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Buffy The Vampire SlayerBuffy Mid Season 7 - Review 1/3
Sunday 2 February 2003, by Webmaster
This one’s been quite a ride. So far, season seven has been one of the strongest yet. We all know this could be (say it ain’t so) maybe possibly kinda (shhh!) the last season ever, and Joss et. al. haven’t let us down. This season has had lots of suspense, humor, character growth and cleverly handled continuity, giving the oldtime fans lots to savor and remind us of the good old days, even as the new days bring much that is equally memorable. Let’s take a look at the major themes, trends and developments of the season thus far, and, standing as we do midway through the year, think about the directions we’re heading toward, and evaluate what has worked and why, as well as what has been perhaps less than successful, even in a season as bountiful as this one seems to be.
James Marsters, as always, is doing an exemplary job bringing Spike to life — well, at least to unlife. Nevertheless, the storyline just isn’t quite working, so far. His First Evil induced craziness early in the season was just plain tiresome, to this viewer anyway, and, although I’m thankful it seems to have ended, it’s not quite clear how and why — because Buffy "believes in him" now? His passion for Buffy also is becoming overblown, as well as a bit treacly.
It was interesting when it had a dark, stalkerish edge (though even then it sometimes became a bit of a much of a muchness), but now, watching him endure the First’s tortures, pronouncing his enduring faith that Buffy’s "belief" in him will triumph, it’s well, a bit icky. He’s lost a great deal of his wit and style, along with his soullessness, and I frankly don’t think the bargain’s worth it.
The relationship between Buffy and Spike does hold promise: it seems to be growing more tender, more trusting, in a fairly plausible manner, without appearing to necessarily leading to full-blown romance — without necessarily ruling that out, either. Long ago, before they started banging each other (in more ways than one) on a regular basis, I envisioned the kind of relationship that seems to be developing here — that they would become allies, dependent on each other, respectful of each other but ultimately not romantic or sexual, despite Spike’s desires.
Of course it didn’t happen then, and it still could easily become romantic in the future, but for now it is a relatively satisfying, complex web of feelings on both parts. If only he would be a bit less of a puppy dog and a bit more of a man.
The idea is a good one: this time the enemy isn’t just after Buffy and her friends and family (or just after ending the world, ho-hum). This enemy wants to destroy the slayer line entirely. The fate of the slayer lineage rests on Buffy’s shoulders.
If this is in fact, the last season, it is a good way to bring Buffy’s peculiar destiny into the spotlight again, in a way it hasn’t been since the first season. We’ve all been curious about how the slayer mythos works, wanted to learn more about the Watcher-slayer relationship and connection, and bringing the protoslayers on the scene gives us a way to do this.
We now know in a way that wasn’t entirely clear before, that the Watchers know of a great number of potential slayers and are grooming at least some of them for the job (yes, we did know about Kendra before, and that she had been in training for years, but she seemed to come from an unusual culture that accepted the fact of vampires, slayers, etc., so her position may have been fairly unique).
We also seem to know that any one of the potentials can be called up. It seems to be a random matter, not based on age or any other qualifying factor. It also appears clear that protoslayers have no unusual strength or skills, unless trained. (Personally, I had always hoped that they would show signs of unusual skills from early childhood on — not full-blown slayer strength, of course, but a little extra, making them a little more valuable than ordinary humans in the battle against evil, and a little "different" from birth, not just upon slayer activation).
We still don’t know how the Watchers figure out who’s a protoslayer, nor why some of them slip through the net. In fact, slipping through the net doesn’t seem to have been mentioned. Buffy herself slipped through the net, and caught the Watchers unaware when she was activated, yet no one seems to mention this, or the fact that perhaps the First will miss a few too. The show acts as if the slayer line is entirely doomed unless Buffy saves the day, but I at least can’t help but wonder how tight the First’s net is.
Gaining knowledge about slayerhood is good and interesting, but the protoslayers themselves are a bit of a disappointment. There are too many of them, they remain largely interchangeable and unmemorable, except perhaps for Kennedy, the seeming lesbian who also seems to be the only one with serious training under her belt.
It’s not clear why they’re such wusses, since most of them seem to have known their possible fate for some time and presumably should have been trained. I imagine now that Buffy has beaten the Ubervamp and proven her ability to protect and lead them, their whining and moaning will abate, but it was nevertheless irritating while it lasted.
I also think there have just been too many of them. One or two protoslayers for Buffy to relate to would have been more interesting, giving us something akin to but also different from Buffy’s relationship first with Kendra then Faith. Having a bunch cluttering up the house does give her an "army" to lead, but not a whole lot else.