Cultural Catchup Project: Breaking Up is “_____” to Do (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Breaking Up is “____” to Do

May 14th, 2010

You can follow along with the Cultural Catchup Project by following me on Twitter (@Memles), by subscribing to the category’s feed, or by bookmarking the Cultural Catchup Project page where I’ll be posting a link to each installment.

I watched seven episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s third season in a single day, and came to an important realization: I didn’t really want to stop.

Yes, this week’s posts have been particularly tough to write because most the episodes have been really strong, and there are some interesting things at play that I know I want to be able to comment on but that I don’t necessarily want to stop in order to comment on.

What I’ve decided to do is take a look at how some of the show’s recurring elements throughout these episodes are handled, as I think it’s the best way to get to each episode without writing about each individually (which just isn’t something I have time for, at least not right now). In the process, I’ll effectively review all seven of them in some capacity, but I’m hoping that the connections between episodes (not necessarily in theme so much as structure or technique) will add some additional value.

The first thing that we need to discuss in the stretch between “Homecoming” and “Gingerbread” is the way the show lays the groundwork for Xander and Willow’s indiscretions and the consequences therein. While Angel and Buffy’s relationship (which I’ll get to when I look at “Amends” in a bit more detail on Sunday) has mythology on its side, Xander/Cordelia and Willow/Oz are both normal teenage relationships, although ones which have their own complications. The show seemed to shut the door on Xander and Willow earlier on, so to reopen it is going to take a bit of work, and this series of episodes does a couple of subtle things in order to create the circumstances where the dissolution of these relationships is both logical and heartbreaking, and shows how attempts to reconcile the relationships are in their own way just as complicated as Angel and Buffy’s struggles with curse and prophecy.

I read (okay, glanced at) the Wikipedia blurb about “Homecoming” before I actually watched it, and I thought it seemed strange that Buffy and Cordelia would once again be feuding. The show has nicely integrated Cordelia into this group of friends, and while the character hasn’t been fundamentally changed it is clear that she has sort of “come around” to Buffy and the gang. Ultimately, the episode needs them to be rivals so that there can be conflict when they’re trapped in the wonder that is Slayerfest ’98, but David Greenwalt does a nice job of drawing from each characters’ strengths and insecurities to explain their feud. Cordelia is still enough of a strong-minded character that she would forget those friendships when Buffy threatens to challenge her reign at Sunnydale, and Buffy’s just insecure enough that she would run against her in an effort to win out. That their feud would put Buffy and Cordelia into danger – as a change of plans with the limo has Cordelia, rather than Faith, trapped in Mr. Trick’s entrepreneurial endeavour – is the icing on the cake, and the episode has a lot of fun with that story.

However, it also lays the groundwork for the idea that Cordelia remains at odds with certain parts of this group, and that her old life has not been abandoned just because she’s dating Xander. “Revelations” obviously threatens the unity of the group in regards to Angel’s return (more on that episode on Sunday), but the work in “Homecoming” serves a similar function in terms of showing some of the unspoken tensions which may not emerge in standalone episodes that don’t focus on particular characters or relationships. The episode ends with Cordelia and Buffy reconciling over some fun “World’s Most Dangerous Game” playing, and then promptly losing the crown in a wonderful closing bit, but the long-term impact of the episode was preparing us for that idea that in a few episodes Cordelia would be opposed to Buffy for different reasons.

In terms of Willow and Xander’s relationship, the show rekindle their connection in “Homecoming” with some less than subtle “fancy clothes make feelings emerge” storytelling which I don’t entirely buy. I think there’s a point where Xander came down too hard on the idea of their relationship for me to accept he’d so casually fall into a makeout session, but I’ll be fair: we saw in “Becoming” that Xander loves Willow as a friend enough that it could some day evolve into something more, so my issue is more the speed than the very fact of the matter. However, note that the next time we see them “together” is much more subtle. I will talk about “Band Candy” some more when I chat about the Mayor tomorrow, but I loved how the candy was designed to only marginally affect the teenage characters. It made for little moments like Xander and Willow taking their flirtations that one step too far, playing footsie in study hall, that they might not have otherwise done; It’s a great way for the show to prepare us for the fact that their connection isn’t “going away,” and to use a device which has much larger functions for the purpose of ongoing character development is just some really smart long-form storytelling.

“Lovers Walk” is an episode that primarily works because of how gosh darn excited I was to see Spike (I had a fist pump moment), but the episode nicely spirals into something much darker. If you’re going to have Xander and Willow get to second base within a “Monster of the Week” story, it needs to be one that doesn’t feel like they’ve been possessed or that it was entirely a heat of the moment decision. Here, because Spike is back in town in a self-destructive and depressive mood driven by the inherently human emotion of love, it allows the show to create some substantial threats while remaining grounded in something emotional rather than demonic. Cordelia ends up being injured by a structural collapse rather than an errant crossbow arrow or a villainous creature, and there isn’t that sense that this only happened because of the situation. Sure, Willow and Xander started making out because they thought they were going to die, but that speeds up the inevitable more than sparking something that wasn’t there before, and the show has no romantic notions about that fact.

I was a bit disappointed that “The Wish” so quickly killed off Cordelia and became a story about “Sunnydale without Buffy,” not so much because the latter wasn’t interesting (it was) but because I think there was more time to be spent with Cordelia after the breakup. The episode makes the argument that you can’t wish something away, or that there are consequences to trying to live in fantasy rather than reality, but then it sort of indulges the fantasy a bit too long without really connecting it back to Cordelia’s struggle. It completely rings true that Cordelia would turn against Xander considering the pain she felt in “Lovers Walk,” but while we got some time to see Cordelia’s side of the story (and the pain it caused her, which we can clearly see now that we’ve been beyond her cold exterior for quite some time) it sort of veered away from her emotions. I get the idea that we’re supposed to be somewhat shocked by the deaths we see (Angel dying to save Buffy, Buffy about to die at the hands of the Master, etc.), so Cordelia’s death captures just how terrible this particular reality is for our characters, but it doesn’t allow it to be cathartic for her character so much as it takes advantage of her anger to start a different story.

I’m sure that the show intends on going into this in more detail, as this storyline hasn’t been fully played out with either couple. The show is smart not to rush into reconciliation with Cordelia and Xander: it makes sense that Willow and Oz (considering their personalities) would work to get it together slowly but surely, as Oz is pretty much the last character left with a romantic outlook on life and this seemed like more of a bump in the road for him than any sort of dealbreker, but it would be too much is people as stubborn as Xander and Cordelia would be able to get past their hangups at this stage (or, perhaps, ever). The show is definitely committed to long-term ramifications from characters actions (as shown in “Revelations,” where Angel’s return shows both Xander and Giles [justifiably] hung up on his previous actions), and this is just as true when dealing with more subtle indiscretions which don’t involve torture and the like.

Admittedly, I’m not the kind of viewer who tends to be a shipper in general, especially when I know enough about the series to know that neither of these relationships lasts forever or is destined to be (Luke and Lorelai, this is not). So, for me, the interesting thing about this particular series of events is how they have to navigate their way into the conflict with some subtle touches in early episodes, eventually building to the high drama which in turn leads to some definitive (but still mostly subtle) consequences. It’s choreographed without being too choreographed, turning around quite a bit of story in a short period of time and managing it within some episodes that have plenty of other things going on.

Cultural Observations

  • It was sort of startling to see guns enter into the picture in “Homecoming” – the show usually isn’t so much with the explosions and gunfire, and it added an extra element of danger that set the episode’s action apart. I know from my limited experience with the show in the past that the show’s firepower changes over time, so I’ll be curious to see how that evolution takes place.
  • I really liked how they managed Spike in “Lovers Walk”: the pathetic side doesn’t entirely take away the murderous side, which means that we don’t necessarily fear for Xander and Willow’s lives but we do still view Spike as a threat (as he kills the shopkeeper and all). And yet, despite all of that, we still love the guy, and his “My Way” sing-along to end the episode was a great deal of fun.
  • This pretty much goes without saying, but both Charisma Carpenter and Alyson Hannigan were fantastic throughout this storyline, the former in particular.
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44 Comments

Filed under Cultural Catchup Project

44 responses to “Cultural Catchup Project: Breaking Up is “_____” to Do (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

  1. diane

    Seven episodes in one day, and you didn’t want to stop? I believe the proper line is “I can stop any time I want to.” And none of us want to stop.

    Lover’s Walk is one of my favorite episodes. So many series would make a season finale out of that many break-ups, but Whedon manages to use it as set-up for so much to come. There are many transformation to come, for several of these characters.

    Nice review, and thank you so much for your entire series of reviews. I’m really looking forward to your reactions as this season unfolds.

  2. Jason S H

    “less than subtle “fancy clothes make feelings emerge”
    Buffy kinda pays homage to the Hollywood high school movie tropes (and not in an ironic way, zomg!). At this point in Buffy, it doesn’t veer away from the none-too-subtle approach and I believe that’s intentional.

    I was a bit disappointed that “The Wish” so quickly killed off Cordelia and became a story about “Sunnydale without Buffy.”
    Doesn’t make sense that Cordelia doesn’t stand an ice cube in hell’s chance of lasting long in this world and isn’t this show really about Buffy, no matter how screen time it affords to it’s main cast. This criticism really took me by surprise as I’ve never heard it made before.

    • Eldritch

      I was stunned how quickly Cordelia got killed in her “wish” world. I had expected the episode to be about her adventures through this altered world.

      But logically, she was ill prepared to defend herself in this alter-world. Her car had disappeared, so she was afoot. She was wearing “come bite me” colors. And she didn’t know the most notorious vamps in town, Xander and Willow. It makes sense that she would walk into an early death. But perhaps that makes it an especially cruel lesson in “be careful what you wish for.”

      It even made sense that the altered Buffy had become “Faith” in this world instead of the Buffy we all know and love.

      What I still can’t buy is that Giles would have settled in Sunnydale. Even the Watcher in Cleveland didn’t hadn’t heard there was a Hellmouth in Sunnydale. He had only gone there originally to be Buffy’s watcher. Without her, he had no reason. Which is one of the problems I have with most parallel universe-type stories (including last night’s “Fringe”).

      If things are different, it’s not likely the exact same people will be together doing the same kinds of things. Maybe Oz and Larry would be there fighting vampires as part of an organized group, but Giles had no reason to be there with them.

      • Susan

        I think the idea is that Buffy follows the same trajectory in the bizarro world as she did in the “real” world all the way to the point that she arrived in Sunnydale–that she was destined to be there but was deflected at the last minute. Both Angel and Giles are then waiting for her; Angel’s first exchange with Buffy indicates that he had that “love at first sight” deal at Hemery and then came to SD to await her.

        There are problems with this reading, yes–Giles doesn’t indicate that he was supposed to be *Buffy’s* watcher, just that he had been a watcher, so we don’t know for sure that he was specifically waiting for her. And the watcher in Cleveland of course should have known about the SD Hellmouth. We’ve known about Cleveland’s for some time; watchers generally seem to be pretty in-the-loopy (even if they don’t always get invited to the special events).

        • diane

          In-the-loopy, or just loopy? The Council always seems more secretive to me, sharing only what they need to with Watchers in the field. Giles knew nothing of Kendra, for instance, or of Faith, until they showed up in Sunnydale.

          • Susan

            Okay–good point. But not to know about the existence of a Hellmouth? That seems a stretch.

          • diane

            Susan, the difference is between not knowing and not telling.

          • Susan

            Yeah, I’m still not buying that a watcher wouldn’t be told about a Hellmouth. I mean, they’re not out there completely in the dark. And in the “real” Buffy world, Giles knows about Cleveland.

            But clearly the Cleveland watcher in the bizarro world didn’t know about Sunnydale, so the writers are on your side. Which means this is a windmill at which I’m tipping.

          • Surgoshan

            A theory I’ve heard before, and like, is that Giles is not well-liked or respected by the Watcher’s council, that they sent him to Sunnydale as an excuse to get him out of the way (remember, he’s never been invited to the retreats). They probably heard there was some badness in SD, but never knew about the hellmouth and probably promptly filed all of Giles’s reports in the trash.

            Why did they leave an unfavored watcher with a slayer? Because Buffy’s an unfavored slayer! Their view of the slayer is “We fight a war, she is the weapon with which she fight.” Their ideal slayer is Kendra, quiet and obedient. So they leave Buffy, far too independent for their taste, with Giles, far too lenient for their taste.

            Hell, they didn’t even bother to let Giles know that one of their own had gone rogue (Gwendolyn Post). They just don’t give a damn about the dude.

  3. Tausif Khan

    So you have met Anyaka. Watch out for her.

    I would like to here you talk more about individual development of characters. I more often see Xander making the most selfish move possible which is why I can see him and Willow together hooking up. Not for any romantic purpose. Willow has grown a lot over the last three years. I would like to hear more talk about her.

    So Spike in this episode does not make sense given the mythos and the whole idea that Vampires are pure evil creatures and can not feel compassion. What is that he feels for Drusilla. Is this the formation of a new mythos in which vampires have love for one another? Why doesn’t Spike go on a killing rampage to quell his sadness. It is a bit cliche but it fits more of the mythos. It is just a sticking point. I thought the show ended up being better off with this take on Vampires. Also James Marsters is back can’t argue with that.

    • Susan

      It’s established in the series that Spike and Dru are unique in their ability to love. Though the reasons for that uniqueness aren’t entirely spelled out, the writers at several points in various commentaries mention that they’ve conceived them to break the convention that soulless vampires cannot love.

      Questions about Spike’s ability to love create serious tensions later in the series, of course.

      • greg

        There’s an easier way to explain things, of course – just accept that the Watcher’s Council’s claim that vampires aren’t the same person that was turned – that they’re just a demon wearing the body suit and memories of the persion they killed is pure B.S. nonsense fed to slayers so that they’re not morally conflicted about killing them. Every single vampire we’ve ever seen on either show completely conflicts with their claim. Obviously, I can’t go into this further without carelessly tossing out some major spoilage, so I won’t. Personally, though I don’t see Spike and Dru as being unique as much as an extension of their human characters – if you posit that becoming a vampire doesn’t provide you with a new demonic personality so much as add a demonic nature to the person you already are, then all the vamps we’ve seen and will see make a whole lot more sense. Even Jesse in the second episode just gained confidence and charisma.

        Personally, I trust the Council about as far as I can throw them. Just a bunch of pimps who consider the slayers to be disposable, they are. And I’d suspect their motives if they tried to tell me that water was wet.

        • diane

          Except that it’s not just the Watchers’ Council that says that. And, yeah, spoilage.

        • Eldritch

          “if you posit that becoming a vampire doesn’t provide you with a new demonic personality so much as add a demonic nature to the person you already are…”

          That’s more or less the understanding I’ve gotten from the episodes and commentaries on DVD. Becoming a vampire means that you lose your soul and it’s replaced with a demon. Your body continues with your memories and personality. Except: the source of all morality, kindness, and mercy is the soul. Without a soul, you (or rather your postmortem body) is now a sadistic, cruel version of your old self.

          Spike, in some strange way, being an exception. I seem to recall Marti Noxon discussing this in some commentary. It’s not a spoiler because she never explains how or why, but she comments that Spike was different from the very beginning. Specifically, his love for Drucilla.

          I don’t think Drucilla reciprocated the same kind of love. She rather cruelly taunts Spike by flirting with Angel in season two. And she dumped Spike because he wasn’t cruel enough at the end of the season. Then she took up with a horned slime demon. Hardly the same devotion Spike pays her.

          • Craiggers

            [vague]spoilers

            Which is not to mention a certain flashback scene in season 5 of Angel that really cements the difference between Drusilla & Spike.

          • Susan

            Spike is unique in the depth and expression of his devotion, true. But Drusilla is also unique in her attachments. There’s a point in a later season in which she asserts that vampires can love, and “quite deeply.” And the Judge notes her humanity in S2–whereas Angel(us) is later pronounced “clean.”

            I’ve always attributed her tormenting of Spike to be more a feature of her madness and her appreciation of giving and receiving pain than a lack of love.

          • Susan

            As I just re-read my last comment, I thought about several instances in both series that make my point a giant crock. Nothing more about that at the moment, but I don’t know why I’ve refused to let this one go for so long.

            So I’m joining up with greg: the Watcher’s Council is full of hooey. Of course they are. Supercilious snoots. Vampires, including Spike, are just the people they once were, but without the gooey soul center.

      • Mel

        I don’t think it was particularly established in Buffy, and such an idea is completely destroyed in Angel season 2 when we get a flashback episode that sees two other vampires that love each other truly

  4. greg

    It made perfect sense to me that Cordelia would be killed in the Wishverse; demons don’t grant wishes to do you a favor, they do it to increase the chaos.

    Of course, the most satisfying part of the Wish (apart from seeing Willow in a tight leather outfit!) (hey, don’t judge me; I’ve got the Willow & Tara & Miss Kitty Fantastico action figure set and my cats are named “Tara” and “Kennedy”) was seeing Buffy kill Angel and Oz kill Willow and The Master kill Buffy, etc. – without ever knowing how important they were to each other in a different timeline.

    Which brings up the issue of the amulet. It’s destruction can’t really undo all of the wishes Anyanka granted over the past thousand years. It’s mindboggling how different THIS world would become; imagine stepping on a bug in the past times a hundred thousand. This does kind of become an issue later, but the writers choose to ignore it and make it that only the most recent wish is reversed. (and that only works if the vengeance demon in question is lazy enough that she hasn’t granted any wishes since the one you want reversed)

    • Eldritch

      The problem I had with the episode was Anyanka’s giving Cordelia the amulet. She had to do that to make it available to Giles so he could destroy it, reversing the wish.

      But if an amulet is the source of your power, would you give it away? And if you did, how would you get it back? Struck me as a logic failure in the story construction.

      • Susan

        I agree, Eldritch. That’s one of those logic things I choose to not think about, b/c it gets in the way of my enjoyment of an otherwise great ep. Maybe if we’d seen a real rapport (i.e., friendship) develop between Anya and Cordy, we might be able to believe that a 1120-year-old vengeance demon would make such a grievous error. But this is just another job, so why on earth would she?

        • Eldritch

          “…that’s one of those logic things I choose to not think about…”

          Well, I’m just getting picky because it’s just us chickens here. Truth is, I love the episode.

        • Aeryl

          I always thought that Anyanka gave the amulet to Cordelia to activate the spell when Cordy made her wish. And then it would revert back to Anyanka once the spell ran its course or it magically duplicates itself, because Anyanka is in possession of it when Giles summons her, even though, IIRC, Giles had it while researching it after Cordy died. Perhaps the amulets they leave with their patrons, lose their power after the wish is made, which is why Giles has to confront Anyanka, and destroy the amulet she is wearing.

          This doesn’t jive with what we’ve seen with in later episodes with how vengeance demons work, but this was our introduction to them, so I can forgive the writers for not having it all worked out yet.

  5. Beth

    I think I’ve come to the realization that the reason Season Three isn’t one of my top two seasons, despite the consistent greatness of the episodes, is that there just isn’t enough Spike. :-)

    • greg

      Yeah, but sometimes a little makes more of an impression than a lot.

      Besides, what with all the sexual tension between Spike and Angel last season, having him here now would just distract from all the Bangel drama. And when Spike and Angel are together, Buffy practically becomes as imuch of a third wheel as Drusilla. When Spike was giving his “you’ll never be friends” speech, didn’t you kinda think he was jealous of both of them? No wonder Dru dumped him; clearly he left his true love back in Sunnydale!

      • Beth

        You are definitely right on the distraction – he didn’t really belong in this season – but I still miss him! :-) (But man, there could have been a distraction or two for the Bangel drama this season.)

  6. Susan

    “Lover’s Walk” and “The Wish” are among my favorite eps. Spike’s speech in the magic shop with Buffy and Angel is absolutely classic. And Marsters, as always, delivers it perfectly.

    I, too, was surprised by Myles’ critique of Cordy’s early death in the bizarro world, because, tough though she may be, she’s no match for this world–as it’s been pointed out, Anyanka the vengeance demon grants wishes to cause maximum chaos.

    I’m very interested to read your thoughts on “Amends,” Myles. I’m a total sap, and I usually name that ep as my favorite in the entire series. The scene on the bluff annihilates me every time.

    • diane

      As important as “Amends” is in the series, and as many good scenes as there are in it, it’s never been close to a favorite. I’m not quite sure why, but it feels like Angel’s “repreive” is too easy, and Buffy gets way too guiltlessly sappy over saving him. Plus I really hate Buffy’s too-short bangs.

      • Susan

        Yeah, the bangs suck–and she struggles with them for several episodes. Even slayers make mistakes at the stylist, apparently.

    • Tyler

      I’m with you, Susan. Amends isn’t my *favorite* favorite, but it’s up there among the elite. I think it’s strangely underrated, and I’m really interested in what Myles has to say about it.

  7. “the show usually isn’t so much with the explosions and gunfire”

    You’re starting to speak Buffy-Speak, Myles. We all get there eventually.

  8. rosengje

    ““Revelations” obviously threatens the unity of the group in regards to Angel’s return (more on that episode on Sunday)”

    This makes me happy! Very excited for Sunday’s post. Buffy’s jumping punch and the resulting bruise on Faith’s face at the motel are just some of the great details that elevate this episode.

    Regarding “The Wish,” something that always stands out to me is just how much this version of Buffy resembles Faith. It is another reminder of just how significant Buffy’s relationships are in distinguishing her from other slayers.

    • mothergunn

      One of my favorite moments in the entire series is when Buffy hacks a loogie on her boot. It’s such an un-Buffy thing to do!

  9. to the angel mobile

    Thought I’d say that I think the Wish isn’t really about Cordelia in the end its much more about Buffy, the difference she has made in Sunnydale and the importance of her friends. The importance of her friends will be explored in a later episode in much greater depth (Fool for Love). What I really enjoy about this episode is how the main characters are killed off by each other, the consistency of the mythology of the show with the Master killing Buffy again and the utterly beautiful music for the final fight. Its interestin to note that in her first death Xander bought her back and now Giles has done the same thing. Definetly one of my favorite episodes and I’m loving all your reviews.

  10. Gill

    I didn’t really want to stop.

    A familiar sensation, and it is both amusing and gratifying to see you drawn into the power of Buffy.

    There is much to love in these early episodes of S3, though, as usual, the excitement ramps up rather more after the mid-point. The sheer energy Spike brings in Lovers’ Walk is what convinced Mutant Enemy to bring him back later. Marsters is hilarious, but still with a very sinister edge.

    As others have said, The Wish is really about Buffy – how she is different as a Slayer because of her friends and family, while they are different because they have her. The parallels and contrasts with Faith are also very important, as you will see.

  11. Karen

    Another outstanding review, Myles. (Except, each episode could be discussed in greater detail if you weren’t being overwhelmed with Buffy-watching obsessions!) I’d add a comment about the nature of vampires – from Angel’s point of view – if I could remember whether it was in The Wish or later… Angel clearly has a different take on the issue than Giles, that’s for sure. And I’m pretty sure Spike and several other vamps have scoffed at the Watcher party line.

    • mothergunn

      Oh, I know what you mean. That is later, in “Dopplegangland.” And I have to say, I agree with the vamps on that one. Giles may know a lot about vampires but in the end he’s just not one. An actual vamp gives us first-person perspective on the subject, plus [spoilers? maybe?] later, when we start getting hella flashbacks of all our favorite vamps before they were bad, I think Angel’s comment becomes even more relevant. With Spike, especially. I can see so much William in Spike after the fact.

  12. Bob Kat

    One quibble I’ve always had with “Revleations” is that none of the Scoobies held onto the fact, as reported by Buffy before she’d seen Angel again, that the re-ensoulment worked. “Yah vell,” as my people say.

    “Lovers’ Walk” is hard for me; when the reruns came on the FX cbale channel, I was going thru abad patch myself and S-6 was palying on UPN, so after seeign the 6 lost souls motnage and then him all giddy, I hated him more than I ever do fictional characters.
    One positiive aspect is Willow and Xander wre honest after they were caught. 98% of people in such a situation would lie like Archie Bunker and say “Oh, we were just scared and thought we were going to die and it just happened.” Instead, they, apparently off-camera, admitted they’d been “fluking” and took the consequences.

    One reason Cordleia died early in “the Wish” is that (this is a recurring thing with her) she was oblivious to the clues of what had *actually* happened; the empty halls, garlic on lockers, etc. And anyone with the expereinces she had already had, when someone you’ve been told was dead shows up, you run right away instead of chit-chatting.

    Anyanka’s power center; I thought she grabbed it back when Giles summoned her. As to reversing the wish by destroying the amulet, I think that only works if the wish isn’t completed. Since this wish created a parallell universe, it defintiely wasn’t and probably never could be “completed.”
    As to saying it would reverse “all the wishes” I think the writers just used that language to make it sound mroe impressive. A bit of thought makes it implausible, otherwise dead people from the Middle Ages up thru next week would suddenly be walking around again. They assumed we’d never hear about wishes again so didn’t care.
    As to why Giles is in Sunnydale, when I first watched it I thought the COuncil sometimes had watchers monitoring possible supernatural hot spots. TOhers have suggested White Hat Nancy was a Potential and Giles was her Watcher. (Some fans and fan writers just assume that latter can be the only possible answer; I don’t.)
    As to Buffy’s Cleveland Watcher not knowing there is a Hellmouth in sunnydale, that seems of a piece with Giles’s never having been invited to the Watchers’ Retreat or Sam Zabuto’s not being told Buffy was alive. Like many bureaucracies, the Council has reached the point where the people actually doing the job are considered low-priority types by those making the big decisions.

    As to the question of how the vampire relates to the previous eprson, keep in mind the only things we were told *on screen* were 1- Giles in “the Harvest” said the vampire can retain any or even all the personality traits bit it’s still a different being 2- Angel in “Angel” said the soul incldues the consicence, the sense of right and wrong. None of this is *contradicted* by what we’ve seen since; love, even compassion “of a certain kind,” were not mentioned. So it doesn’t have to be b.s.. And (spoiler but not really) most vamps we see later are either “wild” vamps, two-dimensional bad guys, or evil masterminds like Trick. There will of course also of course be Spike-like exceptions of various sorts.

  13. Bob Kat

    As to Wishverse Buffy being like Faith, fan writers like Topping and Stafford who go on about that are absolutely right but miss an important point.
    Bizarro Buffy, like Faith, is hard, tough-minded, irritable, and pessimistic. But she isn’t anything else, making her unlikeable and short-lived.
    Faith is all those things but she also retains a real joy for living and an outgoing personality, making her, well, interesting and in many ways appealing.
    The ebst explanation I cna find for that is that, growing up in tough neighborhoods without much family support, Faith developed coping mechanisms which can even handle the horror of beign the Chsoen One. Buffy, a pampered upper-middle-class clotheshorse, needed the support of Giles and ehr peers to be the character we know and love.

  14. tjbw

    Myles,

    I’m not sure how I missed this post, but now that I found it, you can stop holding your breath for with the episode ‘Lovers Walk’, you have reached the point where I stopped watching original airings of BtVS. Kendra’s death made me so upset, but I could NOT handle the break up of Xandelia. The little indiscretions of Xander and Willow made me anxious, but up until ‘Lovers Walk’, I thought that they would wise up and cut out their nonsense before it was too late. Needless to say, the antics of Whedon and his people were still fairly new to the world, so I didn’t know that it was in my best interest to keep watching. Nope. Instead, I threw a hissy fit and didn’t watch the show again until February of 2009.

    I finished all seven seasons in a month.

    I am now a full fledged Whedonite, but at the time the Xandelia break up was the worse thing to ever happen to me…um, on television, of course. ;)

  15. Pingback: Cultural Catchup Project: “Doppelgangland” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) « Cultural Learnings

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