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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 20 - Touched

25 March 2014

Spike speaks for all of us

Synopsis: Faith takes charge and orders the Potentials to kidnap a Bringer. Buffy breaks into a man's house to take a knap. Spike finds her and assures her that she is amazing. The Bringer reveals that he has been helping to build an arsenal. Faith leads some Potentials there only to find a bomb. Meanwhile Buffy dodges Caleb and discovers an axe under the vineyard.

The Good: I found myself thoroughly in Spike's corner when he yelled at the Scoobies for abandoning Buffy. And then I found myself viewing Spike as a surrogate for the writers and to a lesser extent the audience as he told Buffy how wonderful she was. As I've said many times on first watch I was more skeptical of the Buffy character. I rolled my eyes at the obvious cheese this scene was. But on Rewatch the true hero in Buffy has won me over. So although Spike's speech still felt gooey, it now felt like what should be said. We all know that Buffy is "The One." Time and again through selfless heroism she has saved the world and made herself miserable. Tired and abandoned by her friends she needed someone to comfort her and remind her of her worth. Who better than the bitter foe who she converted into her champion?

In terms of the plot it also confirmed that her instinct about the vineyard was correct. I was pleased that this time (as opposed to her rematch with the Turok Han, (611) she returned there with a plan even if it was to just keep running away.

The Bad: It kind of amused me that Faith ended up telling everyone that she was in charge and they needed to shut up. I bet they were thrilled that they kicked out Buffy in that moment. As noted last week it seems bizarre that the Scoobies would allow Faith sole command given their past experience and greater knowledge of apocalypses.

I did not laugh at Dawn being annoyed at hearing there was a translation of a Turkish text. There's just no way she should have been able to read a word of it in the first place.

The Unknown: The final night of intimacy was ok. I still feel like these characters have been hanging around the house too much for those moments to have much impact. But I did like Willow's concerns about losing control of her magic. I hope that is building up to something in the final battle. Thank goodness cocksure Kennedy is around to ground her. Her confidence is in no way arrogant or annoying.

Faith being rattled by the Mayor was of a piece with the other interventions by the First. It was briefly entertaining but then overwhelmed by the fact that the absence of any consequence to the conversation. Does the First really think that pushing Faith to doubt her self worth or her leadership skills will tip the balance of the apocalypse? It didn't seem like it would have affected her decision to lead the Potentials to the arsenal. Speaking of which I don't know what to make of that cliff hanger. If Faith and the girls are dead then it's a huge moment. It would massively weaken the side of good and raise the stakes significantly. But TV bombs rarely blow people into pieces. It's difficult to judge the episode given that uncertainty.

Part of the problem with that story was my reaction to the Bringer talking about the arsenal. As soon as he revealed that I thought "why would he reveal that information?" I put it down to lazy writing but clearly it was a plot by the First. But if I thought that was obvious then surely Giles or Willow or someone should have questioned it.

The axe needs a fantastic backstory to not feel like a giant deus ex machina. Can Spike really smell Buffy out like that? Shouldn't he have been more helpful in tracking people down over the years?

Best Moment: Spike's speech unless Faith is dead and the First just did something really clever.

The Bottom Line: As expected last episode was essentially Buffy's Garden of Gethsemene. It was her final reflection on her own worth before the final showdown. The question is now how many will be standing by her when the time comes.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Touched
Season 7, Episode 20
Original airing: 5/6/2003

My Rating: 63

The Good: The power of this episode is Buffy rediscovering why she does what she does. It’s an excellent circle back to the core concept of the show and the presentation of who Buffy is as a person. Her goodness and sacrifices have always been the core of her character and her relationships. This felt like an appropriate time in the life of the show to lay that out again.

I also thought Spike was the perfect character to deliver this message. I’ve truly believed his story arc from obsessive hatred, to obsessive selfish love, to lost and lonely, to truly selfless love. If anyone’s seen the depth of who Buffy truly is in the good and bad situations, it’s Spike.

All the sex made sense in the context of human behavior before a big, potentially life-ending battle, but it felt very out of place in the context of a house with about 30 people in it, most of which are under 18. Does no one have a sense of propriety??

The Bad: It was disappointing to see Faith and Giles making the same kinds of rash decisions and employing the same “do as I say no matter what” attitudes that they reprimanded Buffy for in the last episode. It was particularly annoying to see Faith stand up and tell everyone to fall in line – exact words from one of Buffy’s speeches. And I have absolutely no clue why Giles killed the Bringer. Nobody even seems to think that was weird!

The Unknown: I’m currently reserving judgment on the discovery of the weapon and the bomb. Both feel like very basic story clichés, but there’s always a possibility they will be used in an interesting manner. The weapon will take a lot of explaining to avoid a deus ex machina presentation. And the bomb cliffhanger feels like an exact replica of Giles’ near beheading from earlier in the season.

Favorite Moment: I love the subtle acting when Buffy asks Spike to stay with her. He showcases his selfless love again by immediately assuming he’ll sleep on the couch, but he also refrains from showing in any way that he is gratified or intends to take advantage of his position when Buffy invites him to the bed.

The Bottom Line: Buffy and Spike carried this episode and I loved those bits. The rest was a bit annoying as I felt Kennedy was too prominent and Faith and Giles seemed to make all the same mistakes Buffy did in the past. But the real deciding factor will be the ongoing situation of the weapon and bomb. It’s a weird double cliffhanger and gives the episode an extremely incomplete vibe which wasn’t necessary.

('DiggThis)

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Comments

  • I think we all are :-)

    To be clear I don't think Buffy (the show) was ever the same once the Mayor-Faith partnership slightly misfired at the end of Season 3.

    On Rewatch I've been impressed by how attached I am to the Buffy character and how interesting her story was in S5 and 6. And Spike remains very strong. But otherwise the ensemble is poorly served and their knack for good casting disappeared too. Still moments in S7 work but overall it's very disappointing.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 25/03/2014 2:35pm (4 years ago)

  • I was wondering what I may be missing about season 7, as I seem to be more down on it than most; I suppose the question was related to what Cordia said, about how she hated S7 the first time, but not as much now. I may have misread the level of positivity regarding S7, as many of the complaints I had about "Touched" were voiced in the 'cast. The praise that you gave the Buffy character helps illustrate the problem with having such a huge cast: The new characters take up a lot of time. I really just miss the old Scooby gang. Both the regular and Alternate Universe Matt E. are pretty sick of the Prospects :)

    Posted by Matt E., 25/03/2014 2:04pm (4 years ago)

  • Matt, can you clarify the question? I feel like I spend every week complaining about the missed opportunities in S7.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 24/03/2014 11:54pm (4 years ago)

  • Dear hosts,
    In all sincerity, I can see why on first viewing neither of you seemed to like this season. Why does it not seem so bad now?

    Viewer score: 52 / 100

    Posted by Matt E., 24/03/2014 8:06pm (4 years ago)

  • No voicemail this week since I'm on a road-trip through the NW US :)

    This was a fairly uninspiring episode for me. The main theme seemed to be that people want to have sex and connection when they’re feeling hopeless. This didn’t come as any revelation to me, since it’s pretty much common knowledge that people want to have sex and connection whether they’re feeling hopeless or not. Yes, I know there’s a deeper point that connection is what makes us human and fight for the good, but the point’s been made much better many times before on the show (re: Buffy's connection to her friends being what keeps her mostly alive), so this episode just didn’t add anything new for me on that front.

    Good:
    - Spike and Buffy just holding each other was poignant, and much more powerful and meaningful than all the actual sex going on.
    - The First being envious of their ability to touch was itself a nice touch.

    Bad:
    - The last scene really bugged me for two reasons:
    > Firstly, the juxtaposition of TWO tried cliches (a weapon that only a chosen one can remove from its stone, and a bomb) made the ending feel cheesy instead of dramatic.
    > Secondly, the juxtaposition implied that Buffy ended up “being right” about something being hidden in the vineyard while Faith ended up "wrong" in execution of her plan. This was exactly what I feared after the powerful ending last week, that they would undermine the significance of the group standing up to her when she had a pathetic plan by making her “right” and have Faith “mess up”. This oversimplifies what could have been a very complex dynamic - I think it would have been extremely powerful to have Buffy come back as a “soldier” willing to now help but not lead. And extremely gutsy for the finale of a show all about her. But that seems unlikely now.

    Meh:
    - Spike’s speech to Buffy was decent, but could have been so much better given their epic history.

    Viewer score: 55 / 100

    Posted by Ross, 22/03/2014 2:16am (4 years ago)

  • This is one of my favorite episodes of Buffy mostly because of the Spike and Buffy relationship arch. Although this episode feels like a part one of two because of the cliff hanger, it gets a high rating from me because of its emotional resonance. Spikes reaction to the Scooby’s betrayal is perfectly acted and really points out how loyal he is to Buffy. She was right when she said that Spike is the only one who has her back. His speech to her later on continues this idea. I can see how relieved Buffy is that he doesn’t want anything from her. All her other boyfriends (especially Riley) wanted something in return from her. Riley had to turn to vampires for passion and comfort and Angel just ran away from their relationship when it got too hard. They couldn’t find joy in just being with her the way that Spike does in season 7. Spike loves her because of who she is and not for what she can give him. He has made a complete 360 from a selfish love to a selfless love and it’s a wonderful place for the relationship arch to end up. Plus his speech always makes me cry.

    Viewer score: 73 / 100

    Posted by abigail schultz, 18/03/2014 7:30pm (4 years ago)

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