PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A SPOILER-RICH ZONE

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A SPOILER-RICH ZONE. If your diet requires you to dine on Buffy Spoiler-free ... good luck with that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

It Eats You Starting With Your Bottom

Episode 7.7: Conversations With Dead People. Original Airdate 11.12.02

"Buffy has a conversation with a vampire who once went to Sunnydale High, and learns something interesting about Spike. Joyce materializes to Dawn in the living room. The ghost of Cassie brings a message to Willow from beyond the grave. Meanwhile, Andrew and Jonathan have returned to Sunnydale on a mission to save the town."


Daniel's Thoughts:

  • I’m not as big on this episode as most people are. I think in concept, it’s great. I think in execution, not so much. And I have other random problems with it.
  • I like, first of all, that everyone is separated and has their own storylines that all connect.
  • I dislike the absence of Anya (and Xander). I realize they were cut for time, but I think it would have wrapped this whole episode up better. More on that later.
  • “Here we go,” being the only line before the opening credits is pretty powerful. It’s also reminiscent of Buffy’s “Going through the motions” and is she back at that point? Is she starting to get depressed again?
  • Andrew & Jonathan. I hate that bugger. Andrew, not Jonathan. Another reason why I kinda hate this episode. It’s the beginning of the end. It reintroduces Andrew and makes Spike the focal point of the season.
  • Dawn playing with weapons. This will not end well. Has anyone seen Miss Kitty Fantastico around?
  • I kinda like Dawn listening and dancing around to mariachi music, though.

  • And this is the worst part: Cassie Newton. I love Cassie and I loved her episode. But Willow never actually met Cassie. She should have either haunted Buffy or completely dismissed this story line since they couldn’t get Amber/Tara to come back. The First, an all powerful being who can disguise themselves as anything should have been Tara or no one else.
Nope, not Tara. Sorry Willow.

  • Dawn’s story is clearly the scariest. It’s right out of a haunted house movie but it doesn’t really fit the rest of the narrative.
  • Axing the TV/stereo, Dawn? Is that really the way to deal with this? Buffy gave you a cell phone. Use it.
  • Jonathan M. Woodward. Tom Lenk, who played Andrew, did commentary on this episode. My favorite story is that he met Jonathan and told him he liked his work in this episode and JMW said something like, “It’s always nice to meet a fan.” Clearly did not actually see the episode he was in…or remember Andrew.
  • Yay! Scott Hope came out! I love the reference.
  • Yay, Dawn listened to me and tried to call Buffy.
  • OMG, Joyce dead on the couch.
  • And can the First do all this? This is the first (and last?) time we see any evidence of being able to manipulate the outside world with anything other than being able to appear as people. It's yet another inconsistency of the First. [I think I headcanoned that something was planted there, akin to the talisman in Sunnydale High in "Lessons" - Z]
  • And Dawn does, the “ Mom….? Mom…? Mommy….?” Thing that Buffy did in The Body.
  • Andrew: “Then we join her gang and possibly hang out at her house…” UGH, because that happens. Fucking Andrew.
  • “Tara, is that you?” “She’s sorry she can’t come herself.” - Whatever. Lame.
  • Ok, while Willow is crying over Tara, I’ll say this:
  • Xander and Anya should have been in this episode. Xander with Jessie and Anya with Halfrek. Ok, ok, Jessie is a long shot considering they haven’t mentioned him since he died. (thought it would have been amazing if they could have gotten him. ) But man, Halfrek JUST DIED. They could have easily gotten her back. Imagine the guilt she could have made Anya suffer from.
  • “Is it because we’re gonna fight?” “It’s because I’m gonna win”. Ugh. That line just gives me chills.
  • Oh hey, Willow acknowledged that she destroyed the Magic Box. Not to Anya…
  • Poor Jonathan. I wish it was he who survived and joined the gang; not Andrew. He’s the only one of the three that’s worthy of some sort of redemption.
  • So The First can slash people now? Why doesn’t it just kill her? As much as I like Dawn’s storyline this episode, I’m calling SHENANIGANS on the whole thing.
  • Wow, go Dawn! Kinda. I mean, I assume it’s the First making her thing she’s defeated whatever entity is supposed to be there.
  • Hey! Giles mentioned!
  • The direction in the Willow s/l is a bit strange. Willow and Cassie just sit across from each other the entire time.
  • Overall: Dawn’s storyline is the scariest. Buffy’s is the best written/funniest. Willow’s is the absolute lamest. Andrew/Jonathan’s is just…really, moving the story along and Spike seems to be the center of it all, so fuck that – but at least he never speaks. And Xander/Anya’s are non-existant.
  • So reading the trivia, Eric Balfour and Kali Rocha were unavailable….and Amber didn’t want to come back as villain. Screw Amber for that. It made Willow’s scenes very unsatisfying. I don’t  know if I believe that they ever tried to get Eric Balfour since they never mention Jesse after the second episode of the series but I sorta believe it about Kali Rocha. [Confirmed, she was in a play in NY and they had to fly her out and film all her scenes in "Lessons" and "Selfless" in one day - Z] Again, I think it was a great concept and they did what they could…I just wish it was better. It could have been so much better.


Zelda's Thoughts: 

  • Yessssssssssssssss I love this episode let's do it!
  • Debating if I should call a preemptive shenanigan - This datestamp will proceed to fuck up the timeline for the rest of the season, when episodes follow each other immediately sequentially and in two days it's Christmas. I think I'll wait til Buffy and Giles actually declare it to be Christmas to call the shenanigan, but just know that it'll be percolating.
  • That being said, this is a cool opener, showing us immediately that we're taking a sideways step, in a way - that this will be structurally different. We have the title, which we never do, we have the date stamp, we have the pretty song playing as we see our various Scoobies in isolation, waiting for the plot to happen to them.
  • Jonathan: "Last time we were here, 33.3bar percent of us were flayed alive." Me:


  • So wait wait WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT. Why are Jonathan and Andrew having the "from beneath you, it devours" dreams? THEY ARE NOT SLAYERS. PROPHECY DREAMS ARE SLAYER TERRITORY. Shenanigans. (I can see the easily-manipulated Andrew having First-influenced dreams, but Jonathan?)
  • Dawn's song about anchovies is 100% because Jane Espenson likes anchovies and wants to punish the rest of us.
  • God, the music Dawn listens to - if it's not the same music Buffy listened to to drown out Joyce's scary crazy ramblings in the Queller episode, it's at least meant to evoke it, and it HURTS. JOYCE.
  • AZURA SKYE IS BACK YAY.
  • If you haven't, I highly recommend checking out the shooting script for this episode. I love Azura Skye and I'm glad she's back, but I have to agree with Daniel, it doesn't make much sense that Cassie would come to Willow. Everyone else, when they're visited by The First, it's in the guise of someone they love deeply, who can make them instantly vulnerable. Cassie is not that person to Willow. So check out the shooting script, when it was written for Tara. And then cry forever.
  • (acting wise, I do prefer Cassie over Tara, but storywise, shoulda been Tara)
  • man, poor Dawn. classic horror movie stuff
  • It's so adorable the vampire recognizes Buffy from school, to the degree that I wonder why it doesn't happen more often. Also sidebar what if they had gotten one of their regular extras to do this scene?
  • GOD WHEN THE RADIO SAYS "DAWN" AND WE ALL RECOGNIZE JOYCE'S VOICE INSTANTLY.
  • Jonathan M. Woodward is just so fantastic in this role. I can see why Joss hat-tricked him into his other shows. He has kind of a Tom Hanks charm with very good Whedon delivery
  • Aw Buffy finally has a cell phone and has of course dropped it where she can't hear it. I'm glad writers have finally figured out how to incorporate phones into their narratives without having to quickly write them out, like they did back in this era.
  • "Mother's milk is red today." THE FIRST IS REALLY EVIL YOU GUYS.
  • No but the shot of Joyce suddenly appearing on the couch, this shit hurts so much.
  • Dawn's little smile of hope when she thinks the presence is her mom. IT ALL HURTS, ARE YOU HAPPY, WRITERS?
  • "Then we join her gang and possibly hang out at her house." Ah, back when Tom Lenk hadn't quite outstayed his welcome with me yet.
  • And Danny Strong <3 I adore him
  • Check check check check check check check check
  • GASP WARREN.
  • Man, if you were watching this and hadn't guessed yet that it was The First, I can see freaking the fuck out when Warren rounds the corner.
  • "You keep leaving me, I hate it when you leave me. One time you died and I ended up a Mexican."
  • "No, I was just going with it. It was a thing. No, he's our last hope." Adam Busch is funny even if Warren is one of my least favorite characters to appear on the show.
  • "You killed people. You can't see her. That's just how it is." I bought the rationale at the time, and was willing to go with it. It's just on these later rewatches that I feel the forcedness, of getting around not having Tara. It helps a lot that Azura Skye and Alyson Hannigan are doing fantastic work.
  • Oh right, Spike. In the episode where he TRULY doesn't speak.
  • I love Buffy's shrink session with Holden Webster, complete with a stone couch for her to lie on.
  • "It's cuz I'm gonna win." The writing in this ep, so good.
  • "You don't remember me at all" // "Yes I do." // "Yeah, after like 30 minutes of reminding."
  • "Buffy, I'm here to kill you, not to judge you."
  • Okay, so if I remember the breakdown correctly, Jane Espenson wrote Dawn's stuff, Drew Goddard wrote the Trio, Joss wrote Buffy and Webs, and Marti Noxon wrote Willow's stuff?
  • Ah, there's the Gnarl costume painted black, strangling Joyce's corpse! (this is uncredited but I have to assume this is Camden Toy again)
  • YEAH DAWN. "No. She's my mother. I'm staying."
  • "Okay, but are you killing me cuz I'm evil, or because you opened up?"
  • "Well, you know, not my god because I defy him and all his works. Does he exist? Is there a word on that, by the way?" God I love this banter.
  • "A lot of people grieve, they don't make with the flaying." It actually is really great to see how far our characters have come, illustrated in these stories. Dawn is so much more mature, doing the research even when terrified, solving the problem, fighting the evil. Willow has a much better grasp on her relationship with power and magic, and while she's still vulnerable, she's miles better than last season. Jonathan's reached a state of peace about his high school angst, and wants to help save the world. Andrew's still a shit. Oh. Spike still has a thing for blondes. And Buffy is ever-processing, sensing that there is always something separating her - the arc that will continue to be explored this season, the isolation of The Slayer. But she still gets to talk through some of her feels and issues with an impartial evil fiend. Like ya do.
  • Yep, the potted tree is completely dead. This was something that kept getting brought up in the fan forums, regarding whether or not the presence of Joyce in the house was actually her or The First manipulating Dawn. I come down fully on the side of it being The First, and the dead plant is a good piece of evidence for that. Especially considering her message for Dawn is meant to separate Buffy still more from her friends/family, just like Cassie's message is to disable Willow as a magical ally. So. It's not Joyce. Poor Dawn.
  • Back to Buffy having an epiphany.
  • "And so you can't win. And I thought I was diabolical - or at least I plan to be. You do have a superiority complex. And you've got an inferiority complex about it. Kudos."
  • "But Buffy, everybody feels alone. Everybody is. Until you die." Webs isn't The First, though. He's just a vamp. I mean, he's a result of The First, because he was sired by Spike while Spike was under the sleeper trigger of The First, but he's still a killable corporeal thing.
  • YEAH DAWN YOU CAST OUT THAT EVIL.
  • Geez the house is trashed. More work for Xander.
  • NO JOYCE IN THE LOVELY WARM LIGHT WHY DO YOU MAKE US HURT. Poor Dawn.
  • I'm so proud of Willow for realizing, as soon as Cassie suggests suicide, that SOME EVIL SHIT IS AFOOT. "Who are you?"
  • "I love you and I love Buffy. But she won't be there. When it's bad, Buffy won't choose you. She'll be against you." The chatty forums also debated on if there was some hidden truths beneath the manipulations of The First's proclamations. I don't think this one played out.
  • Aw poor Jonathan. I like the moment when his eyes briefly focus on Warren.
  • "From beneath you, it devours." // "Oh, not it. Me." SCARY CGI GIF TIME.
So gross, you guys.

  • And back to our opening song, as each story ends - Willow facing evil, Dawn in rubble, Jonathan bleeding out, Spike having drained an innocent, and Buffy staring into the cloud of dust that was Holden Webster.

Favorite Lines:

Daniel: Holden: ...you just don't seem as thrilled. Is it because we're gonna fight?
Buffy: It's because I'm gonna win
Zelda: "You keep leaving me, I hate it when you leave me. One time you died and I ended up a Mexican." - Andrew. I don't know why I love the absurdity but I do


Arc/Continuity Stuff:

  • Recurring: Andrew, Jonathan, the First (as Cassie, Joyce, Warren), The Bronze, from beneath you it devours (and other translations), insane troll logic
  • The only episode to receive an explicit datestamp - the date it aired, November 12
  • Dawn gets pizza sauce on one of Buffy's blouses
  • The plant that she moves to cover the hole/ in the wall dies during the episode - one of the symptoms of The First taking up residence (as exposited in Amends)
  • Shoutouts to when Buffy wore crosses, dated that really old guy named Angel, and Scott Hope
  • Shoutout to "strong like an Amazon" in the episode that broke us all
  • Shoutout to when Buffy and the Trio couldn't figure out the plural of nemesis

Stats:

Anya's Hair - NO CLUE
Dead Humans - 2
Dead Undeads - 1
Buffy Breaks a Door - 0
Evil Reveal - 2 (Cassie/The First and Spike sort of)
Unevil Reveal - 0
Shenanigans Called - 2
Apocalypse Called - 0

2 comments:

  1. OMG. So many thoughts.

    I had no idea there were Xander/Anya parts to this episode that got cut. Awesome. Makes sense to cut those, though, as they were just humans at the time and not as important to The First.

    I figured The First manipulated some real demon into messing with Dawn, just as it got Spike to do its bidding.

    Yeah. Cassie doesn't work. She's great, but no. I heard Amber Benson just wasn't available, though--never heard the bit about not wanting to be a bad guy.

    It's been a while since I've seen this episode, but what's the significance of the potted tree?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, because nothing can grow above the First and whatnot. Sweet.

      Also continuity: Kit and Dawn are friends now! Fighting monsters in high school bathrooms make bonding happen. Worked for Harry Potter and Hermione!

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