Oh, I told you I had more of these planned. Even better? There will be another tomorrow, and at least three more next week. THIS IS SO FUN. IT REALLY IS THE BEST.
I’m In Buffy Denial and You Can Be, Too
So, let’s start with my re-watch!
I’d actually never sat down to re-watch this episode since I first saw it, though that is generally the case with the whole show aside from “Once More, With Feeling” and a few episodes I’d seen pieces of on cable. This episode in particular is one of the more vital stories that should be seen upon finishing the show for one specific reason: SO. MUCH. FORESHADOWING.
And while I don’t want to ignore the importance of that, I find that “Restless” is more fascinating to me as an attempt to discuss and explore the anxieties that plague the Scoobies. These problems that we see at the end of season four are all things they’ll continue to struggle with over the next three years, though in completely different ways each season. Xander’s going to wonder what his role is up until “Chosen.” Willow will continue to toe the line between who she once was and what she’s turning into, and I think that’s an interesting way of looking at seasons six and seven. (Which is not me ignoring the fact that I think the writers turned Willow into a hot mess in season six and then not much of anything in season seven. I don’t think I will ever heal from this. Or Cordelia. BITTER CHARACTER BLOGGING 2012.) Giles’s dream heavily hints at the fact that he’s not going to be around to play father to the Scoobies forever, but its relevant at the time, too. How much is he expected to do? What role is he supposed to play?
I think Buffy’s dream is ultimately the most confusing out of all of them. Obviously, at the time I watched “Restless,” I didn’t understand how much foreshadowing there was for Dawn, Buffy saving the whole world through sacrifice, and Riley leaving. But still, the images in Buffy’s dream are more ambiguous and weird, but that’s okay. This David Lynch-style dreamscape is all about taking these characters, unpacking everything that makes them tick, and then jumbling it up into extremely long takes that are disorienting and revealing at the same time. Without spending DAYS talking about every line, I don’t think there’s any real way to discuss just how much depth Joss Whedon put in this script. There’s a commentary on the male gaze. There’s a commentary on the nature of the show and the Scoobies themselves, how they’re all attractions. There’s a commentary on the fact that Riley just does not fucking get it. He doesn’t! He is so unaware of the world going on around him, and that’s what Buffy’s angry monologue to him is trying to say. he fundamentally does not understand her, AND MY GOD, IT FORESHADOWS THEIR BREAK-UP.
I don’t think I was as critical of the portrayal of the First Slayer as I later was of the Shadow Men, and I completely missed that really gross line about dreadlocks that made me feel icky. Yuck, y’all, no thanks.
Anyway, this dense episode is one of my favorites, and I want to know if there’s any background information on it! I don’t own the series (YET), so I haven’t heard any of the commentary on the show. I know it’ll be fun to discuss the show spoiler-free, but I’m actually excited for the chance to learn behind-the-scenes stuff for the first time that was spoilery at the time.
To finish this off, I wanted to share an awesome fanfic I read on video today. Scarlet Ibis commissioned me to read her fic “Impact,” which is her re-working of “Smashed.” I don’t want to spoil how she decided to twist things, but it’s a pretty awesome take on what might have happened had Buffy and Spike approached things differently in this episode.
If you like what you read, you should check out her novel Fangirl, available on Amazon!
You can still commission me to read a Buffy fic or re-watch any episode of the show for just $25. Up next: Family, New Moon Rising, Innocence/Passion, Band Candy, AND THE UNAIRED PILOT THAT I NEVER SAW. OH MY GOD. (Note: This isn’t the order I’m watching them; I will do them in the order they were commissioned.)