Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Two to Go / Grave   Rewatch 
March 9, 2016 9:42 PM - Season 6, Episode 21 - Subscribe

Dark Willow is on the warpath to destroy Andrew, Jonathan, and eventually the world. Buffy, Anya, Giles and Xander work to protect the remaining Trio members and stop Willow. Dawn objects Buffy's overprotection, and Spike faces a trial.
posted by yellowbinder (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Thus ends Season 6.

I think I fall in a middle point when it comes to reactions to Season 6. I don't hate it, but I think it could have been much better. The core idea is great, and I love how committed the writers are to it: even the funny episodes have a core of sadness driving them. The writers don't forget what Buffy has been through. But there are missteps, as we have noted. I think Willow's drug arc did genuine damage to this final arc of the series, because it's clear that in these three episodes she's operating on rage and sadness and power. Drugs don't really come into it, and that's as it should be.

The other big misstep is the plotting, where the writers contrive to make things worse rather than have them naturally go wrong. This does undermine Buffy's arc a bit. The money thing is really annoying in retrospect, and the writers needed to work a bit harder to justify it. But ultimately the core of the problem Buffy has is her expulsion from heaven, and her feeling that she lacks a purpose, something that she's always had up until now. Making her opponents mostly useless children adds to this: if she had a real villain to engage with, then that might have kept her going anyway.

What I really love about 6 is that it's that it engages with the problems Buffy was having in 5. Things went wrong in 5 in a big way, and Buffy even had a nervous breakdown, and this Season says that you don't just get better from things like that, and sometimes it's going to be hard for a while. But it also ends with a promise, that things will, eventually, get better.

One big mistake which I think is less obvious is that the core cast don't interact as much. As in 4, they often have plots off on their own, because of these growing sense of isolation. But this is a problem for the conclusion, where Xander saves Willow. He bases this entirely on their connection, which, if you'd skipped from 2-3 to here, I'd buy. But Xander and Willow don't seem to hang out much at all anymore by this point, and while that's kind of the point, I'd have liked a little bit more time to explore that to make that ending more heartfelt.

Onto 7 next. Which is.. well.. not as good, but we have an amazing initial run to look forwards to at least!

-"I'd like to test that theory." OK, this was a total fanboy moment, but I loved it and it took me completely by surprise the first time.
-Did Xander go buy a crayon in the middle of all this? Also how did he even find Willow? I don't really care about either of these problems, but still. He also magics a police car just in time
-"Oh my god, Warren!" "Oh my god, Me!"
-Sure convenient that that police cell faced that outer wall
-Jonathan's mini arc is really sweet
-There's a lot of stupid magic things to justify here. Suddenly Willow can't teleport (until, later in the episode, when she can), and then she's "draining" at just the right moment...
-Also, Willow kills Rack here. And no-one ever remembers this! No-one! For a show that's often really careful about remembering the cast's history, this is really egregious.
-"Willow packed her own lunches and wore floods and was always just... willow."
-Clem's nacho taste tests are great
-Dawn actually takes positive action this episode, which is nice. Her being really good at fighting is silly, but I'll go with it
"Let me tell you something about Willow. she's a loser."
-The whole "I'll show you what a Slayer really means" speech would have been more impressive if the fight had been any good. But it wasn't.
-I don't know how I feel about Giles laughing about Buffy's problems. I get what they're going for, I just don't know if it works.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:42 AM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Willow and Giles remember that she killed Rack. In Lessons, Willow says "I killed people" (note the plural) and Giles says, "I've not forgotten."
posted by creepygirl at 7:44 AM on March 10, 2016

Onto 7 next. Which is.. well.. not as good, but we have an amazing initial run to look forwards to at least!

I haven't rewatched 7 since it aired, but I definitely remember the first several episodes making it seem like this was going to be one of the best seasons of the whole show. I can't remember when that hope got punctured, exactly.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:16 AM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't know how I feel about Giles laughing about Buffy's problems. I get what they're going for, I just don't know if it works.

The problem is, Giles' arc this season would have been way more convincing if, instead of just up and leaving, the Scoobies had been the ones to insist on trying to make it on their own without him. He wouldn't have even needed to leave the country - he could have just been around less, and the characters could have avoided going to him because THEY thought they needed to Be Adults.

...except that they'd already more or less done that in Season 4, so they couldn't go there again, so instead they have Giles be kind of a total dick.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:19 AM on March 10, 2016

Bleh. My gf, who I dragged lengthwise through Buffy last spring, noped out of the season after Tabula Rasa. We watched this final three or four episodes just so she'd have the context, but her complaint - and I agree with it - is that the characterization for this entire season is just... off. Giles leaving makes no sense, Willow's whole arc makes no sense, Xander and Anya's arc is just dumb (leaving the bride at the altar is one of my least favorite cliches ever - I'm looking at you, too, The L Word.) I've talked about my reaction to Tara's death before, and that's tone-deaf and lazy in a different way, but we didn't even get there before Alex declined to continue. I guess I understand why some people like this season, but I don't really understand why those folks like any of the other seasons, because this one reads to me like not-great fanfic.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:12 AM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've always loved season 6 and reading everyone's comments has made me think about WHY a lot more. I guess to me it's always seemed like a whole season of wallowing in anxiety; like every character went through their own personal hell. Which is why it's not necessarily logical or fitting with the character or world or whatever, but it just goes DEEP into what each character fears. Like getting into that anxiety spiral where you just imagine yourself lost in the worst thing you can possibly imagine. And that stuff never actually comes true, but in this season, that's where they're all at.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 10:21 AM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Willow's whole arc makes no sense

Well I disagree with that. I do think her arc not only makes sense, it's motivated by 3 seasons of work. Since 2 they've been hitting home that Willow solves problems with Magic, tries to modify people's behaviour with magic. Treats magic as taking the easy way out. So when she is hit with a storm of grief, she gives in to being this disconnected being of rage rather than truly engage with how she feels. As I say, they almost kill the whole thing with the stupid "magic=drug addiction" thing, but the actual arc in of itself is fine.

Willow and Giles remember that she killed Rack. In Lessons, Willow says "I killed people" (note the plural) and Giles says, "I've not forgotten."

Despite having rewatched that recently, I missed that phrasing, so fair enough.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:30 AM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to wish everyone a happy 19th anniversary of Buffy's series premiere.

I miss this rewatch and I swear I'll get caught up eventually.

Giles' behaviour over the 6th season makes me somewhat sad, but "I'd like to test that theory" and his laughter with Buffy...don't quite make up for it, but do make me feel better. I feel like in the laughter he's kind of a stand-in for the viewer, as it gets a bit meta as all the drama they've heaped on the characters is enumerated.

Willow's arc has always made sense to me, even if I didn't love it, as I heavily identified with her. The issue with the drugs plot is that it's almost like the writers are pulling a Willow and giving her an excuse or escape route for her actions (yes, some responsibility falls on the addict, but it's also an illness). It would have been stronger if her choices had been purely motivated from her desire for power, acceptance, control, and avoidance of conflict. I do wonder what her life might have been like had she gone off on her own and not subordinated her life choices to Buffy's mission (though I wouldn't wish that on the viewer, as I need my Willow on the show).
posted by ilana at 11:53 AM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Giles's line "I know you're all stupid", even as an affectionate joke, really rankles. Even if you ignored the whole abandonment stuff during this season, there's all of this:

1. Willow's spree is, in large part, fueled by magic from dangerous dark magic books that Giles left visible but unsecured at the Magic Box for no damn reason at all.

2. Giles has the brilliant idea to leave the unrepentant, homicidal, telepathic witch unattended to have a heart-warming reunion with Buffy, despite said witch warning him that the magic bonds won't hold her forever.

3. Giles's brilliant Plan B to "dose" Willow makes a bad situation worse--while Willow has murder on her mind, destroying the world isn't on the table until the magic forces her to feel all the pain of the world. It's only Xander's intervention that saves Giles from the ignominious title of The Watcher Who Facilitated the End of the World.

If the Scoobies are stupid, Giles, it's probably because THEY LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU.
posted by creepygirl at 12:12 PM on March 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

The drug metaphor is a misstep but Dark Willow is totally and impressively in character for me. One of the things I love about Buffy is that characters are generally consistent, and Willow will always jump to a powerful solution using magic when she can't control her feelings. She wants to anti-love spell away her feelings for Xander. She goes for a revenge spell on Oz and Veruca but is interrupted, and then once he's gone the magic she does in her pain is impressive and emotional enough to make her a vengeance demon candidate. She goes after Glory alone when Tara's mind is mixed up, then has no issue mixing up her mind further more than once when it makes life easy for her. So going Dark is completely understandable, and something the show legitimately sets up through years of character work.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:13 PM on March 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

She goes after Glory alone after Tara's mind is mixed up

Going by yourself after a legitimate target who harmed your SO is a time-honored Scooby tradition. Giles did it in Passion, Buffy did it in Graduation Day. It's not the smartest thing from a tactical POV, but by itself it doesn't strike me as precursor to going dark.
posted by creepygirl at 1:02 PM on March 10, 2016

Don't we get our first glimpse of black eyed Willow in that scene? While it's definitely a common Scooby foible I think it still speaks to her character.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:27 PM on March 10, 2016

She also gets black eyes when she's putting up the protective barrier in Spiral, which is an unambiguously good thing to do, so I think that's more of a sign of "caught up in powerful magic" than evil intent or bad motivations.
posted by creepygirl at 1:55 PM on March 10, 2016

Going by yourself after a legitimate target who harmed your SO is a time-honored Scooby tradition. Giles did it in Passion

Giles is terrifying in that scene. Pure badassery, no passion, no rage, just cold down to business killing him a vampire.

Pity it didn't work out...
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:01 PM on March 10, 2016

I've said this elsewhere, but the Willow/Xander ending to this, which shouldn't work forme at all, just destroys me. It truly feels like the culmination of everything Hannigan and Brendan had been doingfor six years on that show to finally get them to that point.

There's just one thing that bugs the hell out of me about it, and it me it comes from Joss being, at heart, a comics-guy through and through. When Giles comes back and is all, "I did the thing that makes her beatable! Shh!" and then when Anya teleports into the pit and is all, "nothing magical can hurt her!" No, Joss, just... no. Literally do the opposite of those things. Have Giles come back and be completely unprepared for what Willow has become. Have Anya say that nothing short of the Most Supreme Magic in Existence can stop Willow now.

We understand emotional truth when we see it Don't undercut it to give it applied phlebotenum. I mean, come on, here, Joss!
posted by Navelgazer at 9:11 PM on March 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I do love Anya teleporting all around in these episodes. She's a demon again, she's alone and pissed, but she still shows up and does the work to save the world, be it warning Jonathan and Andrew or standing up to Willow incanting counterspells right in her face. Even her styling is different than usual with the pulled back hair and puritanical white collar. Anya is on point here.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:17 PM on March 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Well, yeah. Anya is the best. This is the first rule of Buffy.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:20 PM on March 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

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