Mark Watches ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: S06E11 – Gone

In the eleventh episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy must worry about losing custody of Dawn, and then the Trio makes her invisible, and yes, this episode is just as strange as this makes it seem. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.

We need to have a conversation about four things, and PLEASE take the time to read these four things before you read the review. It is crucial to your participation here at Mark Watches. (Yes, I know this was on Friday’s post, but there are Buffy folks who don’t read the site on Angel days.)

1) Do not ever threaten people offsite in my name.

It’s come to my attention that folks are taking it upon themselves to not only locate people who participated in the Great Spuffy Meltdown of 2012 (all my Internet dramas have catchy names), but to send them rape threats. It shouldn’t even need to be said, but DO NOT SEND PEOPLE RAPE THREATS ANYWHERE FOR ANY REASON! It especially shouldn’t need to be said that it is extremely fucked up to think that you are defending me or fighting rape culture by SENDING PEOPLE RAPE THREATS!!!!!! HOW THE FUCK IS THAT A THING IN YOUR BRAIN THAT YOU THINK IS TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE?

And even more generally, there’s this awful behavior on the Internet where people think that if someone famous or well known calls out or has harsh words with another person, that’s a cue for you, as a fan, to also jump into the conversation and start fighting or bullying that person. Seriously, take a second to think about that. If you saw me arguing with a person in the street and then I left, would you take it upon yourself to follow them home and keep yelling at them for something that wasn’t even done to you? No? THEN DON’T FUCKING DO THIS. You are not welcome in the conversation. It is between me and the person having it, THE END.

Here’s your one and only warning: If I find out any of you in this community seek out anyone for any reason and bully/harass/threaten them offsite, I will  publicly ban and shame you. No exceptions for anyoneThis seems like basic shit, but some blowhards can’t even comprehend this, so I feel responsible for saying it and spreading it to my community. Do. Not. Fucking. Do. This.

2) I have been intentionally spoiled by a very bitter Spike fan.

It sucks. I have never had to deal with being spoiled during the course of any project for Mark Does Stuff. Hell, three years is a pretty good run! But yesterday, someone sent an anonymous message to my Tumblr to spoil a HUGE future plotline. Now, I’m about to discuss it so that I can be transparent and open with y’all, since that is the point of this site, but it will be in rot13. If you are watching this show along with me, I will never talk about it outside of rot13, so you will not be spoiled.

Don’t cypher this if you haven’t seen beyond “Wrecked.”

Rirel gvzr V fgneg n arj fubj be obbx, V yvfg jung fcbvyref V unir npdhverq bire gur lrnef fb gung V pna or hcsebag nobhg jung V xabj tbvat vagb fbzrguvat. V qvq gung sbe Ohssl, naq V jnf ubarfg. V’q arire frra gur fubj, V qvqa’g unir sevraqf be ebbzzngrf jub jngpurq vg va zl cerfrapr, naq V oryvrirq gung V’q abg npdhverq nal xabjyrqtr nobhg Ohssl sebz bfzbfvf.

Va Znex Ernqf Rpyvcfr, V fcrag bar puncgre erivrj qvffrpgvat guvf gehyl njshy ivqrb nobhg ubj Rqjneq vf gur vqrny zna sbe nyy jbzra rireljurer. Nsgre vg jrag yvir, zl sevraq Nfuyl VZ’q zr gb gryy zr gung V zvffrq n fhcre vzcbegnag yvar va gur ivqrb jurer gur nhgube rvgure ersreraprq be vapyhqrq n dhbgr nobhg ubj gb orunir sebz Fcvxr. Gb fubj ubj yvggyr V xarj nobhg gur fubj, V vavgvnyyl fnvq gung NATRY unq fnvq vg, ohg fur pbeerpgrq zr naq vasbezrq zr gung vg jnf cebonoyl n onq vqrn gb gnxr nqivpr sebz n punenpgre jub nggrzcgrq gb encr n punenpgre ur ybirq.

Gung jnf va Abirzore bs 2009. V sbetbg gung zbzrag, juvpu ynfg ZNLOR gjb zvahgrf bs zl yvsr, nobhg n qnl yngre orpnhfr JUB SHPXVAT ERZRZOREF FUVG SEBZ ARNEYL GUERR LRNEF NTB. V qvq abg erpnyy gung V unq jevggra guvf. Ubjrire, gurer vf n tebhc bs crbcyr jub jrer PBAIVAPRQ gung V jnf ubyqvat bagb guvf fcbvyre FCRPVSVPNYYL gb whqtr Fcvxr jvgu, juvpu znxrf AB SHPXVAT FRAFR. V unir nyjnlf orra ubarfg nobhg fcbvyref. Qhevat Znex Ernqf Uneel Cbggre, V nqzvggrq gung V xarj FANCR XVYYF QHZOYRQBER evtug ng gur ortvaavat, naq gung’f fheryl n jbefr fcbvyre. Gurer vf ab orarsvg gb zr uvqvat guvf fcbvyre. Vg jbhyq unir freirq ab checbfr.

Fb lrfgreqnl, nzvqfg gur Terng Fchssl Zrygqbja bs 2012, fbzrbar checbfryl frag zr guvf fcbvyre, gryyvat zr gung V qb abg haqrefgnaq Fcvxr ng nyy orpnhfr V nz hasnveyl whqtvat uvz sbe n encr gung unfa’g unccrarq lrg. V nz gehgushyyl ng n pbzcyrgr ybff nf gb ubj n crefba fraqf zr n ubeevoyr npg bs gurve punenpgre nf n jnl gb trg zr gb SHYYL HAQREFGNAQ GURZ. Yvxr, JBHYQA’G LBH FCBVY ZR NOBHG UVZ QBVAT FBZRGUVAT NJRFBZR VAFGRNQ? QBRFA’G GUNG ZNXR ZBER FRAFR? Fb, qrfcvgr gelvat uneq gb xrrc fcbvyref ng onl, V abj xabj gung ng fbzr gvzr va gur shgher, Fcvxr jvyy nggrzcg gb encr Ohssl.

V’yy pbzzrag ba vg jura V trg gb vg orpnhfr V qba’g xabj nal bs gur qrgnvyf, ohg fhssvpr gb fnl V ungr gung V xabj guvf abj, naq V ungr gung fbzr cerffrq shpxvat sna jub pna’g qrny jvgu fbzrbar’f artngvir bcvavba BS BAR PUNENPGRE VA BAR RCVFBQR BS GUR FUBJ gubhtug guvf jnf n terng guvat gb qb. V nyernql xabj jub qvq vg, naq gurl unq orra onaarq cerivbhfyl, fb gurer’f abguvat V pna qb nobhg vg. V cebzvfr gb qb zl orfg gb or snve naq gel abg gb yrg n shgher rirag nssrpg ubj V ernq n punenpgre. Gur vebal va nyy guvf vf gung guvf crefba qvqa’g jnag zr gb hasnveyl whqtr Fcvxr sbe na nggrzcgrq encr, fb gurl FCBVYRQ ZR BA GUR IREL NGGRZCGRQ ENCR UR JVYY PBZZVG. zl tbq zl oenva uhegf sebz gur evqvphybhfarff.

As I said, if you don’t know this spoiler, you won’t know it. I will keep any talk of it behind rot13, but to be honest? I’m probably not going to talk about it.

3) Do not threaten me with really terribly-executed threats.

Last night, an apparent Spuffy fan (and I say apparent because I obviously don’t know who this person is, and it’s possible it’s some fartbutt who doesn’t even watch Buffy being terrible and creepy) sent me an anon message on Tumblr, telling me to “Stop bullying the spuffy fandom, since I can send shit to your house,” and included a Google Maps screenshot of my previous apartment in Oakland. Yes, it’s terribly creepy and unsettling, but I just have to laugh at it because you are shit at being a stalker. You can’t even get my address right!

Anyway, I turned anon off on my Tumblr, and I refuse to let these assholes ruin Tumblr, this site, or Buffy for me. I know they don’t represent Spuffy fans, and they certainly don’t represent the Buffy fandom at large, who have been extremely wonderful for me. This is not going to make this worse. If anything, I am more resolved than ever to have a fabulous time watching this show and writing about it. I refuse to let them take this away from me. Buffy is probably the one show on Mark Watches that I have enjoyed writing about the most, and y’all ain’t gonna lose that because someone weakly threatened me.

my god WORST INTERNET WEIRDO EVER.

4) I am not going to allow another Great Spuffy Meltdown to happen again.

Throughout all of the past 48 hours, I did my best to try to make this a safe space for minorities and marginalized folk, but that doesn’t mean I actually did do that. Lots of you have sent private feedback, and I’ve not only listened to it, but starting today, there will be changes to the way this place is run.

I do not regret the way I’ve acted. To give you some insight into what’s going on, if you followed the comments on “Smashed,” multiple the number of terrible/fight-y comments by about 10, and that’s how many none of you saw. I take full responsibility for how that went down because it was my idea to finally engage people making certain comments instead of doing what I normally do: delete and ban.

The vast majority of moderation on this site is invisible. You never see it. We set certain people, IPs, emails, and phrases to an auto-delete pile, and it is HUNDREDS of comments per day that get filtered there. You have no idea how vile it is, but the point I’m trying to make isn’t about that. The past two days, imagine that hundreds of thousands of people came into your house, started trolling, yelling at you, breaking the rules, creating sockpuppet accounts to support other assholes, and this went on for DAYS.

I am calling this the Great Spuffy Meltdown because I have no problem saying this: I had a goddamn meltdown. Man, I thought the Great Ginny Slut Shame War of 2010 was bad, and the Tolkien Race War of 2012 wasn’t pleasant, and the Aang and Zuko Shipping Conflict was really awkward, but this takes the cake. And part of the reason for that is that I purposely fanned the flames instead of disengaging and just deleting/banning problematic shit.

I thought that if I finally addressed folks who had a history of posting problematic, icky, and toeing-the-line comments, it would work and I could shut down the behavior that was triggering a large group of you. (And we took all those reports about being triggered VERY seriously.) It clearly did not work, and that’s because of something I never thought of: all the lurkers and all of the people who weren’t involved still had to watch this all go down, and it made them feel any number of negative feelings. Even if they supported me, some people just didn’t feel great about watching a fandom war happen.

So, that’s my fault. Well, okay, it’s not my fault that people posted SUPER SHITTY THINGS, but I let the size, scope, and intensity of the situation overwhelm me. It is not going to happen again, and here’s how we, as mods, are going to change that:

  • You will see far less of the mods engaging in conversations concerning problematic shit. What I mean by this is that we are going to develop a more uniform way of telling commenters, “Hey, that thing you said could hurt or is hurting users. Can you stop it?” We will also try to link to some basic education info if it is something that isn’t obvious.
  • We are going to shut down and disengage from any and all conversations that take a personal, intense turn, and they’ll default to me, so that I can shut them down. One of the big problems is that people fight with the mods if the mods tell them to knock something off. From here on out, it’s not going to be tolerated, but the mods will also not engage in conversations like this.
  • If a situation is reaching critical mass, like it was over the past two days, the mods can turn everything over to me so that they don’t get overwhelmed and angry and lash out at anyone. This is for the safety of them just as much as it is for the sake of the community.

Things were downright ugly, and while I don’t really feel SUPER AWESOME PUPPY TIMES about it, I also need y’all to understand one thing: all of the mods are volunteers who give up their time and energy to make this community work. That also means that they will get tired, that they will be overwhelmed, and that they will get angry LIKE EVERY HUMAN BEING EVER. This entire Meltdown happened because we have been dealing with WEEKS and WEEKS of wave after wave of creepy, inappropriate, and downright damaging shit sent our way, and as best as I can describe it, we snapped. We got so overwhelmed by the sea of people shouting at us that the best we could muster up was a whole lot of FUCK YOUS and FUCK OFFS.

Y’all know I love a good cussing match, but I know that this made people uncomfortable. I don’t feel the need to apologize for this because we felt unsafe, and we lashed out. That being said, it absolutely does not need to happen again, and as much as we can, we are going to take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

You can each help out by (obviously) taking a second or two or fifty to think about what you’re going to post. Please don’t pick fights with the VOLUNTEER MODERATORS; if you have an issue with the way someone has moderated, tell me. It does not help if you go back to your LiveJournal or your Tumblr and whine and complain about them because I will never see it, I can’t give anyone feedback, and I certainly can’t change anything about the way things are run. Just send me an email (markreadsandwatches [at] gmail [dot] com) and I’ll have a conversation with you about. And please read all three of the list items above, and don’t do them.

Here’s to a better future here, and gods be damned, I am going to enjoy Buffy.

*

You know, I definitely liked “Gone” in the end and especially once I gave it some thought. David Fury does write a lot of great stuff into this episode, and I particularly love that Willow and Buffy are finally talking to one another openly. But this might be the first episode in season six that misses the mark on other things, especially concerning Dawn and Spike. A lot of their story just left me scratching my head, not necessarily because of their actions, but because of the choices that David Fury and others made for “Gone.”

As you’ll see in the Mark Watches video down below, I’m at a point where I am a little bit frustrated by the constant stream of terrible things happening to the people on this show. The writing is generally fantastic, and I love the stories that have been told through the drama. So don’t get me wrong! I’m not launching into some giant diatribe against season six. Y’all already know that the more dramatic tension there is, the more miserable people are, and the more difficult it is to watch a story unfold, THE MORE I LOVE IT FOREVER AND EVER. I just feel bad for Buffy now, and I really, really needed this episode to happen. I needed to see positive growth on the part of Willow and Buffy; I needed to see Spike address the physical nature of Buffy’s attraction to him; I needed to see more of Anya and Xander, and BY GODS, I NEEDED EVERY SECOND OF THE TRIO.

So let’s start with the negative so that I can end with LOTS OF PRAISE. For an episode about Buffy struggling with the impending loss of custody of Dawn, “Gone” sure didn’t feature Dawn all that much. She seems to be the only major cast member who is ignored most of the time, both in the show’s universe and by the writers. There’s that scene where Willow, confused as to how she got off so easy with Dawn, questions Buffy about why she’s receiving most of the scorn from Dawn. I was glad that some reason was given, but I thought that this episode could have greatly benefited from us seeing Dawn’s point of view on the matter. In fact, I think “Gone” suffers because it portrays Dawn as a petulant child instead of as a young woman frustrated by the things the two adults in her life have done to her. She has every reason to be upset with both Buffy and Willow, but this story doesn’t explore that. I want to see more of why Dawn is suffering in school instead of just being told it by other characters. I feel like there’s so much potential in that story! Here we have a young woman with a manufactured past who just spent a year fighting off the advances of an immortal god. Her family chose her after she lost her mother, and now she’s struggling to live in a world that’s violent, chaotic, and confusing. LOOK AT ALL THAT CHARACTER POTENTIAL. So it just seems like it’s strange that we don’t see her much in an episode where the plot revolves around her own issues.

I’m also a bit confused by what this show is trying to tell me or show me about Spike. I like the idea that season six is addressing emotional isolation, especially since the first time that Willow and Buffy finally make the first step towards healing themselves is when the finally stop isolating themselves from each other. There’s also a lot here in “Gone” that not only hints to future story lines, but helps expand the relationship dynamic between Spike and Buffy. What confuses me is the fact that there really is this wonderful chemistry between the two of them, and when it peeks through, it’s fucking fantastic, and then I totally get every Spuffy shipper ever even if I’m not one myself. And that’s not to say that people ship Buffy and Spike solely for the good moments. I know enough about shipping to know that’s simply not the case. And I also don’t want to suggest that the confusing or frightening moments between these two characters make me confused about this particular ship, either.

What I’m trying to get at is that I suppose I just don’t get certain aspects of the characterization in this episode. I think “Gone” really does address Spike’s dissatisfaction with the way Buffy treats him, and I thought that was done incredibly well. Buffy is ashamed to be seen with Spike, and Xander’s unfair judgment of Spike certainly isn’t helping that. If Xander is so revolted by Buffy being with Spike solely based on Spike’s interest, then it’s not going to get better if he discovers that Buffy is attracted to him, too. I’m hoping that Xander dislikes Spike because of his personality, not the fact that he’s a vampire, since… well, he is engaged to an ex-vengeance demon, so it’s not exactly fair. But, again, the show isn’t exactly clear on this. I think Xander doesn’t like Spike’s behavior, but… bah, I wish this wasn’t so ambiguous for me!

What I do know is that Buffy is so concerned about how others will perceive her attraction to Spike that she only truly gives herself over to him when no one can see her. Well, what a shitty way to treat a person, and I gotta say, I’m with Spike on this one. He wants her as a full person, not as a secret. Not only that, but the way she treats her invisibility grates on him. Her escapism is bad enough, but I can’t imagine how frustrating it must feel to love someone who only wants to be with you if no one else can ever see you together.

So I get this! And I am glad it is addressed! We see Buffy’s side of the story, and “Gone” further shows us why Buffy is so afraid of her friends finding out about her attraction to Spike. At the same time, we get to see how unfair this is to Spike. It’s not that Buffy is obligated to be whatever Spike wants her to be, but we get to understand his emotional distress.

And then I am just confused by the show having Spike do things like, I don’t know, constantly invade Buffy’s space and refuse to leave her alone. It’s just so creepy to me! It makes me uncomfortable regardless of whether Buffy is attracted to him. Like, for real, the guy just can’t take no for an answer sometimes, and it bothers me. Now, is this Spike’s selfish demon coming out, or is this just an inconsistency on the part of the writers? I CAN’T TELL, FOR REAL! Is he an evil demon without a sense of morality, or is he sometimes able to resist those natural tendencies? Does he even have the capacity to be good, or must it always have a selfish twist to it?

I guess I don’t know. I suppose that’s the point of doing what I do here on Mark Watches. I don’t know Spike’s story, so clearly the pieces aren’t all going to fit. I feel bad sometimes when I try to figure this shit out because I really want to give all the characters in a fictional world a chance, but with certain characters, you can’t ever truly understand them until you’ve seen or read everything. (Snape comes to mind, first of all. HOLY MISUNDERSTANDING.)

But these things didn’t overpower this episode, so ultimately, I thought “Gone” was another strong story in season six. Willow and Buffy both struggle with their ongoing problems over the course of this episode. In Willow’s case, we watch her do her best to truly commit to not using magic. Oh my god, it was so agonizing at times. I wanted the best for Willow, but I admit that I thought she was going to give in to her temptations multiple times throughout “Gone.” BUT SHE DOESN’T. AND SHE SOLVES MYSTERIES LIKE SHE USED TO. Thankfully, “Gone” never portrays this process as an easy one, but I WAS SO HAPPY WITH WILLOW. SO HAPPY. I’m not naive enough to believe that it will bring Tara back into her life. And after Willow violated Tara’s consent, who could blame Tara? This is not a case of Willow just doing something uncomfortable. She was incredibly gross with Tara, and that’s why Tara had to leave. So I’m not expecting Tara to be back soon, and I don’t think Willow has properly dealt with what she’s done, but at least she’s making some sort of progress. The only thing I worry about is something happening that would trigger Willow into using magic. I suppose I shouldn’t worry that much, considering that she was kidnapped and didn’t use any magic at all. Ugh, why didn’t the episode bring up this fact?

Anyway, the other main plot we get is Buffy’s invisibility. It’s a not-so-subtle way to explore her desire to escape her life, especially after a social worker visits the Summers household and it is an utter disaster. (Oh my god, the “magic weed” part just made me want to die.) It’s a clever way of acknowledging that Buffy’s life in season six is so overwhelming that it’s clearly her own personal version of Hell. If it’s not debt, then it’s Giles leaving, or being ripped out of Heaven, or… wow, Buffy has to deal with a lot of shit. So she treats her invisibility as a field trip, a chance for her to literally escape her own life and all the responsibilities that come with it. Fuck, I don’t blame her from wanting this. How many of us could cope with what life has thrown her way?

But there was a telling (and disturbing) moment in this episode that showed me that Buffy’s escapism was far more serious than I thought it was. When Anya and Xander discover that Buffy is going to literally break down into nothingness, Buffy’s reaction is simply, “Wow.” She doesn’t panic. She doesn’t leap to react. She just seems only casually surprised by the news. The reason for this isn’t vocalized until the end: Buffy doesn’t want to be alive anymore. Well, this episode does see her appreciating life over death, but it took another close call and Dawn’s reaction to the whole thing for Buffy to snap out of this. The ramifications of what the Trio did to her finally seem real, and she realizes she doesn’t want to die. I like that David Fury has Buffy still admit that she’s not necessarily happy with her own life, and I think it’s important that she’s honest with herself about this. Happiness, especially in Buffy’s case, is not going to be an easy thing to acquire. It’s a long journey, and she and Willow have finally taken the first real step towards finding that.

So, I just love the Trio. I do. I love how incompetent they are at times. I love how silly and absurd they are compared to every past Big Bad. They have evil plans that amount to them looking at naked women. Is this seriously what their evil master plan entails? They are the worst villains, and it’s kind of relieving that Buffy is up against a Big Bad who hasn’t defeated her once yet. Plus, I genuinely thought the identity of the group would remain a secret from the Scoobies until the end of the season, but here we are, halfway through season six, and Buffy and Willow have just learned the identity of all three of them.

Oh lord, this should be fun.

This episode also has a Mark Watches video attached to it. The fabulous Kelly sponsored this episode and the following two Buffy episodes as well! She is currently running an INCREDIBLY SUCCESSFUL Kickstarter campaign for her first novelThe Girl Who Would Be King. The Kickstarter ends next week, and you can preview some of it on her site! OMG. And now, on to the video for “Wrecked.”

The video commission for this episode is now archived on MarkDoesStuff.com for $0.99!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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1 Response to Mark Watches ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: S06E11 – Gone

  1. Linnea says:

    I notice so much characther development that its insane, and it just shows how good the writers are, because I believe it ;)! But its SAD SAD to see them hurt…

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