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BtVS rewatch: SEASON 7

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  • It's great to have you back participating Cheese Slices.

    Personally, I don't have an issue with the continuity in Angel's character between soulless and souled compared to Spike's. There's no elephant for me but logical reasons why individual personalities, upbringing and their paths to becoming souled would result in different responses. I think that the differences in Spike when he is souled are quite marked and he presents as a clearly changed character affected by a meaningful internal shift. It is just that the outward swings present as less dramatic because of their individual responses and coping mechanisms (which also includes Spike trying to hide the change in himself of course), but they aren't lacking, the actual gap itself is the same. And I think Buffy ends up treating them as equally distinct from becoming souled too, when she has more certainty of what souled Spike is like. There are a lot of factors at the start of S7, as we've been discussing, as to why his erratic behaviour and the mixed emotions it causes before and after she finds out he's souled would influence her responses. But that important truth that a soul doesn't guarantee someone will be good justifies her wary response to the news, especially in light of how up and down he's behaved.

    I think the response to him in STSP still works with the uncertainty around him and possibly some residual anger and upset at what she has gone through that is just hard to shake off. It'll be interesting to see what Metda has to say about this soon.


    • SpuffyGlitz
      (We also don't know if Buffy ever encountered Clem after that time she left Dawn with him.)
      This is a very minor detail but there is actually another conversation between Clem and Buffy when Clem is just about to leave (flee) town. He tells Buffy that he recently saw a documentary on the Discovery Channel and was thinking she might be interested in watching it. So, how come Clem thinks Buffy is interested in anything that's being aired on Discovery Channel? There must have been at least one conversation between him and her off-screen where they talked about their viewing habits or topics they are generally interested in.

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      • Originally posted by flow View Post

        This is a very minor detail but there is actually another conversation between Clem and Buffy when Clem is just about to leave (flee) town. He tells Buffy that he recently saw a documentary on the Discovery Channel and was thinking she might be interested in watching it. So, how come Clem thinks Buffy is interested in anything that's being aired on Discovery Channel? There must have been at least one conversation between him and her off-screen where they talked about their viewing habits or topics they are generally interested in.

        Because Clem knows Buffy and Spike likes to do it like they do on ...


        • I don't see how her using him as a blood hound in STSP is different than Wrecked. He told her in Beneath You he's there to help if he can. What's the problem? Sure, they make fun of him for smelling, but he smells and it's BTVS. Never in the show have they had any problem mocking any and everyone including themselves.

          It's heavily implied Buffy and Clem are friendly with each other. They actually hug in Potential.


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            Last edited by SpuffyGlitz; 04-08-20, 10:03 PM.


            • Originally posted by SpuffyGlitz View Post
              You're right flow! I meant whether they met before she came across ensouled Spike, but it's possible they hung out before that in the time after the Dawn visit - they meet in Potential and Buffy acts a little like she hasn't seen him in a while but as you say, Clem knows Buffy's viewing habits. So maybe they had hung out a few times again.

              Slightly OT, but I've always found it weird that he greets Buffy but completely ignores Spike in this scene.
              What a challenge, honesty
              What a struggle to learn to speak
              Who would've thought that pretending was easier


              • Another fantastic post on BY SpuffyGlitz.

                Originally posted by SpuffyGlitz View Post
                And this connection to the 'self' is interesting when in fact, soliloquies involve a single character speaking their thoughts aloud and are a device dramatists use to allow a character to communicate their interiority: what they are really thinking and feeling, as the audience is made aware of thoughts or events that the other characters in the text are not. Shakespeare used it to great effect, showing complicated characters experiencing inner turmoil and conflicting thoughts. In fact, soliloquies often contain the most dramatic and revealing moments because through them, characters reveal what they are actually feeling.
                This is a great observation for the way that the change in the writing allows a bold distinction that gives emphasis to this being a reveal of how Spike is truly feeling within. We've seen a couple of fronts in his attempt to control the situation and how he is presenting himself, but now he loses that control and it creates this outpouring of what he's truly thinking and feeling. But with how tenuous his hold is on his thoughts/reality it again skitters in temperament and tone. It also reminded me again of the quote from Joss you gave at the beginning that the mad scenes allow you to say a lot that is revealing, you just have to evoke it without saying it in a totally linear way.

                As a writing tool it reminds me very much of the writing opportunity Aurora described the songs of a musical can present for revealing inner thoughts. So the swings around Spike's behaviour through the episode coalesce here when we see that truly his behaviour has been a performance, an attempt to mask what is within, to hide his continued fragmented mind. The personas have been as much an attempt to present himself as the choice of clothing that he'll soon also shed was.

                He stands as if still in a daze, holding the spear as Ronnie lies naked on the ground. Ronnie's "monstrous" outward form has been shed to reveal the naked vulnerable man underneath (in a perhaps not-so-subtle parallel to Spike's own unravelling.)
                This is neat. The ties you then draw in how this emphasises Spike's feeling he's 'wrong', has failed to help and perhaps shouldn't have attempted to, and how his instant remorse combines with the grief he's dealing with inside, amplifies it all and causes him to spiral into the breakdown, are excellent.

                The symbolism of what is deep inside and the presentation of the surface hiding what is beneath works so well alongside this for what lies within people against the outward appearance. I agree that Spike is talking about his soul in his ramblings here, but it is also possible that he's talking about the side of himself that he sees as wrong, the demon within that has caused such pain in his past and still lies within him now. Connecting him so much to those memories whilst he also feels such revulsion too. As you say, Spike needs to reconcile his past with his newly souled self and the person he is now, how he is neither William nor soulless Spike any more.

                The focus on surface and depth is interesting, as is the mention of past, present and future. The "deep waters" of the past must be traversed if one is to reach an understanding of the self. "Bobbing aimlessly on the surface" paints a picture of floating or drowning, certainly one of being lost, and Spike will continue to go through phases of "lost-ness" as he struggles to reconcile his past with his present newly souled self (in fact, the First literally attempts to 'drown' him in Bring On the Night though it knows that, as a vampire, he doesn't "need" to breathe. It was probably a gaffe in the writing, but I'll head-canon that seriously injured vampires might need air to recover, who knows.) American Aurora, in her outstanding review of Once More, With Feeling explored how water can be associated with death, chaos and oblivion as opposed to "the light of fire" which represents "life, passion, and sometimes out-of-control fury". PuckRobin in the introductory portion of his brilliant review of Dead Things also wrote about the symbolism of water and fire:
                This and your reference to the scene in Bring on the Night draws to mind that the symbolism of water also works with life giving and purification too of course. Like fire, it can be seen to connect to a rebirthing, a new connection to life and future potential. Baptism can come by fire, through hardship and trials as Spike endured to get his soul, or through water where it connects to purity and cleansing. This season for Spike, drawing on from S6 and contrasting in so many ways, is interesting to think of in terms of these two processes.

                Spike's behaviour since the premiere episode has not always been consistent and sometimes the inconsistency has invited critique: why is he acting the way he is at certain points yet at other points appears capable of control and lucidity? Is the First invading his mind in this very scene? And is it a sudden invasion? I've thought about this question before, been fascinated by it and I don't think it is sudden. I think the First has been a hovering presence in him throughout, but he has [mis]taken it as his own conscience taunting him, something he's learnt to suppress in the desperate need to pass himself off as his normal 'old' self. In future episodes like Sleeper and Never Leave Me, we see the First taunt him in his own likeness, but here I think there's a mess of voices and hallucinations wherein post-soul guilt are confusingly merged with the taunts of the First, which seems to appear at opportunistic moments, at moments of intense emotional vulnerability. I head-canon that the montage of Big Bads at the end of Lessons could well have been brought on by encountering Buffy in the basement when he was least prepared for it. The self-loathing it engendered was an ideal opportunity for the First to infiltrate his mind, each version vying with the other to belittle his attempts to change, playing with his mind as he sat huddled in a corner, assuming the voices were emanating from himself.
                I agree completely that The First saw the opportunity to weaken him by turning him against himself this way. As you insightfully suggested before about the end of Lessons, realising what Dru says really looks to taunt him with what he was and exposes his feelings and struggles. In Sleeper we'll see him hold a conversation with 'Buffy' that could be a fantasy, a hallucination he's having, or again indicative of The First also appearing to him to seemingly support him, to undo him with tenderness that then vanishes too. The torment put on him, in addition to all he is feeling just in becoming soul anyway, is likely deliberately varied to make his struggle so much harder.

                I don't know if The First is literally there talking at him, taunting him about his failure to do good again, but his hold on his mind is so loose at the moment it can be working just from recalling what was said to him before. I do tend to think The First would be there at such a crucial moment of self-doubt and failure, and looking to use it against him.

                Buffy seems to have a real mix of concern, disgust and confusion over his behaviour. He has been so erratic and within that has suggested that it is all a game. She must be completely thrown by the extreme swings continuing, unsure whether it shows his words in the Bronze were a ruse or if this is him trying to deliberately continue to play with her and unsettle her more.

                The warnings Spike gives of what is to come are probably a deeply felt fear that has built from things The First has said around him, without him knowing the true context and truth it might hold, all building into a sense that something bad is coming. That it is rising up and out, like he fears could be true of himself too.

                He twirls the pipe slowly like a baton, and continues, Gene Kelly-like: "Yeah. Hey, bring the wife and kiddies! Come see the show!" In a lower breath, he intones ominously: " 'Cause it's going to be a circus." I don't honestly know if this is Spike speaking with foreknowledge of what he has seen, or if it is the First itself using him as a medium.
                I think the uncertainty around the scene, that we don't see if The First is there or not, really works well to draw us into how Buffy feels looking on this sudden switch and returned display of insanity. As you said at the start, the aspect of performance is such an integral part of the episode. This with the reference to a circus reminds me of the scene in Giles' dream in Restless when he suggests that the attraction Spike would have hired himself out as would be 'sideshow freak'. As a very deliberate 'othering' and dehumanising role it probably fits how Spike views himself now.

                Whether Spike knows what he is saying, is another question to consider. It's unlikely he does, because even if he's instinctually convinced of something earth-shattering coming ahead, at other times he may just assume that whatever the First has shown him or told him have been hallucinations, adding further to his reasons not to trust himself. And again, the focus on "surface" and "depth" is revealing if we think back to the lyrics:
                Therein lies the past, as well as the future.
                Once we all lived at the bottom of the deep.
                But we drifted upwards, bobbing aimlessly on the surface.
                Lost all knowledge about our origins
                This path leads back
                down, down into the depths.

                Spike points to the buildings - the "surface" of Sunnydale, warning that it is all going to come crashing down. And if the crater which represents the town of Sunnydale that we see at the end of the season is anything to go by, Spike was right—all of it will come "tumbling".
                This is excellent. I had never noticed how many moments could be seen to tie to the end of the season and Spike's sacrifice.

                I'm not convinced that The First was physically possessing him when he spoke of the death, bloodshed and repeated the line 'from beneath you'. I think he could just have been lost in his hallucinations and ramblings of what he has been told, felt and feared. But either way, I think the origination of the content of this section of what he says does come from The First either directly or recalling the words from his believed hallucinations.

                She may be thinking of all the trouble she'll be in with D'Hoffryn, but this is another line that foreshadows not only what is to come in Selfless, but also foreshadows Anya's own death in Chosen. In retrospect, it is quite a tragic and poignant moment between the two.
                I'd always thought she was referring to D'Hoffryn but it certainly works in multiple ways and considering it against the season ending is really emotive.

                I have said nothing about Buffy's beautiful and auspicious-looking pendant so far because I had gone into a brief tangent about it ahead (I absolutely love Stoney's reading of it though!) Buffy now halts as she looks at what's before her.
                I can't wait to read it and the final church scene.

                I didn't know about the repeated use of The Spark in the soundtrack, so thank you for flagging that. And I look forward to reading about your thoughts on the episode title in due course too.


                • Loving this review. This is one of my favourite episodes in the entire series, but incredibly I’d never taken the trouble to examine the myriad facial expressions of all the characters, particularly Buffy.

                  Also, you’re revealing so much more depth to this episode than I’d previously imagined. Thank you. Looking forward to the final part.
                  You know what I am. You've always known. You come to me all the same.

                  "There's a lot of comedy to be gotten from the world's doom spiral right now." Tracey Ullman, June 2018


                  • All said regarding writers, producers, actors, directors, viewers, readers, etc. are what I remember, my opinions, etc.

                    * Buffy at least periodically 'checked in' with Clem after "Villains" (B 6.20) to see if Spike was back. That's the primary reason Buffy and Clem became friends.

                    I've always considered that Buffy in "Once More With Feeling" (B 6.07) was probably going around to the various demon bars and whatnot trying to get information on Spike--like a girl or woman trying to get information on a guy through an acquaintance of the guy, a not best friend, a former friend, etc. of the guy.

                    * Buffy in "Sleeper" (B 7.08) knows that Billy Idol stole his look from Spike; so, it's implied that either Spike told Buffy more about himself than he did in "Fool For Love" (B 5.07) or that Buffy did some research on Spike. I don't recall in Season 9 if Buffy knows William's surname is "Pratt".


                    • Okay. So in the build up to Christmas and with the recent tech glitch on the site, the rewatch has gone kinda static again unfortunately. But hey, all the rewatch threads survived so there is that.

                      I have tried to contact SpuffyGlitz a few times recently, before and after Christmas, and just haven't been able to get a response which is quite unusual. Following her recent family loss I think we have to accept she is probably taking some time away and won't be completing the BY review in the short term. I had just before the glitch contacted HowiMetdaSlayer about getting the thread going again and continuing on to STSP. I don't seem able to send messages at the moment to contact again and get a new idea of when the review for that might be ready, so this is my way of bumping the thread and starting to warm it back up again. Once we have an idea of when Metda is going to be able to post I will revise the timetable for the eps on the first post of the thread and we'll hopefully get going again. Apologies to everyone for the moving goal posts on the dates, which I was really hoping to avoid this time, but when the new schedule is laid out hopefully we'll be able to meet it and get back to watching/discussing the eps on a fortnightly basis as planned. It hasn't been the smoothest start to the final season by any stretch.


                      • Thanks for the update I was enjoying the review. Will she be back?


                        • Originally posted by Summers_Anne View Post
                          Thanks for the update I was enjoying the review. Will she be back?
                          I truly hope so. She will be very much missed if not. She said that she had written the final part of the review so I would imagine that she will want to complete it. We'll carry on to the next episode and continue but can always work in looking at the final part when she's able to provide it. It has been a very enjoyable review but we just can't stay on hold indefinitely and SpuffyGlitz had been quite keen for us to not wait on her when I last was in touch with her before Christmas.


                          • Hello everyone.
                            I'd been trying to log in to this new version of the forums for a long time, and this is the first time it worked. Sorry about that, and of course I'm terribly behind. I'll do my best to stop by or at least lurk a little now and then, now that I could make it work.
                            Haven't read anything, but I hope you are all doing fine.


                            • Originally posted by Rihannon View Post
                              I'd been trying to log in to this new version of the forums for a long time, and this is the first time it worked. Sorry about that, and of course I'm terribly behind. I'll do my best to stop by or at least lurk a little now and then, now that I could make it work.
                              Hey Rihannon it's great to see you! I'm glad you're able to log in again and if you find you're having odd issues such as entering threads we are still trying to iron out some glitches. Any specific problems please pop by the 'Report a Problem' thread in the FAQ/Information section for updates/fixes (the initial post on the thread lists all current/solved ones). And of course feel free to PM me.

                              I'm hoping to kick start the final season rewatch soon and reset the review dates. Your post has been a good reminder that we're still on hold. I have heard from SpuffyGlitz now who isn't able to rejoin us at the moment but is still intending to finish up the BY review when she does. So I think in the meantime we do need to look to move on and I'm sure she'll catch up with us when she can. I'm still a little distracted with the upgrade at the moment, but I would estimate that we'll begin again around the start of March, but I need to get hold of HowiMetdaSlayer to check about posting for the STSP review.


                              • First off, I want to give a big HUZZAH to SpuffyGlitz for her incredible review of Beneath You! I hope she's doing okay and can come back to review the final church scene as I've been thoroughly enjoying her analysis. I've been slowly reading it over the past 2 days and it's given me thinky thoughts.

                                Earlier, many folks were commenting on the lackluster quality of the episode, outside of the final church scene. I've always agreed - yet as I was reading SpuffyGlitz's review, I realized that there's really great character work going on in this episode. So why is it failing to resonate?

                                Ultimately, I think it's due to Nancy and the monster, Ronnie/Sluggoth, not being very compelling. I started to question what metaphor they were supposed to represent and then realized they were mirrors for Buffy and Spike. Nancy being blase about her dog dying = Buffy being blase about dead ghosts in the basement. That seemingly distant coldness. Nancy being bossy? Nancy just told Xander that Buffy was awfully "commanding." Of course, Spike is the evil ex-boyfriend who's guilty of stalking and abusing Buffy.

                                Except... that's not Spike anymore, which is why when Buffy and Spike patrol for the monster, the "beastie is gone." Ronnie as the Sluggoth demon is the displaced monstrousness of Spike, displaced by the soul and manifest in the episode as the monster both Buffy and Spike are determined to slay. In connection to Spike, I see the worm as the monstrous masculine in the extreme, which brings me back to the references to Doublemeat Palace and The Pack - to a worm monster and attempted rape. Though to SpuffyGlitz's point about whether the monster is masculine or feminine - perhaps we may see the monster as Buffy and Spike's abusive relationship in Season 6, where both were guilty of using and hurting each other. To me, the monster seems to primarily represent Spike's role in their relationship, especially when Ronnie the worm attacks Nancy and Xander at Nancy's house. It's yet another re-enactment of the AR, like Buffy's flashbacks earlier in the episode, even to the extent that the monster mysteriously stops and retreats once Nancy's screams and terror resonate. Similar to Spike retreating from the AR once Buffy's screams and terror resonate.

                                In fact, if Spike is in any way linked to Ronnie or the Sluggoth demon (he stakes the monster in this episode)
                                So how is Spike linked to Ronnie? The episode Beneath You is about dealing with the AR - both through Buffy and Spike's interactions and through the metaphor of Nancy & Ronnie. It's the Spuffy equivalent to the Bangel episode of Beauty and the Beasts - where Buffy is confronted by her former 'lover' in the same episode as she hunts a demonic boyfriend, Pete, abusing his girlfriend, Debbie. Only in Beneath You, Spike isn't rewarded for attempting to kill the monster the way Angel is framed as a heroic beast for killing Pete.

                                Spike spends the episode trying to hide his souled state, pretending to still be a cool badass yet "changed" vampire here to help. And how does he help? By hunting down the monstrous worm that represents his role in the AR debacle. Only for that monstrous fairytale to turn on its head - when Spike goes to kill the Sluggoth, he stabs a man. Because what pushed Spike to assault Buffy were human feelings - the epitome of selfish desire, wanting her to feel what he feels. Wanting to find that harmony with Buffy that lit a fire within him to go fight for his soul and get the real fire back.

                                In the end, Spike's attempt to slay his demonic past fails. He only ends up hurting another human being. Admittedly, Ronnie sounds like a terrible person - but as Buffy once said, it's not like "muggers deserve to be eaten."

                                When Spike attacks his own manifest demonic self, he only ends up attacking himself. Because the demonic self is an overblown representation of the man's sins. And so he goes to church to repent and rail at the pointlessness of it all. He wasn't going to apologize or atone, he was just going to help, and he can't even do that right. So what's the point? Ain't we in a soddin' engine? Isn't this machine supposed to follow logic and reason?

                                His frustration in the church scene makes so much more sense to me now that I see his personal connection to Ronnie. Even the rumblings of Ronnie the Sluggoth resonate as the monstrous past that both Buffy and Spike cannot discuss - as Buffy says "I don't have the words." But their monstrous past refuses to stay buried beneath the ground... beneath you.

                                For so much of this episode, Spike and Buffy's eyes are cast downward, avoiding eye contact, expressing shame and regret. The episode ends in the church with Spike casting his eyes up to whatever higher being can answer him and make sense of his current state. While Buffy casts stricken eyes up at Spike burning himself on the cross. From shameful avoidance to a rapt audience - Spike finally found a scene he could play convincingly once he'd stripped away his costume. Authenticity is what matters now, right? If only Spike knew what being his authentic self even means. He's only beginning to understand.
                                Last edited by Emmie; 21-02-20, 04:04 AM.

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                                • KingofCretins
                                  KingofCretins commented
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                                  Holy crap Emmie's back?

                                • Emmie
                                  Emmie commented
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                                  I am! Hoping to participate in the rewatch discussion. Hoping it picks back up soon.