In the fourth episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the logistics of life begin to overwhelm Buffy right when a bank-robbing demon begins to stalk her. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.
Oh, this is really good. Really, really good. While there are certainly a lot of plot threads introduced in “Flooded,” this isn’t an episode that’s loud, over-the-top, and ridiculous. It’s full of these somber, subtle moments as the cast of characters continues to cope with the ramifications of the end of season five. It’s Buffy at its most realistic and least fantastical. (Well, not all of the time, but I’ll get to that.)
I’m splitting this up. DEAL WITH IT.
The metaphor we’re given here is that Buffy’s life, like the basement of her house, is flooded. She is merely treading water at this point, trying desperately to keep afloat and stop from drowning in the sea of responsibilities, fears, and guilt that she has to now cope with. Buffy has dealt quite well with the intricate details of growing up, but this is the first time the show has addressed that horrifying fear that you need money in order to pay for things and that you’ll reach a point in your life where no one will just give you that money. I suppose my own experience with this concept is much different than a lot of people, especially since I started supporting myself financially when I was sixteen. I had to learn to create a budget for myself while I was a junior in high school, and I had to cope with the frustrating experience of being poor and broke all the time. It was fascinating, then, to watch all my friends post-college freak out about rent or bills or managing their finances so that they’d have enough money for groceries. Their safety net was gone, and they were expected to provide for themselves. Some people transition into that period gracefully, but many don’t, and I certainly knew some of the people who did not take the transition well.
So what’s fascinating here is that Buffy is dealing with this transitory period, but it’s in an entirely unique context: she just came back from the dead to discover she no longer has any money. It’s yet another aspect of her post-death life that frustrates and confuses her. I can’t resist thinking about the final moments of “After Life” because I know this is just further proof for Buffy that this is her own personal Hell. It tears me apart, honestly, and this might be the one plot in all of Buffy that just unravels me. It hurts to watch Buffy be in so much pain, especially knowing that she was happy.
And yet, I can see bits and pieces of the “old” Buffy poking through. She is coping, impossibly so. She does admit to Spike that she’s doing it in part because of her friends, and I don’t want to ignore that. UGH IT’S ALL SO FUCKING HEARTBREAKING. But at the same time, there is some good to be found. It was nice to see her fighting again, especially with that beautiful dose of wit and fabulousness that I’ve come to love about Buffy. Oh fuck, when she cut a slit in her skirt? Beautiful moment. SO WONDERFUL! Even watching her interact with the loan agent got me to temporarily forget the crushing weight of emotional destruction that this season has already given me.
Honestly, though, I can’t ignore that Buffy’s characterization this season is going to be difficult to watch. In a way, it feels like a deliberate attack on this idea that women always need to be strong in order to be good women. There’s a moment where Buffy quietly tells Giles that she doesn’t think she can do this anymore. Sure, she’s referring to the financial clusterfuck that’s been dropped in her lap, but part of me wants to believe that she’s inherently telling Giles she can’t do any of this. She can’t do her life anymore. She lived it already! She lived this whole life, and she chose when to end it, and now she has to do it all over again? Why should she have to be strong and brave and courageous for everyone else? Why can’t she just stop?
I justâ€¦ I just can’t. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so utterly heartbroken by a writing choice in my whole life. Sarah Michelle Gellar is playing this with grace and perfection, and it’s really good writing, but it hurts so much. You know, I don’t say it enough around here, and it deserves to be said: I love Buffy Summers as a character.
I just with I could hug fictional beings. 🙁
I am not even going to lie to you for one second: when the Scoobies turned to see that Giles had arrived, I just starting sobbing. Like, really gross, happy tears, and I realized I had forgotten about Giles because everything else was so fucked up, and the way that Buffy and Giles looked at each other MESSED ME UP. The father is returning home to find that his daughter is alive. Yes, I know that they’re not related, but Buffy has always been about making your own family, hasn’t it? Giles is the father figure here, and that’s what role he plays for the bulk of “Flooded” as well.
I think that’s the case with Willow, too. I knew it was inevitable that Giles would discuss Buffy’s resurrection with Willow at some point in this episode, but I still dreaded it happening. So while I wasn’t surprised that he was upset, I wasn’t quite prepared for the ferocity of his fury. I’ve never ever seen Giles this angry, and it scared the shit out of me. This isn’t just him scolding Willow for doing something irresponsible; he’s trying to frighten some perspective into her. It’s terrifying to me, then, that Willow rejects this, continues to boast about her powers, and then THREATENS GILES. Willow, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING??? I mean, it’s actually a logical place for her characterization to go at this point. We’ve been seeing her get stronger for years now, and she just spent a summer in control of the Scoobies. Is it possible she feels as if she needs to stay on top? Is she worried that Buffy will steal her thunder? At the very least, she is being rather arrogant about the whole thing. Oh, Willow, how far are you going to take this?
I sort of have the same question for Giles. How much of this is he going to tolerate? He closed a huge chapter in his life by moving to Sunnydale. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, and yet, here he is. He’s back. Of course I want him around, but is it fair to him to even be here? He made a friend in London, by gods. Seriously, though, how long can Giles play this role?
The Axis of Evil
God, I hope there’s a fandom name for these three fools because MY GOD, I LOVE THEM. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. PLEASE LET THEM BE THE BIG BAD FOR SEASON SIX. It’s such a perfect accompaniment to everything else happening on the show because it’s not serious. Well, the risk of danger is real, and they certainly do want to cause chaos. But every season-long villain before them has posed a more credible risk. They’re scarier. They’re more clever. And now we have a villainous force that essentially amounts to basement-dwelling, D&D obsessed, misogynist neckbeards who believe in some sort of faux victimhood, and I cannot wait for the day when Buffy Summers destroys them all.
I genuinely didn’t expect to see Jonathan or Warren again. I imagine that whomever played Tucker wasn’t available, so we’ve got his demon monkey brother. But the sheer number of possibilities available with this trio of losers is UNBELIEVABLE. Of course, I’m interested in any characters who go against expectations and who alter the dynamic of the entire show. But by using people who have emotional ties to past stories, I already inherently care about where this is going. Jonathan in particular is probably the most fascinating out of the three, and I’m interested to see if he’ll stick with plans to bring chaos to Sunnydale. Even if he has flirted with this stuff before, he’s never truly committed to it.
Oh my god, I can’t wait.
My god, JUST TELL EVERYONE, XANDER.Â FUCK.
God, why do I haveÂ feelings and what are theyÂ doing? That scene on the porch is just so great because it’s two people who have suffered aÂ lot just being honest with one another. I never thought the show could credibly pull this off, but the writers/actors are doing it. The vampire without a soul is suddenly the most empathetic friend of Buffy’s.
THE BEST LINE.Â THE BEST LINE.
OH MY GOD A CROSSOVER EPISODE ALREADY? I LOVE THIS SEASON SO MUCH.
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