Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | August 27, 2012

Podcast #78: Restless

Here’s the podcast for Season 4, Episode 22 – Restless

Spike the attraction

Spike the attraction

Download: Restless

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The next podcast will appear on Monday 10th September 2012 for episode one of Season Five: “Buffy vs Dracula.” Do I need to say more about what happens in that one?

Comment on this post to get your views on the podcast.

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    Woohoo! Season 5! This is my favorite season of Buffy.

    This is probably the best season premiere of the show.
    I love everything about it. The effects seem to be more
    crisp, Buffy’s fighting style has changed and improved,
    Sarah Michelle Gellar has never looked better, and she
    takes on the Elvis of all vampires, Dracula.

    The experience with Dracula has really opened Buffy’s
    eyes up to what she’s been experiencing but ignoring
    over the summer: the ‘hunting.’ There’s a lot about her
    Slayer heritage that she has no clue about, and that it
    is important she starts learning.

    It’s really the end scene between Buffy and Giles, though,
    that sets up the rest of the season. It makes complete sense
    that this realisation she has come to would motivate her to
    ask Giles for help in exploring her Slayer heritage and in
    beginning training again.

    I love that afterwards Giles decides to stay in Sunnydale
    without any words at all, because Buffy gave him exactly
    what he wanted: being needed. It’ll be nice to see the whole
    slayer/watcher relationship come back into play since it
    was practically non existent in season four.

    How refreshing was it seeing the gang on the beach?
    Buffy’s girly throw and then clobbering Riley with the
    football was hilarious. He totally asked for it!

    While season 4 was the season of the peasant blouse,
    season 5 is the season of the leather pants. Buffy wears
    red leather ones when she first encounters Dracula and
    pink ones for the ending battle.

    The sudden arrival of Buffy’s sister, I remember being
    really confused as to why she had never been mentioned
    before, but her storyline is probably one of the more
    interesting ones to come in season 5.

    It was somewhat of a nice touch to finally give one of the
    scoobies a sibling.

    While season four wasn’t the best, I’m really looking
    forward to sharing my thoughts on season five.

  2. Last week, I had my tonsils removed (I’m still just a high-schooler) and finished watching Season Seven of Buffy. From here on out, my comments will actually be given as a rewatcher. I loved Season Five almost as much as I loved Seasons Two and Three, and I cannot wait to hear your opinions on the Season Five episodes as well!

    I thought that I would be around to comment on “Restless” last week, but I actually realized that other people had already summarized my interpretations pretty well. The one thing that I will add is a short analysis of the “Cheese Man” character. Whedon has admitted that this character was the one aspect of this episode that was meant to be completely random and that the Cheese Man brought needed levity and humor to some of the more-serious parts of the dream sequences. However, when I first viewed “Restless,” I felt as though the inclusion of the Cheese Man was inspired by a message that Whedon was trying to convey. cheese has served as a symbol of the classic “American Dream” in the classic American play Death of a Salesman, which appears in “Restless” as the play Willow, Buffy, Riley, and Harmony are performing (and Giles is directing) during Willow’s dream. Because the random idea of the “American Dream” of independence and individuality is incorporated into each of the four dream sequences (those of Willow, Xander, Giles, and Buffy), the Cheese Man may actually represent the fact that our four main Scoobies are transitioning from being a close-knit group to being individuals harboring more personal and secretive thoughts, feelings, and motivations. I think Whedon’s mention of Death of a Salesman was meant to cause viewers to analyze the Cheese Man’s character through synthesis with the utilization of the cheese symbol in Death of a Salesman. However, I realize that this comes off as a bit of a stretch and may not be worth mentioning.

  3. Hey guys, I don’t have anything to say about this particular episode but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your rewatch/ podcast project. By now I have watched the episodes multiple times and when I started another rewatch some time ago I came across your podcast. It is great to hear other people’s opinions on the episodes and sometimes it even helped me to appreciate the “not-so-great” episodes more.
    So big thanks for doing what you do and keep up the great work.

  4. Hello! I just discovered your podcast on Monday night, and already barreled through about a dozen episodes. I use iTunes on my laptop and Stitcher on my phone (which only holds the ten most recent episodes at any time), so I’ve jumped around a lot and am often listening to more than one episode at a time. The first episode I listened to was “Restless,” so I want to make a couple of quick comments about that before I jump back into the rest of season four.

    I loved this episode when I first saw it, and still love it – it’s very high up on my rewatch list. I thought it gave the viewer a lot to think about, a lot to process, and a lot to look forward to. That’s why I have to disagree with Cordia’s issue with its placement.

    Point 1: I think it fit with the theme of season four: the Scooby Gang growing up, growing apart, and learning about themselves both as individuals and within the group. This dream/nightmare episode was several steps above “Nightmare” in season one, delving deeper into the psyche of the major players, and for me serves as a more detailed exploration of the season theme, using the subconscious as a vehicle.

    Point 2: While many ideas, metaphors, symbols, what-have-you were easily and instantly recognized, there were plenty that deserved deeper thought and consideration. Personally, I enjoyed that, and it gave me a good reason to keep thinking about Buffy throughout the summer, peeling back the layers of this fascinating episode and coming to my own conclusions. That leads me to …

    Point 3: So many questions were raised by this episode, things that made absolutely no sense in the context of the previous four seasons, and must be either nonsense (like the Cheese Man) or prophetic (like Tara’s cryptic messages). In my opinion, I think that’s genius. I wasn’t annoyed by it, I was excited! It’s the only real finale cliffhanger (the show technically could have ended after every other finale, as I recall), and it came on the heels of a very disappointing season. I think it served its purpose in that slot, to keep people wondering what was going to happen next, and want to come back. Dreams aren’t necessarily something to learn from, but something to make you simply wonder, and that’s what this episode did for me. That’s all my personal opinion, though, and I definitely don’t begrudge Cordia’s position!

    (Point 4: This point is a little silly, but maybe they were just decided to do us a favor by giving us one less Initiative episode!)

    Moving backwards now to “Primeval,” specifically the confusion about the enjoining spell. It’s one of those spells specifically recited in English, because the language really does make a difference, and clarifies things a little bit. I don’t expect you to read it aloud, but I copied it down: “The power of the Slayer and all who wield it, last to ancient first, we invoke thee. Grant us thy domain and primal strength. Accept us and the powers we possess. Make us mind and heart and spirit join. Let the hand encompass us. Do thy will. Blah blah naming the four cards: spirit, heart, mind, and hand. We enjoin, that we may inhabit the vessel. The hand, daughter of Sinea (sp?), first of the ones. We implore thee, admit us, bring us to the vessel, take us now.” I think the hand is represented by the first Slayer, and they’re requesting access to the power of the Slayer line and permission to inhabit Buffy. So technically, it’s a combination of their personal powers (which qualify them to access the Slayer power) and the spirit of the first Slayer guiding them.

    Another quick note: How pathetic is Willow’s barricade if post-cardiac surgery Riley can smash through it with one arm?!

    I want to talk about the Adam/Initiative story in general, but before I get into that, I want to bring up a couple of small points from specific episodes.
    New Moon Rising: I love Oz SO much. (I could probably make the argument that he’s my favorite, but I’m not willing to narrow that down to one character!) This episode is so hard for me to watch, though, because Oz really scares me during his confrontation with Tara in the hallway. I’m not a big fan of confrontation to begin with, but Oz is truly predatory in this scene, and while the progression makes sese, he jumps to anger quickly, and I’m not used to seeing him so out of control. I believe it was way back in the episode when he first becomes a werewolf that he tells Willow to run when he starts to phase in front of her, but it was so much scarier when he says it in this episode. Oz is wonderful, and Seth Green is an incredible actor, and that all comes together in a scene that makes me very uncomfortable – but I’ve never forgotten it, either.

    Cordia, you mentioned something in the “Fear, Itself” podcast, drawing a parallel between Willow and Oz’s costumes, and a joke-y conversation in Gilmore Girls about a couple setting up their jokes in advance. The joke was, “Last year, I was sleeping with the editor …” “And this year, I am!” and the couple was Paris and Doyle – Doyle played by none other than Danny Strong, our number one recurring guest star, Jonathan! Not to delve too far into an entirely different show, but Paris and Doyle were a brilliantly hilarious couple. That joke was repeated at least four times, with Doyle’s part (the second line) changing slightly each time, based on people’s reactions and Paris’s critique. It was annoying, but it was supposed to be annoying, and that made it eye-rollingly cute – which is exactly how they were as a couple.

    Goodbye, Iowa: Adam’s confusion when he’s wandering around after waking up didn’t bother me much. I thought about what you guys said, though, and I understand your frustration. He is part machine, though, so I can explain that away by imagining that his systems are still booting up. Obviously, there’s a computer in his chest – how else could he read the floppy discs? – and combining year 2000 technology with human and demon parts probably means that it took a long time for his operating system to start up!

    That brings me to the Adam story in general. To start off, I’ve agreed with nearly all of what everyone else has had to say about this storyline. I was never a fan of Riley (Captain Cardboard!), Adam, Maggie Walsh, or The Initiative, and most of my feelings have been justified in what I’ve heard you all talk about so far. It’s interesting to me, though, that my feelings are also being sorted and clarified with all the intense examining, something I never bothered to do with this season. For instance, I both enjoy and hate Riley even more than I did before. I’m also remembering that I kind of enjoyed Maggie in the classroom, but despised all her Initiative crap (including what happened after her).

    In “The I in Team,” when Adam wakes up and kills Maggie, I enjoyed the shock – I definitely didn’t see that coming! I wasn’t sure who or what the Big Bad of the season was yet, but all signs had seemed to point to Maggie. When I got over that shock, I wondered why she had to die, and nothing that happened in the rest of the season really put that to rest. Was it simply so Adam could rise to power? Why would they put so much work into developing her as a character, if that’s the case? So I ask this of you: do you think this season would have been better if Maggie hadn’t been killed?

    I agree with the conclusion that Adam’s plan didn’t need to be explained before the final battle because it really was so simple; but wouldn’t it have been more interesting (and less annoyingly vague for the viewer) if Maggie was secretly going rogue? What if Adam woke up, did something wrong, and Maggie’s higher-ups deemed it a failed experiment; but Maggie was in so deep that she refused orders to destroy him and kept him under wraps before letting him loose with her own big plan? Then the Initiative wouldn’t even need to know they were supposed to be looking for him. And maybe the Scoobies wouldn’t either, at first, and the season could have focused more on the interesting character development, mixed with the random, mysterious dead body or disappearance. The viewer would see Maggie going more and more crazy, losing it in her classroom and with her troops. I’m fascinated by this idea! Consider how much more believable Riley’s defection would have been (pending the actor’s performance, of course), if he felt he was being betrayed by his mentor, not just an organization. Consider how many stupid quirks of Adam’s would have been eliminated if he’d continued to be a tool, used by an actual human descending deeper and deeper into madness. There’s so much more potential! What do you think?

    I’m so glad I found this podcast, and I can’t wait to listen to the older episodes. I’m also looking forward to season five. I’m a frequent rewatcher, but for whatever reason, I usually avoid season five. So many people name it as their favorite, but my memories aren’t as fond. I know I’ve seen every episode at least twice, but only a handful stick out, so I’m looking forward to rewatching it with you and giving it another shot. (Oddly enough, I think “Buffy vs. Dracula” is one of those episodes that stick out, because I think it’s just on this side of ridiculous, but also absolutely hilarious and surprisingly plausible.)

    I know this is a long one, so feel free to chop-chop away if something strikes you as interesting to mention. Thank you, and keep up the good work!


  5. I feel like this episode is a lot like the comedy show Arrested Development (which should be your next podcast). You’re rewarded for being a longtime fan by spotting major continuities and having to pay attention and analyze everything said as being either foreshadowing or nonsense.

  6. I just wanted to comment on Restless as a season closer. It seems that most people think it wasn’t placed well at the end of season four, but I would argue that it was the only plausible placement for the episode. Though I’ve seen the series several times over now, I wasn’t introduced to Buffy until college, where my media history professor assigned us to watch “The Body” from later in season 5, and “Restless”. You can imagine my confusion when viewing the episode with no outside knowledge of the Buffyverse. What my professor said about the episode was that in the four-month-or-so summer hiatus, internet forums were flooded with audience interpretation of the episode, trying to figure out just what everything meant. Over the summer a collective intelligence was built among Buffy fans about the episode, and I think that it definitely needed that four month break to be processed and better understood. When rewatching the series on DVD, you get the instant gratification of starting the next season immediately, but you don’t get the opportunity to take the time to study it over and over again and come up with connection as audiences did in 2000.

  7. Because I discovered the podcasts rather late in the day, after I was watched all seasons, I listened to seasons 5-7 podcasts before finally catching up with 1-4. So, I finally reached 4-22 Restless. Did I hear correctly that you’ve referred to the Greek poet Sappho as “he” (17+min from the beginning) ? Sappho is a female poet, who lived on the Island of Lesbos; very appropriate reference for an exchange between two females. Just setting the record straight 🙂

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