Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | January 20, 2013

Robin’s Review: S5, E17 – Forever

Synopsis: Buffy makes funeral arrangements while Dawn feels isolated. Buffy waits after the service for Angel to arrive and comfort her. Dawn stays with Willow and Tara who discourage her from talk of resurrection spells. She pushes ahead anyway though getting a book from the Magic Shop and then further help from Spike. She casts the spell and accuses Buffy of not caring about Joyce and ignoring her.

The Good: The opening scene was a rather nice contrast with “The Body.” Buffy walks through a room full of caskets and the music tells us that something bad is about to go down. But it’s merely misdirection and she is choosing a casket for Joyce. The brutal reality of Joyce’s death has passed and we are back into a regular TV episode. Though that’s no terrible thing, I enjoyed this episode just fine. It didn’t have tremendous depth but it dealt with grief with a supernatural twist and gave Dawn a chance to shine.

Dawn’s dislocation from Buffy, who was preoccupied with funeral arrangements, was understandable. As was her desire to use the supernatural she has grown up around to do something about Joyce. Tara came across really well again as she took a firm moral line against tampering with nature. Interestingly Willow was more conciliatory and made a big mistake by encouraging Dawn.

Spike then took over as chaperone in a story certainly intended to “humanise” him. It was a nice touch to have him pay his respects to Joyce who we can believe he genuinely liked. His decision to help Dawn with her spell also seemed to fit him. It was an irresponsible and reckless thing to do but if he’s obsessed with Buffy we can see why he would want to be involved in family business.

Their visit to the strange man (Doc) with a tail was an interesting scene. He managed to be friendly and kind while also very disconcerting. It was a clever choice because the hints of his demonic possession or just old age gave off the strong impression that Joyce was never going to come back the way she was. Spike’s subsequent bravery made what could have been a generic battle over demon eggs a touch more interesting.

Finally Dawn goes through with the spell and Buffy confronts her. It was a hard scene to act as we don’t often have to see such intimate emotions pour out but I thought they both pulled it off. Once Dawn could see how much Buffy missed Joyce she realised that her family was still intact and she no longer needed to risk seeing a zombie Joyce which made for a nice dramatic final moment as she reversed the spell.

I really liked the way Buffy stayed graveside until the sun went down and Angel could appear. It showed a maturity and strength by both of them and the scene which followed exposed Buffy’s vulnerability and the fact that she still blames herself. I also thought Anya had a good moment after sex with Xander as she begins to put the pieces of her humanity jigsaw together.

The Bad: I wouldn’t say anything was particularly bad except the Ghora demon, another low point for the effects department.

The Unknown: I’m getting a little too familiar with Willow’s “I’m flailing so much that everyone knows that I’m lying” stuff.  The Ben and Glory story also failed to convince. I liked the way Ben let slip that the Key is a human but if he really wants to save millions of lives shouldn’t he have, you know, killed Jinx instead of just stabbing him?

Somehow this episode didn’t really make me feel like I know Dawn any better. Her choices were driven by a childish reaction to grief and it feels like she is still defined by either her youth or her family relationships. I still don’t know her as an individual as well as I should.

Best Moment: Angel and Buffy being back together was a very nice moment.

The Bottom Line: This was a solid back-to-business episode. We couldn’t be done with Joyce yet but equally the monster-of-the-week, as it were, needed to return.

65/100

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Responses

  1. It’s interesting that most people assume Spike is incapable of developing true morality. My recollection is that when the shows came out, I and a bunch of the fandom were pretty excited by the possibility that he could turn good. My feeling at the time was that it was unlikely but possible – we knew Spike had some humanity, and who was to say that if his social circle were good people instead of demons, he might not learn to empathize with people generally, rather than with Buffy?

    Yes, Giles said it was absolutely impossible, but what the Watcher’s Council doesn’t know could fill a book, and what they do know but don’t tell the Slayers could fill a shelf. There’s all kinds of deep philosophy about what it is that helps people to learn to be kind or altruistic, but the writers at this point were hinting, very effectively, that Spike might learn something beyond selfishness and obsession. (Compare Tony Soprano, where one of the key dramatic conflicts was whether he would every turn away from his life of crime).

    In hindsight, it’s kind of funny that by this point, I had given up on Joss creating a completely coherent mythology about stuff like when vampires breathe or when they burst into flame in the sunlight, but I was still completely excited to learn more about the mythology of how vampires’ minds worked and developed. Some of the credit for that has to go to the great work that the actors did with Spike, Dru, Angelus, and the Master. (And, of course, Luke!)


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