January 14, 2011

Thinking Maybe it was Time to Let the Slayer Die [review and musing time]

I've been a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since maybe the 3rd grade when I used to cuddle up on the couch next to my sister and actually quiver in fear at the scary vampires. I'm a dedicated fan, I won't lie. Until recently I had never watched much of it in sequence, but I remember I was in the 7th grade when season six was airing, and we actually had pajama party sing-alongs to Once More With Feeling. I've suffered attacks from people who wonder how an English major can suffer the cringe-worthy dialogue and corny plots. I argue that it's all incredibly charming when you let the show take you in. There's not much more I can argue in terms of the quality of the show except, as I've said before, that Joss Whedon knows what he's doing, and if it's deliberate, it's art.

However, as I'm now going through and watching the entire series in sequence, I can't help but be incredibly disappointed with the premise for season 6, particularly after the incredible thought that went into every moment of season 5. For those of you who don't know or don't remember, here's a rundown of what I believe to be the greatest season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

For four years we've watched Buffy take on the demon world, a highschool girl who can never really get her life together while she's constantly trying to save the world. She's gathered a support crew of friends, including her watcher, Giles, bur her family life has always been somewhat shattered and lonely. She has a strained relationship with her single mother, her father is absent to the point of no longer being mentioned, and she is an only child. At least until the premier of the fifth season. At the end of Buffy vs. Dracula, the slayer returns home after having defeated a nineteenth century Vampire legend to find her bratty fourteen year old sister going through her stuff. So annoying. But we kinda expect more than a "Get out of my room," maybe something along the lines of, "What do you mean I have a sister?" Nope. Everything's cool. It's been like this for fourteen years, right? Mommy and Buffy and Dawn.

Wrong. A god has come to Sunnydale - a visciously cruel if minor god that had been sent into a prison dimension by the other evil gods because she's just too evil for them. Yeah, she. Another blonde bombshell with an incredibly dark sense of humour and great legs. Glory is quite possibly my favourite Buffy character of all time, and without a doubt my favourite villain. She's just completely and beautifully nuts, and just wants to set forth her hell dimension into the human world to see us suffer for all eternity. For this she needs Dawn, the Key. Dawn was not born 14 years ago, despite hospital photos and memories. She was created as a fourteen year old girl to hide from Glory, and everyone in her life has memories of her growing up with Buffy and Joyce. Including Buffy, who is completely determined to protect little sis, despite the philosophical questions such as whether Dawn really exists or is really human. She is unwilling to sacrifice Dawn to protect humanity, and in the end decides to sacrifice herself.

As sorry as I am to say it, I'm starting to think the series should have ended here. Buffy died to save the world, and went to heaven where she could be free of the world that was her hell. It's not a terrible ending. I love the plotline that arises from her resurrection - that her friends were quite sure she would be suffering eternally in a hell dimension, so they pulled her out, but she has to fight resentment because what she was really rescued from was the reward for her sacrifice - a peaceful existence. Instead, she's back to fighting the world's evil, dealing with the fallout from her mother's death and feeling increasingly distant from the people that love her. And let's not forget to mention the awesomeness that is the musical production Once More With Feeling. If you thought the show was corny before, try its musical episode out for a spin. It's incredible.

But where are they going with this? Paralleling a pretty interesting character development and a new dynamic in the scooby gang, we have a new villain. Three new villains, actually. A bunch of nerds who use technology and magic to try to defeat Buffy. And despite years of devoted fanitude, I'm going to have to be the first to call "lame!" Maybe it's an attempt to keep some comedy in the show while the characters deal with such grave matters? I haven't gotten very far into the depths of the nerdling plot, but I'm just not that interested to go forward with this. Which is a shame because I've never seen season 7. If there's anyone out there who can assure me it gets better, please let me know. Otherwise I might just have to pretend that the slayer died to stop Glory and save Dawn.

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