Buffy 7×16: Storyteller

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Jane Espenson | Director: Marita Grabiak | Aired: 02/25/2003]

“Storyteller,” like other classic comedy episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, manages to be extremely funny while also having rousing character development and a heart. I’m the first to admit that, until now, Andrew has been little more than comic relief — great comic relief, but otherwise just a two-dimensional character. Season 6 gave him a little bit of depth and insight, but nothing particularly mind-blowing as both the established Jonathan and Warren got a lot more attention. “Storyteller” manages to frankly do the impossible: give a character that successfully traverses the incredibly fine line between funny and stupid some real depth and end up turning him into a three-dimensional character. How does Buffy continue — right to its very end — to pierce the emotional core of these people? I don’t know how the writers do it, but it’s one of the largest factors that make the series so unique even among other quality shows.

Before I jump into the focus of the episode, I’d like to make a few comments about some of the ancillary material along with the plot. Andrew interviews Anya and Xander one year to the day he left her at the altar — and how about that, it really is exactly one year since “Hell’s Bells” [6×16]. With one year to think everything through, Xander still feels he made the right decision in not marrying Anya at that time. It’s nice to see them both admit their continued love for each other, even though they both know they’ll never be officially together again. I also loved the epilogue to their little story, with both of them having sex for “one last time” that clearly isn’t one last time. The uncertainty at the end of the scene really sums up how complex and fragile relationships can be and how careful we need to be about the choices we make surrounding them.

If there’s one complaint I have with “Storyteller” — but more largely with the season as a whole — it’s that everything surrounding the Seal of Danzalthar is very confusing. It’s never adequately explained why it’s acting up right now as opposed to any other time. There certainly hasn’t been enough build-up to the outburst it’s exhibiting here. It’s also never fully explained what the heck it even is. Apparently this thing existed under the old high school too, and that it used to be under the library. I can sort of piece together the mythology surrounding this thing in my head, but I would have really appreciated some more concrete facts about it, what it can do, and why a giant cavern is underneath it. The writers are molding the Seal to be able to do whatever the plot demands, and that reeks of sloppy plotting. Because of the lack of coherence here, “Storyteller” suffers a tiny bit by being associated with it.

There’s really very little else to dislike about “Storyteller” though. Early on there’s a hilarious scene where Andrew is filming the girls at breakfast fantasizing a slow-motion everything-is-happy montage. He says that Buffy is “beautiful, with a lion’s heart and the face of an angel. She’s never afraid ’cause she knows her side will always win. Buffy and Spike have some kind of history. You can feel the heat between them. Although, technically, as a vampire, he’s room temperature,” and that Anya is “a feisty waif with a firey temper and a vulnerable heart that she hides, even from herself.” Andrew’s “film” is all about side-lining the gritty details of these peoples’ lives for the shiny idealized — yet partially true — image he sees them as.

Buffy ends up getting frustrated over Andrew’s camera work which mutates into a whole new long speech. The episode wisely pans back from her speech, even poking fun at it with Andrew leaving the room saying, “honestly, gentle viewers, these motivational speeches of hers tend to get a little long.” Note that, up to this episode at least, I’ve never really had a problem with any of Buffy’s speeches. It’s at this time where Andrew takes the time to explain how he wants to present himself to us, the real viewers. Much like the slow-motion Wheaties (sorry, “Wheat-flakes”) montage a moment before, he completely roses up his past and who he is today. He says, “You see, I am a man with a burden. A man with a dark past. You see, I was once a super villain.” We even begin to see him make huge alterations to past events to make him come out in a better — victimized or just — light.

A little further into the episode, when Buffy drags Andrew into trying to shut the Seal down, he makes a comment that further cements the role he wants to play: “I’m not a part of this. I document, I don’t participate. I’m a detached journalist, recording with a neutral eye.” Andrew eventually alludes to the idea of redemption for himself. Even though he clearly still has a comic book level of sophistication on what redemption is, it’s still a hint to the fact that deep down there is something going on in him — otherwise he wouldn’t even bring it up.

When Buffy threatens to spill his blood on the Seal, a powerful scene emerges where Andrew’s emotional barriers — blocked by layers of comedy — are finally broken down. Kudos to Tom Lenk for pulling out his emotional acting chops here. Jane Espenson does a phenomenal job at taking a character that was perceived almost entirely for laughs, and making him emotionally real and bringing him up to the same level as some of the other secondary characters throughout the series. With Andrew, we suddenly now have the beginnings of a fleshed out character. Impressive work.

Andrew learns a lot when he believes his life is at risk, and I was particularly moved by his genuine cheering of Buffy’s leadership so far (“No, you’re doing great. Really. Kudos.”). When Buffy asks him if her sacrifice of him will “redeem” him, he honestly cries out, “No! Because I killed him. Because I listened to Warren, and I pretended I thought it was him, but I knew it wasn’t. And I killed Jonathan. And now you’re gonna kill me. And I’m scared, and I’m going to die. And this is what Jonathan felt.” That last part, about feeling what he put Jonathan through, gives him a new layer of maturity and self reflection that he never possessed before. I also liked the dark nod implying that if Andrew’s tears didn’t close the Seal, Buffy may have actually tried to spill his blood. This further cements the fact that Andrew is still in no way Buffy’s friend or close ally, despite her intent not to kill him. He still has a long way to go before he earns that kind of respect from Buffy, but he makes a great start through his actions here.

The final scene of the episode, with Andrew recording himself speaking, is quite moving. Here we have someone who is now completely honest with himself and his sins, and is genuinely wanting to atone for them — not in the easy-way-out comic book way of before. He says, “Here’s the thing. I killed my best friend. There’s a big fight coming, and I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t even think I’m going to live through it. That’s, uh, probably the way it should be.”

“Storyteller” gives Andrew his chance to shine and become a memorable part of the Buffy canon that’s not just simply comic relief anymore. It’s also the last comedy-heavy episode in the entire series. Jane Espenson clearly relishes the opportunity on both counts and runs with it. Between the hilarious comedy, solid character material, and emotional resonance in the last person you’d expect to find it, we have a real winner here. Now… how ’bout that Cheese Man!

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ The opening scene with Andrew sitting in a mansion filled with geek memorabilia.
+ Andrew’s big board and his explanation of the First.
+ The clever editing of Dark Willow from S6 for Andrew’s imagination.
+ The references to early Buffy episodes ranging from the invisible girl (“Out of Mind, Out of Sight” [1×11] ) to swim team monsters (“Go Fish” [2×20] ) to prom dogs (“The Prom” [3×20] ).
+ The quick cut to Andrew’s Big Board during the conversation between Buffy and Wood.
+ Andrew panning his camera right past Willow and Kennedy kissing to check out Xander’s work on fixing Buffy’s oft-destroyed window.
+ The pig Andrew failed to kill in “Never Leave Me” [7×09] running by Wood and Buffy.
+ Spike acting all bad-### on camera just for Andrew’s video.
+ Andrew getting choked up over Xander and Anya’s expressions of love for each other.
+ Seeing how bringers are created.
+ The Cheese Man and his plate of cheese both getting about 1 frame each in the Mexico flashback sequence!
+ The “We Are as Gods” song. Oh… my.
+ All the comments about everyone hating the cheerleaders.

– Why is it that Andrew says, about the knife, “There was a carving on the blade — I thought it was just some pattern,” when just a moment later he knows exactly what language it is on the spot? How does that make any sense?


Foreshadowing

* Wood tries to take out Spike at his first clear shot. This is clearly indicative of their big confrontation that (thankfully) happens in the next episode, “Lies My Parents Told Me” [7×17].


[Score]

92/100

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68 thoughts on “Buffy 7×16: Storyteller”

  1. [Note: Paula posted this comment on May 26, 2009.]

    I really need to watch this episode again for any serious commenting, but thanks and a great job, Mike!

    On my first round of BtVS, I lost my nerve in late S6 and went googling about the plot for the rest of the series. Learning what was going to be made out of Andrew in S7, I pretty much went, “What?!”. Actually watching the season though, it just works. And this episode is excellent (although the Seal of Danzalthar bit is admittedly messy).

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  2. [Note: DarthMarion posted this comment on May 26, 2009.]

    Storyteller! Andrew! Tom Lenk! You make justice to this wonderful episode! (can we say that in english? “make justice”?) Whatever, i loved reading this! Great review!

    Storyteller is really one of Jane’s finest work, and I was happy they found the time to trat it so late in the season!

    Concerning the blurry answer from Buffy to the spilling blood question, I’m glad you see it to! For my french buffyholic friends, there’s no reason to think Buffy was going to do that, but for me, she thought of it, and that’s enough to make me shiver!

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  3. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on May 26, 2009.]

    This episode rocks and your review is pretty good, although I thought you were gonna rate it a bit higher. I mean, I agree with the confusion about the Seal but that doesn´t even touch the awesomeness of it, imo.

    btw, I am anxious to see your take on LMPTM.

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  4. [Note: Kevbot posted this comment on May 26, 2009.]

    I love love LOVE your review of this. When it was out, a lot of people balked at it, based on the synopsis rather than the episode itself. “This isn’t good because it’s about Andrew and Andrew is a shallow character.” This is absolutely in my Top 10 ever, and I’m so pleased you liked it this much.

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  5. [Note: llinnae posted this comment on May 26, 2009.]

    “Andrew’s ‘film’ is all about side-lining the gritty details of these peoples’ lives for the shiny idealized — yet partially true — image he sees them as”.

    I thought the whole point was that he didn’t see them like this at all but rather that he *wanted* to see them and everything else in an idealized manner in order to avoid the fear and pain that come with reality. I think that even before Buffy threatens him he knows deep down that things arent the way he pretends they are. Ironically its the fact that he knows this that makes him pretend that he doesn’t.

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  6. [Note: Paula posted this comment on May 26, 2009.]

    I rather agree with llinnae: Andrew pretty much desperately sticks to a fantasy version of reality (or the one of several versions, whichever best suits his needs in any given situation) because he can’t deal with what he’s done (murdered his friend) and what’s going on (apocalypse with no certainty of the good guys being able to save the day). He has a thing or two in common with Faith, actually, although she of course resorted to slightly different sort of escapism.

    A point of view worth thinking about, though, is that we all do this to some degree. Rewrite stuff, that is. Mostly quite unintentionally, too, as human senses and memory are in fact not at all reliable and are easily manipulated either by external factors or by ourselves. I don’t doubt that Andrew knew well enough deep down exactly what he had done, but sometimes in our lives it takes indisputable external evidence to establish what we actually did or what happened to us or right in front of us, because we can’t reliably tell for one reason or another.

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  7. [Note: Paula posted this comment on May 26, 2009.]

    Of course we all tend commit escapism as well – and that goes double for us who hang around a lot on a Buffy review site. 😛

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  8. [Note: Ursus posted this comment on May 26, 2009.]

    One of the few reviews with which I don’t agree. Aside from a chuckle here or there, I was bored for most of the episode. Andrew is lame, his sudden confession/emotional breakdown at the end seemed a little forced, and ultimately it didn’t turn him into any more of an interesting character.

    How much better would the episode have been if it really had been Andrew’s blood that was needed to close that stupid seal thing, if Andrew killed himself over the seal to atone for his crimes, and the episode would end with a teary eyed Buffy looking into the camera and saying that Andrew finally found his place in the story? Yeah, that would have been a lot more powerful. Plus, it would have gotten rid of the obnoxious character, unless the First decided to take his form to taunt Buffy.

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  9. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on May 26, 2009.]

    @Ursus:

    It’s clear that the enjoyment of the episode will heavily rely of what people think of Andrew. I, personally, find him utterly hilarious as do many others. I respect your opinion, but a lot of people don’t find him “obnoxious.”

    One thing I appreciate about Joss Whedon is how he generally won’t kill off characters we know really well until they, if conflicted, have obtained or destroyed their redemption. If not conflicted, then they get the chance to come to a final realization about themselves and their progress. Andrew, here in “Storyteller,” has just taken the first step towards his redemption. He hasn’t earned it yet and wouldn’t have earned it — as he stated himself — by sacrificing himself here. Andrew actually dying here wouldn’t have had much of an effect at all, because before “Storyteller” he wasn’t a very complex character. This is entirely why Anya was killed in “Chosen” rather than Andrew.

    So, in a nutshell, I completely disagree with you.

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  10. [Note: Sam posted this comment on May 26, 2009.]

    Good evening, gentle viewers. Another spot on review from Mike, who completely realized that this is an A episode. It’s Jane Espenson’s best comedy episode, and since she’s the best comic writer on the series, that means that IMHO this is the funniest episode in the entire series. Kudos to Jane for making us laugh (and think) before the show floors the gas pedal for the very last time. 🙂

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  11. [Note: Christian posted this comment on May 27, 2009.]

    When I first saw this episode I just thought it was a large amount of wasted camera time on a last minute character. Buffy was going to end and I would have loved to see more of the Scoobies, rather than someone who wasn’t really established as a Buffy loved one. But on my second viewing of this season I really liked this ep. and learned to appreciate Andrew a lot more. Most of the scenes were silly and fun to watch, I especially loved the slow motion breakfast scene.

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  12. [Note: HarFang posted this comment on May 27, 2009.]

    A great review! And I appreciate your concentrating more on its significance than on its silly parts (honestly, I physically cringe every time I have to watch the We Are as Gods song).
    To me this episode is the only excuse for Andrew’ continued existence. Up to this point, he didn’t even seem to care about what he had done in the past two years, and still he rated a much better treatment than Jonathan after his Superstar blunder, going from prisoner to “guestage” in barely a few weeks. This didn’t feel right, so I thank Jane Espenson for finally addressing this question, and managing to turn 35mn of comedy into a really moving last scene (and congrats to Tom Lenk for that particular performance)

    Oh, and just a tragic anecdote about this episode: I spent months trying to convince my family to give a shot at BtVS. And THIS was the one episode my mother chose to sit down and watch with me… I honestly don’t think she could have picked a worst episode to start.

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  13. [Note: p0mp0m posted this comment on May 27, 2009.]

    Mike, I was wondering… You didn’t mention in your review the obvious reference to the original series of “The Storyteller” with John Hurt, produced by Jim Henson. See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092383/
    This hommage was just another reason why I found this episode such a joy to watch by the way 🙂

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  14. [Note: Adam posted this comment on May 27, 2009.]

    I really don’t like this episode. As I’ve mentioned countless times, I’m not a fan of season 7 at all. I rewatched this episode for a third time a couple of weeks ago and I really didn’t feel that much watching it. Of course there were a few funny scenes here and there and the end was kind of good, but it still wasn’t a very memorable episode. It was kind of boring and the plot is not well done (which brings the episode down a lot). I don’t know, I’d give it an 80, maybe an 85 for some effort.

    And, good review of course! As much as I disagree with some of it, I’m appreciative for all the time you spend making these insightful reviews for us.

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  15. [Note: Beppe posted this comment on May 31, 2009.]

    For me, this is the episode that justifies the otherwise dire season 7 (well ok, Buffy rising in slo-mo in Chosen made me kinda teary). The season suffered, among other things, from the simple fact that the writers ran out of interesting things to say beyond the immediate monster hunting/soap opera context. But here we see a common human trait — reimagining and editing our past to suit our present needs — given an intelligent and funny treatment. Bonus points for making Andrew a moving and relevant character, even if it didn’t last.

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  16. [Note: Lighs posted this comment on June 7, 2009.]

    @Harfang- this was the first (and only) Buffy episode that my father saw as well. I figured that the combination of humor and poignancy would draw him in, but he couldn’t see past the silliness. In retrospect, it probably would seem like forty-four minutes of mindless entertainment to someone who had no knowledge of the characters.

    Though I completely agree that this was an A episode, I thought that some of the scenes in Sunnydale High were a bit over-the-top. A student’s head exploding, another student fading away in the middle of the hallway, Buffy’s clumsy-sounding exposition to Principal Wood about the effects of the Hellmouth… I couldn’t suspend my disbelief at all during that scene. It was too much, too fast, and it felt tacked-on. There should have been a better way to express that the Seal was acting up.

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  17. [Note: Sam posted this comment on June 8, 2009.]

    I have to include this exchange because it’s one of the funniest I’ve ever heard. Buffy walks in on Andrew filming morning in Slayer Central and wants him to stop filming, and the potentials chime in:

    RONA: I don’t know. If we save the world, it will be kind of nice to have a record of it.
    AMANDA: If we don’t save the world, then nothing matters.
    KENNEDY: Hmm. That’s catchy, Amanda. Let’s make that our slogan! (burst out laughing)

    Of course, all of the hilarity on display in this episode is doubly potent because of all the heart underneath it all. Jane Espenson FTW on this one.

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  18. [Note: Ian posted this comment on August 10, 2009.]

    “It’s never adequately explained why [the Seal of Danzalthar] is acting up right now as opposed to any other time.”

    I feel this is attributable to the increased activity of the First, is it not? This is especially indicated by the use of the Seal to create Bringers as shown in this episode. Evidently the Seal is a tool that the First can activate and make use of to further its ends.

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  19. [Note: Chris posted this comment on December 9, 2009.]

    I would put this as a perfect episode. The comedy,drama and character development all at their best. Laughing out loud near the start and struglling not to cry at the end.

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  20. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on January 6, 2010.]

    The evil, ancient seal is stopped by tears! What?

    I don’t agree to killing Andrew yet but I think it would have worked out better if Buffy had to stab him and spill a few drops on the seal for it to stop. It would also be a preview for the next episode where Buffy acknowledges that she would let Dawn die. It would show here that that statement is correct, that she will do whatever she has to for the greater good. That said it could be something other than his blood, but I didn’t buy that tears would do it.

    On a different note, I laughed my arse off with Andrew’s line of, “In my plan, we are beltless.” Such a simple line, yet so funny to me.

    Principal Wood saying “focusy” and his line asking, “a bus to where?” are also great.

    And the Buffy/Andrew scene around the seal is still my favourite scene in the episode. Especially with Buffy’s final look to him.

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  21. [Note: JammyJu posted this comment on March 15, 2010.]

    A personal fave for me.

    Tom Lenk’s acting at the end is sublime, and i’ve watched it twice now (once today), and I break up in tears due to the intensity of his situation.

    I agree, this is why this show is so fantastic.

    Characters like Spike and Andrew becoming ‘big bads’, and then transforming into powerful allies.

    Wonderful stuff.

    And I’m glad you noticed the thing about the knife. Surely he would’ve noticed the writting.

    I think that’s the main hindrance of season 7. Just general cracks with continuity, and over-all writing, which made it not seem quite as a solid season.

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  22. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on May 23, 2010.]

    I recently re-watched this, and it never ceases to amaze me. Jane Espenson usually gets called out for two things in her episodes: 1) That she’s the funniest writer; and 2) That she has a tendency to sacrifice character consistency (particularly Willow’s) for humor.

    What she doesn’t often get credit for is her ability to write incredibly powerful speeches. The Buffy-Jonathan exchange in the clocktower in “Earshot” always brings tears to my eyes, and Buffy’s dialogue at the end of this episode always send chill down my spine, particularly this line: “This isn’t a story where good triumphs because good triumphs. People are going to die. Girls. Maybe me. Probably you.”

    Absolutely amazing stuff.

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  23. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on June 2, 2010.]

    See, I didn’t love this one. It was well above-average, but overall I didn’t think it was anything special. And I really resent how the characters I’ve spent the last month (which is about how long it’s taken me to watch the series) falling in love with (Willow, Xander, Anya, Spike, and Buffy) sidelined to focus on Andrew, who I find kind of boring. The “living as gods” thing was funny, but overall I just didn’t care. What was good was seeing each of the established characters from a fresh perspective. I liked that.

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  24. [Note: Jason posted this comment on September 17, 2010.]

    I really disliked… what’s his name?… oh, Andrew 🙂 in S6: I thought that the nerd-banter between him and Johnathon was so *off*. It felt like forced, canned dialogue written by someone who had to do a lot of Dungeons and Dragons and Star Wars Wikipedia look-ups.

    But, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I love him in S7, and I particularly loved him here. Touching, sympathetic, complicated, funny… everything I hope for in Buffy.

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  25. [Note: runiq posted this comment on November 6, 2010.]

    When Andrew admired Xander’s window fixing skills, he called him “extraordinary”. Reminds me of when Xander called Dawn exactly that back in 7×12 “Potential”.

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  26. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on January 21, 2011.]

    Oh how I love Andrew! I think I might have mentioned this before but I do. This episode is fantastic because of him. Right from the get go with the Masterpiece Theater opening, I knew it would be a great episode.

    I liked that Anya and Xander connected again. I also liked how the tension between Wood and Spike grows in this episode (I mean, Wood really was going to kill Spike until he got tackled by that girl!).

    I only have two small complaints with this episode: 1)I find it hard to believe that Willow and Kennedy just sit around in the middle of living room making out amongst all the chaos (although Andrew’s indifference to it is great!) and 2) Jonathan doesn’t have enough blood to open the seal but 3 tears is enough to shut it down? I like how the whole end scene plays out with a little redemption for Andrew (even though his convenient retellings of the murder are hysterical!) but that just seemed a little hokey.

    Overall a great episode — mostly because it featured Andrew — and it was a good comedic episode before lots of heartache.

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  27. [Note: Random Person posted this comment on May 9, 2011.]

    I just noticed, all the 16th episodes of each season (excluding season 1 of course) have been really great episodes, bewitched bothered and bewildered, doppelgangland, who are you, the body, hells bells and storyteller.

    Like

  28. [Note: Mash posted this comment on June 16, 2011.]

    Warren/The First touched the bed during the Mexico memory!

    I think this episode had the first [that we can tell] female bringer [one of the kids in the basement]. Generally, the Buffyverse is really lacking in diversity. Yes they acknowledge that slayers come from all over the world BUT how many reoccurring [or even guest] characters helped the show be more diverse? Off the top of my head, I think of 3 reoccurring characters [Kendra, Trick, Wood] in a show of 7 seasons! And sometimes, while watching I think the writers only realized this near the end of the series, thus more diverse secondary characters than ever before.

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  29. [Note: Mash posted this comment on August 9, 2011.]

    Edit – I forgot about Olivia [Giles’ gf from S4] and Forest [S4]. While that improves the diversity of the show, its still not too good. Olivia and Kendra were in 3 episodes each, which really brings us back to 3 guys.

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  30. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on December 25, 2011.]

    Mash: You’re right. Principal Wood was great and he at least lasted the entire season.

    -Andrew and Jonathon’s nightmare in Mexico features the future. It shows the Turok-Han chasing Buffy during the middle episodes.

    -I still love the ambiguity of Buffy’s response to the question of the tears not working.

    -Buffy still should have stabbed him. It should have been blood. As Spike said before, “it’s always got to be blood.” An ancient evil seal doesn’t need tears. Like ‘The Gift’, the blood starts it and the blood stops it. A little stab in the stomach and Andrew’s fine and the seal is deactivated.

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  31. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on January 2, 2012.]

    Just remembered some things:

    -Buffy says Andrew was the first person to feed the Seal blood. WRONG. Technically it was Jonathon.

    -Buffy also says that Andrew was the one who opened the Seal. WRONG. Spike’s blood opened it in ‘Never Leave Me’. Jonathon’s blood wasn’t enough.

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  32. [Note: :Minou posted this comment on April 11, 2012.]

    Just a thought can Spike be captured on film , I thought no vampire could be ,as in a scene in a cemetery with the Trio filming cant remember the episode . Apologies if this has been mentioned before .

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  33. [Note: SMGbuff posted this comment on July 22, 2012.]

    Hi MikeJer,

    And everyone else who loves BtVS. I really like your reviews MikeJer and I’ve had so much great fun reading them and the comments. It is interesting though how much we disagree on this episode. I came here to be comforted by what I thought was going to be a true BOMB-review 🙂

    To me this is by far the worst episode of the series. It saddens me a lot that this is the last season and they waste so much time here. I felt almost nothing for Andrew here, sometimes in previous ep I have but not here. This ep and its cam perspective totally destroys the entire buffyverse-atmosphere without accomplishing the detachment of Andrews point of view it wants to mimic.

    To me its lame and shallow in an unfunny pointless way. Sadly Andrews role of comic relief in this ep reminds me of the Neelix-character in Star Trek Voyager and a lot of Jar Jar Binks actually. So I’m going to pretend (like Andrew) that this ep didn’t happen and continue with the season, hopefully this was a low-point.

    Thanks for a great site!

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  34. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 22, 2012.]

    Thanks for the comment, SMGbuff!

    I guess I’ll just say that one of the smaller things I’ve always appreciated about BtVS is its ability to step back for an episode, on occasion, and give a background character their moment in the sun. Although I had problems with “Superstar,” I still appreciate how it gives Jonathan more depth and ever so slowly progresses his own little story.

    Beyond that, I can understand how this one might not work for you. Andrew walks a pretty fine line between funny and stupid. It’s not going to work for everyone. But “Storyteller,” for me, was anything but shallow and unfunny. It gave substance to a mostly comic relief character; it let us into the guy’s mind for a little while in that special way Buffy often does with its characters. I kind of like to think of it as Andrew’s “The Zeppo.” “Storyteller” is not as important, sure, but I like how it goes to expand the world outside of the central characters.

    So, I guess all I’m trying to say is that it worked for me. And although I can kinda see the comparison to Neelix on Voyager outside of this episode, the major distinction is that Andrew is not a main character. On top of that, this is the very episode where he actually gains a little texture behind all that comic relief, which makes your comparison kind of confusing. Finally, I rarely ever found Neelix funny, whereas Andrew consistently cracks me up.

    You better hope that your Voyager comparisons stop there, because if next you start comparing “Chosen” to “Endgame,” you’re going to have a mighty large debate on your hands. :p 🙂

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  35. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 27, 2013.]

    I am not one of Andrew’s fans (though some of his lines were pretty funny), but I liked this episode. My regret is that, very much like for Anya’s character after Selfless, there’s no real following. We don’t see them trying to atone. They get an understanding of their past actions, but I don’t really see their desire for redemption later on.

    But it was very clever to use the camera to see through Andrew’s eyes: that’s what his life is about, living through movie/TV characters.

    I agree with Lighs: the scenes of mayhem in the school with Buffy and Woods conversing casually – with no care at all – is totally unreal and shocking.

    Also, for the fun of it, a little Trek/SW ranting: comparing Andrew to Neelix or JarJar is a high crime :p ! Andrew’s character is two-dimensional except for this episode, but he’s used as the obvious comic/cynical/parody, that’s why some of his lines are so funny. Neelix and JarJar are ridiculous for the sake of children, big big difference. No child would understand the complexity of Andrew’s behaviour and wouldn’t laugh at his jokes. (And… no finale can reach Trek’s Endgame and These Are the Voyages abyss: the worst finales, ever).

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  36. [Note: Monica posted this comment on August 27, 2013.]

    I’m not actually arguing your points here because I actually understand and believe you’re right with every single one, I just don’t personally care too much for this episode.

    Andrew is one of the things about both Buffy season six and seven that I don’t care for. I don’t find him necessarily funny, and whatever comic relief he has served up until this point and after have absolutely irked me. I feel like his humor is based on him saying unrealistically odd, overly nerdy, and effeminate things that don’t come off well for me. I feel like the show relies on clever humor, but Andrew always falls flat, so I couldn’t fully enjoy this episode.

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  37. [Note: Hubert posted this comment on September 1, 2013.]

    I don’t know how anybody could compare Buffy to ST: Voyager. If Buffy remotely resembles any Star Trek series it would be Deep Space Nine. That’s the only ST that didn’t always use the reset button, and that actually developed the characters, although not as expertly or as profoundly as Buffy did. There was also the element of the supernatural, and of taking on a responsibility that you are chosen for, and then choosing to bear it out of love for the world. But Buffy did that much better as well.

    As for this episode, I LOVE this episode, and I think it’s the funniest in the entire series. I would give it an A+. Here’s why:

    -Andrew’s development here is superb. This episode takes everything that was great about him, and develops it further. Andrew is the kind of person that the show would have portrayed as a victim in the high school years, but here he is a pain because, unlike the Scooby gang, he never grew up. This episode makes him face just a tiny fraction of what the rest of the gang has had to face, and I think that’s both sad and wonderful. Andrew begins his true adulthood here.

    -The scene at the end is just beautifully written. If Buffy had stabbed him I would have been furious. He’s a human. But instead we get his tears, and the message that remorse closes the part of us that listens to the words of the mouth of hell. Andrew can be forgiven because he needs it. He can’t forgive himself because he now knows he doesn’t deserve it. So he changes, and decides to try and redeem himself. Wow. No other TV show has the guts to to transformation like Buffy.

    -It’s so funny. It’s amazingly funny. It’s tears of laughter funny.

    -It’s surprisingly dramatic. I really didn’t know whether Buffy was going to stab him the first time I saw it. During the scene where she holds him above the seal I was on the edge of my seat.

    -The ‘We Are as Gods’ song.

    -The way Andrew’s fantasy shows the reality of the characters. I see the complaints above about how the episode disregards the people we care about and I’m confused. There’s a great scene for Xander and Anya; Buffy is so annoyed by Andrew’s fantasy because she hasn’t yet fully come to terms with the role of the slayer, which she only does by learning about love in ‘Touched’. The only person who doesn’t get much attention is Willow.

    -Spike.

    -‘God I hope that’s not a student’

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  38. [Note: mwsc042 posted this comment on December 3, 2013.]

    Regarding Andrew’s ignorance of the knife – I don’t think that was a flub on the part of the writers. At the time of the interrogation he was wavering between being obtuse and forthcoming, and when the initial questioning of the knife began, I think he intentionally played dumb to avoid dealing with the subject (until he caved from the pressure). For me this rings true since He spent most of the episode rewriting his own history out of denial of what he had done (murdering his best friend), and the knife was the most direct link to that act of betrayal.

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  39. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on February 22, 2014.]

    I’d add one more Minor Con:

    At the very beginning of the episode, the camera pans past a bookcase before it reaches Andrew sitting in his chair. The biggest and most prominent tome is titled ‘NIETZSCHE.’ If we didn’t realise Season 7 was about power the last 5,000 times we were hammered over the head with it, we certainly will now …

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  40. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on February 23, 2014.]

    That’s not a con for this episode, though.

    However unsubtly you may judge the theme to be handled in the rest of the season, a brief glimpse of a book title in the scenery does not merit that judgement.

    Moreover, the entire “masterpiece theater” spoof is -meant- to be over the top and cliché-riddled, the better to fit Andrew’s mindset and fantasy life. So -of course- the bookshelf has Nietzsche and Shakespeare in its oaken-shelved leather-bound front and centre. The whole point of the episode’s central conceit is to have Andrew comment on the season’s events from his very skewed perspective, and this detail is a part of that.

    If anything, I’d judge this a pro.

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  41. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on February 23, 2014.]

    I agree with the paragraph beginning with ‘Moreover.’ However, I still believe that having Nietzsche in the bookshelf is once again shoving the theme of power in our faces, which is not something I am fond of. I am sure everybody watching was aware that this was a theme by the ending scene of “Lessons”, and having it continually reinforced over and over again has begun to grate by this point in the season.

    Alongside the the brilliant “Selfless” and layered “Conversations with Dead People,” this episode is a shining gem in the middle of a dull season. Perhaps my dislike over this trivial detail is brought about simply because I would love to see this episode stand alone from the rest of the arc – in fact, one of the only times the First Evil’s plan is brought up, Andrew actively mocks it by pointing out how lengthy Buffy’s speeches have become. So the fact that this theme of power has pushed its way into the last great episode in the worst season (other than the first) does not please me at all.

    I don’t want to be one of those people who hates Season 7 – I honestly and truly don’t. Going into the final season of what I perceive as the greatest show of all time, I was prepared to overlook some flaws as long as it wrapped everything up satisfactorily. By the time “Conversations with Dead People” finished, we had already had two outstanding episodes, one of the funniest and one of the creepiest. That’s a great track record, and I believe this first run of seven episodes rivals any other in the series.

    However, from there everything drops off. The First stops being a wicked psychological villain and starts trying to raise an army of evil vampires with strange, fluctuating physical strength. I understand why the writers would want to bring it back to the vampire for the final season, to bring it full circle, but honestly the First was far more interesting when it was playing its mind games. The only time we see it do that again is briefly at the end of “First Date” and as the Mayor in “Touched” – other than that, it basically drops off the roadmap and is replaced by the far less interesting ubervamps. By the time “The Killer in Me” rolls around, all the tension and excitement I had was let up. “First Date” was a nice callback to the early high-school days, but it could do nothing to disguise that all the brilliant build-up had been thrown away. Finally, “Get it Done” is an episode delving into the Slayer mythology that should have been amazing, but was brought down by a combination of dictator Buffy, bad special effects and an overall lack of that ‘zing’ the earlier seasons had, which made them so special. This special quality is one I feel to be particularly absent in the mid-season.

    Then there’s “Storyteller”, one of the best episodes of the series, one I would without question score an A+ if I ever were to do reviews. It’s wickedly funny, features real character insight and development, packs an emotional punch, and has Andrew singing ‘We are as gods’. This gave me brief respite from the rut I felt the series had dug itself into.

    And then I discover that one of the season’s biggest flaws, its persistence with the theme of power, extends even to this haven. It does not please me, to say the least.

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  42. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on February 23, 2014.]

    Persistence with a theme isn’t a flaw, though. Clubbing the viewer over the head with it is, and sometimes season 7 does go down that path, but again a glimpse of Nietzsche doesn’t qualify in my eyes.

    Besides, it’s not like the “power” theme is the only explanation for the presence of the Nietzsche book. Because if so, why is it standing next to Shakespeare?

    I think the books instead are meant to refer to Andrew’s journey. The scenes with Andrew and the knife and his attempts to avoid admitting his guilt to himself remind me of lady MacBeth, and of Raskolnikov’s Nietzschean justifications and rationalisations for his crime.

    Why did Andrew kill Jonathan? Why did Andrew start down the whole supervillain thing last season, for that matter, and happily play accomplice to Warren’s schemes of rape and murder? Because, at the root of things, he doesn’t believe the rules that apply to other people do or should apply to him. He believes that he is special, above the rest of humanity, deserving of more (“We are as gods!”) and therefore allowed to do things that the rest of the world sees as crimes.

    In that light, the Nietzsche book is not at all out of place.

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  43. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on February 23, 2014.]

    That’s an awful lot of significance for two books. If your explanation is what they were thinking, I have a lot more respect for them than before.

    Still, I think they put that book in there as a subtle wink ‘hey, this season is about power!’ Even if this instance is not particularly bad, the fact is I’d rather see this as distanced from the rest of the season, given my dislike of it. I understand this is not a particularly rational reason, but that’s what I think.

    I do like your explanation, though. It makes a lot of sense, even if I don’t think it’s what the writers intended.

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  44. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on February 23, 2014.]

    I don’t think my interpretation is too much of a stretch. Nietzsche is known for his “ubermensch” thing and his nihilistic rejection of conventional morality as much as he is for the will to power. The “ubervamp,” whom Andrew refers to in his illustrated Hellmouth chart, of course is derived from that term. That’s very relevant to Andrew and his whole situation. Moreso than the power theme, I think.

    (Admittedly, I mostly thought of Dostoevsky because I’ve read Crime and Punishment, but only skimmed some of Nietzsche. Fortunately, I very much doubt the writers’ Nietzsche-reference is meant to go beyond its pop-cultural face-value.)

    Shakespeare represents storytelling in general. He’s the bard. And many of his most famous characters do struggle with their deeds. Macbeth was just the first one that came to mind, but there are other fitting examples.

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  45. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on February 23, 2014.]

    I like your interpretation and agree with the Shakespeare bit, but personally I’m not convinced that the Nietzsche tome was meant to be anything so meaningful. That does not make your theory any less valid, though.

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  46. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on February 23, 2014.]

    In any case, it’s a book in the background of a short scene at the beginning of the episode. I’m not sure how upset you can really get over that, no matter how you view the intention of its placement there.

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  47. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on February 23, 2014.]

    True … although I have to point out that I stated it as a ‘minor’ con.

    Also, and I’m sure we all do this, I tend to be the most picky with the episodes I love the most. This is in my opinion second only to “Doppelgangland” when it comes to blending humour and character insight, and would possibly be in my Top 10 Buffy episodes. That means I will show it no mercy when it comes to small hiccoughs.

    Of course, the big flaw in the episode is the mess that is the Seal of Danzalthar, but I blame that on the writers failing to clearly define the mythology of the First and the Hellmouth in the previous episodes. It’s funny how I’m so forgiving of some flaws and immensely critical of others.

    Whatever. We’re all insane in our own way.

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  48. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on March 4, 2014.]

    I was hoping this episode could complete the “every-episode-16-in-my-top-25” stretch, but alas, most of the episode didn’t really work for me. I like Andrew quite a bit, but he just wasn’t funny for me in this episode. Plus, there was a lot of jumpiness in terms of time and directorial style which was sort of offputting.

    And, the episode was so much recap and a couple times even “characters articulate what “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is all about.” I could see it working, it just fell flat for me.

    That said, the last 7 minutes or so were fantastic. Andrew’s last scene in front of the camera almost made the whole documentary/story format worth it. Such a great scene and a great way to make someone who had been a bit of a 2 dimensional cartoon (a likable 2 dimensional cartoon, but a cartoon nonetheless) so much deeper and more tragic.

    Season 7 has been underwhelming for me, even with the lowered expectations. There’s some really good stuff going on at the fringes with Buffy’s leadership style secretly being surprisingly ineffective, but the stuff that each episode is centred around has not been as compelling as it has in other seasons.

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  49. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on March 4, 2014.]

    Are you saying that “Hell’s Bells” is in your top 25? I think you might be the first fan I’ve read who rates it that highly.

    I don’t think that there’s anything ‘secretly’ in the season’s approach to the fact that Buffy’s leadership style is surprisingly ineffective – in fact, I would argue that it’s one of the central points to the story that the season is trying to tell.

    In the various attempts that I’ve seen to analyze the main story of S7, I think that it’s consistently overlooked how important the parallel is between Buffy’s tenure as a guidance counselor at Sunnydale High, and her later role as ‘general’ of the impromptu Slayer Army, and how the former anticipates her successes and failures in the latter. There ought to be no doubts for the viewer about the sincerity of her commitment to helping the students of SH, or about how much she cares for the lives of the Potentials, and in all fairness she does do a consistently good job of tackling most of the immediate problems that come up in both capacities (her most notable failures – the death of Cassie and the debacle at the vineyard – both come about in spite of her determined efforts to preempt them).

    Her approach flops anyway (it’s notable that both times she gets fired by the same people who first approached her), mostly because she just can’t manage to maintain a ‘connection’ with the bulk of the people around her, for reasons that are intimately tied up in the central puzzle of her character arc of the season.

    As far as the underwhelmingness of Season 7 as a whole goes, I empathize a lot with something that Chris Stangl wrote:

    “Anyway, the longer I spend looking at these episodes, the more this “what’s wrong with Season Seven” project turns into How To Read Season Seven. Because I like it as a highly tolerant enthusiast of the program (or “fan”), but I’m not sold entirely; it’s all just so sloppy and incoherent in the big picture. So much of the season that fizzles on screen, well, maybe it works in theory, and case in point here is “Sleeper”. It’s one of my very least favorite episodes, and I came to appreciate it while working out what it is and what it does. So I guess the lesson is if everyone watches every S7 episode four times and writes 40,000 words on it they might like it a little bit more.”

    His reviews of CWDP and Sleeper at the Exploding Kinetoscope, btw:

    http://explodingkinetoscope.blogspot.com.au/2013/11/playing-vampire-towns-notes-on-sleeper.html

    and

    http://explodingkinetoscope.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/spend-night-alone-notes-on.html

    make for some great reading, and helped make me feel like I ‘got’ at least part of the season a whole lot better.

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  50. [Note: Firewalkwithme posted this comment on March 5, 2014.]

    I think season 7 grows with multiple viewings.I agree that the main-plot of this season was sloppy and incoherent in parts but I think it shouldn´t be overlooked that it was also the most ambitious arc in the whole show and if it would´ve been pulled off with a bit more care this might´ve been the best season of them all. That said I can´t fault this season very much since I love everything surrounding Buffy and her leadership role, her beautiful relationship with Spike, Spike´s arc itself, the general build-up in the first half, the complex conflicts between our beloved characters with no easy resolutions (“Selfless”, “Lies my parents told me”), the themes of overcoming your own worst enemy, experiencing the corruption of power,coming to terms with who you are etc.

    Everytime I´m at the end of my run of the show I just feel incredibly excited and relieved for these characters because I have seen them grow over seven years and the more I knew about them the more I loved them. Especially when it comes to Buffy. She survived all these struggles, was burdened with more problems than a 22-year-old girl should be allowed to bear and yet she still didn´t give up no matter how terrible her situation was. I find that pretty inspiring and uplifting and that´s why she´s one of my favourite characters in tv-history. Words can´t describe how I excited I feel when she gets up again during the battle against The First in “Chosen” (“I want you…to get out of my face.”) and we see her rejecting and overcoming the First´s version of herself that stands for arrogance, superiority and loneliness.

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  51. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on March 5, 2014.]

    When I said “secretly” I meant secretly up to this point. There have just been hints of it so far, like everyone being bored in Buffy’s speech in this episode, or the way she threw the slayers to the wolves back in “Potentials”. I understand it becomes a bit more obvious after this, but I haven’t seen after this yet.

    The parallels between the guidance counselor and leader of the potentials are very good, as is what seems to be the theme of the season as Buffy as the leader of the next generation. It’s no coincidence that I find “Help” and “Bring on the Night” to be two of the best if not the two best episodes of the season.

    I really do not mind the arc of the season, in fact, I like it. But the plots of each episode are consistently underwhelming and that’s a major problem. It’s like the opposite of Season 4, where many of the episodes were excellent but didn’t really add up to something. I like to connect things in the big picture, but I like to enjoy individual episodes as well.

    As for “Hell’s Bells”, there’s times I know I’m rating episodes more highly than most people and know why. I have no idea why “Hell’s Bells” isn’t considered one of the top episodes in the series. The episode is a combination of important, with scenes that are both touching and heartbreaking and funny at the same time (Anya practicing her vows is among the best scenes in the entire series) and it manages to proceed so organically. I love that the monster didn’t force Xander to leave Anya, it just accelerated something that would have happened naturally. That’s how you use your supernatural elements, not as deus ex machine but to show something about the characters that was always there but wouldn’t have come out otherwise. And I love stories where things go wrong and people get hurt, but there’s really not a lot of blame to be had, as you are sympathetic to both people. It’s a fantastic episode. Just talking about it here makes me think I might even be rating it low by having it outside my top 10.

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  52. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on March 5, 2014.]

    I’m not sure that I would go quite so far as to say that S7 could have been the greatest season – its flaws just stick out at me too much. But apart from that I agree completely with all of your sentiments.

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  53. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on March 5, 2014.]

    You do have a point on the relative paucity of individual episode plots that are ‘whelming’, by comparison to the previous seasons (particularly the third and sixth seasons, which arguably boast the greatest collection of memorable quality standalones between them), and the season is hurt somewhat by the fact that it lacks a universally acknowledged *outstanding* episode of the kind that series 2-6 all boasted at points.

    That being said, I think that you sell the season short by describing the episode plots as “consistently” underwhelming. The case has been eloquently made elsewhere (i.e. see MikeJer’s reviews) for why at least three episodes – Selfless, CWDP, and LMPTM – are A+ quality, and I think that “Touched” and “Chosen” fall only just short of that mark. I also count “Beneath You” as great, because despite almost the entire episode being forgettable, the end scene in the church stands in my book as one of the strongest in the entire series.

    Also, the flip side of fewer notably strong episodes is that there are fewer notably weak episodes as well. I think that the contrast with Season 6 is especially strong on this point. Despite the fact that S6 contained multiple episodes that I count as among the best of the show, it also contained at least a few that I consider to be among the worst, period.

    With Season 7, despite all the angry words that many people have to say about “Empty Places” (including myself at times) I don’t find any of the episodes to be notably egregious, which is something that counts as a plus for me.

    I don’t think that Hell’s Bells is quite one of the worst of the sixth season, but I definitely wouldn’t call it a strong episode.

    I take your points about why you like it, but it just doesn’t work for me. I suspect that it *could* have been a strong episode, but the fact that it isn’t comes in part, I think, from its break with the standard episode structure. Most episodes follow an A-Plot/B-Plot formula (sometimes more, but usually there’s a major and minor plotline dominating), whereas HB focusses monomaniacally on the disaster of the wedding, to depressing emotional effect.

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  54. [Note: Firewalkwithme posted this comment on March 5, 2014.]

    Well, let me eloborate on that a bit more. In season 7 the First Evil is used more as a concept, a psychological manipulator, the little voice inside you that tells you that you are not good enough, you are weak, pathetic etc. The Ubervamps, the Bringers, Caleb – these are all just physical obstacles for our heroes to overcome while the First itself just has to get into the hearts and minds of our characters and prey on their weaknesses, thereby setting everything into motion.

    I think this works tremdenously well in the first half of the seventh season where the First manipulates Spike into killing people, haunts Willow and Dawn with Tara and Joyce respectively and overburdens Buffy with the responsibility of saving the world against an unstoppable, intangible threat and protecting the slayer-line from its destruction.

    The problem is that the writers really dropped the ball halfway through as far as the main-plot is concerned. Logically, The First should´ve become even more agressive in its psychological manipulations, sent out way more dangerous demons after Buffy and the potentials and NOT gone into remission at all.

    I really think that if the First methods had been more scary and unpredictable in the second half and all characters had to suffer under its sickening influence we would´ve had the most exciting and tense season of “Buffy” ever. But it takes a lot of finesse to pull of a concept like the First Evil over a whole season of television and I guess because the “Buffy”-writers aren´t that concerned and good with plot it didn´t work out so well. But I´ve made my peace with the lacking arc of this season and in the end the character work and the themes – that are explored through great character work – are just way to intriguing and thought-provoking to me, to get overly upset about the plot. It´s a flaw of this sesaon, no doubt, but it doesn´t weigh so much on my overall evaluation of it.

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  55. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on March 5, 2014.]

    Great points.

    I’ve come to think of S7 as the coda or epilogue season of the show, much as I think of S1 as the prologue season. The ‘core’ of the story for me runs from season 2 to season 6, revolving around a pair of duologies – S2/S3 and S5/S6 – with S4 sitting in the middle as the most standalone season of the series.

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  56. [Note: Firewalkwithme posted this comment on March 5, 2014.]

    Yes, that´s actually a great way of looking at the show!

    I also think that is was increasingly difficult for the writers to dig even more deeper into the characters because – as far as I´m concerned – season 6 showed them all in their most vunerable, “real” and conflicted state. The only thing they could do was follow through with that and that´s why they tackle Buffy´s core conflict as the slayer which was a huge deal for her throughout the whole show but not as much in the spotlight like in this season. Most of the other characters (Spike, Xander, Willow) have to redeem themselves for their past actions and look for a new direction in life.

    I think the other problem was that with Glory and Warren they already had the most physical strong and human bad guys respectively, so where should they go from here? :)I think that´s why the First Evil sounded really good in concept because the character had to deal with a more internal threat that forced them to deal with their biggest fears and weaknesses (Buffy´s loneliness and superiority-complex, Xander´s uselessness, Willow´s lack of control)

    You definitely can´t say that they weren´t ambitious anymore.

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  57. [Note: Firewalkwithme posted this comment on March 5, 2014.]

    Hem, come to think of it, it´s actually interesting that the First never tormented Xander. I guess because he didn´t have any great powers and is always the first to call Buffy out on bad decision anyway?

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  58. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on March 6, 2014.]

    The real-life explanation for that is that Eric Balfour was busy. Conversations with Dead People was supposed to have a couple of scenes where the First interacted with Xander under the guise of Jesse, asking why Xander had forgotten all about him. I can’t think of any other dead people who would have meant something to him, honestly.

    And the First does go after Xander, just not yet. “So you’re the guy who sees everything…”

    (Anya wasn’t included in the episode because it would have been redundant– her fears were already covered in “Selfless.” Giles hypothetically could have been visited by either Jenny or Ben, but Robia LaMorte didn’t want to keep the role and I don’t know if Ben could have gotten to the heart of his issues.)

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  59. [Note: Firewalkwithme posted this comment on March 6, 2014.]

    Yeah, I don´t think that would´ve worked though because when Jesse died in the beginning of the show no one cared. It would´ve been hard to show Xander feeing guilty about forgetting his old friend five seconds after he staked him. So, I think that he didn´t show up in the episode at all worked out for the better.

    And you´re right, the First eventually goes after Xander but that occurs pretty late in the game and he isn´t really haunted by The First in a psychological sense like the others were.

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  60. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on March 6, 2014.]

    I think I’m starting to get why the First didn’t go after Xander. Xander’s importance to the group is his ability to keep everyone else together. His faith in Buffy is what keeps the Potentials from insurrection. Caleb very easily could have killed Xander, but he blinds him instead as a message to the rest of the group: “Put your faith in Buffy and you’ll get yourself killed.”

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  61. [Note: Firewalkwithme posted this comment on March 7, 2014.]

    Right, and I also think that the First wanted to punish Xander for his rousing speech about Buffy before they were about to go off to the vineyard. The subsequent fight there is nothing short of demoralizing for everyone involved. Some potentials die, Xander looses an eye and Buffy doesn´t seem to care. Xander´s one-eyed presence (hah!) is a constant reminder of their failure and what might as well happen to them too.
    I think Xander is also the most tangible and “normal” person for the potentials to latch onto and if he´s demoralized by Buffy´s leadership skills then they doubt her ability even more. Xander is like the average joe-connection between Buffy and the potentials, I think.

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  62. [Note: Rachel posted this comment on March 27, 2014.]

    Okay so this is my second time around rewatching the series and there are some things I still do not get. If there is one complaint that I have with BTVS is that I do not understand a lot of the mythology, like the stupid Seal thing (Tears, really!? Kind of lame and sloppy on the writer’s part), and can SOMEONE explain to me the whole vampire mythology thing? If a vampire cannot have a reflection (As they’ve stated number of times on Angel and the earlier Buffy seasons) how are they visible on Camera? I mean, we see that Spike clearly shows up on camera, so why doesn’t he have a reflection, then? I just feel like some parts of the mythology just weren’t very clear.

    Anyway, other than that, I absolutely loved this episode, while it won’t be in my top 10 favorites, I do respect it, a lot. This episode right here is one of the reasons why BTVS is one of the best TV shows of all time, and why today’s TV show writers should really learn something from BTVS. I mean, who’d think, at the almost end of the very last season of the show, we’d see all our favourite characters (Anya, Xander, Buffy, Spike, Willow etc) from such a fresh, perspective, and a SIDE character who wasn’t even that important to the show (except for random comic relief) is concentrated on, I love how even the side characters that aren’t so important get their moments in the spotlight with this show, it really is proof that the writers were creative till the end with this magnificent show. One of the MAIN reasons I love BTVS is how it can come up with unique, interesting, creative plots and manages to surprise us even when we think there can’t be any more surprises left! What I admire even more than that, though, is the focus on character development. There are very few shows in today’s day that provide us with such strong, well-rounded characters. This show really makes you feel what the characters are feeling, it’s like your on a journey with them–which you won’t see in today’s shows. I watch a lot of today’s tv shows which I feel have amazing characters but are too plot-focused and less character-focused which is a bad move on the writers parts, (eg. Teen Wolf, The Vampire Diaries etc) The characters in these shows are awesome, but we don’t feel for these characters the way we do for the BTVS ones simply because they don’t get enough character development, the writers are waayy too focused on the plot and lose insight on their characters, which really brings them down for me. Of course, this is all just imo and I could be wrong.

    Anyway, to sum it up, really liked this episode, really like Andrew both for his comical stupidity, and his emotional journey, I also appreciate the continuity between the Wood and Spike storyline. (“Sexual tension you could cut with a knife”) According to Andrew, haha, that cracks me up everytime! Even Anya’s “Why can’t you masturbate like the rest of us?” Line, KILLED me! Ahaha!

    Also, I love when the pig passes by and Wood’s like, “God, I hope that is not a student!”

    One thing I found Out of character for Buffy, is how lightly she was taking people’s heads exploding, girls becoming invisible, and all of that. It just didn’t seem like Buffy to be so calm about it all, you’d think she’d be more panicky, but one thing I absolutely loved was the whole ‘high school is hell’ thing highlighted in this episode, “Die Cheerleaders!” and the “Marching Band rules!” that was gold stuff. For someone who really hates High School that much like me, it makes complete sense.

    Lastly, I wanted to say I just recently discovered your site, Mike! And there’s not a day I haven’t been lurking about on it, since. I love reading the discussions and your reviews which are almost always totally spot on, being the big Buffy Buff I am ^_^ ! Just wanted to say that… Great job with the site, and the reviews! It’s refreshing to see that people still talk about BTVS, years and years after it was aired–talk about influence !

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  63. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 27, 2014.]

    Thanks for the comment! I’d glad you’re enjoying the reviews. Feel free to join the regulars in the Forum for extended discussion about all kinds of stuff. 🙂

    As for “Storyteller”, I totally agree that it’s great the show takes the time to flesh out a side character like they did here.

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  64. [Note: Vincent posted this comment on April 28, 2015.]

    This episod was funny and all (I laughed a LOT, which remains to be rare watching Buffy, as humor-oriented the show can be sometimes :)), but that’s not exactly the reason why I enjoyed this episod. Actually, this episod shows that season 7 isn’t as messy, “forced” or confused as it seemed to be at first. The whole story telling (wait…) is even better, in my opinion, than what we saw on the earliest seasons (even if those seasons had other qualities). I’m not a huge fan of season 7, but I have to admit that it’s not as bad as I thought it would be when I started watching it. There are flaws, tangible ones, but there are also really good ideas, lines and scenes that I can’t and won’t ignore. For example, even if it’s a bit cliché, I really like the story revolving around Spike and Wood. The “Oh Spike, you’ve changed now, you’re a good vampire” speech was a bit too convinient, we needed something (in this case : someone) to remind us, and to remind BUFFY, that Spike used to be a dangerous killer.
    Anyway, I’ll give you my verdict and the end.

    Oh and, Kennedy ? Yes, she’s annoying and mostly useless. But hey, just ignore her, she’s not that important after all.

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  65. [Note: alan24 posted this comment on June 23, 2016.]

    I find myself agreeing with both of the conflicting views on this epsiode. The first two times I watched it (on UK TV and then the 1st time on DVD) I found it very hard to see past the suddenly-central figure of Andrew, who has much of the screen time, but remains supremely irritating: I could not watch him with pleasure and therefore I found it very hard to enjoy the episode.

    On this viewing, I still very much dislike Andrew, but suddenly I can see around him. Many of those early “video” sequences are not things that Andrew could ever have recorded: he has no way to construct a traditional study for the introduction, Buffy would not consent to the absurdly glamourous scene with the cornflakes, and so on. What we see is the production team having fun showing different styles of telling Buffy’s story, and this meshes beautifully with Andrew’s penchant for absurdly melodramatic presentation as a way of avoiding his own personal responsibility. And the way that he keeps on changing past history (e.g. when he easily deflects bad-Willow’s spell, or the multiple versions of what happened when he killed Jonathan) is amusing, or at least ironic, and also a realistic comment on how storytellers can change perspective when they retell a tale.

    And in fact there is a lot about other people, which I can now see: Anya is always hilarious, the update on Anya and Xander is touching, and the school scenes are also good, especially the so-short remniscence of OOMOOS but also it’s good to see Buffy working with Wood.

    Of course the climax is powerful (I had noticed that even while hating the rest of it) and rather lovely: as MikeJer points out, Andrew suddenly becomes a person, who is beginning to learn, a bit. And I notice that it makes very effective use of Buffy’s S7-persona as the ruthless general, to do something which is not ruthless at all. That’s neat.

    For the rest … I never cared about the seal, it’s just a plot-device. Maybe it makes no sense, but Angel’s curse in S2 and the self-contradictory stuff about vampire’s souls through many seasons of BTVS and ATS also make little sense and are much more central to the show: I can live with that, so I can certainly live with the seal.

    Thinking more widely about S7, which I notice is one of the debates: one of the few bits of sense in what Andrew says is when he is allowed to be the mouthpiece for the writers’ recognition that Buffy’s rabble-rousing style of rhetoric in S7 has become just a little dull. For the remaining doubters, just imagine transplanting one of her S7 speeches to S1, S2, or S3: Buffy herself would be the first to debunk it. And yes you can go on about growing up and responsibility, but BTVS is after all entertainment not a real call to arms, and Buffy is just more entertaining when she saves the world in her spare time before going back to something far more important like her social life. That is the main reason why I can’t go with “S7 is the best ever” but it still has a lot of good stuff, in particular Selfless is amazing.

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