Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: After Life

"That's the thing about magic. There's always consequences. Always!"

After the opening two parter, the aftermath. Buffy is back; it's now time for everyone to stop, breathe, and digest this. Partly this is about letting Buffy progress from stunned to functioning, if a little Prozac-y, and partly it's about letting people speculate about her possibly having been in some sort of Hell dissension before the final brutal bombshell.

Life has gone on. Willow and Tara have kindly invited themselves to live in the Summers family house, and we are briefly invited to speculate over some dull but important things. Who owns the house? Is there a mortgage to pay? What money is coming in? Such questions have been tacitly raised; they will have to answer them soon. 

Buffy spends the episode in an awkward slight estrangement from everyone who helped to raise her, all of whom are greedy for something from her, an affirmation that they did the right thing. Only Spike connects with her, immediately noticing the blood on her hands from clawing her way out of her coffin. He knows these things. And, as the only person who a) isn't seeking self-affirmation from her and b) isn't her younger sister, he's the only person she can really talk to, which is a good use of the character. He's no fool, either; Spike is the only character at this point who begins to understand the real darkness into which Willow is slipping.

Giles has been told ("I think I actually heard him clean his glasses"), but for now the younger generation aredealing with all this on their own. There is, as ever, a monster in the form of a poltergeist-like spectral being which was created by the resurrection spell. Dawn, being the teenage girl, is inevitably one of those possessed. Still, it's rather less clear than it used to be what the metaphor is supposed to be here. We're moving well away, as has often been said, from the days when Buffy used monsters as clear metaphors for various aspects of teen life. The show must now deal with the challenges and responsibilities of young adulthood.

Buffy slays the monster, but her own demons remain. And it's only at the end, as Buffy confides in Spike- the only person she can confide in- that the true horror of her situation becomes apparent; she has been woken from a state of happiness and peace. She was in Heaven, and is now in Hell. Thanks a bunch, Willow. 

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