Wednesday, 3 July 2013
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER 6.3: AFTERLIFE
WRITER: Jane Espenson
DIRECTOR: David Solomon
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
Dawn brings the confused, newly returned Buffy back home and cleans her up, explaining to her how things now are at the house with Giles back in England and Dawn and Tara living there with them. Soon the rest of the Scoobies return to the Summers home and are overjoyed to see Buffy back and in one piece (at least physically). But a furious Spike, left out of the whole resurrection loop, warns them that their will be mystical consequences for what Willow has done. He is right. A ghostly demon has come in to being thanks to the dark and powerful forces used to bring Buffy back. Said demon is haunting and also possessing the gang, freaking them all out. They soon learn that the creature is seeking to stay alive in this new world it has suddenly found itself in. And that the only way for it to do so is by killing the newly returned from the grave slayer…
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
As always in this show, everything has consequences. There is no fresh start, no reset button to push. Everything affects everything else, just as it does in real life. And no one gets away clean. There is always a price to be paid. At first, we think that price has been paid in this episode. But as the season goes on we quickly discover that the ramifications of everything that has happened will only grow and grow until reaching horrifically tragic and apocalyptic proportions.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
The home-made demon who wants to keep on living
WHY IT ROCKS
Creepy: Buffy does a straight forward demonic possession horror story. And while the story itself may be very simple and easily resolved, the execution is at least reasonably creepy.
Evil Dead: There is a definite Sam Raimi Evil Dead vibe to the demonic possessions, especially the Anya one. The way it is shot and the way she walks towards us, giggling evilly, white eyed, cutting her face with a big knife… Brrr.
Revelations: Buffy’s end confession to Spike about the truth of her afterlife was a genuine shock at the time of first airing and remains a powerful moment in the series’ history. SMG plays the scene wonderfully. She gives the impression of a person beyond traumatised, beyond miserable or angry, as if she exists in a permanent state of nothingness; a hollow shell of a human being.
WHY IT SUCKS
The story itself is fairly run of the mill and is mostly a coda to the big two part opener. That’s fine and all but it just doesn’t really work as an episode in its own right.
For a Jane Espenson script the laughs are fairly few and far between. In fact it is almost continually mawkish and grim.
Once corporeal the demon is dealt with pretty darn quickly.
Early on in the episode Willow says she’s spoken to Giles in London. As he only left earlier that same day there’s no way he could have made it all the way to England in that amount of time.
Possessed Anya, white eyed, giggling insanely while cutting her face with a big knife. Yikes!
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Spike: You scared me half to death. Or more to death.
Anya: Yeah, I mean, jet lag from hell has got to be, you know, jet lag from hell.
Anya: I found one of those 24-hour places for coffee. Remember that bookstore? Well, they became one of those books and coffee places, and now they're just coffee. It's like evolution, only without the "getting better" part.
Spike: I do remember what I said. The promise. To protect her. If I'd have done that, even if I didn't make it, you wouldn't have had to jump. But I want you to know I did save you. Not when it counted, of course, but after that. Every night after that. I'd see it all again, and do something different. Faster, or more clever, you know? Dozens of times, lots of different ways. Every night, I save you.
Xander: We made a demon? Bad us.
Anya: She's right. You're like a snail. A snail who's driving a car very slowly.
Spike: I was going to go inside, but I overheard you and the super-friends exchanging a special moment, and I came over a bit queasy. Say, aren't you leaving a hole in the middle of some soggy group hug?
Buffy: I was happy. Wherever I was, I was happy. At peace. I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time didn't mean anything. Nothing had form, but I was still me, you know? And I was warm, and I was loved. And I was finished. Complete. I don't understand theology and dimensions... or any of it, really. But I think I was in heaven. And now I'm not. I was torn out of there, pulled out by my friends. Everything here is hard, and bright, and violent. Everything I feel, everything I touch... this is hell. Just getting through the next moment and the one after that. Knowing what I've lost... They can never know. Never.
AND ANOTHER THING
This is the first time we get a really good look at Buffy's back garden.
Willow must be getting plenty of cash from somewhere as a (then) brand spanking new iBook can be seen on Buffy's dining table.
The demon’s wraith-like non-corporeal form might look familiar to movie fans. It was created by one of the same FX guys who worked on the ghosts that come out of the Ark at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Linda Hoyle, who played the role of the demon in this episode, also had a part in season three. She did the voice-over for Emma Caulfield as Anyanka in the season three episode "The Wish".
HOW MANY STAKES?
A home-made demon scares up 3 (out of 5)