Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

BtVS rewatch : SEASON 1

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Originally posted by Dipstick View Post
    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.
    Right. I sort of gestured to this above, but I'm not sure how clearly it came across, but I think the thing is, too, that both the Council's-man and the Ripper sides of Giles would have equal contempt for the high school talent show, and look at it as a middle-middle-middle class booboisie activity. The Watcher aspires to (affected) upper-crust sophistication and being above-it-all, and the Ripper rebel aspires to (affected) lower-class anti-authoritarianism and finding something so mundane and cheery evocative of everything that's wrong with the boring, complacent airheads that make up the majority of society. This may be part of what allowed Giles to make the transition back and forth between Watcher culture and Ripper black magic culture -- both are on some level predicated on the fact that the majority of (middle-class) life is pointless and deserves to be held in contempt, partly, in fact, because people go about their lives artlessly while the world is continually threatened by forces of darkness people are willfully blind to. I think there is a certain snobbery that intense anarchic rockers and cultured, sheltered aesthetes may have in common even though they are on opposite ends of the cultural divide -- and both will find the kind of broad-appeal stuff that high school talent shows tend to produce unworthy of time or consideration.

    Re: Willow, I wonder if part of the reason she ended up going for the Oedipus Rex performance instead of playing piano is that she actually does maybe have some sense of pride about her piano playing -- just not around other people. She doesn't have any pride in her acting ability, so she goes through torture (which she can't actually bring herself to do, in the moment, when it comes up) for a short time, but her expected failure at acting doesn't do anything but reinforce something she already "knows" about herself. If she plays piano in front of a crowd and it goes badly, then her piano-playing might potentially be ruined forever. It's a little like her Xander-crush, though a less extreme case; Willow keeps some things she really cares about (and some aspects of her identity) very much to herself, out of the fear/expectation that if they are exposed and then subjected to ridicule, then she will no longer be able to hold onto those things, even if they are minor. Whereas, she seems fairly willing to court failure if it's in some area where she's not really expected to perform well, such as this, or various aspects of slaying.
    Last edited by Local Maximum; 09-04-14, 03:36 AM.

    Comment


    • I will post for Nightmares in the next couple of days, hopefully tomorrow evening.

      I have just popped the episode list up on the organisation/sign up thread for Season 2 so that we are ready to roll when we finish S1 in just over a week.

      Comment


      • Hey sorry I haven't been able to participate the last few days! Looks like I missed out on some great discussion on The Puppet Show. I'm not a huge fan of this episode and I'm afraid I don't have much to contribute on top of what has already been said. However, one point I will make is that this episode begins something of a running gag when it comes to passing comment on past Slayers based and their attractiveness (or lack thereof). Sid talks about a Korean Slayer in 1930's who was "very hot" and in Nightmares and Becoming both The Master and Whistler say Buffy was "prettier than [the last Slayer]." I dunno, maybe it's just me, but I think it's pretty damn sad that these girls literally laid down their lives fighting evil and saving the world and all they're remembered for is whether they were attractive or not. We know nothing about the Slayer before Buffy (her name, her origins, her accomplishments, how she died) other than that she was ugly, apparently, which makes me relieved that Buffy will at least be remembered for something much more.

        It's also fairly typical that we're meant to laugh at Old Sid's randy, horny dummy act as he keeps inappropriately hitting on a 16 year old girl. Which I guess can also be seen as another similarity between Angel/Sid except Sid is obviously far more sleazy and not remotely ashamed.

        ~ Banner by Nina ~

        Comment


        • 1.10 Nightmares

          The links throughout this episode to the Master are gearing us up towards the season finale. We start of course with a slayer dream. Buffy doesn’t seem to analyse it beyond a regular nightmare, and maybe it is, but as we know the truth of her future confrontation it seems likely it is more than that as her stake inexplicably falls out of her grasp. The Master talks to Collin about fears being within the mind and controllable and the message of facing those fears is tackled in harsh reality within the episode and will be again for Buffy as the prophecy is heard. So much of being a slayer is shown to be part and parcel of being chosen, is intrinsic, but they do make the point that a slayer trains and develops their skills, learns what to disregard and what to react to. The harsh reality of what Buffy is facing every day and what her future could be is so stark in this episode I find it really hard hitting. The dismissal of The Master of her predecessor as not being as pretty was horrible in how little regard one of those who died to protect the world receives. Sure it was from the mouth of the enemy, but the point is out there. An individual slayer is a blip, evil wades through them.

          The mix for Buffy in her nightmares was excellently played. She fears failing on a test she is unprepared for, understandable with all the balls she is juggling. She fears that her dad blames her for the break in their family and that she is a disappointment, linking in to her fear of academic failure. And she fears becoming a vampire, failing at slaying and disappointing those that have tried to support her.

          Buffy does fear becoming a vampire, she does make it clear she is feeling bloodlust but it isn’t her focus. Buffy’s fear of becoming a vampire feels more situated in the failure than in a fear of going all ‘grr’ and ripping her friends/family to shreds. She doesn’t even consider whether she needs to breath or has a heartbeat, it is about having died. It is interesting that she doesn’t see herself, in her nightmare as a vampire, being different to herself or question that she is willing and able to choose to continue to fight/help. The fear is layered but not about becoming a soulless, unrecognisable killer. That she maintains gameface is obviously used as a visual sign of the nightmare but she doesn’t want Giles/Willow/Xander to look at her. The visual of her vampire face is the unavoidable truth of her failure to those who believe in her.
          Xander: Well, the Hellmouth, the center of mystical convergence, supernatural monsters: been there.

          Buffy: Little blase' there, aren't you?

          Xander: I'm not worried. If there's something bad out there we'll find, you'll slay, we'll party!

          Buffy: Thanks for having confidence in me.

          It is a phenomenal pressure for one so young. But whilst the expectations of those around her are there, they do reflect what she sees/feels for herself and she does at other times greatly benefit from such loyal belief.

          Facing fears is a part of growing up but isn’t about being a grown up. Who is ever truly fearless? Our fears change and flex with our lives and circumstances. Fears of mortality, memory loss, health, dementia, emotional losses etc are all exceedingly common and yet I doubt the average sixteen year old would feel them, but Buffy is an abnormal sixteen year old and her mortality is a real and very genuine part of her own nightmare and is amplified by the weight of responsibility she assumes to stay alive to protect/fight on. The experiences of this episode perhaps serve to prepare, maybe desensitise somewhat her immediate fears when she will face the idea of the prophecy. But that of course doesn’t mean that it makes it any easier because of the incredible enormity of all that it entails.

          As Maggie’s review concluded, we did see set ups for this episode within The Puppet Show. Max pointed out the link with Cordelia’s bad hair nightmare to Giles' teasing and the effectiveness of that is played out here as we see what a deeply set fear it is for Cordelia if her hair, outfits and being grouped in with the nerds of the chess club are her honest nightmares. Her hair ‘weighs heavy on the cerebral cortex’! In some ways it is vacuous that these fears register so deeply for her and yet, as we know that Cordelia isn’t without intelligence and is capable of turning away from these considerations because of what she sees in people (Xander), it makes the level of this pressure that she feels really crippling. Cordelia is not one of my favourite characters but she is a very good example of how someone is in part created by their environment as she will always have a little of the Queen C about her no matter how down and out she gets at times. Her home life/upbringing is 'chosen' for her, beyond her control, and also puts her as another in the position of being both privileged and suffering the pressures of expectations upon her.

          Willow’s performance anxiety was also mentioned and this is very much repeated from her stage fright during the play. This performance related social phobia that Willow has is very interesting in its specifics though and it works directly with her self esteem. It is interesting to consider Max’s point about her avoiding the risk of performing the piano but willingly taking on the attempt at the play. In her nightmare she is being made to sing and it is something that she is so uncomfortable with all she can manage is a vague screech. She is also very dolled up with heavy make up and trussed up clothing that makes her look so forced into the role there is no doubt that her self image has it as an entirely impossible situation for her to succeed in. But of course when she is asked to handle Jenny’s classes for her, stand in front of her peers and take on the role of teacher, something that she is uber confident of her capabilities with, there is no hesitation. The contextual factors greatly dictate Willow’s responses on this front.

          That Giles’ fears were rooted in a similar sense of failure to his own calling continued the mirroring that we have seen between him and Buffy. A level of cognitive dysfunction would be an alarming experience to someone who relies so much in absorbing and analysing information. Acquisition of knowledge, seeking solutions, explanations being his terrain, are the ways that he performs his role. To get lost within the stacks is to fail to find what he seeks and then to lack the ability to read what he does have is truly a nightmarish situation for him. The books he adores suddenly trap information away from him more succinctly than even the dreaded computers normally could! And of course all of that culminates in his fear of failure towards Buffy, that he won’t protect her or train her as he should and she will fall.

          Xander, again in keeping with his outlook this season, is the first to clearly turn on his fear and face it head-on. It’s origination in a childhood experience works well in this confident choice to hit back and his desire to grow up. As we learn more about his homelife/background going forward the idea that even the entertainment at a childhood party would be traumatic for him I find really sad. This fear does of course also link well to his use of humour as a defence mechanism twisted around not wanting to be laughed at. The clown chases him laughing at his fear/attempts to escape and the class openly laughs at his humiliation of suddenly being stood there in his underwear.

          A fear of clowns isn’t an unusual one to have and interestingly a piece of research conducted with 4-16 year olds a few years ago by a local UK University found most children disliked/feared clowns. With the stereotypical face of a clown having a forced smile painted over the genuine features is very easy to see why. Hiding facial features can be very unnerving and it is very easy to make a clown face quite creepy/sinister I think, it is just a painted on mask after all. That clowns are supposed to be fun and entertaining makes it even more unsettling and the ‘comedy’ featuring pranks/tricks merely supports that unease. The ‘uncanny valley’ hypothesis suggests that something that looks almost human but somehow isn’t 'quite right' can provoke revulsion in the viewer. This reaction is heightened when movement is involved, so, as well as the clown, Buffy’s reaction to a puppet perhaps falls within this theory. Of course with vampires and creatures like zombies it would also very much apply and the same can be said of the ugly man chasing Billy.

          The abuse of the coach is horrific and I always find the depiction of his hand as a heavy club a startling visual. The ugliness of the aggression is turned into the larger than life ‘monster’ coach looming over them and it is made all the worse by the reality that to that small child his fist would be/feel like a brutal weapon. The potential abuse of power follows from Snyder’s little hitler moments too in The Puppet Show, pushing the children under his care around. These power relationships are shown through the coach, the implication of parental pressure when talking about Little League and of course the fear that a child has of disapproval and hearing their shortcomings seen through Buffy’s nightmare interaction with her father.

          BtVS often puts a spot light on parental failings, often character’s having daddy issues, but both Joyce and Sheila Rosenberg are also shown to let down their daughters. I liked seeing Willow and Buffy talking about their family arrangements as it showed how early in their friendship they still are that these details are still emerging and yet they are already saving each other’s lives. In this episode I have to acknowledge though that Joyce actually provides a lovely contrast of a loving and supportive adult figure when she reassures Buffy about Hank’s visit outside school, even within the difficult scenario of her own separation and Hank's actual visit does too.

          Other bits and bobs - Xander’s acknowledgment that he was still attracted to Buffy as a vampire obviously contrasted to his expectation she should feel differently towards Angel. The worst thing about this episode has to be Buffy’s horrific manicure! And my favourite delivery goes to NB this time…
          Willow: So, why is this happening?

          Giles: Billy.

          Xander: Well, that explanation was shorter than usual. (to Willow) It's Billy.
          Last edited by Stoney; 11-04-14, 08:10 AM.

          Comment


          • Lots to say, so I'll start with my usual obsessions: the Willow nightmare is something that I think gets referenced again and again throughout the series, in different ways, which basically ties in with the big overarching "performance" theme in Willow's story. I've already written about this back in the notes with Maggie for Nightmares, but rather than quote that I will...rewrite all of it, without looking at what I wrote there, to see how much hasn't changed. There are two explicit references and one near-explicit reference, all in Joss episodes:

            * Restless: "This isn't Mme Butterfly, is it, because I have this whole problem with opera!"
            * OMWF: "I've got a theory, some kid is dreamin', and we're all stuck inside his wacky Broadway nightmare."

            I know the latter is more a reference to this episode in general and not to the song, but Willow's the only person who nearly had to sing on screen, so I think the connection stands. The other one is Oz, in Amends: "You ever have that dream where you're in a play, and it's the middle of the play and you really don't know your lines, and you kinda don't know the plot?" Oz probably doesn't know about Willow's nightmare, and Willow doesn't say the answer is "yes," but I tend to think (especially since Joss brings it up again in the future) that Whedon is aware that Oz is remarking on a nightmare Willow has had.

            When she knows what is expected of her, Willow is very, very good. I like Stoney's mentioning of her taking on Jenny's class in s2. Now, obviously, the fact that she is afraid to play piano or give a performance to which she has memorized the lines in The Puppet Show means that her fear of exposure includes some things where she's pretty clear on what she's supposed to say and do -- she's afraid she'll be judged or look ridiculous. But being asked to perform in front of people when she doesn't know the lines is a subtly different problem, one in which she is both exposed and completely unaware of what she's supposed to be saying (singing).

            I think that basically comes down to the fear of being seen; she's afraid of exposing herself as the Welcome to the Hellmouth-outfit nerd, as we see in Restless. But there is also a big element of recognizing that there are correct lines to say, that there is some proper way to "be," some correct combination of words and inflections that makes her a person and will solve her problems, and she has no idea what it is. Willow's story involves a lot of costumes and masks imagery, but for most of the time I don't think she's doing any kind of active deception; she's trying to find the right way to present herself, which will represent the "correct" self-presentation. Everybody does this to some degree, and it is normal, to try to figure out how to present oneself best to other people; people tend not to present all of themselves at any given time, not just for fear of criticism but because they want to try to communicate specific ideas and specific parts of themselves. It's just that for certain people, and I think especially people who struggle with shyness, social anxiety, and spend long periods in isolation, it becomes paralyzing trying to figure out how to behave in a social setting. Willow struggles with figuring out how to present herself to the world in an authentic manner.

            In this case, she's asked to sing in a foreign language which she doesn't even know. She is completely cut off from the person who is singing to her, and what happens is also something of a parody of male/female romantic relations in that she is expected to sing a duet with a weird man who doesn't speak her language. That romance, in particular, is going to be hard for her has to do partly with her sexuality and partly just because she seems a little mystified by certain elements of human interaction generally, which the language barrier intensifies here.

            Oz brings the performance-play idea up when Willow's trying to seduce him, dressing herself all up in a sexy outfit (like a courtesan, like Mme Butterfly maybe?) and getting the Barry working for her, and Oz, who also is kind of an affected person in certain respects but who is more at home with himself overall, points out the artificial nature of the setting while also recognizing the real feelings that lie beneath it. Willow, in Restless, really wants to join drama class, partly because she is actively working on constructing a new identity and finding a way to express parts of herself that had laid dormant -- as well as figuring out what to present to the outside world that is more likely to get her love and acceptance. But the class is confusing, with weird gender roles that don't quite make sense (there's lots of gender performance stuff going on, with Buffy-as-flapper, Riley-as-cowboy, Harmony-as-milkmaid), incongruities that her mind can't quite make sense of. I think this is kind of normal for someone who feels perpetually on the outside of interpersonal interaction -- she kind of suspects that everyone else is also in a constant state of performance, but one in which they are aware of their roles, and unaware of the ways in which those roles make no sense. Willow fears, eventually, that there is nothing under there but the nerd, and maybe even that isn't real. In OMWF, Willow doesn't sing at all -- except for a few lines here and there, including the filler line -- and it's Tara who sings to her, but Tara's song is enabled by Willow's erasing from Tara's memory the fact that Willow went "off-script" at the Bronze by snapping at Tara; Tara's song is allowed/permitted by Willow's careful control of her narrative, and so Willow has ensured that she is not placed in the position of being stuck without her lines anymore. Of course, that is punctured at the episode's end when Willow's fantasy of competence and goodness starts to fall apart when it's revealed that Buffy was in heaven and is unhappy with her return.

            I think it's a big deal that Willow is singing in Goddesses & Monsters, then, even if she's only singing "old-person radio"; it seems to me that her feeling forced to sing, against her will, in radio songs is a step forward to being able to express herself. As with the rest of G&M, the "language" that crops up is a combination of symbols that are already in use -- it starts off with the Harry Potter-inspired landscape before going to general "flower petal" Freudian stuff which is also mostly surface-y; the Black Knight et al. are cliches and are recognized as such. Communication is hard. But Willow, when she's singing the classic rock tunes as a way of expressing herself, is finding a way to "sing" her own song, to express herself, to be herself. It's an incomplete, difficult process, but the overall arc is one of progress, even if Willow doesn't come close to conquering her fears of singing in this episode.
            Last edited by Local Maximum; 11-04-14, 08:09 AM.

            Comment


            • This is one of my favorite S1 episodes! I love it more when the episodes go deep into characters' minds and fears.

              Buffy: Was Buffy called when she was fourteen or fifteen? 'Cause if her parents were separated before they finalized the divorce "last year" then she must have been a Slayer for a whole two years before moving to Sunnydale – the scene when her father and mother were fighting over her spending the whole night out in her first night slaying as well as the whole clinic thing clearly say that her parents haven't separated yet.

              Buffy's fear that her father is going to bail is to be expected, 'cause we didn't really hear from him or about him at all in previous episodes. It also seems to be Buffy and Willow's first talk about Buffy's father. He's already distant and he'll get more distant as the show goes on. (Personally I'd have preferred if Buffy's father was a stand-up guy instead, mostly because the show is packed with bad fathers) and Buffy's scene with her father at school must one of the most heartbreaking things in the show because it's something Buffy always expected and was dreading it, something she knew was going to happen.

              On a shallow note, Buffy's two long locks were so distracting. I wish she pulled them up.

              Buffy's nightmares start shallow and superficial and get more serious and disturbing as the episode goes. It's heartbreaking how some of those nightmares become true: her father abandoning her, being buried alive, digging her way out of her grave.


              Xander: I adore how close he and Willow used to be. They're always together. She must have been "insane" all night on the phone about the spiders' incident. Then when he freaked her by having his fingers crawling up her arm like a spider. And her cute laugh at the clown chasing him in his sixth birthday party that he had to… I'd like to hear the end of that sentence!

              Xander's underwear episode looks more like karma to me as we've seen his satisfied smirk when the punk's mom embarrassed him in front of everybody. Xander enjoyed watching the punk lose his cool as he obviously resented punks and jocks for having something he craved and perhaps because they tended to pick on him and bully him. Xander should be thankful he's wearing decent underwear and nothing embarrassing.

              Xander should have noticed a danger was on the way when he saw the spray-painted swastikas on the walls that relate to his earlier comment about fearing Nazis instead of spiders – shallow observation, NB's eyes became more green than brown when the clown showed up, and it's gonna happen again in Go Fish when Xander learns that the steroids are in the steam. While it's nothing scientific, I like the cartoonish element of eye-color changing when a character is scared linked to Xander's more child-like character. Stoney's point about Xander punching childhood fears away in an attempt to grow up is spot-on. Btw, that clown does look scary. What the hell were Xander's parents thinking?

              Later when Buffy insists that Billy do the rest, Xander's "I get it" shows that he's more insightful than everybody gives him credit for – he's got a lot of those small unnoticed moments of insight throughout the show. It may also be spoken out of experiencing the same thing as a child – "Well you obviously haven't played Kiddie League. I'm surprised it wasn't one of the parents."

              Willow: I liked the little detail about Willow's parents. They're quite similar to Cordelia's. They don't argue like a normal couple, but keep resentment on mute. The silence must drive Willow crazy.

              Willow's fear of being looked at, being exposed in front of everybody is going to haunt her for the rest of the first four seasons. While Xander faces his nightmare driven by a lingering desire to grow up, Willow is too scared to leave that safe place in childhood. Growing up means moving past those insecurities and she's not ready for the spotlight yet, I like how her nightmare here foreshadows Restless.

              Giles' "Willow do shut up" and the way he raised his hand to shush her when she asked about What Billy is supposed to do are, while justified, a bit of a letdown considering that Willow has a picture of her and Giles in her locker, foreshadowing her confession about having a crush on Giles.

              Giles: I would have liked more revealing nightmares about Giles, but sadly all his nightmares were about Buffy and his work. I guess Giles so deeply wanted to leave his old life behind, separating it from the new one, that it didn't feature in those nightmares? Though for Giles most of his nightmares are seen from other characters' POVs, so maybe he did face more personal nightmares when he was alone.

              Cordelia: I thought she was kind to Buffy in this episode. She reminds her of the history test and she tells her where the class is. I do think that Cordelia deep, deep in her heart would like to be Buffy's friend – as we've seen in Welcome to the Hellmouth. She shows a lot of interest in Buffy for someone who considers her a psycho loser.
              Made by Trickyboxes
              Halfrek gives Spike the curse that will change his entire life. Teenage Dirtbag

              Comment


              • Great review Stoney!

                What I find depressing about this episode is that three of Buffy's nightmares actually come true. In Prophecy Girl Buffy will become paralyzed by fear and the Master will kill her, Hank will cancel on Buffy in Helpless and then pretty much abandon her entirely, and Buffy will be buried alive in Bargaining I. You could also say that her academic failure alludes to her dropping out of college in Tough Love. That's just really sad and emphasizes that Buffy's life often is a nightmare even without Billy around to make it happen. I find the scene of her being trapped in the coffin and screaming with terror particularly harrowing knowing the trauma she'll go through in S6 and how when it actually happens to her she'll have no voice to scream

                I've always found it interesting that one of Buffy's fears is supposedly becoming a vampire. I say 'supposedly' because it's just not something that ever comes up again and the writers had ample opportunity to explore it. Whilst it's clearly rooted in some basic truth otherwise the nightmare couldn't have manifested itself, I do wonder if it's a simplified version of Buffy really fearing the darkness inside of her. That's a recurring theme for the character throughout the series in episodes like Restless ("We're not demons" "Is that a fact?"), Buffy VS Dracula ("You've never wondered about your power when it is so near to our own?"), Get It Done (the Slayer is created by placing a monstrous essence inside of her), and The Long Way Home ("I'm afraid of the dark" "Buffy, you are the dark" "That's what I meant!"). When you also take into consideration Maggie's analysis of the opening scene in Welcome to the Hellmouth where Whedon's first inversion of The Blonde Girl trope was by actually making her a monster, I think the vampire is just a stand-in for Buffy's fears of her power in general. And it makes sense that this fear would manifest as Buffy becoming a vampire given, as Dracula says, how close their powers really are, Buffy's resentment of often spending time in the shadows like the creatures she slays, and Buffy often feeling like a dead girl walking.

                This episode also illustrates how much more powerful and healthy it can be when Buffy learns to confront that power, harness it, and wield it for good. The moment when she lets out a vampire roar and charges at The Ugly Man always gives me goosebumps and is great to see. It's also what originally ignited my curiosity to see a Slayer-turned-vampire as a villain given how formidable Buffy becomes (S9 touched on this with Simone but as with most of S9, it was pretty unsatisfying). I'm also curious as to what the rules exactly were for a vampire created by a nightmare. Does Buffy have a soul? She works with the good guys and saves the day but she also tells the gang they better hurry because "she's getting hungry." And, no, I don't think she was joking, Xander

                Do we think vampires were affected by Billy too? I feel it's a bit of a missed opportunity Angel didn't appear in this episode. Not just because his nightmares could have been terrifying if they manifested but Angel seeing Vampire!Buffy could have been really interesting. Speaking of, it's interesting that Xander admits to still being attracted to Buffy despite her being a vampire which might have given him some perspective on how Buffy's able to look past it with Angel. On the other hand, he also says it makes him "sick" and that he "needs help" which is a pretty damning indictment of Buffy and somewhat in line with claiming she's "out of her mind" back in Angel. Though in all fairness whilst I think those judgement are in the mix I think he's also being humorous too. It entirely different to say those things about oneself than actually saying it about a friend.

                I have to cut this short but hopefully I'll be able to finish later. I at least want to say something about Xander, Willow and Giles!

                ~ Banner by Nina ~

                Comment


                • Verrry quickly, I think that the nightmare scene of her father telling her he doesn't love her is really, really close to Angelus' bedroom scene in Innocence, in a way that I don't think is coincidental. That she thinks that Hank rejected her because she's the slayer is a key subtext of the scene, which is very closely related to her later becoming a vampire. Her fears are so closely interlinked. Her father doesn't love her because she's secretly a vampire deep down. Everything in her life was going great before she was called -- her slayerdom and the loneliness that accompanies it must be a curse. In the Becoming flashbacks, her parents fight after Buffy gets home, and there's some suggestion that it had been going on for some time, but Buffy also continues to believe that her slayerdom is the cause of her parents' divorce, on some level. In Normal Again, Buffy's parents stayed together in her imagined world where she wasn't the slayer. Whether this world was of her own imagining or completely imposed by Andrew's demon poison is somewhat immaterial: Buffy believed it made sense, which is the core truth there. I think she finally is starting to progress in Conversations with Dead People when she admits, on some level, that she thinks it's probably her dad's fault and not hers.

                  It's interesting, because I don't think that Angel's taunting of her in Innocence is actually about her slayerness the way Hank's is, in a cryptic way. But I guess it sort of is -- "I thought you were a pro"; slayerhood and sexuality are intermingled.

                  Comment


                  • I don't know how great my comments are. I wrote a lot in a short time while kinda drunk. This may seem like word vomit.

                    Great review, Stoney. Not to get overly strident about the resurrection. However, Buffy's nightmare is that she is *buried* alive in that her alive human body is put in a pit, the Master shovels dirt on top of her, she is too helpless to stop it, and she eventually dies or comes back the undead. At this point, Buffy fears being buried alive as a method of *killing* her. It was traumatizing for Buffy to crawl her way out of her grave in Bargaining and it does resonate with her nightmare and heck, Buffy required her strength and incredible lung power to stay alive during her crawl. However, the main thrust is the opposite. In S6, she was being made alive and she could fight her way out the grave in a direct contravention to her emotionally stated "I'm 16 years old. I don't want to die" and her repeated fears of death in Nightmares.

                    Great analysis on Willow and performance, Local_Max. As Stoney notes, Willow does feel more confident teaching and tutoring than performing drama/piano/singing in public. Obviously, Willow had already grown in confidence from Nightmares to Passion so Willow has an easier time taking over class. However, Willow was confident enough to be the resident student tutor by WTTH. IMO, Willow has a much easier time connoting solid academic facts in a classroom instead performing art which is based on ephemeral feelings. A truly moving and worthy dramatic or musical performance calls on emotions to be performed and for the audience to respond to how well the performer conveys and inspires emotions. Willow has no confidence that her emotions are the right ones, let alone that others will see her emotions and identify with them enough to appreciate or even refrain from mocking her performance and let alone, that Willow’s own fragmented, insecure, complex, sometimes angry and bitter emotions can ever be beautiful enough to create to gorgeous art.

                    Curiously, Willow’s nightmare is artistic performance but she deeply admires and is attracted to performance. Around the time of S1, Willow was secretly writing love poems and fanfiction and positing it online under an online pen name. Her reaction to novels and historical stories (Merchant of Venice, Hunchback of Notre Dame) is viscerally emotional and by turns sentimental or intense in Willow’s ability to identify with the anger of characters. Willow was very attracted to Oz being a musician. She was hilariously open-mouth lusty at Giles singing and playing guitar. Her manufactured Perfect Day with Tara was Tara serenading her. The First through Cassie knew that the way to get Willow to start fragmenting was to note that Tara’s spirit still sings. Learning how to play piano is a commitment to the arts. Heck, the fact that Willow’s nightmare is Madame Butterfly demonstrates a very high minded commitment to the arts for a sixteen year old girl. (Then, creating another nightmare based on Death of a Salesman demonstrates a versatile appreciation for the classics in such young person.)

                    Willow holds artistic performance in such high regard that her publicly performing terrifies her. Willow appreciates art and she knows that really good art requires that the artist display their feelings and the audience identifies with those feelings and that identification is enough to make the artist’s feelings and how the artist chose to convey those feelings into a thing of beauty. Wendell loved and admired spiders but believed that he failed at taking care of them as they should have been taken care of and thus, spiders became his nightmare. Willow loves artistic performance, but she doesn’t believe that she can perform as these pieces deserve to be performed and thus, performance becomes Willow’s nightmare.

                    It's one of art's contradictions. "Great art" like Victor Hugo's novels and Death of a Salesman is known for the artist being iconoclastic and marking to the beat of their own drummer. (Actually, I think they make their own drums.) That's Willow to a T. However, Willow gravitates to the sentiment of true art and makes it a part of her unconscious dreams and nightmares. However, she does kind of think that truly successful art is a popularity contest where the audience likes the artist's deepest feelings- which is sorta true pragmatically speaking.

                    Meanwhile, teaching can just involve conveying facts in an organized and competent manner. Although, Willow struggles with other aspects of teaching. She is comfortable with the “just the facts, ma’am” but she struggles with disciplining students like Gage, and keeping Buffy on track during their tutoring sessions. Part of the effectiveness of Hyena!Xander’s assholicess in The Pack is that Willow feels the burden of trying to inspire interest and enthusiasm in schoolwork because Willow believes that is a component of being a teacher that eludes her and Hyena!Xander made Willow feel like she fails at that. Willow is OTT overjoyed when she believes that she’s played some part in inspiring academic interest or enjoyment

                    Xander is kind of the opposite. Xander’s *fantasy* is him playing the guitar in front of everyone while Willow’s *nightmare* is her singing in front of everyone. IMO, Xander has a different position on the arts. Xander loves music and performances too- but in a pretty light “entertaining thing” kind of way. Xander dances a *lot* but it’s a wacky spontaneous expression of how his body feels energetic and happy and thus, Xander automatically moves it with little regard for whether he’s expressing the right emotions or whether others will respond well to his artistic expression. Xander admires Oz for playing guitar and he generally admires celebrities and musicians- but it’s for their ability to competently make people happy and allow them to party well. Xander can be deeply and emotionally affected by a piece of art- but it’s more of a surprise to him. One of the strengths of Xander’s dream in Restless is that he didn’t walk in with some faux intellectual intent on appreciating Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now. However, it viscerally hit Xander hard where he lives because it’s way too close to home and the surprise of that emotional punch, made Xander vulnerable enough to go into the basement to reach his emotional nadir and have his heart ripped out of his chest.

                    There are nightmare similarities between each duo of Core Four characters that speaks to a broader similarity between them:

                    Buffy/Giles and Willow/Xander can be divided along whether their nightmares speaks to their evil-fighting job. Buffy and Giles’s nightmares are about them failing at their calling. Buffy becomes a vampire i.e. the thing that vampire slayers fight; Giles can’t read anything and thus, can’t be a Watcher. See Stoney’s review. However, Willow and Xander’s nightmares are about their non-evil fighting fears. It makes sense. All four fight evil- but Buffy and Giles are the only two that feel that they need to live up to some creed or Platonic ideal of what a Slayer or Watcher does.

                    Buffy/Xander and Giles/Willow can be divided along whether they confront their fears. Buffy/Xander confront their nightmares- or at least, Buffy confronts her nightmares of becoming a vampire and being buried alive. Giles/Willow don’t. It speaks to a S1 difference. Buffy and Xander are much more assertive personalities in S1.

                    This is the most tenuous one. Buffy/Willow have nightmares about things that they feel are really true. Buffy thinks that Hank really rejected her and she’s a terrible student and not that bright and that she can die or be vamped any day because of her calling. Willow doesn’t anticipate being drafted into a production of Madame Butterfly in real life but Willow does believe that she can be called on any day to perform in public and it’ll be very important but Willow will fail because she’s awkward and not attractive and people can’t relate to her.

                    Meanwhile, Xander and Giles don’t have dreams about their deeply felt insecurities. The clown represents an embarrassing incident from Xander’s childhood but Xander doesn’t fear the clown based on his own insecurities. Giles knows that he’s a scholar- he doesn’t anticipate losing his skills. (However, it can be argued that Giles fears losing his ability to read and research because he thinks it’s the only worthwhile thing about him.)

                    It’s hard to put my finger on but I do think that Willow and Buffy are haunted by concrete self-imposed standards of how they ought to be and that drives their insecurities. Meanwhile, Xander, especially at this stage of his life, is generally insecure. However, he hasn’t been molded through parental influence or past popularity and success or teachers’ input to feel that there’s some standard of achievement that he should be meeting. Instead, Xander just has strong but vague feelings of insecurities and craves the popularity and success that some people have in a disorganized and hyperbolic fashion. One day, Xander envies frat guys. The next day, Xander wants to rescue Buffy and then, play a guitar solo to the acclaim of all. The next day, Xander wants to save Buffy from her sad life with Angel on his private jet and take her for prime rib.

                    IMO, Giles is pretty confident in his Watcher abilities right now. He’s ashamed of his dark past- but that’s not really insecurity over not measuring up right now. It takes Giles a few years to start feeling like a loser for not having a life outside of shepherding teenagers. Thus, Giles's nightmare is really far afield from reality in stark contrast to how real Buffy's nightmares are- "What if some day, some how, I couldn't read? That would suck!"
                    Last edited by Dipstick; 12-04-14, 12:44 AM.

                    Comment


                    • Also, great review Stoney -- I'm sorry I didn't open with that.

                      I started a reply but lost it. Oh well. I'm a little tipsy so this might also be word vomit.

                      I disagree a bit with Dipstick on her final point -- because I think that Giles' worries about not being able to read are actually very clearly based in reality. Giles' ability to read is unlikely to be damaged. But his ability to interpret what he reads means the difference between Buffy's life and death. Never Kill a Boy on a First Date already basically brought this up -- he thought he made the prediction wrong, then it turned out he got the date right but interpreted where the rising would happen wrong, then he thought that the Anointed One was dealt with when actually he wasn't, though he doesn't know that yet. Giles actually did read things mostly correctly in that episode, but he was subtly mistaken in ways that nearly ruined everything and will eventually lead to Buffy's temporary death, which Giles maybe even senses subconsciously (that was too neat and tidy, wasn't it?).

                      I also do kind of think that the clown is related to Xander's insecurities. He is Xander's childhood. Hell, he might as well be drunken Uncle Rory coming to ruin Xander's wedding (which, Uncle Rory doesn't do that much at the wedding, but Xander certainly worries he will). That the clown basically can kill him represents how present and how real those childhood fears are for Xander.

                      I think that the division between Buffy/Giles and Willow/Xander in terms of duty/not duty is related strongly to where their core insecurities about themselves lie. Fundamentally, Buffy and Giles were happy with their lives before they were called -- there were problems, but things mostly went well. With Giles, I'm talking about his childhood, back when he wanted to be a fighter pilot or a grocer. The calling wrecked a good thing. For Willow and Xander, the slaying saved them from a life that was going badly -- Willow was hoping to be rescued by university, as Dipstick observed for IRYJ, but I think she knew that wouldn't really do the trick, and Xander is still not over his childhood.

                      Re Willow:

                      Originally posted by Dipstick View Post
                      It's one of art's contradictions. "Great art" like Victor Hugo's novels and Death of a Salesman is known for the artist being iconoclastic and marking to the beat of their own drummer. (Actually, I think they make their own drums.) That's Willow to a T. However, Willow gravitates to the sentiment of true art and makes it a part of her unconscious dreams and nightmares. However, she does kind of think that truly successful art is a popularity contest where the audience likes the artist's deepest feelings- which is sorta true pragmatically speaking.
                      I really love this, and it makes me think of other things about the human condition. I read an analysis of John Ford's film Young Mr. Lincoln (I'm a dork) in which the author argued that the film is partly trying to reconcile the difficulty involved in lionizing Lincoln as a hero of democracy -- and the contradiction inherent in being a "hero of democracy," i.e. an exceptional advocate for the idea that all humans are equal. How is it possible for that to make sense? Similarly, great art has to represent something that is universal to human experience, and so the best art is the one that reaches the most people, except art also has to be unique and personal and original. Willow values both art and democracy, so, you know, there's the problem.

                      The problem of art, then, is really close to the problem of democracy, which is related to the problem of human worth as a whole. In order for her identity to be genuine and authentic, Willow has to express her real emotions, but in order to communicate with other people she has to express emotions which, as Dipstick says above with regards to art, other people can identify with. Originality means nothing if the other person can't receive the signals being sent out, and indeed something which no one else can understand is essentially considered bad art. Which is related to the idea that if a lot of people dislike you, you are probably a bad person. This is getting a little off topic, maybe, but I think that's also a problem with humanistic philosophies at a base level. In order to believe in the worth of other people, you have to believe their opinions hold at least some weight, which then means that if their opinion of you is low, it's very hard to dismiss that. It's possible to, as Willow does, draw lines around certain people who treat her badly and exclude them from the general set of people who are worth listening to (as she does with Cordelia, later Faith, Veruca, sometimes Anya), but that meets contradiction. Willow's desire is mostly to be all things to all people and to also be herself, which are plainly contradictory, and life is some sort of negotiation of these.

                      If not popular acclaim, how do you measure greatness in art? If art is meant to evoke universal feelings, is there any other measure besides the universality of the response? But then if it's a personal response to the work of art, which is not shared by anyone besides yourself, are you really connecting to anyone?

                      The beauty of performance art like opera is that the actors are finding within themselves the voice to express universal truths about the human nature, hopefully showing something authentic about humans in the process, while also faking those emotions and running through a series of carefully chosen words in order to do so.

                      OK I think I've lost the thread.
                      Last edited by Local Maximum; 12-04-14, 05:28 AM.

                      Comment


                      • This is a real sideways jump I acknowledge, but the points you are both making about human connection through performance art made me think about Willow's choices in the memory wiping. The need to reset and try again to get right how she interacts with Tara is almost a scene rerun to fix the acting, a way to etch-a-sketch and do another take on how it was performed. She tries to offer Buffy the same thing, a clean sheet to start afresh, unencumbered by the negativity the actor may feel surrounding past performances. But as Willow retains her memories she herself starts to perform to an extent around it all, flicking the switch of happiness on because that is what it should be, what is written in her mind as to how her relationships should be playing out. It is what she wants to be feeling, even though she knows it isn't the truth of it. Anyway, as I said, a sideways jump that might be a little loopy but was where my mind went to.

                        Comment


                        • I do love that Xander fears clowns. That laughter that haunts him, the happy face that is just a mask, and not only that but it's tied into a specific childhood memory which as we come to know with Xander are rarely, if ever, good. It takes it just beyond a generic fear and makes it very Xander-specific which I love. Up until this point I hadn't really considered what the clown symbolized and found Xander's nightmares a little disappointing in comparison to the other characters (being in front of the class in your underwear is another 'generic' nightmare) so I'm happy to be enlightened. So, we have Xander saying he "laughs in the face of danger but then hides until it goes away", the wicked hyena laugh, and now the killer clown laughing as he tries to butcher Xander. Humor is Xander's coping mechanism but also a hindrance. It prevents people from seeing the pain he's in, or, maybe *allows* them to turn a blind-eye to it, rather than help him. Unless you're Anya and Dark!Willow in S6 who both reach something of a breaking point ("No, the mature solution is for you to spend your whole life telling stupid, pointless jokes, so that no one will notice that you are just a scared, insecure little boy!"/"Still making jokes").

                          I guess Xander's nudity in class is an extension of that. In Teachers Pet he fantasied about being on stage and in the spotlight however in his fantasy he was a suave, vampire-slaying guitar player. In reality Xander fears being exposed for everybody to see. No clothes (or humor) to hide behind.

                          And I wonder about Xander following the trail of chocolate bars leading himself into the clown's trap? It's a pretty obvious trap and Xander's a little naive not to see it for what it is. I wonder if this is a reflection of how Xander can be very perceptive of other people and their problems but develops a habit of falling prey to danger in his own life. He can see the possible dangers of Buffy and Angel's relationship but blindly enters Ms French's den (and later Impata and Maya in First Date).

                          ~ Banner by Nina ~

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Local Maximum View Post
                            I disagree a bit with Dipstick on her final point -- because I think that Giles' worries about not being able to read are actually very clearly based in reality. Giles' ability to read is unlikely to be damaged. But his ability to interpret what he reads means the difference between Buffy's life and death. Never Kill a Boy on a First Date already basically brought this up -- he thought he made the prediction wrong, then it turned out he got the date right but interpreted where the rising would happen wrong, then he thought that the Anointed One was dealt with when actually he wasn't, though he doesn't know that yet. Giles actually did read things mostly correctly in that episode, but he was subtly mistaken in ways that nearly ruined everything and will eventually lead to Buffy's temporary death, which Giles maybe even senses subconsciously (that was too neat and tidy, wasn't it?).

                            I also do kind of think that the clown is related to Xander's insecurities. He is Xander's childhood. Hell, he might as well be drunken Uncle Rory coming to ruin Xander's wedding (which, Uncle Rory doesn't do that much at the wedding, but Xander certainly worries he will). That the clown basically can kill him represents how present and how real those childhood fears are for Xander.
                            I think the clown is a facet of Xander's unhappy childhood and I liked vampmogs's point that the clown is apropos for Xander's humor. However, I don't think the clown is such a literal embodiment of the fears that Xander daily walks around with as Buffy's and Willow's fear. IMO, Buffy generally fears failing school, her dad abandoning her, the fact that the divorce was her fault, that her calling will kill her. Willow generally fears that she'll be called on to do something public and she'll humiliate herself. However, Xander generally doesn't getting chased by a clown in such a literal and immediate way. His nightmare doesn't match up to his reality as viscerally for Buffy and Willow. I also think that the the clown is a facet of Xander's unfortunate childhood rather than the complete picture. Xander confronts and punches the clown way too easily for me to rate the clown that highly as *Xander's childhood*. Xander confronted a facet of his childhood- not an embodiment of the whole shebang IMO.

                            Ditto for Giles (although in some ways, I'm less confident in reading Giles because Giles isn't as open and expressive as Xander). IMO, Giles never seems to actively fear that he'll get his research and translations wrong- certainly not the level that Buffy generally fears death and academic failure and abandonment from her father and Willow generally fears being judged by her peers and being found wanting. Correctly reading texts is one area where Giles is pretty consistently confident. The only time that I really saw Giles question whether he's intellectually up to the task of being a Watcher was when Gwendolyn Post came to town and it felt like Giles's axis of things that he's confident of was rocked and then, Giles put that particular doubt in himself to bed once Gwendolyn Post was exposed as a villain.

                            IMO, Giles is actually rather over-confident in his intelligence. He's right to be confident that he's a very smart man- because that's a fact. However, he supports that view of himself by dismissing modern intelligence-indicators like computer savvy and science as "stupid fad(s)". He brushes past a lot of his failures- i.e. he confidently and totally believes his prophecy that Buffy will face the Master and die without any insecurity from his prophecy-reading failure in NKABOTFD. He makes fun of smart adults like Maggie Walsh or Wesley as "uncool" or "scared" and therefore, not so smart. IMO, he snarks on Xander a lot because he thinks a battle of verbal wit with Xander is the low-hanging fruit of being a snarky intellectual badass. (Even though, acerbic verbal battles is Xander's *turf*. Xander just doesn't rudely banter back with Giles as he would with Cordelia or even Buffy out of respect.) In this ep, Giles deals with not knowing the answers to the legitimate questions that Willow is posing (admittedly in a nervous, hyper-ventilating, way) by telling her to shut up.

                            I believe that Giles's nightmare shows more insecurity that Giles doesn't know what he'd do if he wasn't a Watcher-genius. *That's* more of a consistent fear of Giles which will get play in Prophecy Girl. "Now, you were right. I-I've waded around in these old books for so long, I've forgotten what the real world is like. I-it's time I found out." However, I do think that Giles really counts on being a Watcher-genius in his day to day life in S1 and it takes him awhile to start developing real insecurity that his Watcher-intelligence/calling isn't enough to forge a valuable life worthy of respect from others or enough to forge a life that Giles is happy to be living.

                            The problem of art, then, is really close to the problem of democracy, which is related to the problem of human worth as a whole. In order for her identity to be genuine and authentic, Willow has to express her real emotions, but in order to communicate with other people she has to express emotions which, as Dipstick says above with regards to art, other people can identify with. Originality means nothing if the other person can't receive the signals being sent out, and indeed something which no one else can understand is essentially considered bad art. Which is related to the idea that if a lot of people dislike you, you are probably a bad person. This is getting a little off topic, maybe, but I think that's also a problem with humanistic philosophies at a base level. In order to believe in the worth of other people, you have to believe their opinions hold at least some weight, which then means that if their opinion of you is low, it's very hard to dismiss that. It's possible to, as Willow does, draw lines around certain people who treat her badly and exclude them from the general set of people who are worth listening to (as she does with Cordelia, later Faith, Veruca, sometimes Anya), but that meets contradiction. Willow's desire is mostly to be all things to all people and to also be herself, which are plainly contradictory, and life is some sort of negotiation of these.
                            Magic ends up hitting Willow close to home because it's a form of art that heavily draws on Willow's personal expression and energies but it produces concrete verifiable results that no one can argue with (at least according to Willow's best laid plans.) A person can be a homophobe that resents Willow's and Tara's love and thinks that the Flaming O and the sparkly golden circle is ugly and gross. However, even the homophobe can't argue that those feelings of love and trust produced the katra that allowed Buffy and Faith to be switched into their correct bodies. Willow and Tara couldn't get widespread acclaim if they went through the motions of their Flaming O spell as like, performance art of lesbian love featured in New York's Museum of Modern Art. However, the Katra would get widespread acclaim among all of those religious 'phobes that think a person's spirit should be in the body that G-d created and gave to that spirit. By turns, Willow knows that maybe a lot of people wouldn't like the "dance steps" that she used to resurrect Buffy from the killing the goat to black dress at the grave site to the snake coming out her mouth and cuts all over her body. However, people would like the final result- an alive, healthy Buffy who was rescued from hell. Even if the mode of expression was ugly, the concrete result can render the performance objectively beautiful- again, according to Willow's *plans*.

                            Moreover, unlike certain types of biomedical engineering or construction where people also go through formative steps to create concrete items with universal utility and purpose, magic directly draws on the caster's energies, feelings, and even one caster's bond with their partner-caster much like art to product the final result. Thus, the results of magic are a much more encompassing referendum on the caster's mode of expression and feelings and you know, *themselves* than a just constructed piece of furniture or even a newly engineered medicine. Moreover, the steps of magic are artistic with chanting and sparkles and black eyes and judged based on their apparent beauty to determine their true merit. It does end up becoming a contradiction/problem for Willow. Willow found magic as the one mode where she could be universally admired for her mode of expression because even if she looks like a weirdo doing it or even if she butchers the pronunciation of Latin or even if her steps are controversial, she can make "products" so useful that everyone will just have to retroactively admire the performance. However, it also means that Willow chose a vocation where *everything* is a performance and Willow just has to keep doing magic through her choice and other's needs- ballerina in Waiting in the Wings style. Magic can't always guarantee a universally appreciated result and the feelings that Willow was so shared of sharing via other performance art contribute to demonstratively *bad* results in her magic. And since Willow doing magic is one of the main shows in Scooby-town, everybody's a critic.

                            However, with this analysis of magic, it doesn't quite contradict Local_Max's broader point- art is measured based on whether it receives enough acclaim from enough people. Perhaps, magic offers a method to bypass the need for acclaim for the steps of the performance of magic if enough people can like the "product" it produces. Perhaps enough appreciation of the final product can render an otherwise controversial or boring or weird performance to create the product into a popular performance, appreciated and beloved by all. However, it still requires popular acclaim at the end of the day. Willow is still looking for applause and trying to avoid jeers and rotten tomatoes. Plus, the later seasons carry a message that Willow's steps of magic need to be pretty enough to get universal acclaim regardless of the results. (Although, audiences' opinions may vary. Some people like Giles and Tara "boo" Willow for getting black eyes in the middle of her performance, some like the AtS crew in Orpheus applaud it as a show of effort and heck, an interesting visual of dominance. I am thinking of the New York Magazine chart where they show how trends are being received- "fresh", "over-saturated", "backlash", "backlash to the backlash" and one week Willow using the term "magiks" or getting black eyes or roots can be on "backlash" and on next week, she's on "backlash to the backlash".)
                            Last edited by Dipstick; 12-04-14, 04:02 PM.

                            Comment


                            • Wow, I'm so impressed by this analysis. Clearly I didn't have enough red wine lasts night because I really have nothing to add.

                              Even at this point in his life I do think Xander dreaded being trapped in the "class clown" role even though we later see him being disappointed in not being voted class clown in The Prom. Xander's wit is one his gifts but using it as a means to keep from really dealing with his pain does mean it can become an unhealthy mask that eventually becomes impossible to take off.

                              Rewatching Nightmares last summer for the first time in years made me think of it as a sort of mini blueprint for season 6, where Buffy, Willow and Xander are their own worst enemies because their faults and fears get thoroughly examined.
                              sigpic

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Stoney View Post
                                This is a real sideways jump I acknowledge, but the points you are both making about human connection through performance art made me think about Willow's choices in the memory wiping. The need to reset and try again to get right how she interacts with Tara is almost a scene rerun to fix the acting, a way to etch-a-sketch and do another take on how it was performed. She tries to offer Buffy the same thing, a clean sheet to start afresh, unencumbered by the negativity the actor may feel surrounding past performances. But as Willow retains her memories she herself starts to perform to an extent around it all, flicking the switch of happiness on because that is what it should be, what is written in her mind as to how her relationships should be playing out. It is what she wants to be feeling, even though she knows it isn't the truth of it. Anyway, as I said, a sideways jump that might be a little loopy but was where my mind went to.
                                No, I think it's definitely relevant -- especially given the points I mentioned about OMWF as reflective of Willow's new strategy for Nightmares. I don't think Willow actually thinks what she's doing is a mindrape on the level of say Warren's of Katrina. She is trying to get it right -- and once she gets it right, everyone's happier. RIGHT? Right. RIGHT? Well, maybe not. It's a really bad moment for the character, but I think, as with most of the low points for most of the characters, it comes from pain, but also from the particular pain of the feeling that Willow herself has to be perfect in order to hold onto the tiny scraps of love she's received. That belief comes down to the idea that she has to alter her performance completely depending on her audience and if she steps wrong she'll be booed off the stage. It's not easy living feeling that one can't be one's authentic self -- more to the point, it's actually not possible or sustainable in any long-term way. Most people "realize this" by screwing up and having to live with the consequences, but Willow is too good at lying to herself and too talented to let that happen right yet. Being exposed as a poor player is an existential fear at this point for her.

                                I agree with vamps about the clown fear reflecting Xander's class-clown status and Xander's maybe fears of his own fake jocularity. EVEN BEFORE I READ VAMPS MENTIONING IT I was going to bring up Anya and Willow both bring up Xander's joke-making in late season six (Entropy, Grave) as a key character trait/flaw. The trail of chocolate bars makes me think about maybe Xander following hedonism to get to the clown. If one were to start stretching, which I am liable to do, it makes me think of Xander following his dead-end career paths to an eventual life where he is a monstrous ogre of laughter -- as, in season four, his selling nutrition bars which are sort of like chocolate bars might be a path to becoming like his parents. Also, Band Candy -- chocolate, hedonism, leads to reawakening the inner child. Okay that's maybe enough of me for now.

                                I really love Dipstick's point about magic as performance art that ALSO GETS RESULTS. That's key -- Willow wants to do something which taps into beauty, and which also gets demonstrable effects which cannot be ignored. Look ma, no hands! This is part of what also becomes a problem, because when one defines oneself only by the results of one's beauty, it starts becoming necessary to get results in order to establish that one's beauty is real. I think it's mostly fine for Willow to want to do spells because of the cool factor and because of what they can accomplish, but the raging insecurities don't actually go away even after she's accomplished monumental, earth-shattering feats, which is actually quite a lot like many actors who don't resolve their fundamental depression/anxiety/addiction/what have you even after several Oscar wins or the like.

                                I read a biography of Peter Sellers (Mr. Strangelove, for the record) (I'm so cool, guys!) which discussed how much his elasticity of performance is based on him having no real self, or believing himself to have no real self. One evening, Sellers was totally withdrawn throughout a whole dinner party, depressed and saying nothing, then at the very end of the night someone lost something -- their wallet, maybe? I forget what -- and he snapped into action and improvised an entire Inspector Clouseau sketch around the missing piece and investigation that had everyone laughing hysterically. Laughs, tears, and healed katras are tangible results which demonstrate that one is really accomplishing something.
                                Last edited by Local Maximum; 12-04-14, 07:28 PM.

                                Comment

                                Working...
                                X