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The Cultural Catchup Project: “Lie to Me” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

“Lie to Me”

April 25th, 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.

[Note: I’m wary of trying to shoehorn too many different episodes together this week, especially since a lot of them feel like they deserve to be analyzed more on an individual basis (although I’ll still be taking continuity into account, of course). As a result, I’m going to do some smaller “capsule reviews” for the six-episode stretch between “Lie to Me” and “Bad Eggs” for the next five days, before getting deeper into the season after that point. If it works out, and feedback is good, I might do this every now and then when I’ve got the time – however, if you object to this sort of analysis and would like strictly big ideas, do let me know!]

Written and directed by Joss Whedon, “Lie to Me” is not exactly what one would call a paradigm shift for the series: no new “big bads” are introduced, no major plot developments are revealed, and you could make the argument that what happens in the episode doesn’t fit into any definitions of continuity as a result.

What the episode accomplishes, however, is something more subtle: while “When She Was Bad” indicated that the consequences from Buffy’s near-death experience were not going to be forgotten, “Lie to Me” makes sure we understand that there are going to be more terrifying experiences in the future, and that the show will not shy away from some dark conclusions for the sake of trying to force this series into definitions of good and evil which fail to take into account the show’s inherent liminality.

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