March 2002 posts

Previous March 2002  

More March 2002

Frying Pans - HB/NA/WotW Spoilers -- Lyonors, 13:44:36 03/14/02 Thu

Okay, some of you may have noticed my appearance on the board lately...I feel the need now to make a full fledged posting of my own! *knees shaking* :o)

I was watching WotW last night on FX and noticed something odd involving a frying pan! The SG is chugging along in their sun-proof winnebago and *WHAM* Anya busts out a frying pan from her bag after somebody mentions food. She then uses it as a weapon on one of the unfortuate Knights of Byzantium. Random, yes, at least the first two times I saw this episode, which was before I saw Hell's Bells. So, this may a totally bad connection I am making but hey, I was half-asleep when I realized it. I don't think I would have noticed it if it hadnt been call me crazy or anything, but anyone see a connection here? Or better yet, any other random frying pan appearances? I know, someone mentioned Buffy hitting Xander with one in NA....but let's see what else this group of brains can come up with.


[> Re: Frying Pans -HB/NA/WotW Spoilers -- firsttimeposter, 13:47:58 03/14/02 Thu

Ted, if I recall correctly, involves frying pan violence. And, creepily, a threat to Buffy that she will spend her best dating years in a mental institution.

[> [> Re: Frying Pans -HB/NA/WotW Spoilers -- MayaPapaya9, 15:53:23 03/14/02 Thu

In Hell's Bells, when Xander has the fake visions of his life with Anya, doesn't he hit her with a frying pan?

[> Re: Frying Pans -HB/NA/WotW Spoilers -- julia, 17:23:55 03/14/02 Thu

So what does the frying pan mean? Is it a symbol of domesticity, a state which neither our poor heroine nor her devoted friends will ever acheive? Does it represent the idea of normalcy which Buffy has tried so hard over the years to create for herself, a refrain we've heard repeated over and over, "I just want to be normal." If this is so, why is it used as a destructive force? Is the idea of normalcy for Buffy actually the antithesis of her life? And Xander's? And Anya's? Certainly we've seen Willow cooking an omelet, Tara making pancakes, and, extending the connection, Spike not ready to be flipped, Cordelia winning the Slayer Fest 2000 both with spatulas. If there is one thing we know about ME it is that life is pain (anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something) and that a happy home life is for those who live in an asylumverse. Beware the normal frying pans of destruction!

[> [> An homage to Chuck Jones? -- Lilac, 17:31:22 03/14/02 Thu

[> [> Don't forget Dawn flipping her quesadillas *without* a spatula in "Wrecked!" - - Dyna, 07:54:42 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> Crazy, I had that "Princess Bride" line in my head as I left my house this morning -- bienbizare, 08:03:32 03/15/02 Fri

And I was thinking 'bout Buffy when it came to mind too.

[> Re: Frying Pans -HB/NA/WotW Spoilers -- Arya Stark, 23:17:03 03/14/02 Thu

Perhaps it's supposed to remind us of the saying "Out of the frying pan, into the fryer". Or is that "fire"? I never could figure out which one it was and they both made sense to me.

Spike's speech in NA and possible meaning (spoilers). -- Ixchel, 19:09:19 03/14/02 Thu

Perhaps this has already been addressed and I missed it somehow, but I had a thought regarding Spike's speech to Buffy in her room and what he means by it.

He says concerning the Scoobies knowing about him and Buffy, "They'd either understand and help you, God forbid, or drive you out and you could finally be at peace, in the dark, with me."

Now my thought is this, he still is operating under the assumption that Buffy came back wrong, he doesn't know any different (Buffy surely didn't tell him). So what significance does this assumption have to the meaning of his speech?

It is possible he means by the first part that once the Scoobies know, they would also know that she came back wrong. And that they would fix (help her) whatever is "wrong" with her (through magical means, Tara?) and once that was repaired she would be as she was. She wouldn't want him anymore because not-"wrong" Buffy would never want Spike.

His meaning in the second part would be that the Scoobies could reject her as being "wrong" (defective), not the real Buffy. And if they did that, she could accept her "wrongness" and he would still love her.

Now, which to him is the more likely scenario? We know that he believed that Willow was capable of destroying a "wrong" Buffy from his speech to Xander in AL. I took this to mean a seriously wrong Buffy (such as a zombie) and he modified that here to them just rejecting her. Despite this I believe that he knows the Scoobies well enough to know that the first scenario is far more likely (the evidence of their resolve to help Buffy had just walked past him in the form of Willow before his speech). Also, he knows (Intervention) that Xander would threaten him but would (it seems) excuse Buffy.

So why does Spike say this? I believe he honestly doesn't want her to torture herself anymore. He was being truthful in HB when he expressed that he likes seeing her happy. He has no way of knowing that being "wrong" isn't what's bothering Buffy. So he knows that it would most likely end any chance of his being with her again (in any way). I think he does understand the implications of what he is saying and he really does want her to "live".

Now he may not know she isn't "wrong", but Buffy does. So when he makes his speech about forcing her to be truthful with her friends, she knows there is no "wrong" to fix. They would have to accept her actions with no excuse attached. She is so very afraid that they couldn't and they _would_ reject her. And escape beckons to her poisoned brain (liked her dilated pupils as a hint of demon venom intoxication) with unconditional parental love, a return to childhood, no responsibility (the weight of the world gone), and moral questions rendered unimportant.

So, IMHO, the divide between what Spike thinks is true and what Buffy knows is true about her "wrongness" (or rather lack thereof) causes each to perceive his speech in quite different ways.


[> kudos - excellent points! -- Solitude1056, 21:39:13 03/14/02 Thu

[> [> Thank you, Solitude. -- Ixchel, 08:30:20 03/15/02 Fri

[> Re: Spike's speech in NA and possible meaning (spoilers). -- luvthistle1, 09:55:32 03/15/02 Fri

Spike knows that Buffy find strength in her friends. He knows that she can face anything, as long as they are by her side. Buffy, feels guilty about loving Spike, and ashamed that she was weak. she needs to talk about her feeling with her friends, but she think they will not respect her if they knew what she done, and that is what's causing all of her problems. Spike knows if she tells them her shameful secret that her guilt well not eat her up inside, it would be wash away. Spike do not want Buffy to hide in the dark with him, he wants to "Bask" in her light.

[> [> Thanks for your response. -- Ixchel, 13:52:01 03/15/02 Fri

I agree that guilt about Spike is deeply affecting Buffy (and being honest with her friends _would_ relieve her mind), but (IMHO) her problems with Spike are only symptoms of her greater problem (depression). Her post-resurrection apathy has been there since the beginning of this season. NA seems like a real turning point to me, I hope it is.

I also agree that Spike likes and admires Buffy (a flawed, but true hero). I really don't believe he wants her to be any different.


Re: OT........Pagans? -- AgnosticSorcerer, 20:52:41 03/14/02 Thu

Again this is just my opinion, but I don't think ME is trying to say or even convey that magick can lead to evil or insanity.

I think the message more is dependency and carelessness. Tara (who most people think to be the more 'ethical' and 'sensible' of the witches on the show) has protested Willow's frequent use of magick for insignificant and menial purposes.

As soon as Willow became adept at magick, she began to use it for things which could have easily been resolved by more mundane means. For instance, when Xander and Anya announced their engagement Willow spoke a simple incantation and created various party decorations and supplies instead of waiting a day so they can gather such things. Willow casted a spell to make Tara forget why she was made at Willow instead of simply apologizing to her. All these things could have been accomplished by *not* using magick if only Willow had a little patience and put a little work into it amd that I think this is the ethical quandary.

I would also like to mention that Neopagans aren't the only ones who use magick and there are many out there who do not have set ethical systems to guide our magickal actions. Personally, I see nothing wrong with Willow using her magick to create a party for her friends and I would have loved to see her "design" Xander's & Anya's wedding (I bet it would have looked far more elegant especially with those dresses!).

I originally was opposed to the idea of Willow being a lesbian because I thought it would give the idea that magick and homosexuality are somehow intrinsically related.

[> Re: OT........Pagans? -- O'Cailleagh, 05:36:31 03/15/02 Fri

'I originally was opposed to Willow being a lesbian because I thought it would give the idea that magick and homosexuality are somehow intrinsically related'

They are...and so are heterosexuality and magick! I was mainly worried for similar reasons..the whole Dianic Wicca thing.

Willow using magic for everything is not good because it amounts to taking short-cuts, not facing up to the 'real world', avoiding the 'real' issues. That coupled with the little-miss-ego thing.

[> Text & Subtext. -- Darby, 10:54:21 03/15/02 Fri

You could make a case that Willow's magic on the show began as a metaphor for homosexuality (but it could have been anything that people tend to keep secret and which would render them "outsiders"), as in Gingerbread. Even Hansel and Gretel has a similar subtext, especially the original.

But for some reason, the subtext eventually emerged as the text of the Willow-Tara relationship.

One of my complaints about Season 6 is that concepts are more textual than subtext / metaphorical - I guess the pattern goes back quite a way...

Mind blowing analysis of NA -- Doriander, 21:38:18 03/14/02 Thu

I came upon this post at the BC&S board and it left my jaw hanging. You guys may appreciate it.

The Doctor, The Demon and Buffy's Twisted Mind: Normal Again (no spoilers, long)

[> read it, guys, it's true KABOOM! -- Solitude1056, 21:54:24 03/14/02 Thu

[> It's completely AMAZING. -- Deeva, 22:51:18 03/14/02 Thu

It really jelled together a lot of thoughts that I had rattling around. I couldn't quite make the connect until I read this analysis.

[> Linda Barrow come and take a bow -- Rufus, 00:14:39 03/15/02 Fri

Buffy was taken from a place where she seemed to be in a comfortable state of inertia. Her friends brought her back, rebirthing Buffy to the cruel world she thought she was finshed with. Buffy has gone through a series of regressions followed by small progressions. It's been a hard thing to watch because as part of the audience I can see how Buffy could make things easier on herself.

Spike is Buffy's dance partner, her shadow self who is teaching her more about herself, because the reality of a vampire being right and worse a sex partner is too threatening, Buffy has gone into a denial of his place in her life. His presence is comforting one moment, a reminder of how things have changed for her the next. He is right about telling her friends...real friends will act like Tara did, accepting their friends confession without rushing to judge her harshly. I find it is something to wonder about, this lack of trust in friends that have become the only family Buffy has. Spike may be a vampire, but he also has qualities that are of value, that could be of use if he was taken seriously. It is the strife that he brings to Buffys situation that has caused the most growth in her so far, the geeks having the ironic role of sending Buffy on an inward journey that will only serve to make the Slayer stronger.

As for reality, reality is what Buffy decides it will be, where she actively interacts and functions in. The delusions were just that, delusions, but they also served to send Buffy on that inward journey that brought her back to the Sunnydale reality before the antidote was given to her. It's what she does with her new trust in her own strength that will interest me the most.....gee the next ep is called Entropy...

Wonderful post

[> [> Re: Linda (sorry that was) Barlow.....;) -- Rufus, 00:15:48 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> [> Re: Linda (sorry that was) Barlow.....;) -- lindabarlow, 01:45:32 03/15/02 Fri

Wow -- thanks, folks!!


[> KABOOM!!! -- Traveler, 08:35:07 03/15/02 Fri

Any news on the progress of the OMWF CD? -- Rob, 22:25:56 03/14/02 Thu

I keep hearing that it's coming...

But has anyone heard any news since the initial reports?

I'm gettin' impatient!


[> Have you checked the website? -- neaux, 06:11:45 03/15/02 Fri

They might know... maybe??

[> Re: Any news on the progress of the OMWF CD? -- Amara, 08:51:59 03/15/02 Fri

You can make one fairly easy. Let me know if you need help.

[> [> Re: Any news on the progress of the OMWF CD? -- Deeva, 10:05:55 03/15/02 Fri

OK. I'll bite. How do you make one?

[> Re: Any news on the progress of the OMWF CD? -- Laurie, 11:38:14 03/15/02 Fri

you can download the MP3s from websites (just type Once More With Feeling on any search engine). I downloaded mine from

If you have any problems downloading/burning, let me know, I can burn you a copy of mine.

All things lead to OMWF (redux . . . again) -- Farstrider, 01:09:51 03/15/02 Fri

I know a bazillion people before me have pointed out OMWF is everywhere and everything this season. Well, here's me, finally getting it, and maybe offering something new to ponder.
I listened to "Walk Through the Fire" about fifty times last night on the way home after an excellent chat in the chat room, and I noticed how it seems to fit with where we are in the show now.

Da Buff:
I touch the fire and it freezes me
I look into it and it's black

The fire is her feelings for Spike and passion for living in general. (Fire is often a metaphor for love). It freezes her. Why? Literally, because vamps have no body temperature, they are exothermic. Also, the freezing is a metaphor for being embarrassed and/or frozen with indecision and/or empty and cold. Why is it black? Hello, vampire. Also, Spike,s color is black (and red, a fire color).

Why can't I feel?
My skin should crack and peel
I want the fire back

Why can,t she feel? PTSD? I dunno, but its obvious that she "can,t let herself be with Spike, as we all commented on after AYW. Her skin should crack and peel in response to the fire, just as she should have emotional fulfillment (fire) from her relationship with Spike and enjoyment from life in general. That relationship is a fake fire it looks like fire, but you can touch it and it is cold, dark and non-burny. Real fire is not really like that.

Now through the smoke she calls to me
To make my way across the flame
To save the day
Or maybe melt away
I guess it's all the same

We are lead to believe that the "she is Dawn, calling to Buffy across the fiery Sunnyvale left in Sweet,s wake. Perhaps. But, smoke is obscuring, concealing (notice she doesn,t call to her across the fire or flame, but the smoke). The "she is the Asylumverse Buffy. She calls across to RealBuffy to "make her way across the flame. That is to be alive, to feel more connected with her friends, with Spike, with Dawn.

But she can,t. True, she might save the day. But, she might melt away. In BuffyVerse, B always saves the day. In Asylumverse, she could melt away from her responsibilities, couldn,t she? With the weight of the world off her shoulders, some of her angst might melt away.

But hey, wait, two Buffys, two universes. Who knows which one is real, which one is not? How do you pick the "real one. If you can,t tell which is which, "I guess it,s all the same.

So I will walk through the fire
'Cause where else can I turn?
I will walk through the fire
And let it--

But she has to make a choice, doesn,t she? So she picks BuffyVerse. It,s fire: bright, burning, painful, but also warm, sustaining, giver of light. It,s not cold, it,s not black in the sense that it is not empty it is a bright tapestry of color and warmth. That,s why we are all addicted to it. And in so doing, B returns to the fire, to life (hopefully to Spike) and she will feel the warmth . . . but not yet. The verse is interrupted.

The torch I bear is scorching me
And Buffy's laughing, I've no doubt
I hope she fries
I'm free if that bitch dies...
I'd better help her out

Spike has his own little fire, doesn,t he? A warm spot for B, if you will. But he is also torn. He loves her, but she treats him like a dog tracking mud on a freshly polished floor. And notice that his main concern is that she might laugh at him. Others have talked about Spike,s self-esteem issues, and here they are.
Like Buffy, Spike has a fire, but unlike B,s, his does burn him. He won,t put it down though. It,s his burden to bear. And what is Spike,s "hope in the song? That B "fries. Only things that can feel fire can fry. He doesn,t just say he wants her dead with this line, he wants her to feel the fire (love). Great double entendre.

Cause she is drawn to the fire
Sweet: Spike:
Some people / She will

Never learn
And she will
Walk through the fire
And let it--

I need help on this one. I,m not sure what Buffy needs to learn. To love? To live? I dunno. But I,m worried she will never learn it. I am also worried that Spike knows Buffy will never learn it. Sweet, who is apparently close to omniscient, just says 'some people' never learn. But Spike knws more. I suspect that at the end of the season, we will see what B should have learned, but did not.
Also, notice the coitus interruptus in the last line of this verse. Again!

Will this do a thing to change her?
Am I leaving Dawn in danger?
Is my Slayer too far gone to care?

Wow. Here,s the DMP to NA (Buffy is listless and detached) arc neatly summarized.

What if Buffy can't defeat it?
Beady Eyes is right, we're needed!
Or we could just sit around and glare...

Xander seems to have a negative (maybe patriarchal) view this season. He fancies himself watcher guy, and wants to be the father figure now that Giles is gone. He wants to be B,s protector. He wants to protect B from Spike,s advances.
But, as Anya points out, X has beady eyes. He sees things narrowly, black and white. He is judgmental. When he is not needed, he does just sit around and glare. Imagine how he will react when he learns about Spuffy?

We'll see it through
It's what we're always here to do
So we will walk through the fire

Here we get our foreshadowing. All season, the Scoobies have been drifting apart. And, until this point in OMWF, they had drifted apart. This verse brings them back together. I predict we,ll see the same in the upcoming episodes.

So one by one they turn from me
I guess my friends can't face the cold
But why I froze
Not one among them knows
And never can be told

Buff believes her friends would turn from her if they knew her secret. They couldn,t face it. And, they don,t love her enough to overcome the detachment she feels. But, she thinks this at the exact time that they are drawing together as a unit to help. Notice Tara,s harmony in the background: "What can,t we face if we,re together. Aren,t we starting to see a reunification of the Scoobies? X, W, S, and D all working to solve a problem?

She came from her grave much graver
First I'll kill her, then I'll save her
Everything is turning out so dark
No, I'll save her then I'll kill her
I think this line's mostly filler

This is like an expository speech, rehashing what,s happened before. Imagine Giles saying "Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer right before this verse. Willow,s line has been discussed extensively already.

What's it going to take
To strike a spark?

Now we know. Joyce,s speech from NA.

These endless days
Are finally ending in a blaze

Obvious. If love and passion are the fire, Buffy will let her self feel it, ending the cold "endless days.

So one by one
They come to me
The distant redness
as their guide
That single flame
Ain't what they have in mind
It's what they have inside
She will come
To me

Sweet ain,t no dummy. He,s telling us right here that the fire metaphor is all about emotions and feelings. It,s the fire they have inside.

And we are caught in the fire
The point of no return
So we will walk through the fire
And let it burn
Let it burn
Let it burn
Let it burn

This is where I have to leave it. These 7 lines are the rest of the season. I don,t know what they hold, and I,m too tired to speculate now. We,ll see in May.

I can,t wait.

The Doctor, The Demon and Buffy's Twisted Mind: Normal Again (NA spoilers, long) -- lindabarlow, 01:43:10 03/15/02 Fri

Hi, guys, new poster here. Some kind folks suggested I crosspost to this list, so here goes (I actually tried to post earlier this evening, but my screen froze during the process). I lurk here occasionally but haven't posted before.

The Doctor, The Demon and Buffy's Twisted Mind: Comments on Normal Again

The last time I was actually moved to write a detailed analysis of an episode was with Dead Things, but nothing since then has moved me to do the same until last night's Normal Again. What a wonderful episode. Kudos to the new writer, Diego Gutierrez.

As with Dead Things, there were wheels within wheels in Normal Again. The two episodes are related thematically. And they both feature Spike in a central, pivotal role. Much of Normal Again is about Buffy's relationship with Spike, her friends, and what these relationships say about Buffy, superhero and would-be grown-up, responsible adult. Buffy takes a dark journey into her own psyche to confront the deep-seated conflicts that are threatening to rip her and her "family" apart.

Normal Again is full of little ironies: e.g., the title itself. The fact that Buffy's darkest journey takes place in an overly bright, sunny world. Jonathan, one of the "three little men" who is responsible for her delusions is also mentally ill, trapped in the basement, paralyzed with guilt, no longer trusted by his comrades in crime. It's Jonathan who compares himself to Jack Torrence, the hero of Stephen King's The Shining, the good husband and father who goes crazy and stalks his own family. But it's Buffy who turns into an eerie clone of murderous Jack.

In the course of her demonic poisoning, Buffy nearly kills the people she loves most in the world - Willow and Xander, her two oldest friends, and Dawn, for whom she gave her life last season. Why does this horror happen? All Warren and Co. knew was that the venom of this demon would drive her nuts; what happened while she was under its influence was orchestrated by Buffy herself and her own "twisted" (as Spike put it) mind.

To me there's no question which world is real - Sunnydale (although Spike's comment about alternate realities is fascinating, especially since it's a theme that's been raised over and over this season). The final scene, in the mental hospital, was the only thing I didn't like about the episode. Since Buffy hadn't had the antidote yet, it was just another hallucination. Still, it was kind of a cheap trick.

Otherwise, the delusional world that Buffy constructed in her mind after being poisoned by the demon is brilliantly twisted. It mirrors her own reality, but shifts that reality in disturbing ways.

The Cemetery/Buffy's "cell" in the mental hospital

The mental asylum delusion represents a psychological regression to an ideal childhood, where Buffy has no responsibilities, no noble calling, and is burdened with no power. She is an only child, with no little sister to divide her parents' attention. Her delusional world, as Dawn realizes to her sorrow, shuts Dawn out altogether. Buffy's last episode of catatonia (WOTW) was induced by her guilty belief that she had already killed Dawn in her head as soon as she realized she couldn't defeat Glory. In her Normal Again delusion Buffy goes one better - she shuts Dawn out altogether.

She lives in a cell, dominated by a bed with arm and leg restraints. What a great way to contain all the rage she is feeling - at Spike for arousing feelings in her that she can't deal with, with her friends for pulling her back into this bright, harsh world. The Slayer can't hurt anyone when she's bound in straitjackets, restraints, behind a locked doors. For dark-side-denial Buffy, this is a seductive vision, just as giving up power sexually to Spike in his crypt when he handcuffed her was incredibly seductive. It allows her to give him all the responsibility for her feelings, for what he was doing to "helpless" Buffy.

In Buffy's hallucinations, she is the author of what she sees, and each scene in the delusional world is tightly linked with what's happening to her at the time in Sunnydale. More importantly, she populates her delusional world with the people she interacts with in her real life. But she disguises them from herself, and quite cleverly.

Thus, when first overpowered and stabbed by the demon, Buffy hallucinates a nurse or orderly injecting her. Next, one of her Doublemeat Palace co-workers briefly morphs into another nurse. But the delusional world doesn't really take shape until Buffy meets Spike in the cemetery, the site of many of their erotic trysts.

Buffy has just been talking to Spike, who is strolling through the cemetery carrying a bag of groceries, like an ordinary human. Not the sort of thing vamps usually do in cemeteries. They manage to have a civil conversation until Xander and Willow show up. It is the confrontation between her best friends, Willow and Xander, and her erstwhile demon lover, Spike, which shapes Buffy's hallucinatory world into a solid and coherent structure. Why? Because that confrontation mirrors Buffy's worst fear - that she is really a creature of darkness, incapable of love (Intervention), a "dead thing" who must be denied, sent away, and rejected.

And, for the first time in this episode, we learn why Buffy has been tormented (for six years) with this terrible fear of rejected. She was, in fact, rejected by her parents. "Back when I saw my first vampires-" Buffy confesses to Willow, "I got so scared. I told my parents, and they completely freaked out. They thought there was something seriously wrong with me. So they sent me to a clinic."

Mara has pointed out how vital this scene is to understanding what's wrong with Buffy. (There's been a lot of commentary on this episode, most of which I haven't had time to read, but I have read Mara's great analyses).

Instead of soothing their daughter's fears, believing her and trusting her, Joyce and Hank sent Buffy away, turning her over to be probed by the doctors. They abandoned her. Only when she pretended to give up her "delusion" of vampires, did they accept her back. Buffy: "I was only there a couple of weeks. I stopped talking about it, and they let me go. Eventually, my parents just forgot."

Buffy had to feign being something she wasn't - the normal girl who didn't have to fight vampires - in order to be taken home and loved again by her parents. Or so it must have seemed to her at the time. Seeing vampires is bad. "Seeing" vampires must be even worse. (Willow uses the word about Tara and the girl she sees Tara kissing: "it's--when I was seeing her, she was seeing someone else--a girl." Buffy: "You mean-?" "I mean...not seeing-seeing. Well, maybe. I don't know.")

Buffy has been "seeing" Spike. Now, in the cemetery, as they talk about Anya and Xander's disaster, Spike's own pain comes out as he says, "Yeah, well, some people can't see a good thing when they've got it."

He's cutting very close to Buffy's central conflict - the problem that's been dogging her for several months - her unrelenting sexual attraction to this unsouled vampire. Buffy's still suffering from the conviction that loving Spike is wrong. That she is wrong. "This can't be me," she said to Tara when Tara insisted nothing had gone wrong with the resurrection spell. She shouldn't want him, she's trying to stay away from him, but he's in her life and she can't seem to get him out. If her friends, who are now her family, find out that she is "seeing" a vampire, they, like her parents six years ago, will reject her.

Afraid that her secret may be revealed, Buffy lies to Xander and Willow about Spike: "Hey, guys. I, uh, I found Spike and was, uh, trying to figure out what kind of dangerous contraband he had."

Here she's calling on her idea of the mysterious "Doctor," as Riley called him, who dealt in lethal demon eggs. This, she believes, was Spike. As Xander and Spike start to go at each other, Spike gets a good dig in about Xander's abandoning Anya, calling him "The king of the big exit." Willow tries to smooth things over, make everything all right, the way Joyce used to do.

All these events are feeding Buffy's delusion. She begins to hallucinate. This time the mental hospital is more than just a flash. Willow, who always solved the tricky problems, is cast as Mom. Xander, who's not very powerful but is a comfortador, is cast as the absent, exit-king Dad. It makes a certain amount of sense: Willow and Xander have, in a sense, given birth to Buffy this season (along with Anya and Tara, who aren't present in the cemetery or in the delusion). They raised her from her grave. In a way, Buffy is a vampire - dead, buried, and magically alive again. It's another reason why she's so terrified of her attraction to Spike. She has become a variation of what he is, like him; she's a dead thing.

So who is the third major player in Buffy's hallucination --the psychiatrist - the doctor? Who else but Spike.

Buffy's delusional world is like a reverse photographic negative of the cemetery. It's light where the cemetery is dark. A big bed, with arm and leg restraints clearly visible, dominates the room where Buffy is essentially a prisoner. It's a stark, orderly room that's not at all like her real life home, where dishes are piled in the sink, there's always laundry to do, and stains on her coat that won't come out. Is the bed a reminder of Spike's bed, Spike's bondage gear? The doctor has her imprisoned there, dead to the world for six years in what might as well be a crypt. But she's seeing it as a benign imprisonment, with a doctor who wants to help her, a doctor who is trying to fix her life, which is exactly what Buffy expected Spike to do for her in Life Serial when he took her to the demon bar.

As her hallucination begins, the doctor is leaning over her. "Buffy, can you hear me?" (Note: this sounds like a reference to Ken Russell's version of The Who's Tommy, the psychosomatically deaf, dumb and blind boy, who creates an messianic world for himself. Warren says the demon poison has "got her tripping like a Ken Russell film festival.")

The doctor a reverse photographic image of Spike - he's a black male in a white coat, where Spike is a white man in a black coat. Spike, in the cemetery scene holds a lit cigarette in his fingers. The doctor, in the last scene in particular, holds a similarly shaped penlight, burning as he shines it into Buffy's eyes.

But the Spike/Doctor parallels are more than reverse visual images. It's the psychiatrist who seems to know all the details about her, just as Spike is the one who really knows Buffy. He's her guide, as Spike has been Buffy's guide/watcher/shrink all season as she's struggled to adjust to living in her body again. The psychiatrist is the one who supposedly tells her the truth about what she has to do to get well (just as Spike does in the real world).

"Do you know where you are, Buffy?" The doctor asks.
Buffy: "Sunnydale."
The Doctor: "No. None of that's real. None of it. You're in a mental

Spike has told Buffy many times that Sunnydale isn't her real world (especially the "Sunny" part!). "That's not your world," he tells her in Dead Things. Spike has also told her she's crazy. In Older and Far Away, he declared that she was insane.

Delusion and reality continue to play into one another. Briefly, we flip back to the cemetery in Sunnydale, where Willow and Xander rush to Buffy's side. Then we return to the mental hospital. The doctor gives instructions to Joyce and Hank. Back in the cemetery, Spike gives instructions. Mom and Dad talk to Buffy. Willow and Xander take charge. "We'll take care of her," Xander says to Spike. "Come on, Xander," says Willow. "Help me get her home."

Compare the above dialogue with the lines later attributed to Joyce in the delusional world: "You're our little girl, Buffy," Joyce says, "Mom and Dad just want to take you home and take care of you."

"Put a little ice on the back of her neck," says Dr. Spike as they leave, offering first aid suggestions.

The Spike/doctor identification isn't a perfect match; there's also a touch of Giles in the psychiatrist. In a later scene, the doctor has analyzed his charge's supposed illness, describing it to her "parents" in Giles-like terms. But there continue to be echoes: "She believes she's some type of hero," the Doctor says. "Stop with the bloody hero trip," says Spike.

And Spike, of course, is on one level, the stand-in for Giles. The very night that her Watcher took a plane out of Sunnydale, Buffy was in Spike's arms, kissing him passionately in the Bronze. And in Restless, Spike was training to be a Watcher; in Tabula Rasa, he and Giles believed themselves to be father and son.

Buffy's Bedroom

Spike is once again the catalyst for the crucial scene that takes place in Buffy's bedroom after the demon has been captured and the antidote brewed. Again, Buffy's poisoned mind takes the material from her confrontation with Spike and inserts it into her delusional world. But as her delusions have advanced, her "re-writing" of Sunnydale has become more twisted. She doesn't like what she's hearing in the real world, so she changes it in her delusional world to something more palatable.

Spike at her bedroom door, looking gorgeous, sexy as hell - oh the pain and temptation of it for Buffy. When was he last there? This was the one place she has never allowed him to enter as her lover.

"You need to leave me alone. You're not part of my life," Buffy tells him as he hovers on the threshold to her bedroom. And, sure enough, he is unable to enter because sunshine from the window blocks his way and drives him back. The barrier between them - the closed door to his tomb in Dead Things - still remains.

But it's all such crap! He's just fought and captured a demon for her with Xander, who doesn't approve of him, but sympathizes with his Buffy-obsession. Mom-Willow, bringing sick Buffy the hot mug of antidote, trust Spike enough to leave him alone with her, in Buffy's bedroom; Willow treats him like a trusted member of the family. It's ridiculous that Buffy can't tell them about her relationship with Spike, and he's beginning to get very pissed off about it.

Spike knows the importance to Buffy of her friends - it's something he's known since he first met her in School Hard. They have always come between him and Buffy - first when he was trying to kill her; now when he's trying to love her. It's one of the few areas where he has been in denial this year (Spike isn't usually a denial-type guy). He has crystallized it all for Buffy in Dead Things: "You try to be with them, but you always end up in the dark with me. What would they think of you if they found out all the things you've done? If they knew who you really were? Look at them. That's not your world. You belong in the shadows with me."

Those words of his terrified her and fed into her core fear - not just that she's "seeing" a vampire, but that if her friends look too closely at her, they may see a vampire too. The Slayer was always a killer. Now she's a dead and climbed out of her grave killer, too.

Spike, though, is coming out of his denial. Maybe he was wrong about where Buffy belongs. "You were right," he tells her. Then Dr. William goes on to diagnose her problem and tell her what she needs to do to solve it. He's pretty accurate, too, except that he still doesn't fathom the sheer terror Buffy feels at the possibility of being cast out by her friends.

What Buffy hears in this scene from Spike is repeated shortly thereafter by the doctor, but in a very twisted fashion. The basic ideas are similar, but her mind alters and shapes them into something frighteningly different:

Spike: "I hope you don't think this antidote's gonna rid you of that nasty martyrdom. You're addicted to the misery." (Spike realizes that the problem goes deeper than the demon's poison).

The doctor: "You have to start ridding your mind of those things that support your hallucinations." (The doctor suggests a simpler solution).

Spike: "You can't help yourself."

The doctor: "It's not gonna be easy, Buffy."

Spike: "It's why you won't tell your pals about us. Might actually have to be happy if you did. They'd either understand and help you- God forbid- or drive you out where you can finally be at peace in the dark. With me. Either way, you'd be better off for it, but you're too twisted for that."

And he's right; right now she is too twisted. Spike is offering Buffy a choice - be honest, tell your friends and take the risk of what will happen - either you end up with them or you end up with me. Just bloody decide! But Buffy can't take the risk of making that choice. All she allows herself to remember is that Spike, like the doctor, has in the past tried to separate her from her friends.

The doctor: You understand? There are things in that world that you cling to. For your delusion, they're safe holds, but for your mind they're traps. We have to break those down. Last summer, when you had a momentary awakening, it was (your friends) that pulled you back in."

And there it is -- her rage over being jerked her out of whatever peaceful, happy dimension she was in. She hasn't forgiven her friends for that. And, as Spike declared in Afterlife, there are always consequences. Always.

"They're not really your friends, Buffy." Mom-delusion puts in. "They're just tricks keeping you from getting healthy."

What Spike, impatient, but still being reasonable, said in the real world was this: "Let yourself live already, and stop with the bloody hero trip for a sec. We'd all be the better for it."

In the delusional world, the doctor is also telling her to stop with the hero trip, but the consequences of that will totally different in the real world, and no one will be the better for it.

In Buffy's bedroom, Spike takes things one step farther. He delivers his ultimatum: "You either tell your friends about us, or I will."

No, no. If they know what she really is, as Spike convinced her in Dead Things, her friends will turn on her. And she needs their love and acceptance SO much.

She can't tell them. She can't allow him to tell them. Buffy's been abandoned too often. Her father. Angel. Parker. Riley. Her mother. Giles. She is terrified that her relationship with Spike will mean she loses Willow and Xander, too. Maybe even Dawn, for whom she gave her life.

Buffy can't live in a world where her best friends - all she has left - reject her. So she dumps the antidote and returns to her delusional world, running back inside to the apparently loving, accepting parents. But, ironically, they pull the same stunt all over again: The parents judge her just as they did six years ago. They make her meet a condition before she can be free, before they will, as they promised, always be there for her. She must change. "I--I wanna go home with you and Dad."

Joyce: "I know, Buffy. But first you've gotta get better."

Delusional mom and dad threaten to reject her too, unless she does something to prove herself "healthy." Unless she kills her friends.

No wonder she goes off the deep end (into the basement). Her poisoned brain is telling her that in order to avoid being rejected by her friends, she must kill them.

The Demon in the Basement

The last few scenes of Normal Again are truly chilling. Buffy using all her Slayer strength to stalk and overpower the people she loves is a perversion of everything we've always believed about Buffy. She has sunk to some low points this year (beating Spike, for example), but this is the worst.

It is positive, though, that even without the antidote, Buffy manages to snap out of her delusional world in time to save her friends, after all. I think it's significant that it's the arrival of the one person who knows the truth about Buffy and Spike - Tara - that pushes Buffy to her realization that her delusions are false. Tara did not reject her. Tara has reassured her that she is not "wrong." Tara, the mature, alternate mother figure is the one person Buffy has been able to confess to.

The terrified Buffy under the stairs attacks Tara by grabbing her foot and sending her tumbling down into the basement, but Tara has already acted to free the Scoobies. As her spell releases their bonds, Buffy's delusional world begins to break up, too.

The point where she finally breaks through is when mom-delusion tells her "Your Dad and I, we have all the faith in the world in you. We'll always be with you. We'll always be here for you." Only in a regressed, infantile world are mom and dad always there to take care of you; grown ups have to deal with loss and learn to live independent lives. But, in another sense, Buffy carries her parents (Joyce in particular) inside her, and she sees to realize this. Joyce's speech here, and Buffy's increasing clarity as she takes it in, represent her integration of the internal voice of her parents with her real, adult self.

Joyce: "I know the world feels like a hard place sometimes, but you've got people who love you." That's not just her mother speaking - Buffy herself has spoken very similar words to Dawn. Joyce: "You've got a world of strength in your heart. I know you do. You just have to find it again. Believe in yourself." This is true, and Buffy knows it. She is, after all, speaking to herself. As she finally begins to believe in herself again, she no longer needs her mother, or her delusions. She gives up the "heaven" of being safe in her parents' arms and returns to the harsh but real world of Sunnydale, where demons exist and she is needed to battle them.

Speaking of demons, Spike isn't in the climactic basement scene. Or is he? The second time I watched the moment when Buffy snaps out of it and fights the demon I had an eerie feeling of deja vu. It almost looked as if she was fighting Spike. If you ignored the disgustingly ugly head, the demon was dressed like Spike in this episode. Black shirt, black jeans, boots, and a long, floppy, black leathery garment.

Earlier in the episode, Buffy says, "I was checking houses on that list you gave me and looking for Warren and his pals, and then, bam! Some kind of gross, waxy demon-thing poked me."

Xander, with his subconscious knowledge and sex always on the brain, chimes in: And when you say 'poke-'"

"In the arm." Buffy clarifies. "It stung me or something, and then I was like-- No. It wasn't 'like.' I was in an institution."

Hmm, Buffy's crazy because she's "seeing" a vampire. And, what a coincidence -- it's because Buffy has been, er, poked by a demon's, uh, spike, that she becomes crazy in the first place.

Spike remains a very confusing figure for Buffy. On the one hand, he's an authority figure ("you were going to fix my life!"). He loves her with all the tolerance of a very patient parent, yet he's also her sex slave. He's the Vampire Slayer's natural enemy and yet he's her ally in the fight against demons, her best defender, and the loyal lieutenant who always has her back.

He's everywhere. Just as Buffy was for him in Out of my Mind right before he realized he loved her (and right after he'd tried unsuccessfully to kill her): "You don't understand. She's everywhere. She's haunting me, Harmony. This has got to end."

Spike has threatened to expose Buffy for what she really is. He's done it because his patience and tolerance are finally beginning to fray. While out demon hunting with Xander, Spike's anger breaks through:

Spike: "So, she's having the wiggings, is she? Thinks none of us are real. Bloody self-centered, if you ask me. On the other hand, it might explain some things-- this all being in that twisted brain of hers. Yeah. Thinks up some chip in my head. Make me soft, fall in love with her, then turn me into her soddin' sex slave."

He's running his own fantasy here. What if there were no chip in his head? What if he were the Big Bad again? And the ultimate: What if he didn't love her? (Don't you think I've tried not to?" he demanded in the alley in Dead Things). What if he were free of his sexual obsession with her?

Spike is thinking the previously unthinkable.

The demon in the basement has been chained there by Spike himself. And Spike has chained himself up where Buffy is concerned. His chip does not fire when he's with her. What if he were unchained? He could hurt her. He could bite her. He could rape her. He could kill her. Buffy is quick and strong, but Spike is very nearly a physical a match for her. He's bested her in several previous battles, only to have someone or something save her neck at the last minute (School Hard, Out of My Mind, Halloween). And now that she's dumped him, he's been rejected again. Spike hates rejection almost as much as Buffy does.

When the demon who dresses like Spike is chained up and poked with a barbecue fork by Willow, its "spike" comes out and is broken off and put in a bottle. Emasculated much?

While still deep in her delusion, Buffy herself, crazy Buffy, unchains the demon. Has she also symbolically unchained the real Spike? Or is she the demon herself? Like Spike, she has clawed her way out of her grave and now, with her Slayer/Destroyer impulses unchained, she is attacking her friends. The demon's power is in its hand, and Buffy is the hand, the manus, the physical manifestation of the Slayer energy.

In one sense, Spike has become her shadow self.

When Buffy finally decides to save her friends and take on the demon, she kills it the way she'd kill a vampire - she thrusts her arm into its chest in the region of the heart. Her hand - that deadly hand again - does the killing. I can't help finding this an ominous development for the Buffy/Spike relationship. She tears out his heart? She tears out her own heart? The death of love? She kills Spike? She kills the vampire part of Spike? She kills her own inner demon, the vampire part of herself? How will it all shake down?

There is a bright spot. We learned from Willow that the demon's "pokey stinger carries an antidote to its own poison." The very thing that made Buffy crazy, that poisoned her, is also the thing that can heal her. That darn spikey thing that Willow broke off and put in a bottle also represents the cure. What this may say about where ME is going with the Buffy/Spike relationship remains rather murky.

In the end, Buffy deals with Mom and Dad in her delusional world, but she still doesn't deal with Spike. In the final scene in the hospital, we're in her head, seeing the doctor and his flashlight poking at her (to which she does not react). The Doctor: "I'm sorry. There's no reaction at all. I'm afraid we've lost her." Has Spike lost Buffy for good now? Has she lost him? Will he lose himself?

Buffy has integrated her parents, but integrating her lover/mentor/watcher/friend/enemy is going to be a helluva lot more difficult, not only from her point of view, but also from his.


[> Do yourself a favor and read the above post; q for linda -- Anne, 04:16:18 03/15/02 Fri

Linda -- do you still have that analysis of Dead Things? If you do, could you send me a copy? I'm providing my email address.

Saw this on C&S board and I'm glad you brought it here.

[> [> I concur with Anne. A must read -- Rahael, 05:16:05 03/15/02 Fri

Hey, don't just send your analysis of DT to Anne! Post it here!!

[> [> [> Yeah wanna see that DT analysis too, this NA one is *great* ! -- Ete, 07:35:18 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> Re: q for linda -- lindabarlow, 21:01:16 03/15/02 Fri

Thanks, Anne. I'll see if I can dig out the Dead Things essay. When I wrote it, I was more positive about the Buffy/Spike relationship than I am now. It is posted at:

[> Amazing! -- ponygirl, 05:29:52 03/15/02 Fri

[> Re: The Doctor, The Demon and Buffy's Twisted Mind: Normal Again (NA spoilers, long) -- Nos, 05:56:07 03/15/02 Fri

Absoulutely amazing. Even though I was digging for for all this, I totally failed to notice it. Thanks so much for opening my eyes! Excellant.

[> Really excellent -- Lilac, 05:56:10 03/15/02 Fri

[> Wonderful, wonderful post!! I'm a Linda Barlow Fan -- truelove, 05:56:45 03/15/02 Fri

I loved this post and the one previous "Dead Things" as well. I agree -- a must read --
and there's one further down on Willow -- great writings.
You people astound me.

[> Great Post!! another reason to get busted reading at work! -- neaux, 06:00:26 03/15/02 Fri

[> and another thing... killing the demon -- ponygirl, 06:24:22 03/15/02 Fri

Been digesting your marvellous post for a bit Linda and I do have one comment to add. You write:

"When Buffy finally decides to save her friends and take on the demon, she kills it the way she'd kill a vampire - she thrusts her arm into its chest in the region of the heart. Her hand - that deadly hand again - does the killing. I can't help finding this an ominous development for the Buffy/Spike relationship. She tears out his heart? She tears out her own heart? The death of love? She kills Spike? She kills the vampire part of Spike? She kills her own inner demon, the vampire part of herself? How will it all shake down?"

Buffy's method of killing, pretty unusual for her in that involved no weapons, seemed far more positive to me. She thrusts her hand into the demon's chest yes, but she does not pull out its heart, or punch through it as Spike did to the last hallucination-causing demon we've seen in Dead things. While Buffy's act is violent, she is in a sense, only touching the monster's heart. And when she pulls out her hand it is covered not in red blood, or oddly coloured demon slime, but a clear goo. Birth connotations? Possibly. Sexual? Definitely. But it seems to point towards a more positive resolution.

[> [> Re: and another thing... killing the demon -- Simone, 06:35:39 03/15/02 Fri

Good point, ponygirl! Also, the few bars of music playing as she thrusts her hand into the demon's chest are the same ones as in "Smashed", just before the violent fight turns distinctly sexual. Hmmm...

[> [> Eeek! I just read your post below... -- Simone, 06:53:11 03/15/02 Fri

... and found that the musical connection had already been noted. Just ignore me.

[> [> Ooo. You're onto something -- Ishkabibble, 09:13:47 03/15/02 Fri

Your observation: "And when she pulls out her hand it is covered not in red blood, or oddly coloured demon slime, but a clear goo. Birth connotations? Possibly. Sexual? Definitely. But it seems to point towards a more positive resolution."

C-sections are performed to deliver something beautiful (life? love? hope?) that is having difficulty entering into the world in the normal manner. If Buffy is performing a c-section (mentioned in HB), she's none too gentle about it. Which echos the whole B/S hasn't been too gentle and is having a hella of a hard time coming into viability.

[> [> [> Great point! -- Rahael, 09:25:50 03/15/02 Fri

I think you've put your finger on the C-Section thing.

For isn't Buffy's rebirth in Bargaining a C-Section? She isn't born from her mother, she is cut out of the belly of the earth. The Osiris Jar is broken.

I'm just amazed at how many complex layers there is to this thing.

[> [> [> [> Wait. Playing my own devil's advocate -- Ishkabibble, 12:39:24 03/15/02 Fri

Is this allowed here...playing devil's advocate to one's self? I feel kind of stupid arguing against my own analysis. But I don't ever want to reach the point where I assume I'm always right, so I sometimes question myself.

Sometimes c-sections are performed because something happened in utero that rendered the pregnancy (outcome) abnormal. Failure to perform a c-section in such instances can put the life of the mother at risk of dying, or at least put the mother through months of fruitless gestation (aka, a continued relationship in a dangerous and unhealthy situation).

So, (back to the c-section analogy) Buffy could have been "delivering" the coup de grace to her relationship with the monster (aka, Spike).

Thoughts from anybody else? Darby?

By-the-way, we do realize that we are suggesting that Spike (the monster) is the one who is gestating, right? ME and the ultimate gender switch?

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Wait. Playing my own devil's advocate -- lindabarlow, 20:58:06 03/15/02 Fri

I wondered too about the point ponygirl raised and the goop on Buffy's hand when she pulled her hand out of the demon's chest. I like everyone's ideas on this -- I sure didn't have any speculation on it that seemed to make sense.

I do feel, though, that Buffy is through with Spike, at least for now. I was hoping that wouldn't be true, but I think that's one of the things we're seeing in Normal Again.

Thanks for all the great comments!


[> [> Interesting, ponygirl. NA does seem positive overall. -- Ixchel, 09:36:52 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> Perhaps Buffy now accepts her female power? -- Carolined, 09:48:09 03/15/02 Fri

Perhaps it's symbolic of Buffy finally reaching deep down and accepting her sexuality and female power - all the stuff she's been repressing the hell out of. That's why I think that she has reached the bottom, looked her shadow in the face and now will start integrating her shadow side into a fuller expression of her identity (I hope).

[> [> Re: Killing the demon--killing the "false" Spike? -- Dyna, 10:46:28 03/15/02 Fri

"When Buffy finally decides to save her friends and take on the demon, she kills it the way she'd kill a vampire - she thrusts her arm into its chest in the region of the heart. Her hand - that deadly hand again - does the killing. I can't help finding this an ominous development for the Buffy/Spike relationship."- Linda

I agree with those who have offered reasons why Buffy's killing of the demon doesn't seem ominous, and I love Ishkabibble's C-section suggestion! At the time I really noticed the oddity of that detail-- that Buffy withdraws her hand wet with clear, viscous fluid, rather than the demon blood or gore we'd expect. A couple of other thoughts:

Linda also noted that the demon was dressed like Spike, and this detail also seemed to support an ominous reading of the conclusion. However, you could also look at this as another support for the idea that Buffy is doing something positive by destroying this demon who is clothed like Spike but *is not Spike.* All season Buffy has been pulled apart by her attraction to the "real" Spike-- the one she knows, who knows her, who understands her world and her role in it and challenges her with the truth about herself--and in response, has continually tried to deny his reality, to stuff him back into the role of "thing." Other posters have already made a lot of great points about how the monster relates to Spike--the clothes, the spike, the "poking," being chained up (as Spike feels "chained" by his love for Buffy). However, unlike the monster, Spike won't stay in the basement--he can come upstairs, into her room, and confront her with a dose of reality that the monster, whose speech consists of inarticulate grunting, cannot do. (Another interesting point of comparison between Spike and the monster! The guy Buffy can never get to "shut up," versus the unspeaking monster! Buffy does seem to believe her life would be easier if she could just get Spike to stop talking, doesn't she?)

One way to look at the monster is not as a stand-in for the real-life Spike, but a manifestation of the "false" Spike that Buffy has created in her mind in order to defend herself against her attraction to the real one. ("Don't think about the evil bloodsucking fiend! Don't think about the evil bloodsucking fiend!") By killing this "false" image of Spike, has Buffy taken a step in the direction of beginning to accept the real Spike? That would seem to be consistent with the sense at the end of the episode that Buffy has reached some kind of turning point in the maze of denial that's been trapping her this season.

[> [> [> Thanks. -- Ishkabibble, 10:56:57 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> [> that was great! I haven't gotten a thing done today with all the great posts -- ponygirl, 11:51:45 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> [> [> Just today? I haven't gotten anything done since Tues. at 9 p.m. -- Sophist, 12:35:38 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> [> [> [> Maybe 5 weeks of reruns is an attempt to improve the economy - no Buffy, must work! -- ponygirl, 12:52:16 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> [> Great thought -- Kevin, 12:47:20 03/15/02 Fri

"Killing the false image..." I like that.

[> [> [> Dyna, wonderful post! -- Ixchel, 12:59:10 03/15/02 Fri

I really didn't get an ominous feel about Buffy/Spike from the demon's death as suggested by lindabarlow's excellent post. Kind of the opposite really.

I think your post (and the great ones above it) clarified everything for me beautifully, thank you.


[> Excellent post! -- Caroline, 06:50:57 03/15/02 Fri

I completely agree that Buffy and Spike are doing a lot of cross-projection here - they each represent each other's shadow (well, in Spike's case he's already the shadow so Buffy really represents his light). Buffy has been fighting her feelings for Spike for a while now, fighting the consequences of the projection. In this episode, I felt that she finally reached the psychological bottom that we all have been expecting - she literally lost her marbles. And she was pushed into it by Spike, who was trying to make the unconscious projections conscious. When that happens, the unconscious promptings that are leading to her compulsion towards Spike will lose its power and then, IMO, it will be her conscious choice about who and what she wants in her life. Her friends will remain important to her but because her personality is more integrated, she won't rely on their judgements of her as much. Spike may remain important to her but it will then be her choice as to his status in her life. Talk about growing up.

[> [> P.S. This work thing is really getting in the way of my enjoyment of this board! -- Caroline, 06:53:20 03/15/02 Fri

[> All work and no slay makes Buffy a dull girl. (Spoilers for NA) -- mundusmundi, 07:58:25 03/15/02 Fri

While I still think Spike's role in NA (and the entire series in general) is meant to be a little more ambiguous, this is a magnificent analysis. It's also reminded me of another Shining reference a few eps ago, in "Gone," when InvisiBuffy torments the woman from childcare services or whatever it was called.

And now, I'm going to have to watch "Normal Again" one more time.

[> Beautiful linda. May I suggest Tillow's wonderful post... -- Ixchel, 08:57:40 03/15/02 Fri

from a few days ago (I'm sorry I don't remember the name, but it's probably on page 5 of the Archives) that has an interesting point regarding projection and Spike's Bronze speech in DT.


[> [> Thanks Ixchel! Part 1 is called Buffy's Light. -- Tillow, 11:20:12 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> [> You're welcome. Thank you for that incredible post! -- Ixchel, 14:03:11 03/15/02 Fri

[> What a brilliant analysis...Guys, if you haven't read this, you MUST. -- Rob, 09:04:19 03/15/02 Fri

I loved this essay, Linda. Truly.

I only have two disagreements with your analysis, and they're very minor.

The first is that I liked the way the episode ended. I thought that last shot was a great mindbender, and kept the audience guessing. I don't think it was a "cheap trick." Because one possibly can read the episode two ways. For what it's worth, I completely agree with your argument all the way. You have pinned down exactly what each character in the asylum represented to Buffy brilliantly, and made a perfect argument for the asylum being a hallucination. I would add to your part about Joyce's final speech that it, in many ways, echoes Buffy's final speech to Dawn in "The Gift." Buffy is, therefore, in her hallucination, casting her mother in the role of giving her the same advice she previously gave to Dawn. It's as if she knows this is good advice all along, but cannot fully accept it until she gets the ultimate acceptance--similar words coming from her mother's lips.

My second disagreement is not so much a disagreement, but a comment that I'm not sure Buffy ever was sent to a clinic. That doesn't jibe well with Joyce having been so shocked in "Becoming II" when Buffy told her she was a slayer. Joyce was (a) very surprised and (b) didn't say anything like, "do we have to deal with this again?" Nothing. I think the clinic memory was also part of Buffy's delusions. But whether it is true or not, it doesn't affect your argument really.

Thank you so much for posting this here. I've already printed out your essay and have pointed a number of people to it.

And I would like to ask you, along with some other people who've already asked this, to please post your "Dead Things" essay here as well. I'd love to read what you wrote about that episode.


[> [> I agree completely about the last shot... -- Ixchel, 10:19:27 03/15/02 Fri

It was disturbing enough to add that little frisson to the end of an excellent episode.

Regarding the clinic stay, at first I found it incongruous with previous events (as you point out), but after some thought (and reference to RL experience and other posters' convincing points about familial denial) I believe it explains many things and does "fit". That Joyce was so surprised in B2 could now be interpreted as shock that Buffy's delusions are frighteningly real (vampires). Her never referencing the clinic stay afterwards (that we saw) could be further denial (how could Joyce have locked up her daughter for speaking the truth?). Also, perhaps too much guilt for her to bear would have been dredged up by excavating this after her "don't think about coming back" speech at the end of B2 and her being already shaken by the violent alteration of her worldview. So it does work for me, especially by explaining a lot about Buffy (JMHO, of course).


[> [> [> That does make sense, Ixchel...Gotta rewatch "Becoming II" to fully decide for myself. -- Rob, 10:26:21 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> [> [> From the official shooting script for "Becoming II"... -- Rob, 10:38:06 03/15/02 Fri

Well, I'm not sure how
I feel about this. . .

Buffy is almost at the porch --

(to Spike)
You think she's buying it?

-- when a VAMPIRE leaps from the bushes. It's one of Angel's henchmen, and he blows past the two of them --

-- right into Joyce. She gets a good look at his face and she yelps with fear. He roars.

Buffy grabs him before he can untangle himself from Joyce. She hurls him toward Spike, who decks him solidly, knocks him back to Buffy who kicks him, whips out a stake and dusts him.

Joyce is completely wide eyed.

Spike goes up to Buffy, casually looking at the spot where the vampire was.

One of Angel's boys.

Must have been watching me.
Or you.

He won't get the chance to tattle on us now.

Buffy. . . what's going on?

Buffy goes to her mom, takes a deep breath.

Mom. . . I'm a vampire slayer.

Off Joyce's reaction --


Joyce sits in the living room with Spike. They both are silent and uncomfortable, like it's Sunday and he's come a' courtin'. Joyce has a glass of bourbon in her hands, which shakes only slightly.


Another awkward beat. Joyce is pretty much just shell-shocked into politeness. After a bit:

Um, have we met?

You hit me with an axe one time.
(imitating her)
"Get the Hell away from my daughter!". . .

Oh. So. . . do you live here in town?

Before Spike can even reply to this inane comment, Buffy enters. He and Joyce rise.

Is Willow all right?

She's fine.
(to Spike)
Talk to me. What's the deal?

Simple. I help you kill Angel,
you let me and Dru skip town.

Angel? Your boyfriend?

Forget about Drusilla. She doesn't walk.

There's no deal without Dru!

She killed Kendra.

(genuinely proud)
Dru bagged a slayer? She didn't
tell me! Good for her!
(off Buffy's look)
Well, not from your perspective,
I suppose. . .

I can't believe I invited you in my house.

(to Buffy)
So you didn't kill that girl?

Of course not!

Did she explode like those men outside?

She was a slayer, Mom.

Like what you are?

(to Buffy)
Look, this deal works one way only.
Full stop. Me and Dru for Angel.

Honey, are you sure you're a slayer?

I'll take her out of the country.
You'll never hear from us again,
I bloody well hope.

All right. Get back to the mansion.
Make sure Giles is all right.

I mean, have you tried not being a slayer?

Mom. . .
(to Spike)
Be ready to back me up when I make my move.


If Giles dies, she dies.

He glares at her, then exits.

It's 'cause you didn't have a strong
father figure, isn't it? Isn't it?

It's just fate, Mom. I'm the Slayer.
Accept it.

We should call the police.

We're not calling the police.

Well, now that we know that you're innocent. . .

What, did you think I was guilty?
Feeling the love in this room, jeez.

I didn't think that. . .
I just, now we have proof.

We have my word, Mom. Not proof.

Joyce crosses into --


-- Buffy following.

I'm sure they'll understand --

You get them involved,
you'll get them killed.

You wouldn't hurt them, honey.

Mom, I'm a slayer, not a postal worker.
The cops just can't handle demons.
I have to do it.

Do what?

I'm gonna need Kendra's sword.

Sword? Buffy, what's happening?

Just have another drink, okay?

Don't you talk to me like that!

She hurls her glass to the floor, shattering it.

You can't just drop something like
this on me and pretend it's nothing!

I'm sorry, I don't have time --

No! I'm tired of "I don't have time"
and "You wouldn't understand." I am
your mother and you are going to make
time to explain yourself.

Buffy is a little cowed, though she still carries her impatient undertone.

I told you. I'm a vampire slayer.

Well, I don't accept that!

Open your eyes, Mom! What do you
think has been going on for the last
two years? The fights, the weird occurrences -
how many times have you washed blood
out of my clothes, you still haven't figured it out?

Well, it stops now.

It doesn't stop! Do you think I chose
to be like this? Do you know how lonely
it is? How dangerous? I would love to be
upstairs watching TV or gossiping about
boys or god, even studying. But I have to
save the world. Again.

No. This is insane. You need help.

I'm not crazy, Mom! What I need
is for you to chill. I'll be back.

I'm not letting you out of this house.

You can't stop me.

She tries to leave and Joyce grabs her arm -- Buffy flings her hand off -- Joyce tries to grab her again and Buffy pushes her hard against the wall. Goes to the door.

You walk out of this house,
don't even think about coming back.

A beat. Buffy leaves.


OK, I agree, Ixchel...It does make sense. The dialogue could be read, subtextually, that Buffy may have told Joyce before, but she repressed it. The first scene ends on Joyce's shocked face when Buffy tells her she's the slayer. Her face is shocked because she has just seen her slay a vampire. That face could be interpreted as being, "She was telling the truth..."

Another very meaningful line is when Joyce says " we have proof." She was referring, ostensibly to the fact that Buffy was not Kendra's murderer, but it could subtextually be about finally having proof that Buffy was telling the truth all along.

After starting to go along with Buffy's words, she stops herself for a second, and says, "No. This is insane. You need help." This could be her returning to her original stance, which was sending Buffy to the clinic. But Buffy reassures her that she doesn't need help. That this is her life. One she didn't choose, but one that must be accepted.

Thanks for your points, Ixchel...It really opened my eyes on this issue.


[> [> [> [> [> Thanks for posting the scene. -- Ixchel, 13:25:23 03/15/02 Fri

This is close to how I remembered it, but I had forgotten the "insane" part of Joyce's speech (fuzzy memory). It fairly jumps out with implications now after seeing NA.

You're welcome, but my ideas were greatly influenced by the wonderful posts making similar statements. So I can't really take credit.


[> [> [> [> [> [> You're welcome! -- Rob, 15:03:35 03/15/02 Fri

And, whether the ideas were yours or not, thanks for pointing it out to me. I hadn't thought to actually read over the scene before that!


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: You're welcome! -- lindabarlow, 21:15:14 03/15/02 Fri

Thanks for the comments, Rob, and thanks for posting that scene from Becoming Part 2.

I agree that a very interesting case can be made for the asylum-verse being the real one, and that the placement of that final scene of NA is probably necessary to making that case. I admit that this evening, as I was watching the FX reruns, I did have the thought every now and then that "this is all Buffy's grand delusion."

BTW, this is such an intelligent and polite board :) I very much appreciate the warm welcome.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: You're welcome! -- Rob, 22:10:45 03/15/02 Fri

"BTW, this is such an intelligent and polite board :) I very much appreciate the warm welcome."

Yes, that's what attracted me to this board in the first place, and the reason I stayed here! It's the first board I posted at that I didn't get attacked by at least one other member. We're all real nice here. Everybody respects each other's opinions, whether they agree or not. Hope you keep coming back...and post that "Dead Things" essay!


[> [> [> [> [> Re: From the official shooting script for "Becoming II"... -- O'Cailleagh, 18:32:21 03/15/02 Fri

"Buffy- (impatiently) Just have another drink okay?
Joyce- Don't you talk to me like that! (throws her glass to the floor, shattering it.)

For me, this exchange is also significant as it points to Joyce's earlier drinking problem, suggested in the movie. This puts her in the position of a less than responsible parent figure...another reason to repress having Buffy commited?

[> Holy Smokin' KABOOM! -- Tillow, 11:15:56 03/15/02 Fri

If her friends, who are now her family, find out that she is "seeing" a vampire, they, like her parents six years ago, will reject her.

This time the mental hospital is more than just a flash. Willow, who always solved the tricky problems, is cast as Mom. Xander, who's not very powerful but is a comfortador, is cast as the absent, exit-king Dad. It makes a certain amount of sense: Willow
and Xander have, in a sense, given birth to Buffy this season.

Love the giving birth analogy and the exit king/absentee father bit. LOVE it!

Is the bed a reminder of Spike's bed, Spike's bondage gear?

Interesting! Especially the question.... "Do you trust me?" and the answer... "Never." with the inevitable scene later with Tara showing that she at least trusts him with her body if not her heart/mind. Now she must choose between the two Doctor figures... which to believe? Which to trust? Which truth to ascribe to? Spike, who has always stood for the beacon of truth on the show. "I can't lie to myself, or Spike, for some reason." Or the medical Dr., conventional, normal, androcentric wisdom.

The doctor: You understand? There are things in that world that you cling to. For your delusion, they're safe
holds, but for your mind they're traps. We have to break those down. Last summer, when you had a momentary
awakening, it was (your friends) that pulled you back in."

And there it is -- her rage over being jerked her out of whatever peaceful, happy dimension she was in. She hasn't
forgiven her friends for that. And, as Spike declared in Afterlife, there are always consequences. Always.

"They're not really your friends, Buffy." Mom-delusion puts in.

WOW! I hadn't had time to fully look into this and now, I don't think I have to. WOW! When you really look at this as it is, a world Buffy has created where all the characters are facets of her own inner monologue... it's so easy to see (when someone else points it out, of course.) :) "They're not really your friends..." Chilling.

I think it's significant that it's the arrival of the one person who knows the truth about Buffy and Spike - Tara - that pushes Buffy to her realization that her delusions are false. Tara did not reject her. Tara has reassured her that she is not "wrong." Tara, the mature, alternate mother figure is the one person Buffy has been able to confess to.

Beautiful... And you know.. .in the musical.. Giles says... She needs backup and who goes to her... Tara, Anya. I wonder if we will see Anya play some pivotal role in her 'backup' with the Spike guilt. After all, Anya and Spike are similar characters, dissimilar only in that Anya has found acceptance with the stamp on her human greencard and Spike is still a thing to be shunned.

The only other thing I wanted to say was that I saw the last scene with the demon as having more to do with "Primeval" than ripping out a vamps heart. I think it was more about that sentence. "You can not begin to grasp the source of our power."

I'm sure much of this has been addressed but I'm at work and I haven't been able to read through the responses. I just HAD to contribute. Such a powerful, insightful essay!

[> Welcome, Linda--a very thought-provoking post. -- Wisewoman, 11:37:23 03/15/02 Fri

Thanks so much for posting your analysis here. It's added a lot to our discussion of Normal Again.

I don't want to "beat a dead horse" but for me the problem remains: every point that illustrates the "truth" of one reality and the "falsity" of the other can be turned on its head.

Consider the circumstances of Buffy arriving in Sunnydale, after Joyce and Hank have divorced. If at that point Buffy was beginning to experience the first symptoms of schizophrenia it would definitely cause a strain on Summers' family relationships. Becoming ill and fearing to be the cause of discord between her parents would be inextricably linked in her disordered mind. If the "move" to Sunnydale corresponded with her first psychotic break and hospitalization, the creation of Xander and Willow as surrogate parents makes a great deal of sense. I can't help remembering the impact of Buffy's nightmare conversation with Hank, when he informs her that the divorce was indeed her fault.

I'm not going to painstakingly dissect six years worth of episodes, but everything that Buffy's been through can be re-interpreted in the light of the Asylum reality. Major (and minor) characters can be seen to represent the myriad doctors, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, nurses, orderlies, fellow patients, etc. that she has encountered over the years. Sunnydale represents the asylum itself. I'd place the fellow patients in the role of anonymous vampires and demons, the kind that Buffy routinely stalks and stakes. Major psychiatric specialists have been cast as season-long "Big Bads." Perhaps Giles was representing an understanding, long-term counsellor. Imagine Angel as an initially trusted orderly who abused Buffy-as-inmate sexually, destroying her trust and, overnight, becoming someone to be feared and fought.

The African-American doctor may have been consulted early, but only became the primary physician later on, when Spike returned to Sunnydale to stay...because he was fascinated (obsessed?) with Buffy's case.

Buffy's strongest, long-term link with reality would have been her mother, Joyce. Killing Joyce off in season five would represent Buffy's descent deeper into the world of delusion, where it was better to cling to her imaginary Willow and Xander than to keep trying to fit her real mother into her imagined scenario. We know Joyce was never comfortable there, although she did her best to stay supportive while being "forced" to remain on the Hellmouth.

Think of how the first "Big Bad," the Master, lured Buffy underground, deeper and deeper into her psychosis. The only way to get rid of him was to eventually allow him to surface, in the library, in the presence of Giles.

I could go on and on, but I guess my point is that ultimately we each must decide for ourselves what is real and what isn't. I don't believe ME has given us unambiguous and reassuring proof...and I have a great deal of respect for that, even while it leaves me personally disturbed.

Looking forward to your DT analysis as well...


[> [> Completely agree, WW. -- Caroline, 13:56:42 03/15/02 Fri

Every time I try to make the argument that one verse is real and the other a delusion, I just end up going around in circles because I can totally justify the reality of both. So, I think that we have to look at it on a symbolic level to gain some understanding (as many posters have done) but I agree that there is much ambiguity which probably won't be resolved for us.

[> [> Re: Welcome, Linda--a very thought-provoking post. -- Devil's Adocates, 14:42:50 03/15/02 Fri

Anyone who Buffy perceived as threatening her "Buffyverse" would have been percieved as "evil" even though they were attempting to help her out of her schizophrenia. For some reason she didn't see Dr Giles as a threat, and instead created him within the Buffyverse in a supportive light.

Makes me wonder what kinds of treatments he was using. Was he indulging her fantasies hoping it build with her trust of him? Perhaps he thought by her working though her delusions instead of directly challenging them, that was the best hope for recovery. Perhaps not the best course of action since it took 5 years for her to make a significant breakthrough. And that fell apart a few months later with the relapse.

That's probably why he left. After all he tried everything and it still didn't work.

I see Angel as another therapist who at first went along with Dr. Giles treatment by being understanding and supporting, and trying to work through her delusions. But seeing that didn't work, he instead tried to challenge her to reject her delusions, so she recast him as trying to destroy the Universe "the Buffyverse". I don't know if Angel really had sex with Buffy, or if that was just symbolism on Buffy's part (or wish fullfilment).

Spike though, I think he represents someone who is sexually abusing her. That happens all too often in Mental Hospitals.

Tara I think is a college intern or volunteer training to be a therapist. She must be very understanding and sympathic. It's interesting, though, Buffy's subconcious at one point projected her own mental illness upon "Tara", but then had "Willow" cure her right before she herself was cured in reality.

[> [> Re: Welcome, Linda--a very thought-provoking post. -- Rahael, 14:54:43 03/15/02 Fri

I too am finding the asylumverse explanation bewitching and profoundly disturbing all at the same time.

From now on, I'll *never* be able to watch an old ep without thinking of translating it into asylumverse-se.

One point though - we can now come closer to empathising with Buffy's profound sense of wrongness this season. Everything she thought, felt and believed for 6 years is unravelling around her.

[> [> Re: Welcome, Linda--a very thought-provoking post. -- XanderFan, 15:11:09 03/15/02 Fri

I think she was committed right after she burned down that highschool gym in her previous school.

That probably did cause strain within Hank's and Joyce's relationship.

Hank probably visited Buffy far less than Joyce did.

[> [> Re: Welcome, Linda--a very thought-provoking post. -- lindabarlow, 21:29:29 03/15/02 Fri

Great points! Also, if Buffy felt abandoned by her parents when committed to a psychiatric asylum, this might account for the negative view of doctors that we see, particularly in recent years, in Sunnydale. The evil demon doc (Joel Grey); Ben, the doc who turned into the hellgod Glory; Dr. Maggie Walsh, not an MD, but a psychologist who did horrific experiments; and of course the mysterious doctor in As You Were who's been identified with Spike.

Even so, I would continue to argue that the asylum-verse is unreal, but ME has certainly been very clever in making it ambiguous.


[> [> [> Re: Welcome, Linda--a very thought-provoking post. -- O'Cailleagh, 21:56:19 03/15/02 Fri

Before I forget...wonderful post, thanx for posting it.

My personal opinion is that both 'verses are 'real' and Buffy was displaced, as other posters have postulated.

[> Brilliant !! I'm left speechless -- Artemis, 15:14:07 03/15/02 Fri

[> Re: Compeletly Amazing -- Dedalus, 20:10:51 03/15/02 Fri

possible AtS spoilage...theory/research -- O'Cailleagh, 06:46:29 03/15/02 Fri

I was doing a little research last night and found something called a dhampir...I don't know if anyone else has brought this up, but the dhampir was thought to be the mortal child of a vampire who was born with the ability to hunt and destroy vampires-kinda like 'Blade' I suppose. Just wondering what (if any) implications this might have for Connor's future, kinda lends weight to him growing up to be Holtz.....

[> Re: dhampir -Here's an illustrated poem of sorts -- Brian, 09:23:28 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> Re: dhampir -Here's an illustrated poem of sorts -- GreatRewards, 10:13:48 03/15/02 Fri

Hard as I tried, I could see absolutely no connection between that "poem" and some human/vampire hybrid vampire hunter. But I did enjoy the pics of Winona Ryder (that WAS her ,wasn't it?).

enlighten me?

[> Re: possible AtS spoilage...theory/research -- Apophis, 11:12:54 03/15/02 Fri

Dhampirs were traditionally the offspring of a male vampire and a mortal woman. The dhampir itself was always male. It had the ability to sense vampires and see them when invisible (not a trait possessed by vampires of the Jossian paradigm). Dhampirs were also sometimes believed to have either no bones or very weak, rubbery bones, as it was thought that vampires were largely immaterial and their offspring would only be "half" solid. Thus, traditional dhampirs didn't have very long lifespans, as they were easily injured and their skin would eventually crush their organs. The White-Wolf vampire role-playing games have their own concept of a dhampir, one that is more compatible with modern action stories (they've got bones, for one thing). The anime character Vampire Hunter D (as at least one poster knows) was a "dhampeel," apparently a mistranslation of dhampir, though whether it's the Japanese writers' fault or the American translators' is unknown to me. He also is better suited to modern action. Connor has been described as fully human (though Sahjan has cast doubts upon that), so it is unknown as yet what dhampiric powers or traits he may display.

EW - particularly nasty review of Normal Again -- Darby, 08:23:15 03/15/02 Fri

Entertainment Weekly's Jeff Jensen doesn't often "get" Buffy (I'm sure he'd disagree), unlike EW's Ken Tucker, but Jensen gets to do their weekly online reviews.

This one is unusually negative and seems more clueless, too, but I thought it might make for an interesting read and perhaps lead to some comments (like we haven't had enough comments on this episode...). There are also general S6 comments that might be discussed.


[> I agree. I read Jensen's reviews every week. He really doesn't "get" the show. -- Rob, 08:46:28 03/15/02 Fri

Jeff Jensen has been a thorn in my side since he started reviewing "Buffy," not because he has not liked many episodes this year. That is his right. But his reasons for not liking many episodes, I believe, in many cases, has to do with him not understanding the show, not quite "getting" it. I respect the opinions of the people on this board when they have misgivings about an episode far more than Mr. Jensen. Just because there has been a lot of sex this year, for example, Jensen called Buffy an "undead Dawson's Creek" earlier this year. That's a bit harsh, isn't it? And uninformed. Just because a show has sex in it does not mean it's "Dawson's Creek." Actually, I'm not sure why "Dawson's Creek" is always used as an example for a show with sex in it, because it doesn't have that much sex in it, either. But "Buffy" has depth, brilliance, insight, and reality (in its own way), in a way a soap like "Dawson" never can. "Buffy" showed sex, but in order to analyze the very complex relationship of Buffy and Spike. It was not gratuitous.

Ken Tucker, or a more insightful reviewer, I believe would be more inclined to see the depth of this episode. I was shocked when I read that Jensen thought this episode was just "filler."

Funny, I thought it was the most meaningful episode since OMWF. Arguably the most important arc this year has been Buffy feeling disconnected from life. And this episode may have finally cured that, if not merely helped her immensely.

He also mistook the doctor's remarks about this year's villian, Dawn, etc, the wrong way, IMO. He took it as the writers telling the audience that they are stupid to question them. I take it that it acknowledges to the audience, that, yes, we're doing something different, but stick around, because it will all make sense by the end of the year, just as it always does.

Not to mention the fact that the doctor saying how lame the Troika is, strengthens my belief no end that they, or Warren, at least, will become a serious threat in the future. Why would they acknowledge how lame their villian is if it's not to surprise the viewers and the Scoobies themselves by just how dangerous they can turn out to be? If "Dead Things" was any indication, we have a lot to fear from them. The very fact that they can mess with Buffy's mind so well, more so than any other villian in the past, I believe, should have tipped us all off earlier in the year. Behind all those Star Wars, Trek, Babylon 5, and Superman references, they have caused Buffy true problems on quite a few occassions already.

Jensen said that this episode was "merely treading water" until the last episodes of the season. If this episode, which I believe to be one of the entire series' high points, a true masterpiece, is just "filler," I can't wait to see what the non-filler last eps of the season will be like!


[> [> More agreement here -- Sarah, 09:01:53 03/15/02 Fri

Every week I say I won't read his review, but I inevitably do. For me the problem has always been his reluctance to look for any meaning beyond the surface. One of Buffy's hallmarks is that the obvious solution is rarely the correct one. I don't know of any Buffy fans who really believe that Buffy is "addicted" to Spike, yet Jensen has referred to this addiction repeatedly since Wrecked. The writers told us in that episode that it was an addiction, so it must be one.

The reviews are unbelievably shallow, and for all intents and purposes, act more as a synopsis than an actual analysis. That said, I stopped putting any stock into his opinions after he wrote about how stiff SMG seemed in the Buffybot scenes in "Intervention." She was a robot, for pete's sake!

[> [> [> Re: More agreement here -- Rob, 09:10:33 03/15/02 Fri

"The reviews are unbelievably shallow, and for all intents and purposes, act more as a synopsis than an actual analysis. That said, I stopped putting any stock into his opinions after he wrote about how stiff SMG seemed in the Buffybot scenes in 'Intervention.' She was a robot, for pete's sake!"

LOL! I remember him writing that, and that, too, is when I lost respect for him!

Jensen can't seem to get over the idea that he can figure out things the writers are going to do before they do them. For the first few episodes of the year, he wrote that it was obvious Willow was going to become evil, and that was inevitable, so the writers are allowing the audience to get ahead of them. Then, when Willow's magic turned out to be an addiction, lo and behold, Jensen turned around and said that was obvious as well, and continued to bemoan surprising storylines! On a first glance, Buffy's tryst with Spike may have first been a mirror to Willow's addition. But it's progressed far beyond a mere parallel with Willow. It runs far deeper than that.

I remember the episode he compared "Buffy" to "Dawson." It was "Dead Things." Now where the hell did he get that comparison from that episode? Funny, it's been a while since I've seen "Dawson's Creek," but I doubt there have been any plots about ex-boyfriends attempting to rape, and then murdering their former girlfriends.

Jensen wrote that people should have watched "Gilmore Girls" rather than "Buffy" last week. It's like I lost all respect for his opinions all over again!


[> [> [> [> Gilmore Girls????!!!!!! -- VampRiley, 09:49:23 03/15/02 Fri

Don't get me wrong, it's a good show. I've seen it a couple of times, but still a rerun of Gilmore Girls would have been better for him?

I'm speechless. I've never read any of his other "analysis"...if this could even be considered as such. But I don't think I'm gonna again.

I still have two more days until I see it (got bumped for some basketball game, I think) and I've only read the wildfeed and I LIKE IT. I think he might just like it when the "Buffy Formula" is followed.

But I do kinda feel sorry for him, since he doesn't get the deeper meanings behind it. If he did, he might like it better.


[> [> Re: I agree. I read Jensen's reviews every week. He really doesn't "get" the show. -- DEN, 09:04:51 03/15/02 Fri

I agree with your view of the troika: a human turned to the dark is indeed the most dangerous of evils.

[> Help me out... -- Darby, 09:53:58 03/15/02 Fri

I was going to post the board's address so that people could see the reviewer get reviewed, but I stupidly sent it and then realized that I didn't send the actual address, and now I can't send a follow- up. Could someone put the board's address on the response thread at the bottom of the Jensen page?

And am I breaking any rules doing this?

[> [> I posted it for ya! -- Rob, 10:10:51 03/15/02 Fri

[> Re: EW - particularly nasty review of Normal Again-spoilers through NA -- Arethusa, 09:58:30 03/15/02 Fri

It's difficult to believe that someone can't even see the emotional journey Buffy's going through this season, even though it is largely internal. This season is a crucible, and Buffy, who started out not able to feel the fire, will be forever changed by it, as will the other Scoobies. Their defensive and coping strategies are being melted away, and if this season continues with this theme, the last episodes will give us a clearer picture of the people they are becoming.
To speculate:
Buffy is learning to incorporate her dark half-what's been giving her so much trouble is that she assumed it is an attraction to the demonic aspects of her life, when it's really her human half. Accepting her own capacity for violence and "evil" might help her deal with the evil in others, especially those she loves (I'm thinking about Willow, as well as Spike.) Buffy has said over and over again that she didn't choose to be the slayer, but now in NA she has, and her life cannot be the same as it was. How will she react to battles fought in shades of gray?

Willow's use of magic and her relationships with the Scoobies and Tara has let her hide and ignore her massive insecurities. Her addiction and breakup were the crucible, and although she's been through the fire, we still don't know what choices she'll make when put to the test. She's obviously going to confront something big, because she still hasn't chosen to deal with the root of her problems. What will Willow do when the good-girl veneer is stripped away?

Xander's relationship with Anya is his crucible, making him examine what it means to be a man. He's had to confront his fears of failure and responsibility, and it's not enough that she makes him feel like a man-he has to be one. Some might feel he's failed his test, but as others have noted, it's harder to call off the wedding to someone he loves than to go through with it. Will he be able to convince Anya he's grown up and ready to accept adult responsibilities, or when he run to his Buffy when things get rough?

[> Just remembered another Jensen classic... -- Rob, 10:13:00 03/15/02 Fri

Earlier this year, Jensen put in his "Doublemeat Palace" review that the Wig Lady, and earlier in the year, the old toymaker in "All the Way," were examples of the show unfairly targetting the elderly for mockery!



[> Re: EW - particularly nasty review of Normal Again -- Joe Curwen, 11:08:08 03/15/02 Fri

This is my first post here, and I'm kind of sorry that it will seem so disagreeable. I've lurked here for awhile and enjoyed all the great commentary and ideas.

Well then. Not only do I agree with the review, I don't think it went far enough.

If you ask yourself why Normal Again effectively raises the possibility that the buffyverse is only the mad ravings of a very sick 20 year old woman, and ponder further over the fact that there is now no way in logic for the viewer to decide which 'verse' is real and which is illusion, then one thing becomes clear: the continued enjoyment of Buffy as a gothic story with real-life relevance requires an act of faith.

The reviewer suggests that portions of Normal Again can be read as metanarrative. I submit, ladies and gentlemen, that the whole damn episode is metanarrative.

What is ME saying? It is saying that it is brilliant. It is saying that it hears our complaints about small, sad stories involving pathetic little men. It is saying that yes indeed, putting tape on Dawn's mouth will be satisfying to many. But most of all it is saying 'have faith in us! Believe in us! We know what we are doing!'

The down and dirty truth of such an approach to your audience is that it arrogantly assumes that it is WE, THE AUDIENCE who need an attitude adjustment. It is saying: if you don't like Buffy, fine. Chalk it all up to the ravings of a sick girl then. But if you have faith in us, then continue watching.

I'm sorry, but being asked (no, told) to take stories on faith instead of the intelligent use of our reason is crummy. Buffy. Love it or leave it. It is petulant and childish. Writers *do* have a responsibility for making stories, even gothic stories of the supernatural, true to life and to obey rules and provide internal logic and consistency.

Mutant Enemy, with its "lady or the tiger" style conclusion to Normal Again, assumes that it is us, the viewer, that is primarily responsible for how we view the show. Wrong. They are responsible for intelligent story telling, and they alone.


[> [> To each, his own. ;-) -- Rob, 11:11:08 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> I didn't get that at all -! -- Darby, 11:18:47 03/15/02 Fri

I can sort of see it as you say, but I don't really see that intent; I see a roomful of geeks that grew up on "alternate universe" malarkey having some fun and leaving the implications ambiguous because they respect our abilities to have fun with them too! In fact, I feel more respected from this episode than any other I can remember.

And, as evidence that lots of fans can milk any number of close-to-mutally-exclusive hypotheses out of this episode, just glance over the threads that have emerged from it. In a typical week, there are many ideas presented, but this is amazing (and fun, and yes, sometimes frustrating)! Think how little there'd be to discuss if we had really been given the concrete images that many people seem to think they saw here!

[> [> It's not metanarration, by the way... -- Rob, 11:19:56 03/15/02 Fri

It would be metanarration if Buffy had been dreaming she was in a TV show called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The doctor's words are analysis, but not metanarration. In other words, for metanarration to qualify, the characters have to be aware of the external, non-fictional world out of which they sprung. An example is Tara saying, "Grr aargh!" in "Bargaining." Another is Buffy saying, "Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday."

"Xena" had a few metanarration-type episodes that took place in the present day, and all the characters played fans of the TV show "Xena." In fact, one episode said that there was a real Xena, on whom the TV show was based (untrue of course)! One of the characters said, "I hate that show...A bunch of chop-socky crap!"


[> [> Also, there's a logical way to figure out which 'verse is real...Check out Linda Barlow's post. -- Rob, 11:27:20 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> [> Um, not so much Rob...check out my response to Linda ;o) -- dubdub, 11:42:18 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> [> [> Ok, Ok, strike that last comment! lol -- Rob, 11:45:13 03/15/02 Fri

Although, for me, the main brilliance of the episode is that there's no way to argue either way definitively.


[> [> [> Not convinced of the old expression... -- Darby, 11:42:49 03/15/02 Fri

"Your reasoning is's your premise that's wrong!"

Ashleigh Brilliant, I think.

I was going to post in the lower thread, but my computer ate it and it seemed too negative anyway, but I'm not really persuaded by her's a classic example of a great initial insight being hammered out of shape trying to explain everything, something many people here (including me) have a tendency to do.

[> [> I have to say I agree, although... -- Wisewoman, 11:41:12 03/15/02 Fri

...I don't resent ME leaving it up to us to decide. I accept that as an innovative exercise in audience participation.


[> Ah, Jeff Jensen.... -- mundusmundi, 12:37:26 03/15/02 Fri

To paraphrase a quote from the movie Go, I hate him, yet I'm drawn to him.

This has nothing to do with whether we agree or not on a particular episode. Lots of critics whose opinions frequently vary from mine, including several people who post here, I read and enjoy anyway because they get me thinking more deeply about what I've seen. There's just always something inexpressively irritating about Jensen's reviews that I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe it's because he seems to have very little grasp of context, much less subtext. (He complains that Xander starts acting like an immature jokeboy again in NA; wasn't that the point -- that he was trying to forget the wedding debacle by regressing into his old role with the gang and failing?) Or, maybe it's because he doesn't have the courage of his convictions. Going back through this season's reviews reveals that he's actually praised most of the episodes (including qualified kudos for "Wrecked" and "Doublemeat Palace," both of which I found execrable). Yet starting with "Hell's Bells," he suddenly claimed that S6 was bad and boring. It's no small measure of Jensen's unique talents that one can pretty much agree with that sentiment (though "Normal Again" was a major turnaround, imo) yet still find it annoying.

What is Buffy going to do with the troika if she finds them? -- Luke, 09:25:39 03/15/02 Fri

After all, she can't slay them, for they are humans.

I doubt they would turn themselves into the police.

So if she can't kill them. And she can't arrest them. What can she do to the troika?

[> If I were her... -- Kitt, 11:18:43 03/15/02 Fri

I'ld hang 'em by the short hairs on their (very) small parts. Personally, I hope one of their schemes royally backfires and kills them without Buffy or the SG having to lift a finger, but I don't have that kind of luck and so far this season, neither does Buffy.

[> [> Oh, that'd be great... -- Darby, 12:00:33 03/15/02 Fri

For the season finale, we spend ten minutes (or the teaser) watching them set up the ultimate Slayer demon trap...and then thirty seconds watching the demon consume them. And Buffy never knows, or just finds their stuff (closure, y'know).

It would hold with there being no Big Bad this season.

And, of course, it would royally piss a LOT of people off...

[> Maybe she could send them to Pylea -- skeeve, 11:51:22 03/15/02 Fri

[> Re: What is Buffy going to do with the troika if she finds them? -- Robert, 13:59:11 03/15/02 Fri

>> "And she can't arrest them."

Presumably Buffy could turn them into the police, but I can see an argument against that. The Sunnydale police are not nearly competent enough to deal with the troika.

Buffy and the world of the nerd -- dream of the consortium, 11:47:41 03/15/02 Fri

This is going to seem like a strange post. I will start with a little story from my first exposure to Buffy:

I had rented the Seasons One and Two boxsets from my local video store and become hooked. I found reference to the Season Three boxset online and tried to find it locally. I called the hip, artsy rental place that carries everything and was told they had it, so I went on down to rent the thing. When I got there, I didn't find it on the shelf, so I asked at the desk and was told that they used to have it, but they don't any more.
I responded (with my best attempt at a good-natured type of comic surprise): "You got rid of Buffy?"
"Yeah," answered the clerk. "You know why?"
"Cuz Buffy's for nerds."
I kid you not. I would like to say I had a Dorothy Parker moment and responded with some sort of withering witticism, but I hadn't been called a nerd in years - I mean, I'm thirty for god's sakes! And a customer - usually a position in which you don't get insulted. I was so shocked I just walked away.

But it got me thinking.....

There are five people in my office who watch Buffy regularly. The only common denominator is that they are all bright people (and all over thirty, I might add.) Only one could be called a geek in the classic sense. Now, by geek, I don't mean anything about personality, although the word can be used to describe anyone with certain personality traits. That's a derogatory use of the terms "geek" or "nerd" that I don't want to be associated with. Nor do I mean someone obsessed with a particular hobby to the point of boring the heck out of everyone around them ("a Dylan nerd," for example). I mean people who are part of a certain very large subculture of fandom.

I want to make very clear that I have nothing against this subculture. I'm just not very much a part of it. I used to read science fiction as a teenager, but generally do not read genre fiction now, nor do I watch other genre television shows, read comic books, etc. I am curious as to the relationship of this show to that culture. Do most of you on the board feel like you are part of that culture? A lot? A little? I assume no one that watches Buffy and loves it enough to post here is going to be close- minded enough to reject every part of that culture out of hand, but are there a significant number of posters who do not feel part of the culture? I should probably list the things I associate with the culture, though I feel that it is slightly out of place for me to do so, as an outsider. But I would include - reading comic books and fantasy/sci fi/horror genre fiction (especially as primary reading or in preference to traditional fiction), watching fantasy/sci fi/horror television and movies (again, especially if primarily or exclusively), attending conventions, playing role-playing games and/or video games. Is there any sense in which the traditional world of fandom rejects Buffy?

I am asking in part because people do tend to make this association, and I want to know if it holds true. Also, it seems to me that, with Willow's super-cool former geekdom (much like Spike's super- cool former, well, I don't know if you can call it geekdom, exactly, - how would you describe William), and the Troika, and Cordelia's popularity and Buffy's outsider status, that the Buffy world has a strange relationship to the world of the geek. So I guess this is partly a poll, and partly a call for thoughts on the relationship of fandom culture to Buffy, particularly in light of Normal Again.

[> Re: Buffy and the world of the nerd -- Wisewoman, 12:15:04 03/15/02 Fri

I believe Joss has said that he was (is) the ultimate nerd, having never had a single date in high school. ;o)

I've always seen the nerd archetype in BtVS to be analogous with Joss' rise to power as head of ME and creator of Buffy, Angel, Firefly, animated series, comic books, etc., etc.

I'm almost fifty years old and I've never been to a fan convention, but if I ever do go to one it'll be a Buffycon. (Is it possible to evolve into a nerd in later life?)

[> [> hey, wait a minute -- celticross, 07:17:50 03/17/02 Sun

I never had a date in high school, and I'm not a....oh, wait...well, yeah, guess I am. :)

[> Re: Buffy and the world of the nerd -- yuffb, 12:56:31 03/15/02 Fri

I agree with WiseWoman. JW's inspiration for Buffy does spring forth from his nerdy days in highschool.

On a broader note, I believe JW's main thrust of the show has been to demonstrate how the chracters deal with the alienation, loliness, akwardness that comes with growing up.

As far as an association being made with Geekdom, I don't believe it can be made successfuly. Oh, I'm sure you'll have some people who'll fit the "Geek" mode (including me) who watch Buffy, but that is not sufficent proof to establish a concrete connection with Geekdom and watching BTVS.

Feelings of inferiority, alienation, loliness, and akwardness are not just emotions for Geeks they are emotions we all feel. That is why Buffy has such a powerful following with people from all walks of life and varying ages.

Sorry if this kinda turned preachy. This show just stakes me in the heart all the time.


[> Re: Buffy and the world of the nerd -- Ishkabibble, 13:30:14 03/15/02 Fri

Funny you should bring up this subject. Over dinner recently, we were congratulating our son on being named a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship competition. I told him the next time someone called him a nerd, to proudly wave the N.M.S. letter in their face. To which he replied, "I'm not a nerd, I'm a geek."

I still don't understand the definitions of a geek and a nerd that he patiently recited to me, so I really can't answer your question. But, I assume that since I'm not smart enough to understand the difference between a geek and a nerd, I'm probably not qualified for membership in either group.

Can someone elaborate on these two terms?

[> [> Re: Buffy and the world of the nerd -- Goji3, 15:17:45 03/16/02 Sat

A Geek Bites the Heads off Chickens

A Nerd is a person of high intelegence who is socially inept.

[> [> [> LOL...Not likely... -- Ishkabibble, 17:29:17 03/16/02 Sat

he's a vegetarian.

But, you created such a gross vision in my mind of him biting heads off of chickens that I'm half way suspicious that you ARE my son posting under a pseudonym just to mess with my mind!

I'm certainly no expert GOji3, but I respectfully suggest there must be other differences between these terms than the ones posted so far. By-the-way, my son wasn't denigrating nerds. He simply classified himself as not being a nerd, but rather, a geek.

So, while I thank you for the wonderfully disgusting imagery, I'd like to hear from some others on the differences between being a geek and a nerd.

And if this is my son are sooo busted!

[> [> [> Mea culpa...You were right :) -- Ishkabibble, 20:12:16 03/16/02 Sat

Oh my gawd....biting heads off chickens...

Well, the good news is, I found this website with definitions that backs you up:

The bad news, is my son is furious with me because I misquoted him. He didn't claim to be a geek, he claimed to be a dork.

So I guess this proves he wasn't the poster. It also proves how out of the loop I am when it comes to teenagers and their unique language.

Oh, to be 17 again.

[> [> [> [> Really, you don't wanna go there, Ish... ;o) -- WW, 10:32:03 03/17/02 Sun

I wouldn't be 17 again for all the cranberries in Kamloops, which is the Cranberry Capital of the World, I believe.

[> [> [> [> [> Yikes!! O/T -- WW, 10:37:22 03/17/02 Sun

I just ran Cranberry Capital/Capitol through Google--do you have any idea how many places claim to be the Cranberry Capital of the World?? It's frightening!!


Oh, please, bring on the new eps soon...I'm delirious...

[> [> [> [> Re: Mea culpa...You were right :) -- Goji3, 16:06:11 03/17/02 Sun

A dork is the name given to the male genital organ of a Whale. Of course he'd say he's a dork!

[> [> [> [> [> Both Parents ROFLTAO :) :) -- Ishkabibble x 2, 20:58:35 03/17/02 Sun

[> The Hallowed Halls of Nerdom -- Eric, 13:32:14 03/15/02 Fri

Hey, I'm what you'd call nerd. I'm a Trekkie (not Trekker and once captain of my own club), X-Phile, comic readin', D&D playin' social misfit. Hell, I even came close to becoming the evil troika version (I REALLY hated high school). But that was long ago and I chose a different path. What's always bothered me about the term is that its such a gross stereotype. Yeah, I ran into the guy who never had a date and the one who lived in his parent's basement. But I've known Star Trek fans who were: Catholic Priests, office workers, soldiers (one a Vietnam veteran Marine sniper), teachers, dentists, lawyers, etc. "Nerd" is among the last sterotypical terms used by people craving the delusion of superiority. (Racial and religious slurs are just SO yesterday). So does it make you a nerd if you and showerless dude cried when Buffy died? No. Such a slur's power lies not so much in how its used as how its accepted. And as a measure of evil, well we've seen better in the Buffyverse than the troika's geeky preoccupations. Would the troika be less evil if they focused on poker, folk art, and Ally McBeal instead of Doom, miniatures, and Star Trek?

As for your video clerk, it sounds like he was having a Randall moment (from the movie Clerks). Next time indulge him in a reality by doing what would've happened to Randall in real life. Jerk him over the counter and smack him a good one.

[> Are You Down? Its cool man!! really! -- neaux, 13:49:11 03/15/02 Fri

Everyone here I believe would probably go to a Buffy convention. I sure as hell would. But who doesnt think Buffy is cool? You need to turn the idea of something geeky/nerdy into a question.

"ARE YOU DOWN?" (sounds cool doesnt it)it sounds as if THEY do not know what is cool or not.

So are you down with Buffy?

Ask that to your neighbor/friend. Then they will want to know why Buffy is soooo cool!! ^_^

Are you down with Anime?
What I do now about nerdy geek conventions. hmm.. The only conventions I have gone to are Anime Conventions and you could say that the people who go to anime conventions are geeky perverts. Everyone dressing like sex freaks with multi-colored wigs. Whatever.

as a fan I would say that if you want memorbilia of anysort you need to go to conventions to get it!!

[> [> LMFAO! But seriously.... -- Tillow, 19:03:20 03/15/02 Fri

Ok that ARE YOU DOWN thing is just the funniest freakin' thing... I love it.

But actually, I find this topic kind of ineresting too. Just because... well, forget the explanation... just because.

One time I was watching a Troika episode with a couple of friends... I think it was Smashed.. and all of the Troika jokes go completely over my head. It's just about me on the couch going... Dr. Who WHO? And my friend's husband said "What kind of a geekgirl are you?" And she looked at him and said... "She's not a geekgirl."

Now, I really had no idea what the hell they were talking about but upon further conversation, I learned about all the Troika jokes and I already knew about gaming and yadda yadda. The point is... my reaction was immediately twofold.

1. Ack! I'm being claimed as part of a group. For me to quote the show, unmixy things. Groups.... bad. Definitions... worse. And so it has always gone. blah blah blah.

2. Why am I being left out? Now isn't that just ridiculous? I certainly have memories of being invited to join said Geekdom in my formative years. But I was a loner... again with the blah blah blah.

So this topic is fascinating to me. And I am glad to know someone else is curious and wonders about the rest of the fan base. I don't particularly care how I am defined for loving the show and I will shout from whichever rooftop is nearby that I best NOT be disturbed on Tuesday nights. I also risk my job daily to post on this board (job sucks anyway). I just think the topic is interesting...

And before I step down from this particular soap box... I just want to say that, the magic of the show is the characters. The thing that always draws me in is characterization and this is the first television show that has ever 'done it' for me. I identify with softer-side-of sears Willow, cheerleader- with-real-pain Cordelia, fear-of-repeating-cycle Xander, and just-looking-to-fit-in Buffy.

There's a bit of "geek" in each of the character's just as there is in each of us. And I have never identified more with a line in the show than when Oz looks at the remnants of the blown up high school and says "We survived." Priceless.

In conclusion, I'm DOWN with buffy...

[> [> Re: Are You Down? Its cool man!! really! -- Eric, 19:38:39 03/15/02 Fri

Buffy/Angel Con in Australia

[> [> [> Thanks for the tip Eric -- NightRepair, 20:31:00 03/15/02 Fri

I am in Melbourne, so now I'm thinking about a weekend away in Sydney, oh around about the 21st April!

[> Nerd Generalist -- OtherEric, 20:40:00 03/15/02 Fri

First off: Nerd/geek, fanboy and other terms have not been derogative since the mid to late 90s. Comic books, sci-fi, and even action figures (you can usually find me and other guys approaching 30 in the aisles at Toys R' Us) are no longer primarily for kids. RPGs and requisite knowledge of Star Trek, seminal and important films such as Aliens, the various Star Wars movies, Blade-runner, the Terminator installments, Akira--all kinds of different anime, hammer films, zombie movies, many bad comic book inspired movies, and how to properly quote and engage in dialouge back and forth from most of them with other nerds as well as working knowledge of the many types of 'classic' and cliched conventions of such things are all important elements. Comic books of all kind, important and historic toylines like G.I. Joe and Transformers, and understanding the beauty and joy inherent in all these things are part and parcel to what it is to be a nerd.

I myself am a generalist with a focus in gaming, comic books, and horror and sci-fi movies among other things, though I am studying up on anime and carry a large assortment of varied bits of history and trivia (mostly military in nature due to an affinity for wargaming) that rounds out the package. I also am a bit traditionalist and enjoy things like model trains and scratch-building.

The point is is that nerd/fanboy (a comic book related term) subculture has become an extremely monolithic thing these days. You could spend more time studying it and learning about it than you could 19th century American literature. With the explosion of media in the latter half of the twentieth century in conjunction with technology advances in electronics, videogames, and special effects, there has also been a growing population of us. There is so much of it out there and we speak our own dialect and have developed our own cultural lexicon in the same way that any other subculture has. Some people just aren't into all this stuff, which is fine (more for me then...), but the Buffyverse, though not inspired soley by it, is nonetheless firmly rooted in it. It definitely belongs to the whole nerd/geek genre, but that is not to say that anyone who watches and enjoys the show are geeks or nerds.

Quite the contrary. This discussion board definitely shows that. I suspect that the great majority of Buffy fans are not part of my demographic. A lot of people who aren't comic book fans saw the X- men movie and really liked and got a lot out of it. Same with the Fellowship of the Ring. But I (oh yeah--I do specialize in LOTR--forgot to mention that above--got more books about the books than there are books!) enjoyed both of them on deeper levels than most because I am very familiar with the source material, and its overall subtext.

Buffy is a bit different of course, as it is its own thing and isn't derived from something else (or a new more widely marketed interpretation of itself like a movie or show made from a pre-existing thing like books or a comic book)--so it would be presumptuous to say we get it in a way that it was meant to be understood and others don't. But I have noticed from the short time I've been on this board that I do catch and see a lot of things that I wouldn't if I weren't a nerd. There's some levels of the show that make the most sense (at certain moments and times in some ways and all the time in other ways)if you've got a background in all this stuff. Joss speaks the language of the nerds. Thats when I first started to really notice homages and parallels to sci-fi and comic books. There was an interview where he was trying to get a point across by saying about the cartoon that is upcoming "Its like Buffy: Year One," which completely went over the head of the interviewer which I didn't notice until her next question, because I thought, oh--like Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. Cool. Then her next question was, "Year One? is that the name of the show?" And Joss said, no, "Its like Frank Miller's Batman: Year One."

So there it is....Here's one: There was another show 30 years ago that reached Iconic status (something Joss has stated he is going for as a goal) that focused on tight character interactions (specifically between 3 principles) and they had a starship and crew instead of a highschool and classmates. Buffy is turning into Star Trek of the 90's and beyond. Wasn't a funny bit when the normal guy that nearly got killed in OAFA was wearing a redshirt (cause redshirts denote security and are always getting seriously injured or killed on Trek). Sooner or later, a show rooted in this kind of stuff always makes the redshirt in joke. It might not have been...but we're pretty sure. Southpark did one of those, too.

But its not just like Star Trek. Its like a lot of things that exist within the nerd/geek genre. And its all about a lot of cliched themes, in jokes, and subtext and you really can enjoy the show on some levels beyond drama, and character, and as a tv show (and a damn good one at that--I'd actually call it literature).

Another funny thing I read in an interview is that the Troika's arguments are all actual real geek/nerd arguments that break out in the writer's room and they just put it into the characters' dialouge. Pretty damn funny.

[> [> Re: Nerd Generalist -- O'Cailleagh, 21:13:42 03/15/02 Fri

Glad to hear that about the cartoon...that it'll be Buffy year one that is. I was quite worried that they would just be continuing the show as is, but in cartoon form.
Will it be considered part of the Buffyverse, or is this something we do not yet know?
I'm just hoping it doesn't turn out like most other animated nothing like the original/'alternate universe' to the original.
Oh, one more question, does anyone know what is meant exactly by year one?...will it be the events of the movie onwards, or concentrate on Sunnydale and the Scoobs?

[> [> [> Re: Nerd Generalist -- OtherEric, 21:26:21 03/15/02 Fri

From what I hear tell. It will be less darkly sexual (for a younger audience) but will focus on all the high school stuff that there just wasn't time for in only two and half years of the show. It will also be based upon the re-designed reality and have Dawn in it (albeit younger). I believe it does occur in Sunnydale though and would be concurrent with the earlier seasons of the show. As a result, I think they'll be cannon--just sort of like "Buffy the High School Years: B-sides and unreleased tracks." The writers from the tv show are involved, I believe, so it has a great chance of being great...I'm hoping anyway....

[> [> [> [> Hhhmmmmmmmmm! Still worrying! -- O'Cailleagh, 21:52:06 03/15/02 Fri

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Hhhmmmmmmmmm! Still worrying! -- Arethusa, 07:27:33 03/16/02 Sat

I wanna see the play with the flying monkeys. "Look out, Juliet!"

[> [> [> [> LOL! B-sides and unreleased tracks! Classic! -- Rob, 08:10:48 03/16/02 Sat

[> Geek Power ! -- Ete, 04:05:20 03/16/02 Sat

If being a geek is reading mostl SF & fantasy, playing rpg and spending much time of interenet fandom, then I qualifies. Even if I don't think I'm one in the very strict term of the world.
Is Buffy a geek show ? It's more about outsiders. Buffy is definitly and has ever been a show for outsiders. That's one of the thing I like about it. They never play the teenage clichee of popularity logic to its end, they always twist it. Remember Homecoming's ending ? That was priceless :)

[> [> Escapism, Analysis, Star Trek, and Buffy -- TRM, 05:58:10 03/16/02 Sat

I had dabbled in a number of the things considered belonging to Geek-/Nerddom in my past: Star Trek, rpg's, ... but to some point, I feel that such things had become a form of escapism for me that I thought was unproductive; that is, I remember immersing myself in a MUD (online rpg) largely when I was depressed or unwilling to cope with real world problems. My consequent decision was to retire from (specifically) that part of the world, largely because -- while I often do see merit in it -- I think it can be a crutch (much like the difference between drinking moderately and alcoholism).

Moving in a different direction, I've always wondered at this difference I've noticed between the fan bases of Star Trek and Buffy (in so much that I actually have an accurate portrayal of the two subcultures, and whatever seemingly large overlap they have). It seems that the brunt of Trekkers/Trekkies (I don't know the difference, I apologize), and certainly the stereotype of them do definitely imply a sort of escapism. What is often stereotypes is learning the Klingon language, dressing up as a favorite character, knowing the insides and outsides of "Starfleet Acadamy", etc. In essence, adopting very useful skills were we to be living in the Star Trek universe but not otherwise. On the other hand, what we have particularly with this message board tends to be literary and philosophical analysis. Something that, at least in my opinion, seems much more applicable to the world we live in.

This is not to deny any such analysis in Star Trek -- indeed, when I watched that show, it did always intrigue me. Yet, I never met anyone who tried to argue the sociological implications of what they saw on ST. I can think of distinct episodes of that series that have very clear philosophical/sociological motives. When Riker and an asexual alien fell in love, it was clearly trying to examine the issue of sexuality. When a clone crew of Voyager disappeared completely, one that the episode clearly hinted at having a rich history, we had another clear question of what it means to have existed. But again, the common image of the Star Trek fan is one who is more concerned about the technical flaws of the warp core than of what messages the writers may be protraying. Is it perhaps, the lack of such technical fidelity that forces Buffy's fans to look more at the substance? Joss himself noted (in the Season One DVD) that he didn't really care about the technical details -- Giles's tomes of lore, Willow's ability to access anything on the Internet, the positioning of Sunnydale on the Hellmouth, etc. He was more concerned about an inner analysis than of describing this world. I have yet to see a Buffy fan as being portrayed as one who has memorized all the spells and dresses up as one of the characters (though I am sure that some do so as well).

I apologize (I feel it necessary) in advance for those who believe that I am misrepresenting the fan base of Star Trek, or those fans that align themselves to such a following. I certainly do respect the show and believe that there are many who can watch/participate in a program in a productive/healthy manner.

Other apsects of Geek/Nerd-dom I do certainly see falling across the spectrum. Anime certainly possesses a great base in mythology as well as involves emotional/sociological/philosophical considerations. The same applies to many comic book and even cartoon characters.

Arguably, Buffy provides a source of escapism itself. That we draw ourselves into analysis to such an extent that we withdraw ourselves from the world. And I do watch Buffy oftentimes to not deal with my problems -- I usually pull up some literary sounding argument that it's a form of catharsis, but escapism is in many senses an equal partner.

Well, there's my superficial perception of it all.

[> [> [> Re: Escapism -- Rahael, 06:32:11 03/16/02 Sat

Thanks for that thoughtful post. It's an issue I have often thought about. I can't really address the points you make about ST though it sounds convincing.

Buffy and escapism however, is a key issue. Buffy is clearly 'escapist' viewing. But within it, it contains warnings about the grave dangers of escapism. Whether it be Buffy running away to LA, and returning to the familial tensions of Dead Man's Party; whether its Superstar, where Jonathan tries to construct a new world, or even Normal Again where Sunnydale and vampires are tied into mad delusions.

I think I said in a post last week that I was in favour of escapism which led right back to your own life. And I think that's what Buffy tries to do. In Sunnydale, the pain, and the complexity of life is never far away. The Scoobs crack witty jokes, but there are uncomfortable moments aplenty. Waving a magic wand to make life easier *always* goes wrong. To be a hero like Buffy, you need to take responsibility, face the problems, go through the pain. It does this not through didactisism, but in the subtlest way possible.

Buffy at one level, is very sad viewing. It does not ever give easy answers. As Buffy stands outside Sunnydale High after Becoming,in total isolation, watching her friends before she rides away to LA, who couldn't see the future seeds of Season 6 there?

Like you, I would say cathartic, for I watch Buffy die; or Joyce die, and emerge tearful, but happy. Despair framed by art turns into solace. Though I thought Life Serial and OMWF contained a playful warning - remember that you are making these people suffer for your entertainment. We make the Slayer burn, watch her jump through hoops. Her emotions are so real to us, but it works only because she isn't real.

[> [> [> [> And catharsis is the essence of tragedy. -- Sophist, 08:35:51 03/16/02 Sat

Whereas comedy (classical at least) ends with a wedding. Not sure which way ME will take the ending, but I doubt the feel good will prevail.

[> [> [> Re: Escapism, Analysis, Star Trek, and Buffy -- fresne, 11:00:34 03/16/02 Sat

Well, as I steal from Anna's blog,

"I kind of imagine the typical Buffy fan as over thirty, a college graduate, loquaciously intelligent, somewhat critical, and more or less dark natured."

As to the philosophy or lack therof in Trek fans, (beyond the multitude of Philosophy/Religion/Metaphysics in Trek books) well, go to a used book store and see if you can find a copy of one of the Trek Magazine compilations from the 70s and early 80s. Entitled, curiously enough, Trek. The subject, Star Trek. Short articles by fans about the series. No PhDs, no specialists. Just people who took the show and verboseness seriously. Obviously at the time, only the original series was available for analysis. And yet, boy did they delve and dig. They talked about Plato in reference to Kirk/Spock/McCoy. They analyzed the significance of lighting in the Enemy Within (they used soft focus lighting normally reserved for women for the emotional Kirk.) and the homo-social power dynamics of that episode in general. It was heady stuff.

It was also the first time that I had been exposed to the idea that ideas can lie beneath the surface. In school, English classes were still basically book reports. It was very disappointing to me that Trek never discussed STNG and by the time the internet really rolled around it was the age of Voyager and that show just never gelled for me.

Not really a defense of Trekkies/Trekkers analytical tendencies. Just contemplation.

Really, we return to the societal imaging thing. Are all sports fans play quoting troglodytes? Are all people obsessed with cars, spanner toting greasy guys? Probably not. There are probably quite a few ME fans who watch for the angst and pretty people. That's actually, how I've heard BtVS fans characterized by the un-clued.

Is everything that we do for pleasure escapist? Escape from the presumably weighty burden of existence. Or is none of it escapist. It's just what pleases us. The pleasures that we paper over life. It's just that some things are socially more acceptable. Whatever.

It's like the difference between Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, spends all his money on the arts and pretty boys and is a bit strange (insane) vs. his cousin Kaiser Wilhelm, spends all his money on armies and things that go boom (sane).

[> [> [> [> ST:TNG -- Wisewoman, 11:04:55 03/17/02 Sun

There are only two other series I can remember watching as obsessively as Buffy, and ST:TNG is the only other one I've taped every episode of.

You don't know how I've wished there was a community like this where I could discuss the philosophical implications of ST. I don't know anything about warp cores, and I don't speak Klingon, but I really wanted to talk to someone else who was blown away when Picard was willing to sacrifice his life rather than allow an alien society to believe in a mythical "god." Or when he managed to communicate with an alien captain whose language consisted entirely of metaphors from their classical literature.

Gene Roddenberry and Joss Whedon are in a class by themselves.

I do wonder sometimes about the element of escapism involved in watching a show about 20- something people, vampires, and demons, especially as an almost-50-year-old woman, but then I log on to this board and remember that BtVS is so much more than that.


[> I would say that shows like "Buffy" and "Farscape" are more accepted in the mainstream... -- Rob, 08:08:00 03/16/02 Sat least to a point. Perhaps because the science is secondary, in both cases, to the emotion of the stories. Yes, "Farscape" does have a quasi-science, but it's very sketchy, and purposefully so. "Buffy" has very little science at all. There are some rules, which are there to be broken, of course. But the importance is in the emotion...not the attention to minor details regarding science and plausibility.


[> [> Re: I would say that shows like "Buffy" and "Farscape" are more accepted in the mainstream... -- matching mole, 19:51:13 03/16/02 Sat

I'm assuming you're comparing Buffy to Star Trek in this post. If so, Star Trek isn't really about science at all, at least I hope that the people who make it don't think so. I can't comment on the physics but most biology in the shows is a bunch of jargon thrown together to explain away a plot point. It's really just as much magic as the stuff in Giles' books.

However there is a distinct difference between the Star Trek shows and Buffy in that Star Trek is a show in which the details of the larger world are of great import. The shows are full of ideas about how human society does, might, and should function (e.g. the prime directive). Buffy is a more personal show, more symbolic and psychological.

[> Re: Buffy and the world of the nerd -- matching mole, 19:42:30 03/16/02 Sat

I don't have much direct experience with nerd culture another than this board (if this board is actually an example of the culture). While I've been reading and watching sf and fantasy for over thirty years that has mostly been a fairly solitary part of my life. Most of my friends haven't shared my tastes. And I have never had much interest in other aspects of the culture: rpg, computer games, going to conventions.

I'm also very dilettantish (I'm sure that's not a word but who cares) in my interests. I've never been able to get too obsessive about any one thing because the world contains so much of interest to poke about in. And I only have so much time to devote to gardening, caring for my cacti and succulents, maybe starting to keep fish again someday, learning about surrealism, tracking down obscure pop music, memorizing the kings and queens of England, etc., etc.

I used to be quite an sf snob when I was a wee lad (OK a teenager). I was a big fan of intellectual new wave sf which I considered to be just as good as 'real' literature. I was quite disdainful of sf that didn't meet my criteria. Of course this was a self-defeating attitude, I was doomed to despise Star Wars when it first came out because it wasn't Philip K. Dick. Nowadays my goal is to try and avoid labelling books and films and such and just enjoy each one individually to the extent that they have to offer me. I do tend to enjoy the exotic and fantastic more than the mainstream but I don't want to cut myself off from anything. In general I enjoy works that seem to be written with this same attitude, that aren't specifically targeted at a genre audience or at a literary audience. BtVS seems like it fits into this category very well.

I don't have a point to make with these two paragraphs but some might find them interesting. A couple of years ago I saw a talk by the sf writer Suzy McKee Charnas (my apologies if I spelled her name wrong) in which she commented on sf fandom. Science fiction fans have been very organized and social for a long time (about half a century). For the first half of that time there was little sf available other than the written word (and comic books).

SF in TV and movies was always targeted to a non-sf audience (non-nerds). The original Star Trek was a real oddity in having such loyal and devoted fans, who acted similarly to the fans of written sf (holding conventions and so on). Of course since the release of Star Wars the fan base for sf/fantasy outside novels has exploded. Charnas commented that the traditional science fiction fan base is slowly aging and shrinking which she attributed, ironically, to the great success of science fiction and its imagery in other media than the written word.

[> Nerd and proud of it! -- grifter, 08:52:01 03/17/02 Sun

I read comics, play fantasy games, watch fantasy/sci fi tv shows and am, mostly, interested in this kind of stuff and not much else.

So, call me a nerd, ´cause that´s what I am baby!

[> Buffy and the world of the nerd -- Fred the obvious pseudonym, 14:52:57 03/17/02 Sun

America has always had a streak (to put it mildly) of anti-intellectualism. This is intensified in high school; the "nerds" (accepting Dream of the C's definition of nerds as socially-inept but very smart) are the bottom of the food chain.

I think a lot of this is jealousy. Very bright people (if they don't kill themselves from the ostracism) wind up changing the world. Ex-high-school jocks don't. Most of them I've known are, after some years, fat, bald, stuck in a dead-end job, and live for Monday Night Football and nothing else. The ones that seem to have happier lives are those who were actually smart in high school but masqueraded as jocks (hmmm . . . might this have anything to do with Our Host Person?) to avoid the condemnation.

High school nerds, of course, have nowhere to go but up, and in my experience do so fairly efficiently. They change things. They make things. They say "Wouldn't it be neat if this could be done," they make it happen, and so we have computers, calculators, and trips to the moon.

Without nerds, there would be no television. (OK, so nobody's perfect.) So if some ex-jock sneers at a nerd, just remind him that with no nerds there would be no cable TV, no Monday-Night football (there would be but you'd have to watch the game in person, not in your living room) no national Final Four, and the top speeds in NASCAR would be about seventeen miles an hour. (I don't think that ex-high-school jocks {except for the masqueraders mentioned earlier} are good at designing high- performance steering and suspension systems.)

In brief, nerds make the post-graduation jock's life possible.

(Come to think about it, this may not be all that good an advertisement for nerds. Oops.)

[> Buffy and the world of the teeny bopper -- yuri, 16:03:43 03/17/02 Sun

This is a very interesting thread, and I'm sorry I'm so late in joining. All of what I want to say has pretty much been said, so I thought I'd make a little tangential comment.

I think the really rare thing about Buffy is that it cross wires two categories of people that are usually staked against each other: the nerd and the teenybopper. There seem to be equal amounts of people attracted to the show for it's scifi/fantasy slant as there are for its attractive, young, and fashionable main characters chocked full of classic teen angst.

Being a young woman myself, that "eek what are they gonna think" feeling that some of us get when we reveal our love of the show is both in fear of being perceived as the very negative nerd/geek/dork steroetype or as an abercrombie wearing nsync toting airhead. (I do admire those of you who don't get that eek feeling, and I'm getting to that point. I mean that in general, not just for Buffy.)

Because it takes an amount of effort that I'm not always ready to spend in order to straighten people out, I often just sense which category a person would be more sympathetic to and let them think I'm that. There are better battles.

[> Thanks, everyone -- dream of the consortium, 09:31:59 03/18/02 Mon

I was nervous that I might offend someone, but very curious about other people's feelings on this subject. Tillow, I was glad to hear someone else had had questions about this. Thank you all for your thoughtful responses.

Current board | More March 2002