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  • Originally posted by Cheese Slices View Post
    And that would be perfect ! I think one more week is enough, but really it's up to you. Just let me now when you've settled for a date.
    In the meantime, everyone take care
    Glad to hear you are feeling a lot better.

    I've moved the dates on by two weeks so that there isn't any pressure. Also, I thought that as there was the chance that we would be finishing BY as well as discussing STSP before Help, the extra space would probably be useful anyway. So, if you do find that you have STSP ready for next weekend, then please do post, but don't worry if it takes you through to the following weekend.

    Comment


    • Just making one more post here to clear a bit more space
      .

      Comment


      • SAME TIME, SAME PLACE
        Written by : Jane Espenson
        Original Air Date : October 8, 2002


        Part I

        The opening scene establishes right away the Mcguffin the episode will be revolving around. Not playing up the ambiguity for the audience was ultimately a good call from Espenson, as it encourages the viewer to wonder why instead of what, thus giving room for what’s at the heart of the episode : a character study for Willow, and a quiet yet powerful set up of this final season’s themes.


        Welcome home, me

        Ever since Villains, a new Scooby dynamic has been rising, consisting of Buffy, Xander and Dawn. The three have slowly been building a genuine family dynamic, from which Willow is for the first time excluded. At the airport, things are easy and casual between the three of them, as opposed to the nervous and awkward way they discuss Willow. While it’s Willow’s fears that cause her coming home alone and unable to see her friends, the show doesn’t take the easy route by making the rest of the Scoobies unequivocally confident about her return. Throughout the episode, Xander is the closest to optimistic and unwaveringly faithful, Dawn is ostensibly doubtful and pessimistic, while Buffy acts as a happy middle, believing in Willow but not affording herself to leave out the possibility of Willow coming back “wrong” (heh).

        We have a very long, slow sequence of Willow coming home, wandering around the house, looking for her friends, but also taking it all in, as if it were all new to her. Of course, since it’s unlikely that much has changed around the house since Willow left, we understand that Willow is the one who’s changed, and seeing things from a new, sobered up perspective. When she gets to (formerly) her and Tara’s room, she (and the audience) gets a painful reminder of what happened the last time she was here through an auditory cue and a tactile (for Willow) and visual cue (for the audience) of her touching the sport the bullet went through.

        This scene reminds me very strongly of Buffy coming home in Afterlife (Same Time, Same Place takes place precisely one season later, and both are written by Jane Espenson): Willow comes “home” (or what has been her home for the past year or so, and is the home of her chosen family) and is left to contemplate the remains of a life that belongs to the past.

        When Willow picks up the phone book, she painfully notices that she is not among the family numbers; not only has she lost her love, she’s also lost her chosen family.

        When her last ray of hope goes away, she finally settles on the sofa, probably so she’s be the first thing they see (heh) when they get home, but perhaps more meaningfully, she is relegated to guest status, and stays where a guest would say, not unlike Giles had back in Flooded.

        The same time, same place scene with the Scoobies serves to crank up the tension surrounding Willow’s potential lapse back into dark magic : Dawn’s initial worries at the airport turn into suspicion and by the end of the scene become full blown accusation, Xander’s optimism is dampened some and Buffy seems at a loss. The divide between the “new Scoobies” grows wider.

        Anya herself has to deal with cleaning up the debris of her past life, as we see her cleaning out the Magic Box (which, if I’m not mistaking, is the last time we ever see this set).

        Finally, Spike is still in the basement, wearing last week’s (better fitted this time) costume, living in the same albeit more extreme limbo Anya and Willow are living in.


        The truth-seer


        While the superposed Spike/Willow and Spike/Buffy/Xander scene in the basement does not bring particularly new insight to the characters (it actually confuses them further), it is an extremely clever scene that serves several purpose : plot-wise, it clarifies the fact that Willow and Buffy/Xander are truly, well, at the same time, in the same place, by using Spike to ground their presence by directly interacting with all of them; it also allows everyone's, and particularly Willow's, state of mind to be expressed both bluntly and evocatively by Spike, whose madness only enhances his original dual relationship with language, in turns crude and straightforward or poetic and flowery.

        This sequence uses a particularly well trodden trope in literature and art in general, that of madness as a purveyor of Truth. The show itself has used this trope throughout its run, first embodied in Drusilla (and the irony of this is not lost on Spike, who will remark on it in Selfless), then later in season 5, when only Glory’s victims, whose “sanity” she has sucked out of them, are able to see the truth of Dawn’s identity.

        Here, just like it usually goes with this particular trope, Spike’s madness prevents the other characters from understanding him and/or trusting what he has to say.

        But it is not only his madness that makes, narratively, Spike the ideal candidate for the reveal. Spike himself has been textually established as the truth seer ever since Lovers Walk, if not earlier (as long as he is not personally involved, in which case his perception gets a lot blurrier).

        Even more to the point, Spike has especially been good out sussing out Willow’s state of mind : in Something Blue, he sees through her pretense that she is handling Oz’s departure well ; in the Yoko Factor, he picks up on the nature of her relationship with Tara, and knows exactly where her insecurities with regards to her friends lie; finally, he understands how powerful and how willing to abuse her power Willow is in Tough Love, The Weight of World and Afterlife.

        Here the truth that Spike speaks is not just factual (he can see everyone but they can’t see each other), but he also manages to speak the truth of Willow’s current turmoil entirely by speaking about himself:


        Spike is not the only one with Willow’s number though : when Willow goes to her for help in finding the demon that killed the boy, Anya immediately guesses Willow’s intention, freaking Willow out in the process.


        It is no wonder that Willow, Spike and Anya would be so strongly paralleled throughout S7, as they all are bound together by one of the show’s favorite theme : Redemption.


        You feel really responsible ? You are really responsible !

        We have three characters getting a redemption arc this season, and this episode is positively peppered with reminders of what the characters I’ve done, and what they are.

        The most obvious is Willow’s flaying of Warren, which is literally put in front of the audience and the characters’ nose via the Gnarl’s (sorry, just Gnar)l victim’s corpse. It’s also hugely symbolic when it comes to Willow facing her actions: in Villains, she flayed Warren and immediately had the corpse disappear; here the corpse is here to stay, for all to see in broad daylight.

        Every single character bar the monster mention one way or another her crime and how it evidently leads credence to the idea that she might be responsible for the new murder.

        Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention how Willow being (unintentionally) locked in by her friends with a monster who proceeds to slowly flay her alive represents a bit of the old-fashioned cosmic irony. Turns out, karma is not a bitch. It’s a skin eating demon.

        I’ve always found it amusing that we are never more reminded of Spike’s status as a vampire as when he gets his soul back. As it were in this episode, we are reminded twice of his nature, as well as the rather pathetic state he’s currently in: when Willow comes to him to inquire about the flayee, he asks if there is blood on the crime scene in a rather interested manner, indicating both his nature and his probably half starved state; later, he finds himself used as a bloodhound while the Buffy & co comment on his recent fallout with personal hygiene.(As an aside, this is a rather controversial scene, as some fans find Buffy’s remarks rather dehumanizing, especially given her gentle reaction earlier. From a doylist perspective, it definitely fits Jane Espenson’s willingness to sometimes sacrifice characterization for the benefit of a good joke- in universe, I’ll chalk it up to her trying to distance herself from a very confusing and emotionally intense situation).

        And of course, when he suddenly startles at Buffy’s plea in the basement, he and the audience are reminded of what he’s done as well.

        Lastly, Anya at first appears eager to revel in her status as a vengeance demon—so eager in fact, that it quickly becomes clear that it is purely performative. We learn that she has fallen from grace ever since last episode’s events, and we’ll learn in Helpless that exacting vengeance is truly upsetting her now. If Willow and Spike are already at a place where they are aware and willing to make up for their past deeds (whether in abstract by feeling remorse and trying to change or more concretely here in Spike’s case by tracking down the demon), Anya still clings to a narrativized version of her life (notably calling last week’s events “a little mix-up”), and it isn’t until Selfless that the bough break. She does, however, help out the Scoobies with her demon knowledge (hurray for that) and even accompanies them to the demon’s lair.



        You call yourself finished but you’re not...worse than ever you are

        One of the very first things established in Same Time, Same Place is the fact Willow “didn’t finish being not evil”. Other than justifying her coming back early behind the scenes reason there was, it is in itself very meaningful when contemplating the way redemption arcs are portrayed in the Buffyverse.

        Redemption in the buffyverse is not always well defined, but it’s consistently portrayed as a way of living and being, not a goal to achieve (well, if you don’t consider Angel’s shanshu deal which mucks things up a bit)—it’s Sysyphis and his rock, it’s thankless and realizing you need to change, to do and be better does not make things better, at least not immediately.

        Therefore Willow could stay years at the covent, and she still wouldn’t have finished, because she can never undo what she did. There is no amount of good that she can achieve that will somehow balance out the bad. It’s part of who she is now, and it’ll take a reality check from Buffy in Get It Done for her (and Spike) to understand that restraining herself or making herself less is not the answer to her turmoil.

        Not only is redemption a “rocky path”, but it’s also a very painful one. Throughout the episode, we witness all our redemptionistas suffer: Willow, Anya and Spike are all, as previously stated, outsiders now, and very much alone. Spike is being tormented by the First, his soul and his heart, Anya has lost Xander and all of her friends bar Halfrek, and Willow believes Buffy, Xander and Dawn have abandoned her, in addition to having lost Tara.

        And of course she gets eaten alive while being “all alone” as Gnarl puts it, adding physical pain to emotional suffering.


        it hurts too much not to try

        So if redemption is so painful, why bother ? Why doesn’t Willow just go and raise sheep somewhere in the english countryside ? Why didn’t Spike go and find a way to get the chip out or at least work his way around it ? Why did Anya agree to reversing her wish ?

        Here the answer seems to be that, as difficult as it is to climb the hill, it is still less painful than simply standing still. In STSP, we see Willow going from despair to actively tracking down the demon (albeit for rather self-interested reasons), but it’s the very last scene that cements the above statement : although Willow is exhausted, not trying to heal actually hurts worse.

        Spike has already tested this theory last season, when he decided that getting a soul (or die trying) couldn’t be worse than the limbo he was living in.

        Anya’s turn comes in Selfless, from which she walks alone, unsure of who she is, but moving forward.


        Next Up: we talk power (who's got it, who knows how to use it), communication, visual narration and random nonsense.

        What a challenge, honesty
        What a struggle to learn to speak
        Who would've thought that pretending was easier

        Comment


        • Wow, Cheese Slices, thank you very much for this wonderful part 1 of your review.

          flow
          ................................ Banner by buffylover

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          • This is great stuff, Cheese Slices. Keep it coming. Thank you.
            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

            Comment


            • Hello, I'm late to the table, because I've been watching Season 6, but, I'm now at S7 Ep 3 Same Time Same Place...will comment later, although I'll not have much to add I'm sure to Cheese Slices extensive review..

              Firstly though, although late please indulge me on my thoughts on Ep 2 Beneath You...coz, what a good episode!

              I'm loving that Buffy has a job at the school, as counselor, it's just so right for her...

              So, Spike is all "loony tunes", this is a twist..it's not like he had a soul and has been in hell like Angel, so what's the cause of his madness...

              I loved Dawn's "you sleep right, Spike..." speech!

              Loved the scene when Buffy swooped down on a "web" (where did that come from?) to rescue Nancy, just like Spider-Man!

              And yes the last scenes with Buffy and Spike when she realises he has his soul back were top-drawer stuff...with Spike on the cross and smoking at the end, that was high drama! You had to feel sorry for him, he's one mixed up bloke...but, the attempted rape is still not forgiven!

              Will come back on STSM...

              Jon

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              • Great to see you here Mr Pointy. Beneath You is certainly one of the best of the season and is one of my favourite episodes. I think Spike's struggle to hide the revelation of his soul is greatly about a wish to prove himself and make a difference, to help without thinking that just saying that he has changed is enough. It is that point, that his deeply held feeling is that he can't just say sorry and it'll fix everything which drives the choice to try to hide it and the somewhat contradictory behaviour he tries in his desperation to not be discovered before. To just say he's souled now would imply that it could provide a quick fix and we've seen with Angel that this deep connection is felt to the person they were unsouled as well as to their human selves, so it makes sense that he feels this sense of connection and guilt, even though he wouldn't have done something like that souled. It is what fascinates me about both Angel's and Spike's stories, the complexity of the continuity in their characters between human, unsouled and souled vampires and how they feel that connection and yet understandably also a meaningful separation. They are still vampires, still have demonic drives and yet are fundamentally changed when souled. Both such compelling characters.

                I feel Spike's torment by The First obviously plays a part in the problems he has in keeping a sense of reality at the start of S7 and in easily holding any stability in that way. But the internal torment is there, is just added to by this and coming to terms with that inner mix and trauma from becoming souled and viewing his past in a very different light. Very much as Angel struggled, not after being in hell but when first souled in trying to work out who he was and eventually in how to walk a different path. But Spike no doubt has an advantage that Angel didn't have available to him in his existing connection to heroic people, rather than just to the negative influences of his past. And from here we soon see the examples building of the possibility of empowering others and helping them to become their best selves that follows S6's abuse of power now and gives such a shift with power used for positive influence. But that's skipping through the season of course, in a way that we will explore bit by bit as we cover each episode.

                The rewatch does run slowly as episodes are scheduled for review every fortnight. We've had a bit of a stop/start beginning to the season unfortunately, but will be looking to head on to Help with flow's review next weekend. We'll give Cheese Slices the opportunity to post any more thoughts in the last couple of days this week on STSP and then I'll probably just open the discussion on it so we have a week to raise our responses/ideas before we move on.

                Always good to have new people joining us.

                Comment


                • Thanks Stoney...

                  At the risk of throwing you a curve regarding Spike I must mention that the way I saw it when Spike left towards the end of S6 his stated intention was to get rid of his chip and get his vampire mojo back, i.e. get back to being evil and remorseless and kick Buffy's arse for rejecting him...it wasn't for the opposite, to feel remorse and get his soul back....him getting his soul back was an unintended consequence of his trial, the reason for the demon thing giving Spike his soul back remains a mystery if you ask me, except in the "grand scheme of things" way...

                  Now, Same Time, Same Place:

                  I'm afraid I was unimpressed with this episode...my problem is, I'm hung up about two related things - Buffy's code of not killing humans and Willow's murder of Warren...

                  STSP is the Willow the coming back to the fold episode and involves some contrivance.

                  At the end of S6 Willow wreaks havoc, she kills Warren and she's visible in attacking the police station and police officers to get to Andrew and Jonathan, oh and those two were there after being turned in for robbery...

                  Willow waltzes back into Sunnydale and the consequences of hers and the duo's actions are not followed up...it seems the duo are not being hunted by the police, and Willow is not going to be turned in for murder...the fact that there is no body in the case of Warren is a big help of course, and perhaps Willow was unrecognisable to the police when she was evil witch and attacked them..

                  And Buffy doesn't/is not going to turn Willow in to the cops., even if she would have turned herself in.

                  So Willow (albeit inadvertently) uses her magic powers for the invisibility thing, that cuts out her just being met by the gang and a natural conversation about what to do with her and the situation with her, even though Willow "didn't finish being not evil"..we move to Willow being in peril overriding these matters and she's ultimately "let off the hook" by her friends...not that she was on the hook anyway...

                  I do get the redemption thing that is/will be part of the narrative for S7, but I hadn't suspended disbelief about the "real world"...

                  Of course I need to get off that track about Willow, the gang obviously have to get back together somehow....I've run ahead on S7, these issues come up again in Selfless, but we can talk again when that comes up on re-watch..

                  What did I like about STSP? Well I'm actually ultimately ok about Willow being forgiven it was a touching moment Buffy sharing power to help Willow heal...hey if you're going to put aside that your friend may still have the potential go bonkers evil and kill the world you might as well share some power with her and make up...

                  I liked the bit with Spike having the two way talk with Buffy&Xander and Willow, with only Spike seeing both sets of people...very cleverly done...

                  The Gnarl was entertainingly creepy and sleazy!

                  Cheers

                  Jon

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Mr Pointy View Post
                    At the risk of throwing you a curve regarding Spike I must mention that the way I saw it when Spike left towards the end of S6 his stated intention was to get rid of his chip and get his vampire mojo back, i.e. get back to being evil and remorseless and kick Buffy's arse for rejecting him...it wasn't for the opposite, to feel remorse and get his soul back....him getting his soul back was an unintended consequence of his trial, the reason for the demon thing giving Spike his soul back remains a mystery if you ask me, except in the "grand scheme of things" way...
                    Ha well, not a curve in the sense that such doubts are something that I've heard said before over the years. Obviously some of this is down to the intentional mislead in the writing, that he had gone to get his chip out. But it was an intended mislead that the writers confirmed, as well as confirming that his intention was always to get his soul. This truth is then something that Spike's comments in the church in BY support, unless you choose to believe he's lying. Which I'll grant you is something that I've heard far less often, although once or twice before. But the problem with that idea is that nothing after the church reveal questions or contradicts that it was just the truth of what he'd done being confirmed. I think criticism of the mislead is understandable, but the writing intentions are supported by the creators and also in the writing that comes after he's souled. So the demon was just doing what Spike had asked for. In contrast, an alternative viewing that Spike is lying about it just doesn't get air time at the moment when the truth is revealed or any time thereafter.

                    I would think refusing to accept the mislead and the writing intention at face value could just be really disruptive to understanding the character, and the reactions to them of all the other characters, as all the ongoing story is written on a different basis to your interpretation. However, I would say that accepting it was his intention to get his soul doesn't mean accepting that it was because he felt remorse. Not in the same way that he could when souled. My personal feeling is that getting his soul was still rooted enough in his soullessness too to not be disruptive to the mythology. It was still greatly fixed on what he wanted, which of course is Buffy's acceptance, and in trying to strive for that still regardless. This is the soullessness evident in the choice, the selfishness in his actions after what he'd done. That he would put everything on the line like that and risk changing himself so drastically comes from his individual personality, his main motivators which draw on William's desperate wish to be loved in return. But also in his lack of any real grasp or understanding of what difference the soul would actually make. He didn't understand, he just wanted to fix the problem and become accepted. So he went with the only thing he could see which could bridge the gap and plausibly make him wanted. We saw through S5 and S6 that Spike's soullessness was brought up repeatedly to him as a barrier, as an issue and comparisons to Angel were made on and off. So him concluding that 'to be hers' and to be able to see the lines that she would want morally, to not make the same error, would require him to change himself in that way. It is heavily supported to make sense he would conclude this. That he would be angry and resentful too, especially in feeling perhaps he was making himself more like Angel and also in needing to steel himself for the fight, is all also logical to the character. So in terms of feeling remorse that would equal what someone souled would feel, I don't think you have to believe him capable of that in order to see how he viewed becoming souled as the solution and the choice still be fundamentally a self driven one he was capable of making soulless.

                    Now for a...

                    -- THREAD ANNOUNCEMENT --

                    I'm hoping to watch STSP in the next couple of days and find the time to read Cheese Slices post and other posted thoughts too and I would like to encourage anyone else who would like to post on STSP to do so as well now. Discussion is open to all.


                    PLEASE NOTE: I have amended the dates on the first post of the thread for when each of the reviews is due. Please can those who have signed up for a review check the date theirs now falls on. It would be appreciated if reviewers could prepare their reviews so that they are complete and ready to post on the weekend they are due. That way we can use the two weeks between the reviews to watch and respond to the reviews and discuss further thoughts on the episodes. As we've been having a very jumpy lack of rhythm for a while on the rewatch threads I think we should probably consider these dates firm and in the cases where reviews aren't submitted or complete, accept that we will just run with an open/general discussion so that we don't keep having to amend the dates. Obviously we've never dictated the style/length of reviews and reviewers are as welcome to post a brief summary, analysis of what they see as pertinent points or a more complete breakdown. But preparing something manageable to meet the dates would be appreciated.

                    Comment


                    • Again, I'm late to the party-- it seems that adding "/forums" in the address bar works for me, and sometimes it doesn't. (I'm using the same browser that I've been trying to use for the past week, but I switched devices. Maybe that explains it?) Anyway, sorry for possibly messing up schedules?

                      IMO, "Beneath You" doesn't get as much credit as it deserves for dealing with the minor relationships. Dawn's "You'll wake up on fire" speech is nasty. And beautiful. The collapse of Dawn and Spike's friendship hurts my heart, in the best of ways. The scene also exposes the Summers protectiveness as a family trait that Dawn has always been denied by her guardians, not a personal trait forced on Buffy by her role as older sibling. You can draw the line all the way back to Joyce hitting Spike in the head in "School Hard." Whether or not the symmetry of their both attacking Spike is deliberate, it works.

                      The episode sets up the various character collisions that take place in "Selfless," too. Anya can't seem to decide if her allegiance is to vengeance or the Scoobies. I think that, when Buffy says that the possibility of her killing Anya as occurred to both Buffy and Xander, she's thinking back to the Great Worm Incident, because it makes glaringly obvious the fact that this situation can't continue much longer. Anya will have to choose, sooner rather than later, and if she chooses wrong (and stays in Sunnydale), her head's on the Slayer's chopping bock. At least, it's obvious to everyone but Xander, who tries to downplay Anya's conflict of interests, even to Anya herself.

                      Yes, Spuffy's front-and-center here, and yes, the final scene is classic. Emmy-worthy acting by SMG and JM. But this is so much more than just a Spuffy episode.

                      (NOTE: My letters periodically quit appearing as I type, and I get a message about the "invalid server response." Anyone else having that problem?)

                      Comment


                      • Interesting thought on the repeated examples of the protectiveness we see in the Summers family. Whatever implanted emotions and memories the monks created in either sister, the character trait to protect and defend is clear and linking that to Joyce too is neat. I agree that BY really does start to underline that Anya will indeed eventually need to face her choices and the repercussions. Facing the past and learning from it has been a repeated aspect of the season already in just these first three episodes and will definitely continue.

                        I'm hoping to watch STSP tonight so that I can post at least some brief thoughts over the weekend. I might manage it before Help is posted but may come just after and then will move on to Help and responding to flow's review asap. Looking forward to the conversation picking up again.

                        Originally posted by ghoststar View Post
                        Again, I'm late to the party-- it seems that adding "/forums" in the address bar works for me, and sometimes it doesn't. (I'm using the same browser that I've been trying to use for the past week, but I switched devices. Maybe that explains it?) Anyway, sorry for possibly messing up schedules?
                        Bring on the Night is due now on 7th Aug ghoststar. Any time you are able to pop by and join us before and after with the other eps will of course be very welcome. And yes, the new homepage is - http://buffyforums.net/forums/

                        (NOTE: My letters periodically quit appearing as I type, and I get a message about the "invalid server response." Anyone else having that problem?)
                        I haven't been aware of anything like this when entering text. Have you amended your posts viewable per page to 20 in your settings as recommended? It could be a processing issue if you still have it set up to try to open all the posts of a thread in a page. If you take a screen capture of the message you are getting it if keeps happening and drop me a pm with it or log it in the report a problem thread, I might be able to find out what could be causing it.

                        Comment


                        • I wish I had found more time to put greater thought into the episode, but I wanted to get some thoughts down and my response to the review up before we move on to Help. Thanks flow for giving me the space until the end of the weekend your review is due within, it's appreciated.

                          STSP is actually one of my favourite episodes in the season and is possibly one of the best for the Scoobie relationships, they play such a focus. The presentation of the friendships is something I intend to specifically consider on this rewatch as it has always felt really coherent in its development and shifts to me but is an aspect I have read criticised several times over the years. It's going to be interesting to hear everyone's thoughts on it as we work through the episodes.

                          Originally posted by Cheese Slices View Post
                          The opening scene establishes right away the Mcguffin the episode will be revolving around. Not playing up the ambiguity for the audience was ultimately a good call from Espenson, as it encourages the viewer to wonder why instead of what, thus giving room for what’s at the heart of the episode : a character study for Willow, and a quiet yet powerful set up of this final season’s themes.

                          Ever since Villains, a new Scooby dynamic has been rising, consisting of Buffy, Xander and Dawn. The three have slowly been building a genuine family dynamic, from which Willow is for the first time excluded. At the airport, things are easy and casual between the three of them, as opposed to the nervous and awkward way they discuss Willow. While it’s Willow’s fears that cause her coming home alone and unable to see her friends, the show doesn’t take the easy route by making the rest of the Scoobies unequivocally confident about her return. Throughout the episode, Xander is the closest to optimistic and unwaveringly faithful, Dawn is ostensibly doubtful and pessimistic, while Buffy acts as a happy middle, believing in Willow but not affording herself to leave out the possibility of Willow coming back “wrong” (heh).
                          I really like your point about the difference between the focus for the audience being drawn to the why instead of the what as we see both versions of Willow's return straight away. And it does really pull attention to the different experiences playing out for the individuals involved. How uncertain they are feeling and how they are responding to the situation. And that, at the end of the day, is ultimately the issue at hand for Willow.

                          We have a very long, slow sequence of Willow coming home, wandering around the house, looking for her friends, but also taking it all in, as if it were all new to her. Of course, since it’s unlikely that much has changed around the house since Willow left, we understand that Willow is the one who’s changed, and seeing things from a new, sobered up perspective.
                          Willow is feeling so wary and didn't know how she would be received, feared it so much, but part of her also perhaps hadn't expected much to have literally changed. So to go through the house with her, seeing her response to the fact that the room where such a huge moment happened to her has in fact changed is quite a big thing. Buffy's name being on the door is great. It's a labelling which perhaps states that Willow's place is lost irrevocably now, that what she did and what happened has caused a sequence of events that has resulted in her 'spot' no longer existing. S6 looked so much at consequences and how events connected and this is more of that now as the ongoing repercussions are faced.

                          There is also the possible factor that what Willow is seeing is part of her self-removal too. She doesn't feature in the pictures on Buffy's dresser and she isn't in the planner. Has she actually been missed out because she has no presence here any more, or is she self-punishing to the extent she has removed herself in both places here too?

                          This scene reminds me very strongly of Buffy coming home in Afterlife (Same Time, Same Place takes place precisely one season later, and both are written by Jane Espenson): Willow comes “home” (or what has been her home for the past year or so, and is the home of her chosen family) and is left to contemplate the remains of a life that belongs to the past.
                          Nice catch, I really like this connection and I think it is great to draw a tie to the response to trauma that we were seeing in Buffy's disconnection then and in what is the root of Willow's 'hiding' from her friends now. That there is that reminder of the moment of such pain woven into all of this as Willow hears the shot that killed Tara, really does underline the painful events that started all that Willow is now dealing with.

                          When her last ray of hope goes away, she finally settles on the sofa, probably so she’s be the first thing they see (heh) when they get home, but perhaps more meaningfully, she is relegated to guest status, and stays where a guest would say, not unlike Giles had back in Flooded.
                          Yes the feeling of disconnection is really so brilliantly brought forward repeatedly throughout the episode and not having a place to rest, no place defined as her own anymore, would feel very isolating.

                          Your point about the emphasis being on what they would see obviously brings up that repeated theme of the season of 'seeing'. SpuffyGlitz wrote a lot about framing in her review for Beneath You and I think there is some great examples in this episode too. Willow is on the inside of the home here, but she is physically separated still. She should be positioned where they would see her as they return, as they gather to discuss and work out what is going on but she has withdrawn so much that she is literally absent. There but not, an outsider.

                          When Willow wakes this is underscored further by her attempt to call Giles and him also not being available for her, and then the camera pans back to show her stood alone in a large room, empty of others. The doorway wide and open beside her almost suggesting she leaves.

                          Doorways are often given focus in the episode and already this isn't the first time. After seeing the passengers exiting the gate at the airport we had Willow's arrival at Revello and knocking on the door, to no response. The repeated pictures of doorways up the staircase, Buffy's name on the bedroom door, hearing the door slam and seeing the others arriving. The symbolism of doorways, as I'm sure we've discussed before, is often used as the transition point and the closed door is featured at multiple points here. This could be seen as reflective of how Willow is feeling and what she feared she would be facing on her return. A doorway can represent the potential of dreams and hope, but a closed doorway can be indicative that what you seek is out of reach, opportunities closed.

                          Anya herself has to deal with cleaning up the debris of her past life, as we see her cleaning out the Magic Box (which, if I’m not mistaking, is the last time we ever see this set).
                          You might be right, I've never thought of that. I really like the link you bring up here about Anya being seen to clear the debris. Again that focus on consequences is really drawn. It feels a little odd to me though that Anya would still be clearing out items from the destruction of the shop so many weeks later, but it definitely works well for metaphorical emphasis of the long-term effects.

                          Finally, Spike is still in the basement, wearing last week’s (better fitted this time) costume, living in the same albeit more extreme limbo Anya and Willow are living in.
                          I'm not sure that Spike is in any more extreme a limbo, it is just another version of fear and uncertainty. He probably has a far weaker sense of self at the moment though, even though there is no doubt all three are very troubled by their pasts and who they are, who they can be.

                          While the superposed Spike/Willow and Spike/Buffy/Xander scene in the basement does not bring particularly new insight to the characters (it actually confuses them further), it is an extremely clever scene that serves several purpose : plot-wise, it clarifies the fact that Willow and Buffy/Xander are truly, well, at the same time, in the same place, by using Spike to ground their presence by directly interacting with all of them; it also allows everyone's, and particularly Willow's, state of mind to be expressed both bluntly and evocatively by Spike, whose madness only enhances his original dual relationship with language, in turns crude and straightforward or poetic and flowery.

                          This sequence uses a particularly well trodden trope in literature and art in general, that of madness as a purveyor of Truth.
                          This scene is just so superb, one of my absolute favourites in the show. That aspect of them all being unknowingly yet again in the same time and place, but now with someone being present with both of them, is great. As you say, the freedom of having someone who is deemed mad as able to see and speak the truth is being employed and it is brilliantly done. The inability of the others to see emphasised when they can't understand what Spike is talking about.

                          But it is not only his madness that makes, narratively, Spike the ideal candidate for the reveal. Spike himself has been textually established as the truth seer ever since Lovers Walk, if not earlier (as long as he is not personally involved, in which case his perception gets a lot blurrier).
                          Ha yes, as he looks to avoid facing some of his own truths he often can't apply insight inwardly. Which works really well for the repeated theme of truths and what lies beneath, what is hidden.

                          And we do see another quick example of the struggle Spike is currently dealing with not only in the general madness and disconnection from reality he is also showing in the basement scene, but in his response to the moment that briefly ties him back to William again ("Look at you... glowing. What's a word means "glowing"? Gotta rhyme"). This sudden distraction back into the poetry gives him almost a moment of seeming calm that seems fitting for someone who would prefer to consider 'creating things of beauty' over thinking about 'dark, ugly business'. And yet that small escape actually just serves to bring about a rush of distress and guilt, Buffy saying his name with a plea instantly reconnecting him back again with what happened in the bathroom and so results in a rapid withdrawal again. And of course that sense of guilt, withdrawal and fear does greatly reflect what Willow is going through. The switch then to his incoherent ramblings about permissions and authorisation seeming to reflect this desperate need to fit expectations and follow the rules to avoid trouble or perhaps even punishment.

                          It is no wonder that Willow, Spike and Anya would be so strongly paralleled throughout S7, as they all are bound together by one of the show’s favorite theme : Redemption.
                          There's a degree to which Buffy is also on a similar journey that reflects what has come before as the way that she interacts and uses her power to strengthen others serves to give contrast as well to the abuse of power the previous season showed. Willow and Spike are at a similar stage at this point whereas Anya still needs to step back from the negative choice that she made in response to the aborted wedding. Which of course is coming soon. As you say, the point about what has come to lead into where the characters are is heavily emphasised.

                          (As an aside, this is a rather controversial scene, as some fans find Buffy’s remarks rather dehumanizing, especially given her gentle reaction earlier. From a doylist perspective, it definitely fits Jane Espenson’s willingness to sometimes sacrifice characterization for the benefit of a good joke- in universe, I’ll chalk it up to her trying to distance herself from a very confusing and emotionally intense situation).
                          I think that it works well with Buffy's uncertainty about the situation and also with a touch of perhaps residual anger towards him. That she isn't sure what to expect around him and wants to keep a physical distance is well underlined by a reference to him as being literally off-putting to be around. It's right to have that conflict showing I think where she is starting to consider giving him the opportunity to prove that he's changed, as he had obviously intended to try to do when he first returned. But also for that to be with some ongoing effects from all that has come before. The emphasis of the past on the present as everything converges on the same time and place works with this also of course.

                          It also reflects what is happening between Willow and Buffy/Xander/Dawn. People can be in the same time and place and be experiencing things very differently. The earlier scene in the basement and that moment of connection to Spike's ongoing admiration for Buffy but guilt over their history contrasts with her distance and show of some disgust here. She most certainly isn't 'there with him' at this point, and they have a heck of a way to go before they are starting to connect deeply in a way they never did before. The reconnection is somewhat easier for the friends as it is based more on something that was rather than forging something newer, but there is still a path to walk and connections to be rebuilt.

                          There is a beautiful moment in the framing in the cave which also draws on these concurrent contrasting experiences. As Gnarl taunts Willow that her friends were there his shadow is falling over her, the shadow of his hand seeming to caress her. This insubstantial overlaying whilst he's not actually physically touching her but seeming to almost affectionately stroke her hair, then makes the move to literally pull her towards him really alarming, the intent is brutal. His glee and her terror also occupy the same time and place both when the physical distance was superficially breached and then as the contact also becomes realised.

                          Gnarl is undoubtedly one of the most scary monsters of the show and the way that he traps his victims, has them immobilised yet aware is truly horrifying. Best MOTW for me.


                          Lastly, Anya at first appears eager to revel in her status as a vengeance demon—so eager in fact, that it quickly becomes clear that it is purely performative. We learn that she has fallen from grace ever since last episode’s events, and we’ll learn in Helpless that exacting vengeance is truly upsetting her now. If Willow and Spike are already at a place where they are aware and willing to make up for their past deeds (whether in abstract by feeling remorse and trying to change or more concretely here in Spike’s case by tracking down the demon), Anya still clings to a narrativized version of her life (notably calling last week’s events “a little mix-up”), and it isn’t until Selfless that the bough break. She does, however, help out the Scoobies with her demon knowledge (hurray for that) and even accompanies them to the demon’s lair.
                          I agree that a lot of what we see with Anya at the start of this season feels like a performance. Again something that we saw as a major part of Buffy's response to her return at the start of S6. Dealing with trauma and trying to fit to the roles that you feel others expect of you repeating again. And of course so much fits to fears of the expectations and perceptions of others and how that actually reflects their own insecurities. The power this holds represented by Willow's inadvertent spell and the eventual statement of the ongoing need to master her power.

                          The significance of perceptions all fits nicely against the theme of sight and the eye of the beholder of course. There is also the direct link to sight again as Gnarl is killed by his eyes being pierced. A foreshadowing of what will be done to Xander to take his power, to take his strength from him.

                          You call yourself finished but you’re not...worse than ever you are

                          One of the very first things established in Same Time, Same Place is the fact Willow “didn’t finish being not evil”. Other than justifying her coming back early behind the scenes reason there was, it is in itself very meaningful when contemplating the way redemption arcs are portrayed in the Buffyverse.

                          Redemption in the buffyverse is not always well defined, but it’s consistently portrayed as a way of living and being, not a goal to achieve (well, if you don’t consider Angel’s shanshu deal which mucks things up a bit)—it’s Sysyphis and his rock, it’s thankless and realizing you need to change, to do and be better does not make things better, at least not immediately.
                          I think that line especially stands out because it comes with that increased self-awareness. That perhaps in now being able and willing to view themselves more openly and critically, it's a natural consequence that they'd appear worse for it. It is in the choices to change and to act in light of that which they become the better versions of themselves. And this applies to all the characters, not just those that are clearly labelled as being on a redemptive journey. Buffy's and Spike's relationship in this season contrasts hugely to the negative abuse of power they both displayed last season. And it is in managing these inner balances and controlling themselves by wanting to be the best person they can be, not in trying to hide from the worst they can be, that they really control the darker aspects of their natures too. Your point about the stark truth of the journey as being a painful one is again something that I think is a repeated factor through the season. We may be looking to contrast from the negativity of S6 and draw positively empowering continuations for the characters now, but that doesn't mean it will be easy as it will always be inherently connected to the traumas, experiences and struggles from their pasts.

                          But it is here that I think the excellence of the MOTW really reflects the need to face the past and deal with it to move forwards. As Willow is laid paralysed on the floor of that cave with her fears and insecurities holding her back, stopping her being seen, she is static emotionally as well as physically, not allowing herself to move in just a different way to what Gnarl is doing. And the denial of progression, of opening herself to the possibilities that flood around her in returning and facing those she hurt and loves, that can halt continuation and change too.

                          Here the answer seems to be that, as difficult as it is to climb the hill, it is still less painful than simply standing still. In STSP, we see Willow going from despair to actively tracking down the demon (albeit for rather self-interested reasons), but it’s the very last scene that cements the above statement : although Willow is exhausted, not trying to heal actually hurts worse.
                          That's great. And of course it is in accepting help that she is better able to heal. I'll come back to the theme of help in a moment.

                          Next Up: we talk power (who's got it, who knows how to use it), communication, visual narration and random nonsense.
                          I've really enjoyed reading your thoughts so far Cheese Slices. Thank you for contributing to the rewatch and please do post your further thoughts if you get time. I'm sure I can say for us all that we'd love to read them, and even if we have moved onwards. And of course please do join us with any ad hoc thoughts you have about the other episodes as they are reviewed and discussed.

                          Additional thoughts... This episode triggered the start of my concurrent watch of AtS. It is interesting to consider that the air dates for how S4 and S7 slot alongside each other is very spasmodic. Some of which clearly has been done to draw the crossovers in line to each other but as always I'm looking to how the two shows sit against each other thematically and this combination is truly rich.


                          Deep Down actually aired five days after Beneath You and just two days before STSP. I think it is interesting that there has been two episodes of BtVS already which has, from an AtS point of view when watching them together and waiting for the sister show to start, added more weight to Angel's absence and time in the ocean. I think this is important as his rescue is going to happen in just the first episode of S4, but the significance of his time apart from the others and the trauma of the experience will, as the pasts do for all the characters, play such a pivotal part of what follows. When Connor in Angel's dream dinner at the start tells him to, "Freeze the moment, dad. It'll last forever." it really stands out to me as such a key line to how stuck in the past and specific events and moments we can get. It really resonates with Willow's fears trapping her, stopping the others from seeing her too.

                          Generally, we have both groups incomplete, the Scoobies and what remains of the Fang Gang, and they are actively searching for missing members of their teams. There is a real contrast here though as the end of S3 had the AtS gang greatly torn apart while the BtVS group were coming back together. I really enjoy seeing when watching the two shows, how often they cover the same themes but with the groups in very different places emotionally.

                          Both episodes have a huge emphasis on there being elements that are hidden and truths 'deep down' which affect us and the pain that can come with the experiences we have. What truly lies beneath, and are we able to find it and face it? And in that there's a need to be living with the consequences of your actions and this features alongside the ideas of redemption and revenge, having that sense of justice and people getting what they deserve. Willow's deep fear of not having a place any more realised by her inadvertent spell which serves to give her a result she likely feels is deserved, the complete loss of her place.

                          Then there is also the ongoing theme of how family can be chosen and can strengthen us. Right at the start of Same Time, Same Place Dawn questions Buffy and Xander as they sit where Willow sleeps, asking, "I mean, will anyone around here ever start asking for help when they need it?" In AtS we see Fred wanting to contact Wes to ask for help but Gunn's reluctance with all that has happened. In contrast, we see Buffy go to Spike to see if he's seen Willow and then also to get him to help track the killer, even though she is also clearly feeling ongoing uncertainty. And then there is that wonderful ending between Buffy and Willow which shows a glimpse of the best that can be achieved where the option to strengthen someone is offered out of love to help and that offer is accepted. People obviously are best positioned to support each other when they occupy the same time and place (and the theme of help ties us into the next episode too of course).

                          This all links too to the theme of power and how you assert yours, whether that strengthens or drains those around you. The ongoing bitterness between Wes and Fred and Gunn is really underlined when Wes' choice to help, his wish to find Angel is largely ignored as the hurt that still resides at the same time bubbles up again. Fred accuses Wes of really not caring anymore despite the clear evidence against that in what he has just done. Again also displaying a lack of willingness to 'see' as he shows the sign of the literal blood he put into this mission as well with his bandaged arm from feeding Angel his own blood seems very deliberately prominent as her accusation is made when he turns to leave.

                          Which brings me to a contrast I feel may exist between the two shows this season...

                          When Angel gives his famous line to Connor at the end after confronting him and in considering what he deserves, "Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. - It's harsh, and cruel. - But that's why there's us. Champions. It doesn't matter where we come from, what we've done or suffered, or even if we make a difference. We live as though the world was what it should be, to show it what it can be." I think it connects superbly to the theme of empowering others and looking to be the best version of yourself you can be that I see threading through S7 for so many characters. And although Angel does tell Connor he loves him and hopes he can join them eventually, I would question whether Angel's next act, of throwing Connor out, fits against his words or paves the way for the start of the troubles they'll face in the season. Leading into a group often struggling and falling apart rather than strengthening each other. It'll be interesting to continue to consider where and how the two shows compare and contrast if they continue to thematically tie as strongly as we go on.

                          The air dates are very varied through the season and there are times when a few AtS or BtVS episodes follow one another rather than alternate. I've put the sequence as I'll be watching them under a spoiler here for anyone else who is interested. I'll fit these in to keep to the BtVS rewatch schedule.

                          This order follows the air dates (in brackets). The only time that I will break from this is when I get to LMPTM and Orpheus. These aired the opposite way around to what actually makes the most sense considering the crossover, so I will watch BtVS first in that pairing...
                          Spoiler:

                          Lesson (Sep-24)
                          Beneath You (Oct-01)

                          Deep Down (Oct-06) // Same Time, Same Place (Oct-08)
                          Ground State (Oct-13) // Help (Oct-15)
                          The House Always Wins (Oct-20) // Selfless (Oct-22)
                          Slouching Towards Bethlehem (Oct-27)
                          Supersymmetry (Nov-03)
                          Him (Nov-05) // Spin the Bottle (Nov-10)
                          CWDP (Nov-12) // Apocalypse Nowish (Nov-17)
                          Sleeper (Nov-19)
                          Never Leave Me (Nov-26)
                          Bring on the Night (Dec-17)
                          Showtime (Jan-07)

                          Habeas Corpses (Jan-15) // Potential (Jan-21)
                          Long Day's Journey (Jan-22)
                          Awakening (Jan-29)
                          The Killer in Me (Feb-04) // Soulless (Feb-05)
                          First Date (Feb-11) // Calvary (Feb-12)
                          Get It Done (Feb-18)
                          Storyteller (Feb-25)

                          Salvage (Mar-05)
                          Release (Mar-12)
                          LMPTM (Mar-25) // Orpheus (Mar-19)
                          Players (Mar-26)
                          Inside Out (Apr-02)
                          Shiny Happy People (Apr-09) // Dirty Girls (Apr-15)
                          The Magic Bullet (Apr-16)
                          Sacrifice (Apr-23)

                          Empty Places (Apr-29) // Peace Out (Apr-30)
                          Touched (May-06) // Home (May-07)
                          End of Days (May-13)
                          Chosen (May-20)

                          Comment


                          • debbicles
                            debbicles commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Stoney, thank you.


                        • Help

                          is the 4th episode of season 7 and the 126th episode of all seasons. It aired on 15th October 2002 and was written by Rebekkah Rand Kirshner, who has also written the BtVS episodes Out of my Mind, Listening to Fear, Tough Love, Tabula Rasa, Hells Bells, Potential and Touched.


                          Help was directed by Rick Rosenthal who has directed just one other episode - Normal Again - during Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

                          Normal Again is a highly debated and within a huge part of the fandom very much disliked episode. There has been a fantastic review on Normal Again by StateOfSiege97 on the season 6 rewatch thread.

                          http://www.buffyforums.net/forums/sh...l=1#post732670

                          Let’s face the truth right away: Help is not a very popular episode among Buffy fans or critics. I did a quick research on the internet and came up with the following results:

                          Vox.com listed Help as No. 90 of all 144 episodes: https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/3/1...th-anniversary

                          Medium.com went even below that with No. 98 https://medium.com/@Remyobroon2/ever...d-94b6772162b6

                          During one of our games on Buffyforums.net, we ranked it as No. 18 of the 22 season 7 episodes http://www.buffyforums.net/forums/sh...of-BtVS/page91

                          Buzzfeed surprised me with an upwards outlier ranking it as high as No. 43 https://www.buzzfeed.com/louispeitzm...vampire-slayer

                          Phi-phenomenom.org is in line with vox.com and medium com ranking it No. 90 http://www.phi-phenomenon.org/buffy/byalpha.htm#H

                          And IMDb hits an all-time low with No. 111 https://www.imdb.com/list/ls06946291...=detail&page=2

                          I think it is safe to say that in the opinion of most viewers Help might not be the worst episodes of all time but doesn`t make it out of the lower middle field either.

                          The lack of overwhelming enthusiasm might be slightly justified because there are with no doubt more memorable episodes of BtVS. Help
                          has little relevance to the season 7 arc, has little character development for the Scoobies, and mainly focuses on a character who dies at the end of the episode, By the way, this happens to be only the second natural death on the show after Joyce dying from an aneurysm in The Body.

                          However, I have come to the conclusion that Help is seriously underrated.

                          Help is a solid episode with a nice call back to the first season's high school theme and the monster of the week trope. It has a few sparkles of humor (I’ll reference them while I sum up the episode), a Scooby research party that reminds us of the good old days in the library and a message - not everyone can be saved - that seems to be bleak but isn’t if you take a closer look at it.

                          Enough said, let’s dive into it:


                          Previously on Buffy The Vampire Slayer


                          Willow is back from her magic rehab in England. Buffy has gotten a job as a school counselor which is pretty surprising considering she never finished college. Moreover, I’m not sure if Maggie Walsh managed to grade Buffy’s psych 101 paper before she ended up with a Polgara skewer through her chest. Spike has become insane and Xander is building himself a career as well as Sunnydale a new high school. The principal of the aforementioned high school is being cryptic and is hiding something.

                          Robin Wood is certainly one of the least liked characters in the Buffyverse. Probably ranking even lower than Riley and just slightly above Kennedy. I think, Robin is a good looking, awesome, smart guy, who does a solid job as a principal. He genuinely cares for his students, is a badass fighter, and offers Buffy a decent job. Although Robin Wood has no superpowers at all he is ready and willing to fight not only the random vampire who lurks in a dark alley but also The First Evil itself. Oh, and he also likes French Food.

                          Buffy, Xander, and Dawn crawl out of coffins in a mortuary. The body of a nice old lady is laid out in another coffin. Dawn is now part of the Scooby gang and Buffy is including her into her Slayer life just like she promised in Grave. Not completely though because Dawn’s coffin still has a child lock.

                          The nice old lady vampire looks peaceful but turns out to be not peaceful at all and gets staked by Buffy.


                          Dum Dada duumm...Dada duummm...


                          When we get back to the episode Buffy is counseling a shy looking girl called Amanda, a guy called Peter, who wants to skip bio and reminds me a lot of Larry (another call back to the high school years) and a troubled student whose Brother is a marine who and been ordered to go off to war.

                          We instantly feel sympathy for Amanda, the insecure wallflower who is being picked on by a guy. A well-known theme. Poor girl. Bad guy. But then Amanda defies all our expectations when her eyes light up as she tells us how she punched that guy in the face and felt good about it.

                          Next, we see Willow and Xander in deep conversation, Willow is insecure about her magical powers and her ability to help. Xander throws in a nice hammer-and-nail-power-control analogy.


                          “OK, well at the end of the hammer, you have the power, but no control. It takes, like, two strokes to hit the nail in, or you could hit your thumb.
                          So, you choke up. Control, but no power. It could take like ten strokes to knock the nail in. Power, control. It's a trade-off. “


                          Season 7 is highly criticized by people within the fandom and some of the arguments are

                          a) The Scoobies weren’t close anymore;
                          b) No one ever talked about Willow`s trip to the dark side of the force in season 6;
                          c) Spike never showed guilt or remorse for the AR;
                          d) Buffy never kept the promise she made to Dawn in Grave about showing her the world.

                          I believe at least some of it is there in this very much underrated episode. Willow and Xander share a wonderful quiet moment of friendship. Willow openly acknowledges that she tried to kill all her friends and is afraid of succumbing to the darkness of her powers again. Buffy takes Dawn on a stakeout date and lets her participate in researching later on in the episode. And Spike is insane from pain and guilt and punches himself in the face for having hurt Buffy.

                          We return to the cemetery where Willow puts several pebbles on Tara’s gravestone.



                          What we see here is a centuries-old Jewish tradition. There are many theories regarding the origins of this tradition. One is that the stones will keep the soul of the deceased where it belongs. Placing stones on a grave also might have been done in the first place to prevent animals from digging the body out of a shallow grave. It’s also possible that stones were seen to be more effective in preserving the memory of the deceased than flowers which are common in the Christian tradition. Flowers wither and die. Stones last for an eternity.




                          The next day at school other students come to Buffy for counseling. One of them starts talking about being gay but then asks Buffy on a date. Then Buffy counsels a girl who feels her sister is a control freak and when the camera shifts to the girl in question we see Dawn. And there is a bit of that humor I promised you, with Dawn adding, “She also borrows my clothes without asking,” and Buffy conceding, “That must be very hard for you.”

                          After this short lighthearted moment, things finally start to speed up. Cassie Newton shows up. She is - of course - a namesake of Cassandra of Troy.



                          According to Greek mythology, Cassandra was a princess of Troy (a city located in what we now know as Turkey) who was gifted with the second sight but also cursed so no one would ever believe her prophecies. She did not only foresee the Trojan War, the fall and destruction of Troy, the horrific crime committed against herself by Ajax in the temple of Athene, and her subsequent abduction by Agamemnon, but also her own and Agamemnon’s death at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra and her lover. However, she could do nothing to prevent those truly tragic events.

                          There are many adaptions to this epic Greek tragedy but I am going to name just one here. It’s a novel called Cassandra by the German writer Christa Wolf. I wasn't sure if there was a translation into English but I found it online:

                          https://www.amazon.com/Cassandra-Chr...gateway&sr=8-2

                          Cassie tells Buffy that she is going to die on Friday and unlike the people of Troy Buffy does believe Cassie. What Buffy does not believe though is that destiny cannot be changed. And this is another nod back to the earlier seasons and especially back to Prophecy Girl, where Buffy was faced with a prophecy that foretold her death. However, Buffy defied the prophecy, lived, and never again accepted anything as being set in stone and unchangeable. Buffy is likely reminded of her own sixteen or seventeen-year-old self when she looks at Cassie. Cassie tells her she wants to live just like Buffy told Giles she doesn’t want to die. And just like Buffy told Joyce in Becoming Part 2 that she wants to gossip about boys and even study, Cassie tells Buffy that she wants to graduate from high school and go to the stupid winter formal.



                          Giles, I'm sixteen years old. I don't wanna die.



                          Do-do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea how lonely?
                          it is, how dangerous? I would *love* to be upstairs watching TV
                          or
                          gossiping about boys or... God, even studying! But I have to save the world... again.




                          “You think I want this? You think I don't care? (starts to cry) Believe me, I want to ... be here, do things. I want to graduate from high school, and I want to go to the stupid winter formal ... (sniffles.) I have this friend, and it would be fun to go with him. Just to dance and hear lame music to wear a silly dress and laugh and stuff (sniffles.) I'd like to go. There's a lot of stuff I'd like to do. I'd love to ice skate at Rockefeller Centre. And I'd love to see my cousins grow up and see how they turn out 'cause they're mean and I think they're gonna be fat. I'd love to backpack across the country or, I don't know, fall in love, but I won't. I just never will.“



                          When we get back to the episode after the inevitable commercial break, Cassie tells Buffy about coins and a dark place underground Buffy will go to. This is foreshadowing the upcoming episode Chosen
                          when Buffy will go down into the Hellmouth to defeat The First Evil. Cassie also tells Buffy that she will get her nice white shirt stained and in the very next scene with Principal Wood Buffy spills coffee on it.

                          Dawn tries to befriend Cassie, who is reading Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5, a 1969 science-fiction, time travel, and anti-war novel that touches on the themes of predestination, fate and free will. Interestingly enough the shooting script tells us that Cassie was supposed to read Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger.

                          The Scoobies start to research and we get a bit of product placement courtesy of Apple when Willow opens her notebook.

                          Xander makes a pop culture reference to the slogan "I Like Ike." which was the campaign slogan of General Dwight David Eisenhower during the presidential elections of 1952. Eisenhower won the election and became the 34th president of America.



                          Xander also cites the slogan "Milk, it does a body good." which was the slogan of America's National Dairy Board in the 1980s.



                          Willow, on the other hand, starts to google, thus marking the first time the term “googled” was ever used on television. Her explanation “It’s a search engine” seems very much dated today, because frankly - who has never used or heard of Google nowadays? Google is just as ubiquitous as the flue or environmental pollution.

                          https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/06/the-first-use-of-the-verb-to-google-on-television-buffy-the-vampire-slayer/373599/

                          Willow also admits that she has written Doogie Howser fanfic.


                          Doogie Howser was a tv-series running from 1989 til 1993, starring Neil Patrick Harris as a teenage physician.

                          It’s a nice nod to fanfiction by Rebekkah Rand Kirshner and it’s even more so in hindsight considering that in a couple of years Willow and the object of her fannish obsession will appear on the same tv-show.


                          How I Met Your Mother


                          Buffy and Xander make yet another desperate move and go to Cassie’s father’s house. It’s outside his door that Buffy says the title of the show for only the second – and last - time in seven seasons. In the season 2 episode Anne she told a demon guard who had asked her "Who are you?" "I am Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. And who are you?" In Help she tells Xander "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer would break down this door."

                          However, Buffy and Xander have to find out that the drunkard with the criminal record does not abuse his daughter at all but loves her dearly.

                          And it turns out that in an episode about a seer nothing we see truly is what it seems to be.

                          The nice old lady is a vampire, Amanda isn’t bullied but a bully, the alcoholic loser is a loving father and Robin Wood, the well-muscled African-American guy with an earring isn’t from “the hood” but from Beverly Hills.

                          The very next scene opens with a cliche. Seven villains in red robes gather up for a ritual.



                          Where did I see something like this recently? Oh yeah. Here it is:


                          Marvel`s Runaways


                          The following day Buffy is back at school. She goes down to the basement and finds Spike sitting on the floor. At first, he is not reacting to her at all which might be because he is hearing voices (and seeing people?) all the time. Has he already seen Buffy impersonated by The First Evil and therefore does not instantly recognize it is her until she touches him?
                          We never really find out if his insanity is already caused by The First Evil playing tricks on his mind or if it is due to his horror and guilt at the atrocities he committed in the 120+ years as a soulless killer or if it is (the most likely option in my opinion) a mixture of both. He tells Buffy, “I can’t hear you.” And again, we never learn why he can’t hear her of if maybe he just won’t hear her.

                          The scene ends with Buffy realizing he won’t be of any help and turning to leave. He then calls out after her - and this is one of my favorite quotes of the entire show -:



                          “Don’t leave me. Stay here and help me be quiet”.


                          Fanart by Double Dutchess

                          His line “Help me be quiet” foreshadows another scene written by Rebekkah Rand Kirshner. A scene that will take place in the episode Touched
                          when Buffy and Spike will be quiet together and thus for the first time in six years share a moment of genuine intimacy.


                          Touched

                          With TriBel's kind permission I am going to quote her here:

                          This is a season about the paucity, the inadequacy of language. However, despite its shortcomings - its inability to say everything, it's still a tool of communication. Without it, there's only the physical. This is the underside of the wonderful bed scene in the stranger's house...” it’s the extra-linguistic that's the most important aspect of this episode. There's a reason it's called "Touched".

                          But Touched is still fourteen episodes away and it is not yet time for Buffy and Spike to overcome the inadequacy of language. Just now Buffy thinks her presence makes it worse for Spike and leaves. There are people, who believe she behaves somewhat indifferently maybe even harsh towards Spike, especially if one considers that this episode is called Help
                          and he expressly asks her to help him. But Buffy does not owe Spike anything. He is not her responsibility. Furthermore - she is going to offer the help she has denied him in this episode in the very next episode Selfless by telling him to get his shit together and his ass out of the not beneficial-to-his-mental- health-basement. So, hold on Spike. Help is just one episode away!

                          While researching for this review I re-watched Lani Diane Rich’s vlog Still Pretty on YouTube and there was one detail she mentioned which I want to share here:

                          Lani Diane Rich thinks that the nice old lady-vampire from the opening scene of this episode



                          was the owner of the house, where Spike buried his victims. She further believes the lady-vampire was the first victim Spike killed under the influence of The First Evil. That means Spike is already being manipulated and triggered to kill while he crouches in the basement and asks Buffy for help. It’s a chilling thought.


                          Here is the link to the Chipperish Media vlog:

                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiVq...&index=19&t=0s


                          There is another glimpse of humor when Buffy gets visibly upset that Dawn is only Mike’s second choice as a date for the winter formal. Then a handful of coins turn up just like Cassie prophesized and Buffy finally has a clue when and where Cassie’s murder will take place.

                          Cassie is captured and the ritual begins. There are two minor details I‘d like to mention. Firstly, the school library has lots and lots of books and I don’t know what Giles will be going on about in the episode Lies my Parents Told Me when he complains to Robin Wood about the lack of books in the library. Secondly one of the wannabe-villains mentions his cousin Ben.

                          Cousin Ben?



                          Seriously?

                          Two things happen almost simultaneously. Buffy pops up and Avilas, the monster of the week, is summoned. Admittedly it is a rather lame monster of the week but there is another glimpse of humor as Buffy calls him exactly that.

                          After another commercial break Spike shows up with a torch in his hand (Really? A torch for a vampire? Wasn’t there a sword or an axe lying around somewhere?) and the fierce urge to help Buffy. It’s a bit sketchy how he got into the library in the first place because there is no door or entrance near the spot he suddenly appears and he seems to pop up out of thin air. Spike efficiently tackles Peter and only the second time he punches him his chip fires. Maybe the chip is already slightly deteriorating. Meanwhile Buffy sets the lame demon on fire and Spike unties Cassie. There is a memorable line for all Spuffy shippers:


                          “She’ll tell you. Someday she’ll tell you.”


                          The lame demon bites Peter and he - wussy that he is - pleads for help because he has got a minor bleeding wound on his shoulder For once Buffy refuses to help a human in need and tells him to check in during her office hours instead.

                          Walking out of the door Buffy defies destiny once more when she dodges a crossbow fired by a booby trap. Confident and confirmed in her deeply rooted conviction that there is no predestination and that nothing is ever set in stone she tells Cassie,

                          “You can make a difference”


                          And Cassie being the wiser of the two simply replies,

                          “And you will”


                          Only a moment later Cassie, whose family unbeknownst to her has a long history of heart irregularities, suffers from a sudden heart attacked, and a shocked and devastated Buffy is kneeling on the floor, crying over Cassie’s dead body.



                          Buffy thinks she failed Cassie but Dawn, a fifteen-year-old teenager with the wisdom and knowledge of a millennia-old inter-dimensional key tells Buffy:

                          “You didn’t, ‘cause you tried.”

                          The message of Help is not that there is a destiny you can’t change. The message is not that you should accept that not everybody can be saved - although it sometimes might be that way. The message is not that you should fatalistically succumb to whatever a deity, the Powers That Be or destiny dishes out for you.

                          Help tells us something different altogether. Buffy herself asks the question

                          "So what then? What do you do when you know that? When you know that maybe you can't help?"

                          Although Help ends on Buffy's line it does not leave her question unanswered. The answer is not given in words but in the final shot of the episode. The answer is that it’s not important to succeed but to try. Even if there is someone you can’t save you should and you have to try. This touches at the very core of Buffy’s morality and we get a call back to this later in this season in the episode Touched - also written by Rebekkah Rand Kirshner - when Spike addresses Buffy and does not tell her he loves how she always saves the day but instead says: “I love ... how you try.”

                          If you have tried to save someone you have not failed. Someone else had almost two years earlier and in his own show a very similar epiphany. In his conversation with Kate in the season 2 episode Epiphany of AtS Angel says:

                          “If there is no great glorious end to all this, if - nothing we do matters, - then all that matters is what we do. 'cause that's all there is. ... All I wanna do is help. I wanna help because - I don't think people should suffer, as they do. Because, if there is no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness - is the greatest thing in the world."

                          Buffy has shown Cassie this sort of kindness. She has offered help. And that’s what counts. That’s what made a difference after all. Cassie died but she didn’t die alone. She didn’t die abandoned. She died knowing that she mattered, that people cared for her, and put their life on the line for her.

                          The episode ends with Buffy returning to work the very next morning. We see her sitting in her office, going through her files and waiting for the next student to knock at her door. She is ready to go on doing her job. This day and every other day. Counseling. Offering help. Showing kindness. Because it is the greatest thing we can do in this world. It's what makes a difference.



                          And for those of you who want to read more, there is always:

                          Cassie’s poetry


                          The sheets above me
                          cool my skin
                          like dirt
                          on a mad woman's grave
                          I rise into
                          the moonlight white
                          and watch
                          the mirror stare
                          Pale fish looks
                          back at me
                          Pale fish that will
                          never swim
                          My skin is milk
                          for no man to drink
                          My thighs unused
                          unclenched
                          This body is
                          not ready yet
                          But dirt waits for no
                          woman
                          and coins will
                          buy no time
                          I hear the chatter
                          of the bugs. It's they alone
                          will feast.



                          I sit alone at my
                          window sill
                          Trees crackle,
                          sunshine blares...


                          ...and
                          children laugh like death
                          their sharp happiness is a
                          knife to me—
                          One jealous snake on a
                          window sill—


                          They will be here, trees and sun
                          and children with canes
                          and pruney skin
                          when I am but a memory
                          a laugh in the trees
                          of time. I sit alone
                          and try to love them
                          I sit alone, a snake


                          I sit alone and try to
                          love them
                          I sit alone
                          and laugh.


                          (quoted from the episode Help by Rebekkah Rand Kirshner)

                          Last edited by flow; 17-05-20, 10:14 AM.
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                          • debbicles
                            debbicles commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Flow, thank you. Lovely.
                            But...Dougie Howser? Really? Oh well. Truth is stranger than fiction.

                        • Awesome review, flow! Brava1.

                          Agree that Help is one of the most severely underrated episodes and you did a fantastic job showing why. As soon as I get ahead of this workload I’m whittling down, I’m going to try to get caught up and hopefully reply before the next review. Love the references to Cassandra and nice background work on all of the cultural references.

                          The only thing I missed that I was hoping you might go into - how do you think Spike reacted to Cassie’s infamous statement near the end? Do you think he understood what she was saying? And do you think there’s a weird connection to Drusilla here - who also foretold the future in cryptic wording? Spike’s expression is so strange here - a combination of hope and remorse - I wonder if it brings back a vague mirroring of Drusilla’s earlier statements all throughout Season Two and Fool for Love. Since Spike muses during Season Seven about Drusilla’s previous visions, I wonder if there is any connection at all. Pity the writers didn’t make it obvious.

                          Comment


                          • Truly fantastic review, I'm loving going over it again and again!! So many connections I had not really noticed before! Really looking fwd to the discussion on it Very exciting!
                            .

                            Comment


                            • flow
                              flow commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Thank you so much, SpuffyGlitz <3
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