Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Buffy Season Three Begins

18 April 2007

Well, tyranist and I waited a week to find out what happened between season two and season three. I'm going to do my darndest to make this season last longer than the second did.

The season premiere, "Anne," was a very good episode. It was written and directed by Joss Whedon, and dealt with Buffy living on her own in an unnamed city, working as a waitress named Anne in a diner. Clearly, she has tried to put her past behind her and live a normal life. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of miserable people--mostly elderly vagrants--in this city, a place where many go to flee the difficulties of life. We find out that a semi-religious group led by Carlos Jacott (who was Dobson in the "Firefly" pilot) has been getting the youth off the street, offering them a new life . . . and taking it from them.

There's a new opening titles sequence (Seth Green is now a member of the main cast), though the song remains the same. Angel appears in both episodes, but just in dream sequences.

This was a dark episode, and I'm happy about that. We catch up with the rest of the gang back in Sunnydale and find that they are doing their best to slay vampires without Buffy. But life is difficult and they all feel her absence.

Buffy runs into a girl from last season, who constantly appears either stoned, or much much blonder than Buffy is. Her boyfriend is recruited by Jacott's gang, dies, then she and Buffy go there as well. Jacott and company are demons, their recruits are forced to work as slaves in a purgatorial realm until they are old and decrepit, then they are returned to our reality for the end of their lives. I don't believe we'd seen alternate dimensions before, and there was something of a grander scale to it all.

The episode examines of how Buffy Summers has been forced to grow up fast, and she acted like an adult throughout. She had to, I suppose, being on her own like that. In the end, Buffy thrashes some demon tail, helps the girl (Lily) get a chance for a better life, and goes back to Sunnydale, where her mother greets her with open arms.

The second episode we watched, "Dead Man's Party," picked up right after the first one. Giles and friends are trying to get back into the groove of things after Buffy's hiatus, and there are a lot of angry and hurt feelings under the surface. Mrs. Summers (who tyranist suggests is named Joyce, and will be thus called in my posts from now on) gets a freakishly ugly old mask and puts it up in her bedroom. First it reanimates a dead cat, then it reanimates the dead people in town (and man, there are a lot of them).

Still expelled from Sunnydale High (Principal Snyder won't allow her to return, even though she has since been exonerated for the crimes of last season), Buffy balks at the idea of private school, and her pals decide they should throw her a party. At Buffy's house. And invite tons of strangers. And Buffy's mom's neighbour. Pretty much everybody attacks everybody else verbally, then zombies attack them all physically.

I had tyranist pause the DVD at some point so we could talk about things. You know, it was a selfish thing that Buffy did at the end of last season, though it was totally understandable. What I didn't (and still don't) understand was why she didn't phone or write (to Giles or Willow or Xander or even her mother) to tell them know why she had done so, or at least to let them know she was okay. There's so much stuff that happened at the end of "Becoming Part 2" that only she knew about (such as Bad Angel's fate, the vortex/statue/obelisk thing, Spike and Drusilla, etc.), as well as her mother making her feel unwelcome at home. I have been a teenager and am still selfish, but I'm only willing to accept so much.

Xander seems, at first, totally out of character, but then I recall his two questionable moments at the end of season two, where he took the unpopular "Let's Kill Angel" stance, and where he lied to Buffy's face about what Willow was up to. I mentioned to tyranist that I think the change is due to the fact that Oz is now a main character, and the two have been pretty much written with the same personality. They've given Xander a nastier, angrier side, which I know from seeing myself is unattractive. I do seem, for some reason, to dislike the Oz character, and I can't quite put my finger on the why.

I'll give it some thought.

Buffy's mother--sorry, Joyce--also seemed more overbearing and spiteful (though we did get a glimpse of it previously in the last two episodes, when she practically threw her daughter out of her house, and again when she blamed Giles for Buffy's running away), doing what she could to treat Buffy like a child and a criminal, and also in front of a house filled with teenagers she allowed to drink alcohol in her house. In her defence, she was also a little drunk.

In the end, though there is enough anger and unkind words to fill half a daytime talk show, once Buffy kills the lead zombie (who was ostensibly a friend of her mother's, though I'm sure it won't ever be brought up), everything returns to normal and people are "cool" once again.

Giles threatens Principal Snyder (both litigiously and physically), and Buffy is allowed back in school. Tyranist said to me that he hopes that we get to see a return of "Happy Buffy" next week. I'm not sure if he meant the character or the show.

"Dead Man's Party" wasn't an awful episode, but it sure was flawed. I'd say that every single second season show was better than it was. It's strange because it was written by Marti Noxon, who wrote some of Season Two's best shows, including "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" and "Surprise."

I'm nowhere near giving up on the show just because of one weak episode (and I may be judging it unfairly, though I don't think so). I look forward to seeing the villains they bring in this season, as well as how they bring Angel back and continue to develop the characters. SMG's emotional performance was again very good and I'm now wondering if they're as talented as I keep saying they are, or if I just really like emotion on this show.

I gotta say a little about youth here, just for a minute. I've never been very mature and like Bart Simpson before me, I was an underachiever and proud of it, man. Youth is a time to find out who you are, and to do that, a lot of times it involves finding out who you aren't. We've all done things and gone places and hung around people just to see if they were for us only to find out that it's not where we belonged. Whether it's a geographic location, or sex, or religion, or a certain crowd, or drugs, or a music scene, or parties, or sports, or multi-level marketing, or anything, when you're young, you experiment to find your place. If you're lucky, you find out quickly, and have few consequences. Many people, like my sister who got pregnant, or my uncle who never quite kicked drugs, or fill-in-the-blank who lost their life, have major consequences to the paths they chose, whether intending to jump in with both feet or just dip their toes in.

I am willing to forgive Buffy her mistakes because I understand how they can be made. I didn't like the way it looked like they were all be swept under the rug in the last five minutes of "Dead Man's Party," but I hope that it's not as simple as that, and the after-effects will linger for episodes to come.

If they don't, however, I'm willing to forgive that too, 'cause after all, she did save the world.

Rish Outfield

1 comment:

tyranist said...

It's the Happy Buffy character that I'm looking forward to seeing again. I like the dark; you can't get rid of the dark.

Oh, and I've ordered season 4 so that it will be waiting for us when season 3 is complete.