Thursday, November 15, 2012
Buffy the Vampire Slayer review: Seven Seasons
WARNING: Spoilers follow. I'll try to be vague but some plot points will be revealed.
On my birthday, I finally finished the seven season long science fiction TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". Starting in 1997 the show follows the life of Buffy Summers who is the Slayer which is, as described - "Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampire's, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer."
Recommended to me by two friends(who also got me into Star Wars), I immediately fell in love with the television show. I loved seeing a strong female lead who was the chosen one and was an extraordinary fighter(she's the best out of all the characters). Wanting to turn the horror film stereotype of the pretty blond girl being killed by a monster in a dark alley, Joss Whedon made the core statement woman empowerment and it certainly shines through brilliantly.
Not only was the lead, Buffy Summers, physically strong she is, as well as the rest of the cast of characters, a very strong character in her own right; while watching the show she definitely feels like a real person as do everyone else. While the show is about vampires and demons and magic and evil, the people in it are very real and seem like people you could meet on the street. Joss Whedon and his group of writers sure know how the human psyche works and how different people act, react, and handle situations. The characters are by no means perfect- each screws up royally- but that is what makes them extraordinary. I love the main characters of this show and while at time I want to smack them in the face and shout "What are you doing?!" I wouldn't have them be any other way.
Since the show is seven seasons long, I'll give my highlights, thoughts, and favorite episodes of each season and tell you what I think about the characters progression and the Big Bad.
Season 1- The season starts off with Buffy, a troubled girl, moving to the town of Sunnydale with her mother after having burned down her previous school when fighting vampires; while unwilling at first to accept her destiny as the Slayer, she begins following what she must do when her new friends are in danger.
The first season, which was sort of half a season, is an awesome opening to the show. With it's monster of the week episode progression, hilariousness, and epic story arch, it makes up for some of the cheap animation that is prevalent in the first couple of seasons(it greatly improves over time). It introduces you to Buffy, your typical popular, Californian girl that loves shopping and girly things who just so happens to be able to beat up and fight anyone she wants; to Willow, the studious, timid, easily frightened geek who begins to have an interest in magic; to Xander, your average guy, who is also a bit of a geek, who proves to be the most loyal of the group; to Rubert Giles, Buffy's Watcher as well as the school's librarian, who teaches her what it means to be a Slayer, and eventually becomes the father figure that is absent in her life with her parents divorce and her father's distancing behavior; and to Angel, a vampire with a soul who is brooding and ridden with guilt from all that he had done before gaining it.
The villain this season, a vampire called the Master, is a good one; while not the show's best, he is a solid villain and was perfect for Buffy's first foe.
While I loved all the episodes this season, my absolute favorites were
2 Prophecy Girl
3 Out of Mind, Out of Sight
5 The Puppet Show
6 I Robot....You Jane
7 Never Kill A Boy on The First Date
Highlights of this season would be
1: Buffy, after having been revived via CPR by Xander, kicking the Master's butt(in a dress) and sending him crashing through a glass ceiling and onto a spike below "I may be dead, but I'm still pretty"
2: Buffy helping Billy with his fears, saving him from the 'ugly man'(his subconscious' rendition of his coach who beat him into a coma) by beating him and telling the little boy to wake up; I also like it when she confronts the actual coach(as does Billy) and helps to put the man in jail
3: Buffy's reaction to finding out she has to die "Giles, I'm sixteen years old...I don't wanna die". Sarah's performance in this scene was her best this season. I was really impressed with her here.
4: Willow, Xander, and Giles running from a clown with a knife in "Nightmares" and Xander's "Your balloon animals stank! Anyone can make a giraffe!!"(or something like that)
5: "You forgot sunrise....which is in another nine hours you moron!"
6: The whole concept of the unpopular girl turning invisible because she felt so isolated and ignored by the world around(and because of the mystical nature of the hellmouth on which Sunnydale resides). Since I know a thing or to about feeling left out, I at first felt bad for the girl but once she started going insane and wanting to kill someone in revenge, I stopped feeling sympathy for her.
7: Buffy saving Cordelia in "Out of Mind, Out of Sight"
8: How Buffy defeats the demon Moloch and Willow punching him in the face saying, sarcastically, that they can still be friends after their breakup(I was laughing a lot during this scene).
9: Buffy saving Xander and another boy from the evil She-Mantis(who is CREEPY). I won't say what was going to happen- let's just say I'm glad she died.
10: Buffy, Xander, and Willow preforming a play in the talent show at the end of "The Puppet Show"
Season 2: The second series of Buffy has to be my favorite. It had the best villains(Spike, the soulless Angel also known as Angelus, and Drusilla), the character of Oz is introduced, it has the best plot, some of the greatest growth for all the characters, and an amazing show down. The season was wonderfully dramatic, had a ton of awesome fight scenes, and had some of the funniest humor as well as one of the best Buffy episodes to date.
After a moment of true happiness with Buffy(I'll just let you figure that out), Angel looses his soul and becomes once again the evil Angel. Having Buffy have to deal with the guy she loves being evil and out to kill her was such a brilliant move. It really helped Buffy grow and mature and begins the pessimism she has about romantic relationships that persists till the seventh season finale.
Besides the evil Angelus, we are introduced to several new characters who become key players in the show. First is Spike and his sire/girl friend Drusilla. Spike, who ends up becoming a lead on the show, is a hilarious, punk vampire with a sarcastic attitude and a disgust with the ritualistic ideas of the Sunnydale vampires that we see a lot of in season 1. He is such a great villain and character and one that you will grow to like, even though he is still evil. Another new character I really liked was Oz, who ends up being Willow's boyfriend. He is the calm, quiet, deep thinker type and was very likable and played fantastically by Seth Green. Another character I liked this season was Kendra the Vampire Slayer(the girl who was activated when Buffy dies at the end of the first season); she was a great character and I was sad when she was killed
I also really enjoyed the darker tone of this season, with Buffy's depression, the death of Jenny Calender by Angelus and him then planting her in Giles's house in a romantic setting(that was so disturbingly good and Giles's reaction is heartbreaking). With a fantastic midpoint episode and ending, this is definitely a season you won't want to miss out on.
While I loved all the episodes of the season, my favorites were
Becoming part 2
Becoming part 1
I Only Have Eyes For You
Killed by Death
Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered
Inca Mummy Girl
Highlights of this season would be -
1: When, in Innocence, Buffy shoots at the Judge(who, before being resurrected, had been taken down by an entire army) with a crossbow and he's all "No human weapon can kill me". In response to this, she discards the old weapon and draws out the huge rocket launcher, saying "That was then, this is now" and blasting him. Such an awesome moment!!! :D
2: When in Passion, after Buffy saves Giles from Angelus and the fire that ensued he yells at her that it wasn't her fight(he wanted revenge for a person's death) and she punches him before sinking to the ground and hugging him, saying 'I can't do this alone'. Such amazing acting and dialogue.
3: Buffy and Angel's sword fight at the end of the season- it was really well done and exciting to watch(I loved when Buffy catches the sword between her hands). The end was especially sad :(
4: Buffy and Spike having to join forces to stop Angelus from sucking the earth into hell. The scene where he tells he he wants to join her side is hilarious(they kept punching each other)- "The earth could get sucked into hell and you want MY help because your girlfriends a big ho!?" I also love it when Buffy brings Spike to her house and is planning things- Spike and her mother have some pretty funny interactions.
5: Spike singing randomly(someone's in the ceiling) in School Hard
6: The sadness between the dead spirits in "I Only Have Eyes For You" and how Buffy and Angel were possessed by them- I especially liked how it flashed back and forth between them in the final confrontation.
7: "You were my sire, man! You were my YODA!" XD
8: All the girls chasing Xander- that was so BAD XD
9: "That was me favorite shirt! It's me ONLY shirt!" *starts pummeling bad guys*
10: Giles's reaction to the Werewolf Bounty Hunter thought he was involved with Buffy
Season 3: While not as awesome as season 2, Season 3 is a perfect follow up to the best season and is in fact, my second favorite season. In this season we are given the awesome villain of The Mayor as well as the great character of Faith, another Slayer who was activated after Kendra's death and is quite unstable. The Mayor was definitely one of the best villains since he's not fully evil, he does seem to care about Faith. Oz also becomes a series regular which I really enjoyed since he was one of my favorite characters. While not as dark as the second season, season 3 was still pretty dark, with characters having to deal with numerous amounts of bad things. This also ends the show's scenes at high school and how it can be just as hellish as the hellmouth (Oz's words at the end are definitely very poignant as is the battle at graduation which is a metaphor for breaking out into the world).
This season starts off with Buffy having run away from Sunnydale after her having killed Angel and having to deal with tons of guilt. Buffy grows even more in this season as does Faith, who kills a man she thinks is a vampire and is driven to cruelty by and her own messed up past. Another great thing about this season is a brief appearance of the First Evil which plays a major part in Season 7
My favorite episodes
Graduation Day part 2
Graduation Day 1
Dead Man's Party
1: The battle at the end of the season(Cordelia stakes her first vampire!) where all the students take on vampires and the Mayor-turned-giant-snake in an epic battle. The whole thing was awesome and Oz's remark at the end was perfect and summed up the three seasons.
2: Buffy stopping Johnathon from killing himself in Earshot; it was a showing of great acting from both actors and I loved seeing Buffy be such a hero
3: Buffy being able to hear everyone's thoughts in "Earshot"; several funny things happen though in the end it is really bad :(
4: Xander seeing the lunch lady poisoning(before that he'd seen jello and was all "oo jello!") the soup with rat poison and running out into the cafeteria, knocking people's food out of their hands and yelling "RAT POISON! RAT POISON!"
5: Giles saying "Look at my mask, isn't it pretty? It brings people back from the DEAD. Americans." in Dead Man's Party
6: A drunken Spike trying to make Willow cast a love spell on Drusilla and then crying about how upset he is
7: Buffy stopping Angel from killing himself
8: Buffy killing a crazed vamp during a test by making him drink holy water. That was such a good idea! :D It shows that she is resourceful and can fight a vampire even when her powers are weakened.
9: Giles cleaning Buffy's wounds in Helpless and Giles being fired from the watcher's council because he has a "Father's love" for Buffy.
10: When Cordelia's wish causes the world to be changed and Giles, right before he switches it back saying to Anya, who had asked how he knew that world was better then this one, "It Has to be"
Season 4: While definitely the weakest season of the bunch, season 4 still has great episodes and new characters introduced, my favorites being Tara and Riley. The episode has a good villain in Adam and the return of the character Spike is a welcome addition(as is them putting a chip in his head). In this season, Buffy and her friends have to explore not being in high school anymore and being out in the college world(or living at home like Xander). Thrusting the characters into a different environment was a great idea and even though at first it is a little weird and a lot of the first season feeling off kilter, the season still has a wonderful episode and several very sad things.
One thing that I questioned from this season on outward was Willow being gay. I definitely support gay marriage but having Willow suddenly being that way was a little strange, since before we see her interested in boys. I think, instead, they should have had her be Bi since it would have made more sense in the story line. I also felt like hers and Tara's relationship was a bit rushed and didn't have enough build up for it to be believable, but later on in the show it works, so all is good :). Though, I really didn't like a rude comment Willow made during this season - it being "men haven't changed since the beginning of time". If you look back at history and compare it to now days you can see how ludicrous her statement is. I understand she was hurt and upset by problems she'd had with guys, but I think its dumb to say something so grossly over the top. It kind of made me dislike her for the rest of the season(I'm back to liking her now since she was great in the last three seasons).
Wild at Heart
Who Are You?
This Year's Girl
A New Man
The Harsh Light of Day
1: The gentlemen coming to town and ridding everyone of speech so they have to communicate without words, Riley and Buffy finally finding out about each other- Buffy being the Slayer and Riley being part of the initiative, a military unit created to defeat the supernatural. I also love how Buffy screams and destroys the gentlemen.
2: Faith causing Buffy and herself to switch bodies and how the two of them come to understand the other. The two episodes revolving around this scenario are very well done(and at times hilarious) and we get a good idea of who both girls are.
3: The dreams in the last episode where the scoobies encounter the first Slayer who tries to dehumanize Buffy who, of course, rebuffs her, until she has no more power over them.
4: Spike's obsession with soap operas - "Passions is on! Timmy's down the bloody and IF YOU MAKE ME MISS IT, I'LL!!" Giles: You'll do what, lick me to death?
5: Giles(when he's turned into a demon) chasing Professor Walsh in revenge for her saying that Buffy didn't have a good father role model in her life
6: When professor Walsh tries to have Buffy killed and after it fails Buffy says something to the effect of "You have no idea what a slayer is"
7: The sadness that is Oz leaving because the wolf inside of him makes him cheat on her. Usually when couples have to be split up, I don't care, but the actors did such a good job I actually felt sad and was thinking 'NO!'
8: Buffy thinking he roomate was evil(which ended up being true)
9: Thanksgiving!! :D Such a good episode :D It had a good feeling to it, was hilarious, and had some really good moments. Definitely a favorite :)
Season 5: After a slightly disappointing season, season 5 ratchets it up several knots and makes it my third favorite season! :D This season has some of the best episodes on the show and while I, at first, wasn't so interested in the addition of Buffy having a sister(Dawn), it worked out and now I'm glad they introduced her(even though she gets on my nerves).
The villain this season is Glory, a hell god, trapped on earth who is trying to find the key so she can return to her dimension and take it back. Glory is definitely a very good villain and is a great foil for Buffy to defeat.
The episode also has a really sad tragedy in it which turns into one of the best episodes on the show(I'll go more into it in a little bit). The actors are amazing this season and we see them all grow even more. Buffy ends up having to leave college and start becoming an adult(but this doesn't fully accumulate until the end of the sixth season). Anya, a former vengeance demon, introduced in season 3 and seen a lot in season 4, becomes even more prominent.
Also this season, we get one of the best finales on the show ever and we even get to see Buffy take on the famous Dracula! :D Oh, and a certain character gets a crush on Buffy and we can some hilarious scenes! :)
One thing that confused me in this episode was that, I don't know who we're supposed to blame for her and Riley's split. To me, it seems to be Riley's fault but Xander blamed Buffy for it. *shrugs* Well, I'll just blame Riley since that seems the most obvious.
The Weight of the World
Buffy v.s Dracula
No Place Like Home
Fool for Love
1: The entire finale, especially Buffy's actions at the end and everyone's reaction. I can't decide between the end of season 2 and the ending of this one for my favorite, it's that good. Even though Buffy is a human who makes mistakes, her actions here are truly that of a hero. I loved how they ended the season, it was perfect.
2: The entire episode of The Body. After watching this, I have to say, this episode has the best representation of death and people's response to it that I've ever seen. It seemed so realistic and actually how different types of people would react. The fact that the death, one so close and personal, was by natural causes and not something supernatural that Buffy can fight and take out. It really is a struggle for these characters who are used to death being caused by the supernatural and being able to take out their pain on a being but with this person's death, there is nothing to fight and nothing any of them can really do. My favorite scene of the episode is when Giles arrives- I won't spoil what happens, but the acting in that scene was amazing. I also liked the fact that they didn't play any music(except for the opening sequence) during the show the entire time and instead had silence and background noise be the melodies that accompanied it.
3: Spike's crush on Buffy. While I don't like the "romance" between them in season 6, I really liked him here during this season. The whole thing causes a lot of hilarious moments for the two characters and ends up being a very helpful thing for the Scoobies. Oh and Xander's reaction was PRICELESS XD
4: The funeral in the episode "Forever"(which immediately follows The Body); it was really well done and I loved how they handled the emotions of the characters in this episode as well. I also liked Spike bringing flowers and Angel coming to comfort Buffy.
5: Buffy saving the monk and finding out about the Key
6: Buffy's duel with Dracula. Dracula is, of course, the most famous vampire of all time and having having the Slayer take him on was just awesome! :D Dracula was also really well played and I loved his accent. :D
7: I really loved getting to find out more on what makes a Slayer. It was very interesting and sets up well for the final reveals we get in the last season :).
Season 6: Considered to be the darkest season of the show's run, the sixth season definitely handles some pretty hefty issues that might bother some people. I, however, loved the dark nature of this season! :D Each character has a deeply rooted problem they have to deal with and truly shows human nature's flaws and how even the best of people have a dark side. We get to see pretty much everyone's dark side this year, but we also see the strength they have in facing adversity.
Our hero, Buffy, has to deal with being alive once again after being ripped from heaven where she was happy and at peace; I absolutely loved this idea, it was all very fascinating, especially since we see how much of a struggle it is for her to live in this world, seeing it as 'hell.' The dark side that springs from our hero comes from the bad things that seem to happen one after another to her- not only was she ripped out of heaven, it was her friends who did it and on top of all that, she has to shoulder the full responsibilities of being an adult in order to take care of her sister(she has to work at a fast-food joint and drop out of college.) Buffy's depression and lack of feeling leads her to begin a very unhealthy relationship with Spike.
Along with Buffy, Willow undergoes a large transformation as well which all comes down to her overuse of magic; she is addicted and it causes many problems to herself and others which leads to the full of meaning finale- definitely up there with the best finales of the show.
While there are villains of a sort this season, three geeks called the Trio, the real villains of this season are the characters themselves and the hardness of life. While the season is very dark, there is hope too, especially in characters like Tara, who is at her best, and helps provide light and ends up helping Buffy during her time of need.
The finale ends with a wonderful note and a very symbolic meaning. At the end, after having falling into a large hole in the graveyard, both Buffy and Dawn crawl out which shadows Buffy having dug herself out of her own grave at the beginning of the season after being ripped from the kindness of heaven; it also symbols Buffy being reborn again. When she first crawled out of the ground she hated life and did many destructive things to herself in order to feel again; when she crawls out the second time, her hope and her belief in life are restored and its like she's a whole person once again, yet different from her experiences. When I saw this parallel, I was so impressed and excited at how amazing it was. The writers are genius!
The only thing that really bothered me was that Spike tried to do the evil R thing to Buffy in one of the last episodes and it took her a little bit to get him off her(but she had hurt herself and she was surprised, so that might have been the reason). As a stronger hater of the evil R, it really bothered me :P Though I was very glad to hear the actor who plays Spike say that it was the hardest scene he ever had to film and he was never going to film a scene like that again. (oh, and I didn't watch the scene, I scrolled down from the screen*I was watching it on Amazon Prime on Amazon.com*).
Once More, With Feeling
Two to Go
As You Were
Bargaining part 1 and 2
1: The finale; it was great to see Xander, just a regular guy, save the world and to see both Buffy and Dawn fight with swords :D. The villain who appears in the last three episodes was very well done and perfect for the darkness of the season(I won't say who it is, just that you'll be pretty surprised). I also love the symbolism they had in the finale, it was so well done :D
2: The musical episode!!! While at first I was a little unsure, they pulled it off marvelously! The songs are awesome and the cast are all great singers, especially Anthony Stewart Head(Giles), Amber Benson(Tara), James Marsters(Spike; the actor used to be in a band), and Sarah Michelle Gellar(Buffy). The episode also has some great turning points for the characters and shows their vulnerabilities. Such beautiful songs :)
3: When, after Willow accidentally causes a forgetting spell to affect the entire group, the scoobies all forget who they are and wake up in the magic box with amnesia. It is really funny seeing all the characters without their memories, especially since several embarrassing and goofy things happen XD
4: When Buffy breaks down to Tara about how she can't believe what she's doing with Spike and how she doesn't know if she's using him or not. It was really sad and well done and Tara was so sweet and handled it very well. I loved Tara there.
5: Buffy and Giles's reunion at both the beginning and ending of the season.
6: Buffy punching Spike and screaming how he's a "dead thing" and how she is really talking to herself.
7: Willow going off the deep end with her addiction to magic and the terrible things that ensued; very good acting in this episode, especially from Alyson Hannigan(Willow)
Season 7: While the weakest season since season 4, the seventh season ends the amazing show perfectly. Women empowerment is especially prevalent this season, especially the totally, rocking, awesome finale!! :D I don't want to spoil anything about how it ends, but let's just say, it is pretty much perfect.
The season starts off very strong with an almost season 1 feel to it. However, the middle episodes get a little weak and seem to lack something(I believe, like a lot of other people have pointed out, that it had to do with the introduction of the Potentials; however, the Potentials end up making the finale as awesome as it is, so that's fine). The season picks back up at the end, however, and puts forth a perfect ending to the show. Also, a lot of characters from the past return for the final battle which I really loved seeing- it was very cool :D(such as Angel and Faith) One really symbolic thing that happened this season was the so-called 'preacher' Caleb who is actually a murdering misogynist; Buffy's fight against him is like women fighting to free themselves from the sexism still prevalent in our world(It has really improved, but we still have some work to do).
The only problem I had with the season was how Buffy and her rift with Giles was never brought to closure. Since their relationship was something I really loved seeing, I was a little saddened by this. And there was something else that I didn't like, but that would give away a pretty big plot point, so I'll stop now.
One thing that was kind of annoying this season was the relationship between two characters that felt WAY too rushed. However, it was just a little thing so it's not really that big of a deal.
Conversations With Dead People
The Killer in Me
End of Days
Lies my Parents Told Me
1: I absolutely LOVED the ending!! :D :D The action was awesome, the suspense was awesome, the acting was epic, it was perfect and completely empowered woman. Of course, they don't throw guys out the window; Principal Wood(a character introduced this season) tells Faith that most guys are actually decent(Faith has a very negative view of them) which I thought was nice. Yay for good feminist messages(since a true feminist wants equality between the genders and do not hate men; we just hate the misogynists) :D There is another thing that was so awesome in the finale but I don't want to spoil anything- let's just so, it's so, so cool! :D :D
2: Willow having to come to terms with a certain characters death. How it happens is really well done and revealing to Willow's character. I loved how Alyson portrayed her character in this episode, definitely one of her best moments.
3: Buffy trying to help Cassie from her upcoming death in the episode "Help". It was a very, very well done episode and I really liked the actress playing Cassie, she is very talented.
4: When Spike and Xander stole the infatuation inducing jacket away from this one guy so they could burn it- best part of that episode(as was when Xander freaked out) XD
5: How, after everyone else has gone their separte ways for the mission, Buffy, Giles, Willow, and Xander stand in a circle and talk about what their going to do tomorrow- it was really great and a nice throw back to the first season :)
Sorry that was so long XP