Dead Humans - 101
Dead Undeads - 179
Dead Flashbacks - 7
Giles Unconscious - 12
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 13
Buffy Breaks a Door - 19
Evil Reveal - 41
Unevil Reveal - 14
Shenanigans Called - 94
Apocalypse Called - 6
Season Four Stats (including comparison to previous season):
Dead Humans - 23 (-6)
Dead Undeads - 43 (-27)
Dead Flashbacks - 0 (-2)
Giles Unconscious - 0 (-4)
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 2 (-3)
Buffy Breaks a Door - 4 (=)
Evil Reveal - 5 (-5)
Unevil Reveal - 1 (-4)
Shenanigans Called - 20 (-3)
Apocalypse Called - 1 (=)
Overall a marked decrease on all fronts from the previous season. We've still got more Dead Undeads than Dead Humans, so go Team Scoobies, and Buffy continues to break doors at a regular rate, but Giles managed to stay unconcussed for the entire season, and you must admit, that's a little strange. In fact, none of our stats this season were an increase on Season Three's stats - the best they could manage was to break even, with apocali and door breakage, but even our shenanigan count was a bit down. Season Five, we're counting on you to raise our numbers! And if not, well ... Giles has more Scotch.
Zelda's Thoughts:Okay, so part of the reason we took so long to getting around to writing up our Season Four roundup is how damn long it took us to even get through it. This isn't a reflection on the season, but more on the behind the scenes drama we've both been dealing with. In any event, it's a bit hard for me to sit here and look back on the season with the same kind of coherent unity I've had for the last three seasons, because we had so many breaks. But, you know, I'll try.
I think Daniel and I both said at the beginning that we like this season more than the general consensus seems to, and I'm sticking to that. It boasts some truly strong episodes in the canon, including the Emmy-nominated Hush. And I think the finale (I'm counting both Primeval and Restless here) stands firmly with the series's tradition of strong season endings.
I think the arcs of our principal characters are, for the most part, organically crafted, and honest about how friendships and roles change after high school. Daniel has said, and he's right, that it sucks watching our Scoobies grow apart and not communicate, but they're all feeling massively insecure about these various changes, and worried that if they acknowledge them, their friendships might change or even disappear. So while it sucks to see Xander as listless as he is, or Giles at rather loose (if amusing and musical) ends, it makes sense - they've both lost the grounding daily presence of both the school structure and of having Buffy rely on them, to varying degrees. And as Willow finds herself more in magic - and in her relationship with Tara - she worries if this will pull her further away from Buffy, and so barely mentions either. Buffy, meanwhile, flirts with the idea of a whole new group of friends whose interests are specifically hers - slaying demons - even if their methods differ dramatically. This goes hand in hand with her new boyfriend, who is pulling her, deliberately or not, away from her old high school crowd.
So this is all fun to explore, but it would be ultimately very depressing if they were to end the season as isolated as their arcs seem to be directing them - and as Adam and Spike maneuver them - so it's of course satisfying and heartwarming to have them reaffirm their bond both emotionally and metaphorically as ScooberBuffy (patent pending). But I also like that this conclusion and kickass battle is chased by Restless, where they dream - still in isolation, even with their reaffirmed connection - and we check in with each character, to see how they've grown over the past four years (and especially this year), and where they stand now - their fears for their futures. Willow still worries that she's the same pushover geek she was before she came into her power. Giles has concerns that he's given up the possibility of a real life and family, in taking Buffy on as his surrogate daughter - a daughter, moreover, who doesn't even seem to need him anymore. Xander, still listless in his vocation and scared of climbing out of the basement to become his parents, sees himself as a brother to Buffy, a sexual object to basically every other female in his life, and someone who will never be a son to Buffy's surrogate father (that place being held, evidently, by Spike - har har har). And Buffy - dear, brilliant, strong Buffy - Buffy's dream is more fraught with premonitions, because that's what Slayers do, but she's clearly concerned with the source of her power, the question of what makes her who she is - something that gets explored in a variety of ways (Dracula, Dawn as an extension of Buffy's innocence, even the question of Toth splitting Buffy into Slayer and Civilian).
Okay so um that last paragraph is stuff I guess I didn't say enough of in our Restless post. Sorry about that.
Lest you think I love this season unequivocally, arc-wise in terms of overall story, Season Four is kind of a hot mess. And it's too bad. I think I already discussed this, but I remember being SO EXCITED the first time I watched this season, realizing the dichotomy that was being set up.between Buffy the plucky individual, destroying evil with fairly simple tools and her wits, and the Initiative, this large government-run lummox of an organization, trumping Buffy in both manpower and technology, but lacking in subtlety and any understanding of how to outsmart a demon. And that was going to be so cool. It was going to be really exciting and a celebration of the individual and then, well. And then Adam happened. And instead it was about him. And just. Yuck. So even if they managed to shuffle everything along into that satisfying finale, they missed so much potential, and I shake my head in disappointment.
But then I console myself with remembering Who Are You and Superstar and even New Moon Rising and try desperately to forget that Where the Wild Things Are was a thing
I try, anyway.
Daniel's Thoughts:Ditto. Pretty much.
Tune in next week for Daniel's Essay: In Defense of Riley Finn, or Why Riley Finn is the Perfect Boyfriend.
Yep. You read that right. Stay tuned!