Buffy 6×13: Dead Things

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Stephen DeKnight | Director: James A. Contner | Aired: 02/05/2002]

What we have here is an episode that takes the last four episodes, sheds them of all their bad material, but retains their admirable qualities. Then, it adds an intellectually and emotionally powerful wallop on top. This episode represents quite possibly Buffy‘s finest example of intensely complex psychological development. This thing is dense with content, superb writing, thought-provoking character actions, and emotion and is one of my favorite Buffy episodes in its entire run. Also, due to its near complete focus on character over its sparse plot, its the type of episode I watch TV for.

As I just mentioned, the plot of “Dead Things” is actually quite bare, and it works in the episode’s favor. I also, of course, love the continuity with “Doublemeat Palace” [6×12]’s ‘paralysis’ metaphor, which I’ll get into a bit later. The basic idea of the plot has the Trio being able to make any woman they want their sex slave, but their plan goes awry when Warren’s ex-girlfriend Katrina (from “I Was Made to Love You” [5×15] ) awakens from the spell early. The rest of the episode and plot are completely driven by complex characters and how they react to this situation. It’s where the characters intersect where things get particularly messed up for everyone.

“Dead Things” starts off with an intriguing conversation pouring out Buffy and Spike. What’s so intriguing about it is its casual nature, which is something that really never happened before — at least not out of her. Buffy’s starting to get really attached to Spike, and not just sexually. Spike postures, “Do you even like me?” Buffy responds genuinely, “sometimes.” Spike is continuing to show signs that, although currently content with what he’s getting, he still wants more than just physicality from her. Spike asks her if she trusts him. Although her response is “never,” we’re quickly shown to be unsure if that’s really the truth.

This comes into question when we observe Buffy rubbing her wrists then hiding them when talking with Tara. This is not only a symbolic connection with “After Life” [6×03] , but is also indicative of the fact that she likely let Spike actually use the handcuffs on her. It’s worth noting that it’s only now — after her most recent, particularly risquee, encounter — that she decides to investigate why Spike’s chip won’t work on her. She wants confirmation that she came back wrong so she she can continue to indulge in her behavior without feeling so guilty and dirty about it. I feel the need to quote her from “Once More, with Feeling” [6×07] : “This isn’t real. I just want to feel.”

After missing out on valuable time with Dawn due to her recent frequent absences from home life, Buffy retreats to the familiar balcony of sadness to ponder her life. Intriguing to note is the connection between “I Only Have Eyes for You” [2×19] and “Dead Things:” Buffy’s need to forgive herself is a major theme of both episodes.

It’s here where Spike tries to pull Buffy even closer to him, and further away from her friends. Is this a nice thing for him to do? No! But Spike is a soulless being who, despite feelings to the contrary, is still out for himself in the end. He wants Buffy to be even closer to him and genuinely believes that she wants to let go of her old life completely. Spike later admits (in “Normal Again” [6×17] ) that he had it wrong here. While he thinks he’s pushing her to let go of all her inner turmoil, all he’s really doing is putting Buffy in more.

Spike works his hands up Buffy’s leg and starts feeling her. Buffy tells him “don’t,” to which Spike says “stop me.” This moment has raised quite a bit of debate amongst people. The way I look at it is that Spike is not being good at all here and is taking advantage of the situation Buffy is in. However, I think Spike genuinely feels that Buffy wants this. The fact of the matter is that Buffy is physically stronger than Spike and can stop him at any moment. If Buffy really didn’t want Spike’s advances on her, she’d definitely put up more of a fight than the faint nos and “don’t” she’s been putting out there. Buffy’s clearly getting some sort of satisfaction out of this relationship, whether or not it’s healthy for her.

So, I don’t feel Spike’s taking advantage of her sexually here, but I do think he’s taking advantage of her mentally. He reinforces this by telling her not to close her eyes — to enjoy what she’s doing so close to her friends. This entire situation is incredibly complex and holds no easy answers. Spike’s in the wrong here but his intentions are very much not to hurt Buffy, despite how he’s blind to the fact he is hurting her. At this point he feels Buffy desires his world and that she’ll be much happier if she just fully gives in, sans guilt, being with him.

The focus on Buffy’s face during this very intimate scene is telling. We get a varied range of mixed expressions from her: pleasure, worry, pain, sorrow, gratification, and resignation. Right before Spike goes in, Buffy’s face displays her sadness in continuing to give in — a sadness she finally lets out to Tara at the end of the episode. The word to describe this state is paralysis, which was the theme of “Doublemeat Palace” [6×12] and a wonderful setup to some of the issues tackled here.

Later on at night, we see Buffy walking up to Spike’s crypt where they end up feeling each other’s presence from opposite sides of a stone door. This is not only their most romantic moment to date (likely ever), but it’s also massively symbolic of the divide that exists between them. Buffy’s able to resist herself from actually entering the crypt, and almost thankfully gets distracted by several time-distorting demons. What I particularly like about these demons is that they’re merely a quick catalyst to move the characters’ development forward. The whole idea that they have the ability to displace time, or, as Anya puts it, create a “localized temperal disturbance,” works so well because it’s just so wonderfully symbolic of Buffy’s state of mind: fractured.

In the midst of the time wonkiness caused by the demons, Buffy takes an unintentional swipe at what appears to be Katrina (although it’s really Jonathan using a magic glamour). I feel the reason why Jonathan’s Katrina swap works is because we’re already hinted to the Trio’s plan from the start. I commend the writers for not playing cheap games with the audience here. The intent is to keep pushing Buffy into a corner and then see what she’ll do. This event is devastating to her. Instead of “waking up” from her rut, she pulls an internal “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] on us and wants to hide in her own shell, effectively abandoning her life and its associated troubles as it’s all become way too much for her. Buffy uses her apparent accidental killing of Katrina as a loosely legitimate excuse to turn herself into the police.

On the surface this appears to simply be another method of disappearing and being free of her life, which is what “Gone” [6×11] introduced us to. Here, though, Buffy isn’t simply looking to be free of her life, but also to wallow in her sadness and the feeling that she should be punished for her actions with Spike. The only place she could get away with doing that would be in prison, where she has no one — no friends — to help her (as they will later in the season). This development sets up her actions to come in “Normal Again” [6×17] . I’ll talk about this more in a moment.

First I have to think about Buffy’s disturbing dream sequence. I have a few ideas of what it all means, so I guess I’ll just go frame by frame and say what I think is going on. It begins with Spike in her bed saying “It’s alright, love. It’ll be our little secret.” This seems to simply be a reiteration of Spike’s attempt to get Buffy to stay in the dark with him, which prove his comments during their balcony sex are definitely causing her pain and conflict.

The next dream flash leads us to Buffy having sex with Spike in his crypt with her on top, in sexual ecstasy, and him in handcuffs. Buffy looks very animalistic here, which connects us with Spike’s comment at the beginning of the episode: “I’ve never been with such an animal.” Although Buffy proclaims that she’s not an animal, the dream here proves to herself (and us) that she’s certainly been acting like an animal at times — acting on impulse alone.

We then see Katrina, out in the woods, lying on the ground and also wearing handcuffs. Buffy asks her, “do you trust me?” The fact that both Spike and Katrina have handcuffs on them is very important, as it connects Buffy’s disgust with her animalistic impulses overriding her duty as the Slayer (and as a sister and a friend). Spike is supposed to be her enemy, but that’s all been turned upside down in her mind — instead of killing the handcuffed “criminal,” she’s secretly boning him. Katrina, on the other hand, should be able to trust Buffy, but is also in handcuffs.

Now we quickly see Spike on top of Buffy going at it, but then quickly flash to Buffy hitting Katrina, thereby firming the connection in Buffy’s mind between her selfish actions with Spike leading to the lapse of her duty to protect the innocent from harm. This all comes together to the root point when we see Buffy staking Spike, while nakedly on top of him, but instead of killing Spike she kills Katrina. I think Buffy’s guilt here is that she feels the sexual escapades with Spike have caused her to disregard her calling as the Slayer. Instead of protecting the innocent, she’s killing them. This is why she wakes up with the desire to turn herself into the police — she feels she deserves to be put away for her actions. This, along with the fact that turning herself in would be a way to seemingly escape the burdens of her life. I also think that part of this imagery is tied to her subconcious knowledge that she’s also treating Spike poorly. In essence, she’s all messed up inside over what’s right, what’s wrong, and what her moral code even is anymore.

The final image we see in the dream is of Katrina’s eyes opening, but it’s not Katrina anymore (as can be seen by the foggy eyes). This is clearly representative of the fact that the “Katrina” Buffy hit and is feeling guilt about was not really Katrina. Buffy’s slayer instincts are still working underneath all her confusion. This is why the moment Buffy hears that the victim’s name was Katrina, she instinctively knew the death wasn’t her fault. What a great dream sequence!

Buffy then wakes up determined to turn herself into the police, but stops by Dawn’s room to explain herself first. A bit earlier we see Buffy has genuine sadness when Dawn would rather be with a friend’s mom than herself, which seems to cause her to have a brief realization that their connection has really diminished. Although she hates the disconnect, she can’t seem to bring herself to proactively fix it either. This is the very definition of a rut. Thankfully, though, Dawn later proves that she still very much cares about Buffy.

Dawn shows us this by proving that she’s not completely oblivious to what’s going on around her when she hears that Buffy wants to indulge in another form of disappearance. While Dawn may be right when tells Buffy, “You didn’t want to come back. I know that. You were happier where you were. You want to go away again,” she’s dead wrong when she emotionally claims that Buffy can’t stand to be around her. Dawn’s being very short-sided here and clearly doesn’t have the emotional and intellectual maturity yet to grasp what is happening around her. Instead of proactively trying to help Buffy in her situation, we instead see Dawn take this “it’s all about me” attitude most of the time. This is something that I can hardly blame of a girl Dawn’s age, especially considering what she’s gone through, and I feel it makes for an interesting dynamic for Buffy to deal with when going through all this.

Buffy calls turning herself into the police the “right thing to do.” What’s really going on here is that, instead of investigating what happened further and really thinking about what she should do about the situation, she panics over it and instead chooses to selfishly, yet with genuine sorrowful emotion, capitalize on this opportunity to — as Dawn put it — “go away.” Furthermore, Buffy wants to turn herself in not just for the girl she thinks she killed, but for punishment of her recent actions with Spike. The problem with all this, though, is that Spike’s not fooled one bit and tries to stop her.

When Spike gets in the way, Buffy’s conflicted feelings start to really come out into the open. Buffy is disgusted with everything about herself right now. A bit of dialogue I found amusing and also enlightening is the simplicity of when Spike tells Buffy he loves her, once again. Buffy responds, incorrectly, with “no, you don’t.” Spike admits, “you think I haven’t tried not to?” Buffy then whacks him across the street and responds, “try harder.” It’s amazing just how much is conveyed in those few lines and that one hard punch.

Spike tries to then bring up the ‘tip the scales’ argument, but he clearly doesn’t comprehend the morality of the situation. Buffy responds with one area Spike’s moral compass can’t comprehend: “That’s all it is to you, isn’t it? Just another body! … You can’t understand why this is killing me, can you?” Her statement here is intriguing in more ways than one. First is that she’s truly right: he can’t understand her inner conflict because he’s without a soul and essentially couldn’t care less about anyone not related to his wants. Second is that Buffy’s subtly emoting the reality of this relationship: it’s deadening, or killing — a term used by Buffy in “As You Were” [6×15] right before she really breaks it off with him — her soul.

It’s interesting that when Buffy starts beating him, he fights back a bit. But the more Buffy digs inside herself and takes it out on Spike, the more Spike lowers his defenses and realizes Buffy needs an outlet for her emotions, so he allows it to be him: “Come on, that’s it, put it on me. Put it all on me. That’s my girl.” That last comment, though, about being his girl, shocks Buffy into a rage in which she pummels him brutally and repeatedly until his face is barely recognizable. While doing this she yells out all kinds of horrible insults to Spike that, in reality, she feels about herself. The key quote: “I am not your girl! You don’t… have a soul! There is nothing good or clean in you. You are dead inside! You can’t feel anything real! I could never be your girl!” The parallels to what Faith went through in “Who Are You?” [4×16] are striking, although still uniquely different.

Spike’s comment, “you always hurt the one you love,” resonates and shocks through Buffy like it resonates through the entire series. In this one comment we, in quick fashion, are reminded of her history with Angel. Remember that her very first intimate encounter lead to her lover becoming the murderer and torturer of her friends. During that time period Buffy felt like it was her fault for setting Angelus loose and that she felt she didn’t deserve forgiveness for it. The thematic ties with “I Only Have Eyes for You” [2×19] are really relevant, evident, and strong here. This entire scene is a critical moment in the season where Buffy really lets all her anger and disgust pour out — and all onto Spike’s face.

While Spike did everything he could to stop Buffy from walking right into possible prison, she goes anyway. Fortunately, Buffy connects the dots of the accident to Warren, and her anger, duty, and determination to find him thankfully supercede any current personal issues. The facts of the situation that are sitting in front of her are too overwhelming to ignore, as much as she’d love to just forget about her disastrous current life.

Although Dawn’s still distressed, Buffy is, for the moment, back with her friends again. At the Magic Box we see Buffy repeat Spike’s words, “you always hurt the one you love.” Many people took this as meaning Buffy was admitting that she loves Spike. I don’t see it that way. Going back to what I was talking about before, this comment speaks to Buffy’s history as much as it does the present. I genuinely don’t think Buffy loves Spike right now. I know she’s confused about what her own feelings are and actually isn’t even sure if she does or doesn’t, but future S6 episodes prove she really doesn’t love him at this point. With that said, there’s no denying that she has come to greatly care about him. This is something that had its first seedling planted back in “Intervention” [5×18] . This realization is why Buffy taking her anger out on Spike is as shocking to us as it is to her — it shocks her into understanding that she does need to treat him like a real person. Soul or not, she has a relationship with him and he loves her in the only way he can. The part of Spike that is still human deserves recognizition.

All these important realizations lead to the final scene of the episode, which is potent, powerful, sorrowful, and emotionally gripping. It’s also intellectually and ethically complex. Tara answers Buffy’s question from the beginning of the episode, but it’s the one answer she really didn’t want to hear: Buffy did not come back from the dead “wrong.” This means that everything she’s been trying to ignore, push off, or escape responsibility for are extremely real. All the questionable things she’s done aren’t by some altered being, they’re all from her and now she has absolutely no scapegoat to hide with. Buffy, herself, says it all: “There has to be [something wrong with me]! This just can’t be me, it isn’t me. Why do I feel like this? Why do I let Spike do those things to me? … He’s everything I hate. He’s everything that I’m supposed to be against. But the only time that I ever feel anything is when … Why can’t I stop? Why do I keep letting him in?”

How about a huge shout-out to Tara in this episode! Tara is lovely, supportive, and totally there for Buffy. The end of the episode really gives them a bond they never had before. I’m particularly impressed that Tara takes the challenging road by telling Buffy it’s alright if she really does love Spike, even pointing out “he’s done a lot of good. And he does love you.”

Buffy’s response is pure honesty here — she’s not hiding anything from Tara and she’s not holding anything back. Buffy admits that she’s using Spike for her own selfish impulses and desires, saying she’s “Using him? What’s okay about that?” Tara does her best here to console an emotionally shattered Buffy by saying “it’s not that simple.” At this point it just doesn’t help though. Buffy opens herself up to the hard painful truth and takes the burden in confessing, in sob, “It is! It’s wrong. I’m wrong. Tell me that I’m wrong, please… Please don’t forgive me, please…”

Buffy doesn’t want to be forgiven here because if she was, it would validate what she feels, and largely is, very morally gray behavior. In this powerful final moment, Buffy wants to accept her wrongness and take real responsibility for her actions. It’s a stunning first step to her recovery, but she’s in no way out of the woods yet. In fact, living with this knowledge and continuing to accept her actions day by day will be a struggle of its own. This will come to a boiling point in “Normal Again” [6×17] , where her epiphany will finally be reached.

So, now that I’ve discussed Buffy’s development, I’m going to wrap up the review by discussing the major development the Trio gets. The opening sillyness of the Trio is a nice constrast to where the episode is headed. I also appreciate seeing Jonathan’s growing frustration with the group. By the episode’s end, he’s going to quickly become very scared. The Trio’s plan here is to “make any woman we want our willing sex slave.” The tone in which this plan is portrayed is quite superficial, even jovial, almost as if we’re actually watching one of those cheesy old-style supervillain movies where everything is so black and white you can’t take it seriously.

What’s scary here is that it actually somewhat coaxes me (along with Andrew and Jonathan) into treating what’s happening on screen in a non-chalant manner. This casual setup is what makes the reality of the situation later hit much harder than it would have otherwise. The Trio’s attempts to be cheesy supervillains turn out not to produce fantasy for them, but near-rape and then murder, thrusting them and the audience into the world of reality at lightning-quick speed.

Before using their device, Warren ends up pathetically attempting to hook up with Katrina again. It’s interesting that he tries to get back together with her before using the cerebral dampener. It just goes to show that, while overall despicable, Warren does have a tiny shred of decency in him at this point. Somewhere buried very deep in there is an extremely misguided decent guy, one which will be completely lost the moment he kills Katrina.

Although dressing Katrina in the maid outfit is a tad over-the-top, it really works symbolically and reflects directly on Warren. Warren has just turned Katrina into the very thing he ran away from: the AprilBot from “I Was Made to Love You” [5×15] . This robs him of the very reason why he ditched the bot: Katrina’s life and personality. This is very, very sad to see. Warren’s insulting his own memory of her even further when he points out to the group what he likes about her. But right now she’s nothing more than an emotionless automaton. Hell, she’s even more emotionless than the AprilBot. Warren orders hypno-Katrina to validate him several times by having her say she was wrong and that she loves him. The parallels to the AprilBot keep flooding in, which really constitutes excellent development and continuity.

Andrew and Jonathan are completely blinded by the reality of the situation with Katrina. There’s a disturbing mix of emotions running through the two of them here: innocence, naivete, virginity, and the lack of a solid moral center. Jonathan’s always been an abused nice guy, but as has been proven by the events of “Earshot” [3×18] and “Superstar” [4×17] , he’s got some serious issues and doesn’t always know when he’s crossing a moral line. That genuine lack of realization can be used for great evil, which he almost blindly commits here.

Katrina’s anger of what’s been made out of her is palpable. Of particular interest is Jonathan and Andrew’s reaction to hearing that she was Warren’s ex-girlfriend. Andrew’s response to this sums it up perfectly: “Dude, that is messed up!” Katrina then perfectly sums up the Trio up until this point: “Oh, you think? You bunch of little boys, playing at being men. Well, this is not some fantasy, it’s not a game, you freaks! It’s rape!” This is the point when the reality of the situation finally comes crashing down on them, leaving them in remorseful shock.

Everything changes in an instant when Warren murders Katrina. All the sudden the Trio’s in entirely new territory as villains. They’re not cheesy annoying faux supervillains anymore. The reaction of everyone involved is important: Andrew’s in shock, Jonathan’s scared and enraged, and Warren quickly takes full dominance of the group by wrapping both of them in with his murder. When he turns his head quickly to Jonathan and yells “listen!,” Jonathan isn’t the only one creeped out. This is the first time Warren has ever been truly scary. The abrupt contrast to the goofiness of earlier episodes is what makes this moment work so well.

At the end of the episode they find out they’re going to get away with the murder. Andrew seems excited and borderline thrilled, but Jonathan doesn’t look so convinced. I think he’s just going along with Warren because he’s scared of what will happen to him if he doesn’t — Warren might go after him next.

Wow! “Dead Things” is an incredibly ambitious episode that ends on an admission of sorrowful guilt, but thankfully offers absolutely no reprieve, easy solutions, or light at the end of the tunnel. It’s true to the troubles of real life in a way few TV shows are capable of providing. The episode ends in an emotional mess that’s been spilled all over the floor and can only be cleaned up with a lot of gradual hard work and, most importantly, time (see “Something Blue” [4×09] for a lighter, but relevant, perspective on this). This is one of the most intellectually and emotionally gripping episodes of television I’ve ever witnessed due to its uncompromising ability to show the righteous hero largely in the wrong, the evil soulless demon largely in the right, and an utterly messy, complicated, and gripping conclusion that leaves aboslutely no hope in sight. We care about everything that’s happening, too, because we know and love the characters and the episode is completely built off of fabulous continuity. If I had to sum up this episode in a couple words, I’d proclaim “unbelievably superb!”


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ After setting up the cerebral dampener, Warren says “I know just where to start.” At first I thought he was referring to Buffy, but it turns out to be Katrina. Nice little misdirect there.
+ Nice to see the Doublemeat Palace make another appearance. Yes, I know I’m the only one who feels this way. :p
+ Tara assuming there’s something wrong with Willow again, not Buffy.
+ Andrew and Jonathan’s utterly pathetic attempt at holding Katrina back.
+ The warm glance between Tara and Xander when passing by in front of the Magic Box.
+ The Willow/Tara scene is important in that it shows both of them still very much love each other.
+ Is Willow wearing the same coat she’s wearing at the end of the season? When Tara says she’s glad Willow’s doing better, Willow’s reaction isn’t one of assurance.
+ Excellent use of music in the graveyard scene in which Buffy approaches Spike’s crypt.
+ The screaming girl provoking a prompt “thank you” from Buffy to the power(s) above.
+ David Lynch reference! I’ve been watching too much Twin Peaks lately. 🙂
+ Jonathan’s very clear dissatisfaction at his part in convincing Buffy she accidentally killed Katrina.
+ The little touch of how everyone carefully avoids the use of the word ‘heaven’ to describe where Buffy was during death, in fear of further hurting her.


Foreshadowing

* Buffy wanting to turn herself in to escape the shittiness of her life here drives her actions in “Normal Again” [6×17]. This just proves that her mental state does not improve after “Dead Things.” In fact, she’s left more confused than she’s ever been before over what’s right, what’s wrong, and where (if anywhere) she fits in either scheme.


[Score]

EXCEPTIONAL

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160 thoughts on “Buffy 6×13: Dead Things”

  1. [Note: MrB posted this comment on June 1, 2008.]

    Glad to see the reviews back!

    This episode does make up for *some* of the previous problem children eps.

    Buffy seasons seem to have pivot point episodes. These are the places the season swings upon. In Season 6, the first pivit was Afterlife, then OMWF/Tabula Rasa, then really all the way to Dead Things. For here, it pivots to Normal again, and then on to the end.

    These are where major directional change makes sense, and where things are cleared up. Due to the nature of S6, these are really big pivots, because they are all character driven, rather that arc driven. They actually have a bigger impact than some of the Arc driven pivots, such as Consequences in S3.

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  2. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 1, 2008.]

    Yay!

    Excellent review. Agreed completely with your most excellent analysis. I never picked up on the parallels with I Only Have Eyes For You before, but I can definitely see the connections since you pointed them out.

    Few points…

    – Love your take on the balcony scene. Yes, Spike was definitely not helping the situation. But he was TRYING to do what he thought would help. His lack of soul, though, prevents him from actually realizing that he’s hurting her more.

    – The scene where Buffy almost visits Spike’s crypt is one of my favorite scenes in the series. No dialogue, but it’s not really necessary. That one scene with the wonderfully appropriate song is enough to convey the connection between the two and the problems that come with it.

    – “I genuinely don’t think Buffy loves Spike right now. I know she’s confused about what her own feelings are and actually isn’t even sure if she does or doesn’t, but future S6 episodes prove she really doesn’t love him at this point.”

    I’m largely undecided on this point. I tend to lean towards your viewpoint simply because, with her mental state, Buffy wasn’t in a position to love anybody romantically. She obviously feels affection for him (This much is obvious at the start of the season, though she shuts that off when things become physical). But love is something Buffy may not have even been capable of at that time in season 6.

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  3. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    Good to have your reviews back, mike. It´s an excellent analysis and you made some great parallels that I didn´t even noticed. I totally agree with your perfect score, this episode is just mind-blowing. My favourite scene is when Buffy is beating Spike into a pulp because that tells a lot about her feelings and how she feels about herself.

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  4. [Note: jun posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed reading your reviews.

    I’ve also found the comics, post No Future For You, to be disappointing. I’d almost rather see a Faith/Giles spinoff penned by Vaughan at this point than the current arc.

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  5. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    Amazing review. I love your analysis of Buffy’s psychology. Just remembering this episode is deeply depressing me. 😛

    Also, I’m very glad you’re concentrating on series reviews rather than the comics. I agree that they’re extremely disappointing, and not interesting/decent enough to generate good discussion.

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  6. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    I have to say I disagree that the door-feeling scene was the most romantic Spike/Buffy moment. I’d give that to their cuddle in ‘Touched’. It’s so lovely how they’re just holding each other while everybody else is doing it like bunnies. It says a lot about how far the two came.

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  7. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    Just a further thought.

    I’d kinda read Buffy’s “you hurt the ones you love” line and the dream differently. In my view, a parallel was being drawn between Warren’s objectifying of Katrina and Buffy’s treatment of Spike (Thus, Katrina taking Spike’s place in the dream). In saying that line, Buffy is comparing herself to Warren, who killed the girl that he supposedly loved. Given that particular interpretation, I see the episode as more of Buffy’s realization of her treatment of Spike and how it’s damaging to him and her. That’s a large reason why I’m disappointed with the lack of follow-up to it.

    But I like your take on it, too (And I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. It just demonstrates the wonderfully layered quality to the episode that there are many aspects to it). And your analysis is more focused on Buffy realizing the damage to herself with Spike being collateral, which does make more sense when taken with the episodes afterward.

    (Also can I just say how wonderful the Trio scenes are? I was seriously disturbed when I first watched it and saw how light-heartedly they were treating the mind control thing as I saw it quite clearly as rape. I was almost losing faith in the show until Katrina snaps out of it and the entire tone of the scene changes. I love it.)

    Eh, just some stuff I thought up while sleeping. Oh. Agreed with wilpy on Touched. Though I still would have liked a sex scene in S7 just on principle so that the show could break out of the habit of punishing Buffy for having sex, which I feel sends a horrible message out. But the cuddle scene in Touched is lovely.

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  8. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

    wilpy: I was actually thinking about that scene in “Touched,” and it comes in a very close second for me. I’m totally with you though, that scene is just wonderful.

    gabrielleabelle: I completely agree that all of this material can be interpreted in many different ways, and I love it for that.

    As for the show occasionally punishing Buffy, I just don’t quite see it the way you do. Buffy never got “punished” for being with Riley. It seems to me that she’s not getting punished, but rather reaping the consequences of her actions (Angel not included — that just wasn’t her fault). Her fling with Parker and her escapades with Spike (even more so in her mental state), though, were poor decisions on her part.

    I know you (and many) people have a real soft spot for Spike, but the series reminds us of his nature several times for a reason — deep down he’s not a great guy to everyone but Buffy. He’s dangerous and soulless, and that’s not someone you want a relationship with, at least if you want much of anything positive to come out of it. He’s definitely better than most other vamps out there, but one has to think that if he ever had his chip removed while still soulless, it would only be a matter of time before he started killing again (although obviously it wouldn’t be Buffy or anyone close to her). We get this evidence in “Smashed.”

    That’s how I see it anyway. And don’t get me wrong: I think Spike rocks too, and I’m certainly rooting for him. But it’s not until he gets his soul back that I can fully trust that he can be a genuinely healthy partner, or friend, for Buffy. I think you’ll find I get much more Spike-friendly once he gets his soul back. 🙂

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  9. [Note: AnonDK posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    I don’t usually comment on these reviews, but I just noticed a nice little parallel between Buffy and Spike physically trying to hold each other with the door in their way compared to their cuddling up over a year later-it’s a nice symbol on the relationship’s development 🙂

    Well, I’m off to stalk in the shadows and continiously appraise you! Keep up the excellent work, Mike-I LOVE your reviews!

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  10. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    On the sex. Buffy has sex with Angel. He turns evil and kills people. End result, Buffy can never have sex with Angel, her bestest true love. Parker’s not as dire, but it’s not as big a relationship. Regardless, she has sex and is blown off as a result of it. Riley seems to be the exception that proves the rule for me. And Spike she has sex with. He tries to rape her as a direct result of the sex they had had. As a result, Buffy can never have sex with Spike because of the stigma. Seems like a pretty clear (Though surely unintentional) message to me. When Buffy has sex, bad things happen to her as a direct result of that sex. Therefore, Buffy’s big romances cannot involve sex.

    And I do agree that Spike’s soul is important for his redemption (Very, very important). But my main issue with the show is that Spike makes an attempt to be good while soulless, but receives no positive feedback for it. Why does he even bother trying if he never gets anything from it? Yet he’s constantly punished for the bad he does. And, yes, this is fangirlism kicking in because it makes sense in the show and it annoys me because it’s “just not fair”. But that’s life, so oh well.

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  11. [Note: DarknessLostprophets posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    My mind working over time hear but its implied that buffy has the handcuffs used on herself…but this isnt shown but it is with spike….i was thinking this could be interpreted along with the animalistic factor about the origins of the slayer and how she was infected whilst binded down….as you said buffy appears animalistic which follows on with what a slayer is…or the first slayer’s opinion of mate feed kill repeat…the same thing….just a thought

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  12. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    gabrielle, you say that “Buffy’s big romances cannot involve sex,” yet you throw her relationship with Riley aside like it’s a one-time deal. Riley was a huge relationship for her. Although he had his own issues, he was a nice guy and was a relatively healthy relationship for Buffy, therefore there were no dire consequences for her from it.

    I suppose you can make the argument that the writers continued to have Buffy make poor relationship decisions, but 1 (Spike) or 2 (Parker — Buffy did *want* a relationship with him) out of 4 hardly constitutes a pattern. The only time Buffy got unjustly punished for her actions is with Angel/Angelus, imo., but like you said, sometimes that’s real life.

    I’m going to stop here, because I can make my point until the cows comes home and, really, it’s not going to matter. I mean, am I really going to ever be able to convince you otherwise? There’s no defense against rabid fandom, as you yourself keep pointing out about yourself. 😉

    Let’s just say that I really don’t believe it’s as bad as you’re making it out to be, both with Spike and with Buffy.

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  13. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 2, 2008.]

    Eh, we’re probably not gonna convince each other of anything on this one. Yes, Buffy makes some bad relationship decisions. No problem with that. But 3 out of 4 times she has a relationship, bad things happen to her as a direct result of the sex from it. It’s not something bad vaguely happening after sex. Sex is the direct cause of it. And in two of those relationships, she ends up in a chaste romance with the guy because of the prior bad sex experience.

    Riley is debatable primarily because looking at the series from outside the context of the show, Riley really ISN’T a big romance for her (How many hardcore Buffy/Riley fans are there?). Within context, though, yes Riley is a very important romance for Buffy. And I’m glad she had it. Again, he’s just one out of four, unfortunately.

    That being said, agree to disagree? And you’re facing rabid feminism here rather than rabid fandom. 😉

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  14. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on June 3, 2008.]

    I’m not sure where I stand on this. While I don’t think the writers were explicitly trying to say ‘sex is evil and punishable’, there were certainly consequences that stem from sex. However, these consequences seem to derive from the frame of mind both parties are in at the time. With Parker, she was naive and he was a predator. With Spike, she was using him and he wanted an emotional connection. The consequences aren’t a result of the act of sex, but rather what different people want and expect from sex. I’d say the only case in which it can be interpreted that an external force appears to say “sex is wrong” is with Angelus.

    I think it’s also necessary to take into account other sex on the show. Willow/Oz, Xander/Faith, Xander/Anya, Faith/Wood, Willow/Kennedy, Giles/Olivia, Willow/Tara, Buffy/Riley…. All of these went without direct consequence, and it largely outweighs the couples who do suffer because of sex. It could be interpreted that Tara was shot because she had sex, or that Giles and Olivia lost their voices because they had sex, but that would be bordering on ludicrous, frankly.

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  15. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 3, 2008.]

    As I said, I’m certain that the sex=bad aspect wasn’t intentional. But it’s hard to overlook the fact that Buffy, the star of the show, ends up in two major relationship where she’s forced to refrain from a sex (Angel and Spike). In both of these cases, the reason behind this is directly because of sex that had gone on previously. Spike wouldn’t have tried to rape Buffy if it weren’t for the rough sex that they had had before. It was because of this attempted rape that the writers didn’t let Buffy/Spike get too physical in season 7 (referencing Joss’ comments in the Chosen commentary). Parker wouldn’t have given her the emotional brush-off if she hadn’t fallen into bed with him. And you get my point with Angel. In three cases in her sexual history, sex is the direct cause of some emotional or physical trauma for Buffy. Like I said, I’m sure it’s not intentional. But it’s there and it especially begins to frustrate me right around the end of season 6.

    And if I were trying to argue that this is a huge statement on the part of the series, yeah I’d have to take the other couples into account. But I’m not really. Buffy’s the star of the show. And, in her case, it seems fairly clear that sex leads to bad things with Buffy and that she’s better off in a chaste relationship. And it irritates me to no end to see that in a heroine as we did have a sexual revolution some time ago, but I guess it didn’t take.

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  16. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on June 3, 2008.]

    I see your point, I really do.

    However, take into account that in a drama there’s need for conflict. Constant conflict. Conflict is what drives the characters, motivates them, and is the source of story for every episode. So when Buffy ever had sex, which had to be made into a big deal so as not to make her appear slutty, there’s a whole range of possible story ideas that can deal with it.

    I’m just trying to see this from a different standpoint. I agree the ‘sex = consequences’ message was not deliberate, but it’s no surprise that it’s underscored by the main character of the show. The main character demands the most conflict, and sex is the perfect set up for that. (And understandably so, given how sex is still generally seen in a bad light for some reason.)

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  17. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 3, 2008.]

    Ah. You know, as long as you see my point, that’s fine.

    I really am a generally laid-back feminist, but the treatment of sex in society along with the horrible double-standard between males and females (Girls are “dirty” or “slutty” for having sex while a guy is just being a guy) is a topic that pushes my buttons. And I’m of the agreement that the issue of sex in Buffy is treated in a realistic way that doesn’t stretch any credibility in terms of story or character. It’s just the overall aspect of it that gets on my nerves (It reflects society a bit too much instead of presenting a more feminist alternative as I would like it to), though I certainly don’t expect everybody to get riled up about it. But it is the reason I wanted an actual Buffy/Spike sex scene in season 7 as that would make me feel a little bit better in regards to how sex is portrayed. Instead, they do the admittedly sweet but rather frustrating “no-touchy” love affair (excepting the cuddling in Touched which was very chaste anyway).

    Eh, let’s just say I like my heroines to be empowered women. Physically, emotionally, and sexually. Buffy hits the first two. She doesn’t quite make the third, unfortunately.

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  18. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on June 3, 2008.]

    > “Ah. You know, as long as you see my point, that’s fine. ”
    😛

    Yes, I agree it’s not fair that women have to be cautious about their sexual affairs in fear of being branded a slut. But for guys, it’s like a male-slut is a good thing. It’s so screwed up! It all boils down to age old traditions where men were rough and grr and grunts other noises, and drank ale and slept with bar matrons and hunted deer, and see above, re: noises. It’s a stupid, competitive frame of mind. Meanwhile, women have to bring up the babies, and woe betide them if they step out of line. It’s kind of infuriating. We’re post-Y2K! We should’ve transcended our primitive nature after thousands of years of development.

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  19. [Note: llinnae posted this comment on June 4, 2008.]

    hey Mike! just wanted to thank you for letting us in on your great insights. I just found your site and am overjoyed that there is someone else out there who gives this much thought to Buffy!:)
    Unlike many people this is my all time favourite Buffy episode, so I really appreciated your review! Look forward to reading more to come!

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  20. [Note: ddo posted this comment on June 4, 2008.]

    Hi,
    I’m usually a lurker, but I’ve really been looking forward to this review, and you lived up to it (despite writer’s block, it sounds like). I really enjoyed your analysis of Buffy & Spike’s relationship. It’s hard for me to put into words what is so interesting, complex, and strangely appealing about their relationship, and I think you analyzed it well. I think Dead Things is possibly the most intense, most psychologically challenging episode in the series, although there are several that challenge it in the sixth and second seasons (OMWF, Seeing Red, Normal Again).

    One of the posters made a comment comparing Buffy’s feelings about Spike to Warren’s feelings about women in general. You didn’t touch on this as much, but I think the reason Buffy is going through so much psychologically in this episode is because she is beginning to realize (emotionally) that Spike isn’t just her robot/sex slave. He has thoughts and feelings, she is beginning to care about him, and that makes her feel worse about what she is doing to him without really feeling it. I think the entire relationship is a result of Buffy trying to feel something, anything, and she’s the one that feels like a robot. She can’t make herself realize that Spike is feeling something for her. She’s making excuses that he likes the pain, that he wants a sex slave, but the truth is that Spike doesn’t know what he wants. And that Spike doesn’t realize how a relationship should be. She also is beginning to realize that Spike is an anomaly among vampires–a vampire with a bit of a human soul left in him. Basically, I think the Katrina/sex slave metaphor really works here, along with comparisons to the robot episodes, I Was Made to Love You and Intervention.

    Hope some of that made sense. Are you going to do any more podcasts? Because I really enjoy your podcasts. That’s how I found this site in the first place.

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  21. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 5, 2008.]

    Thanks for the comments ddo. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my podcasts as well.

    The reason for the long lapse of reviewing was a number of factors: long hours at work, watching a lot of new TV shows (such as Twin Peaks and Dexter) and movies, and just an overall lack of motivation to write for a bit. Whatever the dominating factor, I’ve regained my focus again and am looking forward to getting the whole series done.

    As for my podcast, well, I definately intend to do some more at some point, but my written reviews are taking utmost priority right now. I have several fun ideas for podcasts that I definately want to put out there though. In short: expect more, but maybe not for a little while.

    On the parallels between Warren and Buffy, I think you definately make a good case. There’s no doubt that at the end of the episode Buffy realizes she’s using Spike, and that it’s not okay. This ends up playing a large part in why she breaks it off with Spike in “As You Were” too.

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  22. [Note: Andrew Kern posted this comment on June 5, 2008.]

    Mike: a couple comments:

    You say that Intervention is when the first seedling of Buffy caring for Spike was planted. Perhaps, but the soil was fertilized in Fool For Love. I think that Spike’s awkward but sincere expression of compassion was probably lost on Buffy at the time and it didn’t really change anything in her view of Spike outwardly, but it gave Buffy’s gratitude for Spike’s loyalty something to grow in.

    The final scene with Buffy and Tara is one of my favorites and I love your discussion of it. I’m pretty much a sap for any scene with SMG crying but this one is particularly powerful. AB’s reaction when Buffy starts crying is also wonderful to watch. I think it’s worth noting that Tara’s probably the only person Buffy could have told about her relationship with Spike – and she really needed to tell someone. No one else would have been as compassionate or as objective. Anyway, you note that Buffy finding out she didn’t come back wrong means that “All the questionable things she’s done aren’t by some altered being, they’re all from her and now she has absolutely no scapegoat to hide with.” I think Buffy learns from this, and from Tara’s response, and applied a similar point the following season in Never Leave Me. Buffy wanted to fall back on an excuse to hide from reality, while Spike wanted to fall back on a mistaken understanding of reality (his true nature) in order to take an easy way out. But Buffy argues for him to take the more difficult (and accurate) way and live up to his potential, and responds: “Be easier, wouldn’t it, it if were an act, but it’s not. You faced the monster inside of you and you fought back. You risked everything to be a better man. And you can be. You are. You may not see it, but I do. I do. I believe in you, Spike.” Besides being a scene to warm the hearts of Spike fans all over, I see it as an example of Buffy actually learning from her mistakes – as opposed to her usual tendency to find new ways to make them over again.

    As for the most romantic Spike/Buffy moment, I wouldn’t disagree fundamentally with Touched, but I’d offer up another possibility. There are many different points in their relationship in which they make a leap or particular connection: Fool For Love, Intervention, The Gift, Beneath You, Never Leave Me, Touched, to name some of them. But all of these, even Touched, are either a stepping stone to something further, or they’re not both ‘there’ in the same way, or they back away afterwards. In Touched, they were ‘there’ in pretty much the same way. It’s a genuine and beautiful moment, but when they next see each other at the house, they back away from it. Neither is really willing to really embrace it, to allow it to set the terms of their relationship. Instead, they awkwardly fumble around it, hide behind “the mission” and head out to be heroes. So my choice for most romantic Spike/Buffy moment is from “Chosen” when Buffy puts her hand affectionately on Spike’s cheek. It’s a simple, tender gesture (and it doesn’t have the hint of neediness on Buffy’s part in Touched). They are both ‘there’ in the same way, and far from backing away, they embrace that moment and lay again in each other’s arms. I think that, more than Buffy’s declaration of love later in the episode, this little moment is the apogee of their relationship (though on the basis of gabrielleabelle’s discussion here and elsewhere I think a scene of them having sex might have been even better). Anyway, that’s my rather fanboyish musing on the topic.

    Finally, let me add to the appreciation of your thoughtful and stimulating reviews. I love them!

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  23. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 5, 2008.]

    Andrew, thanks for the comments. I completely agree with your take on Buffy’s reaction to Spike in S7. I genuinely look forward to getting to that material — there’s some gold there that’s sadly overlooked by a lot of people.

    Interesting choice on most romantic moment. I really can’t say I disagree with any of the choices — they’re all fabulous moments. As for all of you wanting to see a Buffy/Spike sex scene in S7, all I’ll say is that’s why Whedon wrote that fade-out scene in “Chosen.” For those who wanted to them to have sex there — they did. For those who didn’t — they didn’t. Some may see that choice as a cop-out but I, for one, loved it. I’ll get into this more, though, when I review “Chosen.”

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  24. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 5, 2008.]

    Mike, I think you’re missing the point as to why I would have liked a Buffy/Spike sex scene in S7 (I can’t speak for any others that have expressed a wish for its inclusion). It’s not really a shippy “Ooo I wanna see Buffy and Spike get it on” thing. I feel it would help the overall feminist message of season 7 to have Buffy and Spike make love with no real repercussions. Just sex without trauma. As it is, going by the definition of canon, they didn’t have sex (Though Joss gave us fans an opportunity to think they did. If it’s not onscreen, it’s not canon. Truthfully, a sex scene can be inserted anywhere between scenes by a creative fanfic writer. Joss just pretty much outlined in bold where we were supposed to insert one if we wanted to).

    And I do think that scene was a cop-out in fear of the reaction people might have had due to the rape scene in the previous season (Joss said as much, himself, in the commentary for the episode). The strange thing, to me, is that Joss probably felt he was helping the feminist message with this by not having Buffy fall into bed with the guy who almost raped her, which taken out of context does seem reasonable. But looking at the larger picture of the series as a whole, he just ended up hurting the metaphor more by once again having Buffy in a chaste romance where sex, or hell even kissing, is forbidden (Except in the minds of fans). Basically, if Buffy and Spike had sex in season 7, I wouldn’t have nearly as many complaints about how sex is portrayed on the show as a whole, and I’d be more willing to see the show as being overall feminist with an empowered female lead. As it is, I don’t. Besides, how appropriate would it be to have the show start out with Buffy having a disastrous sexual relationship with a vampire (Angel in S2) and then end the show with Buffy in a positive sexual relationship with another vampire? Would be a nice developmental bookend, imo.

    You know, I feel like a perv when I go on about sex in the show like this. Sheesh. Truthfully, it’s not something I would add to help the quality of the season overall (A sex scene wouldn’t affect much of anything in that regard), but it would help the big feminist metaphor Joss was trying to make. The way things played out, Joss hit the right notes on some parts of feminism but completely missed on others. Points for trying, I suppose. I’m just pointing out the easiest way for it to have been improved in that regard.

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  25. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 5, 2008.]

    gabrielleabelle, that fade-out in “Chosen” had a lot more deliberate implications than simply filling in the blanks the way you’d want in between any ol’ episode. Regardless of that, it’s clearly a big deal to you, and I respect that. Them having sex in S7 or not just doesn’t affect how I see the season, or for that matter, the series as a whole.

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  26. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 6, 2008.]

    Erm…I imagine it would be a big deal for a lot of people as the attempt at a feminist message is a big draw for the show (and a big source for discussion in the Buffy academic arena if the Slayage articles are any indication). But I understand if that’s not your particular point of interest in the series. Fair enough. Everybody looks for and expects different things in their entertainment.

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  27. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on June 6, 2008.]

    I do agree that Buffy and Spike having sex one last time would’ve heightened the feminist message, as Buffy sleeping with a completely redeemed Spike would’ve been the bestest symbolic F-U to the monster in soulless Spike that had tried to rape her. Also, as gabrielle said, making love without consequence would’ve been a female sexual liberation of sorts for this girl who’d often suffered because she’d had sex. I think a love making scene would’ve been neat.

    With that said, I don’t think the lack of their getting any diminishes the effectiveness of Joss’ message of equality, which was expertly portrayed, in my opinion. It would’ve been nice to see, but it wasn’t completely necessary as the real love Buffy and Spike were experiencing was glaring in each other’s faces anyway.

    I’m with gabrielle in that I wish Joss had confirmed if they’d had actually sex or not. Ambiguity’s sometimes cool, like with the end of ‘New Moon Rising’, but it’s different here. The “if you want them to do it, they did it; if not, they didn’t” thing is so cheap to me. The Buffyverse was as real to the characters as this world is to us. Logically, it either did or did not happen, there’s no subjectivism regarding the matter. (It’s this kind of thing that makes me glad Joss ended the show when he did. I have a sneaking suspicion he was losing sight of things around that time.)

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  28. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 6, 2008.]

    “I don’t think the lack of their getting any diminishes the effectiveness of Joss’ message of equality, which was expertly portrayed, in my opinion.”

    Ah, wilpy. I don’t think we’ll ever quite agree on that one as I see the message as being rather clumsily executed on the whole. But that’s something best dealt with on the forums (Or, you know, when mike gets to the season 7 reviews…). Regardless, at least we seem to agree that a sex scene wouldn’t hurt things and could only help the message overall, though we have differing opinions on how necessary it is for the feminist metaphor. 🙂

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  29. [Note: WorldWithoutShrimp posted this comment on June 10, 2008.]

    Hey, I realize I’m a bit late to the party here, but thanks for the new reviews, mikejer! They are interesting and insightful as always.

    As for “Dead Things”, I agree with your analysis and assessment of the episode. Dear Lord, where would the season have gone if we had had another “Gone” or “Doublemeat Palace” at this slot? 😉 But anyhow, “Dead Things” is certainly one of the best episodes of the series. Fascinating stuff.

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  30. [Note: Barbara posted this comment on June 15, 2008.]

    Hi, I’m glad you reviewed more episodes. I had checked every other day because I wanted more. LOL. Anyway, I have a question. When you were talking about the killing Katrina thing, you mentioned when Buffy broke it off with Spike. Are you saying that when she told him that their relationship was killing her that she meant the human part of her? Her soul? Also, I’ve watched that episode a few times and after Buffy beats on Spike she looks shocked or something after she’s done and before she starts walking to the police station. Is she shocked by what he said or is she shocked because of what she did to him? Or maybe both?

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  31. [Note: robgnow posted this comment on June 17, 2008.]

    Hi, Mike:

    Like everyone else, I am happy to see new reviews! You make me think of things I may not have seen before (as I am generally bored by S6 – and I don’t like how Marti has stripped Buffy of all of her power in this season). I’d like to talk about the Trio, though, because I feel like there is some major development here on their side of things.
    Warren was, obviously, something of a creep before this. We can infer this by his needing to build a robo-sex-toy in order to get something he wants (you may say ‘love’ at first… but really THINK… Warren obviously needs a subservient woman), but it’s really with this episode that we see an ‘adult’ evil from him. Before it was all cutesy plots and stealing and minor offenses. It’s here though, that we see him willing to go to rape in order to dominate something he wants (Katrina).
    Notice both Jonathon’s and Andrew’s reactions when Katrina breaks out of her trance and accuses them of what they were about to do, without thinking. By taking her will and “making her do things”, it seems clear to me that Warren of the three kind of knew he was contemplating rape (though that remained unvoiced) while Andrew/Jonathon seemed truly shocked when it is voiced aloud.
    I think at this point, for the two “junior members”, they hadn’t really thought through what they were actually about to do. Now, Andrew immediately sides with Warren, but I think it’s really here with Katrina’s near-rape when Jonathon realizes that his childish dreams of being a ‘super-villain’ left the comic book fantasy and enters the “oh my God, what I gotten involved in” stage. Andrew, still entranced and I would say in love with Warren, retreats from the harsh reality and is still in the “Hall of Doom” fantasy… he thinks it’s “cool” when they’re about to get away with murder. At this point, I don’t think that Andrew though “REALLY” gets it… as is pointed out later in ‘Storyteller’, he’s still in the comic-book frame of mind.
    But, Jonathon is getting it. He’s more mature than Andrew and Warren both. He finally starts to understand the type of person he’s following… though he remains too weak to protest or walk away – he at least is seeing that he’s not in a cartoon, Katrina was a real, breathing, human being and now she’s not. It’s here that he starts to understand that they’re not just ‘characters in a tv show’ – so to speak. While, I truly believe, Andrew can still divorce himself from the ‘real world’ consequences of their actions. As to Warren, I think it’s here that we truly see him as not just a “pathetic loser and social outcast” as when we found out he’d built April, but that he IS a sociopath.
    Your analysis dealt with Buffy/Spike (as is natural, and there is a LOT going on there) but it’s equally changing everything for Jonathon/Andrew/Warren as well.

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  32. [Note: robgnow posted this comment on June 17, 2008.]

    To gabrielleabelle, RE: Spike

    To me, the reason that Spike did the good he did, was not because he wanted to do good. It was because he wanted in Buffy’s pants. To me, S6 was really saying “See how we got you to like Spike, how could you forget he’s soulless? He doesn’t have the same moral compass that most people do”. In S5, we all forgot that Spike is a DEMON… but the writers didn’t. Spike can do a lot of good, but its all for selfish reasons. He wanted Buffy, he couldn’t kill people, ergo he’d protect them and ergo get positive feedback from Buffy (though I’d also argue that he does feel genuine affection for Dawn as well).
    The second, though, that he could get Buffy using less than nice means (I see him manipulating her throughout S6 because of her mental/emotional trauma) he does, without a second thought or apology. It’s here we’re reminded that Spike IS an evil creature… the same way it was pointed out to us as soon as Angel lost his soul that he IS a demon, no matter what romantic blinders we want to put on to see them together.
    As to the trio… yes! Wonderful shift in tone between just seeing the ‘Trio’, but more importantly Warren, as comical bad guys to genuinely horrifying. It’s here (though I had already been saying, “Wait, isn’t what they’re doing….” before it came out on screen so explicitly) that we stop laughing at their ‘hi-jinks’ and start seeing them (or HIM, more specifically) as truly repugnant. And it leads directly to his picking up that gun, a very ‘adult’ evil. Surely, Warren was way ahead of Jonathon and, even, Andrew when it came to understanding the path he’d chosen to follow.

    Rob

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  33. [Note: robgnow posted this comment on June 17, 2008.]

    RE: The SEX!

    I think that the problems that Buffy has had with intimate partners COULD (a lot of this is interpretation, after all) be a comment on being the Slayer. Nikki had a son, but no “partner”… Sid ‘knew’ a Korean Slayer, but obviously didn’t feel any need to stick around, we don’t know enough about the Chinese Slayer that Spike killed, but it seems that Buffy’s experiences are actually a way of pointing out how the Slayer is apart from humanity (especially in the Buffy/Riley case).
    Several times throughout the series (and even in the S8 comics) it’s been mentioned that Buffy feels isolated and alone. Since Willow and Xander have both had long-term relationships (Tara was shot, Xander has a lot of baggage from him parents… it’s not related to ‘sex’ per se), it seems that Buffy’s problems really originate in her ‘Slayerhood’, and not because Joss wants to ‘punish’ her.
    A running theme throughout the series, if you really look at it, is that even though Buffy is different from other Slayers (in that she has family and a support network) she still feels apart from them (see what she says to Xander and Willow in ‘Selfless’). I can’t, of course, be sure, but it seems to me that Joss is a very organized guy when in comes to the big themes. I think we can say that Buffy’s problems with intimate relations is directly related to the isolation she cannot escape, even when in a room with her friends, because of her calling and this, naturally, is reflected in her love life.

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  34. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 17, 2008.]

    robgnow, please excuse any exasperation that may come through in this comment here, but in regards to…

    “it seems that Buffy’s problems really originate in her ‘Slayerhood’, and not because Joss wants to ‘punish’ her. ”

    I KNOW. I have stated repeatedly that I do not think this message was intentional. I’m looking at the series from a feminist viewpoint in my complaint here. As I’ve also said, yes the bad sex makes sense in the context of the series. Still doesn’t change the fact that it’s there and, in view of the supposed feminism of the series, a sex scene in season 7 would have made me feel better about it.

    I think some of my comments are being misunderstood, but I don’t feel like debating them in the comments section anymore (just felt the need to respond since I was directly addressed). If you want you can bring it up on the forum which is more conducive to debate anyway, and I’d be more than happy to tussle it out there. 🙂

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  35. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on June 17, 2008.]

    Oh, I worry that my last comment sounded snippy, which wasn’t really intentional (Must stop posting as soon as I wake up).

    Basically, I’m looking at this from a different viewpoint than what I think you are, rob. In feminist theory, the treatment of sex and how it is handled in terms of the female characters is pretty darn important. To look at the claim that Buffy is a feminist series (As Joss intended it to be and as it is seen to be by some people), then it’s necessary to look at the handling of sex in regards to Buffy, the embodiment of what is supposed to be the empowered female. As I have pointed out (many times) above, it’s not treated very well and never really shows any improvement by the end (which…not to harp on it or anything…a sex scene in season 7 would solve). That’s my concern.

    Please still feel free to take it up on the forum if you wish. It’s sunshine and puppies there, and I do enjoy a good discussion (ask wilpy or Arana). Buffy debates via comment box aren’t ideal.

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  36. [Note: Tic-Tac-Tic-Tac posted this comment on December 30, 2008.]

    a mediocre episode of an awful awful season. Spike’s buffy relationship and Buffy’s character in this season and even the whole trio idea is just awful and boring. At the end of this episode with Buffy crying and all i was saying “I don’t fking care”. If this was much earlier and that was not the focus of the season , this episode would actually be good. Which it is for this season because the season as a whole is very very bad. Still in a better season this episode would have been even better.

    So she feels desperation , depression , is using Spike , she can’t accept him , because he is a vampire , when he wants to love her , she does not accept it and she wants it rough , but then she also feels guilt ,etc. Oh and she is also distant from her friends and Giles is away… Extremely Boring.The premise is bad , the idea arount season 6 is generally bad. This should be the focus of a few episodes and then things should have been different , but unfortunately this was not meant to be.

    This season is a great way for one to understand why the previous episodes where good , by observing what is missing in this atrocious season.

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  37. [Note: Vickie posted this comment on January 25, 2009.]

    Excellent review. I admit that I’ve been very fond of season six of Buffy… but reading your reviews really makes me realize that it wasn’t all bad. You’ve made me remember that just because something is depressing does not mean that it isn’t done well.

    This is a grammar nitpick but at one point in your review you say that Spike “could essentially care less about anyone not related to his wants.” This should be “couldn’t”.

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  38. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 25, 2009.]

    I’m glad to hear the reviews are having a positive effect, Vickie! Also, thanks for the heads up on the grammar problem — it’s now resolved.

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  39. [Note: Rick posted this comment on March 1, 2009.]

    This is one of my all time favourite episodes. Indeed, I can’t help but instinctively feel it was written and directed by Tim Minear.

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  40. [Note: Maddy-x posted this comment on March 10, 2009.]

    Fab episode. Very thorough and intense.
    The conversation at the end between Tara and Buffy was really touching. Buffy finalling reasilising that she has no excuse for sleeping with Spike, it’s not like she can say “I can’t help it it’s my brain.” because it’s fine, it’s her with the problem.
    Did anyone else think that Tara’s “sunburn” comment had a different more deeper meaning?
    For example, Tara said “No more effect than bad sunburn.” Suburn could show the consequences of sleeping with Spike.
    When Spike goes out in the sun he get’s burnt (quite badly) but when Buffy goes out into the sun she’s fine.
    But giving herself to Spike like that physically means that possibly they share the same consequences meaning if she doesn’t control her relationship over Spike she could get burnt.
    Does anyone else think this, or am I just out of my depth here??

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  41. [Note: Kannon posted this comment on June 7, 2009.]

    Very nice review. Mike. Just like to add my 2 cents. In my opinion the meaning of Buffy’s dream’s the first scene is she’s in fact WANTS to give in, to accept him completely, to let him resolve her problems (money and others). And it’s pretty understandable: we all sometimes wish someone else frees us from our responsibilities and Buffy had it reealy tough lately. But she can’t: she’s too strong for moral surrender, and her affair with Spike already cost her greatly – there is dead Katrina.
    On love/not love matter: in season 6 we obviously see that Buffy is connected with Spike all ways possible in that particular moment: she’s passionately attracted to him and she cares about him, but there is a missing piece – Spike’s soul. Buffy can’t love partially, for her to call the feeling love, spiritual intimacy is necessary, and we’ll see it in season 7.

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  42. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on September 17, 2009.]

    First is that she’s truly right: he can’t understand her inner conflict because he’s without a soul and essentially couldn’t care less about anyone not related to his wants.

    This does not jibe with Spike’s efforts to hide Dawn’s identity from Glory in S5’s “Intervention”. Nor does it jibe with his treatment of Buffy, following her return from the dead in “Afterlife”. Which makes me view Joss Whedon’s take on what is a souled being and what is not rather questionable.

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  43. [Note: Masbrillante posted this comment on November 21, 2009.]

    Mike,

    I don’t know how often you go back and read these comments but I wanted to address one statement you made that I disagreed with. You said,

    It just goes to show that, while overall despicable, Warren does have a tiny shred of decency in him at this point.

    I really don’t think this is an accurate statement, logically (from what we know about Warren) or thematically (from what we know about the series). Warren has never given any indication that he was out for anyone but himself. He is a selfish, narcissistic and entitled person with no social skills who was lucky enough to meet a girl like Katrina. The robot episode clearly showed that through personal defect he had not been able to have a successful relationship and made up for it in disturbing and later appalling ways.

    The fact that Warren attempts to court Katrina again before manipulating her does nothing to disrupt this characterization. Warren simply acknowledges that it would be wonderful to have his feelings reciprocated by an actual feeling person. That’s the reason that he abandoned the bot in the first place to date Katrina. When she rejects him, as he clearly expects, he reverts to his ORIGINAL plan of mindcontrol.

    Not to be longwinded, but the parallels between him and Spike are obvious. The fact that Spike loves Buffy and wants her to love him doesn’t change the fact that he is a fundamentally amoral and selfish creature. He merely acknowledges that there’s something special and fulfilling about being truly loved – not just tolerated, or sexed. The difference is that Spike believes the pain is worth it for true love, while Warren can’t handle it.

    So no, Warren hasn’t got a shred of decency left in him. He just realizes that a robot is a poor substitute for genuine emotion.

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  44. [Note: AttackedWithHummus posted this comment on December 11, 2009.]

    Several comments on “Dead Things:”

    First of all, just a small note, “Who Are You” is listed as (4×22) when it is in fact (4×16), just to clear up any confusion.

    I spot some heavy foreshadowing to “Older and Far Away” (6×14) with Dawn’s increasing frustration with Buffy’s constant absences – when she makes the assumption that Buffy will not be home and so makes plans, acting very spiteful when it results in Buffy’s confusion and hurt; in her bedroom when Buffy tells her about Katrina.

    One of the aspects I find fundamentally important is the recognition of how each of the members of the Trio reacts to getting away with murder (which I’m glad you touched upon): Warren really loses any fragment of sympathy he may have been able to squeeze out of the audience before murdering Katrina; Andrew, I believe, knows fundamentally that what he is doing is wrong (unlike Warren, who has fully converted to downright villainy) and faces brief remorse, but upon seeing Warren’s reaction is quickly manipulated by the desire to impress and the fear of betrayal putting him in league with Warren; finally, Jonathon is the only one amoung them who looks consistently horrified at this development (though is clearly capable of at least planning to carry out the appalling crimes the Trio plots and may think that it is what he wants at the time) and in being of superior morals than Jonathon or certainly Warren this, unfortunately, leads to his death in “Conversations with Dead People” (7×07) although it is heavily assisted by Andrew’s unfailing crush and pitiful reliance on Warren – even if he knows in his heart that it will end up only hurting him and that the Warren he talks to is at best an illusion.

    Another section that sparks debate in my own book is the various uses of the quote “you always hurt the one you love.” While I agree with you in principle that Buffy does not, indeed, love Spike but still – especially when repeating the words herself – is not entirely convinced of that and does reflect on it with much disdain for her own situation. This thought also comes across on her face during Tara’s speech to her, particularly when she blatantly asks if Buffy loves Spike. Having someone other than herself or Spike know about their relationship is a huge turning point in Buffy’s outlook on the situation and essentially and very necessarily plays a part in her finally realizing that not only does she not love Spike but that she cannot love Spike in his soulless state and her mental one. However, overall, I do believe that as she experiences these words firsthand it is unclear to at least her whether there is a contextual application for them. As well, when Spike says them, he could be instead of trying to hurt/help/make Buffy realize something (all of these interpretations are solidly arguable) simply stating that he loves her and he knows nothing but how to hurt her as a result of this.

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  45. [Note: After the Fall posted this comment on January 2, 2010.]

    Really, how could that blow to the head by the bottle kill her? The sound effect made it sound like glass clinking, not shattering, so how could it cut her, let alone kill her?

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  46. [Note: Zaphe posted this comment on January 26, 2010.]

    What I dont understand is why would Buffy worry so much about what her friends think about the relationship with Spike?? Didn’t she already knew? It is because in Intervention (S5) everyone thought the Buffybot was her who’s having sex with Spike, they were all kind of understanding and responded not too badly, though tried to discourage her to continue.

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  47. [Note: Elialys posted this comment on March 2, 2010.]

    Zaphe: In ‘Intervention’, Buffy’s mom had just died (like, 2 weeks ago or so) so they were all very understanding, thinking she was an emotional mess, not really realizing what she was doing. And, as Mike pointed out in his review for that episode -if I recall correctly- the whole thing between the Scoobies and the BuffyBot was just weird and slightly out of character (because they should have realized it was a robot).

    Of course, Buffy IS an emotional mess at that point of season 6, worse than at anytime in season 5 for sure, but I don’t think the Scoobies -except dear Tara obviously- would see it that way. Everybody is very much wrapped up in their own ‘growing up’ world at that point, nobody knows how badly she’s still feeling…especially since they obviously don’t see each other that much. And we see how Xander reacts when he actually learns about later; sure, he calms down and all, but as always, he’s first impulse is to be very judgmental and harsh about it.

    Buffy being in the weak and depressed state that she is at this point, I can completely understand why she’s so scared of her friends finding out what she’s doing. She sees herself as being terribly WRONG; it makes perfect sense to me that she believes her friends will see her just like that: Wrong.

    Mike: I’ve been reading your reviews thoroughly for the last 2 weeks! I’m (rerererere) watching the whole show, and I’ve discovered your reviews when I started season 5, 2 weeks ago; since then, I’ve been watching the episodes and then reading your analysis; I LOVE them 🙂 It is so nice to have such detailed (and positive!) comments on Season 6, which is, as you stated before, greatly disliked by the fans; personally, it has always been one of my favorite seasons, even more now, since I’m becoming more aware of many deep meanings. Just for that, thank you so much!

    *goes back to her lurking*

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  48. [Note: baunger1 posted this comment on May 26, 2010.]

    Thanks for the very interesting analysis. I agree that this episode is wonderful — layered and psychologically complex.

    While I think Buffy’s dream does speak to her guilty belief that she is betraying her duties as a Slayer by being with Spike — in fact, inverting her obligations with respect to who she must kill and who she must protect — I think it also speaks to her realization that she is using/abusing Spike, who is completely vulnerable to her. It is he who is in handcuffs, his heart exposed to her (both literally and figuratively), ready for the staking.

    As Tara says, Spike’s and Buffy’s relationship is “not that simple.” Both are drawn to something in the other which both must accept as part of themselves — darkness for Buffy, goodness for Spike. But neither of them is there yet. Neither is a fully integrated personality. So Buffy hurts Spike, the darkness in herself, and Spike will hurt Buffy because he doesn’t know how to “possess” her — the goodness in himself — without causing pain.

    Regarding the comments above about Buffy and sex: I do think that sexual fulfillment through BDSM gets equated with “bad,” and chaste love equated with “good.” I’m uncomfortable about this. One of the many reasons the attempted rape was so upsetting to me is not merely because of its disturbing depiction of a terrible act, but because it made it clear that Buffy and Spike could never have sex again, thereby setting up this good love/bad love dynamic.

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  49. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on June 6, 2010.]

    I liked this episode, but didn’t anyone else find it a bit too convenient that Buffy overheard the officer just as she was about to turn herself in. Plus, the main plot device is a bit convoluted. I think a lot of people overrate this one simply because it comes in the midst of a pretty mediocre string of episodes. It’s good, but nowhere near worthy of a P score.

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  50. [Note: Elbie posted this comment on June 14, 2010.]

    I like your parallel to Faith in the pummeling of Spike incident. What better episode to compare her to the slayer who accidentally killed a human than the episode where Buffy believes she just has.

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  51. [Note: Alan posted this comment on July 8, 2010.]

    I didn’t hate this, but it certainly didn’t rate 100% from me.

    Lots of plot problems with the “crime” aspect:

    The body– if not Buffy, then Spike with his vampire senses and experience with corpses should have noticed immediately that Katrina’s body was cold, and not freshly dead, maybe even in rigor mortis by then. (Begins 3 hours after death.) And they were in a graveyard. The easy, obvious solution would have been for him to stash the body in a crypt, even his own, in a spare coffin, at least temporarily. Throwing it in the river was dumb.

    But before that the “super villains” were even dumber. They can’t think of a way to dispose of the body short of getting a demon to devour it?? They changed its clothes and dragged it to the cemetery in their van. So they could have just as easily taken it anywhere, incinerated, weighed down and thrown in the sea (Sunnydale is on the coast), whatever.

    Fortunately for them, the police are even more dumb. A body is found in the river, with a head injury, and immediately it’s “suicide”??? Katrina scratched Warren on the face, she would have his skin under her nails — standard thing to check in a post mortem. Even if they couldn’t do a DNA match, they’d know it was murder. And Katrina was last seen in a bar, leaving with her creepy ex-boyfriend. Even if they didn’t have any witnesses to that, he’d be the prime suspect. Really, do Sunnydale police ever investigate a case?

    Otherwise: the opening sex scene in the crypt: who would have sex under a carpet? Hot, dusty, clumsy, disgusting. You could say Buffy was deliberately degrading herself, but really it was just a way to have her naked but cover up her naughty bits.

    And we’ve done the “Buffy thinks she’s killed someone and wants to confess” thing already.

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  52. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 8, 2010.]

    Alan, almost all your nitpicks here are plot-related and not all that significant at that (at least to me). Plot nitpicks will very rarely impact how I grade an episode as long as the character material is excellent. If your problems with this episode stem only from these minor plot problems, then I think we just have very different priorities when it comes to evaluating the worth of an episode.

    The body: Sure Spike could have handled it better and sure we can nitpick about the extent of Spike’s vampire senses. Buffy as a show can easily be picked apart on these little details from episode 1 to episode 144 and, to be fair, any fantasy or sci-fi show is going to struggle with plot logic to some degree — that’s just part of the territory. I concede that plot isn’t one of this show’s strengths, yet it’s also an area I care very little about when reviewing. Consistent character arcs, character fluency, and emotional resonance is where I live and where my reviews focus their attention.

    The plan: A lot of silly choices can be made when in a panic, so their initial confusion over what to do makes sense to me. That reactionary attitude is what leads them to wanting to get rid of the body enitrely so there’s no chance of being caught down the road. The eventual plan they use is because Warren wants to take Buffy down while also getting rid of their current problem, which makes sense and is consistent with his characterization to that point.

    The police: This is a complaint you can level at many points in the series. The police don’t have a presence or the intelligence you’d expect in a number of situations outside of this episode. This should be as much of a complaint for you here as it is throughout the whole show.

    The sex scene: Did you not hear all the things breaking before the camera pans over to them? They were clearly not under the rug until they were finished, which is why we don’t see them doing anything when the camera reaches them — they’re talking. And, yes, it’s also to cover up what they can’t show on TV. Not the fault of the show. You just have to deal with stuff like that.

    Plot deja vu? Yes, Buffy has thought she killed someone before, but the themes, circumstances, timing, and effect are all entirely different. This argument reminds me of people who complain that “Lies My Parents Told Me” is a repeat of “Fool for Love” even though the themes and situations are entirely different. It’s how the plot is used to service the characters that is the most important factor here.

    Thanks for the typo alert. I plan on doing another pass through my reviews soon and will be cleaning up a lot of stuff like this as well as tightening up my reviews in general.

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  53. [Note: Alan posted this comment on July 9, 2010.]

    You’re free of course to not care how much sense the story makes. But you rate the episode “100 perfect”. Which to me means that it should be that in every aspect, not just the “important” (to you) ones.

    “they were clearly not under the rug until they were finished”

    Buffy was burrowing under the rug to find her underwear, implying they were under the rug when they started.

    And why would they crawl under the rug at all — after violent sex you’re pretty hot. I’ve thrown the sheets off in midwinter, if that isn’t sharing too much.

    Yes, I know, network standards. They wanted it both ways: implying she was naked, but not showing it.

    I’m not invested in Buffy’s love life; it isn’t at all why I watch the show. So there was very little for me in this. My rating would be “50 — filler”.

    And you can find a lot of typos just by doing a standard spellcheck. Saves embarrassment.

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  54. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 9, 2010.]

    My definition for a P-rated episode is displayed next to the grade:

    [quote]Represents a “perfect” score. Is near-flawless (with zero major mistakes) and has a valuable lasting impact on the series; intelligent and emotionally gripping.[/quote]

    Nothing is literally perfect when it comes television and movies (hence the quotation around the word perfect). At some point one has to draw the line and subjectively define what “perfect” means to them in a piece of entertainment. To some, nothing ever reaches a 100, and that’s fair. I have my own system. In light of this, minor plot inconsistencies do not constitute a “major mistake” to me, and as I pointed out I don’t actually agree with a lot of your plot issues.

    Not to get into the whole rug issue much further, because it really doesn’t matter, but the underwear could have been on the floor before the rugs got pulled over like sheets at the end.

    It’s unfortunate you’re not invested in Buffy’s love life because it’s inexorably tied to her growth as a person over the course of the series. Last time I checked, Buffy is the title character of this show, so that makes what’s explored here pretty important. This episode is the opposite of filler in that it contains tremendous amounts of character development and insight for not only Buffy, but also the Trio. Since the primary ‘plot’ of the season is very character-focused, divided between the group’s own personal problems and the Trio’s various schemes and issues, this episode forwards the plot on both counts.

    No matter how much one proofreads and even spell-checks an article, mistakes are going to happen. It takes a lot of time and effort to write up these reviews and sometimes things get overlooked. That’s one of the reasons I will soon be going over all my reviews one last time. I’m in no way “embarassed” by this as I don’t get paid for these reviews nor the development work that went into building this site from scratch — it’s just for fun and to express why I love the show so much.

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  55. [Note: Alan posted this comment on July 10, 2010.]

    No matter how much one proofreads and even spell-checks an article, mistakes are going to happen. It takes a lot of time and effort to write up these reviews and sometimes things get overlooked. That’s one of the reasons I will soon be going over all my reviews one last time. I’m in no way “embarassed” by this

    I edit books for a living, so I notice these things, and I make plenty of mistakes myself so I look for ways to prevent or fix them. I wasn’t being snide when I said spellcheck avoids embarrassment, it is simply advice from someone who works in publishing and has seen horrendous mistakes go to press — things that, unlike a website post, can’t be fixed after publishing. And these are embarrassing to anyone who takes pride in their work. These days there isn’t a tool that works with text that doesn’t have a spellcheck option. For instance, I see a red line under the word “embarassed” in your post from my browser’s spellcheck. I’m not trying to be a jerk by pointing out a typo, I’m just saying that if you work with text it’s worth finding out how to use the tools to do it better and easier. If your response to that advice is “I don’t get paid for this…”, well, sorry you took it that way. I was trying, in my own, undiplomatic way, to be helpful not score points.

    And as for the rating: well, I take words seriously, and so I don’t think that “perfect” describes this episode, certainly not from my point of view, and I submit, not even from yours. There are plenty of superlatives you can use — “wonderful”, “astonishingly good”, “great”, etc., etc., if that’s what you think; but “perfect” and “100%” by definition means without any flaws. You can love the episode despite that, and many seem to. But the same character development could have been achieved if attention had been paid to making the actions of the protagonists as clever as the dialogue.

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  56. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 10, 2010.]

    I did find your comment before to be somewhat antagonistic, but I appreciate the clarification. I should note that I do have a sort of spell-checker built into my browser (Chrome), but I’ve quickly been finding out that it’s not very good at its job.

    As for your comment on the rating system: fair enough. I certainly get your point here, although the P grade was never meant to be taken literally. It was always intended to represent, to put it another way, a ‘special’ episode that stood above the rest and that impacted me and the characters in a profoundly unique way. Perhaps if the 100 was replaced with a, for the sake of example, diamond and the P replaced with, say, a D, maybe that would communicate what I’m trying to get across clearer?

    Now you’ve got me curious. Do you feel the same way when you read movie reviews from established critics? If a reviewer gives something 4/4 stars (which is, obviously, 100%), are you going to have similar complaints?

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  57. [Note: Alan posted this comment on July 11, 2010.]

    Glad we’ve clarified the “spelling” issue. As you I’m sure know, it’s too easy to read lack of diplomacy as hostility in forums and newsgroups.

    Do you feel the same way when you read movie reviews from established critics? If a reviewer gives something 4/4 stars (which is, obviously, 100%), are you going to have similar complaints?

    No, because the number of stars indicates how much the reviewer liked the film. It’s thus more obviously subjective. And “4/4” doesn’t imply perfection; it could mean just in the upper 25%. If I disagree, I’ll just conclude we think so differently I have nothing to gain from reading this guy’s reviews. Your reviews though I can just concentrate on the parts I find perceptive.

    In any case, a percent is a comparison — it could mean (you rate it as) the best, or equal best, of whatever you’re comparing it to — the other Buffy episodes, say.

    My stumbling point was just the word “perfect”. That’s a word I would use very sparingly; and more likely to qualify it if I did like “2001 is an almost perfect movie”. Though I personally rate it as the best ever made I don’t expect everyone to agree. (And you may notice a lack of romantic character development in that film, pointing out where my preferences lie perhaps.)

    I wouldn’t insist you change your system. But if you did … it seems that you have A-F with + and -. But only A and A-, no A+. So it seems you use “P” for “A+”. Your choice, but I think A+ would be more logical.

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  58. [Note: DeadLego posted this comment on August 6, 2010.]

    i find this episode so beautifully done. The acting is sublime. And your review made me, yet again, see so many connections i’d missed and increase my enjoyment. I think this episode even deals with the dawn situation fantasticly, whereas they way she is handling life at this point seems to be either left out or over done in obvious and heavy handed manners in many other episodes of the season. For instance the continuity and details of us having seen her in ‘wrecked’ making quesadillas on her own as noone else is around, failing miserably and burning her fingers, and in this episode we see her excited about going to her friends house as her friends mother is going to teach her to make proper tortillas. She has obviously been seriously neglected emotionally and being still a young girl, however fast she has been made to grow up due to life issues, is very much drawn to the idea of a ‘real’ family with a ‘real’ mother giving her attention. I like these little touches rather than the heavy handed way her stealing is dealt with.

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  59. [Note: Seán posted this comment on November 24, 2010.]

    Hey MikeJer, you made a minor mistake in your review. When referencing Faith and “Who Are You?”, you have in brackets (4×22) instead of (4×16). 🙂

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  60. [Note: Jermzy posted this comment on December 1, 2010.]

    Though this episode is amazing I have one complaint- the “confusion” sequence where Buffy is lead to believe she killed Katrina isn’t very clear in it’s order of events.

    So first Spike approaches her while fake Katrina curls up on the floor crying. Next she punches him. Then the demons attack. They start fighting each other while fake Katrina stands next to Buffy waiting to be punched. Fake Katrina then switches with the body and leaves.

    WOW, that was just a little to complex an idea for the Trio (how did they know reality woudl be distored EXACTLY as they wanted it to be?) for me to buy.

    Also was Fake Katrina (Jonathan) really crying (about the murder) or was that just a random part of the act?

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  61. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on December 17, 2010.]

    I really liked this episode but I don’t rate it nearly as highly as some here do. There were some great moments in the episode: The conversation between Buffy and Spike at the beginning, the development of the Trio characters from silly foes to more serious adversaries, the touching moment between Buffy and Spike at the crypt. The best part of the episode is the end and the raw emotion from Buffy which was lacking all season from her. Dead inside no longer. I guess I just didn’t walk away with an overall sense of “great episode!” like I did from my favorites like Hush and Passion.

    I appreciate your insights though Mike. I’m so happy that I found this site. And thanks to Logo for replaying the series! My favorite episodes of Season 6 are the last 3 so I can’t wait to get there and read your review…although I see you didn’t rate any of them as Ps.

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  62. [Note: Mash posted this comment on May 23, 2011.]

    Honestly, Dawn is really coming off as a selfish, blind fool. She is so oblivious to the lives of others sometimes. Age is by no means an excuse – at this age you should be aware that other people have lives they need to lead and the world does not revolve around you [she should be more aware of this with this lifestyle]. Feeling lonely is completely normal, its more about how she reacts and thinking its all about her.

    Buffy’s desire for morality to be black and white is also, I think, pretty immature. When youre a kid, youre taught “do this, not this, this is bad, this is good” but when you grow up you see all the shades of grey – Buffy needs to realize this. I know that she has an even harder time with this cause as a slayer she believes she is the one to decide right and wrong [which I think is insane] but its something that comes with growing up.

    All I have to say about Jonathan is what a powerful and adept witch! Able to do such complex spells and have them work as he wants them to [I think and definitely not like Willow]. Shame his character wasnt written to join the scoobies later as a second witch [this could have worked in S7].

    Side note – I was so happy that they used a song by Bush in this episode!

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  63. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on May 23, 2011.]

    Mash, it’s pretty easy for us to tell a 15 year-old and a 20 year-old that they’re being selfish from our little perch in the viewer sky. But when you’re in the thick of your own life, things become much more difficult to see clearly. Additionally, Buffy hasn’t had a harder time just because of the burden of slaying, but also because she lost her mother less than a year before, died, is suffering from some severe and understandable depression, and has been struggling to keep things afloat in her life. Her world has been turned upside down in more ways than one in a very short amount of time. Let’s have a little compassion for this girl’s struggles.

    Also, Buffy’s claim to what’s right and wrong has consistently been in regard to supernatural law. Buffy has a respect for human law and its place in that world.

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  64. [Note: Mash posted this comment on May 31, 2011.]

    When it comes to supernatural law, I have no issue with Buffy’s claim to right/wrong – its just those moments when she comes off as trying to draw those lines in the “real” world that get to me [this episode made me respond to what I saw as a pattern for Buffy, not her reaction to Katrina’s death – her reaction to Katrina’s death was what it should have been I think].

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  65. [Note: Afterthebattle posted this comment on August 18, 2011.]

    Notice when the Trio are talking about jail. The railing of the stairs looks like bars in a prison. Just wanted to point that out because I think it is awesome 🙂

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  66. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on September 12, 2011.]

    I´m on my fifth rewatch of the entire series and I´ve been rereading all of your reviews and once again, I just have to praise you on this wonderful and insightful review. Also, your reviews help me understand and love Buffy even more each and every time.

    Thank you, mike!

    Also, a bit off-topic: I´m dying to see your review of “Home” because it´s simply one of my favorite episodes and completely amazing.

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  67. [Note: meh posted this comment on October 14, 2011.]

    A really great episode, and great review! However, if I must nitpick here, it’s only because the parallels between Faith and Buffy don’t really make sense. Even if Buffy was responsible for Katrina’s death, those issues have already been dealt with, through Faith. Not the guilt part (or no guilt in Faith), but the part that Giles tells Buffy, with what actually makes a lot of sense, that these things happen in the never ending battle between good and evil. Spike was right in that sense, even on the moral level. Not that I’m saying that a Slayer is above normal people in terms of morality, but that Buffy should have remembered what Giles said then.

    However, even though I dislike the basic premise of the episode, it really is a great character study and develops wonderfully.

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  68. [Note: Odon posted this comment on January 23, 2012.]

    I’ve just watched “Surprise” and a line leapt out at me that puts a whole new context on the alley scene between Spike and Buffy. Buffy and Angel are about to have sex for the first time and Angel says “I love you. I try not to, but I can’t stop.” Given Buffy’s fear that history is repeating itself with Spike, it’s hardly surprising the way she reacts to Spike saying virtually the same thing.

    Spike: I love you.

    Buffy: (upset) No, you don’t!

    Spike: You think I haven’t tried not to?

    (Buffy punches Spike clear across the alley) Try harder!

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  69. [Note: JLRaven posted this comment on May 18, 2012.]

    Hi to everyone, I’ve perused by this site often but never commented until I read this review.

    Mike I want to commend you for an excellent review that really hits at the core of this episode and I like the parallel you make between this and I Only Have Eyes for You until reading the review I hadn’t thought of it in this manner.

    Personally I like the character development of this episode especially between Spike and Buffy as you can see things are on the turn and the beginning with that normal conversation between them shows things are changing.

    However, maybe it is just me, I did dislike the subplot with Katrina. I understand the necessity of to make the overall story work but the scene in the trio’s basement with her and the subsequent jokes about what they were going to do. It felt forced and seedy. Something deep down hit a bad nerve and I didn’t like that part at all. I actually think they could have left that scene out and it still would have been as effective, or at the least changed to something less dark.

    With that said… the final scene between Tara and Buffy is indeed gorgeous. It’s not actually done for sentimentalities sake. It’s done to establish a proper bond between Tara and Buffy which we hadn’t seen prior to this. I loved how Tara was so endearing. She barely had to do a thing yet by being there for Buffy and not condemning her for anything shows she actually cared for her in a way we hadn’t seen before this. It’s a fantastic way to end the episode.

    A final shout out. I’ve never been to this site properly but like I said I decided to check some of the other reviews in regards to Buffy and it’s wonderful to see a site that commandeers to each of them. Also the fact they are not knocked. You find the positives to the negatives in each and the definition per review is excellently constructed. Buffy does not get a lot of love and to see it getting on this site, warms my heart.

    Like I stated. I love the set up of the episode and Buffy/ Spike, Tara/ Buffy, I just wish the Troika storyline had been changed but as a character study into the mentality of both Buffy and Spike it did an amazing job. The conflicting emotions, the fact Buffy is struggling with her conscience save this episode.

    Overall it lacks in some departments but is made up for in other areas thankfully.

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  70. [Note: Leighton posted this comment on May 22, 2012.]

    Also I think it should be noted that when Spike say’s the line “That’s my girl” the look on Buffy’s face made me think of the moment Angel ask “Your still my girl” and she replies “Always”. The differences between the two is uncanny it shows you how much Buffy has truly evolved from season 3 to season 6.

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  71. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on May 23, 2012.]

    Thanks for the comment, JLRaven! I’m glad you’re enjoying the site. 😀

    Interesting observation, Leighton.

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  72. [Note: Craig posted this comment on August 11, 2012.]

    @gabrielleabelle,

    As a feminist myself, I’ve also had some conflicting thoughts about the depictions of female sexuality on this show. To me, that most of Buffy’s sexual relationships are punished and that many of the evil females on the show (Drusilla, Darla, Vampy Willow, Harmony, that vamp from The Freshman, and also Oz’s female werewolf and Faith… And Glory’s mind-sucking seems very sexual) are intensely sexualized, even “temptresses”, is troubling, but then again Buffy/Riley, Willow/Oz (at least for a while), Willow/Tara, Willow/Kennedy, Wood/Faith (arguably) and Xander/Anya are all very healthy sexual relationships.

    Anya even makes for a sympathetic portrayal of kink culture, in contrast to the kinkiness of Faith and Spike/Harmony and Spike/Buffy.

    I think the portrayal of sex and especially female sexuality on this show is a mixed bag. But I certainly don’t think it’s skewed as negatively as you seem to be suggesting.

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  73. [Note: buffyfanatic224 posted this comment on September 2, 2012.]

    As quite a few people here I am a major fan of your reviews MikeJer. It is really amazing to read not only your opinions of the episode but the way you actually dissect the episode and the psychology of it is fascinating. It is truly wonderful for me to read such intellectual views on the show as I only know one other person that watches it though everyone else rolls their eyes or scoffs at just the mention of the name Buffy. Haha. I’ve read your reviews as I’ve watched the episodes again and I, again like many others, have never commented until this review. I have actually read all the arguments made above and I could not resist commenting.So first of all I would like to say, Mike, I love your interpretation of the dream Buffy has. I agree with you,as many psychoanalytic specialists would say,that this dream is a true reflection on Buffy’s internal conflict with every thing that is going on both in her life and in her relationship with Spike. The way the subconscious mind works to solve problems in our lives is very complex. The writers and producers really nailed it and conveyed it to the audience in a semi subtle yet crystal clear way. gabrielleabelle made an excellent point that I myself have thought of when watching the series about Buffy’s intimate relationships ending badly after sex. Though I do have to disagree that Riley is an exception. The way I always saw it was that Riley still being next to her when she woke up was a symbol that this was a different, more developed relationship. With Angel and Parker when she woke up in bed she was alone and therefore something went wrong in the relationship itself. My last point is another comment directed towards MikeJer. In the review you noted the importance of Spike asking Buffy if she trusted him to which she replied never but yet later in the episode it is implied that she in fact let him use the handcuffs on her. Her complexity on the issue of trusting him is shown in another part of the episode that I noticed that you did not mention. After Buffy finds Katrina’s body she is in a state of pure shock. Spike drags her away from the body and is trying to rationalize with her ultimately ending in him taking her firmly and telling her: “I’m going to get you home. And you’re going to crawl into your warm comfy bed and stay there.(softer) We’ll sort this out. Trust me.”I believe this line is significant for two reasons. First and foremost the fact that he says WE’LL sort things out. I think in saying this Spike is conveying his feelings for Buffy openly yet in the most subtle way. More props to the writers for that. The second reason, and most importantly, is he says trust me so we find ourselves back to square one in wondering does Buffy trust him. I think this is where the audience can kind of see in some way she does trust him because she does go home and it isn’t until he is not around that she suddenly feels the need to step in and do things her way again. In any other instance, if she didn’t have even the tiniest ounce of trust for him, she simply would’ve knocked him out and did what she wanted but because of her weakened state of mind, (not only from the shock and revelation that she killed someone but also because of everything else going on in her life), she does in fact trust Spike enough to let him take care of it.Sorry for such a long winded comment! Like I said the only other person who watches this show that I know ((which happens to be my best friend)) doesn’t look at it this way but rather just watches it because it’s “awesome”. I’m not denying that but it is awesome not only on the surface but underneath as well.Again thank you MikeJer for your amazing reviews and I would love, if you get the chance, to hear your thoughts on any points that I’ve made above!:D

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  74. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on September 3, 2012.]

    Thanks for the comment! I’m glad you’re enjoying the reviews.As for your thought on how much Buffy trusts Spike, I pretty much agree with your analysis of the situation, and it helped me fully realize how much the topic of trust plays into this season, and not just for Buffy and Spike. I will add that while we see that Buffy does — for a brief time during this episode — give Spike an ounce of trust, it just goes to make her that much more repulsed at herself by the end of the episode, which is one thing that dream sequence really hits on. Trusting Spike not only puts her at more risk, but it puts the innocents she’s supposed to be fighting for at risk as well. Although it won’t be until “As You Were” that Spike’s nature pushes Buffy over the edge enough to stop going to him, I think by the end of “Dead Things” she begins to emotionally realize that there can never be real trust — and therefore real love — with this soulless creature. As she’ll tell him in “Seeing Red,” “I could never trust you enough for it to be love.”Trust is an interesting topic when it comes to Buffy and Spike, as it shapes the outcome of their respective arcs this season and comes, quite gloriously, full circle next season.

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  75. [Note: TheShanshuProphecy posted this comment on October 17, 2012.]

    A great review of a complex episode & a really nice analysis of the dream sequence – thanks!I disagree on one point however – when you describe Warrens initial encounter with Katrina:”Before using their device, Warren ends up pathetically attempting to hook up with Katrina again. It’s interesting that he tries to get back together with her before using the cerebral dampener. It just goes to show that, while overall despicable, Warren does have a tiny shred of decency in him at this point. Somewhere buried very deep in there is an extremely misguided decent guy,”To me, Warren is self-deluded and thinking he might ‘charm’ Katrina but he is completely prepared and willing to make her comply as evidenced by how quickly he brings out the magic when that fails – his attempts to re-seduce her are arrogant and ego-driven and his use of the device is almost a punishment for her refusal to comply – and as we know, punishing non-compliant women is something that Warren will exhibit and see justification in again and again. Re The sex, Buffy and feminism debate here:While the point that feminist reading/s of a text must look at how sex is treated, I think it is oversimplifying to state that Buffy is always punished for having sex. The OP has already pointed out the exception of Buffy/Riley but I think Joss et al play it realistically. How many sexual relationships in ones teens or early twenties are warm, loving and healthy? Or rather, how many are one-sided, confusing and dominated by lust, fear, misunderstanding and/or bad timing? Our first love affairs are a growing period and this is reflected in BtVS – being misunderstood, mistreated, used (or doing these things) is par for the course. Buffy is learning about her own needs and desires with every sexual partner (most of all I would argue – Spike) and to label her as ‘punished’ is a reductive position which belittles the notion that buffy is a growing woman in a confusing world and nowhere is this more prevalent than in our sexual relationships – Buffy learns and grows from her sexual experiences and leaves S7 aware that she does not need to define herself through her relationships (or lack thereof) but more importantly, she is optimistic (the ‘cookie dough’ speech). If this kind of self-awareness is anti-feminist then I have been reading the wrong texts.

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  76. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on October 17, 2012.]

    Good comment! I always try to look at each character as objectively as I can, which means I’ll still try to find the one good thing in an otherwise awful person and bring that to light. With Warren, it’s tough to find positive traits, especially once “Dead Things” arrives.I pretty much agree with you say about Warren here. His attempt to get back with Katrina before using the dampener is definitely about ego. I will still point out that this motive shows Warren to be very human one last time before stepping over a line that he never comes back from.If I were to write this now, I’d probably reword that last sentence you quoted to, “Somewhere buried very deep in there is not a complete monster, but rather a very flawed human being.”I also very much agree with you on your final point about feminism, etc.

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  77. [Note: TheShanshuProphecy posted this comment on October 17, 2012.]

    “Somewhere buried very deep in there is not a complete monster, but rather a very flawed human being.”Love that description!! – Warren is so interesting because he becomes a human monster (especially given the status that having a soul gets in the Whedonverse). Thanks again for the great review/insights

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  78. [Note: Alex posted this comment on October 18, 2012.]

    I’d need to watch the scene again to be certain because it’s been a while, but I interpreted Warren’s initial attempt to reunite with Katrina, without the device, in a much less favourable way. I thought he actually wanted her to reject him one last time, so that he could then punish her for it by activating the device. I think it makes him feel much more powerful to enslave her right after she’s rejected him again.I can see how the scene could be interpreted very differently, though.

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  79. [Note: TheShanshuProphecy posted this comment on October 18, 2012.]

    I agree – I think his very quick resort to magic shows that he was intent on domination and for Warren, punishing women who ‘wrong’ him is a big part of his pathology.

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  80. [Note: katb posted this comment on January 31, 2013.]

    Ever notice that what Spike says to Riley about “being that close to her and not having her” or something like that… and him saying Riley actually did get the better deal… well hasn’t Spike now got that? He is being physically close to her but doesn’t at all have her.

    Bit of foreshadowing in season 5?

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  81. [Note: Maria posted this comment on February 17, 2013.]

    One of my favorite moments had to be the parallel of Buffy punching Spike repeatedly to Faith punching herself. This really kind of showed that put in a terribly complicated and morally ambiguous situation, they really are seperate sides of the same coin.

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  82. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 8, 2013.]

    Thanks again for a wonderful review Mike !

    I particularly enjoyed your take about Spike/Buffy, thank you. He’s still a selfish evil guy but an anomaly because he’s also full of love and is capable of good when it comes to Buffy’s circle. When it comes to good, Spike reacts to patterns: if Buffy and the scoobies have positive reactions = good. If not = bad. With Buffy, it’s twisted because she’s given him signals of craving sex in violence: punching each other = sex. Rejection with “please, no, don’t” = don’t stop. It is something that will lead to “seeing Red”, not that it makes his act excusable, but it follows a pattern for Spike’s twisted/amoral/good/wrong compass. So here, I believe he’s genuinely trying to help Buffy (and himself)by dragging her to his world. That’s why Buffy is so confused.

    About the Trio, what bothered me from the start was that Jonathan followed blindly Warren, especially when it came to harm Buffy. So I was glad to see him be the more human voice; I understand why he would be in such a group, to not be alone. But he was still the outcast of the Trio: Warren and to some extent, Andrew, laughed at him (and his pain) very often. From now on, it’s not a trio but a duo with a very frightened Jonathan who doesn’t see any other choice. I’ve always had a soft spot for him and Mike’s analyse is spot-on. Jonathan was never evil, he was a tragic character who made very poor choices.

    Now, this is not a critique about the episode, but something that hit me when I first saw it: Something bothered me since after “Flooded”. When I was in deep depression, it was the time when I was the most aware of my friend’s pain, the time when I helped the most: that way I didn’t have to take care of my own problems. I know everyone reacts differently to problems, but Buffy being so oblivious and blind of everyone’s feelings, until they’re right under her nose – like Willow’s breakdown or now Dawn finally verbalising her suffering, even some thrashing of Spike – seemed off to me. And I finally understood why, sometimes, I couldn’t totally empathise with Buffy.

    From now on, she realises on the intellectual level, that some things she’s doing are wrong. She even starts to connect them to the emotional level, and it’s the starting point of her still long healing process. I can’t tell you how much I loved Tara here, the only one of the group who isn’t judgemental. She is supportive in the best way possible: her presence and behaviour finally let Buffy break into healthy tears and confide everything genuinely. This time, I was a hundred percent in pain with Buffy’s realisations, thanks to a very well written and acted episode.

    And to the Dawn haters, please, put yourself in her shoes for one second. If the story had been seen through her eyes, you would despise Buffy, although none of them can take an entire blame: at 10, your parents divorce; at 14, you realise you just came to existence and none of your life is real, your mother dies, your father doesn’t show, a goddess tries to kill you and your big sister dies. At 15, your father still doesn’t show, your only family is a bot!, your sister has been brought to life, you suddenly learn that she never wanted to come back and your half-father figure leaves for the second time to England, your sister is never around, you don’t feel any love from her, all she does is giving you orders and reproaches. Before that, your surrogate mother (the one who is stable) moves out of your home after breaking up. And now, your almost inexistant sister tells you: I’m leaving you again, I’m going in jail. At an age when rationalisation is not the highest quality, how would you react ? That’s why I still believe, with all the material they had, the writers totally missed the opportunity of developping Dawn.

    Just one word about feminism and sex with Spike in season 7: if Buffy’d had healthy casual sex with any other man, yes, great. But not with Spike ! It would bring back all the bad history: Buffy abusing and using him and Spike trying to abuse Buffy. Definitely a big big no from me. Intimate friendship was the only good and healthy relation for those two.

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  83. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on November 9, 2013.]

    I know we can’t expect a fantasy series to be perfectly consistent, but one thing that was not really addressed, at least not to my satisfaction, is what does it mean to have a soul? Angel feels remorse when he does, but given the evil actions of many humans and even the good actions of Spike, shouldn’t we be judging by what beings do and not by their categories?

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  84. [Note: Spuffy4eva posted this comment on January 19, 2014.]

    A)I love the DMP as well and
    B)Great acting from the Trio, Buffy and Spike. Must have been unspeakably awkward for JM and SMG!

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  85. [Note: EdwardH posted this comment on January 20, 2014.]

    I think a tentative, gentle, exploratory sex scene would have been acceptable. And about Buffy’s sex-leads-to-bad-things, you could say with Riley it led to him cheating on her (although it is a bit of stretch).

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  86. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on January 28, 2014.]

    A couple of things. I’m not sure that Buffy and Spike did not have sex in S7, in Chosen. Their flirtatious teasing of each other and the sheer relief that they both want to spend the night together seems very much like two people who are planning to do more than hold each other – but who want to make love. I think Whedon said on the commentary is that he left it open, so that people can interpret what they want.

    Even though Spike may be without a soul, he is there for Buffy more than anyone else in this season. Giles goes away. Dawn is a kid. Willow has her own problems. Anya and Xander are worried about their wedding. Perhaps Tara would have been there more for her if they had spent more time together. Anyway, let’s consider a few of Spike’s deeds for her:

    He has been taking care of Dawn, even though he thinks Buffy is dead.
    He is the only one she can bear to be around. He is emotionally there for her
    He sees that she is burning up in OMWF and stops her. He refuses to buy into Giles’s plan to let her go face Sweet alone
    He offers to get money for her when she is broke
    He tries to stop her from turning herself into the police in this episode. And although he cannot feel how bad she feels about the death of the girl, his argument about the good she does tips the scales is the right argument – the Watchers know this happens (she should have called Giles). He lets her beat him up.

    I do find it frustrating how rude and ungrateful Buffy is, but she will be there for him in S7, when he is a wreck. He pulls her back from the brink in S6; she pulls him back in S7.

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  87. [Note: Patrick posted this comment on March 23, 2014.]

    Buffy’s look of horror after she mutilates Spike is shocking and resonant for its subtlety. The whole scene outside the police station makes me almost cover my eyes every time I watch it. It’s horrifying and extremely difficult to watch even in a season full of such moments.

    I love Tara here, and it speaks to her development that, here, now, I just cannot imagine anyone else with Buffy’s sobbing head in their lap. The last scene is another that I almost cannot bear to see.

    MikeJer, I had not realized the nuanced significance of the dream sequence before I read this review. Good insight! 🙂

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  88. [Note: Diana D posted this comment on May 9, 2014.]

    This episode is so interesting!!!! Pretty much everything was summed in in Mike’s review but I just want to discuss some points.
    -There is some sort of interesting parallel (I find) between Spike and Faith with the way they react after they found out the ”murder”: they both hide the body, push Buffy to leave the scene and try to stop her from telling the truth to an authority and the excuse they come up with: how many have you saved, compared to how many lives you’ve taken (balance analogy).
    -Buffy, readily accepts that she is responsible and wants to take blame for it as it will give her an excuse to leave, which Dawn rightly points out (but wrongly assumes it is because Buffy does not want to be with her; as some comments pointed out earlier, Dawn has some abondonement issues). Buffy really does not have any attachments as she would just go in prison (without really thinking about how it would affect Dawn, …). It is interesting how Buffy is ready to take the blame for an action she did’nt really commit (as she subconsciously wants to be punished for her other actions) and how she does not want to take responsabilities for her actions with Spike, as she assumes she ”came back wrong” and uses it as her excuse.
    -Also, when Dawn go to her friend instead of hanging out with Buffy, we are able to see that they relationship degraded. When Buffy is at the Bronze with her friends, she does not want/seem to be able to keep up with them on the same level as her experience left her changed, and she is not longer happy-dancing without care Buffy.
    -The dream sequence is very nice to watch and I interpreted as Buffy no longer being able to keep up secrets, it is too much for her, she is in inner turmoil and confuses her actions with Spike and Catherina, as the lines are broken. I found what she said to Spike very enlightening, as they are in an unhealthy relationship, where she ”physically” abuse him and Spike does not really recognize it, as he does not have moral standards and a soul: ”You don’t have a soul! There’s nothing good or clean in you. That’s why you can’t understand! You’re dead inside! You can’t feel anything real!”. I kind of feel like Buffy is talking about herself and that Spike is a mirror that reflects her, as towards the end she says she doesn’t feel anything and in earlier episodes, she says she feel dead inside.It feels like she is talking about herself.
    -I love her interaction with Tara, and how she needs a person ”outside” her inner circle to confide, as she fears the others would judge her. Tara is simply understanding and what she says is very supportive that Buffy had done ”wrong actions with Spike” and with it being okay if loved him not, as Buffy has been through a very traumatizing event. It is a very important moment as Buffy realize she is responsible for her actions and wants to be punished, but Tara gives her forgiveness (which Buffy later needs to try to find in herself).
    -Also, when Buffy said ”You always hurt the ones you love”, it kind of insinuates that she associates herselft with Warren as they both hurt the ones they ”love” (even though, I also agree that Buffy is not in love with Spike, as she not capable of loving another person right now, she is too ”broken” and needs to find herself, who she truly is now as opposed to who she was before and accept herself)
    At this point, they are both too toxic with one another, as Spike is worsening Buffy’s feeling of alienation and she is ”using him” to feel better. It is really shown how debalanced it is, when Spike lets Buffy ”take it all on him”, in attempt to let calm down her emotional turmoil.
    Speaking of Buffy’s feeling of alienation, I wonder how much of it stems for her being the slayer, as it was previously mentionned that at the end of the day, a slayer is always alone; but her difficult revival does not also help.

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  89. [Note: ericas623 posted this comment on May 30, 2014.]

    That’s a really good point. I always felt that Buffy’s refusal to give up on Spike in S7, despite the protests made by her friends and Giles, was somewhat motivated by remaining guilt over the way she treated him in S6. Of course, Buffy genuinely believed that the ensouled Spike was a better man and felt quite attached to him by then, but I feel his captivity also gave her the opportunity to make up for taking his love for granted in S6.

    On a side note, Katrina’s death reminded me of something that I realized when Tara died. I think it’s significant that the two biggest deaths, Joyce and Tara, were NOT due to supernatural causes. It makes them much more tragic that their deaths were not caused by a demon/vampire and wasn’t caused by something the Scoobies could have fought off. I think the grief is more relatable, because, in real life, people die from a tumor (Joyce) or a gunshot wound (Tara).

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  90. [Note: SlimJim posted this comment on June 17, 2014.]

    So the Trio were going to repeatedly rape Katrina as often as they wanted everyday, all day whenver they pleased? Gross! Sounds like inmates in prison.

    The alley beating scene is one of the hardest scenes for me to watch in the entire series. Whenever I rewatch this episode I have to turn away when Buffy beats him.

    Like

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