Thursday, 16 July 2015

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, 6.18 & 6.19 – 'Entropy' & 'Seeing Red'

Thursday, 16 July 2015
TARA (to Willow): There's just so much to work through. Trust has to be built again on both sides. You have to learn if--if we're even the same people we were. If you can fit in each others lives. It's a long and important process, and can we just skip it? C-Can you just be kissing me now?
I don't much care about lovebirds Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and Anya (Emma Caulfield), and the show chickened out when it came to the potentially brilliant pairing of Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Spike (James Marsters), so you can imagine how much I enjoyed "ENTROPY"—which had both relationship front-and-centre, then threw in the inevitable reunion of Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) for good measure. As if to ensure I didn't much like this episode, the dreadful Trio of geeks also had a subplot involving their surveillance of Sunnydale with hidden cameras.

I know and accept that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is foremost a teen relationship drama, that uses the supernatural as symbols for many of the issues young people go through, but there are times when it all feels incredibly stupid to me. It feels like the show had perhaps overstepped its viability by 2002, so it's starting to play musical chairs with its romantic pairings—as Buffy categorically ditched Spike, who wound up falling into the arms of Anya on the rebound. It's not a bad idea to try and put those characters together, however briefly, but it only happened so Xander could discover what they're up to and get even more upset over Anya's breakup. It would have worked just fine to have him walk in on them in person, about to have sex on the Magic Box's table, but for some reason a tedious storyline about the Trio having dozens of mini-cameras snooping on the town was woven into the narrative. We're incredibly close to the end of season 6, and I still have no clear idea why the Trio hate Buffy so much, or what their plan is.

As a character study, "Entropy" certainly had some good moments. The last scene was particularly stirring, as Xander caught his ex-girlfriend canoodling with the peroxide-blonde vampire he barely tolerates, and whom his best-friend Buffy's been sleeping with in secret. It's just a shame that the Xander/Anya marital breakup is of such low interest to me, and I'm officially fed up with how this season's dragged out Buffy and Spike's on-off-on-off-on-off liaisons. So while there was definitely some good writing and performances, it was all servicing aspects of the season I'm no longer enjoying. In fact, it's hard to say what I am enjoying about season 6 now—which has just been a monumental downer for a show that was once a lot of fun, tackling ideas the writing's ill-equipped to do full justice to, or just taking the characters down depressing paths. Even the dose of happiness at the end, with Tara and Willow making up with a bedroom kiss, just means we're back where we started the season with them.


written by Drew Z. Greenberg • directed by James A. Contner • 30 April 2002 • UPN

SPIKE: Trust is for old marrieds, Buffy. Great love is wild and passionate and dangerous. It burns and consumes.
Is this season guilty of misandry? Xander jilted his bride at the altar, the abysmal Trio are all sad bachelors, and now Spike's been unequivocally rebranded a monster by trying to rape Buffy in her bathroom. Yes, that actually happened. Season 6 has been trying desperately to "grow up", in the sense it's toiled away crafting storylines intended to give the characters more mature life problems to tackle, and with very mixed results. I liked Buffy's theological musings on existence after her resurrection, her guilt-ridden attraction to someone who's all wrong for her (and yet perfect in some ways), and Willow becoming a magic-junkie, but everything else has been a washout. I really didn't buy into the idea Spike would try and force Buffy into sex, as if to make her realise they're a sublime sexual partnership, and the awkwardness of the direction certainly didn't help matters. Kudos to Marsters and Gellar for doing their best with what felt like such a tonally bewildering shift during "SEEING RED", but I trust I wasn't the only one shaking their head. That scene's ruined Spike for me, and rehabilitation will be a difficult task. And while that was the intention, I didn't like it.

And yet, this was undoubtedly an episode that was trying to do brave things, which is better than sitting back and just dreaming up more demons with Achilles heels to discover. It also ended with a very unexpected duo of shocks: as Warren (Adam Busch), the geek recently defeated by Buffy despite procuring orbs that granted him super-strength, arrived in her back garden and shot her and Tara with a gun. (After all this time, someone finally realised ordinary weapons are easily the best way to kill the Slayer.) One presumes Buffy will pull through because there's a seventh season, but Tara's fate feels more final—and probably could have been anticipated, given how she's rediscovered happiness by getting back together with Willow. Still, when those two witches are together, it generally means their conversations involved nothing but breathy sexual innuendo, so part of me's glad Tara may be removed from the picture.

But, oh, that despicable Warren! Men, eh? Cuh.


written by Steven S. DeKnight • directed by Michael Gershman • 7 May 2002 • UPN