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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 13 - Dead Things

16 July 2013

To Crime!

Synopsis: The Trio develop a cerebral dampener which they plan to use to turn women into sex slaves. Warren finds Katrina, his ex, and brainwashes her. She recovers herself in time to stop anything happening but as she tries to escape Warren kills her. He decides to use a disorienting demon attack to convince Buffy that she killed her. Spike tries to stop Buffy from turning herself in to the police and she beats him down. She stops herself though when she realises who Katrina is. She also confesses all to Tara who tells her that she is not a demon.  

The Good: Finally we see the true threat the Trio present, not just the despicable disregard for free will (entirely in keeping with Warren’s creation of a robot girlfriend) but the calculated manipulation of Buffy to deal with it. It seems like Warren, by being human rather than a demon, could turn out to be a formidable Big Bad after all.

The “Sex Slave” spell fits the angle the writers were going for just fine. It’s every teenage boy’s fantasy but when it comes true it quickly dawns on Jonathan and Andrew that abduction and rape are things they hadn’t given much thought to. Warren had though and his bitter desire to use his intelligence to right the “wrongs” in his life is a compelling story. The way he then convinces Buffy that she killed Katrina was cunning and seems to have persuaded Andrew to go along with it though Jonathan remains sceptical and upset. The writers drew the emotions out of the story and defined each member of the Trio.

As for Buffy the revelation that she came back “wrong” plays out in a very interesting and then moving way. Instead of being a science fiction part of the tale it becomes just another psychological crutch. Buffy ignored her responsibilities because of her depression, thinking about the heaven she was torn from. More recently she’s been using the fear over not being human to justify her enjoyment of being with Spike. Now that Tara confirms that she is human Buffy has no excuse to lean on and breaks down in tears over the shame of cavorting with an evil creature. And indeed the guilt she feels in using him when she knows she could never return his love.  

There were definitely parallels between Warren’s desire to get Katrina back against her will and Spike’s obsession with Buffy slowly wearing her down. While Warren has a conscience but chooses to ignore it, Spike doesn’t have one. He makes a good utilitarian case for why Buffy shouldn’t be arrested for killing Katrina but Buffy can only see his lack of concern for human life. He isn’t capable of that emotion and Buffy is angry at herself for becoming close to him. As she pounds away at his face I was reminded of Faith hammering her own visage at the end of “Who Are You?” (416). Her depression has led her to stand in the darkness with Spike but she doesn’t really want to be there.

It’s a good moment for Tara who is clearly not going anywhere. Once again she is sweet and understanding and being outside the Scoobies allows Buffy to open up to her.

The Bad: It’s entirely understandable that Dawn would feel that Buffy’s never around. But to make it all about her when Buffy thinks she has murdered someone was deeply unsympathetic. Again it feels like a teenage tantrum that Dawn shouldn’t have turned to with her sister going through a major crisis?

The Unknown: The Season Six struggles with comedy continued with the Trio bickering like children and Spike hiding Katrina’s body only for it to instantly be found by the police (during a serious conversation with Buffy).

Best Moment: Buffy beating Spike as she’s really furious with herself for developing feelings for a demon.

The Bottom Line: A strong episode that brought Buffy’s depression and the Trio together to create a thought provoking and sinister turn of events.

 

 

Cordia's Second Look
Dead Things
Season 6, Episode 13

Original airing: 2/5/2002

My Rating: 68

The Good: I think this was a great episode to be a turning point for the show. The Trio is finally threatening and showing some characterization. Buffy is finally dealing with her relationship with Spike. Unfortunately, the two stories didn’t mesh together well enough for me to call this an amazing episode.

Warren has been showing sparks of a willingness to go further than the average person in his pursuit of his goals, but here he really takes it that step further. His decision to ensnare Katrina and treat her as a sex slave is incredibly amoral and he obviously does it knowing full well what he is choosing. What really struck me was his nonchalance when Katrina came back to herself and was yelling at the Trio. He only panics when she threatens to go to the cops.

After he kills her, Warren detaches completely from the situation and is pleased in the end to have gotten away with murder.

Jonathon is the most interesting to me, though. He’s obviously well caught into the fantasy of turning any beautiful woman into a willing sex slave. He doesn’t see them as people. But when Katrina points out that it’s rape, Jonathon immediately comes crashing back to earth. Suddenly, he finds himself in a crazy situation over which he has no control. A girl is dead and he is party to that. I like the moment at the end where he goes along with Andrew and Warren, but doesn’t think all of this is cool any more.

Buffy experiences quite the arc here. She’s reached such a point of enjoying herself with Spike, she’s convinced there’s something very, very wrong with her. She starts to realize that it doesn’t matter what’s happening with her, Spike will never be good after Katrina’s death. This is her first step back towards who she used to be – the upright Slayer. She unleashes first her anger at herself upon Spike. Then, she releases her disgust at herself with Tara.

Reality is a big theme in this episode. Jonathon and Buffy both finally face the music, even though they don’t really want to. Warren has completely divorced himself from the world and Katrina has her reality taken away from her.

The Bad: My main issue is with the duct tape used to connect the Buffy/Spike story to the Trio story. I have nothing against the concept, but it felt very haphazard and loose. And it seemed to me like it was too much of a coincidence and too accidental. Buffy acts as if she did it on purpose. I understand that she has a very high moral standard of herself, but this felt inappropriate for some reason. It just didn’t work.

Favorite Moment: The moment that topped this episode for me was Buffy’s emotional break down at the end. I thought this worked perfectly with Tara’s character and was exactly the person she needed to have with her when reality finally came calling.

The Bottom Line: I really liked this episode and what it did to enhance the Trio and move along Buffy’s recovery story. But while I greatly enjoyed the story lines independently, the way they were brought together was so haphazard that it left me actually distracted from the episode.

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  • As a fan who started watching Buffy at age 8 or 9 when it first started I love that there are still people who still love and still talk about the show even 10 years after Buffy ended. I'm 24 now.
    I started listening to the podcast the day Once More With Feeling came out and just recently started downloading the rest. I just finished The Puppet Show so I'm very behind.
    I wish I had a comment for this episode but I don't. I did like it but you guys said everything I was thinking. I'll most likely have a few comments once you get to Normal Again because that episode messed with my mind when I first saw it.

    I was also wondering if you are a fan of Angel. I was and still am a huge fan of Angel and would love to hear both of reviews on Angel episodes. There are a few really terrible episodes in the first season that I love to hear both of you tear them down.

    PS: This is for Cordia.
    I met James Marsters at a comic convention a couple years ago. In line waiting for him there were these 2 girls ahead of me freaking out about meeting him. They were so nervous they let me ahead of them to meet them. I told him (James) they were nervous. James turned into Spike and in his Spike voice he told them to come meet him.
    In case you are wondering James is a dreamy in person as you think he is. And this is coming from a straight male.
    I also got him to say "Out for a walk....bitch" at a panel, which was awesome.

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Andrew The Geek , 16/07/2013 8:11pm (9 months ago)

  • So we just relocated our office and many of our servers are down for the time being. So to kill some time I'll just quickly give my two cents about this episode. I don't remember it too well since I've already watched the next one, so I'll just talk about the things I didn't like...

    On Jonathan - I don't buy that he is so out of touch with reality that he doesn't realize how sinister and exploitative the trios plan is. In Superstar it's a bit of a stretch that Jonathan didn't realize how immoral his actions were. However, he could have still rationalized what he was doing by thinking he wasn't actually harming anyone. He could have easily conceived that his plan would have exalted his own status without harming anybody.

    Here, though, it's very directly "I, Jonathan, am going to take advantage of you". Yeah, it's rape. Duh.

    On the wonky time scene - a few issues. How does the trio get these demons to cooperate with them? Why is their plan so complex? Hard to believe the probability of success would be at all high. Also, what exactly WAS the plan? Shouldn't Buffy have seen two Katrina's? OR was the corpse at the foot of the hill the entire time?

    (By the way, if the corpse wasn't at the foot of the hill, they could have had Buffy see two Katrina's and it would have still worked. She could have written it off as symptomatic of time going loopy. This would have been another thing Buffy could have used to connect the dots at the police station to make that scene just a smidge more believable.)

    Viewer score: 60 / 100

    Posted by Romit, 08/07/2013 11:56pm (10 months ago)

  • Recently discovered your podcasts and I am really enjoying them.

    This is a fantastically dark and creepy episode. So many memorable scenes:

    Spike and Buffy on the balcony demonstrates her emotional detachment from reality and her friends. The reality distorting demons also convey her struggle to cope with everyday life. It reminded me of the episode Life Serial, except there it was played for laughs.

    The Trio stuff was excellent as well. It was only a matter of time before they killed someone. It's incredibly ugly and tough to watch. The season has been building to this for a while. Warren's development has been pretty subtle I think when you go back to him giving the demon Buffy's address in Flooded and his willingness to let Buffy die in Gone. We don't know a lot about Warren, but Adam Busch's performance makes him feel frighteningly real.

    I liked that Jonathan and Andrew realise they're in over their heads when Katrina calls what they're doing rape. It should set up further conflict between them.

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by EC, 08/07/2013 10:15pm (10 months ago)

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