Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Dead Things
February 10, 2016 8:52 PM - Season 6, Episode 13 - Subscribe

Buffy, convinced she came back somehow wrong, turns to Tara for help. Warren enslaves his ex girlfriend Katrina, and when things go wrong and she ends up dead he manages to convince Buffy that she killed her.
posted by yellowbinder (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think this episode is actually the best episode at doing what Season 6 wants to do. This represents Buffy's low, and I think after this she will be somewhat on the path to recovery, but she'll need a push first.

The journey this episode takes us on is interesting. We have Buffy relaxing and even enjoying herself at Spike's, but we soon see issue with this. And it's not just because of who Spike is, it's that Buffy doesn't want to be enjoying herself. She's pushing herself to be with Spike not because she enjoys it, but because she doesn't. Life gives her a reminder of who and how Spike is, with his failure to understand Buffy wanting to turn herself in, and of course the balcony scene. I don't... love the balcony scene. This represents Spike at his most cruel, his most desperate, so far in their relationship. I can buy it as something Spike might do, but it's place in the episode feels a little strange to me (also, their sex is super physically implausible, but whatever).

What this episode delivers on are two brilliantly brutal scenes. Buffy beating Spike half to death, when clearly all she wants to attack is herself, and of course that final scene where she breaks down sobbing in front of Tara, desperate to be condemned, refusing to be forgiven. I love the sheer brutality of both these scenes, and they feel really earnt. Nonetheless, the fact that Buffy is willing to tell Tara is a big step forward for her.

God it isn't fun to watch Dawn at this point. In a way she's right about how Buffy will find turning herself in easier than fighting, but she's so profoundly unsympathetic to the idea that Buffy would be worried about killing someone (and presumably she has memories of how Buffy felt after Ted or Bad Girls), and so self obsessed she's just really unlikeable. She basically exists as a plot point, another stake in Buffy's heart.

Finally of course we have the Trio going over the edge. Jonathan and Andrew realise their petty games have consequences, but Warren has always known, he's just finally gone overboard. Their remaining path will be pretty grim.

-"No-one will ever find her" *the police immediately find her* "Oh balls."
-"I didn't come back wrong? This can't be me, this isn't me. Why do I let Spike do these things to me?"
-I really love that Tara does not slut shame Buffy here. Buffy does that to herself, sure, but Tara won't. Which is great, especially given how Xander's going to react a little way down the road.
-"Tell me I'm wrong. Please don't forgive me."
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:18 AM on February 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't mind unlikeable Dawn. Well, as a story element. I mind her a lot as a person. But self-obsessed is the natural state of the teen and I find it perfectly acceptable for her to be self involved. Both for her age and because she's entitled to a bit of self concern, as a human in general and for the nature of her life in general.
posted by phearlez at 7:57 AM on February 11, 2016

Dawn is grating to me because she came into the show not much younger than Buffy, Xander and Willow were at the beginning. But they were much more mature, less self-involved and less irritating (they had their teenage angsty/selfish moments but they were the exception, not the rule).

It makes sense for Buffy to be mature for her age, but Xander and Willow were definitely never as irritating at that age as Dawn is.
posted by tracicle at 11:31 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

It makes sense for Buffy to be mature for her age, but Xander and Willow were definitely never as irritating at that age as Dawn is.

I've discussed this before, but Dawn is classic Baby Sibling.

Also, Willow and Xander grew up around the Hellmouth, while Dawn didn't (such as she grew up at all -- we've never been real clear on how her psyche was assembled before S5). Every Sunnydale-native teenager is kinda world-weary and aged beyond their age, if you know what I mean.
posted by Etrigan at 5:37 AM on February 12, 2016

But that still doesn't make sense. Dawn's life, what she remembers from implanted memories, and what she has actually lived through have been, for the majority, on the hellmouth so she should be just as world weary and mature as the OTHER hellmouth teens. Add to that as far as her memory goes she's always been the sister of the slayer, which means she should be more mature than Xander or Willow as she, from her manipulated perspective, has lived it with the longest. That Buffy is a Slayer and might have to sacrifice herself for the greater good despite Dawn's needs is something she should have come to terms with long before.

On the other hand, when we meet the new principle, we see that even growing up with a slayer doesn't mean that you can accept your place in their life.

Basically, I never liked Dawn. On rewatches I've become more fond of her here and there, but really I find her amazingly annoying.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:04 PM on February 12, 2016

I think the other Scoobs are somewhat idealized, with all the quipping and heroic-ness, and Dawn's faults actually make her more like a real kid that age. She's funny and brave, but she's also pouty and acts out and needs looking after. You were probably a lot more like her at 16 than you were like Buffy. I sure was!

I also think people underestimate how much the whole "key" thing messed with Dawn's head. Not only is she forever in the shadow of her superheroine big sister, but she literally feels like she's not real and her past is a lie. It's a wonder the kid's not more messed up, really.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:39 AM on February 13, 2016

I think on rewatch I must have somehow missed how much kinky sex is present in the Buffyverse. No wonder the fan fiction went wild - the source material is wild! (I also think the physical improbability is strong, but I’m frankly shocked they were able to do semi-voyeuristic public sex in what was at least ostensibly a show for teens.
posted by corb at 1:09 AM on February 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

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