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Buffy The Vampire SlayerBuffy 7x20 Touched - Review
Wednesday 7 May 2003, by Webmaster
And once more into the fray...(spoilers below)...
Okay...here’s the thing...
At the end of BTVS’s first season, in "Prophecy Girl," Buffy suffered a crisis of confidence...by the end of act one. But she had her act back together before the end of act three, and kicked butt in act four.
Although she did experience what I can only think of as various forms of Post Traumatic Stress in the season openers of seasons 2 and 3, she pretty much kept her confidence level up there for the duration of those seasons...which may be why many folks feel those are the best seasons. Season 4, her confidence evaporated for the first episode, but she had it back again by the final tag.
Then, faced with the climactic big bad scenario of season 4...she melted down for an episode before getting her act (and group) back together halfway through next episode. Then, season 5: faced with the climactic big bad scenario, she melted down for an entire episode before Willow pulled her out of it. Season 6, she was off her game for...well...season 6, not getting her act together until the last ten minutes of the last episode.
And now, here we are, season 7...and she spends about, what, half a dozen episodes?, slowly becoming distant and unraveling until she melts down with a lack of confidence, before a pep talk pulls her out of it.
Now I grant you that real life goes in cycles. I’m just as neurotic now as I was years ago. Some things *don’t* change. But BTVS isn’t real life. It’s fiction, and it has dramatic beats, and we’ve been seeing the same dramatic beats five seasons out of seven. And it’s taking LOOOONNNNGER to hit those beats and LOOOONNNNGER to resolve them, even though they’re fundamentally being resolved in the same way. In seven years of doing this, Buffy should be becoming MORE confident, not LESS.
People, including myself, have been complaining about the snail’s-pace pacing. It’s not just the pacing. It’s that we’ve seem these damned beats over and over and over again, and instead of Buffy becoming more efficient and capable, she backslides every time and solves it with increasingly diminishing returns.
Say what you want about "Angel," but we sure aren’t seeing the same beats every season.
An improvement over the past few weeks, definitely. Once again, unfortunately, too leisurely pacing. Great ending sequence: Should have been the third act climax. Spending three quarters of the episode to get Buffy to the point where she’s been gotten to repeatedly in the past...it’s too much. And yes, there was prurient interest in seeing everyone else putting the "lay" in "Slayer, but did it advance the plot? At a point where the plot desperately needs advancement? Compare it to season 3 where Willow lost her virginity to Oz toward the end of the season and yet it didn’t seem to slow down the plot at all...as opposed to, Stop everything, there’s some foxy ladies here t’night!
At least, to the best of our knowledge, Andrew didn’t get any, because that would certainly be a sign of the Apocalypse.
And, of course, the capper: The rumors were true. Instead of Excalibur, Buffy is acquiring the weapon that, in the future, will be wielded by Fray. Now c’mon, admit it. Isn’t it fun knowing that about 99% of the Buffy viewership is totally missing out on that because they couldn’t be bothered to read a mere comic book? Then again, considering it’s taking three years for eight issues of a monthly title to come out...
From Tildanet.com :
Quite a bit happened on this one, as far as the character relationships are concerned. But first, let’s take a look at the overall package. With Faith in her newly gained leadership position, she takes to showing everyone how it’s gonna be, and also formulates a darn good plan (surprisingly, with the help of Dawn having a heck of an idea, too). Andrew was darn funny, as usual. I vote for the spin-off to be The Spike and Andrew Show. It’d be an odd couple-esque thing set in another Hellmouth, possibly in Cleveland…
Anyhoo, I loved the Spike/Buffy going-ons. Here’s hoping that, if Buffy ends up with anyone, it’ll be Spike and not Angel. They have such a better ’fit’ than her and Angel ever did. I guess I’m officially a Spuffy fan now.
In other news, Faith and Wood did the freaky-deaky. It seems to me that, after their little excursion, Wood was a tad taken aback by Faith lack of actual caring. I guess she hasn’t changed that much since "The Zeppo" after all. I’m thinking that we very well could see an addressing of this sometime in the next two eps.
In related news, Willow and Kennedy finally had some hot and heavy lesbian action heating up. I forgot how much I’ve missed that stuff since Tara died. *a tiny tear rolls down my cheek at the memory of the dearly departed Tara*. I guess it’s good to see Willow moving on, but it does seem a little soon. Plus, Kennedy’s starting to bug the crap outta me. She needs to realize that, no matter what type of relationship she’s in with Willow, she’s still just a potential; and she hasn’t earned the right to have a seat at the big ’ole grown-up table.
I’m also happy that it was Spike that convinced Buffy not to give up. Once again showing that, as much as she may not want to admit it, she does care for him, somehow. I wonder how the thing Buffy found will help in the coming apocalypse.
Who else friggin’ loved seeing The Mayor again? It’s always a grand event when Harry Groener shows up. Just seeing him reminds me of just how great a villain he really was.
That ending was a sock-rocker! Can’t wait until next week to see how the big bang turns out.
All-in-all, I’m gonna have to give "Touched" a 4.5/5.0 on the Score-O-Rama.
From Scoopme.com :
When we last gathered, Buffy was ousted as Head Slayer and from her own house, Faith was being handed the reigns of a dysfunctional army, and Spike was discovering that there might be hope after all.
Buffy had a hunch that Caleb was hiding something powerful at the winery.
Faith suspected that Buffy’s brazen leadership would serve only to get everyone killed.
In the end, both Slayers were right. Buffy was vindicated when her hunch on the winery proved both correct and fruitful. Faith, after a brief bout of confusion, organized the army and got them quickly into fighting shape.
That Buffy would be vindicated, and not, simultaneously should not be a surprise. Many will be tempted to say the coup in the Summers house from the week before now amounts to treason, but that is an oversimplification. Buffy’s plan, her methods, were still fundamentally unsound. The results the army members balked at - that they would die being among their complaints - were still no less likely because Buffy’s hunches about the weapon were proven correct.
I said last week that Buffy would need to go this final road alone. It is her destiny. That she realized it, and acted upon it appropriately so quickly, is satisfying. The hour, after all, is named after her. An apocalypse of this magnitude has room for many heroes. There does not need to be just the one, but Buffy still must be chief among them.
At Graduation Day, Buffy was the one who killed the mayor. She slayed the big bad, and she deserves the credit for it. But Willow, Xander, Giles, Oz, Angel, Wesley, and the majority of the senior class were instrumental in that victory. They all deserve credit for the roles they played, and some were heroes. Xander led the class that day, and, to a large degree, his leadership and tactics saved many lives.
Against Glory, Buffy defeated the God. She faced her head on, went blow for blow with her, and ultimately beat Glory into a pulp. Giles performed the final act of killing her, but, again, Buffy slayed the big bad. And again, the others played a large role. They fought valiantly. Willow drained Glory of some of her power, restored Tara, and coordinated their movements telepathically. Xander and Spike both stood toe to toe with Glory, and both played an instrumental role in her defeat.
Things are different now, but not so different as one would first believe. Buffy will do much of the heavy lifting here, again. Her Trinity impression against Caleb was truly impressive, both for its acrobatic excellence and its tactical brilliance. Buffy could not match Caleb blow for blow - which makes wonder whatever happened to Olaf’s hammer - so she altered her strategy to achieve her goals. She could not have done this with the girls in tow, and, while she was still a part of the army, none would have let her attempt this on her own.
Faith’s role is actually the more complicated of the two. Her job is to organize and resurrect the slayerette army, and she did so in short order. That brief bout with parliamentary procedure served as the release valve for the assembled to shake of the yoke of Buffy’s oppressive regime, but it also quickly proved the need for Faith’s to begin. In reality, the majority of the people in that house did not want to share in the decision making - with the exception of Kennedy, of course - they just wanted to have confidence that the one making the decisions had their best interests at heart.
Buffy had already sacrificed the lives of these girls. She admitted as much tonight. These girls were not lives to be saved, but a means to save the rest of the world. The calculations, while cold, were not incorrect. These girls are the casualties that will spare the rest of humanity, but it was wrong to treat them that way. It was even more wrong to not try to fight that inevitability, if only to keep the troops on Buffy’s side.
Faith assumed control, and will rule with an iron first, but she also has the confidence of those who matter most - Xander, Wood, Willow, and Giles. She maintains that confidence by including them in the process, by listening to their input. She makes the final decision, but the people whose lives are on the line feel that they are very much a part of it.
Their plans - to capture a bringer and to raid the armory - were arrived at through sound decisions. That the plans ultimately led them into a deadly trap should not diminish Faith’s accomplishment here. With the information and tactics available to them, they arrived at a carefully constructed strategy. No one thinking logically would have done different.
There is proof too in their collective abilities as a fighting force. The abduction of the bringer was masterfully orchestrated and the girls involved in the attack were an effective fighting force, rapidly coming into their own under Faith’s leadership. The assault on the armory was also technically excellent. They met their opponents head on and beat them. The girls fought well and there were no casualties. That the armory was rigged to blow only points to the tactical advantage TFE enjoys (of course, TFE knew they had a bringer, and, of course, she knew what information it spilled), not their deficiencies as a group.
The outcomes of their respective forays against TFE were vastly different, and the power structure will be changed once again, if only because Faith looks pretty banged up. Still, don’t be shocked when Buffy is neither welcomed back into the fold nor eager to return. Buffy’s role in all this is still to go it alone, with the possible exception of Spike, and Faith’s destiny is to be the sole Slayer when this is done.
There is a reason why Faith the Vampire Slayer was in the works.
Spike’s role is still the wild card, because Buffy is not alone. He clearly stands with her, and his perspective on last week’s coup is a valid one. But it is his perspective. He is the only one she has not shut out, and he is the only one who isn’t being pushed around like a pawn.
That distinction is Buffy’s doing, after all.
I suspect that Spike’s love for Buffy is going to make all the difference in the world. Whatever was in store as Buffy’s final act may not be hers after all. Spike would die for Buffy to live, and, given the chance, he will take it. The question is, can we live without Spike? Would Joss choose that for us?
I say, yes, though it pains me. Spike IS Buffy’s conscious, he is her heart, and he is, irony and all, her soul now. Buffy was done. She quit, for the second time I might add. Spike brought her back. He gave her purpose. He gives her a reason to fight.
Ultimately, the problem with Buffy is not just that she is disconnected from her friends and charges, but that she never reconnected with herself. Buffy never really got over dying the second time, never let got of heaven. She claimed tonight that she holds herself apart because she is the chosen one, but she never began to stand apart - not really - until she killed herself for Dawn.
Mentally, her sacrifice for Dawn was the last one she was capable of making. She had to make that choice completely to do what she did that night, and you don’t undo a decision like that.
Buffy is, for all intents, already dead, if only to herself. Her being alive is a technicality only, like Spike or Angel. Both of them freely discuss that they are dead, all important evidence to the contrary. Buffy just doesn’t say it out loud.
Spike knows different, though. He looks at her and sees "the one," and while, on a certain level, he means "the one for him," he also means the chosen one. Spike sees The Chosen amongst the chosen, and he’s right about it.
He’s right about her.
In every way, he knows her better than she knows herself. He sees her potential in ways she can’t see. Or couldn’t.
For all those who balk at Spuffy, who feel betrayed for Angel - Spike does what Angel never did, never could, and never tried. Spike makes her stronger. Spike gives her faith. Spike gives her a reason to win.
When Buffy saves the world, and she will, one of them will be dead. I’ll bet my life on it. But it’ll be the love they show each other in the end that will save all of our lives.
In the end, Spike’s connection to Buffy, and her final acceptance of him, will be the final link she needs to the rest of us to do what must be done.
In the end, Buffy will fight alone, but wanted, needed. Connected.
But only in the end.
The Other Side of Tuesday...when did Dawn become Ms. Ancient Language 2003?
Happy to see the Mayor. He also raises an interesting clue (one brought up by you last week, and one I too quickly dismissed): TFE as the Mayor claimed that he was still the Richard Wilkins III, that his memories and personality were still very much in tact. And that, again, raises the question, why does TFE appear as Buffy so often?
The big Sex-Off was unnecessary, and, in a way uncomfortable. I get Wood and Faith, particularly in light of the planned Faith spin-off, but Kennedy and Willow feels forced and, ahem, creepy. Isn’t Kennedy, like 17? If Xander tried to get with Amanda, the police would get involved. I also think Tara is standing around somewhere disappointed. Not that Willow moved on, she would eventually want that, but that Willow would be attracted to a vapid muggle hothead.
Is anyone else as concerned about Giles rapid decapitation of the Bringer when it was spilling information so freely? I say red herring, but it bears mentioning.
Don’t you wish Buffy always fought Matrix style?
A number of you have asked me where I’m going to end up after our Buffy run comes to an end. First of all, thank you for the inquiry (especially the nice note I got from Chris & Tari Jordan). It is nice to know that many of you not only want to continue our little writing relationship, but also that so many of you would contact me personally. I’m genuinely awed.
That said, as of right now, I’m without gainful regular writing employment immediately following our last bow in a few weeks. I am definitely looking to continue somewhere, and I have been in contact with several opportunities, but I’m not sure what will happen. I’ll certainly take suggestions, since writing for ScoopMe, particularly this column, has been one of the happiest experiences of my life. We’re going to suffer many sad endings in the next few weeks; I, for one, do not want to add to the list.
While I will undoubtedly do this again, I do want to give a little nudge and wink to Kara Vichko, my tireless editor. If you all only understood how difficult I am to work with - at times - you would all send Kara a nice basket of mini-muffins for keeping me in check and not losing her mind. I will make it all more clear in our final week, but Kara has put up with a great deal from me for a very long time, and we owe her more than anyone for keeping this particular column as it is. Thanks Kara.
I also want to give another personal hello and thank you to Sara Henderson. You have been consistent and overwhelming with your generosity, and I only hope you understand how much it has meant to me.
And a brief shout-out to Nicola, just because.
From Entertainment-geekly.com :
I’ve been twisting myself in knots trying to figure out how to say one simple thing. So I think I’ll just say it: this episode is full of sex. Which is fine. Certainly a natural response to the possibility of impending apocalypse. That said, some of it is just odd, puzzling sex, not sexy sex or fun sex or plot advancement sex. Wow, I’m really ensuring that this review gets a lot of Google hits, aren’t I?
Anyway, the sex happens thusly: Buffy has left and is throwing herself a good old-fashioned pity party. She barges into some stranger’s house and tells them to leave and curls up all by her lonesome. Meanwhile, Faith, who is attempting to be a good leader, has the Slayerettes kidnap a Bringer and interrogate him for information. She also receives a visit from Fake Odo in the form of the Mayor and ends up, er, bonding with Wood. Also, Spike and Andrew return from their mission and Spike gets all pissy with everyone for booting Buffy. He ends up seeking her out and blabbing on about love and holding her while she falls asleep. Apparently, this Spike-ification gives Buffy some extra energy, so she heads out and confronts Caleb and happens upon a hidden weapon (the scythe from Fray!). While she’s doing that, Faith is busy leading the Slayerettes into a trap involving a bomb. Oops.
Let’s just run through the various pair-ups, shall we? Wood and Faith are both stellar, charismatic characters and deserve the screen time, but this particular coupling feels sort of weird and forced. Maybe if they had burning hot chemistry or something, but they really don’t, despite both being insanely attractive. As for Willow and Kennedy, this might be a more intriguing turn of events (what with Will worrying about losing control and all) if I actually liked Kennedy. Sadly, I think she’s bossy and annoying and probably one of those girls who always insisted on taking all the best Barbies during playtime, thus leaving the communal Barbie pool horribly unbalanced. I miss Tara. I can totally see Tara taking an Accidental Haircut Barbie, just to be nice.
Xander and Anya? Would have been lovely if they’d gotten more than three seconds of screen time. As for Buff and Spike (who don’t actually do the deed, but instead sit in a state of chaste snuggling), well…still not a huge fan of this pairing, but at least bits and pieces of a more interesting Spike character are beginning to emerge. I could have done without his "Buffy is great, Buffy is God, all worship Buffy and the snotty ground she walks on!" speech, but whatever. At least they didn’t completely annoy me.
As for the non-sex stuff in this episode, it’s a mixed bag. I continue to enjoy Faith’s conflicted journey, and her visit from the Mayor (always a welcome presence) is particularly choice. I also dug seeing Buffy take on Caleb in a smarter, less pig-headed way (lots more ducking) - she seems more sure of herself than she has in a long time and I’m hoping it means a return to the brave character we’ve grown to love in the final hours of this series. And naturally, the fan-geek in me was thrilled to see the scythe from Fray.
Still, this episode feels a lot like an assortment of mismatched puzzle pieces. There’s fighting and speechifying and the big sex montage, but other than Buffy’s discovery of the super-weapon towards the end, not a lot actually happens. And as we edge closer and closer to the show’s final hours, I can’t help but long for a little more affectionate interaction between our Fantastic Four: Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles. Perhaps Mutant Enemy’s saving all of that for the end - I can only hope. In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to settle for various attractive characters knockin’ boots onscreen. (Yes, I just used the phrase "knockin’ boots." No, I don’t know why. I would say I’m attempting to bring it back, but I don’t think it was ever here in the first place.)