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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

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Episode 2 - Bargaining (2)

3 April 2013

Buffy sees her own grave

Synopsis: The Hellions capture BuffyBot as the Scoobies scatter and make their way to the Magic Box. Buffy digs herself out of her grave. Spike steals one of their bikes and takes Dawn to safety. Buffy comes across the Hellions tearing BuffyBot apart and begins fighting them. She escapes and runs into the Scoobies. She can’t seem to talk but recovers well enough to destroy most of the demon gang. She then flees to Glory’s tower where Dawn finds her.

The Good: To see Buffy wake up in her own coffin in distress was certainly creepy. And her emergence from the ground, just like so many of her vampire victims, was quite the moment. Her confusion and fear were well portrayed and her question about whether she was in hell was a fascinating response to the surreality of Sunnydale. The town was a disaster zone but it seemed like a query which fit her state of mind as she was drawn moth-like to the last moments of her life.

It was sad to see the BuffyBot being brutalised. She has been a far more valuable part of the show than she might have been. Spike reminded us of his dark side by acknowledging that the anarchy “looks like fun.” I couldn’t help but smile at Xander’s claim that he was a Man-witch.

The Bad: This suffered a lot by being broken across two weeks which I acknowledge is not how most people will see it (including me the first time). However there would have inevitably been some come down as there was a lot of weaker material in the second half. For a start there was repetitive dialogue between the Scoobies as they trekked through the woods. The dire situation they were in killed most attempts at comedy with Anya (trying to bring up the engagement) and Xander (complaining about a lack of male friends) both falling flat.

The action sequences didn’t add much to proceedings either. The Hellions quickly became as useless as generic vampires despite occasionally wielding baseball bats (which should be vicious, even on Buffy). Their leader talked too much, allowing Buffy time to recover and then gave us a desperately unneeded comment about how his men would rape the Scoobies. The move to UPN may have allowed us the amazing shot of the torso of BuffyBot talking to Dawn but that line was totally unnecessary and gross.

Speaking of Dawn, I find it so hard to like her when she runs away from Spike in the middle of a town riot. I understand her desperation to get Buffy back but it’s not like Spike would have refused to take her to the tower. Once there the tower rocked around as if California was experiencing an earthquake and it didn’t seem very plausible that Buffy and Dawn would survive tumbling off it.                                                                                                                     

The Unknown: It’s not clear what Buffy remembers or how her discombobulation will affect her going forward. I assume Giles will be on a plane soon right?

Best Moment: The moment which captured the same depth of characterisation as part one was when Willow realised that the Urn of Osiris was broken. She was very distressed by this and said that “Buffy is gone.” It was only then that I realised that Willow hadn’t grieved for Buffy. Her determination to bring her back was in part a coping mechanism for the loss of her friend and suddenly it hit her that she was really dead. A touching if ironic realisation.

The Bottom Line: A terrific part one followed by a stumbling part two would still be an accurate description whether you review Bargaining together or separately. But the faults in this episode don’t seem consequential to me. We have a fresh dynamic amongst the Scoobies and I’m looking forward to more of that.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Bargaining – Part 2

Season 6, Episode 2
Original airing: 10/2/2001

My Rating: 67

The Good: I really appreciated how Buffy’s return was handled in this episode. She’s lost, disoriented, confused, shocked, and scared. All things might reasonably be if awakening from a five month rest in a coffin buried six feet down. I like the blurred shots from her perspective to show how confusing the world is to her. I wonder if she recognized the Buffy-bot, or thought she saw herself being torn apart. All in all, I think it makes exceptional sense that she ends up on the top of the tower contemplating ending it all again. Her heartbreaking situation is compounded by her confession to Dawn that she thinks she’s in hell. Especially when everyone keeps telling her she’s home. Buffy’s the kind of person who, despite saving the world a lot, might think she would go to hell. Might even expect it.

I also really liked the in-between bits of Buffy’s journey through the town. All the fires and the screaming demons would seem quite hellish. And her encounter with the Scoobies felt a bit like people looking in on a zoo creature. There’s a wonderful, feral element to the presentation that helps express Buffy’s situation. What I really, really liked, was how Buffy didn’t snap back fully to being Buffy. She steps up to fight the demon when she has to, but she runs away again afterwards. And her face certainly looks less than thrilled to be home when Dawn is hugging her at the end of the episode. I say a strong kudos to how Buffy’s return was done.

Season Six has already shown us it intends to be darker and bloodier. We get more of that here with knives and poles going gruesomely into demons. I think it sets the tone well for this to be a season that really focuses on darkness in a way the show hasn’t yet. It was touched upon in season five with Dracula’s appearance in the opening episode and the many appearances of the First Slayer, but it feels like it’s going to be even more open to exploration in this season.

I enjoyed the Scooby stuff as well, except for Anya (see The Bad). Xander, Willow, and Tara all had strong moments to show off their resourcefulness, care for each other, and willingness to take on anything to protect the legacy Buffy has left behind. Spike got to shine as Dawn’s protector, going about it in his rather rough manner.

And Michelle Trachtenberg got to do something other than scream Buffy’s name, although she did do that at the end. From her conversation with the limbless Buffy-bot to her pleading on the tower, she portrayed her denied hope for Buffy to be alive very well. She’s shocked and disbelieving, but wants to so badly, she can’t help but literally run off into the dark to find Buffy. And Buffy’s decision to stay and help Dawn fits perfectly with all of her protectiveness from the last season. She threatened to kill anyone who tried to hurt Dawn (S5E22), so she certainly can’t leave Dawn to die on a collapsing tower.

The Bad: My main complaint in this episode is Anya. I’m generally a fan of her quirkiness and not-quite-human understanding, but harping on her engagement to Xander is starting to feel really, really scripted and non-organic. Her concerns in the last episode seemed justifiable, but by now (and in the midst of a demon invasion), it just seems beyond petty. She’s more worried about her store and the engagement, then about Xander, Willow, Buffy, or the destruction of the town. While I think her characterization as someone who doesn’t get the niceties of human society is really fun, she hasn’t been this emotionally cold since her introduction in season three and it really doesn’t fit her anymore.

Favorite Moment: I liked quite a few things in this episode, but I definitely noticed the Buffy-bot and Dawn scene the most. I was completely impressed with the presentation of limbless Buffy-bot. It was super well done and also worked as a wonderful way to pass off the news of Buffy’s return to Dawn.

The Bottom Line: This episode was far from perfect, but I really appreciated the show taking the time to begin fully exploring Buffy’s return and what that would mean to her psyche.

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  • Because of the randomness of my thoughts today I speak in bullet points:

    * I love the way Spike's relationship with Dawn has evolved from indulging her mischievous urges in season 5 to unwavering protection now. There's something very Jean Valjean about his promise to to Buffy that makes the situation that much more tragic and yet endearing.

    * I do have a problem logistically with the show now, however. I do realize that the reason Dawn is a part of the show is so that Buffy can have mother-like responsibilities, however I can't help but feel that once Buffy jumped in the portal Dawn should have poofed or melted or something. Having her remain as a magical being would be one thing, but the fact that they just say "Oh, she's human now" always bothered me.

    *I'm excited to get into season 6. This season contains my two favorite episodes AND my least favorite episode. It's going to be quite the roller coaster.

    * Finally, I've enrolled for next semester in perhaps the best class ever conceived: "Understanding the Whedonesque", so if any of you have ideas for research paper topics over the next 7 months, lay 'em on me!

    Viewer score: 68 / 100

    Posted by Bailey, 03/04/2013 2:06am (5 years ago)

  • I haven't rewatched Part two yet but something struck me as I was listening to your podcast for Bargaining part 1. It was never made clear what the Scoobies thought would happen if Willow's spell went according to plan. Did they think she was just gonna pop out of a portal or thin air or something? Because as far as I can tell she was gonna have to claw her way out of her own grave anyway. The least they could've done was dig the hole to her coffin beforehand just in case. Maybe they address that in part two but for now it just kind of looks weird.

    I also liked that they mentioned that they used that last known Urn of Osiris in existence because it adds at least a little weight to the next time Buffy is in danger. I mean, I know the spell was intense but what's to stop the gang from bringing Buffy back ad infinitum? A lack of supplies I guess.

    Posted by Joe, 27/03/2013 6:12am (5 years ago)

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