot.

The only two characters arcs that appeared to logically work for me this season were: Andrew and Spike. And to be honest, I'm on the fence about whether they really pulled off the Spike arc. The actor pulled it off, but did the writers? Not so sure. So I'd have to say only Andrew's arc seemed to logically work on BOTH narrative and metaphorical levels. Spikes? (shrug)

A. The Disconnected Lead

The character whose arc may have hurt the show the most this season, causing a sort of malaise and type of black hole in the middle of the season - I think, ironically enough, was the central character: Buffy. Before I explain why - I'd like to say - I agree whole-heartedly with the view that "we are Buffy". Buffy is the central pov. It is her story. We are supposed to see the whole thing through her eyes. Which is a wonderful concept and one used in many tv shows, La Femme Nikita, Alias, Dawson's Creek, even Xena used this construct. And it can work well as a story-telling device, except for one minor thing: Make damn sure the central character is someone the viewer wants to identify with and wants to be inside. She must be accessible to the viewer as a character. The viewer must know what she is thinking and feeling. The viewer must feel like they are Buffy. If this did not work for you? Uh oh. If it did? Great.

Up until S7, this character really did engage me, I enjoyed her, I felt for her, she moved me. My heart ached for her. I understood her motivations and where she was coming from and she never bored me. I was Buffy. Yeah I may have identified more with Willow and Spike and Xander at times, but I was Buffy when I watched the show. This season? She just didn't engage me. I felt disconnected from her. I did not know what she felt nor did I care. And I wasn't alone. A few posters blame Spike for fans' attitudes towards Buffy, but truth is Buffy was actually the most interesting and sympathetic when she was with Spike in the later episodes. Her scenes with all the other characters seemed somewhat disconnected and aloof. Almost as if she was uncomfortable being around them and as a viewer, so was I.

I don't believe this is the character or the actress's fault - I think this is the fault of the story the character found herself plopped in the middle of. For some reason the writers were interested in telling a story about how "Slayers are alone" and how in order not to be alone "you must share the power" and how being aloof and the leader isn't such a great thing - which is interesting story to tell on one level and very good message, but not necessarily great to watch. Think about it? How often did we see Buffy Smile? (Twice?) Her best moments? Few and far between: the last scene with Willow in Same Time Same Place, the church scenes with Spike in Beneath You, the basement scene in Sleeper & NLM, very end of Showtime, with Spike again in Touched and last scene with the scythe, End of Days, Chosen, the scenes with Faith in End of Days, and maybe one or two with Xander: End of Days, Lessons. Most of the time she was speechifying, looking conflicted, or being "the law". To have the focus of the story appear aloof and emotionally detached to the audience is a risky thing. Especially when the story seems to either be in her pov or concentrate more on her than anyone else. Yes, I know it's ALL ABOUT BUFFY...but Angel is a series that is called ANGEL, and yet, we had lots of character development for characters outside of him such as Gwen, Wes, Gunn, Fred, Connor...also if you're going to make it all about one character - keep that character and her inter-relationships engaging, even Buffy seemed bored with her relationships. The only relationship that she seemed really engaged in was Spike and that appeared to be because she wasn't sure what she felt about him or what to do with him. I'm still on the fence about what she felt about Spike. And yes, I know that was deliberate - she had to distance herself - and they dealt with that a little in Touched, but it took too long to do it. When Buffy's not connected and not engaged - the audience is not connected and not engaged - that's the risk the writers took and it's a huge thing to ask of a television audience that has to deal with reruns and commercials and can flip channels at the drop of a hat.

B. Characters that got the shaft because they didn't fit the "central slayer" plot.

Anya - after the ground-breaking, wonderful Selfless where Anya finally comes to terms with herself, Anya seemed to regress into S4 Anya, who just wanted to have sex and was obsessed with her hair, every other episode she's asking people if there's something wrong with her hair. The writers themselves admit that they lost the character after Selfless - they just did not know what to do with her. This astonishes me - since they planted all these interesting plot threads:

1.) The Spike/Anya relationship and how Anya saw Spike's soul in Beneath You. Also how the two are paralleled in Selfless - with Spike talking to Buffy in the basement about his sins and Anya dealing with hers and them both handling the idea of guilt and humanity.
2.) Willow/Anya relationship - which also deals with vengeance. Willow after all took Anya's power in Grave and Anya felt Willow's need for vengeance. Also it is Willow who calls D'Hoffryn to save Anya.
3.) The Halfrek/Spike/Anya references from S6.
4.) Anya/D'Hoffryn and the demons being sent after her.
5.) Anya/Giles and the warmth and caring and chemistry between these two. Two people who have been through a lot and know a lot and aren't sure what the heck to do with their lives. The audience caught the chemistry, the characters did, but the writers said ewww. Heck one of the best things in Showtime was the interaction between Giles and Anya

And before someone states - but sk, it's not the Anya show, it's the Buffy show - how about:

6.) Anya/Buffy - Anya figuring out her identity and how to deal with power and Buffy struggling with the same thing. They seemed to deal with this a little in both Selfless and the beginning of Him, but dropped it after that point.

Now - when you get a character like Anya dropped into your lap with all these great angles to play - you don't ignore her. You don't push her to the sidelines. And you certainly don't let her regress to S4. I can't believe any writer worth their salt would lose this character - she's a gift from the gods. I bet poor Anya was wondering the same thing. I honestly think she was one of the characters looking up at the god-like writers wondering what the heck she was doing in most of the scenes. I certainly was.

Also if you don't want to pursue the character? Maybe you should just write her out - have her go off like Oz did and discover herself - right after Selfless. I never understood why she hung around. Cordelia in Season 3, made more sense, she was still in high school and of course she'd be around. But Anya? If she wasn't close to Buffy and the Gang? Why not leave town? And if she was close - why not explore that more? No one seemed overly upset when she died.

Giles. Ah Giles. My favorite character up until Bring on The Night - where the writers seemed more interested in playing a practical joke on the audience than in engaging in true character development. Drew Greenberg admits in an interview in Buffy Magazine #8 that they purposefully pretended Giles was the FE to play with the audience. A point that ASH reiterates at the Moonlight Rising Convention, and RKK, Jane E, and Drew mention in the Succubus Interview. Did anyone buy that Giles was FE? I was actually disappointed he wasn't the FE or an agent of the FE and I figured that out in Showtime - it was pretty obvious.

Giles became more of a metaphor for Buffy's struggle with authority than a character after awhile. Seemingly disjointed and out of touch. Disconnected just like Buffy. Great metaphor but hard to follow. Another example of sacrificing character development for plot and theme and metaphor. We saw less and less of things from his pov and most of the time had no idea where he was coming from or what purpose he had outside of bringing more potentials on to the scene. This character felt lost most of this season. Instead of exploring Giles reaction to Spike gaining a soul, Anya giving up being a vengeance demon, Xander's maturity, we spent our time on Giles placing pressure on Buffy, having hissy fits, plotting with Wood, and looking bewildered. Giles also seemed to have many out of character moments - the joke about the girls in Killer in Me, the plotting with Wood in LMPTM (on the fence whether this was out of character or not since I can see Giles wanting to kill Spike, but it certainly seemed odd for Giles to put Wood in danger like that, Giles knows how dangerous Spike is), the choosing of Faith over Buffy in Empty Places, the not helping of Buffy with the ubervamp in BoTN. Also Giles in Lessons - NLM was very likable and interesting in his brief blurbs even caring, the one who shows up in BoTN - Chosen seems completely different somehow. And therein lay my biggest problem with Giles - we see one Giles in Lessons-NLM and completely different Giles in BoTN through Touched. With just a glimmer of the old Giles in End of Days/Chosen. Yes, I can buy the idea that what happened in England with the Watcher's Council really shook him up, but it felt almost too awkward somehow, particularly after the wonderful job they'd done with him in previous seasons.

Xander. After HIM, Xander seemed to disappear gradually from the scene, which is odd, since he was in most of the episodes and scenes and had the third most lines this season. (Someone over on Angel's Soul board counted all the lines per character per episode and did a tabulation.) I remember people wondering why Xander/Anya weren't in CwDP - thinking maybe they had a greater purpose. No. They weren't there because the writers didn't know what to do with them. Xander's purpose in S7 was to deliver inspiring speeches and occasional jokes and to rebuild the window. He was Buffy's moral support. The other problem with Xander is he was inconsistent. One episode he's calling Spike an out-of-control serial killer, the next he won't say a word against him (no, Anya's doing that, god knows why, felt very out of character for Anya to do it at this point in time, S5 sure, but not now) and it's Xander who figures out what's wrong with Spike and is sympathetic, while Dawn/Willow/Anya are anything but. Decided this was because Xander roomed with Spike. Although no real development there. Other inconsistencies: Buffy is close to Xander - joined at the hip - up to Showtime, then suddenly not so much. No reason given for why. Yes, I agree you don't stay close to your friends after high school, I certainly didn't, but Buffy has stayed close to her high school friends - they are the only friends she has. Buffy also is shown extremely close to Xander and Dawn in Lessons. We don't get a repeat of that until End of Days - and it sort of comes out of nowhere after all of the disconnection in the previous episodes, to the point it jarred. And somehow I can't imagine Xander harming Dawn with chloroform - a highly dangerous substance that could have put her in a coma or Dawn harming Xander with an electronic stun gun to the neck as he's driving 30 miles per hour down a highway in the middle of the night, sounds sort of suicidal to me. Xander loses an eye in Dirty Girls - which leads to lots of tacky eye jokes, but nothing else - except possibly Xander and Willow backing the potentials in kicking Buffy out in Empty Places. (Which for some reason still feels oddly problematic and contrived.) Xander and Anya have sex twice - but don't appear to be any closer, it seems to be a retread of S4, which ignores all the progress both characters have made. When Anya dies - Xander seems actually okay. Not torn up. Just quiet. Of course I guess we were shifting into the happy moment. Xander never speaks to Faith that we see - yet they had a relationship of sorts and he seems to accept Faith as the new leader without batting an eye - very weird, considering his past experiences with Faith. Spike/Xander - could have explored their unresolved conflict more - they had them living together. Might have explained Xander's responses to Spike in later episodes. And uhm the fact Xander brought Spike along to help figure out the jacket in Him didn't make a lot of sense without a little back-up. Xander goes from hating Spike, to just tolerating him, to suddenly having him tag-a-long? Instead of focusing so heavily on the jacket sub-plot in Him, I sort of wish they'd given us a bit more on the characters - might have helped in the episodes that followed.

I'm disappointed that the writers gave up on Xander as quickly as they did. That instead of examining the characters' issues a bit more - say with the FE visiting him as either Jesse, or better yet killing Xander's Dad and having the FE visit him that way, they instead did a replay of Teacher's Pet with guest star Ashanti and poked out his eye.

And the odd thing? Xander actually had more lines than Spike in S7.

Willow. Entering this season - I was excited to see what they'd do with Willow. Not so much as it turns out. Willow had maybe three or four key episodes: Killer in Me, STSP, CwDP and Selfless. Of the three the strongest was ironically enough, Selfless. She was a place-setter in many episodes, veering from S2 Willow to S5 to S6 Willow. Missed opportunities?

1.Willow/Anya - this was set up beautifully in both Selfless and STSP - but was dropped by NLM. She began making odd jokes about Anya - whom she had appeared to be growing close to and identifying with in earlier episodes. Willow by NLM seemed to regress to s4 Willow.
2.Willow/Spike - another interesting possibility that was referred to in STSP but never built on. The writers went out of their way to keep Willow and Spike far apart. Odd since they both had the redemption thing in common.
3.Willow/Xander - outside of a couple of episodes: Empty Places, Selfless, Him, and a few tid-bits in others - we didn't get much of these two together. Why?
4.Willow/Giles - limited to Lessons, Beneath You, End of Days and Chosen. After a strong start in Lessons and BY, they seemed to be dropped. I would have liked to see the Killer in Me done with Giles or some of the other core characters?
5. Willow/Faith - neither in Angel or Btvs did we ever get these two former enemies reconciliation. The fact that Willow chose Faith in Empty Places also seemed odd. Willow hated Faith. Willow and Dawn - also skimmed over, we never saw these two characters together except briefly in Sleeper and maybe a tid-bit in Help. The only relationship that we saw really explored with Willow was with new-comer Kennedy, a character that was introduced in the 10th episode and seemed to be inserted in the story as Willow's girlfriend.

And most important of all - since it is after all Buffy's show not Willow's:

5.Willow/Buffy - outside of STSP (end of ), Selfless (sort of) Sleeper, a little in NLM...and small tid-bits here and there such as Get it Done. Not so much. They seemed distant somehow. Any conversations they had, were shown off stage or done very quickly. Yes, I know this was to emphasize Buffy's distance from the other characters and how the slayer is all alone, but how come I got the whole the slayer is all alone theme in previous seasons, yet still saw quite a bit of the rest of the cast?

Another interesting tid-bit, next to Buffy? Willow had the most lines per episode and was in the most episodes.

Dawn - at the beginning of the year, we were convinced it would be all about Dawn and the Scrappy Gang. Not so much. Outside of a few episodes here and there, Dawn really wasn't explored. Joss Whedon admits in interviews that she got gypped due to the whole slayer story arc. Her biggest episodes were towards the beginning of the season. Best moments? Help, Lessons, Him, STSP, CwDP, Potential, Empty Places, End of Days. Dawn/Willow - nothing much at all here, which is odd considering how Willow used to be a parent to Dawn and tried to kill Dawn, also the whole Tara connection. Dawn/Anya - nope, nothing except for a few odd scenes in Never Leave Me and BoTN. Dawn/Buffy - best in the beginning of the year, very little after that...the scene in Empty Places? Okay, but didn't make a lot of sense considering Dawn didn't know Faith and had plenty of reason to not trust her. Faith/Dawn - not really explored, missed opportunity considering how much the two characters had in common. We got a little bonding in the Bronze - but that was with all the potentials, not just Dawn. Dawn/Andrew - way too much time spent on this with no real clear goal in mind. In fact Andrew seemed to serve the same needs in developing Dawn as Kennedy seemed to with Willow. Except no romance. Heck Andrew seemed to get the most time with each regular character. Dawn/Xander - most here and probably two of Dawn's best scenes. Dawn/Giles - zip. Also odd. Dawn/Spike - two scenes, both lack-luster and never developed past it. Did Dawn ever forgive Spike? Doesn't appear to matter. Beneath You and LMPTM were the only two they appeared to interact, at all. After the strong D/S relationship built up in S5 and S6, the writers seemed to decide to do away with even the suggestion of any in S7. The two characters avoided each other, much like Willow/Spike did. The reason? The writers were freaked by the on-screen chemistry between the actors.

Spike - oh I know everyone thinks he had the best arc. I disagree. Andrew did. But I'll get to that shortly. Spike's arc disappointed me. It started out pretty good with Lessons - NLM, then Spike got lost. It became all about the physical torture of half-naked Spike. BoTN - Showtime : the FE tortures Spike for no clear reason and while at the time I thought - oh this is leading somewhere, now having seen the whole season twice? Didn't really appear to. Why didn't the FE just trigger him again and send him off on a feeding frenzy? Why waste time having the uber-vamp torture him? Was this supposed to redeem him somehow? He was tortured far worse by Glory in S5 after all. Actually Glory's torture made more sense. Then when Spike came back - still no redemptive speeches or even exploration into what was happening with him. Oh we got him helping Buffy train the Potentials - which showed he could still be helpful. But seemed very subdued. Killer-in-Me - the writers quick solution to how do we get rid of the pesky chip. Wish they'd thought of involving Willow in that solution - be more interesting than revisiting the Initiative, especially with Willow terrified of using her power. Actually that would have been a way to get both characters to deal with their past sins and where those sins come from. Spike/Anya - now we could have had some interesting character development here - but no, instead we just get Anya hitting on him and Spike saying no - which I guess was meant to demonstrate how much he'd changed and how little Anya had. Spike/Xander - another missed opportunity. They were roommates. We got more stuff on that score in S4, why not now? Could have furthered both characters arcs and gave us more info on Xander. Spike/Willow - see the Willow section above. Spike/Buffy - this was limited to seeing just how much chemistry these two had without ever touching or kissing each other. They had maybe three or four useful conversations in BY, NLM, Touched, End of Days, and maybe Chosen. Spike was obviously still being used metaphorically as her foil or shadow. And Buffy clearly had no clue how to deal with him, which did not always cast her in the best light. Spike/Giles - yet another missed opportunity. These two are the flip side of each other and the whole vamp getting a soul thing was a fascinating opportunity to explore Giles' prejudices and what it really meant to the Buffyverse. It was also an opportunity to explain to the audience once and for all what ME meant by a soul. Did they do it? Nooo. Instead all we got was Buffy's mantra: "But he has a soul now!" every time anyone questioned Spike. I would have preferred that we saw more of what that meant, more showing, less telling. Oh I saw glimmers, the actor did a very good job of playing Spike differently from previous seasons, less overly emotional, less demanding, less snarky, kinder, quieter, more adult. But...the repeated mantra did begin to sound like Cordy's mantra : "But he has a car!" Maybe that was the point? So that the last scene where his soul literally takes out the hellmouth would have more resonance? Spike/Dawn - zip outside of the scene in BY. Most interaction of characters with Spike were: Buffy, Wood and Andrew. Yep, the new characters got the most interaction.

My biggest difficulty with the Spike arc - was it became a straight redemption tale, which is okay in of itself, but most of the redemption I saw was in how the actor managed to reign in his reactions to other characters - small teeny little moments - which I only noticed b/c I was looking for them. The actor did a good job in my humble opinion. The writers?

How to put this so it makes sense? Okay...I did not have problems with Spike's scene with Wood in LMPTM per se, ...I did however have difficulty with the use of Nikki's jacket - the writers spent an awful lot of time with that jacket. We get the whole HIM episode about a magic jacket. In Get it Done - Spike goes after the jacket. We are told repeatedly that he took it from Nikki. But does he ever get rid of it? Nope. Instead the whole jacket thing appears to be dropped. Even the actor playing the role had problems with Spike picking up that jacket again. I have fanwanked this a bit - here's my theory: I think the jacket was meant to symbolize Spike's acceptance of his own dark power -and the fact that power is supposed to come from within. The jacket - external, the amulet - internal. The jacket - the demon/killer/warrior and the amulet - the soul/champion/warrior. So maybe what they were attempting was to use the jacket to symbolize what Spike believed his power to be - the dark external killer instinct, when in fact, his true power lay inside him the whole time - his soul.

Something about Nikki's jacket being the source of Spike's power just grates - maybe because the idea was stolen from a noir comic by Frank Miller called Sin City? Or maybe because, I'm wondering why the writers decided not to have Spike show remorse for killing slayers? My theory is that ME believes slayers are warriors and warriors don't feel remorse for killing another warrior in battle - linking to Spike's line to Buffy in Touched and Buffy's to Faith in End of Days - there are casualties in war. There shouldn't be remorse for that, only honor. They died honorably in battle. That's how the game is played. And while I see and understand that message? It's a morale message that at this point in time I'm just a little uncomfortable with, probably just the pacifist in me. At any rate, I was disappointed we didn't explore Spike's conflicted feelings over killing slayers a bit more than we did. The other problem I had with Spike's redemption - was that in order to be redeemed he had to sacrifice himself. Sort of goes against my whole view of redemption - it seems so easy, so pat, so cliché. I liked how he died, but at the same time, I didn't.

C. Too Many Characters

The biggest problem with S7 character wise was the introduction of numerous peripheral characters. Unlike previous seasons which had maybe one or two peripheral characters that were introduced to highlight the relationships of the regular principal characters but did not overtake the storyline: See season 3 as the best example of this, S7's peripherals seemed to be the story or the focus of it.


In my memory there are only two seasons that had entire episodes dedicated to a peripheral character: S4 and S7. Those episodes are Superstar and Storyteller and are written by the same writer, Jane Espenson. The difference between them is that Jonathan was a recurring character since S1, and Superstar was the only episode he was in in S4. Andrew - was practically in almost every episode from CwDP onwards. He was the one character who got to have scenes with every regular. He got the most productive scenes and the best lines (well depending on your pov). His story line and redemptive arc was the most detailed and advanced. We learned the most about his likes and desires. A fanboy's wet dream - The writers adored him. They let him ad-lib lines because he cracked them up. He's the only actor on BTVS that has gotten away with ad-libs according to interviews. This character started out a killer, began to realize his wicked ways, and slowly gradually found his redemption. And he was developed this year often at the expense of other long-term characters.

If you liked the character of Andrew and his arc, and according to what I read online, lots of people did, - you probably enjoyed S7 far more than I did. Objectively? He did have the best and most logical arc of the season. And the one arc that had zip to do with the heroine. Buffy really didn't interact with Andrew that much. Perhaps Andrew was meant as Buffy's foil in S7.

2. Introduction of One too Many Characters

Even David Fury admits in interviews that the show got way too crowded in S7. Yep. We had over 50 potentials by the end of the season and we had no clue who they were. At least I think 50, it was hard to keep track. Did anyone truly care about them? Did we care if they lived or died? How many did die? Does anyone know? They became almost interchangeable. Kennedy stood out because of Willow. Rona stood out because she complained the most. Molly stood out for the horrible accent. Amanda for the creaky voice and her pseudo relationship with Dawn. Vi for the floppy hat. Outside of that? I couldn't tell them apart most of the time. They seemed to crowd out the other characters. I noticed the difference in BoTN. Prior to BoTN, we had episodes where all the regulars had lines and were focused on. After BoTN it got defused.

The show after a while felt like it was about how to house and deal with potential slayers. And it didn't have to be that way. The potentials could have given us more insight into what a slayer truly is and the whole process. They could have had scenes with the potentials and Spike, or the SIT's and Giles. It just felt at one point as if the writers got overwhelmed with all these additional characters, just as the characters appeared to be overwhelmed.

Now don't get me wrong, I think the potentials acted realistically. They were like 15 year old girls. And Buffy's way of dealing with them, equally realistic. This was the risk the writers took in introducing them - they brought in a bunch of characters not intending for us to like or get to know them. How we reacted to them was intentional. Risky move. Not sure it helped the story, the other characters, or moved the plot though.

3. The incorporeal Villain known as The FE

Ah the opportunities missed with the FE. Why not have the FE interact more with other characters? Like Anya? Willow? Xander? Giles? Dawn? We could have had the FE appear to Anya as Halfrek. Or to Spike as Cecily. Or To Willow as Cassie and Warren and possibly Buffy? Why didn't the FE appear to other characters, besides Spike, as Buffy? Wouldn't that be a perfect way to cause them to distrust her? What about Joyce?
Or as Jenny to Giles? OR even the Mayor, The Master, Angelus, Glory, Adam...Prof Walsh?? And why just to Spike and Andrew...most of the time? It would have been great to see the FE as Ben or even Jenny in LMPTM.

I got the feeling from the interviews that the writers didn't know what to do with the FE.
And that's a shame. It could have been the most interesting villain ever. It certainly started out that way in Amends, Lessons, CwDP, Sleeper...but it started to fizzle. The best FE was probably Buffy. But the writers didn't think Buffy vs. Buffy would work with the female empowerment theme, so they went with the male uber-vamps and Caleb.

At any rate...after a while the FE's taunting seemed without bite.

4. Caleb - creepy character, but also way too cliché for it's own good. It's almost as if ME came up with the character at the last minute. (Actually according to Drew Greenberg at Succubus Club, they sort of did. They'd been playing around with Buffy fighting Buffy at the end but realized it wouldn't work and grabbed Caleb instead). I would have preferred a less stereotypical character, less obvious. Someone at slayage.com suggest Hank Summers as a possibility, I love that idea.

TBC in next section.

[> [> A possible answer ... -- Earl Allison, 10:02:26 06/19/03 Thu

"One episode he's (Xander's) calling Spike an out-of-control serial killer, the next he won't say a word against him (no, Anya's doing that, god knows why, felt very out of character for Anya to do it at this point in time, S5 sure, but not now)"

My opinion? Like much of the non-Buffy/Spike view from LMPTM, ME set up a strawman argument.

Oh, look at Anya criticizing Spike. Considering that she's been killing fratboys this season (and ME had the audacity to have Anya USE the word fratboys, as if to underscore this!), how can Ms. Pot call the kettle black? This way, ME doesn't HAVE to explain or clear anything up, everyone ignores the issue because Anya brought it up, much as Buffy wanted to ignore Wilkins' speech about immortals being in love with mortals.

In more humorous terms? If Bill Clinton says the sun is out? I'd check first, but he might not be automatically wrong. Being good or evil doesn't automatically mean you constantly speak truth or lies.

That's why Anya criticized Spike and Xander didn't. I also think watching your alleged friend of seven years virtually ignore you to check on Spike, who was only bruised (while you have a stab wound in the stomach that may well have perforated your intestine) might also take the wind out of your sails.

I felt a bit like Xander. Why bother criticizing Spike? Buffy has made it clear (IMHO) that her view is the only valid one pertaining to him -- why waste the breath anymore?


The essay so far? Excellent, as yours always are -- I love reading them, even when I might not always agree.

Take it and run.

[> [> [> Re: A possible answer ... -- s'kat, 10:17:23 06/19/03 Thu

Why didn't the writers explore it more? In Season 3, with Revelations - they certainly did. We have Xander, Giles, Willow, OZ and Cordelia come down on Buffy about it. But not here? Spike is actually shown to be really dangerous in Sleeper - NLM. Even Spike sees that. When he comes back, the only one who seems overly concerned about it is Giles and possibly Spike, who we see chaining himself up in a couple of episodes.

You've oddly enough hit on one of my problems. Yes, the whole double standard thing is annoying - they never really dealt with the fact that Anya had killed more people in her past than anyone in the series...but that's another issue.
But, why not deal with the B/S issue in a more clear-cut way? Why not make a clearer transistion? I think Never LEave Me was supposed to be that transistion, with the whole torture by FE being the proof of it - but somehow it didn't quite pull it off. Not as neatly as they did in S3 with Amends (and I disliked Amends btw, so that's saying something).

We never had Buffy discuss this with her friends at any length. We never had an intervention - like in Revealations, at least not really. Nor did we have an episode like Amends.

I'm wondering if the problem was ME's fear of repeating the Angel story with Spike? Were they so frightened of doing the same things, that they swung away from them completely? If so, I think that fear may have hurt the characters development.

It did feel as if Xander just gave up. But way before First Date. He seemed to sort of give up in Potential to some extent. And I had problems with Buffy going to Spike in First Date - it felt out of character for her somehow and contrived to push Principal Wood's buttons. Not Xanders.
Xander wasn't that important. Xander was the B plot. B/W/S
were the A. And it felt off.

So in an odd way, I agree with you Earl. Even though I actually love the character of Spike.

[> [> and another take on why Xander seemed to accept Spike -- Falcifer, 18:17:09 06/19/03 Thu

I felt Xander stopped ridding Spike so much because "the Lie" was brought up again. He seemed to realize that even if someone you love makes a relationship choice that you don't believe in, you should accept their decission or at least not work actively at destroying it, and he seemed to accept that Buffy loved Spike long before she herself did

[> [> [> Interesting theory- I like it -- Alison, 18:51:27 06/19/03 Thu

[> Part III. Plot Holes and Gaps, with conclusion (Spoilers to Chosen) -- s'kat, 09:42:50 06/19/03 Thu

III. Plot gaps and holes

This season was doing pretty well to start out. No clear plot holes. Lots of suspense. And the arc? Took off at a gallop with Conversations With Dead People. Then suddenly everything slammed to a halt with Showtime.

1. D'Hoffryn sending demons after Anya every once and a while - didn't make a lot of sense, except as a means of keeping Anya under the protection of the SG.
2. Bejoxer's Eye - this seemed to leap out of nowhere. Was never really explained. And was quickly dropped, never to be referred to again.
3. The telepathy between Willow/Xander and Buffy in Showtime which oddly enough is started by Buffy. Why isn't it used again? Why doesn't Buffy use it to communicate to her friends in Empty Places or Dirty Girls or Potential or Chosen? Why is this the only time?
4. The slayer's emergency kit that conveintly appeared in Wood's possession. Never mentioned by anyone prior to this. And making me wonder how truly ineffectual these Watcher's really are.
5. The Scythe - which also came out of nowhere in the last 50 minutes of the season. And is never clearly explained. Yet seems to solve the heroine's dilemma quite nicely along with the writer's. Way too convienent.
6. The Amulet - another plot device that comes out of nowhere and from another show no less, and is never clearly explained - yet seems to save the day. I still have no clue what this thing really did. They may or may not tell us in Angel S5.

Uhm, you work for stuff like the scythe and the amulet in stories - it doesn't drop in at the last minute and solve all your problems. Whole adventure movies are structured around searches for these devices. In previous seasons - the tools were introduced in earlier episodes, the Trolls Hammer, the Dagon Sphere, the BuffyBot, the blood - all done much much earlier in s5. In S7, we get the Scythe introduced at the end of the 20th episode of the season and the amulet in the 22nd or last one.

7. The Guardian - cool idea, why wasn't she introduced much earlier? Or explained more clearly?
8. The Tomb where the Guardian is found. If this Tomb is so secretive - why can everyone easily find it? We have Caleb, Angel, and Spike all follow Buffy into it without any problem. Also if it can easily be found, why hasn't anyone found it before now? How big is Sunnydale?
9. Dawn's ability to translate Turkish and Summarian at will. Apparently the monks gave Dawn some gifts we weren't aware of. Who is Dawn? What is the key? Was this ever going to be broached again? Felt like it in Potential when the power went through her. But seemed to be dropped.
10. Spike's soul - never explained how he got that or why the Lurker just gave it to him. (Okay maybe that is just my personal pet peeve ;-) )
11. Who made the talisman in Lessons? Spike?

Okay that's all I can come up with right now and this post is getting way too long and I'm sure there's quite a few people who are sick of the criticisms by now anyway.

I don't want to give you all the impression I didn't like S7 or hated it, I did like it well enough. I did not love it. It felt off to me. By the same token? It also felt very ambitious. The writers took several interesting risks this season, several of which just did not pay off at least for me. And I admit a great deal of my problem with s7 is I went into it with such high expectations. I expected too much and some of my speculations were more interesting that what I saw on screen - which is always a danger.

Regarding the theme? Overall, I liked the idea of spreading the power, sharing it with everyone. I also liked how Anya and Spike died - risking their lives, after living 100s of years without caring about humans, actually risking their lives for humans and doing it without anything in return. Spike's mature acknowledgment that Buffy did not really love him and being okay with that was in a way moving.

But ... the power wasn't shared with everyone. Not all women got it. Just selected women, people who were chosen by fate. And that's the portion of the message that grates at me. Also it's only women. They aren't integrating the male energy. Or dealing with it. They are rising above it. It's this odd feeling of elitism and women are better that seems to overshadow the theme. Even though I think Spike's death was supposed to counter the women are powerful message - with a powerful one about the purification of masculine energy or something like that. Not sure. Feels off somehow.

The fact that the two people who died were both the outsiders - the ones who were never fully accepted by the group, also nagged at me. As it also bugged me that these two did not appear to mourned. Oh Buffy seemed to have tears in her eyes. But no one else did. This seemed to oddly enough add to that feeling of elitism.

Also, I felt Spike was the one who transcended beyond forms at the end of the season and passed into the light, not Buffy. Buffy felt still unbaked.

I doubt this feeling was intended by Joss Whedon. And I'm sure I'm reading more into it than I should, I don't know.

Well, if you made it this far? Thanks for reading. Hope I didn't offend anyone, also hope that this came off neutral and logical as opposed to snarky. Can't tell. I remember how annoyed I got last year with all the criticism of S6, until of course I joined in. Remember - this is just my perspective on the season, I'm aware there's more than one, and those perceptions/opinions are as valid as mine. Heck if you want, you can read my positive take (see archives, May, Chosen and other individual episode reviews), thought I'd share the negative one as well.

Take it and run. And please don't hurt me. Sometimes it's far scarier and harder to write criticism than it is to write positive reviews. Or at least it is for me.

;-) SK

[> [> I actually agree with a great deal of your post. -- Rob, 10:57:35 06/19/03 Thu

This is why I said before that I thought this season was thematically quite strong but not so much plot-wise and in the use of characters in the plot.

After STSP and Selfless, I was positively giddy about all the amazing places they could take Anya this year, paralleling her to Willow, Buffy, and Spike. She is one of the most fascinating characters ever to grace a television screen, and after she has an epiphany, her finest moment ever on the series, a whole new beginning for her character...she becomes comic relief again. If they had just let Drew Goddard plan out and be in control of the whole seasonal arc for Anya, I think she would've been much better off.

And it wasn't just Anya. Every character who wasn't Buffy basically disappeared this year. Strangely enough, she kind of disappeared, too, emotionally at least. Rewatching the fourth season recently, I instantly felt what was missing in the seventh--the closeness between the characters, the history between them, a warm oogly feeling inside, and the feeling that every one of them was necessary. Although to some extent the characters did start to drift that year, each character had a purpose. Willow right from the start was important. Her breakup with Oz, and later relationship with Tara was an essential part of the season, as was Xander's blossoming relationship with Anya and his endless string of various jobs. Xanders and Giles had more in-the-background type arcs, but their characters still did develop this season, that laid the groundwork for the fifth season. Each character was interesting. Each character's appearances in each episode felt necessary, not just as cameos. The seventh season literally turned almost every main character in a cameo, or at least felt like it did, no matter how much screen time each had. It felt like every non-credits character had more screen time! And the time they did have was disjointed. Character moments were never followed up on, such as Dawn's threat to Spike in "Beneath You". Why couldn't their relationship have been resolved? They used to be so close. And Dawn giving Faith an attitude in "Dirty Girls"...the very next episode she was siding with Faith in kicking Buffy out! Now, I understand how it happened. Dawn started to see that she agrees with Faith more than Buffy. She probably saw this when Buffy behaved so harshly at the Bronze opposed to how Faith treated the other girls. But in order for Dawn's kicking Buffy out to be truly believable, we needed some real follow-up or actual moment in the episode where we see Dawn making friends with Faith.

With all this said, I loved the seventh season. I really did. Episode by episode, almost every one, IMO, was terrific. But the flow was definitely off. Each episode taken by itself, I think, had great quality. But when you watch them in a row, you notice major problems. For example, I thought "Chosen" was a work of genius. At the same time, if I felt like picking the seasonal story arc apart, I could wonder why things like the Amulet weren't planted earlier in the year. Season 5 was absolutely brilliant in placing clues and threads throughout the year, most (if not all) of which came to a head or were used in the season finale. Season 7 has an almost endless list of things that weren't answered in the season finale, plot-wise at least. Emotionally and thematically, though, "Chosen" did fit perfectly into the season. Themes of the sharing of power did run through the entire season, as well as Buffy's self-imposed separateness that she finally by the end learns she doesn't need to do. Thematically, as well, Willow did slowly come to the place where she could use strong white magicks that distribute forces already occurring in nature, rather than sucking them away from others, as she did in "Get It Done." She learned how to use magic correctly in the coven, but then kept naturally, probably instinctually, calling on dark magic whenever she needed to do a spell. But the cleansing power of the Scythe seems to have finally rid her of that need. "Chosen" touches very much on her lessons from "Lessons." Again, though, this wasn't focused on enough during the season. Spike, also, finally got to see why his soul "burned" early in the year.

And I don't want to just use "Chosen" as a template for a great episode that served the season's themes well but plot not so much. How about "Get It Done"? IMO, this was a BRILLIANT episode. (Its revelation of the dark forces from which the Slayer came was followed up brilliantly, IMO, with the "End of Days" revelation re: the Guardians and the Scythe.) All of the season's themes? Perfect. Buffy's fears that she may lose her humanity causes her to reject the enhanced Slayer power, even as she seems to be losing her humanity and compassion for the Potentials and her friends. Also great character moments for Spike and Willow. But the magic Slayer bag did seem to plop into their laps out of nowhere convincing. And Giles should have been there. It seemed like each plot and revelation this year just wasn't followed up on. If Giles wasn't there we should have seen Buffy discussing the situation with Giles afterwards. That kind of thing should not have been off-screen, if it even happened at all. And we can't tell, since there's no follow up. Another example? I thought the Beljoxa's Eye was really cool when it happened. But it is never brought up again. Did they tell Buffy? Did they not tell Buffy? In the end, you can thematically analyze the Beljoxa's Eye's message and how the weakness in the Slayer line ends up being an advantage to Buffy, since she forever breaks the way the spell had always worked. But this should have been discussed. All of these dangly threads should have been discussed by the characters in the final episodes, just as the dangly seasonal threads are always touched on again near the end of the season. And Joyce's prophecy to Dawn? In the context of the episode, CwDP...brilliant. But besides Dawn, in the next ep and in "Potential," worrying about it...no real follow-up. I do like that "Buffy" doesn't spell everything out. But when you put in such a tantalizing mystery, I think there should have at least been a clear point where you can say, "A-ha! This is what Joyce was talking about." I and many others have theorized thematically that Dawn may have in "Empty Places" been "not choosing" Buffy before Buffy could "not choose" her. That Joyce had been the First and had led Dawn to be on her guard about Buffy. I don't think that the fact that kicking Buffy out ended up helping necessarily means Joyce wasn't the First. Most of the First's plans seemed to backfire. Why not that, too? At the same time, though, Buffy not choosing Dawn could have referred to her attempt to send Dawn away before the final battle. It should have been a little less ambiguous. For true closure, IMO, we should have had one last visit from Joyce, in the last episode or the one before it, to finally put to rest what was actually going on there.

Again, I will say, if you go episode by episode, almost every one was great or very good. But the problem is that, in a season where the story arc drove so much and the B plots were almost non-existent, the story arc wasn't written well enough. Thematically brilliant, IMO. I loved The First. I loved the end result of the story arc, and parts of the story arc as it was happening. I didn't have a problem with the way Buffy treated her friends this year, because I thought it made sense character-wise and thematically. I did have a problem though with the fact that we rarely saw the friends who weren't Buffy truly talk to each other, other than "Yeah! That First is evil, isn't it?" and other season arc recaps. When was the last time we saw the characters just have a conversation? Even when the characters were drifting apart in the fourth season, they had conversations. And still seemed to genuinely like each other. We should have had some scenes between Willow and Xander and Anya talking about how Buffy has been behaving. That stuff shouldn't have just taken place in front of the potentials. The "betrayal" at the end of "Empty Places" would have been more understandable then. I'm a little conflicted with what I know was the need, thematically, for the characters to have such problems with each other this season (and the payoff was excellent, in "End of Days" and "Chosen", where they finally began to heal and repair their relationships) and the desire to have had more between them in the last season. But either way, just because Buffy was excluding the other characters from her life didn't mean they had to be excluded, plotwise, from the show. Again, fourth season...each character had an arc, which didn't only deal with Buffy's problems of the year. And plotwise, the First should have appeared to every one of the characters. I don't agree that the characters were totally being manipulated to serve the plot. I think Buffy's isolation was a natural result of what's happened to her the last two years in particular. And I loved that in the end she learned that just because the Slayer came from a dark source doesn't mean that it has to remain in the dark. She fully completed Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey there. After returning from heaven, she finally spread what she had learned to people across the world. In the Hero's Journey, the hero is always returned to Earth for a purpose, to enlighten the world with what s/he has learend. And after not understanding why she was back for so long, she finally got the message and spread the love and joy she felt in heaven to all the Potentials. And it was very significant that this was only after a period of darkness in her life that she was able to reevaluate who she was and what her power was and use it to change the world.

But again all of this could have been accomplished while still serving the other characters well. All this could have been accomplished while not leaving such huge plot gaps. The Season 7, thematically, is my favorite. I love its message and was especially pleased that it ended up turning out exactly as I thought it naturally should. It felt right as no other series finale, IMO, ever has. Almost every episode was strong. But plotwise, it still doesn't come near to beating the fifth, which worked well thematically, worked well for every character, and was structurally darn near perfect.


[> [> [> P.S. Hopefully the preceding post will finally prove to everybody that I can criticize too, dammit! -- Rob, still the Buffy Cheerleader (but not a blind one!), 11:07:19 06/19/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> LMAO! Actually I was just thinking that while reading it. ;-) -- s'kat, 11:19:03 06/19/03 Thu

And oddly enough I agree with all your points, even if I wasn't nearly as blown away as you were by the thematic message, I did like the season and taken by themselves, I'd agree most of the episodes worked well.

Also I agree that Buffy's actions made sense characterwise from what was set up in S4-7. It's just my connection to the character and ability to relate emotionally to her
seemed to disappear in 7. I think they may have gone to far with the metaphor, than was absolutely necessary.

So I'd say we probably agree more than disagree on this.
Also I would add, that S7 Btvs is probably the best finale I've seen of any series I've followed. Most series finales tend to disappoint me or seem like a complete waste of energy. This one more or less delivered. It wasn't nearly as perfect or beautiful in my mind at least as The Gift was, but hey that's to be expected.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: LMAO! Actually I was just thinking that while reading it. ;-) -- Rob, 11:22:46 06/19/03 Thu

"Also I agree that Buffy's actions made sense characterwise from what was set up in S4-7. It's just my connection to the character and ability to relate emotionally to her seemed to disappear in 7. I think they may have gone to far with the metaphor, than was absolutely necessary."

I actually agree with that too. They did go a bit too far. It just wasn't fun focusing so much on such an affectless, almost sleepwalking Buffy. But it did lead to a beautiful payoff when she first saw the Scythe at the end of "Touched"...and in her newfound connections with her friends and the world in the next 2 episodes.


[> [> [> [> [> [> Reconnecting with old friends (and the audience) -- cjl, 11:33:57 06/19/03 Thu

Buffy's emotional isolation in the latter half of S7 didn't have to be a dealbreaker for the season. If ME had simply maintained the character arcs for the other regulars, kept them as independent entities whose plotlines reflected and commented on Buffy's central story, we wouldn't have felt we were suffocating inside of Buffy's POV.

Look at that one scene in "Empty Places," when Buffy visits Xander in the hospital. We get Buffy's emotional isolation in the context of the eternal X/W friendship. The moment is gripping, heartbreaking. Imagine the joy of reconciliation the audience would have felt if we saw Buffy reconnecting with the Willow and Xander--and Giles--we loved.

I know. Sounds easy. But grinding out a TV show is hard work.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> I was actually intending on using that scene in my post... -- Rob, 11:39:25 06/19/03 Thu

...as an example of a successful character moment, that also worked thematically well, but I forgot!

Buffy's emotional isolation in the latter half of S7 didn't have to be a dealbreaker for the season. If ME had simply maintained the character arcs for the other regulars, kept them as independent entities whose plotlines reflected and commented on Buffy's central story, we wouldn't have felt we were suffocating inside of Buffy's POV.

Totally agree. Having the characters drift apart does not mean that each character can't have his or her own interesting story arc. Season 4 is a great example of this.


[> [> [> Anya, Dawnie, and complaints about season 7 -- manwitch, 07:18:24 06/20/03 Fri

Anya's arc played out. She chose humanity and she got the final prize for it. Yes, she's a great character and one misses her contributions when she's not there, but the only places for her to go after selfless were pregnancy and/or death. She got death.

Dawn was deliberately set up to be a huge "key" to the resolution of the season. The season was teaching Dawn, transferring some aspect of Buffy to Dawn. "Who has the power?" Buffy asks in Lessons. Dawn in CwDP is just fantastic. She is becoming uberBuffy, because she is becoming part Buffy, part Willow. The beautiful thing about Dawn, well, heh, one beautiful thing about Dawn is that she is absorbing the better qualities of the whole gang. She has a gaggle of models that the original scoobs did not have, and that is what helps make her spiritually and mystically precocious.

Second, Him, the years apparently most underrated episode, Dawn shows that she too craves this love that Buffy is seeking all season, and Dawn's path to it is extremely important in developing Buffy and her choices. If she possibly could, Buffy would give this love to Dawn.

Dawn in Potential is one of the high points of these seven years. Dawn is the potential. The episode isn't about Amanda. Its about Dawn's potential, and she's potential Buffy. And what does Dawn do? She surrenders the power, because it was never really hers anyway, just as Buffy will do.

They seem to have made great use of Dawn, great development of her, and great use of her as development of Buffy. Turns out, Dawn was the key after all. Give up the power Buffy. Share the love.

Not that I don't agree with the gist of Shadowkat's and cjl's criticism of Season 7. There are definitely things that "irk" in this season that compares only to season 6. The first 5 seasons never had stuff that, for me anyway, bothered me to the point of distraction.

For example, the "evil" that visited Dawn in CwDP was able to move chairs, spatter blood on walls, throw Dawn across the room and cut her face. While one could argue that the spirit of Joyce was responsible for changing the radio station and for the thumping in answer to Dawn's questions, it is not feasible to argue that the spirit of Joyce did all those other things. If it really was Joyce, it was restrained. By something else. And the something else was doing these other acts.

And given everything that something else did and that Dawn cast it out with a spell (and she was pretty awesome doing that, wasn't she?), then what was this evil in the Summers House that night? It clearly can't have been the First. The First can't touch people or manipulate objects which this thing clearly did. It requires Bringers and Calebs for that.

I will grant that Season 7 never made good on what that presence was in the house with Dawn. And what was the significance of Joyce's warning? Did it help Dawn in any way? Did it give Dawn any insight that helped her at any point throughout the season to effect positive change? When was Buffy against Dawn and how did Joyce's warning help Dawn overcome it, and why did overcoming it on Dawn's part make any difference? I think the season dropped a big ball there. This isn't just a story that didn't get told, the ones Sophist mentions. This is a story that they put in there and then forgot and even contradicted. They placed it in the most dynamic and exciting and moving episode of the season (CwDP). They highlighted it there for us all to know how important it would be. And then they ran out of time because they wanted to give screen time to who? ANDREW!!!???!!! Is anybody in charge here!!???

And so what was the foolishness at the end. This is what happened in Season's 6 and 7 that frustrates me and I will use this as an example. They spend precious time having Buffy concoct a scheme to chloroform Dawn and have Xander drive her out of town just to have Dawn wake up, taser Xander and drive back, leaving us exactly where we were 20 minutes ago with nothing to show for it. Lose the need for unnecessary action. Explore Xanders blindness. If Buffy is getting afraid for Dawn again, show us that development. Show Dawn's reaction to it. Maybe Buffy was just pissed at being thrown out of the house and said, "You know, I'm gonna chloroform that little bitch." But then show us that.

Don't get me wrong. I love all Buffy. The worst episode of Buffy is something I would prefer to watch over anything else ever on TV with the possible exception of Fawlty Towers. But there were issues with the last two seasons as far as I'm concerned. For me they center on pacing, which, because it was off, caused characters to speak out of voice. Too much time was spent on long scenes that contributed nothing, particularly the supposed Troika that I never found funny for even a single moment. And they linger over their mindless star wars banter while time's awasting and we are missing needed development of Xander or Willow. So they rush the stories about the primary characters because they think the goofballs are in somewayimportant to the plot or providing comic relief, neither of which turns out to be particularly true. As far as comedy goes, Buffy's at its funniest with language play and farce. Comic situations. It has never been a forum for standup or comedy routines. And that's what those three idiots were always doing. They weren't in funny situations. There was no farce there. They were just saying idiotic things like a monstrously poor imitation of Abbot and Costello. I apologize for bashing here. To me the great buffy comic moments are Intervention, Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered. Something Blue. Funny situations, that other characters see. Mistakes and misunderstandings that lead to funny situations. Three dead pan guys talking about starwars just ain't it.

And how did they advance the plot? I mean in a way that real or deep characters couldn't have? Less time with the foolishness and more time developing characters. The reality is that Warren is one of the flattest characters ever made. We know nothing about him. Contrast him to the Mayor. Or even Trick. Those guys are evil, but we like them. We feel for them at moments. We recognize that they have feelings that in spite of their evil are strangely familiar. The writers chose not to develop Warren, in spite of the enormous amount of screen time they gave him. And the whole series suffered as a result.

Bringing them back into Season 7 was very disappointing. Thank goodness they jettisoned Warren early on. But Jonathon was the only one we cared about, and that was because of Earshot and Superstar. Not because of Season 6. Storyteller has some very interesting things and some nice moments. But Andrew himself isn't one of em. He's an obstacle to a great story about him. His voice, his dress, his carriage, its all caricature. And why? Who is he contrasting? What is he showing us by being caricature that could not be shown tenfold by making him a real person? And even after the end of storyteller, he doesn't change. So what was the point? I think my problem here is more acting and direction. The actual stuff that andrew did at least towards the end of Season 7 was fine, but it would have had ten times the impact if he had played it like a three dimensional person, not like he was playing "gay nerd" in a high school play.

Anyways, I would have liked to see more focus on Dawn in the finale. Because Buffy did give up the power, as Dawn had shown, Buffy did give up the love. And Spike died for Buffy just as Dawn would have died for idiot. But Dawn, I wanted to see the acknowledgement from somewhere that Dawn realized her potential. Dawn was being used as the symbol for the "all of us" that Buffy was to become. She was Buffy's potential, not a potential slayer per se. Because I think that is what the ending was saying. I simply disagree with the interpretation that "only" pre slayers were given slayer status. I agree fully that such an exclusive ending would leave a bad taste, but I just didn't see it that way. Even in the context of the show itself, it was all women who want it, who got it. Not that the point was sex-based.

So, while I think the last moment of the show is perhaps as good as it gets, I think even the finale has some big flaws. And Joss wrote that.

I think the season worked as a cap to the whole series and I think it worked on its own. But it definitely emphasized metaphor and message over plot and character, as Shadowkat and others have said. I think it should be given kudos for being as ambitious as it was, representing some very complicated themes in its structure and images. And Season 7 will be as much a goldmine of study as any of the other seasons. So in many many ways, its still the most interesting and challenging material on TV. And I do personally weigh those "art" aspects of it higher than its success as a television show. But still, in fairness, they chose the medium in which they wanted to work. It doesn't seem unreasonable to critique it in that context.

[> [> [> [> Agree with just about everything here, except.... -- cjl, 08:43:34 06/20/03 Fri

The whole "pregnancy or death" pre-determination. But I'll get to that in a minute.

"Dawn in Potential is one of the high points of these seven years. Dawn is the potential. The episode isn't about Amanda. Its about Dawn's potential, and she's potential Buffy. And what does Dawn do? She surrenders the power, because it was never really hers anyway, just as Buffy will do."

Yes, absolutely. I don't want to give the impression that I found the second half of S7 completely unwatchable, because it's not true. Dawn surrundering the power is a beautiful moment (capped by Xander's moving speech), and it clearly lights the way to Buffy's solution in Chosen. I wish they could have drawn a clearer line between the two events, but I'm not going to complain too much when something is (mostly) done right.

"[The haunting in CWDP] isn't just a story that didn't get told, the ones Sophist mentions. This is a story that they put in there and then forgot and even contradicted. They placed it in the most dynamic and exciting and moving episode of the season... They highlighted it there for us all to know how important it would be."

And that was the big problem with S7 and to a certain degree, in S6. Last year, when ME decided to go with Buffy vs. Real Life as one of major themes of the season, they brought in a lot of material about her financial obligations, about how she was going to lose the house, etc., etc. And then they got bored with that theme, or decided to focus on other aspects of the story, and these Real Life themes were summarily dropped.


We, in the audience, kept thinking about them. How is a minimum wage burger slinger meeting the mortgage on that huge house on Ravello Drive? Do Willow and Tara pay ANY rent while they're staying at the Summers' place? The audience did not pull these questions out of the blue; the creators may have lost interest or retrofitted the storyline, but they couldn't eliminate what they'd already put on the screen. Their failure to effectively deal with the dropped storylines and themes resulted in a huge amount of "drag" on the finished product.

And as for the whole "pregnancy or death" thing...

Well, this is one of those "stories not told" Sophist was talking about. I freely admit it. I thought that once Anya went "back to the beginning" after Selfless, we'd see her rebuilding herself for the rest of the season, rediscovering who she was before she was recruited by D'Hoffryn, rediscovering her original joy for life, maybe re-learning witchcraft with Willow (loved the W/A bonding in STSP). Then, when she reunites with Xander in Storyteller, it's not because she's lonely, it's because she's approaching their relationship from a new sense of understanding about what it means to be human. And when she dies in Chosen, we could feel her death as a tragedy, and not the mercy killing of a character who had outlived her usefulness.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Agree with just about everything here, except.... -- manwitch, 09:08:44 06/20/03 Fri

I saw it more as death as fulfillment of the human condition. Her quest was to become the embodiment of the human condition. The reason why she had to go through all the stuff from Hells Bells to Selfless was so that she could choose the human condition rather than have it forced on her.

Once she made that choice, the fulfillment of that journey lies either in continuance, you know, progeny, or more likely in death, which is ultimately what makes us all human. Anya's death in that sense was neither tragic nor mercy killing, but a joyful realization of the human condition. We stand beside each other, we fight for what we value, and ultimately we die doing it.

Anya was fulfilled. That's what I meant by her arc played out. Certainly, they couldhave made better use ofher whenshe was around. Or pushed selfless later into the year. I love anya. And I certainly think that not only Xander,but everyone wouldhave mourned her passing. Odd as she was, she was one of them and she died for them.

The biggest problem with the end was that nobody noticed each other except for noticing that Buffy wasn't the only one anymore. It would have hurt Willow that anya died. And it would have hurt willow even more because she cares for Xander and would know that he hurt. And Buffy would have been sad over it too.


[> [> [> [> Re: Anya, Dawnie, and complaints about season 7 -- Rob, 09:19:42 06/20/03 Fri

And given everything that something else did and that Dawn cast it out with a spell (and she was pretty awesome doing that, wasn't she?), then what was this evil in the Summers House that night? It clearly can't have been the First. The First can't touch people or manipulate objects which this thing clearly did. It requires Bringers and Calebs for that.

We do know from Halfrek that in the demon and magic worlds, it was a time for "choosing sides." So it doesn't seem unlikely to me that the First may have used a demon or witch or some other magical creature on its side to create the Joyce illusion...if indeed it was an illusion.


[> [> [> [> [> Perhaps it was a like Cerebus -- Finn Mac Cool, 10:09:33 06/20/03 Fri

A spirit in charge of keeping dead spirits out of the real world. Joyce tried to return, but there was a spirit there holding her back. Dawn's spell killed the spirit, allowing Joyce to speak for a brief time.

As for manwitch's comment that the whole chloroform thing was pointless: it fulfilled the "Buffy won't choose you" prophecy! Think about it, Buffy decided not to choose Dawn by sending her off, out of the battle. The important message of this lies in the fact that all season Dawn had been fearing this "not choosing" moment, and, when it finally came, she basically said, "screw that; if she won't choose me, I'll choose myself". That makes it a very important statement of the show's theme.

[> [> [> [> [> [> The X/D kidnapping didn't feel like much a payoff to me. -- cjl, 10:40:45 06/20/03 Fri

Modified version of CWDP:

GLOWY!JOYCE: Dawn, when it's bad--Buffy won't choose you. She'll be against you.
DAWN (tearful): Mom, please--w-what are you talking about? What do you mean?
G!J: Actually....

[Joyce stops glowing, casually walks over to couch, plops down, and puts her feet up on the coffee table.]

JOYCE: Do you mind if I sit down for a minute? It took forever to get here from the Spirit World. Traffic was awful. I'm exhausted.
DAWN (delighted but confused): Sure, Mom. Do you...want anything?
JOYCE: No thank you, sweetie. Just wanted to rest a little before I head back. Oh, and that whole "Buffy will be against you" thing? She's going to try to send you away before the big battle.
DAWN: Again? God, she is so lame.
JOYCE: Don't be so hard on your sister--she's just looking out for you. Just be careful when Xander wants to "show you something" in the car.
DAWN: Knew she wouldn't have the guts to do it herself.
JOYCE: You should be ready when it happens, though. Do you remember where I kept the taser gun?
DAWN: Top shelf of the bedroom closet. [Pause; Dawn smiles.] Thanks, Mom. You're the greatest.
JOYCE: You're welcome, baby. [Vanishes.]

The X/D kidnapping didn't have the dramatic heft to warrant a visit from the Spirit!Joyce or even a fake-out by the FE. It smells like a dropped/modified plotline.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> It was the FE sowing discord. -- Sophist, 11:04:43 06/20/03 Fri

Though it seemed like a major plot line after CwDP, in retrospect I see it as a rather feeble attempt to separate Dawn and Buffy. The FE told a misleading truth in order to drive them apart. They were driven apart in EP, though the connection between the two incidents was not spelled out very well (or maybe at all).

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Perhaps it was a like Cerebus -- manwitch, 11:21:40 06/20/03 Fri

"she basically said, "screw that; if she won't choose me, I'll choose myself"."

I like this. Thank you. It went by in the blink of an eye though.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Hate to nitpick, Finn, but Cerebus is the aadvark barbarian created by Dave Sim. -- cjl (ducking), 11:34:59 06/20/03 Fri

Cerberus is the three-headed guard dog of the underworld.

[> [> [> [> Very well said. Thank you. -- s'kat, 11:27:50 06/20/03 Fri

I pretty much agree. Thank you for saying what I wanted to say about the Troika, Andrew, Storyteller and Dawn and doing it far better than I could or did.

I'd been trying for some time to figure out what it was about Dawn's story that was driving me nuts - b/c I agree some of the best moments this season were Dawn one's, her
scenes in Him (the aching attempts to live up to her sister), Lessons, CwDP, Potential, Same Time Same Place, plus we have this whole scene with Giles and Buffy in LMPTM about whether Buffy would be willing to kill Dawn now.
I felt the dropping of the Dawn story...was a major problem in the season.

Regarding the last message? I did see it the way you did upon first viewing. It was the second full viewing that made me realize it was only potentials. Why? It's something Willow and Giles say behind Buffy - (at least I think they are the ones), "What do we do about all these potentials we aren't in contact with who've just become slayers?" "Well, that will be one of our duties now, to find them and train them..." I would have preferred the previous view that all woman who chose it, got it. But I understand why that doesn't work in the mythos - after all - we'd end up with Fred as a slayer, and Willow as a slayer, and Cordy as a slayer...sort of screws up the mythology I guess. Tricky metaphor to pull off.

As for Andrew? You said it far better than I could or have.
Thank you. Agree completely on Andrew and the Troika. For me that was their biggest problem. And I'd agree Intervention, Something Blue, BBB - are funny episodes.
Because of the scenario. HEck I found Tabula Rasa really funny. Even Doublemeat Palace at times. And Him - the fight over the rocket launcher. OR Buffy's dilemma with the mummy hand in Life Serial. I did not find Andrew, Warren, or Jonathan's banter funny at all. I remain unconvinced that half my problems with this season may not have been resolved if Andrew never returned to Sunnydale and they'd spent the time on Dawn, Xander, or even Willow instead.

[> [> [> The road not traveled. -- Darby, 07:52:28 06/20/03 Fri

Rob, I have to take exactly the opposite tack - I feel that this season's theme was the worst one ever, even below the X-Files / science v. sorcery of Season 4. In fact, I would dispute that there really was a theme at all.

It's all about power. Was it? Any moreso, between the first and last episodes, than any other episodes from any other season? I thought this theme was dealt with better in Checkpoint, which showed for the umpteenth time that it wasn't just Buffy's power, it was the shared power that made the Sunnydale Slayer most effective - even the Council had to become collaborators rather than bosses. But the power that Buffy shared, once it left Sunnydale, became a diluted message. It made thematic sense for Buffy the share the Slayer power with the potentials that chose it freely, but why were a select few, through no choice or will of their own, empowered around the globe, again-?

On a side note, I believe that the power sharing was supposed to be with a much more select, spin-off worthy group, but had to be changed into a concept that Fox (the concept owners) would have a much more difficult time doing anything substantive with if they decided to continue without ME. That's what overloaded Sunnydale with Potentials and still left a worldfull of them out there.

The Slayer is...alone!!! This didn't fly when the Primitive insisted on it, and if anything is one of the core themes of the series. And it's a shame, because this theme they actually laid groundwork for in Season 5 and 6. What they were missing (and this draws right out of shadowkat's essay) is a character to act as the confidant - someone to whom Buffy could complain (and in so doing tell the audience) about her growing sense of isolation and the weight of responsibility. Weren't we all happy with the "chicks with superpowers" exchange? It gave us insight into the characters as they shared with each other, and therefore with us. Spike could have been that guy, actually was on some rare occasions, and this would have provided an organic throughline to Buffy's changing attitudes toward him (minus the mantra!).

Pure Evil can't be defeated physically. Okay, show of hands, how many folks were salivating at the prospect of ME tackling this nugget? This also had been well set up - we'd spent a couple of seasons delving into the evil of our characters, setting up a conflict that would make them really face their demons and give the writers a chance to further explore the depths of these folks we're all attached to. But nope, a cut to the crotch and a couple of snarky exchanges are what it takes to combat the evil that exists everywhere, in everyone. Say what?

The Initiative arc minus Maggie Walsh, the defeat of a true Hellgod, the reintegration into the real world after a furlough in heaven - these season arcs all have some weaknesses in realization, but they were all tricky, and that tiny fraction (heh) of us who criticize have to wrack our brains to produce better alternatives. I think the primary weakness of Season Seven is that there are hordes of fans out here who can see what could have been fixed, and how it could have been fixed, and how the fixes would have not just patched the leaks but improved the vessel.

That's not the way it's supposed to work for our beloved show. Anything can be nitpicked - picking the nits is, after all, a personal specialty. It's the standing at a distance and saying, "Hey! What the hell happened? Why didn't you do what you showed us you were going to do?" that leads to alarm.

[> [> Great posts. I have one possible answer. -- curious, 11:46:10 06/19/03 Thu

I very much agree with most of your points. I only have one teensy thing to contribute.

11. Who made the talisman in Lessons? Spike?

From Amends:

Giles: Um, they're known as the, uh, (sits) as the Bringers o-o-or
Harbingers. They're high priests of The First. They, uh, they can
conjure spirit manifestations and set them on people, influence them,
haunt them.

From Lessons

BUFFY: You know what they are?
SPIKE: (not looking at her) Manifest spirits controlled by a talisman, raised to seek vengeance. A four-year-old could figure it.

After rewatching Amends last week, I think the FE put it there - or more specifically, the bringers. I am pretty convinced that was WHO put it there (in my mind anyway) but that brings out bothersome questions like WHY? Where do the bringers fit in? How are they recruited? Why are they blind? It seemed like they intended to take the FE stuff somewhere and then got lost around "Showtime". Why was the FE messing with Spike? Why did it want to kill the other potentials and Faith - leaving Buffy for last? That was never really addressed.

[> [> [> Re: Great posts. I have one possible answer. -- Rob, 11:54:20 06/19/03 Thu

Where do the bringers fit in? How are they recruited? Why are they blind?

Well, we kind of saw this in Storyteller. Before the Seal of Danthazar was uncovered, I assume the people who would become bringers were brought to another area of high evil energy...perhaps the Hellmouth in Clevelland. The Bringers fit in basically by being the FE's "fists" while it remains incorporeal. Also, I believe they implied in Amends that the Bringers first summoned up the First and help keep it in the world.

The blindness, I assume, is more a symbolic thing, to show that they are blind followers of an evil force, (probably a dig at fundamentalists) and will do anything the First asks of them in order to accomplish its goals.

Why was the FE messing with Spike? Why did it want to kill the other potentials and Faith - leaving Buffy for last? That was never really addressed.

It really was all about Buffy. Buffy angered it in "Amends," so getting revenge on her was a major part of its desires. And like Angelus not killing Buffy before enacting his Acathala plans, I think it wanted Buffy there to see the world being destroyed.


[> [> [> [> I think it was similar to Tara in "Goodbye, Iowa" -- Finn Mac Cool, 12:54:42 06/19/03 Thu

When she sabotages the demon locater spell, that was foreshadowing for the episode "Family" in the next season, where we find out Tara fears that she's part demon. If Season 4 turned out to be the last season, that action on Tara's part likely wouldn't have made sense. I think the talisman and manifest spirits in "Lessons" were intended as a similar sort of thing that was to be picked up again come Season 8. However, when the decision was finally made that Season 7 would be the last season ever, that plan had to be scrapped.

All this is just theory, of course.

[> [> [> [> [> Definitely possible. If it wasn't the Bringers... -- Rob, 13:07:38 06/19/03 Thu

...who knows? Maybe the manifest spirits of "Lessons" were raised by the Big Bad of Season 8.


[> [> Re: Part III. Plot Holes and Gaps, with conclusion (Spoilers to Chosen) -- leslie, 12:09:35 06/19/03 Thu

A lot to digest here, but what I'm really coming away from it with is that, although Joss has said repeatedly that he felt it was time to wrap up Buffy and he had said everything he wanted to say with the series, in fact, they really needed two seasons to tie everything up sufficiently. And they may well have realized that too late to do anything about it. Nearly all of your criticisms would have been taken care of with more time to develop each of the themes and characters.

[> [> [> I agree -- s'kat, 13:32:23 06/19/03 Thu

Nearly all of your criticisms would have been taken care of with more time to develop each of the themes and characters.

I agree. I think Seven 6-7 may have really been a case of the writers biting off more than they can chew. Part of the problem is the medium they were working within and the boundaries of that medium. Something that was beginning to grate on Whedon's nerves this year with Firefly. He thought he had creative control and could do whatever he wished, and well, no, he couldn't. Fox pulled the plug on him. Same thing to a certain extent with Btvs - they got away with a lot last season, and apparently were getting away with a lot on Angel, so they forgot the boundaries - unfortunately in TV? Those boundaries are always there. You only get 43 minutes to tell your story in. And those minutes will be chopped away with to put in commercials. Also you only get 22 episodes. You can only do so much - like ducking Spike in holy water for instance seemed to be a big no-no. Plus, in today's world - television has become an interactive medium - the networks know how often people watch, writers and marketing execs surf the fanboards on the net to see reactions, no longer do the writers work completely in the dark. These boundaries can and will affect what appears on the screen.

Add to this - the fact that the structure of Buffy the Vampire itself is somewhat limiting. The stories are dependent on the actors renewing their contracts, being well, in shape and showing up. If for instance someone jumps ship or feels the need to spend more time with their kids in England or gets pregnant - then that will affect their character on the show. If the lead is iffy on whether she wants to continue - that will also affect the direction the show takes. If the head writer/creator of the series suddenly hits a brick wall writing wise and is depressed about the cancellation of another show? That will have an affect. At least when we write a book - we can post-pone the deadline or release it later than expected. Movies can also be delayed. Tv shows? Nope. You deliver on the deadline or get scrapped.

So I think if they had had more time and less external difficulties - things might have been wrapped up better.

[> [> That was great sk! -- ponygirl, 12:33:31 06/19/03 Thu

Much agreeage with your likes and dislikes. I'm continually amazed at your ability to pull everything together in such a clear and insightful way. And you even brought Rob around to the dark side! ;)

[> [> Thanks for articulation. And for those who get to the bottom, a suggestion -- fresne, 17:32:47 06/19/03 Thu

"I really enjoyed season 7. That is, for the most part I liked what I saw on screen. My only problems lie in what wasn't."

"I kinda wanted to see the First Evil as, well, the first evil. The first drop of hate, of sin, of evilness in every human heart. Something that can never be defeated because it pervades every soul on earth. An agent of chaos."

"We should have had some scenes between Willow and Xander and Anya talking about how Buffy has been behaving. That stuff shouldn't have just taken place in front of the potentials. The "betrayal" at the end of "Empty Places" would have been more understandable then. I'm a little conflicted with what I know was the need, thematically, for the characters to have such problems with each other this season (and the payoff was excellent, in "End of Days" and "Chosen", where they finally began to heal and repair their relationships) and the desire to have had more between them in the last season."

s'kat - the entire three part critique. Thanks for braving the fearsome critical and coalescing a number of my issues into print.

Well, not that I'm quite so bad off. See the weird thing here, is that like Alison, I really did enjoy Season 7. I enjoyed each episode as it happened. I was not bothered by plot holes. Okay, I'd have preferred if one of the key elements necessary to win the day in the end had been introduced before the final three episodes. But you know, I can deal. I liked Woods, well until he laughed at Buffy in FD. I liked Andrew. Heck, I even liked really disliking the Potentials. It was rather clever of them to make me somewhat akin to teenage boys watching a horror movie.


Okay, I don't remember the name of the ground breaking book that discussed this theory. I'm sure someone here in the board mind can fish it from the ether. I know we've discussed it before. But basically, the premise goes something like this:

In the traditional slasher movie, there is a bevy of sexually active, attractive young men and women, who keep running into yon deserted ally and getting killed. Off to one side, is a slightly geeky, un-popular girl. The Final Girl. The one in the end that takes the killer down. The primary audience, teenage boys, first cheer on the (generally male) killer. The more violent the action the better. Then something happens. That final girl raises steely eyes and says, "No, I will not die." At which point, the audience does this complete switch and cheers the girl on. No longer identifying with the alienated from society killer, but the equally alienated Final Girl.

According to Joss' premise Buffy is that silly attractive girl that runs into the ally. It's just that she's the Final Girl too. The Potentials are just that, potential Final Girls. Until they gain the power of the Slayer, I pretty much wanted them dead. Alot. Then there was spread of scythe and Vi went from a faded violet to a viable hero. Cool.

However, hating the Potentials was fun and all, but perhaps educing me to want them to die horrible, horrible deaths, may not have been the way to make me want them empowered. I liked Woods when he was introduced, but the moment that he laughed at Buffy as a Councilor was the moment that he lost my sympathy. A scene like in Forever where Giles listened to music can go a long way towards indicating the inner life.

My disappointment is that I needed more. Not wanted. Needed. And I know that's subjective, but there it is. A scene here. A scene there. Something to give the finale (for me) the emotional power of a leap of faith from a tower and not just a stake to the heart. Not much really.

I keep thinking of this passage from The Last Unicorn. (spoilers for LU, until the end of the paragraph) Someone is explaining how when the unicorn first became a girl, she was so beautiful that everything around her was imbued with beauty. But in time, as she became more human, her beauty made everything around her look ugly by comparison. I wanted the unicorn. I got the beautiful woman.

And I write that and I feel so incredibly petty. You know, the Divine Comedy would be so much better if Beatrice and Dante had just hooked up at the end. Sorry if I spoiled it for anyone. She's dead Jim. And yet, well, Dante was in a medium where he could revise, revise, revise.

And I only want to add. I don't want to take away.

And so, look back. For the first year board anniversary, the board posted a series of analysis of various characters. Year two there were a couple of fanfic endeavors. Now it's year three. A nice cosmic number. And the board is fuller than ever with creative type people.

So, who wants to take up the challenge to spackle, to paint, to embroider, to create. To write a few scenes or stories that fill whatever your need is. For those who were completely happy with season, well it's something to read during the summer. For those who weren't, well unlike ME, we have the benefit that we can edit our creations.


[> [> [> alternate season 7, anyone? -- Corwin of Amber, 22:07:57 06/19/03 Thu

In the fantasy S7 that I made up in my head after Chosen, all of the Potentials would have been dead by the mid point of the season, either by blowing up the Summers household or by turning them into bloody chunks, one per episode. (yes, I really hated them) This would have really turned up the pressure on Buffy and Faith, as the last slayers in existance.

In my fantasy season 7, Xander would have lost his eye earlier in the season, perhaps in the episode where the last potentials got turned into bloody chunks, and the consequences of that would have been dealt with more than pirate jokes. I have a great scene stuck in my head where he stares intently into a mirror, and slowly reaches up to unwrap the bandages around his head, and take a good look...

When Millenium was canceled a few years ago, after it's abysmal third season, a group of fanficers started a project to write an 'alternate season 3'. Completely disregarding everything that happened in the 3rd season that was shown.

Anyone else interested in writing an alternate Buffy season 7?

[> [> [> [> I prefer fresne's idea... -- Rob, 23:11:46 06/19/03 Thu

..Not to change what has already been put on screen. Everything IMO that was on-screen was great. It's what wasn't on screen but we might feel should have been that is the bothersome thing. I would much rather work on fan fic that contributes to the story while respecting the continuity ME already gave us rather than try to restructure the season. Because the fan fic fresne is proposing could theoretically fit perfectly into the continuity of the regular show, with no conflicts. And that, IMO, is the best kind. Also, again I wouldn't change what was done...but want to add to it, for spackling purposes.

In particular, I would be interested in helping write (or write myself, depending on how things go), a story focusing on Anya in the seventh season. Again, I don't want to change what we saw on screen, but focus on her. Perhaps about her "researchy" trip that she was on during "Dirty Girls"?


[> [> [> [> [> Ooohh, Anya... -- fresne, 07:34:04 06/20/03 Fri

Yes, an Anya road trip story/vignette. Or even a Zeppo-ish Anya story. Look, the horror, the angst, the Anya with her self help book and she tosses the book aside, because it's stupid and why can't she just know herself already and...


Yeah, I want that. Lots and lots of that. Actually, all the scenes that s'kat mentioned that would have been nice between characters, because I'm greedy and I love them all. I want those.

[> [> [> [> [> Tearing the throat out of Season 7... -- Corwin of Amber, 11:16:42 06/20/03 Fri

My problem with that would be...I think that the scenes that we weren't shown, that we fanwank into existance, would be better what we were shown. Which leads to my feeling very cheated by this season.

[> [> Narrative Flow -- Valheru, 15:30:27 06/20/03 Fri

One of the most grievous errors of S7, and one that I think applies to many of the problems people have with it, is the "thinness" of the narrative flow. Things would happen in one episode, then not appear again or not be picked up for several episodes.

One of the most popular examples of this is The X-Files. Scully didn't believe, she'd deny or wank whatever Mulder postulated, and by episode's end, she'd be hit so hard in the face with evidence that proves Mulder correct that she would become a believer...until the next episode, where the cycle starts all over again. It didn't make any sense, but because it was so crucial to the series' conflict, viewers just went along with it.

But it wasn't just Scully. Other characters had similar scenarios. Skinner didn't completely trust Mulder. Then Mulder might save his life, the episode ending with Skinner starting to trust him...only in the next episode, he's back to not trusting Mulder again. Then, maybe four or five episodes down the line, Skinner does start trusting Mulder a little bit. It doesn't make sense that Skinner's character would develop, then regress for four episodes, and then regain the development in the fifth episode, but because of the nature of the show, we didn't have a big problem with it.

Perhaps the greatest strength of BtVS has been how well the narrative flows from episode to episode. If a character is developed in one episode, then he/she exhibits that development in the next episode. The flow isn't always to-the-letter perfect, but it's pretty accurate. And things never stay in one spot for too long.

S7 seemed to ignore this completely. I'll use Willow as an example:

At the start of the season, we see Willow getting back in touch with herself. She might not have grown beyond DarkWillow, but she's learning how. After all the bridge-burning she did in S6, she's trying to regain a sense of connectedness even though she's scared and full of doubt. Then Willow returns in Same Time, Same Place and continues this thread. Now that she has learned where she messed up and how to control it, she must confront it. She must face her fear of not being reaccepted, of not being able to control her power, and try to reconnect with the world. By the end of the episode, it seems as if she's done all that.

Except she continues to regress. ME kept throwing the same things at her.

Tara - Willow apologizes to Tara at her grave and we'd think that particular plot is over. But then Cassie/FE shows up and Willow apologizes to Tara again. Then she apologizes to Tara a third time in TKIM.

Magic - Willow repeated the same pattern several times--be afraid to use magic, be forced to use it, and then apparently get over the fear. I can see that happening once in a "falling off the wagon" theme, but it happened too much.

Kennedy - Willow constantly had the same problem with her. She'd say, "You don't want to get close to me," and Kennedy would reply, "Why not? What's the big deal?" Then either Kennedy would discover "the big deal" or Willow would take the "why not" path.

Did Willow really change all that much from the end of Grave to the beginning of Chosen? IMO, you could skip everything they did with her from Lessons to End of Days and still get the same story.

And it worked in reverse, too. A single episode would make a huge deal about a change, but it would never be followed up on. Did Selfless really change Anya? If you take Selfless out of the season, other than the plot point of making Anya human again, does she make less sense? Frankly, even though Selfless was my favorite ep of the season, it was irrelevant to Anya's growth. What about Andrew? Does he change significantly after Storyteller? If Storyteller hadn't been made, wouldn't we still recognize him in Chosen? It's almost as if the writers didn't see any episodes other than the ones they wrote themselves.

And I guess that's my biggest beef: a lot of S7 was simply irrelevant. Couldn't one just watch Lessons, CWDP, and Chosen and get the gist of the season? Hell, it might even make more sense that way. The rest of the episodes really don't do anything outside of themselves. They are self-contained, like The X-Files, and as long as you just see the scenes with specific mythology plots, you don't have to watch the rest to understand things from episode to episode.

[> [> [> Re: Narrative Flow -- Rob, 18:12:22 06/20/03 Fri

Frankly, even though Selfless was my favorite ep of the season, it was irrelevant to Anya's growth.

I don't agree with this, because of the growth she exhibits in End of Days and Chosen. That was a result of Selfless. The main problem, IMO, was that the narrative flow of her arc wasn't well kept up through the season.

What about Andrew? Does he change significantly after Storyteller? If Storyteller hadn't been made, wouldn't we still recognize him in Chosen? It's almost as if the writers didn't see any episodes other than the ones they wrote themselves.

Also would disagree with that. Andrew's mature and kind words to Xander at the end of Chosen are evidence enough that Storyteller did help him change. An epiphany does not mean that the character has to be forever and completely different. Sometimes even someone can have an epiphany and then fall back on old habits before really learning from their seemingly life-changing moment. It's much more realistic that way. People in real life make the same mistakes a few times before learning them, if ever. Andrew after Storyteller retains his basic character traits, but is much more pensive than before. He is fully positive that he is going to die, and he seems to accept this with a quiet kind of fatalism, making it all the more meaningful when he doesn't. But just because he didn't suddenly stop speaking in geeky pop culture references doesn't mean he didn't absorb any lessons from Storyteller. Buffy is another great example of an epiphany that she didn't really embrace until later. She had her epiphany at the end of Grave but fell back on her old habits when things became dire. Now, though, I really got the sense that this would not happen again. That she finally feels complete.

And I guess that's my biggest beef: a lot of S7 was simply irrelevant. Couldn't one just watch Lessons, CWDP, and Chosen and get the gist of the season? Hell, it might even make more sense that way. The rest of the episodes really don't do anything outside of themselves. They are self-contained, like The X-Files, and as long as you just see the scenes with specific mythology plots, you don't have to watch the rest to understand things from episode to episode.

Don't know if I agree with the self-contained thing, either. From how I saw it, this was the most serialized season ever, which is what made the continuity errors all the easier to find. We didn't have a lot of stand-alones to distract us. Yes, certain threads weren't picked up on from episode to episode, which did cause it to seem non-flowy, but at the same time just about every episode was story arc.

[> [> [> [> Re: Narrative Flow-agree but -- sdev, 19:08:34 06/20/03 Fri

"An epiphany does not mean that the character has to be forever and completely different. Sometimes even someone can have an epiphany and then fall back on old habits before really learning from their seemingly life-changing moment. It's much more realistic that way. People in real life make the same mistakes a few times before learning them, if ever."

You're right about the realism, but as shadowkat's analysis said that may be ambitious thematically but not make for good TV watching.

[> [> [> [> Re: Narrative Flow -- Valheru, 22:48:57 06/20/03 Fri

After I wrote that post, I re-read it and noticed how black/white I was making my argument seem. I didn't mean to be that polarizing.

Anya - It seems to me that Anya in EoD and Chosen is designed to be a result of Selfless, but is it really? All I really got out of Anya was that she had accepted her humanity and would fight to save the world. But where's the result from Selfless? I mean, didn't Anya accept her humanity in S5? Wasn't she fighting to save the world in The Gift? She nearly died in The Gift, and if she had only been doing it to save her own skin, wouldn't she have stayed out of the battle (it's not like Anya was of any help in the fighting)?

The growth I was expecting out of Selfless was Anya's search for self identity, to become Self-full. Wasn't that the crux of the episode? That Anya had no sense of self? As beautiful and tragic as Anya's EoD speech and Chosen death were, I didn't see any "self" in them. To me, it didn't look like Anya was saying, "I know who I am and I'm willing to die," but she was saying, "I know who everyone else is and they have a right to live, so I'll fight to save them." It was character growth, for sure, but I have no idea where it came from.

Andrew - Again, even though Andrew's EoD and Chosen scenes were wonderful, they sort of came out of nowhere. Storyteller was about bringing Andrew out of the fantasy he was living in, to face the decisions he made in the real world. Wasn't that what he was still doing later in the season? He got the idea in his head that he was going to die in the battle, so he just sort of accepted it and waited for his death scene. "In Chapter 22, paragraph 15, Andrew the Good will die saving the world." He was still just narrating his life, not living it. Did he change after Storyteller? Yes. But the change didn't seem to be because of Storyteller.

Buffy - It's really not a good idea to have the main character of a story have an epiphany, then ignore it for most of a year.

As for self-containment...well, I really can't think of a word to describe it better. The plot was structured as a big serial, but the characters and themes seemed to fight against it. What would happen to a character in one episode would be forgotten in the next, but the plot would carry over. So that by the end of EoD, the plot changed over the course of the season, but the characters were roughly in the same place they started in Lessons, with only a few minor adjustments to fit the plot.

Also, I don't see the entire season as being serial. CWDP through Showtime was one serialized story; Dirty Girls through Chosen was the second serialized story; and the episodes in between the two weren't serial at all, just some isolated instances of the First executing a plan. The episodes from Potential to LMPTM were just like normal BtVS episodes with the Big Bad toiling in the background, but with the FE rather than Angelus, the Mayor, the Initiative, Glory, or the Trio.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Narrative Flow -- Finn Mac Cool, 10:15:09 06/21/03 Sat

Rewatched "The Gift" recently and noticed that Anya says she was fighting in the apocalypse because she fell in love with Xander. In "Chosen", she was fighting not because she was in love with a particular human being but because she wanted to protect humanity as a whole. In "The Gift" she was still using a romantic relationship to define who she was, and that relationship told her she must fight, so she did. In "Chosen", she defined herself, not by someone she loved or by a calling, but by her humanity, by realizing that she was part of this great, big human race, and being willing to fight for that, for humanity.

As for Andrew, yes, he did sort of have the same storytelling thing going on with the "I'm gonna die" stuff. However, it was a step forward in that he was no longer trying to make an idealized world. Nor was he seeing his death as some type of glorious redemption, but just something that was going to happen. If Andrew had died in the battle, I think you'd be right in that criticism. However, he didn't die, and I think that sort of completed his lesson. After all, back in Season 3, Buffy came to the realization in "Lovers' Walk" that she couldn't see Angel anymore, but, by the time "The Prom" came around, she was seeing him on a regular basis and calling him her boyfriend. Andrew isn't the first person in the Buffyverse to take a long time absorbing a lesson completely.

[> [> who got the power -- anom, 16:30:50 06/20/03 Fri

If I read all the responses, I'll never have time to write my own. In any case, I don't have time to address everything I'd like to. So here goes w/my partial response.

"But ... the power wasn't shared with everyone. Not all women got it. Just selected women, people who were chosen by fate. And that's the portion of the message that grates at me."

This may be partly a result of the structure Joss had previously set up & now had to work within. It was never explained why some girls were Potentials & the rest weren't, but there were always a limited number, & it wouldn't have fit in w/the rules of the Buffyverse to have all women & girls become Slayers. Yes, one of the things the series is about is breaking/changing the rules, but fiction has its own rules, & there's only so far you can go once you've set your world up a given way.

Another way to look at it is that in the real world, the great majority of people are going to be just people. Only a small minority will ever be prominent in any one way--whether it's a question of physical strength, intelligence, creativity, or specific talents within any of those areas or others. If a group has been excluded from any of these areas on the basis of sex, or race, or anything else & then that exclusion is ended, not all the members of that group will have the capacity to excel in that area. For example, I've just been listening to a program on the public radio show Talk of the Nation: Science Friday about the 1st women astronaut candidates in NASA's early space program. Their program was ended basically because of the sexism of most of the men running the program, who couldn't picture a woman as embodying the heroic qualities they wanted to represent the space program. (OK, that's a bit oversimplified, but it's also considerably toned down from how I was thinking of saying it!) Now that much of that sexism has been overcome, it's still a minority of women who are qualified to be astronauts, & even fewer who have become astronauts. But other women have become NASA researchers, or spokespeople, or writers, or website designers. And others have had similar or very different talents recognized & put to work elsewhere. Slayer strength can be seen as symbolizing any of these, none of which exists to its greatest degree in all women or in all humans.

"Also it's only women. They aren't integrating the male energy. Or dealing with it. They are rising above it."

The preexisting structure's limitations also apply here. What I find interesting is that the kind of power that these women are being imbued with is one that's always been associated more w/men: physical strength. Can that be equated w/male energy? Or does it stand for all the advantages traditionally attributed to men over "the weaker sex"? Or something else, or more than one thing at the same time? As for dealing with it, I don't think we've had a chance to see how the new Slayers will learn to deal with it. A few lines from the end of Chosen implied that the new mission of the Scoobies & the new Slayers who took part in the Battle of the Hellmouth will include helping them learn to deal with it.

"It's this odd feeling of elitism and women are better that seems to overshadow the theme. Even though I think Spike's death was supposed to counter the women are powerful message - with a powerful one about the purification of masculine energy or something like that. Not sure. Feels off somehow."

I've read some opinions that feminism is the wrong approach to ending sexism--that we should be dealing in terms of humanism, of equality. But how do you get there from an unequal starting point? Not by saying women are better than men, but by saying women are better than they've always been told they are. Buffy has always challenged dichotomies, & one of the dichotomies that we need to overcome is the idea that one kind of people is "better" than another. I'm not even sure that a quality or event's being associated w/a male character means that it's supposed to symbolize "male energy." There's no reason we've been shown that a female Champion couldn't have worn the amulet & performed the same function.

"Also, I felt Spike was the one who transcended beyond forms at the end of the season and passed into the light, not Buffy. Buffy felt still unbaked."

Good point about Spike, although we could question how literal the portrayal of that metaphor was meant to be. But one thing manwitch said was that Spike represented an aspect of Buffy (the separation into opposites--dichotomies again). His literal transcending of form may symbolize Buffy's letting go of the idea of form. But when a yogi reaches the 7th chakra--to quote manwitch, "the overcoming of the world of forms, and all its accompanying binary oppositions, in the complete extinguishing of the self into undifferentiated consciousness"--the self may be extinguished, but the yogi doesn't physically disappear. It's a spiritual process. So Buffy is still physically there, even though she's completed her spiritual journey (in the terms manwitch wrote of, if I've understood them). It occurs to me that her interlacing her fingers w/Spike's may symbolize her integration of what he represents--after which he disappears as a "separate" "form"--concepts that Buffy has transcended.

As for Buffy's feeling "still unbaked"--well, she's supposed to be. She said herself it might take years. It's not a form (cookies), it's a process (baking). I don't know where this fits in the 7-chakras scheme of things (or non-things, w/no form), but maybe processes can continue beyond the end of "forms."

[manwitch, I hope I haven't misrepresented what you've said. If I have, I apologize; if I haven't, maybe I managed to transcend the limitations of my understanding of it!]

[> [> [> Great post -- Sophist, 17:31:17 06/20/03 Fri

[> s'kat, just thought of something re: the amulet... -- Rob, 12:08:48 06/19/03 Thu

If my theory that all of these events had to happen the way they did in order for the amulet to be activated, was correct, this would have been made far stronger, structurally, if the amulet was introduced early in the season, and each time Spike tried to use it or figure out what it was for, it did nothing. But only at the end, when everything played out, did it start to work. That would have made the ending much better and the metaphor much clearer.


[> [> Re: s'kat, just thought of something re: the amulet... -- s'kat, 13:42:23 06/19/03 Thu

Would agree. The problem is they couldn't introduce it earlier b/c it had to come from W&H and was linked to Angel.
I wish they could have done the Angel cross-over earlier, but that wouldn't have worked either - considering what was going on in Angel at the time and what was happening in Btvs. It didn't make logical sense.

The only way to introduce it in the beginning of the season would have either been to separate the amulet completely from Angel and W&H or to have Buffy call in Angel once she learned Spike had gotten a soul.

I can't help but wonder, knowing what I now know about the writing process of both shows, whether they just didn't come up with amulet until they wrote Home? Joss may have written Chosen but hadn't figured out all the specifics.
He does sort of admit in one interview he didn't figure out the scythe until after Dirty Girls. I think the same was true about the amulet.

These shows aren't written the way 24 or Babylon 5 were, they aren't as tightly plotted ahead of time, it's looser.
Which in some ways is wonderful because it frees up the writers and provides us with cool episodes like Selfless, Storyteller (no I haven't changed my mind), Lies My PArents Told Me, and some of the other stand a lones in previous seasons. OTOH it's a big problem when you have complicated plot arcs with all sorts of threads that need to be worked in. If they had more time, this might have been made a bit clearer...but they didn't.

[> [> [> Re: s'kat, just thought of something re: the amulet... -- leslie, 16:03:51 06/19/03 Thu

Moving into the world of "what-if," the amulet could have been introduced in a W&H context much, much earlier--say, something that Lilah gives to Wes, who passes it on to Angel; something found during the destruction of W&H; something Wes steals from Lilah to give to Angel in hopes of making amends--and brought back to Sunnydale by Willow, or just sent to Buffy by Angel because he knows it will be needed at some unspecified time; then (and this would actually have strengthened the final triangulation between Buffy, Angel, and Spike) have come up to Sunnydale when he did in order to wear the amulet as her champion and have her turn him away.

[> [> [> [> Or they could have known about it -- manwitch, 07:37:45 06/20/03 Fri

To Shadowkat's point, they could have known about the amulet, read about it, without having it, been seeking it, so that when it turned up with Angel, we, at least knew what it was.

Or even, if they didn't want the Buffy characters to know or be actively seeking it, but wanted the viewers to know about it, they could have had it be something the Council was going to go get just before they blowed up real good.

Could have hinted at a fascinating and forever untold Council/W&H relationship.

A lot of ways it could have been handled differently. I mean, how did they think she was gonna defeat the first evil when they started writing it? Surely they had some idea.

I do think there is a bit of a meta-dig there. The message is that Buffy is over, and Angel is top dog now. So the finale to all Buffy is held in an envelope on Angel with a little trinket that Lilah can pull out of her, well, whatever.

[> Ars longa, vita brevis -- Sophist, 14:16:04 06/19/03 Thu

Ack! The posts and threads on S7 are getting so complex it's hard to read them, much less respond to them all. I hardly know where to put this, but here makes the most sense.

I cannot possibly respond in detail to all of the points made; I won't even try. Instead, I'm going to reply generally to the topics raised.

1. The lack of emotional connection to Buffy (or S7). There is nothing anyone can say. No reasoned argument can make anyone feel an emotional connection. That's not how emotions work. As Willow said in Angel "If you feel something you feel it." And if you don't, you don't.

2. Plotholes. There are 3 issues with alleged plotholes: (a) Is it really a plothole? (b) Does it bother you? (c) Did other seasons suffer from them to the same extent as S6 and S7?

Most of the alleged plotholes are not, at least not to me. They could be to someone else, I suppose. I could provide an explanation that suits me for almost all of them, but I have no idea if that would really satisfy the person bringing them up.

Most plotholes don't bother me. As I've said repeatedly on this issue, I see plenty of them in earlier seasons. I don't find them nearly as important as thematic and emotional arcs.

As I've also said before, I see no reason to believe that plotholes are more common in later seasons than in earlier ones. Let me give an example from S3 (since S'kat says that was the tightest) which will tie together this point and my previous one.

In GD 1, Faith attempts to kill Angel by shooting him with a wooden arrow. Instead of aiming for the heart, she deliberately misses so that she can kill him slowly instead of immediately. Now this is senseless on an epic scale. It's also critical to the drama of GD 1&2. To me, the stupidity of the plotline is not just irrelevant, it's magnificent. We could not have had the glorious B/F fight or the "drink me" scene without it. Plotholes? Bring 'em on!

3. Missed opportunities. This is the most unfair criticism I can imagine. There are infinitely many stories that could be told. No matter which ones ME chose, someone could come along and say "But what about....". I myself have done this with respect to Spike's redemption story in S6. To pick on S3 again, I could easily say that ME "lost" Cordy after The Wish; she only appeared to deliver bitter or sarcastic lines to X/B. Where were all the great stories we could have had about this character? Cordy's arc in S3 was identical to Anya's in S7 because those characters serve the same purpose on the show.

Deflector shields are up; blast away.

[> [> Re: Ars longa, vita brevis -- s'kat, 14:47:57 06/19/03 Thu

The difference between Cordelia and Anya in a nutshell, is that Anya was more developed. We got to know Anya as a vengeance demon and a human. She was seen as more than just the comic relief or the blast your plan out of the water type. And by the end of S6 she really did do more in the show than we really ever see Cordy doing in 1-3.

Another important difference, is we aren't in a high-school setting any longer. In high school setting Anya and Cordelia's presence in Graduation Day actually made sense.
Why they stuck around made sense. Anya's presence doesn't completely make sense, unless you show her actively involved in some way or relating to the other characters.
And they did this well in the first 10 episodes of the season. It fell off after that, hence my criticism of it.
Her character began to regress - all the growth we'd seen from Hell's Bells to Selfless seemed to disappear, slowly.
I wish they'd written her out after Selfless - that I think would have served her better.

They didn't need her to fill the Cordelia function - they had a housefull of potentials and Andrew for that.

Regarding GD1 and the poison arrow? This actually makes a great deal of sense and isn't a plot hole. Why kill Angel when poisoning him distracts and comes close to incapicitating Buffy? Think of what that poison did? It caused Buffy to fire the Council. It focused the entire SG's attention on Angel, prior to that they'd been focused on finding more out on the Mayor and the Ascension. It caused Buffy to go after Faith - sure, but when that failed, Buff had to do what Faith and the Mayor no doubt envisioned her trying to begin with - sacrificing herself for Angel. Brilliant plan. If I were the Mayor - I'd have done it.

Big difference between posion arrow and the amulet appearing in the last 43 minutes - out of nowhere and zip explanation. Or the scythe or the Guardian. Also they got a lot more mileage out of the arrow - it pushed forward the storylines of Xander, Willow, Wesely, Faith, the Mayor, Angel, and Buffy - that's a ton for one little plot device.

[> [> [> Re: Ars longa, vita brevis -- Miss Edith, 15:11:25 06/19/03 Thu

If Faith had gone for the heart and killed Angel in Graduation Day, Buffy would have been grief stricken sure, but she would have also been angry and focused on revenge against Faith and the mayor.

Having Angel slowly dying through poisen took up Buffy's time and distracted her from the big fight as she was searching for a cure, and nursing Angel. I'd call that a good strategy personally.

[> [> [> [> Of course, she could just have shot Buffy with the arrow -- Finn Mac Cool, 15:53:40 06/19/03 Thu

That would have taken the lead hero out of the game. Yes, Angel would still be around, and veangeful, but, at the time, Buffy certainly seemed like a more significant threat. Plus, a vengeance mad Angel wouldn't work as well with the Scoobies as Buffy might, thus weakening his effectiveness.

[> [> [> [> You're not refuting my point, you're reinforcing it. -- Sophist, 16:02:12 06/19/03 Thu

See, plotholes are in the eye of the beholder. What is one to me is not one to you and vice versa. Look at it this way:

Buffy was already out to stop Faith and the Mayor. Poisoning Angel didn't diminish her incentive, it was the one thing in the world that could increase it. To that extent, it was counter-productive. In fact, as we saw, it caused Buffy to take out Faith before Graduation when she might not otherwise have done so.

As for distracting Buffy, the length of Angel's suffering was clearly arbitrary. I'd compare it to the delay in getting the message to Romeo about Juliet's "death". Neither makes any real sense; they're just part of a tragic sequence. Tragedy isn't necessarily logical, it's just tragic.

My point is this: we can argue these issues till the cows come home, but we can't eliminate them. Shambleau has rightly called attention to just some of the plotholes in Passion (I believe there are others). No one can write a work of any length so tightly constructed as to eliminate gaps. Suspension of disbelief is crucial to any work. It's all a question of how much suspension you're willing to tolerate. As I said, I'm willing to tolerate a lot if the emotional and thematic payoff is high. It was for me in S7 just as it was in earlier seasons.

[> [> [> [> [> I'll refute -- ponygirl, 08:51:59 06/20/03 Fri

I believe that the Mayor knew all about the poison, both its effects and its cure. As proof I'd point to his "eating your vitamins" comment to Angel in GD2, the Mayor was aware that Angel had fed off Buffy.

It was actually a good plan - rather than making an attempt on Buffy's life, which has never worked before(and goes against the super-villian creed of never simply killing your enemy), Buffy's entire focus shifts to curing Angel, a cure which at the very least seriously incapacitates her. One may have to spackle in that the Mayor may not have been aware of how fast Buffy would heal, or that Angel would be able to control himself enough to stop, but I think those are minor points. The big one, that this plan makes Faith a target, is where for me it gets really interesting. I wonder if the Mayor was also using Faith as another part of his plan to distract Buffy - if on some level he expected Buffy to go after Faith to cure Angel. The Mayor may have rationalized that Faith would be able to handle herself, to even defeat Buffy, but deep down he was willing to sacrifice her. After all he did send Faith home, it was a secret location but it's a small town and the Scoobies are good, he could have had her stay safely at City Hall.

I don't doubt that the Mayor loved Faith but for me this possibility adds another layer to his character. And fuels the rage he felt towards Buffy, since a large part of it may have been his own guilt.

Though I do agree with your central point - one person's plothole is another's smooth highway of narrative!

[> [> [> [> [> [> See my post below on plotholes, catharsis and criticism -- Sophist, 10:54:03 06/20/03 Fri

[> [> [> [> [> But a hole isn't just a hole. -- Darby, 10:39:51 06/20/03 Fri

Part of the exact discussion points here aren't the type of plot holes you're tossing up as examples.

I also think that there is a difference between a plot hole and a gap that purposely is put in to serve the story. As many people have rightly pointed out, the Killer of the Dead was a means to an end in both plot and theme. As such, it compares to the Scythe and maybe the amulet, but those are being criticised less as plot holes and more for having been clumsily done. The vampire poison works well out of nowhere - the line "Meant to" is classic - but the Guardians don't.

But we've got plot holes like the CwDP visitation to Dawn, the deal with Beljoxa's Eye, the Guardians, the actual plan of the First, to deal with here. This is a bit more than the Summers' blood hole, and even that was set up better - this deals with motivations and characterizations, and holes the size of the Sunnydale crater. The question of what the First was doing with Spike is broader and more important than the question of when Olaf got promoted to Troll God.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Yes, the question at hand . . . -- d'Herblay, 11:34:38 06/20/03 Fri

. . . is not whether or not seasons one through six had continuity errors -- it is whether or not season seven had any continuity.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: You're not refuting my point, you're reinforcing it. -- sdev, 18:03:37 06/20/03 Fri

Faith shooting Angel fit into the emotional arc. Faith sought revenge because Angel scorned her sexual advances. this fits with the characters. Even if it doesn't necessarily make sense as a fight strategy it is believable that Faith would do it because of the emotional motivation.

[> [> [> I understand that you like Anya better than Cordy -- Sophist, 16:19:14 06/19/03 Thu

So do I. But they played virtually identical roles on the show. You yourself commented on that in discussing Spike recently (how he was supposed to take Cordy's role but that didn't work so it went to Anya).

It made perfect sense to me that Anya stuck around. Selfless resolved her belief that she needed Xander to validate herself. But it didn't resolve her pain and hurt that Xander left her at the altar. She hung around hoping to discover the cause of that rejection. She never got it, but that made her final sacrifice for humanity all the more meaningful.

[> [> [> [> I loved Cordy's arc in S3 (with one minor exception) -- cjl, 17:10:39 06/19/03 Thu

Anne - We wonder if Cordy has reverted to shallow bitca while on vacation or if she's still in with the Mission--and Xander. After a number of hilariously melodramatic sequences, we find Miss Chase is still on board.

Faith, Hope and Trick - Xander's drool-orama session with the new slayer in town pushes Cordy's buttons and reminds us of the big problem in the X/C relationship--mainly, Xander's devotion to the two other women in his life. This leads directly to--

Homecoming - Where we get the double whammy of Cordy and Buffy going head-to-head in the battle for Homecoming Queen (yes, they both lose!), while Xander and Willow are indulging in the clothes fluke. My favorite Cordy ep until "Rm w/a Vu" a year later. The sympathy for Cordy builds here as we see her call upon her inner Slayer against Lyle Gorch and we shudder at the thought of what Cordy and Oz are going to do when they FIND OUT...

Lover's Walk - Ouch. Pure torture. I thought Joss was going to make it tough on us, but this was BRUTAL.

The Wish - My only problem with this episode was that Cordy didn't remember anything that went on in the alternate universe. How did she manage to get over her resentment of the Buffster if the nightmarish slayerless Sunnydale literally never entered her mind? Yes. Plothole.

The Zeppo - I think Shadowkat had it right on this ep. Cordy is zinging Xander at full throttle, telling him how worthless and unimportant he is, but there's a lot of self-abuse in those barbs as well. Unable to go back to her former friends, alienated from the Scoobs, Cordy is afraid she's the one who's the Zeppo. During the next few arc-heavy eps, we see her tentatively trying to re-integrate with the Scoobs on her own terms. We also see her trying to flirt with the new Watcher, attracting Wesley's attention big time.

There's a huge development in Cordy's life around eps 14-18, but it happens off screen: her Dad is busted for tax evasion, and the Chases lose all their money. A sure sign of Cordy's development is that she immediately goes to work at a department store to earn money for her prom dress. You could also say it's a sign of growth that she doesn't whine about it to the Scoobs--but that could stem from a sense of shame.

The Prom - Xander buys her the dress, and by God, she looks fab-u-lous. They end their relationship amicably, and she's free to head off to L.A. But that's NOT the end of her story arc.

Graduation Day, Parts I and II - Now that she's resolved all her issues with Xander and the Scoobs, the flirtation with Wesley inevitably burns out. (Non-kissage ensues.) Cordy celebrates her newfound independence and strength by staking her first vamp. (Yay!)

Summing up: Loved Cordy's arc in S3. Anya's in S7? Not so much. But that's another fifteen pages....

[> [> [> [> [> I think Anya got what Cordy got. -- Sophist, 17:56:58 06/19/03 Thu

If the one satisfied you, the other should too.

But that's not really my point. I know you love Anya. I know you love Xander (in a masculine way, of course). I know I love Willow. We want to see more of their stories. But there is an infinity of such stories. Someone can always ask for more; just ask Arthur Conan Doyle or Tolkien. There will always be disappointment in the stories we didn't get. My point is that that cannot diminish our pleasure at the stories we did get. If it could, how could we ever forgive Shakespeare for stopping?

[> [> [> [> [> [> I do not think Anya got what Cordy got. -- cjl, 19:21:06 06/19/03 Thu

I think Cordy's S3 arc had a bit more firmness and definition and continually moved the character forward. (cjl goes to happy place thinking about S3 Cordy's firmness and definition.) After the spectacular breakthrough that was "Selfless," Anya seemed to regress to her S4 self, and she stayed mired in the past until "End of Days," when JE and Doug pulled her back into the present with that wonderful speech about her reluctant admiration for humanity. With the exception of the Beljoxa's eye sequence (which was inexplicably never mentioned again) and the very funny interrogation sequences in NLM, that's 14 eps of NOT MUCH.

And why was D'Hoffryn sending the (very) occasional demon to knock her off again? I thought he was going for the pain, not the kill. (Ah well. I suppose a Lord of Arashmaharr is entitled to change his mind if he wants to.)

Soph, when it comes to Xander, Anya, Willow, AND Cordy, I do not ask for "more." I simply ask that what little we get is done well, and that each moment we spend with the character illuminates a little more of the soul. I did not feel ME provided that illumination in S7. JMO. YMMV.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> I saw some character movement -- Finn Mac Cool, 21:41:01 06/19/03 Thu

As she said in "Selfless": "What if I'm really nothing?" This issue didn't go away after she became human again; in fact, that increased it.

She had always defined herself either by her romantic relationships or by her vengeance demon status. With demon status gone, she tried to resort to a romantic pairing to define herself, hence her attempts to have sex with people. It is also significant that she worried about why no one would sleep with her, because she always hinged so much of her identity on who she was sleeping with; if no one sleeps with her, and if she's not a vengeance personified, than who is she? If you see Anya as just being sex hungry and superficial there, than it really is a regression. If you see it as Anya trying to define herself through a sexual coupling once again, then it isn't.

Yes, she didn't seem to have much purpose in being around, and only really seemed to be there cause she had no where else to go. Now, what did she contribute to the situation? Absolutely nothing, and Buffy called her on that in "Get It Done". Somewhat like Giles in Season 4, Anya was someone who realized they had no life and had no reason for being part of the Scooby Gang. Granted, it didn't recieve nearly as much attention as the Giles arc got in S4, but it is understandable, given how much else was going on.

In short: Anya's story, as stated in "Selfless", was a struggle to define herself, to use external forces to determine who she is. After being stripped of her demon status and failing to find a new sexual partner, Anya was left with nothing to define herself, so she just became a blob sitting on the sofa and occasionally gave sarcastic comments. After "Get It Done", though, when she had it spelled out for her just how useless she was around the Summers house, she renewed her efforts to find definition, both by sleeping with Xander and helping out a little more (lecturing the potentials in "Empty Places", helping out the wounded in "End of Days"). It wasn't until "Chosen" that she really took control of her own life for the first time, stopped being either a wise-cracking sidekick or a sex-o-phile, and struck out at her worst fear.

Did Anya have a great deal of characterisation for most of Season 7? No. Was her story particularly interesting for most of it? No. Did she recieve a lot of screentime? No. But, I feel, if you can count Cordelia in mid-Season 3 as having character growth, than the same applies to Anya in mid-Season 7.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Very well said. -- Sophist, 08:17:10 06/20/03 Fri

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Agreeing-- well done, Finn! -- OnM, 08:29:40 06/20/03 Fri

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> See my response to manwitch, above. -- cjl, 08:47:27 06/20/03 Fri

[> [> Re: Ars longa, vita brevis -- shambleau, 15:13:27 06/19/03 Thu

I completely agree with Sophist on the plotholes issue. The so-called tighter seasons are rife with them. I'm going to list just a few from Passion. I came up with over a page of them when I did this as an intellectual exercise, and i don't have that list handy, so this is from memory.

Giles and Buffy are shocked, shocked! that Angelus is entering her bedroom. That is dumbing down the characters for plot purposes.

Willow has no issues with Xander, even leaving the Bronze arm in arm with him. This is after what happened in Innocence with Cordy when Willow said things weren't okay between them, and after she was humiliated in BB&B and wouldn't talk to Xander at the end. Yes, she's got Oz, and it can be fanwanked that they worked it out. It's not there on screen though.

Giles is suddenly receptive to getting back together with Jenny and they plan to meet that very night. They're pushing it there and I'm all for it because it sets up the tragedy. Angelus somehow gets into a locked classroom without Jenny seeing him. A computer bursts into flame when it's thrown to the ground.

There are massive timeline issues that I won't go into in detail, but trying to figure out how Angel finds out about Jenny after leaving Joyce, tracks Jenny down to the school, gets her to Giles's apartment a;long with roses, champagne and candles and gets back to Buffy's in time to watch Giles call herrequires far more time to have passed than appears to have actually done so.

Try to figure out how Buffy gets to the factory on foot and in time when she left with the other scoobs. Marvel at how compliantly Dru obeys Spike when he says to stay out of the fight with Giles.

I could throw in the death of Jenny's death as an example of how ME treats minorities, in this case, gypsies, with the whole "We serve vengeance, not justice" dehumanization, the "gypsy Curse" cliche as a further example. The gypsies were murdered in massive numbers by the Nazis, and ME is perpetuating... aah, you get the idea.

I could go on, but see how easy it is?

[> [> [> Re: Ars longa, vita brevis -- sk, 15:52:43 06/19/03 Thu

Yes, but I can fanwank those, I can't for the life of me fanwank the amulet and scythe and I've tried!!

Giles and Buffy are shocked, shocked! that Angelus is entering her bedroom. That is dumbing down the characters for plot purposes.

Actually not completely. And they weren't that shocked.
They just hadn't thought it out, being somewhat traumatized.
Also it may surprise them somewhat that he didn't just kill her. So I'd say this emotionally made sense. Human after all.

Willow has no issues with Xander, even leaving the Bronze arm in arm with him. This is after what happened in Innocence with Cordy when Willow said things weren't okay between them, and after she was humiliated in BB&B and wouldn't talk to Xander at the end. Yes, she's got Oz, and it can be fanwanked that they worked it out. It's not there on screen though.

Uhm actually we had some time in between those episodes. And they did say she needed time to cool down after BBB.
But still - no different than the forgiveness after Touched.
And this is high school - kids do that all the time. I remember being in high school and someone humilating me one minute and my best bud two hours later.

Giles is suddenly receptive to getting back together with Jenny and they plan to meet that very night. They're pushing it there and I'm all for it because it sets up the tragedy. Angelus somehow gets into a locked classroom without Jenny seeing him. A computer bursts into flame when it's thrown to the ground.

Actually not suddenly receptive - they were building that one up over three episodes. We see him and Jenny flirt in BBB, in Phases, and Buffy finally getting Giles's pain tells Jenny how he feels and forgives her. This arc was actually played out better than some of the emotional relationship arcs in later seasons. Besides Jenny didn't do anything all that bad in retrospect. She didn't curse Angel, nor did she really know all the specifics of the curse. No where near the mistake Tara makes in Family or for that matter Willow's blunder in Something Blue. And Giles is an adult.

Also the classroom wasn't locked. It was open. So were the windows. Angelus is a vampire, he can move quickly and steathly and appear suddenly out of nowhere - which is alluded to in School Hard (that's it, let's get him a bell)
and in Angel S1, Out of Mind out of sight. So that's consistent.

There are massive timeline issues that I won't go into in detail, but trying to figure out how Angel finds out about Jenny after leaving Joyce, tracks Jenny down to the school, gets her to Giles's apartment a;long with roses, champagne and candles and gets back to Buffy's in time to watch Giles call herrequires far more time to have passed than appears to have actually done so.

Vampires move very fast remember? They also have cars. Also it's safe to assume he had other vamps working for him. Dru may have told him where Jenny was - this is set up by the scene where Dru visits the Magic Box. So didn't have too much troubles there. Also there was time. If you consider Angel started all this at sunset and ended it by 1 am.

Try to figure out how Buffy gets to the factory on foot and in time when she left with the other scoobs. Marvel at how compliantly Dru obeys Spike when he says to stay out of the fight with Giles.

She has the speed of a slayer. Remember how she beat Xander to the jail house in S6 by foot? Also Sunnydale? Small Town. Everything is pretty much within walking distance.

Why wouldn't Dru obey him at this point? They are pretty much attached and she also was his caretaker. Angelus had just joined them.

I could throw in the death of Jenny's death as an example of how ME treats minorities, in this case, gypsies, with the whole "We serve vengeance, not justice" dehumanization, the "gypsy Curse" cliche as a further example. The gypsies were murdered in massive numbers by the Nazis, and ME is perpetuating... aah, you get the idea.

Except that ME has killed so many characters over the years that it would be silly, don't you think? They killed JEsse, no minority there. Harmony. Jonathan. Warren. Ben. The Biology Teacher. Jenny was just one of many. Also there are minorities that survive.

Now instead of pointing out the plot-holes of other seasons, why not try to figure out how this ones work better than those do? Or are no worse?

I honestly can't see it. And I'm great at fanwanking, just look at the archives in 2002, where I fanwanked Teacher's PEt. ;-)

[> [> [> [> I don't think whether they are 'fan-wankable' or not determines whether it is a plot hole. -- Caroline, 16:19:01 06/19/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> Exactly. Thanks for stating my point so succinctly. -- Sophist, 16:21:18 06/19/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> Okay...not getting the point here, guess I'm dense. -- s'kat, 19:49:22 06/19/03 Thu

Is the point that all seasons have plot-holes and we agree to ignore them, this being television and it just isn't worth analyzing?

Because if that's the case - I'd still argue, that it does.
If the plot-hole pulls the audience out of the story, then it matters right? I mean if you notice the plot-hole, then it's a problem?

Example: As You Were. The demon eggs story and Riley dropping out of the air which bugged so many of us?

For me? I didn't notice the plot-holes in S1, S2 or S3 or even S4 or 5. They may have been there, but they made sense to me as a viewer they did not take me out of the action or make me roll my eyes. I did notice it in AYW. And I definitely noticed it with the scythe and the amulet. It took me out of the action - which is my definition of a noticeable plot-hole.

The need to fanwank - means that I a) noticed it. b) I had to come up with a reason for it.

I did not feel a need to fanwank the others. I have, for the fun of it, but the plot-holes didn't bug me.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Okay...not getting the point here, guess I'm dense. -- dmw, 20:59:52 06/19/03 Thu

Well said. Plot holes do matter if they pull the audience out of the story, and seasons 6 and 7 had many of them as you pointed out in your excellent critique above. BtVS started breaking my suspension of disbelief on a regular basis in season 6 with the Sabrina-esque antics of Smashed and the after-school special episode of Wrecked.

I don't expect villains to have read the Evil Overlord List and avoid each and every potential mistake. They're staples of fiction, and I can deal with the occassional mistake like Faith not killing Buffy with the bolt, or slayers, vampires, and demons fighting with archaic weapons instead of modern ones, though the Knights of Byzantium in WoTW went too far in that direction.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Plotholes, catharsis, and criticism. -- Sophist, 08:47:32 06/20/03 Fri

Sorry for not making myself clear. Miss Edith is probably thinking I'm crazy too. Or just obnoxious.

To me, a plothole is anything in the narrative which interrupts a particular viewer's suspension of disbelief. From this, I draw 3 consequences:

1. What constitutes a plothole is highly subjective. Your response to shambleau pretty much acknowledges this. You describe yourself as blind to them (a highly useful trait, IMO; much better than my metaphor blindness). Others clearly spot them everywhere.

Let's take your example of AYW. I completely agree that the demon eggs stuff is utterly absurd. It destroyed my suspension of disbelief in that episode (as did many other aspects of that ep). Others, however, have said they had no problems with it. IIRC, JBone and Mal have defended this as perfectly in character for Spike. One person's meat is another's poison.

2. Once a viewer sees a plothole, it can't ever be undone. This was the point Caroline made and that I was trying to make above. You may later convince me that I should ignore a plothole, or that I was wrong in seeing it in the first place, but I saw it at the time. Nothing can ever undo that.

3. Drama flows, it doesn't proceed in incremental steps like a mathematical theorem. Someone can always point to a gap in the flow, because some detail can always be inserted between two points. If I can give a comparison that Darby will like, it's similar to the search for "missing links". There will always be some imaginable intermediate form between 2 species; our imaginations are just too good.

Most tragedy depends heavily on plotholes. If people always behaved like Vulcans, there would be no accidents, no opportunity for pathos, no catharsis. Faith's plan to poison Angel is logically absurd, but it works as tragedy because it sets up the emotional denouement. That's what I mean by saying that plotholes are not an irritant, they are essential to the genre.

We really should be focused in our criticism on whether ME accomplished the goals it set for itself in a way we found emotionally satisfying (Aristotle's catharsis). manwitch's points about Dawn in CwDP are very fair criticisms of S7 on precisely this score (and his suggestions about Him and Potential are fabulous; I got a whole new insight on Potential, an episode I didn't much care for on first view). While I share his annoyance with the Troika, I'm less inclined to agree with him about the payoff there. I'd attribute the problems of S6 not to time spent on the Troika, but to time wasted on MagiCrack; Willow's emotional state could have been better prepared by eliminating that "excuse". But though I disagree on the precise cause, I agree on the proper focus of criticism.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Setting Holes and Plot Holes -- dmw, 10:27:11 06/20/03 Fri

Thanks for the clarification, Sophist. It helped me understand what was really bothering me--setting holes, not plot holes. Plot holes are more or less accidents of history, that a person performed a particular action that doesn't seem reasonable or said something that doesn't ring true. Events could have occurred a different way, with more or fewer explanatory events in between them, as you suggest.

Whether or not a plot hole exists is subjective, and I would define the size of a plot hole as the percentage of the viewers or readers who noticed it, without having it pointed out to them by someone else. Every story has many small plot holes, and many, if not most, stories have a handful of large ones.

Setting holes are when the laws of physics, or magic in the case of fantasy, are violated. They have a more or less objective existence, though whether they bother an individual viewer is of course up to that particular person.

These are most clear in science fiction, such as the time travel in Back to Future, which is based on no known physics and has an odd respect for causality with changes moving through time with a noticeable speed as we see in the disappearance of suddenly nonexistent people from pictures. On the other hand, an author like Robert Forward allows time travel through a hyperdense torus of material moving at relativistic velocities (and even cites papers explaining how general relativity allows you to construct such a time machine) and causality is gone in his case, with future actions causing past events with no lag in the changes. While I've chosen this contrast because it's a very clear example, it's also an example of a setting hole of small size as few viewers have the knowledge of physics.

Of course, we don't have well verified theories of the supernatural like we do for physics, but fantasy can still display setting holes by violating a set of rules established earlier in the story. BtVS most clearly displays setting holes of this type with the Sabrina-esque magic of Smashed, and the suddenly addictive nature of magic in Wrecked with magic crack houses and all.

Setting holes are worse than plot holes because when they are noticed, they don't simply detract from one's ability to enjoy one event; they leave the viewer disoriented, unable to understand what's possible or impossible in the story. If objects had fallen up instead of down in the episode after Wrecked, I wouldn't have been particularly surprised because that at least fits in with the pattern of the inexplicable changes in the laws of the universe.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I'd agree, manwitch did a better job of it above -- s'kat, 12:36:15 06/20/03 Fri

As I sort of pointed out in the essays - I had problems with the season and problems articulating what those were.
I think manwitch, Darby and D'H's very conscise statement may have pointed out those problems better than I did with the list of plot inconsistencies.

It's not the plot-holes so much as the fact that when I watch the episodes one after one another, they don't connect well, you see the gaps, the dangling threads. I want more. I want something. Somethings missing.

Dawn's story. We never get that story wrapped up. Instead as manwitch pointed out we spend an awful lot of time with a character who is not much more than a caricature or comic relief. All we get on Dawn is bits and pieces - and they really seem important but they fizzle into a series of scenes where she is kidnapped by Xander, attacks him, drives back to Sunnydale, kicks her sister's ankle and goes off to do research?

Even Angel's reappearance in the story becomes more of a plot device than something that actually moves the characters forward. And the plot device is never really explained or articulated in any way. It would have been so easy to fix this. Manwitch gives some very good possibilities. The fact they didn't do any of these things, leads me to believe they didn't think about the amulet until literally the last minute, which is I admit is part of the difficulty in writing a loosely plotted television show. And herein lies the problem: loosely plotted. They did not know the plot arc for all the characters or the specifics until they got to each episode in the arc, which can work well if you can go back and fix the prior episodes to reflect the ideas you just came up with. For instance, when I write - I often have no clue where I'm going until I get there - but I have the luxury as a writer to go back and fix the previous chapters. In TV? You don't have that luxury, well not most of the time. (Whedon did have it in S1, when all 12 episodes were filmed before they aired and he could go back and cut and splice.) But in S7? No such luck. Also he wasn't working full time on Btvs - he was working full time on trying to save Firefly.

At any rate - it's not the little plot holes or inconsistencies that bugged me and you are absolutely right they exist in all the seasons, even s1. Season 6's did bug me more than the others - but for the reasons you think. No what bugged me is the same thing that annoyed and bugged manwitch, I believe, above. This sense that nothing was happening, that the connectors between the episodes were missing, when something did finally happen? It didn't feel like it had been built up to or earned. PArt of the problem was way too much time was spent on banter between the Troika which was a reproduction of the writers own banter in the writing room.

While I could see Tara's death and Spike's actions in Seeing Red happening from a mile away - they could have been built up to in a far better more logical way. AYW - the problem wasn't that I didn't see Spike as a demon egg dealer - the problem was that the eggs appeared out of nowhere - just two episodes previously B/S were having sex in that room. We had no build up. 0. Zippo. Compare this to Riley and the vamp trulls in S5 - boy did we have build up, that was done gradually. And the items we did have build up on? Are dropped - such as Buffy's money troubles and Dawn being taken by Social Services - these issues are never satisfactorarily resolved so that by the time S7 happens, I'm still wondering if Willow is paying rent, and why in the heck those people can kick the only wage earner out of the house. The Scythe and the amulet? They aren't built up to either and I could probably have shrugged them off, if it weren't for the Guardian, Caleb, and the fact that we never really got much wrap up on Dawn. It felt as if the writer plucked them out of the air and if I were watching Veritas the Quest or Smallville? I'd have shrugged, well that's tv. But I know Btvs can do better. They built up those things in the past. Faith's desire to get Angel is built up over S3, we get all sorts of depth to it, and his rejection of her also built up, did not surprise me that she'd shoot him with a poison arrow. It didn't come out of nowhere. The same with Kendra bringing over the magic sword - again I felt that was introduced early on in S2, it was suggested in What's My line - so I could refer back to it in my head. Also clearly explained. The scythe - never clearly explained. Nor was the amulet.

I hope that clarifies my difficulties a little better.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I really relate to this one... -- Valheru, 13:54:43 06/20/03 Fri

Once a viewer sees a plothole, it can't ever be undone.

This perfectly enscapulates my recent posts on LMPTM. I saw a plothole (or rather, a character hole) that no one else saw and I couldn't ignore. Despite a bunch of helpful replies to explain it, I still can't reconcile it. And I think that's one of the reasons S7 falls apart, compared to other seasons. There were a multitude of plotholes, and while a viewer might gloss over Holes #1-99, Hole #100 can ruin everything. ME couldn't get away with all of them for all of the viewers.

[> [> [> [> Why do the Scythe and the amulet need fanwanking? -- Finn Mac Cool, 16:19:32 06/19/03 Thu

While you may have issues with how they were introduced, their introduction didn't really have any logical inconsistencies.

The Scythe - the Guardian said her people created it to help the Slayer and that it was used once before, to kill the last pure demon. If you were looking for the last pure demon, wouldn't you go to the Hellmouth? Then it was buried in rock to keep it safe (considering Caleb, an agent of the First, seemed eager to get his hands on it (either to use it himself or to destroy it), you can see why the Scythe would be buried). Why didn't anyone find it before? Until the First and Caleb came around, no one seemed to know anything about it (Willow and Giles's mostly fruitless research shows that), and only the Slayer could actually access it ("It is not for thee; it is for her alone to weild"). While you may feel that the introduction of the Scythe could have been handled more smoothly, there's no technical reason why it couldn't exist or be buried in Sunnydale for Buffy to find.

The Amulet - there's no reason why the amulet shouldn't exist. Odds are someone down the line created it should such an emergency ever arise (just like someone forged an enchanted sword in case the demon Acathla should ever awaken). And it's introduction is logical enough: if such an amulet exists, someone's got to have it, and who's more likely to than Wolfram & Hart, the major conglomerate of the supernatural world (it certainly makes more sense than Kendra having the Acathla sword). Now, why would they give it to Angel to give to Buffy? Well, for one thing, it certainly helps their attempts to bring him over to their side; it is also in W&H's best interest for the world not to be destroyed right away, since they have their own plans for the Apocalypse that they don't want messed up (see their reaction to the Beast's rampage).

Now, you may not like how the amulet and the Scythe were introduced, but their introduction does make sense within the Buffyverse. Were they deus ex machina? Yes. But deus ex machina doesn't necessarily require fanwanking. Personally, this reminds me of the book "Misery", where the two characters are discussing the serial movie adventures of the 30's, where the main character is constantly put into a life threatening situation, but miraculously finds his way out. Most of the time, the hero found something (like a parachute or a wrench) that allowed him to escape in the nick of time. However, the character Annie got very pissed at an installment where they show the hero, in his car, crashing at the bottom of a gorge, but, in the next installment, show him jumping out just before then. The difference between this and the more common type of ending, according to Annie, was that the more common type was unlikely, but it was "fair"; it could feasibly have happened. I see the Scythe and the amulet in the same way. Is it very lucky and very "nick of time" that they showed up when they did? Yes. Is it impossible for them to appear like that? No. Thus, they don't require fanwanking. A vampire being drowned to death, for example, is impossible and would require fanwanking. The introduction of the Scythe and amulet, while deus ex machina, is possible within the rules of the Buffyverse, and thus doesn't need fanwanking.

[> [> [> [> [> Agreed. -- Rob, 16:53:38 06/19/03 Thu

And, having already been a part of the Buffyverse mythos from "Fray," the Scythe acquits itself even better.


[> [> [> [> [> Agreed. The amulet, the Guardian and (to an extent) the scythe are "deus ex machina." -- cjl, 17:24:17 06/19/03 Thu

No fanwanking required.

But come on--

THREE in the space of one episode?

Isn't that a bit much?

[> [> [> [> [> [> Technically three in the space of three episodes -- Finn Mac Cool, 21:44:00 06/19/03 Thu

The Scythe was introduced in "Touched", the Guardian in "End of Days", and the amulet in "Chosen"/"Home". Also, since there was a connection between the Guardian and the Scythe, I'm wondering if maybe the two of them should count as one, or at most one and a half.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> While the amulet is mostly a deus ex machina... -- Rob, 22:13:37 06/19/03 Thu

...it did require Spike's soul to activate it as well as I believe, every other action to have occurred the way it did. Otherwise, IMO, it would have started glowing the moment he put it on. It wouldn't fulfill its particular function until everything came into place. Therefore while it was a deus ex machina, it did work as a result of things the characters did themselves, most notably Spike getting his soul and reaching the state of grace he did by the end of the season.

The Scythe while in a way a deus ex machina, has a bit stronger of a case for not being one, since it didn't just come out of nowhere. Caleb spoke about having something of Buffy's two episodes before we see it. While that isn't a great deal of time before, it was set up. Also obliquely set up with the "power" references throughout the year. Also, fans of "Fray" know that it is already a part of the Buffyverse mythos, so its existence wasn't fabricated at the last moment. The Guardian I think is too tied in to the Scythe to be a deus ex machina. Just because we learned a big mythology thing at the end doesn't mean it was a cheat. I thought it was what it was...a cool revelation that helped counterbalance a great deal of the darkness we've always associated with Slayers and thematically set up the idea that a Slayer does not have to be associated with dark shadowy magic only.


[> [> [> [> Re: Ars longa, vita brevis -- shambleau, 21:01:12 06/19/03 Thu

I thought you'd misremembered some things,sk, but I just now got back to my tapes.

Giles had explained to Buffy in BB&B about Angelus's penchant for terrorizing before killing (puppies nailed to walls,etc), so there would have been no surprise about that.Several episodes had gone by, during which Angelus had killed Theresa to "leave a message", and tried to kill Xander, so they'd had plenty of time to get over being traumatized.

Giles and Jenny didn't flirt during BB&B. They met in the hallway, with Giles calling her Miss Calendar and turning down her invitation to meet later. It was tense, no flirting, but maybe with a slight hint of regret in Giles's eyes. She came to him later, saying something like "We have to talk, I'm not going away" and was then distracted by Xander and paid no attention to Giles after that. As for Phases, I can't find the tape at the moment. Let me pause here for an AAAAGH! Still, I doubt thaat one episode after Jenny's "betrayal", they were flirting.

Also, sorry, the door to the classroom IS locked. Jenny slides over to it and tries to open it while still looking at Angelus. She can't open it and it isn't opened until Angelus throws her through it. Streetlights are shining through the blinds on the windows, which are all down, so the windows are closed,too. Besides, it's dark and winter. No school would leave the windows open in that situation.

On the timeline problems, a little more detail. Angelus terrorizes Joyce, tells her about Buffy, and leaves after Buffy and Willow bar him. It's dark, has to be about six, because Joyce is coming home from work and it's late winter/early spring. The next scene is Giles talking to Jenny and the two ofthem arranging to meet later. (She doesn't inform him of what she's doing for plot reasons. It would ingratiate her with him if she told him what she was trying, successful or not, but ME needs no one to know about it) The following scene is Dru at hte magic shop, where the owner is closing up, so again, six to seven confirmed. The next scene has Angelus in the room with Jenny and then killing her. The scene after that is Giles arriving at Buffy's and she and her mom are having The Talk.

It makes no psychological sense that a mother would delay that talk. It has to have taken place almost immediately after Angelus left. And yet, sequentially, Jenny is already dead by the time Giles gets there. The following scene is Giles arriving home. Since he's made an appointment to see Jenny later, he's not breezing in at nine or ten, he should be going home directly from Buffy's to clean up, prepare, whatever. Jenny's already in place with all the props.

As for why the plot holes in Season 7 bother you, I'd assume because you weren't emotionally involved.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Ars longa, vita brevis -- s'kat, 22:03:12 06/19/03 Thu

Actually I was more emotionally involved in S7 than S2, since I didn't bother posting on fanboards or taping much of S2. So there goes that assumption.

S7's plotholes/plot devices bugged me more because they were...cheesy. I can't think of the right word here. Deux Ex Machina. I felt as if the writer came out and plopped the weapon down and said okay, here you go - you can save the day now.

I honestly didn't notice the ones you pointed out in S2 at all until you pointed them out. I didn't notice them upon re-watching. Giles/Jenny? I could see them reuniting, I saw emotion there and feeling and I was psyched when they did.
Maybe you didn't? But I remember seeing Giles struggle there.

I honestly don't remember the door being locked. IT didn't bug me. It's a minor thing. And S7 had those minor consistency errors too actually. I tend to ignore those, they don't bug me. I tend to be fairly lenient when it comes to plot-holes to be honest. The stuff about the Magic as Crack? Didn't bug me. The plot-hole in The Wish? Didn't bug me. Years of reading cheap fantasy novels and comic books have made me a pro at suspension of disbelief. I'm better at this than most. You really have to hit me over the head with the plot-hole for it to bug me and the amulet?
I was hit over the head with it. The scythe boy, hit over the head. PArt of the hit was how cheesy these two items looked. One looked way too new, to be old, with an ax, a wood stake, and some red metal rimming. And as Malandaza put in an archived post - why on earth did the FE dig it up?
Made no sense. And why Sunnydale and not Cleveland? IT was central to the story, not hidden in the background. The Scythe was what saved the day.

Kendra's sword never bugged me. I assumed it was just a sword. That any sword would do. Also Kendra comes to Sunnydale way back in What's My Line with the fear that a great power is rising - so this is sort of foreshadowed.

The amulet? Not foreshadowed on either show. W&H doesn't even know what it does. And boy is it a tacky looking thing.
It's never explained and it saves the day. What if it hadn't worked? Would everyone have died? It hit me over the head.

The Guardian - this is central to who and what Buffy is for seven seasons - she's the counter to the Watchers, and also oddly reminiscent of the knight in Indiana Jones and The Holy Grail, making me wonder if they writers had been watching Indiana Jones movies this year. She's not just a vampire appearing in a locked classroom or being ducked under water - I can shrug that off, fantasy, no big. She's not just a spell gone kablooey. She's a huge part of the series, her introduction literally retcons what we knew before. I can't shrug her off - she's part of the mythos.
And her intro didn't work, it wasn't explained, and it seemed to come out of nowhere.

Same with the emergency kit - big deal here - explained what Buffy's origin was, who the First Slayer was, it revealed secrets we'd been waiting ages for. Why didn't Buffy ever discuss it with Giles? Why didn't Giles know about it? Why didn't Travers? Or Wes? Why did Wood still have it? It wasn't a small thing.

See, I'm a bit odd, I tend overlook most stuff, I really didn't care that much about some of the minor things. Buffy's wound? I figured she healed. The slayers fighting the ubervamps fairly easily, figured they had gotten a power boost from Willow. That stuff didn't bug me. No more than the stuff you mention above or some of the stuff people mention in WttH. What does bug me is when it is a major plot device - something that is crucial to the plot arc as a whole, crucial to the series - then I take notice and those three things were.

Now Rob and Finn do a good job of trying to explain how they weren't complete deux ex machina, but it still bugs me that they came in at the last minute. And the reason it bugs me is precisely because I was emotionally invested in the series and expected more from it. In fact I think that was my problem, I would have been better off if I hadn't been.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: why the First unburied the Scythe -- Rob, 00:13:18 06/20/03 Fri

This isn't fanwankery so much as just what I assumed while watching the episode...I just figured that the First wanted Buffy to pull the Scythe out of the stone, because neither it nor Caleb could do it. That's why Caleb said he had something of hers, led her there, didn't make it too hard for her to get to the Scythe. Then after it was pulled out, they planned on taking it from her and using it for themselves, against Buffy. In the fight with Caleb, he keeps trying to get the Scythe and actually does have it for a short time during the fight. This would also explain why they didn't want Buffy dead yet earlier, besides just a desire to gloat and have Buffy see the world destroyed around her as revenge for her victory in "Amends". They needed her to remove the Scythe from the stone.

This following is part possibly fanwankery, but it works pretty well...Since we saw the power of the Scythe capable of affecting who gets chosen to be Slayer, maybe the reason it was buried all this time is that it was the thing that was choosing Slayers all along. The Council may have had magics to figure out who was chosen and who would be chosen, but they had no power in making the choice themselves. The Scythe may have been what was doing that. And a need to tap into this weapon, which is starting to sound like the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter (lol), was not necessary until now. It had been doing its job all these years, but now the stakes were much greater. I admit this theory may need a little work.

But if this thing isn't just an extremely powerful weapon and does not just have the essence of the Slayer in it but also does the choosing, it would make even more sense why the First would want it in its control. Perhaps destroying it would end the Slayer line for good? At the very least, having that weapon to use against Slayers would be an enormous advantage to the First.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> And "It's for She alone to wield"...? -- Darby, 11:04:27 06/20/03 Fri

I respect your spackling abilities, Rob, but you can't spackle when there's no plaster, and most of the "fill-ins" I see from this season are too dependent on a plethora or details that ALL have to be added from outside (I keep hearing, "yeah, that's the ticket" in my head). This one is a bit closer to a Classic Rob Explanation, except in this case the text itself contradicts it - we are actually told that the scythe can only be used by someone female, whom Caleb seems to know. There is, based upon this, no reason why they would want her to get it.

I can actually spackle this, though. It is possible that, once close to the buried Scythe, Buffy could vaguely feel it "calling" to her. That would explain her insistence on going back to the Winery when there's no obvious reason to except her "feeling." Meanwhile, unaware of the Sword in the Stoniness of the Scythe, Caleb and the First were trying to free it to send it well away from Sunnydale and the Buffster.

Yeah, that's the ticket...

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Or....Or....ooh! ooh! -- Rob, 11:34:48 06/20/03 Fri

...When the First is "made flesh" it's planning on taking the form of Buffy permanently, thus tricking the scythe into thinking it is Buffy, and allowing it to be used by the First. How's that? ;o)

On another note though, Caleb did say in "Touched": "Prophesies say one thing but brute strength says another. We'll get it out," meaning that he was still confident that Slayer or not, he would be able to wield the power. And when Buffy first gets the Scythe in "End of Days," the following exchange occurs:

(to the First)
I'm not letting her out of here with
that thing.

Sure you are. And then you're coming
back for it later.
(to Buffy)
When she's got her back turned.

I have to wonder whether all of these plot holes were on purpose or not. Because there are just so many things not fully explained that I honestly can't tell whether it was an act of giving up on the writers' part or if they wanted things to be left ambiguous...


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> That would have been PERFECT. -- cjl, 11:38:52 06/20/03 Fri

I would have loved that.

The First's plan wasn't to overrun the earth with wimpy Turok-han.

It wanted to manifest AS BUFFY, and wield the scythe as the instrument of ultimate power.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: That would have been PERFECT. -- s'kat, 11:55:59 06/20/03 Fri

The First's plan wasn't to overrun the earth with wimpy Turok-han.

It wanted to manifest AS BUFFY, and wield the scythe as the instrument of ultimate power.

Actually I was convinced that had been it's plan, well until Caleb appeared, then I sort of wondered. Figured okay maybe it still is, until the basement scene with Buffy and the First.

I think, from listening to the Succubus Club Interview with RKK, JE, and DGrew and the one with Fury and Minear, that this may have been the writers' original plan, but they deep-sixed it because they were afraid it would kill their whole female empowerment message after what happened with DarkWillow last year. I think, and this just a hunch, that they'd originally wanted Buffy to be fighting herself and backed off of it. Remember Whedon had more or less written Chosen before the season started, then he re-wrote it mid-season, so it's possible that those scenes with the First as Buffy were kept but altered slightly. Interesting to speculate on at any rate.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> That's totally what I was thinking! -- ponygirl, 12:07:12 06/20/03 Fri

From Dirty Girls on I really thought that the First was planning to use Buffy as a vessel. To become her, just as Jasmine needed a human body to manifest. It would have explained so much - why the First was so interested in Buffy and her friends, but unwilling to kill her. It would have given Caleb more motivation - he was resentful at being passed over as a worthy host. Perhaps with Faith and all the Potentials dead the Scythe could have been used in reverse concentrating all of the power within Buffy. Since Caleb's example as a temporary vessel could suggest that one had to willingly open oneself to the First, all the manipulations to isolate Buffy could have been designed to drive her to despair or a desire for more power. Spike's role in the First's plan could have been to ultimately lead Buffy into darkness.

In any case right up until the end I was surprised that we didn't get something along those lines as an explanation for the First's connection to Buffy.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yes, yes, yes! That should have been the plan all along! -- cjl (banging his head on the table in frustration), 12:11:39 06/20/03 Fri

[> [> La coeur a ses raisons... -- mamcu, 19:36:41 06/19/03 Thu

or as Woody Allen put it, " The heart wants what it wants."

S7 Buffy, 2nd half, doesn't ring the bell for me now, but I can remember when I thought S5 was shallow and now I love it. I'll probably see S7 differently by the time it swings by on FX a few times. I think expectations, familiarity, all those things play into our emotional responses to what we see, esp. for those who have really been deeply involved. Some of us, maybe me, just couldn't stand to know that this was the end, so we'd have hated any possible S7.

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