In the sixth episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, everything is massively uncomfortable on Halloween. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.
Not only does this episode toy with my expectations, but it explores the the idea of going “all the way” with nearly every character on the show. Oh god, shall we?
The obvious metaphor here for her is having sex! EXCEPT IT’S TOTALLY NOT. Except it sort of is? I can’t ignore that Dawn does something here that Buffy did back when she was seeing Angel, and Buffy appears to completely forget that this happened at all. Still, what Dawn chooses to do in “All the Way” is rather fucked up and unfair in one sense. But at the same time, I want her to be able to explore her sexuality, too. Ugh, I am just so conflicted by this storyline!
I fell for the misdirect, and I imagine a lot of you did, too. I imagine that because it gives me comfort, and I feel like less of a fool. Dawn is doing something that a lot of kids do: deceive their parents to get out of the house. Well, okay, not her parents specifically in this case, but you get the point. So when we meet Zack and Justin and overhear them making a reference to going “all the way” with Dawn and her friend Janice, it seemed super obvious they were talking about sex. They’re creepy teenage guys. Of course they view women this way! It was uncomfortable to watch them after this because I questioned all their behavior. I knew they had an ulterior motive, so I just kept thinking, “DAWN DAWN DAWN, GET OUT OF THERE.” Of course, it got WORSE. When does it ever get better on this show, though?
NEVER. THAT’S WHEN. Which, for real, this particular episode got me thinking about how this show has consistently and regularly given its characters hell on Earth. ONE OF THEM GOT THIS LITERALLY AFTER SHE CAME BACK TO LIFE. I think only Battlestar Galactica is more harsh with its characters than this show. BECAUSE HOLY SUFFERING. Wait, no, I take that back. A Song of Ice and Fire is worse. My baaaaaabbbiiieees.
Anyway, I’m off track again. I am not always into writers being clever for the sake of it, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t want to high five them after Justin turned into a vampire and ate Kaltenbach. In an instant, the term “all the way” means something completely different. THESE VAMPIRES WANT TO CONVERT JANICE AND DAWN. Oh god. But as the episode progressed and I became more uncomfortable with Justin’s presence, I realized that I was watching another Summers girl fall for a vampire. The parallel between Buffy’s teenage years and Dawn’s was undeniable, but this wasn’t the case of the show simply repeating itself. When it comes down to it, Dawn is able to dust Justin, refusing to give herself over to him. I don’t want to ignore that the details are different this time around. Justin is not anything like Angel, and Buffy is right that this isn’t the same thing. Still, while I acknowledge that Dawn lied to her family and deceived them, she was able to do what was best for her own safety. She is at the age where you make a BILLION bad decisions, but she still makes the right one when it’s needed.
Oh, Dawn. Also, you should stop stealing. Holy crap, I forgot about that.
In terms of his character, by the end of “All the Way,” it’s clear that he’s viewed as the parental authority in the Summers household. Unlike the other characters, he doesn’t choose to go “all the way.” He’s made the unofficial father. He returned to Sunnydale for Buffy, and now he’s basically a professional cat wrangler. Come on, think about the Scoobies as cats. It’s like the best visual metaphor ever. He spends his time yelling at them at the Magic Box, telling them what to do when it’s discovered that Dawn lied, and then Buffy just assumes he’s going to be the one that disciplines Dawn.
I feel really bad for Giles, and the direction his story is going scares me.
First of all, FINALLY. FINALLY. Xander finally decided to go “all the way” and tell the rest of the Scoobies that he’s going to marry Anya. And good lord, he is barely hiding his fear at getting married. To be fair, Anya basically explodes on Xander and begins listing all of the million things they’re going to do now that they’re getting married. I think that would be overwhelming to anyone! But I’m worried about what this is going to do to their relationship. Anya seems far more certain about her future than Xander does. Look, I’m going to ruin this and I don’t care: COULD THIS SHOW STOP TEARING PEOPLE APART. I just love both of these characters so much, and no please stop it.
My hope is that Xander is able to work out all of these issues by the time the wedding happens. Which I am guessing will happen this season, since Anya wants it sooner rather than later.
No, seriously, stop tearing people apart. To be fair, this has been a long time coming. I hate admitting that, but Willow’s progression through magic has been rapid and increasingly irresponsible. Do I need to state that she BROUGHT BUFFY BACK TO LIFE AND STOLE HER OUT OF HEAVEN? Okay, yes, that’s the biggest one, but I’ve watched her rely on magic more and more over the course of the last couple seasons. Here, she uses magic for the fairly benign task of creating decorations during Anya and Xander’s impromptu party. What Willow refuses to acknowledge is the possibility that her magic could go wrong and seriously hurt someone. That’s all that Tara wants her to do! But Willow is stubborn about this, convinced that as long as the results are fine and she’s confident, nothing bad will ever happen. UGH, IT’S SO FRUSTRATING TO WATCH! Like, I already know beyond any shadow of a doubt that Willow’s magic has harmed someone, but she’s so dense and shallow about her approach to it that she is just BEING A GIANT FOOL.
Like, how on Earth do you get to a point in your life where you think moving an entire room of people into a parallel dimension is something that’s casual??? That is seriously how delusional you are at this point, Willow, AND IT PAINS ME THAT YOU ARE MAKING SUCH POOR DECISIONS. God, Willow, you’re my favorite character on Buffy, stop making my heart hurt. 🙁
On a serious note, though, I’m glad someone is there to tell Willow that she’s going to fuck things up. Tara has sort of slipped into that role lately, and it’s in this episode that she finally gets so upset that she leaves Willow at The Bronze. (Side note: I had totally forgotten about The Bronze even existing. Whoops!) You know, Tara’s a very understanding, empathetic kind of person. I’m reminded of the way she treated Buffy in “The Body.” She knows how to read a difficult situation and give the sort of advice a person truly needs. If Willow weren’t so dismissive of Tara, I bet Tara would have given her fantastic advice, but that’s what’s so infuriating about Willow’s behavior. She doesn’t even give Tara a chance to explain why she’s upset.
This all culminates with Willow making perhaps the worst decision yet: she casts a spell on Tara to make her forget their argument. NO, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, WILLOW? Oh my god, now you’re using magic purely for selfish intentions, and it clearly isn’t bothering you. This can’t end well, can it? I mean, just because Tara forgot about the fight doesn’t mean she won’t find out about it. They were clearly upset with each other earlier in the evening when they were in front of Dawn, Buffy, and Giles. Oh god, AN ENDLESS DISASTER.
HEY, I’M NOT SHIPPING THEM YET, THAT’S JUST A TEMPORARY TITLE, GOSH. But I noticed that these two characters didn’t really fit into the overarching theme or narrative device, and, intentional or not, it actually got me thinking. Buffy and Spike don’t fit in with the Scoobies. In a way, that’s why they’re gravitating towards each other. Buffy has that moment during Xander and Anya’s party where her face briefly betrays the fact that she feels so out of place with what’s going on. Everything and everyone is changing, and she still has no clue what she’s doing with her life.
It really feels inevitable at this point that the writers are going to explore a Spike/Buffy relationship, which makes Buffy’s rage at Dawn making out with a vampire all the more fascinating to me. I don’t know how that’s going to happen, though. The scene in Spike’s crypt in “All the Way” shows that Buffy is still frightened by the idea of any sort of physical interaction with Spike beyond patrolling. At the same time, she’s more comfortable around him than any other character on the show. I can’t deny that. So where are they going to go next?
Oh god, if Buffy/Spike is a fandom ship (AND LET’S BE REAL, I’M SURE IT ALREADY HAPPENED DURING SEASON FIVE WHEN IT WAS AIRING ON THE WB), does that mean it has a fandom name, too? Bike? Spuffy? Buike? Spiffy? Okay, I’ll stop.
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