In the eighteenth episode of the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, everything falls apart. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.
I admit that I’m fascinated by the concept of entropy, of the idea that all things in the universe must return to chaos and disorder. I think that beyond it being a scientific concept, there was a point in my early twenties where I truly believed that this was the only explanation for how difficult my life was. I went through so many challenging and traumatic things because I was trying to force order in a disordered world. I don’t know that I feel this way anymore, but I certainly enjoy seeing this theory acted out on Buffy.
Well, again, it’s weird saying you enjoy something that’s so frustrating to watch. I know that y’all understand what I mean, but I do have to take a step back sometimes and think about what I’m saying. I felt that this was a superb episode of the show, and I also felt that it was incredibly difficult to watch. I don’t know how much more awful things could possibly get for these characters, but HERE WE GO. Things are pretty goddamn terrible for nearly everyone here. As I said during the Mark Watches video attached at the end of this post, I don’t know how I missed the totally obvious parallel between what was happening to Spike and Anya, either, so this particular story didn’t seem like it was forcing the awful just for the sake of it.
“Entropy” deals with the continued fallout from Xander leaving Anya on the alter and with Buffy’s fears about her friends learning of what she did with Spike. It’s actually quite haunting in hindsight to re-watch the opening scene, where Buffy tells Spike that she believes her friends will truly support and care for her about anything at this point in her life. That’s actually an important statement given what’s happened in this season. For the bulk of season six, Buffy has been isolated from her friends and family, and a large part of “Entropy” is Buffy finally finding ways to get close to them again. The family is reforming once more, and Buffy is also willing to put forth the effort to make this happen. Unfortunately, though, Buffy couldn’t see what would happen between her and Xander by the episode’s end, so it makes me sad thinking about the cold open to this episode.
I’m totally torn on how to feel about Xander and Anya, and this episode further confuses me. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, especially since I seem to thrive off moral ambiguity like others survive off oxygen. I don’t want things to be black and white, to be dichotomous and reductive. It’s certainly much more interesting to write about these characters when things are bewildering and complicated. Anya’s return to Sunnydale is one fraught with fear and anger, and Xander’s struggle with his complex feelings about marriage make for FRUSTRATING DRAMA. Of course, there’s a part of me that just wants everyone to be together and hug and make out and get a bunch of puppies and turn the Summers house into a puppy fantasy world because puppies. But that’s being unrealistic about these characters and what they’ve been through. Anya hasn’t been scorned in a thousand years, and Xander abandoned her at possibly the worst moment imaginable. I do think that there was a chance when Anya and Xander first spoke towards the beginning of “Entropy” where things could have been worked out. I actually thought they might! But Xander’s reaction to Anya’s request to marry again is just so… ARGGGGH. I totally get him. He should be honest! He shouldn’t marry Anya if he doesn’t feel things are right! And I seriously appreciate his honesty. But I have to agree with Anya here: his honesty is poorly timed, and he does have the burden of gaining Anya’s trust again. That’s not to say that at the end of “Entropy,” Anya is totally innocent in this situation. But Xander left her, ruining the one day she’d been planning for months. I don’t think that means he should have just agreed to marry her right off the bat, but perhaps he should appreciate how hard it is for Anya to hear that he doesn’t want to marry her yet.
And in terms of trust, it’s also clear that the Trio are facing issues of entropy of their own. Jonathan’s continued discomfort with what they’re doing is now painfully obvious. The Trio aren’t going to remain a trio much longer, are they? Warren clearly has some sort of plan to get rid of Jonathan after he finishes… well, whatever the hell he was doing in this episode. Finding treasure on a map? I didn’t find out what it was that was going to make them all rich, but I’m guessing that in the next episode or two, Jonathan is going to leave forever. Hmm, but that also assumes that whatever they’re doing is going to end in success. Oh gosh, what the fuck are they doing?
There are also a few scenes between Dawn and Buffy that concern the two of them fighting the entropy that’s ruled their lives this season. They’re actually hanging out in a genuine capacity, though Dawn’s shoplifting made this a bit challenging. Damn, she really went all in, didn’t she? I was happy to seem them spending time with one another in this way, but the next scene in the kitchen highlighted why Dawn continues to feel left out. I noticed that Buffy seemed truly motherly as she told Dawn why she couldn’t patrol with her. For the first time, Buffy didn’t come off as being petty or dismissive of Dawn. Like, she clearly doesn’t want Dawn to get hurt! I concede that Dawn made a good point about danger always seeming to find her, but I also know that Dawn is struggling with the fact that she is getting older. The Summers family has such a strange dynamic now that Joyce is gone (SADNESS FOREVER). When is Dawn going to be considered a grown-up? It’s so much harder to parse this because Dawn and Buffy are so close in age. I get that Buffy wants to keep Dawn safe and she wants to keep Dawn out of her mess with Spike, but at what point will Buffy have to give in to what Dawn is asking?
I DO NOT KNOW THE ANSWER TO SUCH THINGS. Perhaps this will be addressed in season seven? WHO KNOWS. Wait, all of you know. DAMN IT.
Anyway, ANYA. I kind of wondered why the writers played her attempts to get the Scoobies to wish harm on Xander as humorous more than serious. It was only in hindsight that I could appreciate the absurdity of what Anya was asking for. And I guess that brings to light the fucked up nature of vengeance demons, who punish people for eternity for singular things they’ve done. Now, I don’t want to diminish what Xander did to Anya, nor do I think Anya should just accept what Xander did and move on. LORD KNOWS I HOLD GRUDGES AS WELL. It wasn’t until her long conversation with Spike that I realized that she needed someone to empathize with her instead of getting sympathy. That’s not a criticism of how the Scoobies treat Anya, though. Hell, it’s such a complicated situation! Xander is their best friend, but they all know he messed up royally here. What are they supposed to do? Throw Xander under the bus to support Anya? Defend Xander? Do neither? I don’t even know how I would handle the same situation. What’s the right thing to do here? AHHHH, MORAL AMBIGUITY, YOU ARE EVERYWHERE IN THIS EPISODE.
And then this episode is just ENTROPY ALL OF THE TIME. Again, I can’t believe I didn’t see the similarities between Spike and Anya. Both are thrust into a non-human world, expected to act in human ways, left by the people they loved, and isolated from the main group after this happens. Obviously, the differences are more apparent once you go into the details, but I can’t deny that these two characters have a lot in common. And really, I do think that Anya needed empathy. At least for me, I respond much more positively to empathy than sympathy. There’s a power in knowing that someone knows what a specific experience feels like. For Anya, she opens up once Spike begins to demonstrate that he understands her. And honestly, I know that it sucks for Buffy and Xander, but I kind of think it’s fair that Spike and Anya got the chance to comfort one another. It’s awkward as all hell, sure, and the whole hidden camera thing made the situation a thousand times worse. But both characters are single and heartbroken. I HAVE MADE MANY A TACTLESS DECISION WHILE HEARTBROKEN. So I can’t bring myself to be mad at them. Plus, you can tell that both Anya and Spike are a tad embarrassed about the impulsive nature of what they’ve done, but I got the sense that they were definitely only making this a one time thing. For a brief moment, they felt appreciated and comforted, and I can’t hate on that.
But the ramifications of such an act are still hurtful, so I don’t want to ignore that either. In just one moment, the Scoobies all learn of Buffy’s sexual relationship with Spike just as Xander and Anya are ripped further apart. HELLO, ENTROPY. And there’s one aspect of this episode that isn’t confusing to me: I hate Xander’s reaction to Spike. Like, dude, you have had sex with an ex-vengeance demon for like TWO YEARS. How the hell do you have any room to judge what Anya does with Spike? I mean, his anger is less about Anya having sex with someone else and more about who she had sex with. There’s an obvious parallel to what Buffy once said to Spike when Xander is appalled that Anya would even touch Spike. DUDE, SHUT UP. What a disaster. I’m glad, though, that Dawn go to give her support to her sister. There’s no way the next episode isn’t going to be a hot mess. I’m hoping that Willow, Tara, and maybe even Anya make sure that Buffy doesn’t feel awful for her attraction to Spike. I still feel weird about Spike “outing” Buffy to her friends. What’s his angle here? I know that he hates being a secret, but what is this going to get him? (Don’t answer that, obviously.) Ah, this is SO BAD.
As you’ll see in the video below, I’ve resolved myself to accept that season six of this show is all about bad things happening all of the time forever. So I was UNBELIEVABLY EXCITED that “Entropy” ends with an act of defiance to the titular concept: Tara wants to reconcile with Willow and get back together. And I’m so glad this show makes this her choice, that she demonstrates her own agency in forgiving Willow. That’s her choice! It’s up to her whether or not she’s able to move past what Willow did to her. And then they make out and I’m pretty sure if you pause a couple of frames, there is an explosion of puppies behind these two. SOMETIMES, THINGS ARE GOOD ON THIS SHOW. And I will celebrate this moment. I WILL.
This video is for STACE!
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