Wednesday, 26 December 2012
BUFFY 5.19: TOUGH LOVE
Willow vs. Glory
WRITER: Rebecca Rand Kirshner
DIRECTOR: David Grossman
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
Buffy withdraws from college to take care of Dawn, who it seems has been regularly skipping school. Buffy is warned by Dawn’s school that unless things change she might be found unfit to be Dawn's legal guardian and have Dawn taken away from her. After unsuccessfully trying to convince Giles to be the stern authority figure Buffy resolves to take on the role much to Dawn’s disdain. Elsewhere and Willow and Tara have their first fight with Willow ending up storming out. Glory finds Tara sad and alone, siting on a bench at the college fair. At first Glory thinks Tara is the Key but after tasting her blood realises she isn’t. So instead Glory drains Tara’s mind, turning the poor girl in to yet another of the crazy people in Sunnydale. Meanwhile Giles, Anya and Willow capture one of Glory's minions, who reveals to them that Glory thinks Tara is the Key. Willow rushes off to save her girlfriend, but she arrives too late. Overcome with fury, Willow goes after Glory seeking revenge for what she did to poor Tara. Using some dark magic Willow manages to briefly hurt the hell god but Glory soon gets the better of the witch and Willow would be toast if it weren’t for the Buffster turning up at the last moment to save her. A short time later and Willow, Tara, Buffy and Dawn are gathered in the witches’ dorm room discussing what to do next. Suddenly a furious Glory appears by ripping out the entire outside wall. At that precise moment Tara, still out of her mind, looks at Dawn and says she sees her as pure green energy. Glory smiles coldly as she finally realises the true identity of the Key.
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
I guess its primarily about taking on new roles and stepping up and taking responsibility. Buffy is still firmly in big sister mode and is not yet filling the parenting void left by Joyce’s demise. As a kid still, Dawn needs firm rules, boundaries and guidance. Buffy can’t yet see herself in this role and so tries to convince Giles to do it. But Giles says no, realising that Buffy will have to step up as it’s the only way forward for the Summers family. Buffy gives in but attacks the problem as if she is a general ordering around a soldier and not a caring mother figure, much to Dawn’s (and Willow’s) dismay.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
WHY IT ROCKS
Tara and Willow – their relationship comes in to focus here and is put to its first relationship type test when they have their first big fight. As if there were any doubt the depth of their love becomes clear when Willow does what she does when Tara is hurt. The bit at the end with Willow feeding Tara and telling Buffy that no matter what, Tara is her girl is genuinely touching.
Buffy and Dawn – the crux of this season is Buffy taking on a more personal role of responsibility, of making her responsible for someone she cares about, giving her a new role in life, adding to her growth as a person and as a character. She takes a big if faltering step forward in that role here.
Glory – as always Clare Kramer is so much fun as the so very cute but evil and insane hell god. Her bubble bath with a loofer, a Mimosa cocktail and three blindfolded minions is highly entertaining.
The Glory vs. Willow fight – it’s a great little smackdown with the witch hurling all sorts of magic at the hell god with almost no success, though she does seem to slow her down a bit, allowing Buffy to arrive and buy them some time for an escape.
Ripper – Giles gets to go all ruthless hard man as he threatens and interrogates the captured minion. Thing is, we buy it. Giles can be genuinely scary and ruthless, as he will prove come the end of the season.
Kicking a couch – in the fight with Glory Buffy kicks a large couch at her, knocking her back. I just love that image for some reason. It’s weird but powerful. You just don’t see enough couch kicking in on-screen fights.
References - Not many genre shows get to include overt references to superheroes (X-Men), classic children’s literature (A Little Princess) and opera (Don Giovanni) in a single episode. One of the many things Buffy was great at was treating its audience as intelligent people who may love superheroes and general geekiness but may also equally love classic literature and the arts too. Basically all the same stuff Joss loves.
The cliffhanger ending – wow, what a great way to end an episode! Glory rips out an entire exterior wall only to discover poor Dawnie is her Key and is right there in front of her. Gulp.
WHY IT SUCKS
Willow seems to have become a very powerful witch without us really noticing. I guess she has done lots more practice off screen. But to go toe to toe with a god and actually score some points is impressive.
Bath time for Glory
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Glory: ‘Lotta sucky things in this dimension. Bubble baths? Not one of 'em.’
Xander (to Buffy): ‘Whatever you choose, you've got my support. Just think of me as... as your... You know, I'm searching for supportive things and I'm coming up all bras. So, something slightly more manly, think of me as that.’
Buffy: ‘It's really important that Dawn finishes her schoolwork right now.’
Willow: ‘I know it is, and I'm a big fan of school! You know me, I'm like (singing and doing a little dance), "Go school, it's your birthday"... or something to that effect.’
Willow (miserable): ‘I don't think I can sleep without her.’
Anya (helpfully): ‘You can sleep with me! (The group stares at her.) Well, now, that came out a lot more lesbian than it sounded in my head.’
AND ANOTHER THING
In the Magic Box Xander is reading issue #109 of The X-Men titled "Ceremonies," written by Chris Claremont and pencilled by Thomas Derenick.
This episode is the first time Willow’s eyes go black.
HOW MANY STAKES?
We love it tough. 3.5 (out of 5)