Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Buffy Rewatch (Season 5c)

This post is inspired by the ongoing Buffy Re-watch being conducted over at Nik at Night. Check them out for a better, more detailed look at each episode every Tuesday.

<--Season 5b  Season 5d-->

12. Checkpoint

The Watcher’s Council makes its return as Buffy and company come to the end of their resources in trying to discover who Glory is. They agree to help, but try to regain their control over Buffy first. It takes her a while, but she eventually realizes that she holds all the cards in their association and takes control of the council for the first time in its millennial history, one presumes. Power—who has it, and who is controlled by it—is a big deal in all relationships.
It is the basis of most social institutions and religion in particular. However, as Buffy comes to realize, it shouldn’t be that way. Love, placing others first, and standing together against wrong does not require one person exercising power over another.

13. Blood Ties

Dawn struggles with her identity when she discovers the truth. It could be a rather obvious and clumsy metaphor for every teenager’s struggle to discover themselves as an individual. Beyond that though, it ties into the overall theme of this season where Buffy is struggling with that very issue herself. She knows the answers to the questions of who she is, and what her purpose in life is, but she doesn’t understand the Whys and the How’s of exactly what that is supposed to look like.

14. Crush

This is the episode where Buffy discovers what we have known for a few episodes now: that Spike is in love with her. This is a complicated story-line that will continue to develop for the rest of the series, but for now Buffy is understandably repulsed. She also begins to wonder what is wrong with her—why does she attract the wrong sort of guy? What is it about the slayer that makes her so flawed?

15. I Was Made to Love You

The two themes of death and love merge in this episode. A female robot (reminiscent to season two’s Ted) shows up looking for a man named Warren. It turns out she was created to be his perfect companion, but abandoned in favor of a technically flawed but ultimately superior real woman. As her life ebbs away and her batteries run down, she desperately seeks to fulfill the purpose for which she was created. Buffy stops the misguided robot from hurting anyone and comforts her as she dies. Meanwhile, another death is occurring…

16. The Body

This episode is one of the best of the series. It is an all too real look at the aftermath of death. The characters all experience very realistic grief in the face of Joyce’s unexpected death. It is an uncomfortable episode and real horror, especially in the ultimately empty experience. There is no hope, no meaning and no pulling back of the curtain in this normally supernatural, speculative series.

17. Forever

Instead, we get another answer in the face of death… there is no hope. (At least that is the answer given for now. This is the “real” look at death and grief in the Buffy-verse. Another, more hopeful attempt at a “true” look at death will come in a few episodes.) Dawn tries to bring her mother back through magic, aided by an increasingly dangerous Willow. Dawn learns that magic is not the solution to life’s problems right before she nearly destroys the memory of her mother. (Willow, on the other hand, has a long way to go.)

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