Friday, 9 December 2011
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Nightmares
“Anyone can make a giraffe!”
Well, er… meh. There’s nothing particularly awful about this one, but nothing particularly memorable or significant. I suppose it pads out the season arc a bit (Buffy meets the Master above ground, sort of), but it’s a very skippable episode.
It’s not that there’s anything particularly wrong with it, though, aside from the rushed subtext about the abusive baseball coach being a bit awkward and a disappointing lack of witty lines. The plot makes sense. Everyone’s in character. It works. The initial worries that Buffy’s dad arriving at 3.30pm to spend the weekend with her might cause some sort of tiresome scheduling drama with slaying activities doesn’t materialise, mercifully. It’s just that there’s little to say about it. Perhaps it was a last minute filler, with Joss Whedon providing the story and the script provided by David Greenwalt? So I think I’ll spend the rest of this review just making some random observations.
Characters’ fears being made manifest is a bit of a standard trope, unfortunately, and things like spiders and being naked are par for the course- although I’m amused by the fact that Xander wasn’t quite naked, which rather spoiled the, er, realism (which we’ll come back to) and the fun for many viewers, I’m sure. Giles’ sudden ability to read is in-character, I suppose, but is it really a fear, as the others are? Still, Buffy’s fear of being the cause of her parents’ divorce and her father leaving is by far the most powerful.
Oh, and clowns- at what point did the primary function of clowns stop being “trying to be funny” and start being “utterly terrifying”? Was it around the time of Stephen King’s It? I remember this question coming up in a Doctor Who story I reviewed many moons ago. The best fear is Cordelia’s, though; being dragged into the chess club by two ridiculous nerdy stereotypes. This moment sees the story departing from the pretence of realism and starting to endanger the fourth wall, if only for a moment. I love this sort of thing!
In fact, we end with an increasingly absurd fracturing of reality, which almost seems designed to foreground the power of the omnipotent writer over the fictional universe. Giant wasps are attacking Sunnydale, while over the road is a new cemetery. And it’s nice. There’s even a few scenes, where Buffy is following Billy, where there are a couple of jump cuts, one of them from day to night, which really are happening in real time; the director is omnipotent, too!
Metatextual fun aside, though (and I’m exaggerating just a tad!), roll on the next one…