Sunday, January 30, 2011

Buffy Blog: "Lie to Me"

Previously on Buffy: Billy “Ford” Fordham (Jason Behr) was a classmate of Buffy’s when she was in fifth grade and he was in sixth and at Hemery High School in Los Angeles. Spike and Dru are back and are still trying to kill the Slayer. Spike and Dru are apparently the big bads of season two.

Lies and Lying: Ford to Buffy: “Everybody Lies”. Lies and lying are central to “Lie to Me and it is around lies, lying, and truth surfacing that the episode revolves. Buffy is, of course, living a lie. She has a secret identity she is trying to keep from others (other than the Scoobies, of course). Ford lies to Buffy about why he is in Sunnydale. He claims his Dad has been transferred to Sunnydale but he is really there to give Buffy to Spike in exchange for Spike turning him into a vampire. Ford lies to Buffy telling her he killed a vampire when he didn’t. Ford lies to the vampire wanna bes at the Sunset Club. Angel lies to Buffy about what he was doing the night before she and he meet at the Bronze. He claims he was home reading a book but he was really, as Buffy saw while on patrol, talking to Drusilla. Buffy goes into jealousy mode. Jenny doesn’t come clean about where she is taking Giles for their date. Willow secretly does research on Ford for Angel behind Buffy’s back. Angel doesn’t trust Ford. Willow once again proves she is not a good liar when she gets nervous and fidgety around Buffy and Ford. The Buffster blames Willow’s nervousness on coffee. Angel, Xander, and Willow secretly go to the Sunset Club, the club in Sunnydale that caters to a group of naïve vampire wanna bes, to reconnoiter it.

The Truth Will Out: Ford knows that Buffy is the Slayer. Ford plans on exchanging Buffy for eternal vampire life because, as we learn in act four, he is dying. Buffy discovers that Angel, Willow, and Xander have been lying to her and going behind her back. Ford lies to the vampire wanna bes. They are not going to be “turned’ by Spike and his gang. They are “fodder” for Spike and his vamp minions to eat. And in perhaps the most spectacular revelation of the episode Angel reveals, just after Buffy has revealed she loves Angel for the first time, that he “turned” Dru after killing her family and friends and mentally torturing her just prior to her taking of Holy Orders. Does Dru’s current mental state have something to do with what Angel did to her? We will find out in future episodes of Buffy and Angel.

Complicating Buffy’s Theodicy: Buffy: “I think this is all part of your (Ford’s) little fantasy drama! Isn't this exactly how you imagined it? You tell me how you've suffered and I feel sorry for you. Well, I do feel sorry for you, and if those vampires come in here and start feeding, I'll kill you myself!” The reason Ford wants to be a vampire is because he has perhaps six months to live. The evil that Ford does is thus understandable. The fact that Buffy understands Ford’s reasons for wanting to live forever adds nuance to Buffy’s conception of evil but, as Buffy tells Ford, his actions are still evil. Evil is a real ontological phenomenon in the Buffyverse.

The Horror, the Horror: This episode has several very scary scenes: Drusilla’s almost killing of a boy at a playground in Sunnydale, a scene made scarier by the sound and image of the merry-go-round and the prison-like jungle Jim. Angel saves the young boy from certain death at the hands of Dru. The scene at the Warehouse where Ford walks in and Spike’s first inclination is to kill him . The climatic scene at the Sunset Club that pits Buffy against Ford, Spike, and Spike’s gang and which ends with Ford’s horrific death (the latter made scarier by being offscreen).

Bringing the Tragedy: Ford’s illness. Ford’s death at Buffy’s hand in the final scene of the episode just after Ford got what he wanted, eternal life and eternal prettiness.

Love Makes You Do the Wacky: Spike giving in to Buffy during the climatic fight in the Sunset Club because Buffy, after doing her big slayer jump, threatens Dru, Spike’s “sometime paramour” and love.

Self-Realisation thy name is Buffy: Buffy: ”I’m rash and impulsive. It’s a flaw”.

Self-Realisation thy name is Spike: “Spike: Well, (slams the book and strides to Ford) I don't go much for tradition”

Naïveté thy name is Vampire Wanna Bes: Diego and Chantarelle and the other vampire wanna bes believe that the “Lonely Ones” have been misunderstood and that they are “Exalted” beings who “walk with the night” and “are not interested in harming anyone”. As Buffy points out to the vamp wanna bes they are actually the “all you can eat moron bar” on which Spike and his minions are about to “pig out” thanks to Ford.

Jealousies: Angel is jealous of Ford. Angel doing something wrong gives Xander “the happy”. Xander is jealous when he discovers Angel has been in Willow’s bedroom. Buffy is jealous of Drusilla.

Welcome to the Buffyverse: Chantarelle will reappear as Anne in “Anne” in season three of Buffy and in season two and season five of Angel.

Mise-en-scene: Note all the vampire blacks, vampire reds (and variations thereon including Ford’s orangish shirt and the orangish tints on the walls of the bomb shelter that serves as the Sunset Club), and the blues. Jenny wonders if Giles has any other suits but old world tweed. Note the goth clothes and visage of the vampire wanna bes and Angel in this episode. Willow’s room has a teenage innocent quality to it and is interspersed with nerdy objects such as a computer and a mobile of geometric figures (square, circle) hanging on the ceiling. Willow as innocent yet smart and perceptive. Does the shot of Buffy and Angel through the window of Buffy’s house after Angel tells Buffy what he did to Dru symbolize the distance that grows between them in this moment of revelation? Note that the bomb shelter that serves as the Sunset Club is underground making it kind of a way station between the above ground human world and the underground vampire world. Between human and vampire.

Acting: Look at Alyson Hannigan’s wonderful and priceless facial expressions as she contemplates the Divinyls “I Touch Myself” and has a nirvana moment as she figures out what the song means. Willow the innocent, well perhaps not so innocent, but smart nerd.

Laugh Out Loud: Angel telling Willow and Xander that the wanna bes at the Sunset Club know nothing about vampires including what they wear as a vampire wearing exactly what he is wearing walks up and they look each other over. Willow telling Xander that she and Angel’s love is a “forbidden love”. Jenny taking Giles to a monster truck rally. Spike wondering aloud if he and his minions have discovered a “restaurant that delivers” when Ford walks into The Warehouse.

Popular Culture: Buffy mentions that she listened to the Divinyls song “I Touch Myself” after Ford wouldn’t give her the “time of day”. Buffy claims not to have understood the meaning of the song. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1974) starring Jack Palance is playing on the TV’s in the Sunset Club.

Culture reference: Buffy: “People, listen to me! (Ford comes after her) This is not the mothership, people! This is ugly death come to play!” is a reference to the “Heaven’s Gate” new religious movement that committed mass suicide in San Diego during the coming of the Hale-Bop Comet thinking that the earth was about to be destroyed (apocalypse) and that they were to be saved by being transporting to an alien mothership.

Breaking the Fourth Wall: Ford’s thirty minutes to live routine at The Warehouse. “Ford: That doesn't matter. I've got something to offer you. I-I'm pretty sure this is the part where you take out a watch and say I've got thirty seconds to convince you not to kill me? (smiles) It's traditional. Spike: Well, (slams the book and strides to Ford) I don't go much for tradition. He grabs Ford by the ear and lifts him.”Giles’s speech on how the good guys always win in the cemetery at the end of the episode. Buffy’s reference to Ford’s little fantasy. Buffy’s reference to Ford as the “villain of the piece” at the end of the episode.

The Chorus: The Joss Whedon penned and directed episode “Lie to Me” is, like so many other episodes in season two, a pivotal episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Like the episode “Angel” “Lie to Me” complicates Buffy and the Scoobies conception of evil and links it to one of the themes of the season and one of the themes of the show in general, growing up. Nothing sums both of these aspects of the episode better than the magnificent and poetic Buffy/Giles speech at the very end of the episode and one of my favourite speeches in all of Buffy (act four):

Dissolve to the cemetery. Buffy has tears in her eyes as she lays a bouquet of red roses on Ford's grave. She stands up again and walks back to Giles.
Buffy: I don't know what I'm supposed to say.
Giles: You needn't say anything.
Buffy: It'd be simpler if I could just hate him. I think he wanted me
to. I think it made it easier for him to be the villain of the piece.
Really he was just scared.
Giles: Yes, I suppose he was.
Buffy: Nothing's ever simple anymore. I'm constantly trying to work it
out. Who to love or hate. Who to trust. It's just, like, the more I
know, the more confused I get.
Giles: I believe that's called growing up.
Buffy: I'd like to stop then, okay?
Giles: I know the feeling.
Buffy: Does it ever get easy?
Ford suddenly rises from his grave, a vampire just like he wanted, and
attacks Buffy. She plunges a stake into his heart with no more effort
than swatting a fly. He steps back and looks at the stake protruding
from his chest. He looks back up and bursts into ashes.
Giles: You mean life?
Buffy: Yeah. Does it get easy?
Giles: What do you want me to say?
Buffy: (looks up at him) Lie to me.
Giles: (considers a moment) Yes, it's terribly simple.
They start walking out of the cemetery.
Giles: The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are
easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we
always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody
lives happily ever after.
Buffy: Liar.

Foreshadowings: The book stolen by the vampire that Ford claimed he earlier killed will prove to be important in future episodes of season two.

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