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I Blame the Dutch mpoetess
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Happy Birthday, squashed!

In Buffy news, despite how it might have appeared to anybody I was in chat with last night, I did like the episode. It's maybe #5 on my season list so far. (Selfless, Beneath You, CWDP, Lessons, Potential) I've got my issues, and they haven't gone away just because of other people's squeeage, but neither am I trying to kill anybody's buzz. I *always* have issues, and I'm always going to instinctively point them out, no matter how much I love a show/ep/character. And if that's going to make people defensive and leave them feeling threatened somehow, like I can damage their show-love merely by pointing out my specific problems... Shrug? Tell me beforehand and I'll keep my mouth shut.



Loved Dawn pretty much unequivocally. Really liked Andrew -- his jokes were less cringeworthily bad, it seemed to me, especially played off against Xander and his "I'll *pay* you to talk about Star Wars." I love the humour between them -- and Xander's reaction to Andrew is one of the things that makes me feel even more like Xander hasn't really turned into a middle-aged guy in the last two years. He's too embarrassed that people will look at Andrew and remember that Xander isn't so far off from that, in geekiness, though not in morals.

My first comment of the evening was "Buffy? Shut the FUCK up." I stand by that. I'm willing to go with TBQ's assessment that Buffy is showing the things she's learned from Giles. Except.... Giles mostly learned those things from *Buffy*. Giles taught her deeper, more emotional, less put-into-words-able lessons. The kill or be killed? The brain+instincts=survival? That's all stuff that Buffy learned for herself. And, I think, taught to Giles. But. I had no problem with Buffy *knowing* the things she was telling the potentials. I had no problem with her passing that knowledge on. It was just the *words*. That kind of speechifying that Buffy/Xander/Willow at age 18 would have been doing an MST3K on if someone had given it to them. Pretentious, trying-be-ubercool crap.

And before you say "Yes, but Buffy's grown up now and she's been through all kinds of shit and she's more mature..." A) Dude, she's 22. B) The *potentials* aren't grown up, and if Buffy at 22 has forgotten the way *she* would've reacted to that kind of kitsch coming out of someone else's mouth, then I worry. C) Just about anything she's been through now? She'd been through by the time she was a senior in high school. Being dead? Done that. Loved a vampire? Done that. Hated herself? Done that (re Angelus). So... maybe it's all on a larger scale, maybe there's Dawn and Buffy has to play the grownup now... but my point is, Buffy in the training lessons seems like the kind of grownup *Buffy* would have laughed at when she was the SITs' age. And that's a bit telling.

Clem! Squee!

And sadly, I found myself liking the Spuffy moments simply because they were a) Spike moments and b) Buffy being *nice* to Spike moments.

Dawn. Did I mention Dawn? Rocked.

Slayers, Comma, The? Arggggggh. It's perfectly fine for Buffy, Dawn, et al, to not know that the line of succession now goes through Faith (if Joss hasn't change dhis mind), because the only place it's ever been said is Outside The Series, by Joss. So y'all who keep harping on that? Hi. Buffy does not have Colin Sense (see TBQ for explanation) and cannot read interviews that her creator gives in the Real World. However! If Buffy (Dawn, Xander, Willow, the Bringers, the Ice Cream Man and the Pope) believes that the next potential slayer will be called with her death, then why the hell haven't they also ben searching for Missing Slayer X who was called with her most *recent* death? Why does she say "They'll hunt down the potentials, then Faith, then me?" (paraphrased) Cake. Have or eat, Marti. Both is not an option. (Though cake or death is an option.) Buffy can believe that she's still active in the Slayer lineage, but that brings with it the fact that hi, she *died* recently -- and one of the Big Brains researching day and night should have come up with that fact...oh...five minutes after she hit the concrete in The Gift? I'll give them leeway for grief then, but, um, now? When they're all looking for potential slayers? K, done now.

Xander. I really don't have words. Except big hug and squeeze. And yes, it's gratifying to see ME point out what we all knew. It's not quite as gratifying to have Xander himself have to point it out in small words, so the kids watching at home can color along in their Picture Pages, but BtVS has lost much of its subtlety over the years, and I'll take what I can get. The Xander-Dawn kiss was adorable, and I love him and want him to hug me, please.

I still stand by my assertion that he's lost his spark, though. He doesn't seem mature, so much as resigned. As if he's buried the kid that he was deeply within himself (see Andrew, ashamed of being like) and has accepted that he *has* to be the grownup, because that's the only place for him to be a (relative) success. I don't see where people are getting that he's actually *happy*, is the thing. Glad that he's found a spot, as Xander the comfortador, maybe, but he doesn't feel *happy* to me. And if Xander *was* a scared, insecure little boy, as Anya accused him of being, when did he outgrow that? I'm not seeing anything in his behavior now that suggests he had an epiphany and suddenly grew to maturity over the summer. (The thing with Willow at the end of Grave? I maintain that he would've done that at any point in the series. That didn't take maturity; it just took devotion.) He isn't acting now much differently than he did when he was with Anya, except for seeming less pressured and assholish.

I don't want him to be the snappish, ADHD scared little boy of Season 3 (some of which I'm now watching for the first time, since I started in S4). But he's 22 years old! Nick Brendon isn't, but Xander Harris is, and while I accept that NB's not going to be able to *look* 10 years younger than his actual age forever, I wish they'd stop making him *act* like Xander is already buying 401K plans and drinking Metamucil. I'm 8 years older than Xander, and *I'm* not as old-acting as he is. My married-with-children friends aren't as old-acting as he is. I love him, but it feels like part of him has died, or been bound, gagged, and locked in a closet, and I don't see him as being really happy. Which hurts, because see above re Love For Xander, Comma, Amy's.



That's the news and I am outta here.

And may I kill zortified's ISP? Or possibly her phone company? No, really.

Edit: I didn't mean to sound like I was asking people to convince me not to stop commenting in LJ -- I meant that if it bugs anybody in chat, when we're all sitting around watching Buffy at the same time, or just after, I'll try to keep the more critical thoughts to myself, or at least PM somebody who seems to agree with me and rant to them, rather than inflict it on the whole gang. :-)

wesleysgirl

2003-01-22 06:41 am (UTC) (Link)

*Smooch*

As long as what you have to say is thoughtful, I don't mind listening to differing opinions. Read this as "Please don't shut up!" (The only thing I can't stand is when people have nothing good to say about the show ever, but keep watching and bashing it. Which is not you.)

I always like hearing what you think.

:-)

mpoetess

2003-01-22 07:20 am (UTC) (Link)

*smooch* backatcha.

Not directed at anybody in particular -- I just sometimes get the feeling that me being critical comes across as me trying to put a downer on otehr people's fun, and I wanted to point out that a) not my intention, and b) if it really does bother people, I'll try to do what I can to tone it down or take it elsewhere.

zortified

2003-01-22 06:54 am (UTC) (Link)

I think I agree with you about..er..everything. And I want to see Xander-fic where he shows this is how he is, instead of being for real grown up.

Although I wonder if more of it isn't that he's really more mature than not. Perhaps not totally grown up, but - some people age fast. Given his background, ie parental issues and slayer assistant experience -- Xander has had a lot of things in his childhood which would have aged him. Maybe now he's decided that since *someone* has to be the grownup, and he has the ability, he will be. But not all of it may be an act.

Because I was that old when I was younger than 22. :-)

mpoetess

2003-01-22 06:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Pfffsshhhh... Sound of hysterical laughter. You're not that old *now*.

No, I *get* that bad circumstances and a need to take responsibility because there's no one else to do it will make some people mature beyond their years. It's just... I don't think Xander has *had* those bad circumstances, *since* he moved out of his house, when he *should* have been displaying the mature-beyond-his-years thing, if his were the type of personality to do so.

zortified

2003-01-22 07:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Well, no, I'm not that old now. I was a lot more old-acting when I was younger. Came from being the only responsible party in the house for 18 years.

But - I'm just saying I don't think that all of Xander's maturity is an act. Maybe when he moved out, first time, he did a sort of 'yea! I'm outta there! I can kick back and do whatever I want' and dropped whatever sense of maturity he might have had going. Then when Giles left, Xander looked around and said "ok, there's no one to take care of Buffy and Dawn, except me."

Maturity isn't an all or nothing deal. Xander could be mature when it comes to Dawn and BUffy, immature when it comes to himself (and Anya) -- because it's easier to be mature and responsible for someone else. When it comes to himself, he may not be able to get past his fears and insecurities to do the mature thing. But that doesn't mean there isn't a voice in his head saying "you know how you took care of Dawn? Why don't you take care of yourself that way?"

mpoetess

2003-01-22 07:16 am (UTC) (Link)

I meant, though, that Xander never displayed *any* sense of maturity until *after* he moved out. So I can't really buy his homelife as being the thing that could force him to act old beyond his years. He was the class-clown type of coper, when it came to dealing with a dysfunctional family -- so the steady dying away of his sense of humor seems unnatural.

mpoetess

2003-01-22 07:18 am (UTC) (Link)

But yeah -- I have no problem with Xander being the one to stand up and take care of Dawn and Buffy, while acting like an ass about himself and Anya. That's called being human.

It isn't the *real* maturity that gets to me. It's the kind of .. what Iro was talking about. The shouldering the burden as responsible one because someone has to, 9-to-5 job, this is the only way I can display success in my life... thing.

iroshi

2003-01-22 06:56 am (UTC) (Link)

I'm willing to go with TBQ's assessment that Buffy is showing the things she's learned from Giles. Except.... Giles mostly learned those things from *Buffy*.

See, I don't agree with TBQ's assessment. I think that Buffy's showing them all the things she WISHED the Watchers would teach their assignments. Things that she's learned on her own, the hard way, and she wished somebody had taught her right away. She's giving the pontificating speech because they have to know these things, and they have to know NOW, because this is the short version, or else they're gonna die Real Soon Now. And yeah, they're MST3K'ing it...but they're listening, because they know underneath the pontificating sound of it, she's trying to condense her longest-living-Slayer-ever wisdom into a short this-is-how-to-stay-ALIVE lesson plan.

So yeah, she comes across a little pompous. I've noticed that Buffy tends to get pompous whenever she gets scared and responsible for other people's lives. :D

It's not quite as gratifying to have Xander himself have to point it out in small words

Oh, I thought it went well with the storyline, actually. Because not even *Dawn* knew how much Xander saw, that he had to explain it to her. I liked that whole scene. I was holding in my squeals because it was just that -fabulous- and I wanted to hear every word. I squealed after, though.

I don't see where people are getting that he's actually *happy*, is the thing. Glad that he's found a spot, as Xander the comfortador, maybe, but he doesn't feel *happy* to me.

I agree with you entirely. He's *not* happy. He's sad and lonely, but he loves the people around him and will do anything for them, so he pretends to be happy, and they don't notice. And a lot of the viewers are as dumb as his friends, honestly. As for maturity? What matured him the most was the split-episode, where he saw the two sides of himself and came to terms with the fact that he *was* capable of things. That's when he started doing the competent 401K-type stuff. I have known other people who were nearly that in-their-niche at his age, and I think the whole saving-the-world and being back-up to the people-who-save-the-world have spurred him to try to find *something* he's good at, some sort of calling. I don't personally consider that *maturity*...though I suppose it's what passes for maturity to a lot of the world. The whole "settle down with a good job with a good future" thing.

I don't think it's so much old-ness as it is too much weight-of-the-world in the past several Buffy-months...and Buffy and Xander especially are not Dealing well with it. None of them are, really, but them especially are in serious Denial, and what you're seeing are their coping strategies, IMHO.

mpoetess

2003-01-22 07:13 am (UTC) (Link)

I think my problem with Buffy's speech is not totally that she *made* it, as that the SIT's *weren't* MST-ying it, or weren't doing so enough. I want the show to tell me it's *aware* of when its caharcetrs are sounding ironically pompous. I got the impression I was supposed to buy into Buffy's speech and think it was as cool as they did.

I'd have been more down with the "Xander sees everything" speech if Xander had seen *anything* last season. He *is* the guy nobody sees, but he stopped demonstrating that he was using that situation to observe others, round about the middle of season 5, when once again, they all got lost in their own problems. And it's *fine* and natural for Xander to be scared of relationships and caught up in his wedding plans and Buffy's death and yaddayadda -- but it takes away some of the impact when words are put into his mouth that we should've been shown. Hey, that said, I still loved the scene -- for the emotions behind it, for the Xander-as-comforter, for the kiss, for just it being Xander getting more than three lines ina scene!

I agree with you about his maturity/weight-of-the-world. As well as Buffy's, though Buffy's is so tied up with so many other issues I have with her that I don't think I can be unjudgemental about it in her case. And that some of it is the Stress of Recent Events.

Some of it's just... Xander used to be naturally funny, even when he wasn't hyper. Now I can see his jokes -- and they're Jokes (TM) most of the time -- coming from a mile away, because my grandpa told most of them when I was five. And he stole them from Jack Benny. And that's just bad writing for Xander, I think. Which makes me wistful.

squashed

2003-01-22 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you very much, MP!


mpoetess

2003-01-22 07:20 am (UTC) (Link)

Woot! Party!

(Deleted comment)

zortified

2003-01-22 07:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Oo. I really like this summation of Xander's character. :-)

mpoetess

2003-01-22 07:38 am (UTC) (Link)

I agree with almost all of that. (I think the 'maturity' now is a little too hard to tell apart from the 'maturity' when he was trying to be what he thought Anya wanted, for me to be able to pull it apart and say that there's something different going on.) I like your theories on why he doesn't White Knight anymore -- though, as I agree that The Zeppo is a perfect description of his character arc, I find it sad that he seems to have lost much of what he learned about himself in that episode.

xdawnsummersx

2003-01-22 01:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

one heck of a condensed run

I watched every episode I could get my grimy little hands on over the course of two weeks.

Do I win?

djinanna

2003-01-22 07:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Don't shut up, please!!! I agree with a lot of what you say here -- and even the stuff I disagree with? Enjoyed the alternative viewpoint. Lots.

Buffy? Has become the stuffy that she always mocked. You're exactly right there. How did that happen? How did ME let that happen?

But -- she's also not like that every moment. The best things about the Spike-Buffy interactions was that she wasn't being Professor Slayer then. The best thing about the (really rather painful) counselor scene was that she wasn't being Professor Slayer (she was kinda geeky there, actually).

It's like she's become extremely schizoid, goofy Buffy in some scenes, Professor Professional-Killer-Slayer in others.

Is it maybe that she's trying too hard to be credible for them.

Xander ... there are no words. Which of course usually doesn't stop me.

I'm not thinking Xander is happy right now. I don't even think I'd say he's content. Sadder but wiser, yes.

I also don't think he's lost his spark. He definitely had his spark in the first few episodes this season. I think he seemed tired in the last couple episodes, I think this new Big Bad, or maybe this new situation, is getting to him in ways past Big Bads/past situations haven't. Maybe because of all those (annoying and noisy) baby Slayers? It's gotta be depressing to watch a bunch of young girls learn about how doomed they are, let alone realize yourself that there's nothing you can do to prevent their doom. Maybe because he doesn't have Anya anymore? They were together for three years, after all.

The Anya accusation ... like all "heat of anger" digs thrown by an ex-significant other, this had some truth and some exaggeration. And no, we haven't seen any actual character development and growth. But, if it's not Buffy herself doing the growth, we often don't get to see it. I'm inferring a lot of this from the content and tone of that final speech by Xander to Dawn, because the content and tone were mature and together. A little sad, a little content. Bittersweet.

And in the past, when we have seen Xander have peak emotional moments (like The Zeppo)? The writers tended to forget about them the following week as he reverted to Default Setting Xander. Which was very frustrating.

(Not that it matters, btw, because I'm not so great remembering the fine details until others remind me, but I've watched Buffy since the beginning. I was fannishly hooked by reading the name "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" before even the theatrical movie came out.)

I also want Xander to be happy. I think he *deserves* love and happiness and all good things, just by virtue of all he's gone through in the last 7 years, and the way he's had to go through it, often the only guy in the group, often the only non-superpowered one. (And even when Willow wasn't SuperWitch!Willow, she was still BrainyComputerWhiz!Willow, which is a kinda superpower.) I don't think he is happy. But then, everybody always tells me that there's no happy endings in the Buffy-verse. Even a certain degree of contentment, then, is better than the others will get. Though of course he deserves more.

But still ... that spark is dimmed, you're right. But I'm still thinking it's cause he was tired. A bit overwhelmed by responsibilities, by having to take over the Giles role so young. But starting to feel more self-confidence and inner centered-ness because, hey, he handles the responsibility pretty darn well.

Feeling optimistic because that's the way I am. (In deep denial about that "no happy endings in Buffy-verse" stuff, too.)

mpoetess

2003-01-22 07:54 am (UTC) (Link)

*G*

Actually, I'm optimistic too. (Though my problems with stuffy grown up Xander have been going on since mid season 5, and definitely S6 -- so I don't see it as something caused by Anya leaving him and him needing to fill a hole.) I think they all deserve happiness (even schitzoid, arrrgh, repressed, preachy, confused, annoying, self-righteous, superior still-cute-as-a-button-when-she-cries Buffy) or at least comfort. Ithink Joss is going to continue to fuck with us, but I hold out til the bitter end that something good will happen.

gem225

2003-01-22 07:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Please keep commenting! I love reading your takes on Buffy episodes, especially since I don't watch every week (but I will soon! I've got one whole tape from this season and will get another one when it's full! *happy dance*). Your commentary keeps me interested, as does TBQ's and musefool's and zortified's.

mpoetess

2003-01-22 08:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay! Buffy pimpage!

I didn't mean to sound like I was asking people to convince me not to stop commenting in LJ, though I'm glad I manage to be interesting here -- I meant that if it bugs people in chat, when we're all sitting around watching Buffy at the same time, or just after, I'll try to keep the critical thoughts to myself, or at least PM somebody who seems to agree with me and rant to them, rather than inflict it on the whole gang.

thebratqueen

2003-01-22 10:21 am (UTC) (Link)

You know the thing is I hate people who do a critical analysis of a show after the fact. They're such pretentious assholes ;)

mpoetess

2003-01-22 11:55 am (UTC) (Link)

DORK.

Doody-headed DORK.

thebratqueen

2003-01-22 02:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Could you at least wait until I get the new haircut before you make fun of it? Sheesh.

niqaeli

2003-01-22 12:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Randomly and uniformedly, given I haven't been able to watch much of this season(combination of not being able to face a good show going bad and also conflicting rl stuff) I have to say that I want to smack S7 Buffy and make her sit down and listen to her S3 self. S7 Buffy's saying stuff that she was not only MST3King but utterly rejecting in S3--particularly the Faith stuff about power.

Almost as randomly, I find your opinions fascinating. It's the fans and their fic and their critical analyses of the show that keep me interested at all in season 7, at this point.

mpoetess

2003-01-22 06:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm just watching a lot of S3 for the first time (since I came in during the late summer reruns before S4) and I can see that. Then again, I can buy Buffy having changed a lot, in terms of her attitude towards power. I think she *is* a lot more like Faith. It's not even *what* she was saying this week that bothered me, so more as *how* she was saying it, because that seems like more of a characterisaion flaw, or a really sad change in her personality. vs. the kind of things she really might have learned from becoming sadly older and wiser, re: power.

and thank you :) I'm still in it to the bitter end, because I love the world and the characters -- but I;ve definitely become more critical of how they're portrayed.

xdawnsummersx

2003-01-22 01:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

I think now's a good time to point out that Dawn kicked royal ass this episode. Did she or did she not get a Minibuffy whaling on evil in less than five minutes, compared to Buffy's like four weeks?

Agree with Xanderthoughts. He doesn't seem so happy. I think they're going to do something more with him and Anya, because it looks right now like he's hiding his feelings for her.

-Mun of Dawn

mpoetess

2003-01-22 01:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

I think now's a good time to point out that Dawn kicked royal ass this episode.

Indeed she did. (Mind you, sneaking out the window in the first place? Not so bright. K' granted, *Buffy* did it all the time, but that alone ought to have told Dawn something...) Dawn gets cooler all the time.

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<i>I think now's a good time to point out that Dawn kicked royal ass this episode. </i>

Indeed she did. (Mind you, sneaking out the window in the first place? Not so bright. K' granted, *Buffy* did it all the time, but that alone ought to have told Dawn something...) Dawn gets cooler all the time.

<i.I think they're going to do something more with him and Anya, because it looks right now like he's hiding his feelings for her.
</i>

I hope so. Slashchick or not, I think Anya's the best person around for him of the ones that the show would ever actually do... And even if they don't reconcile, I sure as heck hope they get more closure than Anya going off to 'find herself' like it seemed she did in 'Selfless.'

valancy

2003-02-24 12:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes.

Xander and Willow's characterization, while I can't say it's evil or wrong, has been so frustrating - I finally diagnosed my problems with Willow, but I couldn't put Xander into words. Thank you.

May I friend you?

*sniffs*

XANDER!!! COME BACK!!!!!

mpoetess

2003-02-24 05:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Absolutely! Welcome.

Yeah, Xander's characterization makes me alternately happy and tired. Happy when they remember that he's supposed to be there and what role he fills, and tired, when they decide to remind us of that by giving us tiny glimpses. Throwing a bone here or there, like the show bible says he's suppose dto be funny, so here, give Xander a funny line - forget whether it sounds like *Xander* or not, because all funny is the same...

[stops now]

Not to be spoilery, but it actually looks like there is a Xander storyline coming up. Yay! I think.

Re:

valancy

2003-02-24 02:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

I don't mind. The only spoilers I'm against are the ones that give away the huge plot turns. Halleluia for more Xander and proper fullfillment of his role!!!!