Mark Watches ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: S04E20 – The Yoko Factor

In the twentieth episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, well, that was goddamn awkward. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.


  • Initially, the title made me feel really awkward because every time I hear someone blame the Beatles breaking up on Yoko Ono, I want to punch them in the mouth. With my mind. Because I can’t actually punch people because I’m full of too much social anxiety. Thankfully, Spike very clearly calls this theory bullshit and I was very pleased. BUT AT FIRST I WAS LIKE OH GOD PLEASE DON’T LET THIS BE WHAT I THINK IT IS.
  • Once Spike vocalized his plan for splitting up the Scoobies, I knew he’d have to enact psychological warfare, since he can’t actually fight them. EVERYTHING IS SO UNCOMFORTABLE FOR FORTY-FIVE MINUTES.
  • Buffy’s empty dorm room. Like, shit, there’s one giant bit of foreshadowing that Buffy would feel like her friends aren’t there for her anymore.
  • The pants Xander let Riley borrow. There is no justification for those even existing, let alone the fact that Xander owned them. What the fuck?
  • Xander’s really good at being terrible at communication, isn’t he? I mean, he avoids telling Buffy that Angel has been cured at the end of season two, and now he totally ruins everything by telling Riley that Angel’s trigger was having sex with Buffy. Why are you even discussing this with anyone, Xander, let alone Buffy’s current boyfriend?
  • I don’t particularly like “Freebird” in any context ever, but Giles singing it made it wonderful, and that thought was uncomfortable. I DIDN’T KNOW I FELT THESE THINGS.
  • Even if I had assumed that Spike would try to find a way to get inside the minds of the Scoobies to wreak havoc, I was so floored by the way in which he did it. He plants ideas. He’s been observing all these people for the better part of a year, and now it’s paying off. What’s so fascinating about this is that the writers have been hinting at this all season. We’ve had entire episode devoted to the inadequacy that Giles and Willow feel, and this story is just the logical extension of that.
  • Buffy and Riley’s first conversation after she returns from L.A. I mistakenly thought this couldn’t get worse after that point. I was horrifically wrong.
  • The way in which Spike quite methodically unravels Xander. I think he gets it the worst because this point has been foreshadowed/built upon for years. He’s always feeling left out and useless, and I think it’s why he reacts so strongly to it.
  • Forrest dying because what the fuck. Goddamn it, he was such a fascinating character! WHY DO YOU DO THIS, WHEDON? You didn’t even write this and I’m sure it’s your fault because that’s the way of the world.
  • Oh, fuck you, Spike, for what you did to Willow. You are brilliantly evil. I mean, what better way to deconstruct Willow than to make thinly-veiled references to her sexuality as he did? Ugh, at least he didn’t tear apart Willow and Tara. I don’t think I could have ever forgiven him if he’d broken up the greatest ship in all eternity.
  • I should really stop quantifying the fights on this show and on Angel. This was clearly the most brutal fight so far. Both men are drunk on their own macho posturing, and hurting because of how they perceive Buffy. It’s basically a hot mess.
  • THE ENTIRE CONFRONTATION BETWEEN BUFFY, RILEY, AND ANGEL IN BUFFY’S DORM. Sweet baby Gandalf, one of the most awkward scenes in Buffy history. I did have to laugh at the absurdity of it all, and I was later very happy that even Buffy and Angel had a chuckle at how weird this all way.
  • Adam refusing to leave the room to give Buffy and Angel to talk, and Angel and Buffy deciding to just leave the room themselves. It’s both a sick burn and super hard to watch. I kind of love the show for this moment.
  • Okay, I swear to you that the entire time Riley and Buffy are talking after Angel leaves, I genuinely believed that Buffy was finally going to confess to Riley that Angel was a vampire. I not only entertained this notion for the entire scene, but when she revealed that Forrest had died, I actually thought: “Well, okay, that’s important, but are you going to tell Riley that Angel is a vampire?” It took me about fifteen seconds to realize how ridiculous this was, and it was the embarrassment I felt because of this that made me feel uncomfortable.
  • I don’t know that I could ever watch the last scene in Giles’s apartment again. It’s entirely believable that Spike fed into all their fears an manipulated them into expressing these feelings, but it’s not like he invented the fears, too. They were always that, and that’s what makes it so difficult to watch. You want it to end so badly that you notive all the moments where someone could have unraveled the lies that Spike told them. But they’re all coming from a place of anger and disappointment, and it’s virtually impossible for them to separate their emotions from reality. Spike did it. I gotta hand it to him. He really pulled it off.


  • Miss Kitty Fantastico. Instantly the best character in Buffy history and there better be fansites and communities around this cat.
  • Giles’s singing. My god, Anthony Stewart Head has a lovely voice.
  • Drunk Giles. Yes, please.
  • Anya and Tara hanging out in the bathroom.
  • Nothing else jesus this episode was so brutal

Mark Links Stuff

– My eBook adaptations of reviews I’ve posted are on sale at Harry Potter, Twilight, and Firefly books are priced from $2.99 to $3.99 a piece, and are available in ePub (iBook, iPod, iPad, Nook), Kindle, and PDF files.
– I now have a Lulu storefront, where you can purchase physical copies of all of my previously released books, including a full Mark Reads Twilight book that includes all four sets of Twilight reviews.
– I now have a Donate button in the right sidebar. If you’d like to be charitable and help with monthly site costs, please feel free to donate!
– I am going on tour in the following cities this month (click the name for the Facebook RSVP page): San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Albuquerque, Denver, Salt Lake City, Boise, Spokane, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver B.C. I still need venues/spaces in San Diego, Salt Lake City, Spokane, and Portland. Even if it’s your house, I don’t care. I’ll show up! Please let me know if you have any ideas. I can also be reached at markreadsandwatches [at] gmail [dot] com.
– I am presenting for three days at Ascendio 2012! Come hang out and have the best weekend ever in July!
– Mark Watches The Return of the King will happen most likely on Sunday at 1pm PDT, which is the same as this past weekend. Y’all better break the comment record again.
– I finish Mark Reads The Princess Bride on April 13th, and then Mark Reads Sandman begins on Monday, April 16th. I will split up reviews by issue, and I will be reading the extra books/volumes. IT SHALL BE GRAND.
– I’m on Twitter (@MarkDoesStuff) and I have a Facebook page y’all can Like and flail about on. Join me!
This is my fifth consecutive year riding in the AIDS/LifeCycle! I’m aiming to raise $10,000 this year. For every $1,000 I raise, I will make a video live reading of a community-chosen fanfic. I am not bluffing. I will read as much of it as possible, and it will be beautiful. Help me out if you can!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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2 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: S04E20 – The Yoko Factor

  1. Jeldaly says:


  2. Lily says:

    I love Xander’s reaction to Willow coming out, “Wait, Tara’s your girlfriend!” Then he just accepts it. It’s such a lovely counterpoint to Buffy’s extreme awkwardness. Of course the whole thing is completely overshadowed by the devastating in fighting. I still love Drunk!Funny!Giles though.

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