Sunday, 12 October 2014
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tough Love
"They'll take you away from me..."
Something of a somber episode, this, with the consequences of both adulthood and bereavement hitting Buffy hard. And, of that isn't bad enough, something truly heartbreaking happens. And then the episode ends with Glory discovering the identity of the key. Oops.
Buffy's academic career drifts away from her as yet another dream of her youth that is now denied to get; she's been dropping lectures and is forced to drop out, under cover of the polite fiction that she will one day return to complete her studies. The scene between her and the professor is deliberately slow and deliberately awkward.
In parallel, Ben is fired from his hospital job because of his frequent absences. Glory is ruining his life. She may be a goddess, a flat and one dimensional character with underlings, luxury, a flange of gorillas should she so desire, and other stereotypical superbaddie trappings, but all of the multi-dimensional characters are made to suffer because of her, and no more so than in this episode.
There's a little comic relief as Anya discovers her inner uber-capitalist and American chauvinist, but for Buffy it's all crushing responsibility as the principal warns her that Dawn is failing at school, and Buffy is in danger of losing custody. This, of course, leads to clashes between the sisters as a panicking Buffy goes all authoritarian in a way she simply hasn't earned (she's only 20!), and things get worse and worse.
Staying with the darkness, Willow and Tara have their first big and nasty falling out over a silly argument- and the silliness of the argument makes it worse. Horribly, Glory has got it into her head that Tara is the key and, before the couple have time to reconcile, Glory feasts on her mental energies, leaving her an infantilised and tormented she'll of a person. Of course, this completely breaks Willow's heart. It certainly broke ours while watching. Typical Whedon...!
Dawn, after a big fight with Buffy, goes to see Spike, and doesn't fail to notice his torture wounds. He has some words of wisdom for her; just because she's the key doesn't mean it's all her fault, hard though it is for an adolescent to understand that.
Willow goes after Glory herself, enraged, using the "darkest magic"; in many ways, Dark Willow starts here. In the end, it's Buffy to the rescued, but Willow ends up heartbroken. It's sweet, though, how there's no question but that she will care for poor Tara. That's true love. There is now another connection between her and Buffy, one whose absence threatened to cause a rift between them; they both now have a dependent.
The end is shocking, though. Just two more episodes to go...