This is a continuation of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer thread I started over on the “old board” last April. Alan and Mike convinced me that the show’s move from the WB to the UPN and the start of season six is a logical time to move this discussion to the board’s new home. For those of you who might be new to the discussion, I am in the process of watching this series, start to finish, for the first time. I don’t provide much in the way of recap because I’m working under the assumption that most of you reading this thread have at least a passing familiarity with the series. The ground rules of this discussion are simple: I can (and will) spoil anything I want to, but you can’t spoil anything I haven’t seen yet. Ready? Okay, let’s begin.

SEASON SIX: EPISODES 1/2: “BARGAINING—PARTS 1/2”

I actually don’t have much to say about the two-part season opener. Most of it was spent resetting Buffy’s apparent death at the end of season five. Shouldn’t her death have triggered a new Slayer to have been called up? Judging from the opening credits it looks as if Giles is going to be out of the cast on a permanent (or at least semi-permanent) basis. I’m really enjoying the development of the “relationship” between Buffy and Spike thoughout last season and into this one. Apparently even vampires are subject to classical conditioning!

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Life Serial, Once More with Feeling and Tabula Rasa are a great run of episodes.
SEASON SIX: EPISODE 9: “SMASHED”

Someone once said of Al Capp’s L’il Abner that the strip moved so fast you’d better not miss a day. One might leave Abner hanging from the bottom of a plane Tuesday, miss Wednesday, and rejoin the strip on Thursday to find him climbing a mountain or trekking across the dessert. I would think someone missing an episode of BtVS might experience that same sense of disorientation. Many (if not most) shows are content to milk a given situation for all its worth, but plots develop quickly on Buffy! Characters come, characters go, some characters die. The point is, things change, problems are resolved, and there’s always something new waiting in the wings.

One thing I’ve noticed throughout these five plus seasons (and I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned it specifically before or not) if that Joss Whedon often overlays a situation with the clichés of a familiar, yet utterly different, situation. For example, in this episode, the dialogue in the scenes between Dawn and Tara sounded like that between a child and a divorced child trying to reconcile her parents. I like that. It’s funny and (in this case) poignant at the same time.

Also, this seems like a good time to point out that I’ve been using “Whedon” in this thread as a kind of shorthand for any and all writers on the show. Auteur theory is the bunk, but I’m too casual (or too lazy) of a fan to learn all the various writers’ names.

Tracy and I have often wondered about Amy and whether or not she would ever be restored to humanity. There’s a plot thread that’s been dangling for a while, but “Whedon” has reminded us of it from time to time until “he” was ready to resolve it. Obviously, Amy came back at exactly the wrong time to do Willow anything other than harm in the long run, but I’m interested to see the next development in Willow’s arc (probably tonight).

Buffy and Spike. Wow, there’s a biggie. I’m not even going say “I told you so” by mentioning that the very first thing Spike did when he thought his chip was on the fritz was to attack an innocent girl. (Actually, I just did.) I’m really quite intrigued by this relationship and don’t object to it nearly as much as I might have had Buffy not been somehow changed (presumably) by the experience of being yanked out of Heaven. I’m curious to see where this plot development goes, too.
BTW, Jeff, in case you didn't figure it out, the "chipped Spike" situation was what I was obliquely referring to when I said on the old board
Once the show gets into its later seasons, it explores a bit what it means and what it may be like for a typical vampire to make "good" choices, and that illustrates the difference between a vampire "choosing good" and a vampire having a soul.

Just, y'know, in case you didn't make that connection. :)
Jeff of Earth-J said:
SEASON SIX: EPISODE 9: “SMASHED”
I’m really quite intrigued by this relationship and don’t object to it nearly as much as I might have had Buffy not been somehow changed (presumably) by the experience of being yanked out of Heaven. I’m curious to see where this plot development goes, too.

Yep...There were many fans who very much said...whoa...hey now...Buffy would never...blah...blah...because just like the scobies, they were having a hard time with the fact that the experience did change her. Buffy needs to come to terms with what it means to be alive again, and work out some issues and Spike is there to take the abuse (and dish it out).
Buffy and Spike's relationship is... "unique" to say the least.

And yes, Alan, I've kept those comments you made in the back of my mind these past weeks and recognized the beginnings of that exploration.
SEASON SIX: EPISODE 10: “WRECKED”

If you had to sum up the Buffy/Spike relarionship at this point, which word would you use? I used “unique” yesterday, but that’s not very descriptive. The first word other than that that pops into my head is “twisted,” but that’s a little too harsh. “Unhealthy,” I think. Buffy feels herself attracted to Spike yet is repulsed by that very attraction, so they beat each other up. Actually, that is kind of twisted. It’s good to see Spike back in the game, though; when he was suicidal he was just pathetic.

The other day I remarked that evidently even vampires can be classically conditioned, but that’s not really true; it’s something more than that. As soon as the unconditioned stimulus (pain) was taken away (or so Spike thought), so to went the conditioned response (niceness) and he immediately reverted to his old ways and attacked an innocent girl. Now that the chip no longer reacts to Buffy, however, he still hasn’t killed or turned her. Sure, they beat each other up, but that’s the only way Buffy allows him to express his feelings toward her. I’m still not sure vampires are capable of feeling real love (or merely an incredible simulation). What Spike really is is obsessed (like Barnabas Collins was with Josette).

Okay, enough armchair psychology!

The scenes between Dawn and Willow show us the flip side of the “Dawn/Tara” coin, but the real metaphor here is the treatment of Willow’s addiction to magic liked to a junkie’s behavior. She has hit rock bottom, and it’s pretty obvious that the only reason Buffy is willing to forgive her is that she sees a reflection of her own destructive behavior in Willow. I don’t know if I would have been so forgiving. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee it. Not to use the anonymity of the internet to go all goopy, I found myself in a similar situation (as Buffy in regard to Willow) and turned my back. You know how much I like Willow, though, so I’m trying to find it within myself to forgive her and hope for a full recovery.

I’m going to have to add Amy to my list of characters to pay more attention to my second time through the series.
Absolutely... I think if Buffy wasn't as broken and conflicted about herself, she would have been a heck of lot less forgiving.

Unhealthy is probably the right term for it even if it doesn't seem descriptive enough, their relationship is one of obsession, self-disgust (for both of them, as we have previously seen Spike, express how it his fascination for her has defanged him more than the chip has, made him less of a vampire because he can't stand to see her killed) and proximity. Their intimacy is born of Buffy's isolation and her desire to feel again.

As to whether Vampires can love, Spike has always been portrayed as having un-vampire romantic inclination.Souless they can't truly love, but they might want to love. There was that one demon, the judge, who found that he and Drusilla's bond was perverse due to their close bond. So while I think that Spike is all wrong and mixed up, he does genuinely want to love Buffy, but can't really, in that his being is one of destruction.

I find Amy's development very interesting. She first was this mouse of a girl, run over by her powerful mother, then literally a rat, and now power hungry and reckless as her mother once was. Many objected to the magic as drug-addiction storyline, and while it might have felt a bit after-school specially, I appreciated that Whedon had been building though the season, the theme of corruption the magics can bring.

Jeff of Earth-J said:
SEASON SIX: EPISODE 10: “WRECKED”

If you had to sum up the Buffy/Spike relarionship at this point, which word would you use? I used “unique” yesterday, but that’s not very descriptive. The first word other than that that pops into my head is “twisted,” but that’s a little too harsh. “Unhealthy,” I think. Buffy feels herself attracted to Spike yet is repulsed by that very attraction, so they beat each other up. Actually, that is kind of twisted. It’s good to see Spike back in the game, though; when he was suicidal he was just pathetic.

The other day I remarked that evidently even vampires can be classically conditioned, but that’s not really true; it’s something more than that. As soon as the unconditioned stimulus (pain) was taken away (or so Spike thought), so to went the conditioned response (niceness) and he immediately reverted to his old ways and attacked an innocent girl. Now that the chip no longer reacts to Buffy, however, he still hasn’t killed or turned her. Sure, they beat each other up, but that’s the only way Buffy allows him to express his feelings toward her. I’m still not sure vampires are capable of feeling real love (or merely an incredible simulation). What Spike really is is obsessed (like Barnabas Collins was with Josette).

Okay, enough armchair psychology!

The scenes between Dawn and Willow show us the flip side of the “Dawn/Tara” coin, but the real metaphor here is the treatment of Willow’s addiction to magic liked to a junkie’s behavior. She has hit rock bottom, and it’s pretty obvious that the only reason Buffy is willing to forgive her is that she sees a reflection of her own destructive behavior in Willow. I don’t know if I would have been so forgiving. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee it. Not to use the anonymity of the internet to go all goopy, I found myself in a similar situation (as Buffy in regard to Willow) and turned my back. You know how much I like Willow, though, so I’m trying to find it within myself to forgive her and hope for a full recovery.

I’m going to have to add Amy to my list of characters to pay more attention to my second time through the series.
“So while I think that Spike is all wrong and mixed up, he does genuinely want to love Buffy, but can't really, in that his being is one of destruction.”

Very well-put!
SEASON SIX: EPISODE 11: “GONE”

The “geek squad” returns and renders Buffy Invisible. Meanwhile Willow struggles to remain “on the wagon” and life goes on. I really don’t have anything specific to say about this episode; it’s a great episode in a string of great episodes. Oh, I think I’ve changed my one word to describe Spike and Buffy’s relationship from “unhealthy” to “complicated.”
I'd say 'Abusive' - both ways, but that word has the wrong connotations, to do with violence and power in the domestic sphere blah blah.
When this was shown for the first time in the US, I remember a critic in a UK newspaper saying that "Gone" was something of a landmark in American pop culture.

She'd noted that there was a big furore in the US media about Buffy getting her iconic blonde hair cut up in this episode.

"Should she? or Shouldn't she?" and all that.

Her point was that this was the first time the US media had allowed themselves to be carried away by fluffy inconsequential nonsense after the 9/11 national tragedy. They weren't going to stay sombre and respectful forever, but it's interesting that she picked this episode of Buffy as the 'moment' when pop culture's inanity reasserted itself.
My “Once More, With Feeling” CD arrived yesterday, only three days after I ordered it, and I’ve listened to it several times already this morning. The booklet is screwed up, though (which bothers me less than it once would have). Half of it is printed twice, half of it is missing.

SEASON SIX: EPISODE 12: “DOUBLEMEAT PALACE”

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this episode for some time now because of comments made about it on the old board.

Personally, I liked it. I thought the days of Buffy dredging up old memories were behind me when she left high school behind, but I worked at McDonalds while in college, and I think anyone who has served their time in the fast food industry should watch this episode (the movie Clerks II, too). I think the reason this episode scores low on fan polls is that it’s a throwback to season two or so, that is, more “freak of the week” and less overall story arc development in the main plot (although the Buffy/Spike and Willow/Amy subplots moved forward). Also, Buffy’s working what’s more-or-less thought of as a high school job.

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