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BtVS rewatch : SEASON 1

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  • Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
    I do think Buffy/Angel and Willow/Malcolm are pretty different. For a start, the big difference is that whilst Angel had a lot of secrets Buffy had at least met him face to face and he had offered helpful information. He had also saved her life from The Three. Meanwhile, Malcolm could be anybody and in a world full of stories where emotionally vulnerable people have been duped, conned, or worse, it's always smart to go into online relationships with a degree of caution. The other big difference is that Buffy is the Slayer and more able to take care of herself whilst Willow is still at a big disadvantage and has to be more cautious about striking up relationships with male strangers.
    The situation of the two pairings is very different and the dynamics between the two sides of each couple don't compare well. I wasn't drawing a similarity between Malcolm and Angel but between Angel and Willow. Neither of them are using the opportunity to connect with someone whilst being partly 'hidden' with any malicious intent. Willow could use the setting as an opportunity to connect to someone without her shyness and insecurities about how she looks getting in the way and Angel was able to use the 'camouflage' of his human face to do the same, connect to Buffy whilst avoiding his insecurities about being accepted fangs and all.

    I totally agree that episodes that focus on technology always age drastically. It is like all those films where the computer requires a separate room!!


    • Oh I wasn't responding to anything you said in particular! I was more trying to articulate why I think Buffy didn't necessarily do anything wrong for being unsupportive of Willow/Malcolm when Willow had been so supportive of Buffy/Angel. I can see why Willow was hurt by it but I think there a lot of variables which made Malcolm/Willow potentially more dangerous.
      Last edited by vampmogs; 03-04-14, 12:15 PM.

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      • Oh, my bad.

        I can see why Willow would have felt somewhat let down by Buffy when her response didn't match her own actions which she perceives as being those of a supportive friend. And even though, as said, Buffy was right to question the situation/Malcolm, it does also in some ways contradict the seize the moment philosophy that Buffy first suggested to Willow was her own outlook and encouraged her to adopt. That isn't blaming Buffy for Willow's misjudgements, just an observation that it is an approach that is best employed by someone who is pretty socially perceptive imo and Willow is trying to learn how to act still in many of these situations. Her social environment has started to change since meeting Buffy and just organically as she gets older/continues through growing up, starts wanting to date etc, she is meeting new situations to try and gauge.


        • vampmogs, I completely agree with your analysis of Buffy/Willow. Buffy was definitely doing the right thing by voicing her concerns. Willow was well-intentioned and trying to do the best she can in a new friendship in a newly strange world by cheerleading Buffy/Angel- but she wasn't exactly being prudent. Buffy was being very prudent by being alert to the danger signs about "Malcolm"- though I also agree with you that Buffy had a bit of a childish prejudice against online dating.

          I also agree that Xander is unfair about what he expects from Willow but at root, Xander was concerned for good, protective reasons. Xander first brought up the concern that people can lie about who they are when chatting online when that thought hadn't even occurred to Buffy. Xander's intelligence is very underrated. This ep continues The Harvest in a noble tradition of Xander/Buffy team-ups which are typically delightful. Xander's and Buffy's intelligence really stands out in stark relief when they team up- but they are pretty amusingly impetuous and easy to distract without Willow's or Giles's more restraining/disciplining influences. SMG delivers "Xander, you get me started!" very adorably.

          Originally posted by Stoney View Post
          I’m not sure how I feel about Jenny/Giles at this stage as I think that Giles is mostly trying to connect with her behind his constructed walls, within his watcher role he is creating. Perhaps some of Giles’ break away, his inability to keep that work persona/personal life boundary is chipped initially as much by his developing relationship with Jenny and her appeal to the complete Giles as much as his developing care/connection with Buffy. I do like the comparison of both of them being sent into the situation with the cover of performing these jobs.
          I agree that Jenny and Buffy are very important to Giles's S1-2 story. I read an astute analysis that Giles buried his emotions and sentiments behind his duty and old books after the Ripper debacle but then, Jenny re-taught Giles how to love and Buffy re-taught Giles how to live. Maybe that phraseology is a little over-wrought but I think it's the general thrust of S1-2 Giles.


          • I watched the episode this evening and, as suspected, don't have too much to add. I can’t believe btw that I didn’t notice the changing birthdate on Buffy’s record before. I realize they changed her age later and her gravestone was a different year (1981) but there are two different birthdates in consecutive views here (Oct '80, May '79). I’m sure it isn’t news to anyone else, but I hadn’t clocked it before.

            My main issue with the episode, past the funny Moloch suit, is the petty acts. This demon is linked across the world and whilst I can see it taking time to absorb and comprehend his access the petty smatterings that crop up seem ludicrous. We do hear a radio announcement in the background towards the end about serial killer profiles being downloaded, so it does feel like he is starting to make seriously threatening plans. Probably starting to get a handle on the kinds of risks Buffy/Giles identify. But what I struggle with is the idea that in the meantime he focuses on planting essays about Nazi Germany onto a kid's computer and removing details about allergies. Really? I suppose it is no more daft than him fixating on Willow to say thank you. The other thing that has me eye rolling like mad is Giles’ bellowed delivery of the binding spell. That would be the spell that he is dictating to be delivered electronically. It is a bit embarrassing for him really, or is he actually trying to convey the need to change to all caps and 20pt font at the end!!

            I have to say on this rewatch I actually found Jenny very unnecessarily aggressive with Giles, whereas previously I have enjoyed their exchanges here. When she is essentially calling him on being closed-minded it doesn’t reflect well to keep labeling him in a derogatory way (snob, snobby) and belittling him “I know our ways are strange to you” “Did you ever leave [the middle ages]”. It doesn’t matter if she has a point, she is making it a personal attack and she is being, well, mean.

            I did enjoy the episode more than I have previously and I think that is because both Dipstick’s and vamps’s thoughts made me watch the Buffy/Willow and Buffy/Xander of the episode in a more ‘aware’ way and I appreciated it more than I have before. Previously I think my issues with the episode distracted me too much. I have to say that I absolutely adored the delivery of the last scene with the three of them…
It's life on the Hellmouth.
Let's face it. None of us is ever 
going to have a normal, happy 
We're doomed!
            They all laugh together. Then it kind of sputters out, and they all sit there, incredibly depressed.

            Last edited by Stoney; 04-04-14, 01:27 AM.


            • Originally posted by Stoney View Post
              I have to say on this rewatch I actually found Jenny very unnecessarily aggressive with Giles, whereas previously I have enjoyed their exchanges here. When she is essentially calling him on being closed-minded it doesn’t reflect well to keep labeling him in a derogatory way (snob, snobby) and belittling him “I know our ways are strange to you” “Did you ever leave [the middle ages]”. It doesn’t matter if she has a point, she is making it a personal attack and she is being, well, mean.
              I would agree but the end of the ep indicates that Jenny is attracted to Giles and wants to flirt. IMO, Jenny was OTT rude to Giles because it's her way of trying to get Giles's attention and starting up a fight which just like a conversation but spicier. Jenny does have a sarcastic, derogatory bent to her and I didn't like her using it on Fritz. However with Giles, Jenny doesn't want to express contempt for Giles so much as flirt confrontationally. Jenny softens up her jibes the deeper that she's in a relationship with Giles.

              Plus much to Giles's credit, I think he kind of likes it when ladies tease him and make fun of him. Giles puts up a fight but to a limited point, he rather enjoys Buffy's/Jenny's/Anya's snark on him even when *I* find it facially disrespectful and rude. Giles doesn't take snark from other males. (For varying reasons. Spike's snark is different from Xander's snark is different from Snyder's snark.) However when Giles is being written endearingly and three-dimensionally, it's like Giles *knows* that there's mockable stuff about him. And while Giles doesn't want to genuflect and prostate himself on account of his flaws and he wants to retain his command and group respect, he won't make a fuss when his favorite people make fun of his flaws.


              • OK, I feel like I have so much to say I'm bursting for things to say, and I want to sit down and organize but that just isn't going to work out.

                I love, for example, Dipstick's observations about how frequently Willow accepts people lying to her as long as she believes that it supports a deeper truth (love) which is absent in Malcolm's case. But I especially, especially love this observation:

                Originally posted by Dipstick View Post
                IMO, one of the reasons why Willow isn’t in as much of a hurry to grow up is because Willow anticipates going away to an Ivy League university where she can put the pain of being bullied, the stifling nature of Sunnydale, the chilling loneliness of her house behind her. Xander doesn’t have that ivory towered dream. He is actually afraid of what he’ll do after high school since he believes that he’s stupid. Xander tries not to think about his future seriously and instead, focuses on making things happen for him romantically and socially right now because he thinks that if he can’t attain a wonderful girlfriend and some friends in high school than he’s really f*cked when the top high school students go to college. By contrast, quite a bit of Willow’s life is about resigning herself to swallowing unhappiness so she can be bailed out by some distant dream ahead in exchange for rigorously following rules. Willow’s not working on a solid plan to make her high school life better. Instead, she’s just doing what she has to do to get into a top university and just absently hoping that someone else can bail her out of her lonely, neglected existence. I can really, really painfully relate.
                Wow. I can't believe I never really thought about this -- even though now that you say it, it seems forehead-slappingly obvious. Of course that was how Willow saw her life organized before her: work hard, get acceptance letters from every university with a stamp, get out of the one-Starbucks town.

                This is really, achingly close to how a lot of high-academic achievers' life plans basically go:

                1. get amazing marks
                2. go to great university
                3. ...
                4. profit

                That Willow expects that she will eventually go to some Ivy League school, and that this will (ahem) magically solve her problems is something that makes complete sense, given her parents' background, given how extraordinary academic students are often treated and what they are often told. This also absolutely nails the reason for the fundamental difference between Willow and Xander in season one -- her lack of ambition at this stage of the game is because she already has a safety net, and he is one of those people for whom life seems like it might genuinely be all downhill after high school.

                Part of the problem with this is that Willow never seems all that interested in going to Harvard or Oxford or wherever, the way she is interested in going online and doing Scooby stuff, the way she went through her parents' medical textbooks, the way she pores through Giles' entire magical library, eventually literally taking it all in at once. She is excited by UC Sunnydale when she gets there, and it seems like the university environment appeals to her, but she very quickly tires of the social dynamics of university, whether it's the false-knowledge not-Wiccans who reduce the myriad things magic means to Willow -- hard science, mysticism, feminism -- to a bunch of buzzwords to cover authority games and bake sales (Hush), or the way the thrill of interpersonal connection quickly turns into anonymous frat parties with basically the same dynamics as high school (Doomed), to say nothing of her bad experience with her most renowned teacher (Walsh). It's not that she is anti-university, and she is indeed still hugely excited by the prospect of it all the way in Selfless, and still approaches it with her typical "go school, it's your birthday" attitude. But it's also somehow, you know, just the next step, and not the goal -- as, you know, university actually is, unless you become a professional academic.

                All of which suggests that university is a logical step for Willow, but also something that is expected of her, and which will in fact not save her, just as a relationship won't save her, just as a relationship won't save Xander, either. Changing external circumstances do indeed change a person's life, and Willow fits in better at university, but there is a distinction between the way Willow tries to get the most of university (and the way external pressures make that not-so-easy) and the way she does work in anticipation of being rescued. The latter seems to me very classic Willow: she's dedicated to doing everything that is expected of her, with the hope that maybe if she does all this, she will somehow get rewarded.

                There is just also this sense of defeatism at the core of Willow's character. I feel like talking about Willow/Xander contrasts could take forever. Xander seems to want to "grow up" and take a proactive role in creating a new role for himself; Willow wants to do all the things that she is expected to according to some weird standard for bright academic students told that they can make it if only they get out of their hometown. Xander knows that he probably is not only never leaving Sunnydale, he might never even leave the basement. Willow kind of expects that she can continue being an academic genius forever and that will solve everything. Xander is desperate to redefine himself partly because there is no future in his current circumstance. But somehow, I think Xander also believes, or at least has some element of believing, that if he can redefine himself sufficiently, and can get the hot new girlfriend through his charm, and transform himself into the guitar-lick guy (without actually learning guitar, and even though flugal horn didn't get him anywhere back in eighth grade), he will be a grownup and everything will be awesome. I sense that Willow doesn't really believe that at this stage -- that doing anything that takes her off the path of the shy wallflowery academic genius is doomed to failure, and all she can do is just continue on that track.

                I think part of the thing with Willow is that she will work hard -- extremely hard -- but mostly where she sees that she has a reasonable chance at succeeding. She does, of course, insert herself right in the middle of the slaying, and she jumps at the opportunity to help. But I think it's because she can help, and senses right away that her hacking and gossip and ingenuity are useful to the Buffy cause, just as she suspects that her ability to be a sycophant and to support Buffy's boy choices is something she can definitely do. I think this all comes back to the weird binary that I suspect is common in extremely high academic achievers -- where life gets split, rather harshly, into "things I can do much better than anyone else without trying that hard," and "things which seem completely simple to everyone else which I struggle with, to the point where it's not worth attempting." Xander is better at overcoming his shyness because he's used to failure and rejection (as he even says somewhat obliquely in Prophesy Girl), and is afraid he's not good at anything, though this also leads him to incredibly low self-esteem. Willow is used to being absolutely amazing and absolutely terrible at things, like a weird, split robot-Tarzan rather than a Jane (though she is that too), which means that she's unwilling to try something in which she doesn't sense she'll start out of the gate already good enough to be clearly worthy of praise and acclaim -- not because she's a narcissist who feeds on such, but because she fears anything less than total approval makes that thing one of the huge array of things she is apparently incapable of, which seems to leave her cut off from the human condition as a whole. This is why sometimes it looks like Willow isn't hard-working, because she sometimes seems unwilling to do the hard work at (i.e.) overcoming shyness, but it's more that there are certain parts of herself that I think she's already given up on, and other parts she will work hard at to maintain those elements at or at least have a reasonable chance at achieving the superhuman amazingness levels which seem to define all her positive qualities.

                That hope -- "if I sit here, being good, and doing hard work, and flossing, in certain academic structures, I will be rewarded with a new life," is her strategy with Xander, of course, as Dipstick says, and it's sort of her strategy with Buffy, as opposed to Xander's flashier strategy to win Buffy's acclaim. Willow is not trying to trick anyone; that is what the social contract is, and that's kind of the social contract that has been sold to her. If people get good enough grades they go to university and then their lives spontaneously get better; if people are diligent and self-effacing and completely selfless with friends, then eventually someone will see how much they support them. Willow is trying to achieve some kind of objective standard of goodness, rather than asking for or taking what she wants, because to take what she wants, or even to show an interest, would be selfish and self-serving and wrong. She is afraid of displaying ambition or sexiness or greed. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth, and all that; the problem is that the meek who constantly erase themselves don't get what they "deserve," because that's not what life is about, because who's to say what "deserving" is anyway, and Willow both believes (as we see in season two) that making the first move on a guy would make her a slut, and also hides behind that knowledge because she's deathly afraid of real rejection. I suspect that deep down, Willow knows that the world is not fair the way it is presented to be, and may both know that Xander is probably never going to return her affections and even that university won't save her; I think she holds onto some kind of hope, because it's all she really has, but she even doesn't seem really to believe that hope is real.


                One other thing I think is really well done about Willow's frustration with Buffy is the way in which Buffy can tell something is up with Malcolm because Willow blew off some classes. This is something of a sore spot with her, and one that comes up again in Doppelgangland: "Maybe I'll cut class! You don't know." For someone uncertain of their identity, there is little more frustrating to hear than variations on "you're not acting like yourself!" It's usually good and well-meaning, but, you know, what if Willow is not authentically a go-to-every-class person? Why should she be held to the standard that she's set for herself if that standard is not the one that others aspire to?


                So here's my take on the Metaphor of Moloch, and how I think it relates to Willow's series arc. I do think that this episode ends up relating to Willow's flirtation with the dark side of her power, but in ways that reveal something about that arc that IMO is powerful, even beautiful -- most importantly, that Willow conquers her dark side. (She's not 100% there at the end of her story, and in the comics continuity, but that's okay -- conquering one's dark side should be a continuing process.)

                Moloch the Corrupter is locked up by the clergy, in 1418 -- the final year of the Council of Constance, for what it's worth, and since my history is pretty weak, I feel like I can't really comment -- in a secret tome, which is meant only for those in positions of great authority (the Church) to yield. Contained in this book are secrets about human nature, about "power," and the like, which the authority structure of the Church believes are too dangerous to be let loose on everyday people without being firmly regulated by secret societies and the like. The thing that is important, before I continue, is that while my default position is anti-authoritarian, they are not *wrong*. Moloch the Corrupter represents the *real risk* of powerful corruption and of evil which occurs when ordinary people are given the opportunity to self-actualize and find their own path -- either their own path to divinity and goodness, or, you know, their own path *away* from divinity or goodness. Of course, the potential for corruption within an authority structure is also huge, to put it mildly.

                Anyway, the potential for corruption continues to be locked up in this book, which contains forbidden-fruit-style knowledge, about the nature of good and evil, about the possibility that one can have power. It is the dark side to self-actualization, the thing that the Church is maybe right to lock up, but which must be confronted and destroyed if a person is to self-actualize without an authority structure -- because we do have this potential for evil, and have to understand it and tame it if we are to make our own decisions, rather than simply follow the path laid out for us by an authority structure (of whatever type).

                The technological revolution -- like the Reformation, perhaps?, like a number of events throughout history -- changes the availability of information, ideas, ability to self-actualize, and power. Suddenly things that had been kept locked up are available to anyone who searches for it. And this is a potential great good. Jenny is not wrong, when she accuses Giles of snobbery and parochialism (and racism and sexism) for wanting to hold onto books as the primary source of information, because keeping information locked away in tomes only accessibly by a few within a large authority structure prevents individuals from self-actualizing and leads to potential corruption in the few who have this knowledge. There is the downside, though. Authority structures keeping information out of the hands of everyday people are non-ideal, but they seem to have found some kind of way of keeping Moloch at bay -- perhaps out of the recognition that if they let Moloch out, it will eventually destroy them. They have rituals and secrets and careful structure to try to prevent anyone who is not prepared to deal with him from coming into contact with him. Modern, lonely teenagers who sign onto the internet don't have that massive apparatus of protection, which does seem to work at least some of the time.

                So Giles is reluctantly agreeing to come into the 20th century, to scan books into a computer, with Jenny's help. Buffy, who stands at the threshold of self-actualization, opens the box containing Moloch, and who is Buffy if not the girl who casually, without even thinking, opens boxes which had been closed? Xander and Willow are present, and they are the two nerds at the bottom of the social ladder who don't fit into authoritarian structures, and are told they can have no power over their lives. But Xander doesn't find books all that interesting, and the Willow/Xander relationship at this point in time is summed up in one exchange:

                Willow: Xander, you wanna stay and help me?
                Xander: (in disbelief) Are you kidding?
                Willow: (taken aback) Yes, it was a joke I made up.
                Xander: Willow, I love you, but bye! (leaves)
                Willow: (calls after him) See you tomorrow!
                Xander: (ignores her) Buffy, wait up!
                Xander loves her, but bye! And he goes to chase Buffy, who he senses is his ticket out of the unpleasant parts of his life. Giles the knowledge gatekeeper, Jenny the modern technopagan using new technology to access old truths about the human condition, and Buffy the opener-of-boxes unconsciously conspire to pass Moloch to Willow, and Xander *could* stay to help her cope with him, and loves her and all, but it just doesn't hold his interest. And so Willow is left alone with The Corrupter, who immediately starts his grand seduction.

                Willow has a history of tradition through her parents' (mostly father's, I suspect from lines like "Ira Rosenberg's only daughter nailing crucifixes to her bedroom window?" in "Passion") Judaism, through her mother's somewhat authoritarian academic attitude, through the weird and contradictory standards of the high school hierarchy as set by Cordelias. And, as Dipstick brilliantly observed and as I keep coming back to, there was the possibility that university in some far-away city is the "correct" course of action expected of her, but which is still ultimately just following a path someone else set up for her, and IMO doesn't show Willow's real ambition and desire to self-actualize -- or, it does, but only indirectly. The problem, among other things, is that those traditions and rules all contradict each other, and in none of them does she really fit in, though the academic system is by far the closest. Alone with a computer, accessing knowledge which had been hidden away by various institutions over the years, she discovers, in secret, without anyone's help, someone (she thinks; really it's something) who seemingly sees her for who she is, a creature of spirit and mind and ideas, in a world seemingly preoccupied with flesh.

                Moloch makes her feel special, he makes her feel important, he makes her feel unbound by the limitations of her body. There is a druglike high to Moloch with Willow and his other acolytes which maps very well onto Wrecked, in addition to the more real and legitimate heady high that Willow gets from feeling a real connection to other humans after her long, long period of isolation, whether it's Oz or Buffy or Xander or *especially* Tara, in their Who Are You (or elsewhere) magic-sex-love things where the boundaries between them seem to collapse and disappear, and Saga in the dark mirror of that. He does for her what magic does, but there's good uses of magic and bad uses of magic, and the boundaries between them are not so clearly demarcated but we can be pretty sure that Moloch is the bad kind: he gives the feelings of being powerful, of feeling connection, of being recognized, of being important, without the *real* connections to reality that make those things meaningful. Moloch, ultimately, is what the dark side of the Force could come to mean to Willow, and it's important that he's locked up in books *by authority structures* and is released from Giles' collection by Jenny and Buffy.

                Moloch goes viral on the internet, stops being a creature of human (or demon!) limitations at all, spreading throughout the world, the lines between him and others vanishing. And he discovers seemingly unlimited power. He's connected to everything, the way Willow will be after she takes the magic from Giles in Grave, but unlike Willow, he's just a monster; he can only see the connectedness of everything as tools for him to use. Willow is tempted by Moloch, and her resentment of Buffy comes to the surface, though part of that is for good reason -- that Buffy can't imagine falling for a guy with a hairy back suggests to me that she can't quite understand Willow's level of abstraction, and while Buffy turns out to be right about Malcolm I think there *is* just a touch of the same inability to understand Willow's looking-beyond-the-body approach to romance that also leads to her very brief shock and held-back disapproval that Willow has fallen in love with Tara in late season four. But the thing is, Willow fights back. Willow will eventually be more seduced than she is here, because her pain just grows in intensity as more and more bad things happen to her and more and more attempts at legitimate connection seem to fail. But ultimately, she is *not* like Fritz, a proto-Warren who worships power at all costs, and is destroyed by it. She is not even Dave, a weak-willed person unable to fight back strongly enough against Moloch and who dies as a result. She faces down Moloch (who, like the First, ultimately longs to be made flesh even though his power rests in his very lack of flesh) and wins, even as he offers her the knowledge, power, and, most importantly, love that she craves.

                I think that intermingling -- knowledge, power, love -- is really important for Willow's story, and also for a certain type of person, for whom even love is intellectualized and life seems to be lived within the mind at a step removed from the physical world. Willow's ability to abstract is her great blessing and great curse, related to her ability to disappear into a relationship, or a new identity, completely. But it's wrong. Willow really does have a conscience, and she will win her fight against the darkness, and this can't be stressed often enough, really. We see it here, we see it again and again. But I also think it's important that this episode shows some of why that fight with the darkness is important. It's not necessary for it to have happened on the scale it happened, or anything like that, but Willow's desire for knowledge and her desire for power and her desire for love are all part of a continuum, and seeking the ability to truly love another person requires breaking some old rules and some old structures, most crucially the patriarchal/certain-kinds-of-religious taboo against homosexuality, which one could say is old news by the time this show airs but is certainly not on the time scales this episode suggests (i.e. 1418!!!). Willow's transgressing the moral boundaries she sees before her is not some proof of her fundamental defects of character, but the result of the fact that many of the "moral boundaries" put in her way really were unfairly, terribly restrictive. I use sexuality as an example and because I see it as something of a synecdoche -- it's her sexuality, but not just her sexuality. Willow tries following the rules that larger structures, "society" in general, etc., place on her, on women in general, on bullied kids in general, on high academic achievers in general, etc., and has to fight for every scrap of being herself she can get. It turns out that it's hard, sometimes, for her to recognize which moral boundaries are real ones, and which are just there to propagate injustice.

                Willow's search for knowledge and love and power continues through her various guides over the series, some good, some not, most recently in the comics Saga who embodies Willow's search for these things most explicitly. Ultimately, what I think Willow wants more than anything else is love, secondarily knowledge, and power is a way to get those, rather than the other way around, and a way to protect those -- some power is necessary, or else she's demon meat, for instance. But I think Moloch is the demon who sees everything -- knowledge, love -- as power, and represents the temptation to view the world entirely in those terms; Willow eventually strays to the point where she thinks power is all there is, for a brief time, before she starts to recover. The power to defend oneself and the power to help others are important, but "power" in and of itself is not the goal, and Willow's rejection of Moloch here represents her early recognition of such, though it's a kind of bumpy road. Since Willow is also something of Buffy's metaphorical spirit, I think it's also an early instance of Buffy's rejection of power-qua-power as the goal of life.

                I don't think I've explained it all well, partly because I don't think I have a full picture of how all the elements here intermingle. I *think*, though, that what the episode is saying is that the potential for the Willows of the world to self-actualize is aided by new technology, a society hopefully less restrictive, especially when it comes to love -- Willow's being able to openly date Tara, for example, is something that would have been much more difficult a century earlier -- and that potential also means that the Moloch temptation can no longer be locked up. Willow's natural curiosity and loneliness combine with her huge intelligence and ability to abstraction to make her one of the most natural targets for the Moloch brand of empowerment as an alternative to actual self-actualization, and in order to become the individual Willow needs to be she will have to face and conquer Moloch, with Buffy's (and Xander's, and Rupert's, and etc.) help, of course. In a society in which moral decision-making is done only by gatekeepers like the Church or the Watchers Council (or the Initiative, or whatever), Moloch can be more safely contained from all but a select few, but individual freedom is similarly restricted.

                Willow stands at the threshold of beginning to make decisions for herself, after years of just doing exactly what was expected of her. For someone who has never done this, this is terrifying. But she has to. And it's good that she does. Moloch is a representation of many of the biggest figurative demons she will eventually conquer on that path to becoming her true, good self.

                Edited for clarification of my position on certain points.
                Last edited by Local Maximum; 06-04-14, 09:25 AM.


                • Brilliant post Max. Thinking about Dipstick's point on Willow/Xander's future expectations of themselves and what you say on the corruption of Moloch against Willow's S6 path - it feels that Willow and Xander do see the future for the other the same as they do for themselves and that this plays a massive part in the Xander/Willow of Grave. Willow warns Xander in The Pack of being the guy at the pizza place. Xander recognises Willow's academic brilliance, she is the 'go to' tutor of course. So breaking away from the corruption in S6 needs Willow to reconnect to Xander, to a more innocent time, to the person whose path is nothing like her own. Buffy can't stop Willow because it is a battle of power and their knowledge of their own power competes, even though they love each other they war/clash. But Xander uses his knowledge of Willow rather than himself, because he has no competing 'power', and through his love he is successful. Willow isn't threatened by Xander, he doesn't/can't take her power away from he. He succeeds by getting her to let it out and depower herself.
                  Last edited by Stoney; 06-04-14, 08:43 AM.


                  • Yeah, I definitely think a lot of that is going on in Grave, but I talk about that a lot (well, elsewhere!) and don't want to make everything all about that. There are lots of other things going on in the Grave scene but I do get the sense of Willow and Xander reconnecting to a part of each other that they had been disconnected a bit as a result of the events of the first three or four years of the series which take them apart from the closeness they shared before Welcome to the Hellmouth. It's not exactly a story of reuniting after a period of estrangement, because they were never "estranged" and continued being friends up to that moment, but I think Willow taught herself to stop counting on Xander as a result of the series of rejections in s1-3, which fed into her overall feelings of being unlovable and of despair and of having worth only insofar as she can solve others' problems, and Xander taught himself to stop seeing himself as having the ability to affect other people, which fed into his overall feelings of being useless and unable to love. I can't pin it down exactly, but I think Willow has lost some of her initial gentleness, and Xander has lost some of his initial will and daring-do, as a result of the paths that they took in s4-5 -- Xander toward a conventionalish job and marriage, Willow toward being a fixer of people's problems and Buffy's Big Gun -- both of which were valid choices and important ones (they need both the carpenter and the witch to defeat Glory, e.g.) but both of which failed in s6, partly due to their intrinsic flaws and partly because Sunnydale is a cruel, cruel place, and they get it back from each other at that moment -- because these are childhood traits that they share, and somehow were only "stored" in their somewhat neglected childhood relationship. This is why I wish there were more scenes between the two of them in s7, though I think there were some great moments between them there, and am sad that they've been really neglected as a pair in the comics, but I digress.


                    • I'm so sorry I haven't had time to watch the show as I wanted but I was finally able to find time for this one so yay! I think you guys covered everything about this episode so I'm just going to comment on your great thoughts.

                      This episode was actually the last episode I ever saw of the show. I remember being so pleased to find a new episode I never watched before.

                      I've always been on Giles' side on the whole books vs computers, but I think it's a bit of a tie for me lately. Books are my reading for pleasure time and internet is my find-info-fast source. But overall I prefer musty and smelly books over screens. I understand what Giles says about the smell, I also prefer those old yellowy papers over white clean ones.

                      I also think that Jenny is a bit too aggressive trying to dumb-down Giles' preference of books and force him to adopt her way of thinking. I never thought I'd be this irritated with Jenny as I usually enjoy her character. Loved the stupid box/good box argument and Giles' facial expression when Fritz started to lecture Giles.

                      Oh, and Willow's face when she said "No, that's a joke I made up" reminds me so much of Sue Heck from The Middle.

                      Originally posted by Dipstick View Post

                      I’m a big Jenny-fan but she is flawed. Her “Thank you, Fritz, for making us all sound like crazy people” line is too snarky for a teacher to say to a student, particularly a talented computer student donating his time to help scan books. It’s entirely possible that Fritz really did suffer from mental issues before Moloch. I could really see Fritz having Aspergers.
                      I thought she felt embarrassed because Fritz was the one mocking them, like she felt silly fighting with Giles before those kids.

                      Originally posted by Dipstick View Post
                      [B]Xander's intelligence is very underrated.
                      I think I heard Joss say that Willow has the book smarts and Xander the life smarts.
                      Made by Trickyboxes
                      Halfrek gives Spike the curse that will change his entire life. Teenage Dirtbag


                      • Forgive me for not writing anything new. What follows is a truncated version of my LJ notes on Puppet Show. I'm cutting out comments by my brother (except the title tag-line, cause I always got a kick out of those). I am leaving in Max's comments, though! His remarks are in italics.

                        Buffy 1.09 The Puppet Show, In Which Buffy Connects with a Demon-Hunting Wooden Toy

                        Having run through a sequence of introductions followed by an examination of the scoobies' love lives, we get a sequence of episodes dealing with more thematic issues.

                        Mythology: First up is an exploration of the show's mythology using Sid the demon-hunter who first appears to be a demon as a vehicle:

                        1. Sid, the cursed dummy, mistakes Buffy for the demon because she’s strong. Buffy mistakes Sid for the demon because he’s after her. There’s a play on predator/prey and the difficulty in distinguishing them. Obviously a theme to be developed going forward.

                        2. Giles observes that the distinction between demons and humans is that demons are driven to kill pure and simple, whereas with humans the drive to kill is more complex. In Lie to Me, Buffy is going to save the day by recognizing that at least one demon (Spike) is driven by something other than the desire to kill. Just as it can be hard to distinguish a demon hunter from a demon, the distinction between humans and demons isn’t so straight-forward either.

                        Max adds: The complexities of human evil get brought out too in the episode-long red herring of Principal Snyder. Snyder is introduced as having no positive qualities, and throughout the episode he appears at the scenes of crimes. Giles seems to believe that the Snyder is the demon, in one shot late in the episode. But no--Snyder really is just banal, human institutional evil. Of course, this gets flipped again in season two/three, when we discover that Snyder is working for the Mayor, a human who aspires to be a demon (in reverse of the monster of the week here). An amused note: the shooting script lists the Principal's name as "Mr. Miller"!

                        3. And we get a bit of foreshadowing on this point. Willow is creeped out by the thought that the murderer could be a human and says it’s creepy because it could be anyone, even her. Everyone looks at her like she’s nuts – but as we discover in season 6, she is quite capable of murder.

                        4. Sid desires death because he’s lived too long. Though many are intrigued by the immortality of vampires, the inability to die is a burden not a blessing. In AtS, season 5, Spike will talk about Shanshu as the chance to become a real boy. That’s what Sid wants here, even though it means he will immediately die.

                        Buffy/Angel: Sid, like Angel and Buffy inhabits the border zone between human and supernatural. After Sid dies, Buffy holds him tenderly and clearly feels the weight of his passing. Sid and Buffy mirror Angel and Buffy, with the ambiguity of whether they are friends or enemies, Sid’s venture into Buffy’s bedroom and the fact that Sid’s existence in the no man’s land is due to a curse. Also, Angel has a bout of puppet-ness to his credit as well.

                        Max adds: Note also how the bedroom Buffy/Sid scene ends with Buffy screaming and Joyce coming in, in a very similar way to what happened in "Angel." Buffy reacts with childlike (and generally uncharacteristic) fear in both cases; we could perhaps surmise that since Buffy's reaction to Sid is rooted in her childlike fear of dummies, maybe some of her strong reaction to Angel in her bedroom has to do with some childhood fears as well. Cordelia notices Buffy's watching Sid, and jokes that the two would make a great couple, who could join the "freak show" together. Freak show--Angel's words to describe Buffy/Angel in "The Prom" (and Buffy's to describe Buffy/Spike in "Wrecked"!). Sid also tries to seduce Buffy, but has rather less finesse than Angel does. Finally, after Morgan's brain is found, Buffy continues to have faith that Sid is the good guy he claims to be, whereas Xander quickly jumps back onto the theory that Sid is the demon, which amply summarizes the divide between Buffy and Xander's assumptions when it comes to Angel. It's interesting how all this occurs in an episode in which Angel is not once mentioned by name.

                        Slayer as Destiny: Buffy, Willow and Xander end the show doing a piece from Oedipus Rex, the play about a man who cannot escape his destiny. We’re making the turn into Prophecy Girl. Buffy will escape the spirit of her destiny in that episode, but not the letter of it. Season 8 seems to be reopening the question of just how much of Buffy’s life is driven by destiny. The closing scene plays off the title of the episode. It’s worth noting, in this regard that just as Sid is no puppet, neither is Buffy destiny’s pawn.

                        The Slayer's Spider Sense. While we're on the subject of Buffy's Destiny, it's worth pointing out that Buffy, likely due to her powers, has a sense of the demonic that is beyond the rest of the Scoobies. In the last episode she mentioned something bothering her spider sense. It happens again here when she tells the other that Sid is alive. She is mocked for it, with Xander laying it on a bit thick when he gets with Sid and demonstrates Sid's wooden puppetness with a humorless sarcastic riff. (Tellingly, after finishing, he puts Sid down and then moves Sid's head to the side, disturbed by the puppet's gaze). The distancing between the Scoobies and Bffy due to her preternatural abilities is already beginning to show. This is a theme that will dominate Season Two and beyond.

                        The separation of Buffy's powers sensing the demonic is highlighted by Giles' failure to pick up any sense of threat from Marc, who proved to be the demon after all. First he interviewed him, then later even allowed Marc to put him in the guillotine. Buffy's spider sense could have done him some good. (OK -- this section was my brother, but I think it's too good to leave off just because he's not part of this board).

                        Giles: Max: We see Giles, in this episode, forced into a role he doesn't want--of running the talent show. He chose his occupation (librarian) specifically to avoid having to deal with students, besides Buffy, but now he has to mentor a whole group he doesn't want, and he does a pretty poor job of it. (Seriously, the Power Circle is weak. Sid's right to wonder how Giles got that job.) Eventually, a magician, who is about the only student he has given any real advice to, tries to kill him. I think it's instructive to think about this in regard to Giles' relationship with Xander, Willow, and the other non-Buffy Scoobies: he is never entirely comfortable with them in his life (he comes close with Willow, though she does, yes, nearly kill him), and as much as he cares for them they're not his generation and not exactly his family. There are more hints of Giles' dissatisfaction with his role in the group, when he mumbles how nice it is to have someone besides him deliver the exposition. And yet: he does still bond with Willow and Xander. He is happy to have Willow do research with him, and overjoyed when Xander's Cordelia-related advice happens to work. He didn't sign on for these kids in his life, but he does appreciate them. And it's all three of Buffy, Xander and Willow who save Giles' life this week.

                        Cordelia: I love Giles’ expression when he’s watching Cordelia rehearse. We get more Xander/Cordelia antagonism in this episode. We’re ten episodes in and Cordelia is still a one-note character. It’s clever to establish her so firmly as a cartoon, before evolving her into a real character (starting in OOMOOS) – it plays off the narrative convention that would leave her permanently ensconced in the one-note role of self-absorbed prom queen.

                        Max notes: The song Cordelia sings, incidentally, "The Greatest Love Of All," gets called back in AtS' "Slouching Toward Bethlehem," shortly before "Spin the Bottle" which calls back her "hello, salty goodness" initial reaction to Angel and her season 1 persona.

                        MAX:Summoning Anya: Buffy mentions dressing up in a bunny outfit in this ep. Sorry Buffy, you're just not crazy enough to do it. We'll have to wait a few years for someone who is.

                        MAX: Next time, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: There are many seemingly throwaway moments in this episode that set up "Nightmares" next week. The gang suggest to Buffy that her attack from Sid might just have been a nightmare of hers, and Buffy seems to fear the dummy to an unusual degree. And individual nightmares are implied. Willow's performance anxiety is referenced several times--she can play the piano, as long as it's not in front of other people, and she runs away in the big Oedipus Rex show. Xander is afraid of the mime (a sort of clown, no?). And Cordelia is really, really afraid of having bad hair.
                        Last edited by Maggie; 07-04-14, 11:10 PM.
                        "I don't want to be this good-looking and athletic. We all have crosses to bear." Banner Credit: Vampmogs


                        • Great post Maggie, really interesting points. I really like your observation that Sid's (one of our hidden identities of the ep, curse and all!!) immortality is something that is a burden. Form matters, to exist in any sense is not something that is supported as we are always looking at who/what the characters were, want to be and hope to be. Sid however is presented as being trapped and would rather be released than continue in that way.

                          It is interesting in regards to Buffy’s spidey sense if we do see her supernaturality (should be a word!) as something that increasingly separates her/the scoobies that it draws her to Angel more in S2 and yet she didn’t sense his ‘otherness’.

                          Loads of great examples of comic timing in this episode. The writing is brilliant in BtVS but it is often the excellent cast that take the script and really raise it beyond. My favourite deliveries…

                          Snyder: I know the three of you will come up with a wonderful act for the school to watch. And mock. And laugh. At.
                          Willow: The creep factor is also heightened. It could be anyone. It could be me! (gets looks from them all) It's not, though.
                          Giles playing Xander’s advice to get Cordelia distracted was very amusing and it is nice that it is a real team effort in saving him.

                          As I said in Angel, Joyce is at risk, she should know the dangers and when she says here that she wants to support what Buffy is doing I do really think she means it. But still she doesn’t push to find out what the ‘a lot going on’ is that Buffy has on her mind. The intent is there it is the execution I feel is a repeating issue for Joyce and I always wonder how realistically her juggle/drop depiction feels specifically to single parents.

                          I think this episode is a great introduction to Snyder. He isn’t going to be another Flutie. He isn’t going to fall for that woolly-headed liberal thinking that gets you eaten. Well… hmmmm, not all of that maybe.

                          Snyder is a bully, the little man getting a kick out of his authority masking his inferiority issues. We get a glimpse in Band Candy of his background persona and it feels here like he can almost sense the ‘kids’ that he would have gravitated to, that he would have wanted to follow and be ‘in’ with, and as an adult he resents that he wouldn't have fit, even if he would have been tolerated. Giles is erudite, has a natural charm/appeal that Snyder wishes he held but, hey, he is the principal and if he wants to push Giles outside of his comfort zone and insist he runs the talent show then that is what will happen. Snyder's little hitler persona stated as their new Führer in Giles' eye.

                          I am noticing in particular discussing these episodes when rewatching that there always feels to be a flow between them. Sure we have the seasonal topics growing up, hidden identities etc but the episodes do flow/ebb together. Snyder here, as Max identifies in Maggie’s review, is institutional evil. There is corruption in his position, in his future alliances, that sits nicely against IRYJ. Interesting to note Maggie’s points about the links from here to Nightmares too.

                          There is an interesting aspect in this episode that plays towards the ‘normality’ theme as well. Buffy falsely seemed to feel at the end of Never Kill a Boy that a normal guy may not be feasible for her when really it is an individual thing with each personality and their awareness of her world being key. This can’t be illustrated to her more clearly than those around her living in the same balance where their personal events/relationships reflect these issues too. When do Xander, Willow or Giles get the 'normal' relationship? In reflection to the events in Never Kill a Boy, in this episode we have Buffy now pulling Giles on prioritising the murder/danger above other 'lesser' concerns. But Giles makes the point that ‘the show must go on’. Buffy has her ‘normal’ life, Giles has his day job too. The reality is that all aspects of their lives are their total reality, are their normality. Once you are aware of the dangers they are there all the time. Trying to firmly segregate areas of her life is what didn't work.


                          • Great thoughts on Puppet Show, Maggie. T

                            To briefly respond to Local_Max's great thoughts on IRYJ before talking Puppet Show. Willow partly releases Moloch because she just doing rote data entry labor for the adults (Giles and Jenny) who just gave her a stack of books to scan. Moloch as a World Wide Threat could have been avoided if Willow knew how to read Giles's books. Of course at this point, no one is to blame for Willow not knowing what's in Giles's books. However, the old school hierarchical nature where only trained Watcher Giles knows what's in his books and adults Giles and Jenny can order subordinate youngsters to do the boring, trained monkey work from a distance contributed to Moloch as a threat.

                            However moving into the The Puppet Show, Willow's role as a researcher is evolving. By now, Giles gives Willow a broad topic (re-animation theory) and gives her free reign over her books and Willow considers it typical. I actually don't have a lot to say about The Puppet Show. It's my least favorite S1 ep. I think it's pretty boring- so I'm all the more impressed by Maggie's notes reaching for more depth and color out of an ep that I find flat and dull.

                            This ep shows how it's sometimes not easy being Giles. IMO, Xander and Buffy leap to the conclusion that Willow's brain is in danger and Giles's brain isn't because Willow is the most obvious damsel. She is also their peer- so they hang out with her and fully see her as a brilliant, but verrry fragile human. Buffy and Xander do think Giles is brilliant- but they also expect that he's above being a damsel. Buffy may joke about how she's taking on his role of Watching him but Buffy really doesn't think that she has to *watch* him to protect him from danger like Buffy thinks she has to watch Willow or even Xander. Xander had a similar mentality when he didn't want to follow Giles to protect him in NKABOTFD. Giles definitely enjoys the positive elements to being "above it all super-cool adult guy!"- he doesn't have to deal with the drama that besmirches and undermines his younger colleagues, he can outsource unpleasant tasks with the authority of an adult, he enjoys financial and job security. However sometimes, that attitude that Giles is too adult and together to be a damsel can put him in danger and allow the Scoobie to ignore his genuine emotional pain.

                            Giles's brain is under threat. Giles was the "brains" of the Primeval empowerment spell and the First Slayer went straight after his brain with a knife much like how the demon went after Giles's brain here. I really enjoyed Stoney's point that Snyder is jealous that Giles is erudite, charming, and handsome and thus, Snyder uses his power as a principal to bother/humiliate the by far cooler guy, tweed and librarian-ness aside. I think that's a theme in Snyder v. Giles from beginning to end and it's really brought out in Band Candy.

                            Originally posted by Maggie View Post
                            Cordelia: I love Giles’ expression when he’s watching Cordelia rehearse. We get more Xander/Cordelia antagonism in this episode. We’re ten episodes in and Cordelia is still a one-note character. It’s clever to establish her so firmly as a cartoon, before evolving her into a real character (starting in OOMOOS) – it plays off the narrative convention that would leave her permanently ensconced in the one-note role of self-absorbed prom queen.
                            Cordelia does get some depth in this ep. Her line here is revealing:

                            Cordelia: I, I can't go out there. All those people staring at me and judging me like I'm some kind of... Buffy! What if I mess up?
                            Cordelia appeared *so* confident with her singing. Maybe my school experience was different, but usually socially savvy high schoolers wouldn't enter a talent show if they weren't legitimately talented at the activity. However, there's Cordelia. Poorly and off-key singing her heart out and not just any song, but Greatest Love of All memorialized by uber-talented Whitney Houston and Dolly Parton to now be performed by comparison poorly at every Kareoke bar in the world. However, at the final yardline, Cordelia does panic. Cordelia really reigns as the Ultimate Queen Bee so she usually walks around feeling invincible- like she can do anything and retain her crown because she's always been the prettiest, the most popular, the most fabulous gal in this One Starbucks Town. However on the final yardline, a part of Cordelia knows that her peeps are *merciless* and she cannot afford to give a crappy performance or they'll ripe her to shreds just like Cordelia would rip someone to shreds for appearing awkward and less than fabulous ala what Cordelia has done to Buffy.

                            It's a microcosm of her relationship with Xander. For a time, Cordelia really felt that she was fabulous enough to do the unthinkinable and date the loser guy and remain Queen C or go right back to being popular after she got dumped. However, at crucial moments, Cordelia panicked about dating Xander or having dated Xander in the past because Cordelia knew that she's really not Teflon Popular Girl. She can be judged and thrown aside just as much as anyone else, including Guacamole Queen Buffy.

                            Lots of folks talk about how Cordelia displays glimmers of positive traits in her earlier bitchier days that foreshadow that heroine that she becomes starting in Prophecy Girl. Totally valid and great analysis and I've done that in this S1 rewatch. However, Cordelia also foreshadows some of her negative "heroic" traits. Right now, Cordelia makes a melodrama out of everything, but she especially exaggerates her fabulous lifestyle. However when Cordelia's life got legit harder and more painful, Cordelia also made a melodrama out of her suffering and pain by hyper-playing the part of the most devoted and caring best friend/lover who can only share the center of the story's pain (usually Angel). Cordelia definitely shows those traits with:

                            Cordelia: It's just such a tragedy for me. Emma was, like, my best friend.
                            Xander: Emily.
                            S1 covers what Buffy would find facially terrifying right off the bat much more than other seasons except for maybe "back to the beginning" S7. The Big Bad is a Master Vampire with a scary face (which Buffy can only dismiss as a fruit punch mouth right when she beats him). It's very different than the other Big Bads who facially appear non-threatening but then became threatening on a closer look (Angel, the Mayor, the Initiative which Buffy was trying to join, Valley girl goddess matched with the doctor that Buffy was attracted to, three nerds, Buffy's best friend Willow). As we ramp up to the season finale, it does seem right that there's an emphasis on what *Buffy* would find facially terrifying, what gets to the root of *Buffy's* specific chilldhood traumas. Evil dummies that make Buffy wig are a prelude to next ep's big focus on Buffy's nightmares and even the ep afterward's focus on an invisible Marcie seemingly immune to Buffy's grace and skill as a fighter hacking up Buffy's beautiful, popular girl dark mirror's lovely face to all lead up to Prophecy Girl which is the ultimate "Buffy conquers her fears" ep. Buffy pretty much comes back from her first death in Prophecy Girl as an emotional adult in many ways (albeit one warped by maturing so ridiculously early through hear-wrenching tragedy). Buffy conquering her childhood fears moves her into that adult space that Willow/Xander lag far behind from.
                            Last edited by Dipstick; 08-04-14, 12:35 AM.


                            • Yay! Maggie's observations on the various mythology aspects, and the blurring of human/demon lines, really nail this episode. I also really love Stoney's and Dipstick's point that Snyder deliberately makes Giles do the talent show specifically as an exercise of power to make up for Giles being cooler than he is. I was gonna mention that Giles' narrowly averted head cutting really is reflected in the Restless First Slayer attack; the appearance of Willow's performance anxiety also sets the stage for Restless in addition to Nightmares. Actually, the demon's taking human organs, including a heart and a brain, is very Restless, though the First Slayer does so in dreams, and not to sustain herself exactly.

                              I love Giles' line that he took the job of librarian specifically to avoid interacting with students. Giles really doesn't like the fact that he's thrust into a position where he has to interact with teenagers, who eventually look to him for support which he can never really give. I find Giles' uninspiring power circle moment pretty instructive for him in the whole series; I suspect, for instance, that part of the reason for Giles' departure in s6 is that he actually has no clue how to parent Buffy, rather than that he thinks it's not a good idea, but he can't even admit his ignorance at that point. What's interesting is that he continues gravitating toward jobs which do involve a lot of contact with other people, but in which he still finds ways to avoid said contact -- the library which almost no one attends, the Magic Box shop where he farms out much of the customer service to Anya who starts off with few people skills.

                              I don't think Giles is as misanthropic as he puts on, so much as...I think that he fears exposing himself, in a way that fits in with his walls starting to come down a little bit with Jenny in the last episode. He has the dark past, for one thing, he has the duty which he somewhat resents, for another. He has multi-layered secrets -- he has to hide his Watcher identity from all but Buffy (and her circle, who were somewhat of an accident), and hide his dark past from everyone including Buffy et al. He spends his time researching what ghastly horrible events are coming. Unlike Buffy et al., Giles has pretty much given up on having a life, at this point -- Jenny is opening that up a crack, as are Buffy and the other two; having to pretend to care about a talent show is torture, both because he knows that there are Things More Important! and it's painful to spend time dealing with this "fun," and because his idea of fun includes the very intellectual (which these kids seem to have no interest in) and the secret bacchanalian, which, you know, he can't exactly share that part of himself. (Within the series, when not under band candy influence, the closest is his Hugh Hefner period with Olivia and a lot of drinking, which is still pretty mild.) Giles does have a more mundane kind of fun side, watching Passions with Spike and all, but he keeps that secret too because he wants to maintain his aura of culture.

                              Someone who isn't me but I forget who has made the observation that Sid -- an adult trapped in a tiny, child-sized body, and seeking escape -- is another of the season's metaphors for the child/adult transition. Sid is on the opposite end of things from Catherine Madison, who longs to stay in a child's body (who doesn't want to grow up); Sid is the person who wants to "grow up" (stop being a child) and has to perform a dramatic act of demon-slaying to get out of it -- which is pretty much what Buffy does in PG. I really like Maggie's connection between the title and the Oedipus Rex play at the end and Buffy's destiny, or ability to avoid it. So the puppet who controls his fate -- great, great stuff. This also interestingly means that Whistler's famous Becoming monologue, "What are we, helpless? Puppets?" ends up referencing two episode titles, one before Becoming and one after (i.e. The Puppet Show and Helpless). Buffy is not helpless without her powers, and Sid (and, since they parallel each other, Buffy) is not a puppet, no matter what superficially seems to be the case.

                              Oh hey, here's a thought: Marc switches from going after Morgan to going after Giles. Morgan is the brains of the operation, and is associated with the mind (his brain is stolen). And so Morgan apparently is in control of Sid, who is his dummy, but wait, Sid is actually in charge, and then Morgan dies! I think there is maybe a bit of a reflection of the Giles-Buffy relationship in here, with Giles as Morgan and Buffy as Sid -- Morgan is supposed to be in charge, but it's mostly Sid who is running the show, except that Morgan also does have power over Sid, except that...wait.... In any case, Buffy ends up steering the Buffy-Giles dynamic much more than I gather Watchers are expected by the Council to let their slayers do, which I think gets reflected here. Giles doesn't die within the series, but he does die in the comics! (It's Joyce who is dying of cancer. Connection?)

                              "I don't get it, what is it, avant-garde?" --Snyder, as the show's critics! No, just joking (was anyone calling Buffy avant-garde in s1? I'm guessing no, but it's hard to say).
                              Last edited by Local Maximum; 08-04-14, 07:47 AM.


                              • Originally posted by Local Maximum View Post
                                I don't think Giles is as misanthropic as he puts on, so much as...I think that he fears exposing himself, in a way that fits in with his walls starting to come down a little bit with Jenny in the last episode. He has the dark past, for one thing, he has the duty which he somewhat resents, for another. He has multi-layered secrets -- he has to hide his Watcher identity from all but Buffy (and her circle, who were somewhat of an accident), and hide his dark past from everyone including Buffy et al. He spends his time researching what ghastly horrible events are coming. Unlike Buffy et al., Giles has pretty much given up on having a life, at this point -- Jenny is opening that up a crack, as are Buffy and the other two; having to pretend to care about a talent show is torture, both because he knows that there are Things More Important! and it's painful to spend time dealing with this "fun," and because his idea of fun includes the very intellectual (which these kids seem to have no interest in) and the secret bacchanalian, which, you know, he can't exactly share that part of himself. (Within the series, when not under band candy influence, the closest is his Hugh Hefner period with Olivia and a lot of drinking, which is still pretty mild.) Giles does have a more mundane kind of fun side, watching Passions with Spike and all, but he keeps that secret too because he wants to maintain his aura of culture.
                                Agreed. Also, the Watcher's Council seems to insist on a very specific, staid uniform image from its Watchers, including the Field Watchers. Being a Watcher and a librarian may go together like chicken....and another chicken </ Buffy> but organizing talent shows is the kind of thing that the Council would definitely disapprove of and consider a total waste of time from the Good Fight. Giles may have rebelled and he still has some rebellious, iconoclastic impulses towards the CoW but a big part of him also wants to fit in and embody their culture because it *is* his destiny, they are his employers and the fact that the higher-ups repeatedly snub him does hurt.

                                I forget if the series directly states or it strongly implies that Giles performed rock music in clubs and public venues during his rebellion days. It's ironic that Giles actually knows quite a bit about music and performing in public. Heck, maybe even his S1 dreams feature him performing at the Bronze ala Restless. However, he's keeping such big parts of himself under wraps that he can't offer the teenagers in the talent show any mentoring beyond cliches and weak power circles even though he may well have interesting war stories about conquering nerves to perform in public or coaching on singing methods to make Cordelia a little more pleasant to listen to even if Giles can't quite lend his singing talent to Cordelia. Willow can frequently be directly paralleled with Giles. Willow is doing a similar thing- she could have played the piano but she's too insistent on hiding to perform that way. Even though if Willow can play a song reasonably well and Buffy and Xander took over all of the singing, it would likely have been less embarrassing for Willow than the Oedipus performance. Per OMWF, Buffy has a great singing voice and Xander....gamely tries! However, it does shine a light on how shame/shyness doesn't reliably lead to avoiding embarrassing situations. Willow and Giles were so busy trying to hide their abilities/inner lives that they kind of embarrassed themselves needlessly, certainly Willow with the crappy Oedipus performance that she had to run away from and perhaps Giles from the crappy talent show that Snyder was totally judging.
                                Last edited by Dipstick; 08-04-14, 10:17 PM.