Cultural Catchup Project: “After Life” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

“After Life”

May 27th, 2011

“What else is different?”

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.

The term “Cultural Catchup” really has two meanings.

The first is the broad notion of catching up on television shows which have proven to be important cultural touchstones but which have escaped my gaze.

The second, however, has been the experience of witnessing the conversation on a post and then quickly “catching up” with the context that informs the conversation. This is not to say that anyone has been spoiling the show, but it’s a basic fact that those of you commenting know what’s ahead, and so as I watch through a season I often find myself rereading (or at least thinking about) previous comments and putting two and two together.

I raise this point in part because the unique nature of this viewing experience is something I like theorizing and because this sort of retroactive sense making is at the heart of “After Life,” an episode that serves as a sort of Rosetta Stone for the season premiere and the season as a whole. In many ways, this is the start of the season: whereas “Bargaining” was saddled with the task of getting from Point A to Point B, “After Life” is allowed more space to breathe and more time to explore the magical and psychological consequences of that transition.

While I don’t think the result is particularly subtle on the level of plot, coming in the form of a metaphor-turned-monster-of-the-week, the strength of that metaphor is confirmed by the unbearable weight of Buffy’s return on her friends, the audience, and more importantly Buffy herself.

And although I don’t think it retroactively solves my issues with “Bargaining,” it certainly gives the title greater meaning and establishes a tragic and poetic frame to the show’s sixth season.

I do not have a great deal to say about the Monster of the Week stuff here: the episode is interested in exploring the consequences of the decision to bring Buffy back from the dead, and so the episode features a demon by-product of Willow’s spell that provides a narrative thrust to the episode and an episode-ending battle to fulfill the general requirements of what an episode of Buffy should look like. The special effects were effective, the various possessions were well-realized, and the spell necessary to make the demon more solid offered another opportunity to emphasize Willow’s growing power (given that she completes the spell even once Tara is disconnected).

However, everything in the episode really comes down to its final moments, when Buffy confides in Spike the circumstances surrounding her resurrection. It’s a moment that the episode spent a lot of time building towards: Buffy has seemed more stunned than traumatized, slowly but surely becoming more comfortable with her new surroundings throughout the episode. That moment where she runs out the door with Dawn’s lunch feels perfectly normal, as if the rhythms of fighting a demon have brought her back to “life.” As a viewer, I figured that was the upswing, and that the season would explore the diverging paths of Buffy (who is returning from hell and rediscovering reality) and Willow (who is moving further from reality as she descends further into dark magic).

And so I was left sort of slack-jawed at Buffy’s revelation that she had been torn from heaven and not hell. In retrospect, it makes “Bargaining” much more purposeful in its artificial creation of a post-apocalyptic hellscape, given that it made the “Earth as Buffy’s Hell” metaphor much more pointed (and, if I’m being frank, way too obvious). While this does not make my issues with “Bargaining” disappear, I do think that it effectively takes the premiere and spins it into a larger framework for the season.

What I like about this framework, at least at this early stage, is that Buffy’s logic isn’t entirely sound. Now, don’t get me wrong: she has every right to feel betrayed and damaged by being ripped from heaven, and Sarah Michelle Gellar plays that pain incredibly well in that sequence by focusing on resignation (and to some degree understanding) rather than outright anger. She knows why her friends did it, and she understands that this is something particularly miraculous for Dawn, so she is going to keep on living without telling them the truth.

My problem with her logic is the idea that her friends were safe in her absence. Now, I have a whole bunch of questions relating to this that I’m not sure the season will answer. Did Buffy assume that they would send another Slayer to protect the Hellmouth, or did she believe that her friends could defend themselves against the steady flow of evil-doers? The show certainly wants us to believe that Buffy’s logic was false, given that it is her absence which prompts the bikers to descend into Sunnydale, but the situation requires us to presume certain things about the show’s world (such a the Watcher’s Council) that may never be addressed as far as I know.

At the end of the day, though, what I like about this is that Buffy and her friends have different perceptions of what safety means. Buffy needs to know that her friends are safe, but the gravity of her sacrifice felt as though it ended the great threat against them and she seemed to have some sense of faith that they would figure out a way to deal with the riff raff. Meanwhile, at the same time, her friends were struggling to deal with her absence, believing themselves to be less than safe without her. Of course, beneath physical safety is another level entirely, wherein Dawn missed her sister and Willow missed her friend and Giles missed what had effectively become his surrogate daughter. Is safety really emotional rather than physical, a psychological condition more than anything else? I would certainly argue that this is the case here.

I raise these points without really offering judgment: in truth, we could easily see both sides’ actions as selfish if we take a different perspective on the issue, which is integral to the season as a whole. On one side we have friends who are trying to convince themselves they did the right things even as they see the consequences of their actions manifest around them, and on the other hand you have someone who knows how she is supposed to feel (thankful) but feels something entirely different inside. Although there are a few moments of “normalcy” within “After Life,” normalcy seems to be unattainable given the turmoil under the surface, even if that remains largely subtext in coming episodes (presuming, of course, that Spike keeps her secret).

Not everything has started to come together quite yet, although some of this has to do with my knowledge of where this is headed: I have to imagine, for example, that the “Willow is becoming evil” foreshadowing would be less obvious if I hadn’t seen the box/disc art that confirms such a thing. However, “After Life” manages to spin Buffy’s return into something that is both sustainable and powerful, allowing the series to return to its basic rhythms while simultaneously upending all interpersonal relationships. While everyone is aware that Buffy is fighting both literal and psychological demons, the majority of our heroes are unaware that those psychological demons are more present and “real” than they imagine. Those flaming barrels and overturned cars didn’t just remind Buffy of hell: they were hell, at least for her, and that reality (if not the way the story was told in “Bargaining”) has a great deal of dramatic potential.

Of course, given the nature of this project, this could all be unwritten in time, the potential unrealized and these broad strokes more disruptive and enriching. However, that’s just par for the course, so we’ll see to what degree “After Life” is retroactively framed as we venture further into the sixth season.

Cultural Observations

  • I plan on watching a few more episodes before returning to the project next week – it’ll probably be late next week again, as it’s a busy screener season still, but I do plan on a more regular schedule after that point.
  • Some fine work by the entire cast here, I though, but James Marsters is doing a fine job of drawing out the subtleties in Spike’s response to all of this. He’s the most skeptical of the entire process but also perhaps the most overjoyed at its result, resulting in some compelling inner conflict that can’t help but bubble to the surface. His knowledge of Buffy’s secret should only heighten this, so very curious to see how Spike develops this season.
  • Anyone else find the end of the cold open almost obnoxiously abrupt? I get that they’re carrying over directly from the premiere, but it just felt very rushed (and sort of tonally off from the rest of the episode, if consistent with “Bargaining”).
  • Given our discussion last week about Anthony Stewart Head wanting some time with his family and thus a reduced workload, not surprising that the phone call with Willow is handled off-screen, but it still made for some awkward exposition which made the call seem like a missed opportunity. Plus, I find it hard to believe that Giles wouldn’t immediately rush back out of concern, but such are logistics I guess.
  • Anya’s little rant about the bookstore turned coffee shop, ending with “It’s like evolution without the getting better part,” seemed almost meta, although I might be reading too far into it. Perhaps Espenson just has a grudge against Starbucks (which would be understandable).
  • Speaking of Espenson, I thought this was a really sharply written outing even in spaces where the plot sort of got in the way. The various possessions were very broad on a plot level, making the metaphorical into the real, but there was a very visceral quality to the dialogue that kept it grounded and creepy instead of seeming too obvious. That’s partly in performance/effects, of course, but the material was strong as well.
  • I’m hoping to find a way to use “Rolling in Puppies” in casual conversation.


Filed under Cultural Catchup Project

37 responses to “Cultural Catchup Project: “After Life” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

  1. greg

    The thing in the episode that always terrifies me is Willow’s outfit at the last scsne in the Magic Box. Did she skin Elmo alive to get that? No matter how evil Willow might get, I simply can’t believe that her charachter would voluntarily walk into a clothing store and pay actual money for something so hideous. Worst cstume choice EVER. Also, it would have been nice if the makeup department had left some lingering scars on Willow’s arms from the cuts she got only a few hours earlier. Or show her magickally removing them herself. One or the other.

    So, yeah; Buffy’s heavenly dimension sojourn made her feel like everyone was safe. But they weren’t. And Willow was convinced that Buffy needed to be “rescued”. And she didn’t. Selfish (if understandable) motivations. Buffy’s pretty clearly clinically depressed at this point and now that this “gift with purchase” demon has been killed, everyone’s now able to relax because the only consequence of the spell has been easily dealt with. This should end well.

    But you gotta love how, when Buffy needs someone to relate to, she heads to Spike. (that lingering shot of Buffy in the graveyard walking past the headstone giving her an angel’s-wing silhouette wasn’t much lacking in subtelty, was it?) Budffy has no problem sacrificing herself to save Dawn, but can’t make the effort to just talk to her – great with the dramatic gestures, not so much with the letting anybody in.

    • Susan

      So with you on the red furry sweater thing. Ye gods. But IIRC, Willow isn’t scarred even later in “Bargaining,” so I just chalk all that up to mystical wounds not leaving lasting physical marks.

    • I never thought about the scars either. I assumed they were magickey scars that didn’t stick around. Otherwise she’d have to have lots of beetles-under-the-skin bruises too.

    • morda898

      That’s the great thing about fantasy. You can just chalk it all up to magic. Unfortunately, you can’t chalk that horrible piece of clothing up to anything except terrible wardrobe choices. Some of the clothing throughout the show is very odd, but that thing. There are no words! 😛

  2. Aeryl

    Great review again Myles.

    I think that After Life does a very good job of setting the tone for the season, and it was crucial that the audience be revealed the truth about Buffy’s whereabouts, before her endless moping began to grate(I know for some people it still does).

    “Willow’s turning evil” You know, I could do violence against whoever designed that DVD case. I just think that having some foreshadowing for a storyline that isn’t coming, at least not how you expect it, is going to cause problems later. I would throw all expectations as to the “how” out the window, and just forget you saw it.

    • “Endless moping”? Look, I can be a Buffy-hater with the best of them (see: all of Season Seven), but not for this. I think that Buffy coping with coming back from heaven is Buffy at her strongest. Has no one else ever been clinically depressed?

      • Aeryl

        I don’t hate it at all, I think this season is storytelling at its finest. But I think without the payoff of knowing she was ripped from heaven, NOW, a lot of fans, especially those who’ve never been touched by depression, would have bailed, or complained a lot louder.

        “Endless moping” is how I see haters looking at it, not how I look at it. And without knowing where she’d been, a lot more people would have been on the side of the Scoobs, who just don’t understand why she can’t get back to normal already.

  3. In response to Greg, I do have to add that through the whole series Willow sports some of the most insanely ugly outfits possible. It’s a notable character trait for her. Even from season 1 the costume designers pegged her as secondary color girl, often greens and oranges, or ugly pinks. Plus fuzz. She’s always had a lot of weird textures. 🙂 When in season 4 they started vibing her all witchy, the outfits just kept getting weirder and faux medieval.

    • diane

      I haven’t watched this episode in a while, but this is the one where Willow is wearing the red shag toilet tank cover, right?

      Alison Hannigan has a couple of un-Willow tattoos on her legs, which is why she’s always wearing colored tights with her skirts, and never shows any actual leg. The only exception was when she tried to seduce Oz, and even then the tats stayed hidden.

  4. Susan

    This post made me really happy, Myles. I’m SO SO SO glad you weren’t spoiled for the heaven thing. I was concerned, because you’d said before that you have seen “Once More with Feeling,” which happens later in this season.

    This analysis gives me hope that you’re well situated to appreciate the season. It’s definitely a controversial one.

    And yeah, I will never understand how the DVD design got okayed. Was no one paying attention? Why on earth would they choose to spoil such an important element of the season?

    • greg

      There’s some pretty awful reveals on the season 7 box set artwork as well.

      Plus, what was the deal with Buffy being told that “love is her gift” (!!) on the back cover of the season 5 box?

    • One theory is that “back in the day,” they assumed that no one would buy DVDs of TV shows unless they had already seen the TV show in question. I still think it’s dumb, but at least it makes sense.

      [A rant I have done before: did anyone else see AtS with the DVDs that HAVE QUOTES FROM THE SHOW ON THEM????? Which would be fine if they were cute, harmless quotes. But the quote for Season Three — on the VERY FIRST DISC — is one HUGE spoiler!!!!!!]

      • Tecumseh

        The entire DVD set from beginning on end is awful. Surprise guest stars are spoiled on the Disc Menus and both Faith and Dawn are shown on the DVD covers making it so my girlfriend would look at the cover and ask me “who’s that?” before the season even started

        • Eldritch

          It’s my belief that the people who design DVD box art are advertisers, who see their purpose as to persuading people to purchase the box set. Their job is successful once you purchase the DVDs, so they don’t care whether plot points and surprises are spoiled. If the people who wrote or directed were the designers, the boxes would look very different.

          Same problem with movie trailers. The advertisers want to use every trick available to them to get you to pay for admission. Once they’ve got your money, they don’t care whether you enjoy the movie.

  5. Sophist

    I’m surprised you didn’t say anything about the other fan favorite scene: “Every night I save you.”

  6. Myles, I am so glad that you weren’t spoiled about Buffy returning from heaven rather than hell!!!!!

    Great review, as always. And now on to the argumentative part. I take issue with what you said about Buffy’s logic being “off.” I do not think the idea of her friends being “safe” is meant to be taken literally. The point is that Buffy was finally allowed to stop fighting and be at peace, and the war down on earth would take care of itself. (After all, Buffy has died and is happy, so “safe” doesn’t mean “not dying.”) It’s not “faith that they would figure out how to deal,” it’s knowing that it’s finally not her responsibility any more. (See Spike’s wonderful monologue on the Slayer’s death wish, from Fool For Love.)

    This is the real point of Buffy’s “earth is hell” theme. This is life. Even when you think you’re done, you’re not. You just have to keep going, day after day after day, no matter how hard it sucks.

    [This is not a helpful season to watch if you are clinically depressed.]

    Along those lines, I simply can’t agree that Buffy is being selfish. She was finally at peace, and now she has to come back and fight some more. Indeed, the way she lies to her friends at the end of the episode, to protect their feelings, is incredibly selfless.

    And, regarding that lie: I have always been fascinated by how Buffy tells everyone else (e.g. Kendra) that friends are necessary for strength — and the show itself often implies that Buffy is the best Slayer because of her support system — while Buffy herself has such a difficult time being honest/open/vulnerable with those friends, going all the way back to “When She Was Bad” (2.1).

    • Just wanted to give a +1 to this post. I couldn’t agree more, and was going to post a similar point myself soon. I don’t see one bit of selfishness coming out of Buffy here. Not telling her friends the truth makes her friends feel better about themselves, and makes Buffy feel worse and lonelier about her situation. That’s pretty selfless in my book, at least in intent, even if that may not be the best long-term solution for this situation.

      “After Life” is one of my favorite Season 6 episodes. It’s a haunting gem that continues to set up not only everything the season tackles, but also the psychology of those involved. I love how much symbolism is glittered throughout the episode — the angel wings behind a depressed Buffy in the graveyard, showing us a kind of fallen angel (which also is the first major hint that she returned from heaven), being my favorite.

      I think the plot here works tremendously well. To steal a quote from my own review of this episode:
      “Like the best plots in Buffy the one here, involving a demon created as a ‘price’ for Willow’s spell, is just a means to show us what’s going on with the characters. It also turns out to be a clever red herring in misleading us to think, throughout the episode, that this demon ghost is the only repurcussion of Willow’s resurrection spell in “Bargaining Pt. 1″ (6×01). In truth, there is a price to pay for her spell: Buffy’s depression and her lack of interest in living. Sarah Michelle Gellar turns in a brilliantly nuanced performance [here].”

      I’m glad you appreciated this one, Myles, and I think you’ll find that the rest of the season makes this episode resonate even more rather than the opposite.

      • Aw, Mike. All our past arguments are forgotten. 🙂

      • Tecumseh

        Yeah, this if not my favorite non- OMWF S6 my 2nd or third of the season. It’s one of the few episodes this season that I felt got the tone right of what Buffy is going through and you feel all the heaviness that she does. And the scene where Buffy walks down the stairs and sees Spike is one of the loveliest and most well done scenes in the entire show. SMG and Masters are both just phenomenal throughout the episode.

        • Susan

          Just adding a ditto to the idea that Buffy’s logic is *not* off. It doesn’t matter whether her friends and family actually were safe. What she says is that she knew they were safe–that is, in her mind, they were. Reality no longer applied for her. Which is, or should be, the point of heaven, if there is one.

          Also: sometimes she is self-involved, and often she is self-protected, but I would also argue strenuously that Buffy is most decidedly *not* selfish. Certainly not in this ep. Maybe ever.

          • Eldritch

            Agreed. The purpose of heaven is to make you happy, even if that requires a bit of deceit on heaven’s part. That happiness was her reward.

  7. tjbw

    The show certainly wants us to believe that Buffy’s logic was false…

    I have to disagree with you here, Myles. Like JK Rowling and George Lucas, the writers of BtVS are of the opinion that there are worse things than death in life. I believe that the writers are challenging the viewers to confront our own (and perhaps their own) selfish desire for Buffy’s return. During the original run, viewers wanted her back in their living rooms (and I who watched the show on DVD appreciate that her story is entering its 9th season) being quippy and fantastic, but why? Well, for the same reason Dawn wanted Joyce to return. For the same reason we all want someone who passes away in our real lives to come back. But in the latter instances the unanimous opinion is, “ICK! No, Dawn, no! Don’t bring Joyce back! Burn the picture! Burn the picture!” or, “With time, the pain of your loss will lessen and life will go on.” This is sound logic for everyone but Buffy?!

    Recall that I got a little opinionate with you over the episode “Restless” (S4). I told you then that just because the First Slayer is not preppy and blonde that did not make her the Monster of the Week. Did you ever understand what I was trying to say? Forgive me this (for being jumpy and bringing up fanfic) but I read a fanfic once where the author made the point: Buffy is a CHAMPION of the Powers that Be. If she were really needed back in earth, they would have returned her. Sunnydale is not the only place in the world. It is not even the only evil attracting place in the ‘verse. LA doesn’t have it’s own Slayer, just a vampire and some white hat humans with varying degrees of supernatural powers, intelligence, and passion.

    On another note, the line that made me fall in love with this series is in this episode: “I can be alone with you here.” ~ Buffy to Spike *loves*

    • I see your point, but then why the bikers? Why create a situation where Sunnydale was about to be absolutely destroyed before Buffy returns and scares them into departing? I’m totally with you on the fact that in PRINCIPLE Buffy’s logic is not flawed, but in practice it seemed like the show was very actively saying that Sunnydale and her friends were anything but safe in the aftermath of her death.

      And if that’s not what they were trying to say, the whole scenario strikes me as odd.

      • greg

        I’m willing to consider Buffy killing herself to be selfish. Instead of letting Dawn die to save the world, she jumped herself. Noble (somewhat), and plays into her death-wish nicely, but the world could afford to live without Dawn. As the slayer, she doesn’t have the luxury of killing herself. She had no reason to believe that any other slayer would be called to replace her or that the Watcher’s Council wouldn’t just have Faith murdered in prison in order to call a new active slayer.

        I’d draw attention to the Scoobies’ game plan, though. The demon world was kept at bay, so to speak, by the illusion that the slayer was still active. All hat – no cattle. They didn’t need Buffy herself, they just needed others to think that they were still the sidekicks and not the main event. The plan only fell (temporarily) apart when the illusion was broken. The group, as a whole, still fought the demon bikers off successfully. Surely more successfully than if they had attacked in the summer between seasons two and three. (There MUST have been some battles we didn’t see with the altenate-dimension beasties that came through the portal after Dawn’s blood was spilled, no?)

        • rodan57

          Greg makes the good point that no slayer will be chosen to replace Buffy a second time. Kendra replaced Buffy and Faith replaced Kendra. Faith’s death would be necessary to trigger a new slayer.

          • Eric

            Greg and Rodan57’s interpretation is just one possibility. The Slayer Lore says when One dies, another is Chosen. Buffy died (for a minute in “Prophesy Girl”) and Kendra was Chosen as the new Slayer. Xander brought Buffy back to life, and Buffy was still a/the Slayer. When Kendra died, Faith was Chosen, so clearly when Faith dies, another girl will be Chosen as a new Slayer, but what happened after the events of “The Gift” is less clear. Buffy is clearly still a/the Slayer with all the powers the inherent in that position, so it may be that another Slayer was Chosen, and now there are the Chosen Three (Buffy, Faith, and Slayer X).

      • Sophist

        I’ve always seen the show as including a fair bit of magical realism. In a very real sense, Buffy creates her own demons. That’s true in metaphor, of course — the demons are (mostly) a metaphorical representation of what’s going on with Buffy on her journey. But it’s true within the confines of the plot as well. Consider this from the very first episode:

        “Giles: I was afraid of this.

        Buffy: Well, *I* wasn’t! It’s my first day! I was afraid that I was
        gonna be behind in all my classes, that I wouldn’t make any friends,
        that I would have last month’s hair. I didn’t think there’d be vampires
        on campus.”

        This isn’t the only example; as I see it, Buffy causes the demons.

      • Eldritch

        I think Buffy’s logic is beside the point. She was in heaven enjoying her reward. It can be argued that there was some deception required in delivering that reward to her, but how could she enjoy heaven if she feared her friends were in danger?

        At the very least, Buffy has always known that another Slayer would take her place as soon as she died.

        I saw the bikers solely as a metaphor that she had been thrust into hell. Not a subtle one, granted, but there you are.

  8. Oh, and one more thought, regarding the comics for Buffy Season 8. (No spoilers though.)

    As crappy as Season 8 is (and yes, I do think it is very very crappy), there is a moment where Willow says something very important, and poignant, about how she (now) sees her choice to raise Buffy from the dead. And that has affected my opinions about Season 6 a bit.

  9. lyvanna

    Despite this not being a very action packed episode and the monster being pretty run of the mill, this is one of my favourite episodes of the season, possibly series. As you say Myles, it helps to add weight to some of the previous two episodes and provides valuable insight into Buffy’s state of mind. I love the quiet uneventfullness of some of the scenes with Buffy when she’s alone or with Spike where she allows the numbness and/or pain she’s feeling to properly come out. The slow pace of those scenes really allows SMG and Marsters to do some great acting.

    On the selfish/selflessness debate I think I might weigh in later once you’ve seen more of the season but I do think there is a bit of both there.

    Willow’s Elmo shirt is awful.

  10. Safety really is a relative term. I felt that Buffy regarded her friends as safe, in the sense that, when seen from the vantage point of some sort of heaven, most human problems are fairly inconsequential. Even death is just another hurdle to overcome.

    Or perhaps she just thought they’d be less in danger without the constant going to battle with the Slayer deal.

  11. Gill

    I have to chime in with the others in a lot of respects. Buffy, in heaven, “knew” that she was complete, her mission over, the world no longer her responsibility. She had her reward for the terrible experiences of S5 and part of that reward was the belief that her friends were safe.

    And they were. However, instead of taking responsibility for themselves, as adults, they tried to pretend that they still had Buffy to lead them. They were playing a desperate delaying game, with their hopes centred on the resurrection spell.

    I find it particularly telling that only Spike recognised what the scratches on Buffy’s hands mean. Only he has “been there” in any meaningful way – and only he is allowed to know what really happened. In some ways this is unhealthy for Buffy – he becomes the custodian of her secret life, but in After Life he seems utterly focussed on her, from the glory in his eyes as she comes down the stairs, to his “Every night I saved you” speech to his ability to accept her confidence at the end.

    Buffy has lost almost everything that mattered to her in the latter half of S5, and just being alive again doesn’t cure all that. As others have said, she is suffering from deep, deep clinical depression, something her friends are unable or unwilling to recognise. I see this entire season as an exploration of that state of mind in all its complexity.

    As always, I enjoyed your review, Myles, and am intrigued to see how your interpretation of events morphs as more things happen. I, too, am very glad that your memories of OMWF didn’t spoil you for the reveal at the end of this episode.

  12. morda898

    I always think of this episode as “Bargaining Part III” because of its very, very close connection to the premiere (being that it begins where Bargaining ended and sort of thematiclly rounds it out). That said, I’ve never been a terribly big fan of this episode (Willow’s jumper contributing heavily). Although I loved the possessions and Willow’s line about actually hearing Giles clean his glasses is priceless. Since the characters are so well defined, moments like that really have resonance in the show because yo ucan so completely imagine Giles being all stoic and British and cleaning his glasses (probably because he did it in virtually every episode of the show).

    The next episode is where the plot of the season truly begins I guess. It will be fun to know what you think about the, ahem, villains of the piece.

  13. Glad to see you back at the Cultural Catchup Project, Myles. I’ve been following it since back when you started it, and have also been following your other reviews. This is the first time I’ve actually felt like commenting, however.

    I think that Buffy probably felt that her friends were safe in the sense that they were not in immediate danger, i.e. from the end of the world. The bikers were certainly bad, but think the remaining scoobies would have been able to handle them without much trouble.

    I’m firmly in the pro-Seasons 6 and 7 camp, though I believe they have many issues. However, I feel like Season 6 is one of the best examinations of depression I’ve ever seen. I really appreciate that this show doesn’t just take an episode or two to get Buffy back and then just try and go back to normal. It’s an uphill battle and it feels like it earns her resurrection.

    I’m looking forward to hear what you think of “Flooded” in particular in this early part of the season; in my opinion it is one of the more overlooked good episode of the series, and I think it sets up the remainder of the season very well.

  14. Christopher

    From “Forever,” Season 5, Episode 17:

    Buffy: What have you done? (rushes over to Dawn) What have you done?
    Dawn: (standing) She’s coming. She’s coming home.

    From “After Life”:

    Buffy has come downstairs…
    Dawn: Spike? Are *you* okay?
    Spike: I’m … what did you do?
    Dawn: Me? Nothing.

    Note: Spike helped Dawn in “Forever.”

    Dawn (to W,T,X,A): You did this. What did you do?

    Buffy/Spirit: (at foot of bed) What did you do? Do you know what you did?

    Tara: It was Willow. She knew what to do. (Willow looks embarrassed)
    Buffy: Okay. So you did that.

  15. DaddyCatALSO

    As top Buffy’s attitude, well, the show was also first inr eruns at this time so I was rewatching the firts 5 seasons simultaneously and that all led to my not reaLLy liking Buffy as a person. (This was an issue for me; by the time _angel_ ended its run, the only people who were still alive that I didn’t hate were Harmony, Faith, and Lorne, which is one reason I no longer call myself a fan.) But in context of this season, I canNOT blame her at all.

    One very disturbing aspect, comparing this episode to “Surprise/Innocence” and “The Shroud of Rahmon.” I *like* that Joss has stated explicitly here that there is an afetrlife in the Buffyverse. It makes a lot of things easier to take and it just seems logical. Plus I use it in my own fics: “Please don’t ask us too many questions , Buffy. None of us have even seen her on this side.”
    But Liam was dead for over a cnetury before the gypsie retsored his soul to Angelus. Human Darla was dead for almost 5oo years before she was brought back. Niether of them recall any hell or ehaven, and a third charcater we will meet later continues this. And it’s not *easy* to solve with fanwankign either, plus wankign shouldn’t be a requirement to enjoy a show.

    ELdritch; Whuile the character s themsleves aren’t so sure of it, Joss has said specifically no third SLayer ws called with buffy’s second death.

    tjbw: Your notion of we audience sharing the guilt of one or more characters will recur later this season! Remmeber it, Myles *grin.

  16. Pingback: Cultural Catchup Project: “Flooded” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) | Cultural Learnings

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