Friday, July 6, 2012

Buffy Blog: "Something Blue"

Previously on Angel: Buffy has returned from LA where the events of “I Remember You” have taken place, events Buffy, ironically, does not remember. Buffy complains to Willow that within five minutes of being in LA she was feeling the Buffy/Angel breakup pain again.

Something Blue. Speaking of breakup pain, it is Willow who puts the something blue in “Something Blue”. She is still feeling the after effects of her breakup with Oz. Willow still hopes that Oz will return, a hope reflected in “Something Blue’s” mise-en-scene when Willow visits Oz’ room where she breathes him in by smelling his t-shirt. Willow goes bluer than blue when she visits his room again later in the episode and finds his belongings gone. As she tells Buffy it is now hitting her that he may be gone.

Every one of the Scoobies knows that Willow is in pain but it is Spike, the sometimes sensitive Spike, who seems to be the first to realise that she is hanging on by a thread. Willow first tries to drown her sorrows in dancing and beer at the Bronze. When this doesn’t work she turns to magicks just as she did when, filled with pain, she initiates a magic spell to make Oz’s love life miserable. This time Willow does a do Willow’s will spell (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun) so she can rid herself of the pain she continues to feel through the magic of magic rather than going through that long human process everyone else goes through and every other Scooby wants her to go through after a break-up.

Something Borrowed. Willow’s heal my pain spell “Something Blue” recalls Amy’s and Xander’s make Cordelia love me spell in “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” since both go awry. Speaking of Amy, Willow, unbeknownst to herself and to Buffy who is sitting next to Willow on the bed when this happens, de-rats Amy and re-rats Amy all within the space of a few seconds. Awesome.

Something Old. There is a reference to Buffy’s going all One Million Years BC (a 1966 film starring Raquel Welch in which Ms Welch, as Xander points out, wears a fuzzy bikini) thanks to a beer feast in the Tracey Forbes penned “Beer Bad”. In a shout out to “Band Candy” Buffy tells Riley about how her and cars don’t mix which is why she is an avid pedestrian.

Willow, once she casts her spell and thinking it has failed because she isn’t able to rid herself of that horrible pain caused by her love for a missing Oz, unknowingly casts a series of spells on other of our beloved Scoobies. She unknowingly casts a spell that makes Giles go blind, a spell that recalls Giles’s inability to find his way out of the library stacks and read manuscripts in a number of languages he knows in “Nightmares”. Next Willow unknowingly casts a spell on Xander turning him into a demon magnet. Xander's recent dating after all, as Willow says when she is casting the spell is a history of being attracted to demons like the “insect lady” of Teachers Pet”, the mummy girl of “Inca Mummy Girl”, and his current girlfriend the ex-vengeance demon Anya. Finally Willow unknowingly casts a spell making a Buffy obsessed with catching bad boy Spike and a Spike obsessed with killing Slayer Buffy, fall in love with each other allowing Buffy to "live the dream”. One has to wonder whether the Buffy and Spike relationship with its constant harping and bickering is a little bit like the obsessive hate equals love of the Xander and Cordy relationship of seasons one through three and whether the Buffy and Spike relationship will end up working itself out in a similar way. A shape of things to come?

The Scoobies throughout season four, as I have noted several times, seem to be imploding. In last weeks “Pangs” they seemed to be back together and fighting evil once again. In “Something Blue”, however, thanks largely to Willow, her pain, and the Scoobies telling her the pain will end in time, the Scoobies seem to be imploding again even though they—with Anya and Spike this time, a shape of things to come perhaps?—do kind of fight the demons who Xander is attracting together. Something just doesn’t seem right, however. Willow comes late to the fight and Giles is nowhere to be seen. Needless to say, college is often a time when old high school friends find themselves, often unwillingly, going their separate ways.

Something New. “I am”, Willow says to Buffy, “a bad witch”. Willow becomes rather wicked in “Something Blue”. She tells Giles that he doesn’t really see her pain after he expresses concern about her not keeping an appointment she made with him. Old Faithful and Old Yeller Willow appears to be becoming Willow the unreliable. Shades of Alt Willow from “Doppelgangland? Willow responds to Xander’s we all have pain remark to her at the Bronze with a poor Xander I live in a basement quip. Willow sourly refers to Xander as a demon magnet as he tries to help her work through her psychological problems. Xander, therapy guy. Willow is so mean in “Something Blue”, in fact, that D’Hoffryn, the demon who made Anya a vengeance demon after she had been dumped, invites Willow, who has just been dumped, to join him and the other vengeance demons in Arashmaharr. Willow declines. Before D'Hoffryn goes he gives her a talisman with which she can summon him just in case she later changes her mind. Speaking of Willow, is Willow’s reliance on magic to “cure” the pain she is in becoming a pattern, a crutch? We see it here and we saw it, almost anyway, in “Wild at Heart”.

There is now clearly, as Buffy says to Willow, Buffy-Riley “sparkage”. Buffy tells Riley she likes him. Still Buffy feels that something is missing. Riley, she tells Willow, is solid but he just doesn’t spark the passion that Angel, Mr. Dark and Broody himself, did in her. Shapes of things to come?

Communication Breakdown: the uncomfortable discussion Willow, Buffy, and Riley have when a pained Willow bumps into a Buffy and Riley having a get to know you picnic. Shapes of things to come?

Xander Thy Name is Pop Culture: Xander’s reference to literary science fiction writer Thomas Disch’s novel The Brave Little Toaster. Disch’s novel was made into a film of the same name in 1987.

Mise-en-scene: Did you notice Willow’s speak no evil t-shirt in the final scene of "Something Blue"?

The Chorus. “Something Blue”, written by Tracey Forbes and directed by Nick Marck, reminded me of the season three episode “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” and is full of the wit and wordplay we have come to expect from a Buffy episode. “Something Blue” may be largely a stand alone episode but it is a stand alone episode that moves character arcs, Willow’s, Anya’s, Buffy and Riley’s, and Spike’s in particular, and the season four arc, along, in brilliant fashion. Like “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” “Something Blue" shows that you don’t need to dumb a script down or have actors try to act funny in order to be “funny” to be funny. Too bad more American sitcoms haven’t learned this simple lesson.

There is so much to love and revel in, in “Something Blue” from Buffy asking Willow what it is that makes her believe that real love and passion go hand in hand with lots of pain and fighting just as she stakes a vampire to Spike being obsessed with the NBC and 101 Network supernatural themed soap opera Passions (1997-2008) whose little Timmy is down the well to Buffy telling a caught in the headlights tongue tied in knots Riley that she is going to marry a guy named Spike to Willow turning Xander into a demon magnet and casting a spell that makes the two hate and obsessed with each others Buffy and Spike fall in love and become engaged to be married. Brilliant Buffy. Brilliant TV.

Awesome: Buffy wondering whether Riley helping the UC, Sunndale Lesbian Alliance put up a banner says something about him. Buffy feeding Spike pigs blood out of Giles’s “Kiss the Librarian” novelty mug. Buffy teasing Spike by showing a chained and neutered Spike her poor, bare, tender, and delicious neck. Giles calling the neutered Spike impotent. Buffy referring to the neutered Spike as flaccid. Xander’s facial and verbal reaction to Buffy telling him that she is engaged to Spike. Buffy’s and Spike’s jealousy of Drusilla and Angel. Buffy wanting the music of the first dance at her wedding to be “Wind Beneath My Wings”, a tune made famous by Bette Midler in 1982. Buffy telling Riley that she was pulling his chain when she told him that she was going to be marrying a guy names Spike because she could see the fear that he would soon be wearing the Buffy ball and chain guy in his eyes. Emma Caulfied acting.

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