Buffy the Vampire Slayer: All the Way   Rewatch 
January 13, 2016 10:10 PM - Season 6, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Dawn sneaks out with a boy on Halloween, but is in over her head when she finds out he's a vampire who wants to turn her. Xander and Anya reveal their engagement. Tara is concerned with Willow's magic use, and after they fight about it Willow casts a spell to make Tara forget the argument.
posted by yellowbinder (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Oh Dawn. Dawn is rarely given space to be her own person, and she will flip flop between emotional states rather like the teenager she is. Unlike everyone else on the show, she doesn't really get a hero moment, up until Potential in Season 7, which rather feels like a grudging last moment acknowledgement of her personhood. This episode marks her doing something increeeedibly stupid, which is sort of her raison d'etre on this show. While I think the mislead with the candy guy is kind of fun, I don't think this episode is very interesting for what it has to say. Dawn's first kiss just isn't very exciting, and the vampires in this episode really aren't very good actors.

There are, of course, lots of other things going on. We have Willow seriously crossing the line, making Tara forget their argument (and leading us to wonder that if she's done it so casually this time, how many times has she done this before?); there's no doubt that this is an extremely bad violation, and Tara's initial willingness to let her off the hook in Tabula Rasa will show how desperately wants their relationship to work. Note that Willow's abuse of magic is her willigness to use magic to fix other people and emotions, not due to some stupid drug addiction.

We have Xander announcing his engagement to Anya. This episode (and the next) is somewhat key to trying to justify the events of Hells Bells, in that Xander has entered into a marriage contract that he's not entirely sure he's ready for. He lives in the moment, and suddenly realizes he has to live for the future.

Finally we have Giles, who is becoming convinced he has to leave. And urgh, still stupid. He notices that Buffy isn't intervening with Dawn, but doesn't say anything about it. Less than a year ago, with Joyce dying, he was willing to dispense tough love to kick Buffy into gear. He doesn't even try, unless you count inexplicably sending Buffy in alone next episode. I think we just have to accept this plot line is stupid and live with it, but Giles actions here and in seven taint the person he was portrayed to be in the previous 5 seasons.

-Also, Giles is absurdly good at killing vampires in this episode. He actually dispatches the vampires he fights faster than Buffy does.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:00 AM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think we just have to accept this plot line is stupid and live with it, but Giles actions here and in seven taint the person he was portrayed to be in the previous 5 seasons.

Yeah, this is actually the thing I dislike the most about seasons 6 and 7 (and I'm a fan of both, with some reservations). Tony Head wanting to spend more time at home is perfectly understandable after five years of international work as a regular on a TV series, but the way they wrote around that just doesn't work that well. We end up with dissonant character moments for him that are never resolved. They try to walk it back a little bit when Giles returns later this season, but then there's Lies My Parents Told Me in Season 7 and his relationship with Buffy is never really resolved after that (unless they deal with that in the comics?). They just kind of paper over it.

Giles is explicitly set up as a bit of a grey character, willing to sully his own soul in the service of what he thinks is the pragmatic route for the greater good, so, it's fine for there to be a little bit of tension in the relationship... but the way he acts throughout 6 and 7 just leaves as a bad taste in my mouth.
posted by Kosh at 10:33 AM on January 14, 2016


We have Willow seriously crossing the line, making Tara forget their argument (and leading us to wonder that if she's done it so casually this time, how many times has she done this before?);

I think that's a question that the show should have addressed on-screen, if they wanted to have Willow and Tara's reconciliation later on seem like something real, instead of just a perfunctory setup for a SHOCKING MOMENT. And one of the reasons I loathe the MAGIC = CRACK storyline is that we ended up getting plenty of screen time for creepy pedophilic warlocks who deal magic through bad touches, and not for really digging into all the things that were problematic with the memory spell. Tara feels like less of a fleshed-out character to me because the writers short-changed her from some important moments throughout the show, and this is one of the more egregious examples.

(If they'd chosen to keep Tara and Willow broken up, addressing the question wouldn't matter as much to me, since Tara was entitled to feel that one time was enough, and not be particularly interested in hashing out the gory details with Willow, or talking to her ever again.)

On a different note, as important as magic is for the show from Season 4 on, the way it works on both a practical and ethical level is not particularly well-thought out. Like I'm pretty sure 90% of the spells Tara and Willow were doing in Season 4 were at least as frivolous as the decorations for Anya ("floating the rose", for example), so if Willow had framed it as "practice in case we run into demons who are repelled by festive decorations", would that have made it ok? Or is it "a spell is ok if Tara says it is", which is a problematic formulation from my POV. (I also kind of feel like Willow is held to a higher standard by the show when it comes to her power; the show doesn't scream ZOMG ABUSE OF POWER when Buffy uses Slayer strength for something frivolous like helping her professor remove the slides from the projector, for example.) And yes, moving other people into a different dimension to find Dawn is nuts, but it's even more irritating that Willow, Tara, and apparently the writers have forgotten that locator spells are things that exist and sometimes work in this universe.
posted by creepygirl at 1:38 PM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


On a different note, as important as magic is for the show from Season 4 on, the way it works on both a practical and ethical level is not particularly well-thought out. Like I'm pretty sure 90% of the spells Tara and Willow were doing in Season 4 were at least as frivolous as the decorations for Anya ("floating the rose", for example), so if Willow had framed it as "practice in case we run into demons who are repelled by festive decorations", would that have made it ok?

Well, other than the obvious metaphor of the rose spell, I think it was a clear sign of them practicing magic. I think there's room for a witch to learn via "frivolous" magic, but when she/he starts using it to solve all their problems then it becomes an issue. And that's a bit confusing, and that's why Willow is confused. I think that's actually good writing for the most part. Willow, after all, got into magic to literally help save the world, and as you say her magic has often been praised. But the trick to magic is always knowing when to use it (and this is not exclusive to Buffy, this is a classic theme of magic use) and Willow clearly doesn't know. Admittedly Tara isn't the best teacher, and that's because she's in love with sexy magic Willow, and only recently realised she actually needs to try and be wise teacher Tara. But it's all too late. Willow has seen, repeatedly, how useful magic is, and now has clearly crossed a line.

That said, the actual mechanics of magic in this show are stupid. If it's that easy to fling people into another universe, why not use it to fight enemies? It's the same as the slowdown lint from the previous episode, apparently these characters have awe inspiring powers, but only ever use them once.

I think we'll get to reconcilliation, but I do think the show earns it, and, to be fair, Tara does explicitly say that they actually really need to rebuild trust, but can they just be kissing now. And as someone who has done exactly that to an unfaithful ex, I completely understand the urge. Tara's actions are not the wisest, and may have caused problems for her if a bullet hadn't removed those particular worries.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:17 AM on January 18, 2016


I think we'll get to reconcilliation, but I do think the show earns it, and, to be fair, Tara does explicitly say that they actually really need to rebuild trust, but can they just be kissing now. And as someone who has done exactly that to an unfaithful ex, I completely understand the urge. Tara's actions are not the wisest, and may have caused problems for her if a bullet hadn't removed those particular worries.

What I wanted was for the show to deal with the memory spell on a practical level, not just as a generic/symbolic breach of trust. I wanted Tara to wonder how many times this had happened before, whether the relationship had actually been filled with fighting and unhappiness that Willow had erased--or if Willow had found a way to fabricate happy memories as well. And wondering how much, if any, of their relationship as she remembered it actually existed. And if they were going to get back together, I wanted her to ask Willow about that, and for Willow to have an answer that showed that she actually felt bad about it (she never apologizes on-screen for it, and it isn't the breakup that sends her running away from magic, it's hurting Dawn in Wrecked.)
posted by creepygirl at 9:06 AM on January 18, 2016


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