gif: smashed

Smashed

“Coping.” Right? It’s “Coping?” Anyone?

Another dialogue post! But before we start…

T: That’s Creepmeister on the Netflix splash screen for this episode, isn’t it? Goddammit.

{*../*} : Because nothing says fun like proto-Gamergate dudes on my screen.

T: Previously On calls back all the way to Gingerbread in Season 3. Remember when Amy was a human? Remember when Amy was a character instead of a running gag? It’s also very long.

{*../*} : Buffy is really damn funny in this opening scene as she’s fending off muggers (muggers! In Sunnydale!) and generally acting like a woman with her head together. Which goes really weirdly with the end of “Tabula Rasa,” I gotta say. And now Spike has show up, gotten jolted with pain for attacking one of the (human) muggers and generally embarrassed himself, and is now hitting on Buffy. “To that, an extreme ‘see you later.’” Oh, Buffy, if only that would sink this ship.

T: I was about to comment on Spike also being funny, but then he showers her with slut-shaming metaphors and pointing out her isolation. Lovely guy, that Spike. You’d almost think he’s a soulless monster. You’d almost think a guy has to be a soulless monster to behave that way.

{*../*} : Meanwhile, Willow is opening her door on a silent house and staring gloomily, then wandering back into her room. Sad music is playing. Am I supposed to be feeling sympathy here? Is that what’s going on? Because I gotta say that the girl who MIND-CONTROLLED her girlfriend to maintain her relationship is not getting sympathy from me at this time. ‘Cause even if I take the magic mojo out of the metaphor, she is the abuser in this situation and I am not inclined to feel sympathy no matter how big her puppy-eyes are.

T: I feel sympathy for Seasons 1-5 Willow because she has to be put through this storyline and thus shed my sympathy going forward. Oh, look, it’s Rat-Amy. And Willow missing the point. And trying to cover just how awful what she just said is with calling it joke.

{*../*} : “And leave you for no good reason.” Um…. REASONS! There are A LOT. Like you literally dragged your Buffy out of the grave and moved her into the house you share with your girlfriend, had a fight with her and wiped her memory - not once, but twice, and the second time after promising to ease off trying to solve every problem with your big magic hammer! Bad Willow. Bad!

T: I think Sweet lacks Willow’s talent for wrecking relationships this season. And for causing trauma. And he’s an evil mind control fire music demon. Can we get him back? He was fun. Willow casts a spell and summons paper. It’s a magic scroll. She should scribe it to her spellbook before she uses it… hey, it’s Amy. It worked. Wait, she could have summoned paper any time? Opening credits. No Tara, but given that I’m pretty sure she’s been written off the show for a bit that’s not a surprise.

{*../*} : As an aside, screaming Amy right before the credits. Not a good omen for this spell, either.

T: “I was a mouse. I had cheese. I had four legs. I was happy. Now I’m a human again, with human troubles. Everything is cold and nobody lets me run on a wheel.”

{*../*} : Stop making up dialogue, honey. It confuses the readers. Even if it is better than the show’s right now.

T: If they’re going to bludgeon us with the metaphor, they need to use a big bludgeon. No pussyfooting around it.

{*../*} : We resume with Andrew doing a ridiculous entry to a museum which is thoroughly unnecessary. Much Trio ‘witty banter’ which is not. “Phase One of the plan is now complete.” That’s the dialogue that really makes a girl’s heart beat faster. They use a freeze ray on the guard, and Creepmeister dismisses the idea of the guard telling on them in a way that screams “murderous intent” to me.

T: Unless he’s already murdered the guard via Jonathan’s very chilly and almost certainly frostbitten hands and hasn’t told them. I’m not sure whether to expect Cinematic Freezing, which wears off with various degrees of side effects, or Actual Freezing, which kills you stone dead, in this show.

{*../*} : Meanwhile, Willow is trying to ply a very nervous Amy with hot chocolate and looks guilty when Amy says she felt like she was in the cage “for weeks.” Because, you know, the girl who’s been a rat for years because she was in your coven and had to turn herself into a rat to avoid being burned to death because of a…. You know what? Nevermind. Feel guilty about your abused girlfriend who moved out of the house to we-don’t-know-where!

T: I forgot Larry died. The Mayor killed him in “Graduation Day,” for the record - had to go look that up. Amy wants to go to prom with Larry. Larry is gay, Larry is dead, and prom is very far past over. Apparently, Rat-Amy has no sense of time. Also, I will note that the fancy rat, which is the most common pet rat subspecies and likely what Amy was, lives for 2-3 years if taken care of well. Amy keeps getting forgotten by the writers and often was simply absent from dorm scenes in season 5 - I’m not sure if they moved her cage to the Tara/Willow dorm room set. Magic must have kept Amy alive, because I don’t know what else would. Maybe she drained the life of Miss Kitty Fantastico, who appeared in “Family” and hasn’t been seen since. “Family” was set more than a year before “Smashed,” as a note.

{*../*} : “How have you been?” “Rat. You?” “Dead.” So Buffy comes home and comes up the steps to talk to Willow, and they’re sitting down to talk, and Buffy asks Willow how she’s doing in a far too sympathetic tone and then launches into a conversation about choices - good, bad, living with them - and I think she’s about to talk to Willow about Tara and magic and then I realize no, she’s about to talk about kissing Spike. And then Amy walks in, and that’s when we get the classic dialogue I just quoted while Buffy is sitting there with a huge stunned look on her face and radiating a general air of “I should leave you two alone” after MISTAKING AMY FOR TARA as if Tara would just happen to be there again. I don’t even know where to start unpacking what a huge mess this scene is after barely a minute..

T: I think Buffy thinking Amy is Tara is one of the more sympathetic moments in the scene. She’s in Willow’s room and someone comes out of the bathroom; to Buffy’s reflexive reactions, of course the person coming out of the bathroom is Tara. Also, I have to say… while I’m really not into the arcs we’re working on here, the dialogue in this episode is really snappily written. Buffy’s scene in the cold open and this one here both do some wonderful things with that.

{*../*} :  All true. But not only is Willow acting like a girl who got dumped instead of a girl who’s abused girlfriend walked out, but Buffy is acting like a woman whose friend is having a ‘normal’ fight with her girlfriend. I mean, granted Willow isn’t Angelus in the abuse department, but seriously? Nothing? We’re just going to sit down and have girl talk like we used to in high school?

T: Honestly, I buy that too. I don’t LIKE it, but I buy it. Buffy is basically going through super-trauma (like regular trauma, but with superpowers). She wants to talk about her problems. Willow doesn’t want to talk about hers. Might as well meet somebody’s needs, right?

{*../*} : Stop enabling abuse, Buffy! Anyway, we should roll on while I fume.

T: I really don’t like it. On the other hand, Amy wants cookies, and not cheese. I want cookies and cheese.

{*../*} : And now Buffy is leaving without talking about her issue after making sad-face when Willow talked about it being nice to have a magically-inclined “friend” around. Are the writers trying to play a romantic jealousy angle here or are they just really oblivious? Because as a lesbian girl, I’m sitting there going “Buffy is there to reestablish her prime straight-but-intimate placement with Willow and then gets beaten out by ex-coven-mate Amy and looks upset by that.” Is that not how I’m supposed to be reading that?

T: What I read in the scene, from Buffy’s perspective: “I have Problems. I have an emotionally intelligent friend who I have relied on in the past when I have had Problems. I will go tell my emotionally intelligent friend! Wait… my emotionally intelligent friend is busy. And holy fuck that thing she just said was heartless and oblivious and awful, wasn’t it? My emotionally intelligent friend is not a safe place to bring my problems now. I will go to the living room and set up a sofa bed.”

{*../*} : Legit. That does make more sense.

T: Amy has all the cookies. There will be no cookies for Dawn. Amy is watching the news and it looks like Rusty survived the freeze ray and is in critical but stable condition. But when we get to the museum, he’s still frozen solid and being removed from the building on a hand cart, which would make measuring his vitals a little difficult.

{*../*} : Now Buffy is talking with Spike at the museum. More priceless dialogue. The way that Buffy is wearing her hair and the turtleneck is weirdly artificial, now that I’m looking at her, and oh God the writers are playing a “she wants to get with Spike but is trying to talk herself out of it by armoring up her look” angle, right down to the pigtails as a provocative touch to encourage him to push, aren’t they?

T: Pretty sure they are. I wouldn’t have caught that, but now that you point it out it’s really obvious. I really want to hate this scene - it’s very Buffy/Spike, with the unhealthy and the slut-shaming and the Spike everywhere, but the dialogue. The dialogue. It’s so GOOD!

{*../*} : “When I kissed you, you know I was thinking of Giles, right?” “You know, I always wondered about you two.” “What? Oh! Gross, Spike!” Sarah does a wonderful little-girl-on-the-playground cadence on gross which is great acting but also makes me want to take an icepick to my temple.

T: Did Spike just punch Buffy then not have his chip go off? I think that happened. Yep. That happened.

{*../*} : Yep. And then he tracks a girl into an alley with intent to kill, gives himself a rousing “I’m still a monster, I’m not housebroken!” speech and then has blinding pain when he tries to bite her. Soooo the chip is working (probably), but Buffy isn’t reading as human anymore, which was neatly suggested by Buffy’s venomous delivery on calling him an inhuman thing. Because that’s not ominous at all.

T: So now Buffy isn’t human, according to a piece of evil military technology. What was the last time one of our cast thought they weren’t human? Pretty much it was the same time we last saw Miss Kitty Fantastico. “Family.” With Tara. Hey, it’s Tara! She could have been added to the opening credits!

{*../*} : She’s having a milkshake with Dawn, which is adorable. Tara is encouraging Dawn to eat leafy greens and gently prodding her about the size of her milkshake, and breaks with minimal encouragement into the “I will always be there for you” speech. This is playing like a mom-with-daughter-in-midst-of-divorce scene, and a cute one. Please, writers, acknowledge Tara moved out because she was being abused. Any moment now. Oh God, Dawn is deploying the “You still love her” defense. Oh… God. “She’s been really good about careful about stuff.” The writers are not off-point, actually, because this is not the nice sunny scene it’s being shot as at all. This is the daughter from an abusive household trying to tell the abused mom who moved out that the remaining parent has changed because it has been X days since the last incident. It becomes really obvious if you change the gender pronouns in Dawn’s dialogue here. “[He’s] been doing a lot better lately. [He’s] been really good about being careful about stuff.”

And now we’re having a nice normal investigation scene with the gang, everyone sitting around the table, more brightly lit shooting, but when Anya says they don’t have the right text and Willow says “We’ll do it another way,” sudden Buffy and Xander are on red alert. “I don’t think we need to resort to…” Buffy stumbles out, and Xander’s mouth is hanging open to add something, and then Willow pulls out her laptop and suddenly Xander is enthusiastically talking about going “back to basics.” Apparently “Tabula Rasa” didn’t actually vanish from everyone’s minds after all.

T: And Willow magics the computer. Magic hacking. That’s… a neat idea, or would be if not for the fact that we’re in Buffy Season 6. I believe magic hacking more than I believe TV hacking, which basically treats computers as magical anyway. Xander wants to go away from her. And Anya gets everything out in the open.

{*../*} : Except she makes it about Tara having left her, which is NOT THE POINT. Which is okay from Anya, but then nobody else corrects her. Also, “It’s better this way,” Willow? Really?

T: Truth. Though Anya did point out that nobody wants to talk about anything. Either they don’t understand, or they do and they don’t want to talk about anything. Either way… I don’t have an ending to that sentence.

To be fair, it IS better that Tara has left her abusive, memory-deleting girlfriend. Willow is right on that note. That Willow is the abusive, memory-deleting girlfriend makes me less sympathetic to her rightness. Then she finishes her sentence and is no longer right. Oh god I hate this scene.

{*../*} : “This time away will help us sort things out” (while she does nothing to acknowledge what the problem is in the first place). “Now let’s get through this. I don’t want to leave Amy alone in the house so long.” Umm…..

T: Now we’re talking about Amy. Willow implies that Amy might not remember how to use a toilet. Buffy is now good with this not leaving her alone in the house thing. Ye gods, though, Willow, straight to insulting Amy?

Season 6 Willow might be worse than Spike. If not for Creepmeister’s presence, she might be the worst character in the season. Is Creepmeister there to provide a counterargument to “Willow is the very worst?”

{*../*} : Speaking of whom, we cut to the diamond. And a dick joke.

T: PENIS JOKES! And here’s Spike, to ruin days. MORE PENIS JOKES! He is threatening Boba Fett. I think Creepmeister is revealing things we already knew based on him being Creepmeister here.

{*../*} : The comedy here is wonderful, but the most interesting thing is that Spike just walked into the headquarters of the season Big Bads and did not in fact notice they were doing anything. Including, say, the big diamond on the table. He’s so focused on himself and his chip and what’s going on with Buffy that he doesn’t see them as anything but an easily-dismissed tool for his agenda.

And now Willow is home and talking with Amy, who wants to make her dad forget the last three years. And Willow is making jokes about the poor aim of her forgetfulness spells, because ha-ha that’s funny.

T: I hope we’re meant to be horrified that Willow thinks that’s funny. Oh god, I hope we’re meant to be horrified that Willow thinks that’s funny. Amy wants to go somewhere. Not to her father’s. Was her father involved in the attempt to burn her at the stake? Amy is playing on Willow’s old insecurities. Willow wants to have fun.

And now we get Creepmeister doing diagnostics on Spike’s chip. Then the aftermath. Andrew is trying to impress Spike with his Doctor Who viewing. Spike yells for Creepmeister. Creepmeister says the chip works still. Spike understands what’s going on. “Nothing wrong with me. Something wrong with her.”

{*../*} : Tara is walking into the house with Dawn.  Who is pressuring her to stay and invoking her own loneliness. That’s horribly manipulative. I really feel for Tara here. Dawn’s being a pretty typical teenager, but Tara’s in a situation where her maternal feelings about Dawn are being used to hold her hostage in the house until her abuser (who is out hitting the town with the ex-rat) gets home so that Dawn can try to push them to reconcile. Icky.

T: I feel for both of them. You’ve hit why I feel for Tara - whose situation is among the worst of a whole cast of people in bad situations - but Dawn is basically out of even partially functional parental figures. Giles left. Willow’s utterly ‘round the bend. Buffy is broken on a fundamental level and, even if she’s hiding it better than she was a few episodes ago, Dawn knows it. Tara’s the closest thing to a safe adult she has left in her life. That’s… really terrifying, when you think about it.

{*../*} : And the correct answer is for her to move out with Tara, but Dawn’s need to keep an eye on Buffy and her attachment to the house and her refusal to really process what Willow having done what she did means is keeping her where she is. Someone writing this knows about abusive households.

T: It’s not just refusal. Dawn can’t escape. Not processing that is a psychological survival mechanism.

{*../*} : True. Sorry, that’s correct. That it has the effect it has doesn’t mean it’s something she’s making a choice to do or that she somehow ought to be pulling herself up by her mental bootstraps to get out. She’s fifteen and ‘grew up’ in a household run by Joyce, for heaven’s sake - even Season 5 Joyce didn’t exactly teach her kids how to identify and stand up to abuse.

T: Willow and Amy are playing pool and talking about Xander and Anya. And are drunk. And it’s magic pool. Amy’s going to dance with a boy. And now Amy is casting attraction spells on girls regarding Willow. We know that’s a thing she can do. Willow, at least, is begging off this, though her stated objection isn’t “this is overriding their free will,” which really needs to be brought up because Amy does this, but is instead “I’m getting over a breakup” or maybe “I’m still into my girlfriend who I expect to get together with again any day now.” Goddammit, Season Six Willow. Amy is going to dance. And is dancing. Michelle Branch isn’t playing the Bronze today. Willow has a sad face. Now she’s drinking alone and threatening her olive. Amy runs back over and apologizes, which is better than Willow’s done about her much worse offenses so far. Amy says yet another really good line of dialogue (the dialogue writing, as I’ve said, is REALLY ON this episode), and now the guys are insulting Willow and harassing Amy.

{*../*} : Homophobically insulting Willow. She and Amy are swapping significant looks. Incoming magical doom in 3, 2, 1….

T: And now they’re in Speedos dancing in cages. The guys, I mean. Really? That’s the magical revenge/justice? It… honestly feels very “exploiting gay panic” to me.

{*../*} : The guys are clearly meant to be acceptable targets and we’re either supposed to laugh or be horrified at that moment. Or maybe the writers are splitting the difference, with the idea that we’ll laugh now and be horrified when the fridge logic kicks in?

T: Inasmuch as this show ever creates acceptable human targets (remember: violence against humans in this show is described as basically always evil), the guys come close. But this particular approach to responding to them just reinforces the stuff they were doing in the first place. How can an episode with such good dialogue keep tripping over basic plotting and themes?

D&D manuals don’t look like that, writers.

{*../*} : That’s Dragons of Summer Flame. It’s a Dragonlance novel. No-vel. With novel cover art. I know because it’s sitting on my shelf in my bedroom. They stuck a D&D novel in his hands and called it a monster manual? I don’t know if I’m impressed they had a D&D book lying around or horrified they got it so wrong.

T: It’s too bad, because the actual pages of the Second Edition AD&D Monster Manual would make a GREAT sight gag here. With the little rectangles in the corners that have the monster pictures? If they were worried about copyright, they could just make sure Xander had it open to the Invisible Stalker page, since its rectangle was empty.

{*../*} : Xander and Anya and Buffy are sitting around talking about how bad they are at research. Then they talk about Willow. Then Spike calls, and there is wonderful farce comedy with the conversation. Soo…. lots to talk about here.

Anya and Xander are pitching the idea that you have to watch out for quiet, responsible people because when they get a taste of being bad (or connecting to something bigger than them, or getting out of control) then they explode into a frenzy of bad decisions/power use/out of control. They’re worried that Willow was using too much magic before Tara left and now it’s going to get worse. “It’s human nature,” Xander says, and Buffy is immediately launching into a defense of responsible people and the importance of not assuming everyone is being seduced right before Spike calls. At which point the camera gets very close to her face and we watch her eyes get all huge while Spike growls at her over the phone, followed by protestations of how professional the call is from Buffy, followed by her immediately jumping on his double entendre on which he then doubles down. The camera work here is just screaming “bad boy, good girl, they’re thinking about having sex” and Buffy’s ditched the pigtails and turtleneck for a semi-transparent white blouse over a camisole that bares her neck and tied her hair back in a way that’s designed to make those close shots provocative. The costuming department is loudly telling us that this is a woman setting herself up to be seduced by a soulless dead guy who she was trading punches with earlier and who is now excited to know he can hurt her and planning to meet up in a CEMETERY.

Help me, Tia. I can’t even start to explain how problematic both those conversations are.

T: I feel like we’re beating a horse that is not only dead here, but has been turned, stabbed and thrown into Hell, returned from Hell, regained its soul, and become an unlicensed private investigator in a hotel in Los Angeles, but, once again, the entire cast - and probably the writers and almost certainly the director? - have fixated on the magic thing without acknowledging that Willow was abusing Tara, or that they were there, in the room, being Randy and Joan and witnessing it. Hell, Anya made out with Giles in the middle of the evidence; that’s how much in the middle of it they were. And nobody - ever - even Anya who talks about everything - has so much as brought it up. “She’s using too much magic,” they say, like when I walk into a room and find there’s blood everywhere and a corpse and I say, “Huh. This person uses too many knives.” The knife addiction is NOT THE PROBLEM HERE. I really don’t know how long I can go repeatedly saying “They’re not acknowledging the abuse and the writers are giving no indication that that’s supposed to be a problem,” but this episode keeps throwing at me in the midst of its immensely clever dialogue.

Buffy and Spike’s dialogue here? Immensely clever. Seriously, this is the way those characters talk at its very best. As for the content of it… I think you covered why it’s fucked up pretty well there, with a side order of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer, especially when it comes to its main protagonist, has a bad habit of being generally sex-negative and that makes it even harder to tell whether it knows this particular moment is extra-problematic and super-creepy.”

Heh. “Captain Peroxide.” Good one, Xander.

{*../*} : Buffy is making excuses about Spike. Like a bad boyfriend she doesn’t want to admit to.  And now he’s stalking her outside the magic shop. And they’re trading threatening banter, and she hits him. He hits her back, and there is a distinct lack of pain. Buffy’s horrified face. “Don’t you see? Don’t you get it? You came back wrong.” More horrified face. Cut to black. Credits.

T: Did you know that Russian scientists are trying to bring back the fauna of the Ice Age to combat global warming? We might live to see wooly mammoths on Earth, which is a happy thought.

Less happy is Spike exploiting Buffy’s already-extant insecurities about her resurrection in his continued fucked-up pursuit of fucked-up fucking.

{*../*} : Sex and violence is a longstanding literary mixture. No question, it gets a lot of people’s motors running, but let’s be clear - Spike is now literally threatening Buffy with physical harm and psychologically abusing her while pursuing having sex with her in a dark alley, and the writers have just spent an episode coding “She wants him to fuck her” into every interaction they have. This is not an okay set-up for a show being made in a culture where women are routinely raped and then face attacks on their personal worth, credibility and whether it was “true stranger rape” or not. If you do not explicitly give verbal consent or if you withdraw consent at any time and someone continues trying to have sex with you, that is rape. Period. It is never okay.

T: I think the last time Spike got this rapey was that scene with Willow right after he got his chip. Remember that one? The one we were supposed to laugh right after when they started making impotence jokes? This is an attempted rape scene, and… yeah. They loaded it precisely how Dragon is describing. So now they fight. Buffy throws Spike into an abandoned house. Amy and Willow are still at the Bronze, watching the guys dance and listening to the music… and… holy fuck really? Dragon? I can’t even. Can you even?

{*../*} : I can very even. So let’s start with Amy and Willow up on the railing of the Bronze, with the guys from before still up in their cages dancing and a guy next to them doing the Robot and looking incredibly freaked out. Both of them look like the cats that ate the canary. Willow decides she doesn’t like the music and flicks her fingers. Disney sparkles. And then the male band leader turns into a woman in a tight shirt and sexy-makeup fronting a band playing a completely different sort of music. The rest of the band are also women. Right before he got hit with the magic, his eyes got huge with terror. Question: did she just transform them into the bodies of girls and magically compel them to play, or swap them for a different band who are not being magically compelled to play, or erase them from reality and replace them with magical replicants who exist to play the music she wants them to?

Hint: none of these answers is good, and the problem is not that she did it with magic.

Now Amy is making a guy fly, and Willow is making one guy incredibly tall and shrinking another, and Amy is turning people into sheep or possibly just summoning sheep. More magic sparkles, I can’t even tell what they’re doing now except making the club look like something out of Lewis Carroll by way of Circe and mind control fiction. Willow has a creepily sexy look on her face and is pressing her tongue to the back of her teeth. Cut to Buffy and Spike beating the shit out of each other in the abandoned house they charged into before. Spike is doing a creepy laugh and swinging on a chandelier that’s coming out of the ceiling. They’re throwing each other through stairs and the fireplace mantle. Buffy has started in on the verbal abuse now, too. “I’m in love with you,” Spike says in a creepy voice, and Buffy fires back with “You’re in love with pain. Admit it. You like me ‘cause you enjoy being beat down. So really, who’s screwed up?” And Spike, bless whoever hit this line and James Marsters for delivering it, says “Hello? Vampire. I’m supposed to be treading on the dark side.”

Yes. Yes. Stake him now!

No. More punching with a sexy camera angle. “What’s your excuse?” he says. She throws him into a wall and then flying tackles him.

Cut back to Amy and Willow still hanging over the rail. Guy floating in the background. Flying music. “So we’ve kinda played this scene,” Willow says, looking bored. “Return.” And now everyone’s back to normal and nobody seems to remember what just happened. And Willow is talking about somewhere bigger. Amy makes a joke about it being too early in the night.

Cut back to Spike and Buffy. Spike: “I wasn’t planning on hurting you. Much.” Creepy smile. Buffy: “You haven’t even come close to hurting me.” Is this supposed to be foreplay? Am I supposed to be getting hot for this? Because I’m gonna level with you, readers, I am a kinky girl who is into all sorts of stuff that isn’t allowed in mainstream movies and what this making me is excruciatingly uncomfortable.

More beating up the walls. And now Buffy’s kissing him and he’s shoving her into walls and they’re mixing fighting with more kissing. And literally taking the building down around them while we hear the sound of his zipper. And they’re having sex with their clothes on and staring at each other. Dramatic music chords. Building is come down without a sound, but we hear their noises and they go right through the floor without breaking penetration (yeah, right, that’s NOT how that works boys and girls) and finally, finally the credits roll.

T: Finally. Mercifully. At long last. So… “Smashed.” It’s not the worst episode? It’s got clever dialogue. Nobody tries to burn their children at the stake. That’s… all it has going for it, isn’t it?

This was an actively painful watch. I know we talked about it a lot during the synopsis, but the whole thing nobody acknowledging the fact that Willow was abusing Tara and the story as a whole not making clear that it was aware either (the scene with Dawn and the milkshake indicates it might be, or that someone in the writer’s room is, but… I don’t know).

This is Season 6. During Season 6, Joss Whedon was basically ignoring Buffy (though he wrote “Once More, With Feeling”) and left it in the hands of lead writer Marti Noxon, who was herself suffering from a huge, severe bout of depression. It’s possible that, in addition to that affecting the show’s creative direction, the lack of effective leadership on the creative side led to poor communication among the writers?

{*../*} : Something is certainly going on in the production, here, because we’re being told several contradictory things here. On the Willow side - 1) The Dawn scenes tell us that Willow abused Tara and they’re broken up, and 2) the gang scenes are pitching us a Willow is high on the rush of magic, Tara was a speedbrake on that, and now she’s going out of control with Amy as her enabler-buddy. Depending on which of the two we believe, we can read Willow’s scenes as either her being in denial about her own actions and their costs and trying to hide from it with Amy’s devil-may-care recklessness - taking an active pleasure in flaunting what Tara was warning her about - or we can read them as a soon-to-be-junkie ceasing to be functional on her first night of binging. But we can’t do both. We just can’t - the text dissolves into nonsense if you try. Similarly, the Buffy scenes are telling us one of two things - either Buffy is in a state of existential despair and discomfort and her willingness to charge into Spike’s rape fantasy game is an act of self-destructive self-loathing, or Buffy is a responsible girl who’s been trying to live for others and Spike is the bad boy who’s about to introduce her to rough, reckless sex and embracing the kind of self-centered aggression that isn’t heroic. You can reconcile those two if you squint, but it requires saying that Buffy’s retreading Faith’s path from Season 3 and doing it while keeping it a secret from all her nominally supportive friends, and even Faith only looked like the second one - it was very clearly put out there toward the end of Season 3 that her bad girl attitude was very much a mask over the self-loathing and self-doubt that the Mayor eventually assuaged by being (perversely) a good father figure. And even then, the script doesn’t seem to know if we should be cheering her on or shouting no.

T: If it does know that, it’s certainly not telling us. I’m really not sure what to do with this episode… from the episode titles and the way it closes out, I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be a cliffhanger or a two-parter, but that also felt like they tried telling two complete, mutually exclusive stories with each lead within the course of an hour. Maybe “Wrecked” gives it some context, but I don’t expect it would be enough.

{*../*} : Well, we’ll find out?

Home.

The long walk to my destination isn’t as much of a problem, not with the beautiful scenery I’m greeted with everyday. The walk doesn’t isn’t so difficult either, I discover as I slowly made my way home.

They waved at me happily until I get close enough for them to greet me. I took my usual spot, right next to the self-proclaimed commander. Of course she always has to take the seat with the backrest. It dosen’t matter to anyone anyway. There’s space for everyone.

Snacks and jokes and everything is shared with one another. Loud roars of laughter are blasting from our mouths as if we were loudspeakers. People from the outside peer in and pretend not to hear us; it doesn’t matter. Nothing outside ever matters when everyone’s home.

The conversation: absolutely pointless, but full of life. As soon as I cracked my latest bad joke, more quips followed in response. Laughter endlessly spilled over our lips. A few friends end up brushing by home and they idly chatter with everyone. The happiness is infectious.

Not everyone has a seat, but it’s okay. My home knows how to share, and share we do. The chatter continues, sometimes dipping to more depressing topics, but milk is too overpriced to stay sad about trivial things for so long, we all soon discover as we swear that we’re literally dying in a fit of laughter.

Even the littlest things are valued here, a pen can quickly turn into a magic wand, or a microphone for the diva to sing her heart out. As she belted her notes, the true diva decided to join in with a note higher than any of our dreams could hope to reach. Everyone laughed at the comparison, not caring if it’s actually somewhat true. It doesn’t matter, especially when home is full of support that can help you go even further than your dreams.

The saddest thing about home is when you have to leave it. The bell then rang, as if on cue, signalling that we all had to get going. It’s not like we can stay home forever. Even the kitten has to leave its mother’s loving embrace at some point.

We all are aware of this, that at some point we will have to leave home and grow up. We all seem to have the same thoughts on it, however, and ignore the fact for as long as possible. After all, brooding and staying sad has never done anything good anyway. Home is now; home is in the present.

That is, until the final bell has rung and the final hymn is sung. Even when separated in the crowd of people, it was easy to tell that home was singing to the tune of the hymn in the most obnoxious, most ear-piercing way possible. Home was not going down without a fight.

Strange, everyone thought as we all dashed to each other to capture what was probably the most confused photograph of the century. Her cheeks were tear stained, while she looked way too happy for the occasion, she got blurred out of the picture because she moved way too fast, and she looked as if she didn’t get even a wink of sleep– it was all so ridiculous, but this, this is home.

Looking back at it, I wouldn’t have it any other way. People would think I’m crazy– to want to go back to a home that was chaotic and strange– but they didn’t know better. They would never know better.

Home is strange, but it’s a safe place.
Home is weird, but it’s a happy place.
Home is chaotic, but it’s an accepting place.
Home is ridiculous, but it’s a comforting place.
Home isn’t perfect, but it’s enough.

Home is more than enough.

I can’t wait to go back home.