In the eleventh episode of the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the S.S. Buffy Season Seven grows wings and soars into the stratosphere because this shit is just so fucking fun and entertaining that all I can do is make terrible metaphors like this. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.
You know, this is a fucked up story when you think about it with any effort. The source of all evil is murdering a group of young girls just because they can, and this was made possible by Xander, Willow, Anya, and Tara after they pulled Buffy out of a heaven dimension. The Taruk-Han, though no longer an invincible force, is fucking terrifying. And Spike’s quest for redemption has been stolen from him by this evil force, and he was used as a sleeper agent to MURDER TONS OF PEOPLE. At face value, this is truly awful. None of this is awesome.
And yet, counter to my emotional state during season six, I don’t feel horrible. I don’t feel so stressed out by the experience that I almost dread watching another episode because I know something terrible is going to happen to another character I enjoy. That’s not to say this isn’t thrilling or that it’s predictable. As you’ll see in the video for this episode, “Showtime” TOTALLY FUCKED ME UP. It was incredibly exciting, well-written, surprising, and entertaining. So why don’t I feel awful? What’s the difference this time around?
In part, I think it’s because the writers, David Fury in particular, make choices in “Showtime” that are just pleasant to watch. Even from the first scene, I was satisfied. I genuinely thought that Rona was going to die. I know it’s unfortunate that I still have to think about these sort of things, but I’m so used to people of color appearing on television shows as minor characters just to be killed off that it’s all I expected. I don’t know if this was intentional, but that’s even what “Showtime” made me think! Oh, great, the first black Potential just showed up to Sunnydale alone. AWESOME. SHE’S DEAD. But she wasn’t! SHE SURVIVED THE ENTIRE TIME and Rona is spectacular.
I also didn’t expect so much of this episode to focus on the Potential Slayers. While I still have no clue why this show never brought up this detail before, I can ignore it because I’m so fascinated by the dynamic they bring to the Summers household. You have an entire group of outspoken, frightened young women, cooped up in a house with a mystical Slayer who is very much not their idea of a superhero, and they all can’t stop talking. (Except Felicia Day, who I only recognized after the episode was over. TALK MORE, FELICIA DAY.) I appreciate that we’re not ignoring them, that we get these miniature portraits of each of the women, that they get to discuss the terrifying logistics of what’s happening around them. One of my favorite scenes in this episode is when they sit around the table and have a group discussion about the Turok-Han on its way to kill them. I mean, hell, we’ve never even seen this many characters around all at once; the closest to this is season four, when Tara and Oz were still on the show. (LET ME SHED TWO TEARS FOR THEM.)
Of those Potentials, I am most confused by Kennedy. She is weird. You know, there was a moment in “Showtime” where she was talking to Willow in Willow’s bedroom, and I almost thought she was hitting on Willow. I had to actually turn off my gay brain and tell myself, NO MARK. NOT ALL PEOPLE ARE GAY. Her interest in Willow is justâ€¦ bah, I don’t know how else to describe it! It’s weird. She’s also the most confident of the Potentials. Why has she been training since she was eight??? Okay, still, I’m intrigued by Kennedy, but the only complaint I might have is that she’s sort of being pushed as the most “important” Potential. I only frame it this way because
a) I could be so, so, so, so wrong
b) I could be disproved in the next episode
c) this is all a trick to make me think she’s safe so the writers can kill her off next
d) none of the above, and my perception is correct, and she’s getting more screentime than the others.
I suppose that I also might feel strange about her because I don’t know her all to well, and I definitely sense that I’m missing something about her past that is critical. I AM JUST THINKING ALOUD, I REALLY HAVE NO COHERENT THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS.
I was also immensely pleased that Giles and Anya were essentially hanging out again. It’s nice! I missed that! Of course, they go to another dimension to speak to a giant sphere of eyeballs, so it’s not like they got the chance to catch up on each other’s lives. But we do find out why The First has decided to go after the Slayers. it’s interesting that the Beljoxa’s Eye says that The First cannot be defeated. While yes, it is very important that they learn that Buffy’s resurrection is what weakened the Slayer line (or disrupted it, that is), I think this is an important detail, too. Perhaps the Scoobies are going about this the wrong way. Can they ever defeat the reason for evil? Probably not. I mean, I really can’t see this series ending with Buffy ridding the world of all evil. What would the point of anything be after this? (Plus, I’m thinking of the logistical nightmare that would cause. How could Angel have a fifth season? CLEARLY, I HAVE ORGANIZED MY PRIORITIES CORRECTLY.) So, prediction time! And fair warning, this prediction is vague as fuck. But I think Buffy won’t defeat the First Evil, but will instead find a way to secure the Slayer line.
THESE ARE THOUGHTS I AM HAVING.
Oh god, and there’s still so much else about “Showtime” that totally rules. The entire bit with Eve was HORRIFYING. Who fell for that completely? THIS GUY. Wait, actually, everyone fell for it. Oh gosh, do you realize what this means??? One of the Potentials (Vi? Molly? I can’t remember.) says that The First could be anyone. Yeah, so, that is a big fucking deal. Because all The First has to do is get someone killed and then impersonate them, and then NO ONE WILL FUCKING KNOW THAT THEY ARE EVEN DEAD. No, this is awful, and PREDICTION TIME: this is going to happen again. It has to. And I hate that this is a thing, because then that means that not only will someone be impersonated, they have to be dead as well.
Everything is scary.
I’m also sort of middle-of-the-road about Andrew. He makes me laugh, I won’t deny that, and Tom Lenk is just so fabulous at portraying his character. But I haven’t found a reason to really trust him. I guess it would be cool if he became a part of the Scoobies, but won’t Warren just appear to Andrew and get him to do something awful again? Ah, I don’t know whether to trust him and all of his weirdly apt and fitting pop culture references!
But let’s just get to it. Let’s talk about the goddamn Thunderdome. I didn’t think Buffy’s monologue at the end of “Bring on the Night” could be upstaged, but here you go. I can wave away the explanation for how on earth Buffy was able to initiate the telepathic conversation because the end result is just so spectacular. I like that it also differentiates the original three Scoobies from the rest. The newbies watch Buffy fight and then gloriously defeat the Turok-Han as an exercise in morale. This evil can be beat. And even if Giles/Anya’s information changes Buffy’s approach a bit, I think it was necessary that this happen. These women were terrified of what they faced. Buffy made it real, and she showed them how to defeat it. Everyone: I love Buffy Summers so much.
However, what I needed to see and what I found most important about the Thunderdome sequence was what happened after it. I can’t ignore that the this episode ends with a direct gender reversal of the Damsel in Distress trope by having Buffy ceremoniously rescue Spike from The First’s lair. It is gorgeously filmed, especially with the clever misdirect, tricking us into thinking that The First was teasing Spike as Buffy. (Which is also the second time that Buffy has come to Spike and he thought she was another version of herself. Remember the Buffybot episode???) She believed in him. He believed her. And she saved him.
100% onboard. Let the S.S. Buffy Season Seven go to Gallifrey for all I care. This shit is awesome.
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