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


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Body

Episode 5.16: The Body. Original Airdate 2.27.01

"Buffy, Dawn, and their friends deal with the aftermath of Joyce's death."

Note:  We apologize for the delay.  We decided to watch this episode separately because of all the emotion involved with it.  And then....we kept putting it off.   

Zelda's Thoughts:
  • no more putting this off, we've got to do this. I don't know what this post will be, or how we can talk about this episode.
  • I'm so sad already.
  • It's that short pause between "Mom?" and "Mom?" and the longer one before "Mommy?" Already crying.
  • Per the commentary, this Christmas scene was done so there wouldn't be credits running over any of the devastation.
  • And it's a nice reminder of how good things could be. And that Joyce had people who loved her, that she was mother to, even if not genetically, hosting the dinner for all the Scoobies.
  • This unbroken take, some of SMG's best acting work ever.
  • her voice gets so small and young "No I don't remember."
  • "I know this. I can do this." So many things Buffy can solve. And not this one.
  • God, Joyce's lifeless face during the CPR.
  • That pause before "The body's cold?"
  • "Should I make her warm?" That small denial she's still clinging to. Buffy's seen death. She knows what it looks like. She knows what it feels like. But it's still not real because it's her mom.
  • "She had an operation and she's fine now. She's been fine."
  • the framing in this is so good. Buffy's so small and young, no one else quite real or in focus
  • that need to be polite. "Thank you." "Good luck." trappings of how to be human, the gestures of habit, as if anything is real right now
  • how not even the violence of throwing up has any effect on her daze. it's just another unreal thing.
  • and the light outside is too harsh.
  • okay and the moment of horror when Buffy finally calls Joyce "the body." the horror of naming the thing. I don't have long periods of denial in my own grief, but they consist of not being ready to name the thing. once you've said it - the body, dead, she's gone - it's real, it's incontrovertible, you can't take it back. once you've said it, you can't shield yourself from it any longer.
  • the scene with Dawn and her friend and petty high school drama, a reminder that the rest of life keeps happening, oblivious that the world has ended
  • "the spaces around, the space in between." everything around the real thing, the thing we're not naming. the negative space around the body itself but not the body itself
  • why are there random students loitering in the hallway? they'd all have detention in my school
  • "Mom had an accident, or something went wrong from the tumor." talking around it, the negative space around the object
  • "Is she okay? Is she ... but she's okay?  But ... it's serious, but ..."
  • and we don't hear Buffy say the words. we watch from the outside as Dawn's world collapses
  • Anya, on the edge of the frame. not understanding this human experience
  • Willow, the perfectionist, the girl who must have control, if she can find the perfect thing to wear, that's something she could fix, something she could control. but nothing she wears will actually fix anything, nothing would work even if she found the shirt she wanted
  • "What will we do? What will we be expected to do?" Anya, saying the things we all wonder but don't voice - trying to figure out what the steps are, how you do this thing.
  • they're all standing, alone, holding themselves, all arms crossed protectively.
  • I almost don't have the strength to point out Willow's got another fluffy pink sweater. But for the record, she does. #14 for those keeping track at home.
  • "Things don't happen. I mean, they don't just happen." This too. Where it doesn't fit in with reality as we know it. Death doesn't make sense. A sudden lack of existence. It can't just be an arbitrary thing that happened.
  • "Am I supposed to be changing my clothes a lot? Is that the helpful thing to do?"
  • "Nobody will tell me. ... But I don't understand."
  • Fuck, Anya's speech. "No one will explain to me why!"
  • "We don't know ... how it works ... why."
  • So many things happening off screen or out of frame in this ep. So we see the moment around the thing without seeing the thing itself. We don't see Xander punch the wall, we hear it, we see Willow and Anya react, we see the hand stuck in the wall. The negative space around Xander's anger.
  • "We'll go, we'll deal, we'll help. That's what we do. We help Buffy." When you run out of things to do, you do more things. You keep busy. You fill the negative space around the object.
  • "Can we see her?" Dawn's seen only the negative space around the thing. She needs to see Joyce for it to be finally real. Buffy had to say it for it to be real; Dawn has to see it.
  • One last quick flash of the what if - if Buffy had been there to catch it, to save her, to fix it, to go back and fix it, last minute, just in time
  • And even if we haven't all been Buffy and Dawn, we've all been Tara. A bit on the outside of the grief, a sympathy grief. And a memory of your own, perhaps.
  • "Obviously, I've never done this before." // "I have."
  • Just letting her know that what she's feeling, whatever it is, is valid.
  • "I know it's different for you, because it's always different."
  • "Was it sudden?" // "No. And yes. It's always sudden."
  • Dawn looks at the sheet over Joyce. Another negative space around the thing. Still not quite a reality.
  • And because life doesn't pause just because your world ended, a vampire. A naked, grotesque vampire. And so Buffy's work must continue. Keeping busy is a way to survive when the world ends.
  • "Is she cold?" // "It's not her. It's not her. She's gone." // "Where'd she go?"
  • And the episode ends before Dawn can actually touch her. Before she can bridge that final bit of negative space. Before it's finally real.

Daniel's thoughts:

  • And it starts.  That red shirt that Z was talking about in the last episode.  That shirt we know and associate with this episode.
  • And then you just see her in the background.
  • And then you see her up close.  And you know.
  • And that "Mommy".
  • And I like that we start with a flashback. It's a breather instead of getting straight into it.  And we have out usual funny scoobies that are doing their usual scooby things.
  • Yay, Willow mentions that she's Jewish.  We should have had a stat for that.
  • Anya, re: Santa: "It's a myth that it's a myth.  He doesn't traditionally bring presents so much as, you know, disembowel children but otherwise..."
  • And then the sudden cut back to Joyce's face.
  • Oh god, the break.  The rib.
  • The lack of music, the sudden realizations.  It's just filmed so well.  Buffy turning to see her mom all over again.
  • And that part gets me everytime.  I know it's fake.  I know the waking up and the ambulance ride and the hospital scene is all fake - but that one cut back to reality just gets me.  Every. Fucking. Time.
  • Buffy's got like 4 earrings on.  Weird thing to notice.
  • "We're not supposed to move the body."  - Another powerful realization.
  • And I knew Dawn wasn't crying about this.  From the first time I saw this episode.
  • I love Dawn's friend.  Who really couldn't give a crap about her teenage problems.
  • And I don't think it's a coincidence how much Dawn's art teacher looks like Joyce.
  • Dawn wants the pretty emo kid so bad.  They're so cliche, it's gross but accurate.
  • And Dawn's reaction - Michelle T is doing an awesome job.
  • And the focus on her mom's teacher's face.
  • Xander, "Let em give me a ticket."  They, will, Xander.
  • And shut up about your shirt, Willow.
  • Willow has a powerpuff girls t-shirt!  Cause of course she does.
  • "Why do all of my shirts have stupid things on them?"  - Best self-realization of Willow ever.
  • Xander and Willow hug.  Anya & Tara nod at each other.  The writers/directors of this show know their characters well.
  • This is not the time, Willow.  Stop being so fucking condescending towards Anya.
  • I like Xander's anger.  Someone had to react that way and it would be him. [I like too that this episode plays to its actors' strengths - Aly is the best crier so she gets the tears, etc. - Z]
  • "Am I supposed to be changing my clothes a lot?"
  • Anya's whole speech.  I mean, man.  This is the thing with Anya.  The whole thing with Anya.  She doesn't act the way she does to be an asshole. Not most of the time, anyway.  She just simply doesn't know.  And no one, Xander included, thinks to fill her in.
  • Hey, Xander mentioned the Avengers!
  • Anya hugging Giles is the best.
  • "I have to lie to make you feel better."  I love the dubbed in line, there.
  • "I wish that Joyce didn't die.  Because she was nice and now we all hurt."  - "Anya, ever the wordsmith."  Stop  making excuses for your girlfriend. She's not doing anything wrong. Buffy gets it.  Buffy says 'thank you' because that's what you say when you can see someone is trying.
  • It's nice that Buffy and Tara get a moment since Tara's the only other one who's gone through this.
  • I never understood why Dawn wanted to go into the morgue until this time I noticed Buffy telling everyone that she doesn't think Dawn quite believed her.  She had to see it for herself.
  • And of course, a vamp...because this is the show.
  • Le sigh.

Favorite Lines:

Zelda: "Is she cold?" // "It's not her. It's not her. She's gone." // "Where'd she go?" - Dawn/Buffy
Daniel: "I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's- There's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore. It's stupid. It's mortal and stupid. And-and Xander's crying and not talking, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why." - Anya

Arc/Continuity Stuff:

  • Recurring: Joyce, Tara, Dr. Kriegel
  • Shout-out to Band Candy

Anya's Hair - golden, loopy curls, shoulder length
Dead Humans - 0 (we got Joyce last ep)
Dead Undeads - 1
Dead Flashbacks - 0
Giles Unconscious - 0
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 0
Buffy Breaks a Door - 1
Evil Reveal - 0
Unevil Reveal - 0
Shenanigans Called - 0
Apocalypse Called - 0


  1. well…this post made me cry. How lame is that? I've now watched this episode at least 12 times and a yet not to cry. It's stunning. No one does a bad job. Just so incredibly sad. SMG amazing. Direction is so good and agree with all said above. Just amazing. Thank you for doing it justice. *goes away quietly to sob in a corner*

    1. thanks Lola! I was a masochist - while working on editing my notes, I went back and read the shooting script for the episode and cried again.

  2. PS Love Anya in this episode!

  3. Besides Anya's speech (which is heartwrenching), the most touching moment is Giles listening to Creem. The same song, actually, that was playing in Band Candy. The episode does a really good job at showing how we all react and grieve differently.

    1. Hi marym, we love that moment too, but it's actually in the next episode, Forever.

    2. That's right, and I knew that too! This episode is so spot on emotionally.