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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 16 - Storyteller

17 February 2014

It's Story Time

Synopsis: Andrew wants to make a documentary about Buffy as she prepares to save the world. At school the students are increasingly suffering from the power of the Hellmouth. Robin and Buffy decide to interrogate Andrew to find out if they can close the portal in the basement. Xander and Anya talk about their feelings for one another.

The Good: The sense that the coming fight is different to all those that have come before was succesfully hammered home here. It was essentially the third episode in a row where either Buffy or Giles yelled at someone to get serious. This time, accompanied by actual hellmouth horrors and the impending end of the show, it began to sink in.

The Bad: The Andrew story concluded as you would expect a good Buffy tale to conclude. Andrew finally admits that he did know, on some level, that it wasn't Warren. He murdered Jonathan out of fear and loneliness and greed. His incesant use of pop culture to frame stories was a defence mechanism to avoid the painful realisation of what he'd done. He tearfully recognises the truth and begins his redemption process.

That conclusion was adequate but I'm not sure it justified the preceding forty minutes or his enduring presence this season. Ultimately I don't enjoy watching the Andrew character. It doesn't feel like he is ever real. Of course, as this episode demonstrated, that is part of who he is. He uses his geekery to recast himself as something more heroic than he is. But more than that, Andrew always misses the point of serious moments and makes light of them. He always misunderstands people and manages to annoy them. He daydreams about amazing things happening to him but never does anything to realise them. And at the core of the character he is presented as a homosexual who has yet to realise his own sexuality. How else can you explain his obsession with Warren, his portrayal of a topless Spike and his indifference to Willow and Kennedy making out. It's obviously not his sexuality that I resent. It's the shows indifference to his confusion. It feels like the show wants Andrew to be permanently in the closet. Permanently blathering so people can roll their eyes. Permanently making light of serious situations because the writers have forgotten how to make things funny.

To have so much Andrew in one episode therefore forced me to repeatedly confront all these grating aspects of his being. The comedy was ultra overt. There was no subtlety, no reality he was satirising or truth he was revealing. It was just a fantasy world making the most obvious images come to life. Andrew the master story teller, Andrew as an Olympian God, Andrew as a suave super villain. Although I felt the humour in Jonathan's showcase "Superstar" (417) fell repeatedly flat at least the Scoobies could all play straight men to his James Bond. Here the comedy was just silly fantasy with no punch line in sight.

Glimpses into Andrew's imagination were confusingly combined with lots of documentary footage, real flashbacks and flashbacks with a falty narrator. It was far too much interference with the narrative and almost none of it made any impact. I thought the documentary footage might provide some insight into Scooby matters (see The Unknown) but was used mainly as a new way for Andrew to irritate people. The flashbacks ended up being used to make a jokes about Jonathan's death. I almost never see the funny side in characters dying. Yet here we not only got some altered perspective to try and make us chuckle about Jonathan being skewered but we got Buffy hitting a punch line as a student explodes from stress.

The school riot was a bizarre choice, entirely manufactured to give us a fight scene. I don't mind the Hellmouth possesing school children but why would they set up such neat barrels of fire like hobos in winter? Even more strangely when the students snap out of the spell they just walk off as if the lunch bell just went and don't react to the dystopian redecoration or the sight of their Principal with his fists raised. Buffy also tells Spike not to kill any students which seemed unnecessary given his reensoulment.

Finally Andrew's tears are enough to win him redemption. Well isn't that convenient? I mean blood would have been so messy and indicative of the harsh war they're all entering. But tears? Why, that was as moving as a fairytale kiss lifting a curse. Ok, I wrote that purely for sarcastic punch. Andrew's tears were a little more effective than Willow and Kennedy's kiss but it was still patheticly convenient that he didn't have to suffer more. And why on earth hadn't he read the carvings on his own knife before?

I have trouble listing all the things I didn't like about this episode. It was a grating experience. There were awkward cuts like an instant jump from Willow saying she'd look into the knife to having the answer or a clip from the documentary being played during a "live" conversation at school which was weird. You had Andrew complimenting Jonathan on being evil and them both thinking that was cool despite what they'd just been through. Andrew making fun of Buffy's long speeches annoyed me. If the writers think her speeches are long and dull then why do they keep giving them to her? Uh.

The Unknown: I suppose it was nice to see Xander and Anya acknowledge their feelings for one another and agree to move on. But move on to what? It's not like there's much dating to be done as the clock ticks down to Armageddon. And it's not like they are going to stop spending all their time together. And frankly I wasn't that pleased that Anya still hadn't taken in Xander's reasoning for not marrying her. It felt as if nothing had been done with her character at all in the last year.

I suppose we learnt how Bringers are created which was something.

Best Moment: Andrew admitting his guilt. But the only gag I saw the craft in was Spike pretending to be annoyed at Andrew for the camera. But even in that moment I question whether Spike would really care if posterity thought he was a hard nosed, wise cracking man. He seems to have embraced a return to cigarettes and sarcasm a little too heartily for someone suffering from centuries of guilt.

The Bottom Line: This was the antithesis of Buffy comedy which has always been about undercutting serious tension and not drowning in syruppy nonsense. And I think Andrew is the antithesis of a Buffy character. The Scoobies are outsiders who found themselves and acceptance on the Hellmouth through goodness. Andrew is someone who always makes light of evil. And is forever unable and unwilling to discover who he really is.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Storyteller
Season 7, Episode 16
Original airing: 2/25/2003

My Rating: 52

The Good: It’s always nice to take time with a single character in such a large cast. And the issue of Andrew badly needed to be addressed. This episode really showcased how much Andrew disconnects from reality and explains a lot about his ability to avoid feeling guilt over Jonathon’s murder. The ending scene showed that Andrew now seems ready to face what actually happened. It should be interesting to see if his behavior changes at all or if this episode has no effect on the future of Andrew’s characterization.

The episode also took the time to wrap up Xander and Anya’s relationship. It was episode sixteen of season six when Xander left Anya at the altar, so it was a timely moment to reopen that discussion. The lingering affection between the two is dealt with and they cave to physical demonstration. But it does feel like this was a way to close it off and let them move on. Again, I hope to see the effects of this portrayed in the future interactions of the two.

The Bad: As a constant viewer, I felt like a lot of this episode was unnecessary in the middle of the season. Andrew does a LOT of summarizing about the plot and characters, which just seems like something that would work much better after a long break from episodes airing.

I also wasn’t a fan of the tear storyline. It seemed strange that the seal would want blood one day and tears the next. Would an inanimate object capable of possessing and forcing teenagers to seal and cut their eyes care if one person feels remorse for killing his best friend? It just doesn’t make any sense and goes completely unexplained.

Favorite Moment: I absolutely loved the slow motion shot of winking Buffy and topless Spike about to make out in the kitchen while Anya eats grapes in the foreground. It’s a ludicrous and amazing example of how skewed Andrew’s world view has become.

The Bottom Line: This episode did a good job of finally explaining Andrew’s apathy to the murder of Jonathon and how he views the world. It was also nice to see Xander and Anya finally deal with their relationship. But overall it ended on a bad story element that made no sense. The real question is will any of this matter next week?

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  • So there is point to having Andrew around after all.Enjoyed this episode good focus to it and very little Kennedy,

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Dave Lopez, 13/02/2014 7:52am (3 years ago)

  • Hello! This is my first comment, I found your podcast recently and have been trying to catch up as quick as possible but I am only finishing up the Season 5, Episode 6, Family Podcast and am afraid I won't be able to catch up before the podcast series is over :(! I just wanted to drop a quick comment on Storyteller and a general comment. Firstly, I love this podcast and have had so much fun listening to each one. Thank you so much for the hours of enjoyment! I have been a huge Buffy fan since it came on air and it is still my favorite show to this day! I really enjoyed the episode of Storyteller, but I haven't rewatched it yet, because I was trying to get this in as soon as I could as this is the first time I have been to your website (also I am excited you have so many other of my favorite shows as well, and can't wait to check them out, especially The Office, HIMYM, and Scrubs.) But I do remember that I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, I thought Andrew was a great addition to the cast, and this episode was extremely funny and also the scene at the end where Buffy tricks him into crying to seal the seal was very beautiful. I loved all the slow motion shots of everyone, especially the Buffy and Spike bit, but my favorite moment has to be when Anya walked in on Andrew in the bathroom. "Why can't you just masturbate like the rest of us?" is a great and classic Anya line (that is from memory and might not be exactly right, sorry). The main reason I wanted to write in to this podcast while it is still going is because since I haven't caught up I am not sure if y'all have decided yet if you are going to do an Angel Rewatch after the Buffy one is completed. I will beg y'all to do it lol! I am a huge Angel fan and if you decide to do that podcast next, I will listen and participate every single week! I really hope you decide to do it, and just wanted to let you know how much I would LOVE that and how much I love this podcast. It is definitely the smartest podcast I have listened to on Buffy so far, and I wish I had been listening since the beginning. But hopefully y'all will do an Angel rewatch and I will be able to listen and participate from beginning to end (wink, wink). Anyway sorry for the ramble, and thanks again for all your views, I might not always agree but I really appreciate hearing your well thought out comments and critiques. I left an iTunes review (5 stars) but I am not sure if it went through. I look forward to listening to the rest of the podcasts and hopefully joining in on more in the future!

    Viewer score: 73 / 100

    Posted by Allison, 13/02/2014 2:24am (3 years ago)

  • Watching Andrew in this episode is like watching Dawn in Potential earlier in the season. I can finally feel for him and I don't find him to be as annoying as he has been during the season. H was also pretty funny during this episode. His scribbles of The First and narrating the events of the household were pretty good.

    There are several parts of this episode I love

    1. The beginning of the episode with Andrew dressed in his robe and talking like a Masterpiece Theater host. His pronunciation of "Vampyre" makes me laugh every time.

    2. Spike on video trying to be threatening. How did Andrew convince him to do that?

    3. Out of all the funny Andrew Flashbacks the best one had to be The Trio in the magic garden wearing togas and singing "We Are Goooodddsss" I now have that song stuck in my head.

    4. Andrew's praising of Xander's window repair skill as Willow and Kennedy make with the kisses.

    5. The fantasy of sexy slow motion Buffy, Spike and Anya.

    6. Cheese Man making a brief return.

    7. The ending with Andrew recording himself one last time saying that he deserves to die. The dead and sad look in his eyes are haunting.

    2 questions.

    1. If the pig in the basement is the same pig that Andrew tried to kill earlier in the season how is it still alive? A couple months must have passed.

    2. A few of the magically possessed students mark their eyes to look like The Bringers. What happened to them after the spell was lifted?

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Andrew the geek, 12/02/2014 4:56pm (3 years ago)

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