Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | April 8, 2013

Podcast #106: After Life

Here’s the podcast for Season 6, Episode 3 – After Life

They can never know

They can never know

Download: After Life

RSS Feed: The Buffy Rewatch

The next podcast will appear on Monday 15th April 2013 for episode four of Season Six: “Flooded.” That’s the one where three villains set up shop in Sunnydale.

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

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  1. This is the first time I’ve been called controversial, I like it. I stand by my Willow comments but the starkness of them in written form did make it seem like I was making a more extreme than I intended. (sorry i didn’t do a voicemail but I felt my comments were too long for one and I really hate the sound of my voice, I only record them because I know you guys appreciate the break from talking. I actually turn down the podcast so I don’t have to hear myself but I digress…)

    With Willow I do feel that it is unconscious that’s what i meant by heart of hearts, on now conscious level do I think Willow knows she is doing this for selfish reasons. I did take a break into between season five and six. I tried to watch Angel Season Two and Buffy Season Five concurrently but I knew Buffy was going to die so I rushed through the season, then I went back and watched pretty much all of Angel season two. So in that time I accepted Buffy’s loss and appreciated it and really thought it should have been the end of the show. So part of my Willow frustration is she ruined my end of the show, but obviously that’s a very small part of it, because I knew there were two more seasons and she was coming back.

    I wanted Buffy to rest because, while you guys made some good arguments for why it is logical for them to believe Buffy is in Hell, my mind never went there. We have seen characters (Buffy herself) go to Hell twice on the show and both times their bodies went there as well. I don’t think Willow really thought about it at all, I think she from the moment Buffy died she couldn’t accept it. That’s totally human reaction and I’m not blaming her for it. (By the way just so it’s clear I don’t hate Willow now. Her actions to me are wrong but perfectly in her character and I like her character.) She decided Buffy was in Hell and she had to save her. In these episodes she repeats it like a mantra “Buffy was/is in Hell, I have to/did save her.” The repeating of the phrase conveys to me that Willow has convinced herself (because of unconscious selfish reasons) that Buffy was in Hell. Of course I don’t think Willow ever thought Buffy was in Heaven, I just think very early on in Buffy’s death Willow became convinced that Buffy was in Hell and clung to that like a life raft. On conscious level I think she doesn’t consult Giles beforehand because she knows the magic could go wrong and is dangerous but unconsciously she has convinced herself so much that she has to save Buffy that she doesn’t want to stop and consult with Giles, she doesn’t want Giles to talk her out of her notion that Buffy needs saving.

    As for her desire for gratitude that I can’t find any good in, because it is in Willow’s character that she is very proud of her magic. She has from very early on wanted people to pat her on the head and tell her what a clever witch she is and the moment they tell her she is being dangerous she snaps at them. Oz in season four is the farthest example that I know happened but I’m pretty sure she did in season three as well and that’s basically Tara’s whole purpose on the show to stutter about Willow’s magic. It’s very human for Willow to want praise for a difficult task but it isn’t a very endearing characteristic. I’m not saying I’d feel differently (part of the reason I disliked seasons 1-3 Xander so strongly was because he was so me in middle school) but there is such a pomposity and arrogance in Willow that turns me off.

    As for Dawn, I really don’t see how she is that whiny. Her “BUFFEEE” wail is horrendous no one is denying that but it’s not she is this helpless sack of crap that is propped by her main relationship on the show, that’s Tara. Dawn to me has agency but she is also fifteen with no super powers. First time I watched the series though I was pretty ambivalent about Dawn and I kind of wondered by she didn’t just go poof, but honestly if Dawn didn’t just go poof, that robs Buffy of all her sacrifice. She lets herself die for someone who no longer exists after her death, if they actually did away with Dawn that he a huge middle finger to the audience. “We just killed off your beloved main character for someone who is not even real”.

    P.S. My biggest regret of this podcast that the Xander shirts were never made. I have them totally designed in my head.

    P.P.S. I’m not quite at Willow is a selfish bitca (hows that for hopping in the way back machine) level. Well not yet anyway.

  2. Wall of text coming is response to some questions brought up in the last podcast.

    The question about Angel wondering about Buffy’s resurrection and the spell is interesting, but taking all of the Buffyverse canon into consideration (including the oft-maligned season 8 and 9 comics), I think he would have been completely on board with bringing Buffy back. Angel may have a soul, but he is rash and doesn’t always think things through. (Part of his vampire-ness?) He is all about the “mission”, and he would have been thinking, well, Faith is in the slammer and Buffy is dead, we need a slayer. As Angel The Show went on, it continually surprised me how the writers were willing to make their titular character as unlikable as possible. He does some ridiculous things for some poor reasons. He also has no issues messing with the natural order of things, as the Connor storyline in AtS demonstrates. There was some network fighting so the last two seasons of Buffy have little to no crossovers, when Angel finds out that Buffy is alive, she and Angel meet up but that interaction is never filmed. There is some (non-canon) graphic novels where all the Scoobies imagine how the reunion went, but otherwise we never know.

    Also related to AtS, I’m not sure that Spike actually dug himself out of his grave. That’s not Dru’s MO. When she [spoiler!] re-vamped Darla, she put her in a garden thing and just waited for her to wake up. His mother was also unaware of his death when he appeared to her as a vampire.

    The whole question about Willow and her wanting thanks and her motivations for doing the resurrection spell are very interesting (and would make an excellent paper!). I think it makes a lot of sense with her character thus far. She has always wielded her talents as a weapon, including in the first or second episode where she has Harmony and Cordelia delete their computer science homework by accident. She’s also overconfident in her talents. I think that cockiness was what led her to going through with it, there wasn’t much doubt in her mind that she could accomplish the spell. Her reluctance to tell Giles could be connected to that, she didn’t want to bother with a naysayer, someone who thought she couldn’t do it.

    I’ll be back with comments about Flooded later. 🙂

  3. I don’t see these financial complications as apart of my new Willow is a selfish bitca stance, I just don’t think the writers thought through the implications of this storyline. The allegory for depression is still the but this season is also an allegory for post school life. Buffy is completely financially responsible for herself and they want to tell that story. I actually really love that decision because financial restraints are usually never apart of TV. Joey was unemployed for years on Friends and had no problem affording rent. There is a reason finances usually aren’t mentioned on TV too because it is particularly hard to dramatize. So far the have done a pretty good job but presenting this problem really does paint the Scoobies in a bad light that probably wasn’t intended. They have no plan for how to deal with Buffy broke because presumably its not just Buffy who is broke but Dawn as well and by extension Willow and Tara. Xander and Anya escape blame to me because they support themselves and don’t live in that house, but Willow and Tara are still going to school and have no jobs we know about. They are living in that house and have assumed responsibility of Dawn they should be just involved as Buffy in this. They aren’t. They resurrect Buffy and then except her to deal with all the money problems. I do think this is just lazy writing but Willow selfish bitca t shirts are becoming more and more of need.

    I vividly remember both of Giles’ big scenes in this episode. The reunion with Buffy is more powerful to me that Spike or Dawn discovering her. However that really pales in comparison to his confrontation with Willow. It ends poorly with Willow going straight from “don’t f@&k with me” to “let’s not fight” but it was the one of the most satisfying scenes the first time and on Rewatch of the season. Giles has/had exactly my thoughts to Willow’s actions. Also I do think Giles is not sold on the fact that Buffy was in Hell. I don’t think she knows she was in Heaven but there has to be some purgatory dimension. He says you were in Hell when talking to Buffy because that’s the common belief.

    As for Spike and Buffy interactions I love the way that has worked this season. I like the cold passive aggressive Buffy and it makes sense that she would enjoy Spike’s company. Spike treats her in a way that would be comforting in her state of mind, she likes it and by extension likes Spike now. However I don’t think she respects him. Though they are growing closer there relationship is just as unhealthy as it should be, in a way they are both using each other. Spike is using Buffy’s fragile state and change to get closer to Buffy which you would assume pre death Buffy would hate. Buffy is using Spike to unload the tremendous weight on her shoulders.

    • P.S. I feel like they have finally struck the balance between abrasive Anya and helpful I’m a real person.

      P.P.S I feel like this also going to be decisive but I can’t stand the union of Andrew, Jonathan and Warren. They are almost too pathetic. I feel like they are trying to hard to make me hate them. Also who the hell is playing Golden Eye they aren’t even facing the TV. (External Reference)

      P.P.P.S. This might be a spoiler but the fact that we never see Angel reunite with Buffy has always grinded my gears. It is the same as not getting a Giles, Spike or Dawn reunion.

  4. After life:
    Very dark and creepy (scenes with Buffy and Anya in the beginning)!!

    What I love about it is that it continues to unravel the consequences of Buffy’s resurrection by showing just how disconnected she seems from the world, not just from her friends and Dawn. The scene where Dawn re-introduces Buffy back home is indication of how much the world she once knew isn’t the same anymore. Sarah Michelle Gellar really excels during these first few episodes, showing Buffy’s monotone and discomfort, even fear after she comes back. It’s truly surreal and sad. Another standout performance is James Masters. The moment Spike realizes that he’s looking at Buffy and not the Buffybot is really intriguing stuff.

    The scene between Willow and Tare before they go to sleep is serious indication of how selfish Willow is becoming. She’s kind of mad that Buffy hasn’t thanked her for bringing her back, which is a pivotal moment for Willow. She’s beginning to realize just how powerful she is and wants Buffy to be grateful for saving her when Buffy has saved Willow countless times in the past and never asked for a “thanks” in return. Even Tara seems to be horrified by how powerful Willow has become during their spell.

    Spike opening up to Buffy about dreaming of saving her every night was touching. Buffy soon returns that openness with one of the most devastating scenes from the series. After Buffy lies to her friends about being in a hell dimension to make them feel better, she says to Spike: “I was in heaven”. It’s a truly heart-wrenching development, beautifully acted by Sarah and I love how Spike is at a lost for words, who wouldn’t be? And then she walks out back into the sunshine, into the bright, hard, violent world and life that she has to live (my favourite scene in this episode)

    The bad: most of the spirit-demon stuff.

    • Flooded:

      This episode is better than I remembered. okay the demon wasn’t really interesting but I like that Giles is back (loved the scene between him and Buffy) and his fight with willow was excellent! Because that really was the first time Willow’s magic problem was verbally addressed. Willow complaining about Buffy’s lack of emotions since she got back was terrible because even if Buffy had been somewhere else she would still be having that adjusting time. I loved the little parts between Buffy and Spike because they were so cute here.

      I guess it’s not supposed to be funny, but I had to giggle when Willow tells Buffy she knows that she “had to get back to her feet” – and Buffy replies “after lying flat on my back” 

      I never liked the trio much, especially Warren. He’s such an annoying character.

      The letters on the periscope in Andrew, Warren, and Jonathon’s “lair” actually reads “Geek” in Russian.

  5. I read the Wikipedia pages for horror movies too! And watch the trailers sometimes (I wish I had never watched the one for Human Centipede, just the premise of that movie is nightmare-worthy). That’s probably one of the reasons this show works for me – it doesn’t have much in the way of actual scares, but I prefer that because I can’t watch horror movies anyway.

    Onto the episode.
    So – that Willow/Giles scene in the kitchen. I love the small details of it, the fact that he’s washing dishes like a grown-up and she’s smiling and eating cookies like a little kid, telling this story and waiting for approval. Giles is incredible – I should get into the habit of crediting everyone involved, not just the actor, like you both always remember to do. Nevertheless, and Robin’s mentioned this several times, Anthony Stewart Head’s portrayal of Giles has a way of adding gravity and meaning to what’s happening, which is perfect not only as exposition man but also as the only real adult on this show. My reaction was a bit like Willow’s the first time I watched it – I didn’t realize how dangerous and arrogant she was getting until Giles calls her out on it. From that moment where he can’t help but quietly slip out “You’re a very stupid girl” to gaining enough momentum to then call her a “rank, arrogant amateur” I was completely hooked. Powerful stuff. It’s definitely a shock when she threatens Giles and then tries to shake it off and become sweet, non-confrontational Willow again. It’s very clear now that Willow should have had some kind of mentor in learning magic. Tara tried to act as that moral compass (Forever), but as her adoring girlfriend it doesn’t work. Giles may be trying to act like this now, but it’s too little too late. I also want to draw a comparison between Buffy and Willow. In Revelations Giles tells off Buffy in a similar manner, scolding her for keeping Angel a secret and not having any respect for him or the work he performs. Buffy doesn’t retaliate, she immediately realizes what she did wrong and tries to make up for it. Here Giles scolds Willow for not respecting the forces of nature and she will not have a word of it, instead becoming extremely defensive. I hope this doesn’t come across as me hating on Willow, because I love her character and I definitely think she had good but misguided/semi-selfish intentions. It is a shame that years of development and filling out the leadership role whenever necessary has led to this, but it’s still an interesting arc. For now at least.

    I continue to love the Buffy/Spike interactions this season. There’s something cute about the way he flicks his cigarette onto the porch and Buffy snuffs it out before greeting him. You can really tell that she’s starting to feel completely comfortable with him, like a tired, reclining-on-the-couch-after-a-long-day ease. And he’s probably loving it.

    Introducing serious money issues on a show that doesn’t always do well with plot consistency is a bit of a mistake. Why aren’t Willow and Tara, who are living in Buffy’s house, offering to pick up some of the slack? Or if they are – because they had to get money SOMEHOW the last five months – then why don’t they mention anything about that? By what Buffy said to Giles it’s implied that they spent the money Joyce left while not working in the meantime – yet they expect a newly resurrected Buffy, the Slayer, to now take over that responsibility? Ughhh. I agree with Derek, though – I think it’s more a problem with the writing than the characters.

    It’s sad to see Buffy shirk her responsibilities at the end of the episode but pretty understandable. Question, when Buffy says “there’s a place” is that supposed to imply that she’s met up with Angel like this before, or that they just agreed to a place during the call? It never bothered me too much, but it does feel like a tease from the writers that we don’t get to see or hear much about their reunion.

    I never liked the Trio (then again, the Big Bads are usually the least interesting part of the show to me) but I’m curious to hear what everyone else thinks about them, Plus this is already long so I’ll comment on them next time.

  6. So, I just watched The Body yesterday. Wow. It was such a good representation of a family member’s passing. All the Scoobies reactions seemed sincere, Willow’s obsessing of what to wear and then breaking down, Xander’s silence/violence/blaming other people, Anya’s speech was so heart wrenching- such great acting from Emma Caulfield, I love how even though Tara’s awkwardness is sometimes annoying in other episodes, here it is perfectly in character, her conversation with Buffy is really great. For some reason the moment that probably got me teared up the most is when Anya hugs Giles really suddenly and Giles, at first caught by surprise just hugs her gently back- I love their relationship.
    Dawn’s reaction is perfectly reasonable and Michelle Trachtenberg does a really great job on getting the grief, anger, denial just right. I like how they didn’t shoot the actual conversation of Buffy telling Dawn that Joyce had died, instead shooting it from outside although I found it weird that all of Dawn’s class was just staring at her, I understand the teacher but shouldn’t she have told the kids to get back to work, I know if someone’s sister came to get my friend to tell her her mum had died, my teacher would tell us to get back to work.
    I really like how Joss Whedon chose not to use music, except in the flashback to Christmas scene. It gave it a sense of realness, so the music wouldn’t draw us out.
    A really great episode that left me feeling kind of numb inside afterwards- can’t wait to hear the podcast on it!

  7. Hello!!
    I love that I’ve spawned my own term of behaviour! Lol! I thought I would write my comments to change things around! 🙂
    Still hanging in with my pregnancy…6 weeks to go and I am seriously considering some buffy related names!!
    So ‘Flooded’ what can I say. Not the best episode to follow the great three openers we had. I can’t decide if Buffy is putting on a mask in front of everyone or if its a sloppy way of sweeping the whole resurrection thing under the carpet. I’m referring to the return of Buffy’s peppy sarcastic language. The way she talks to the dripping pipe or her own skirt just seemed too peppy following the  reveal at the end of the 
    last  episode. Is this real or an act?

    The return of Giles!! Loved it. I had tears in my eyes and the look on his face when she is actually back is so
    touching. Proving once again that Tony Head is one of the best actors on the show. One thing with the Giles/Buffy stuff I didn’t quite get was when Giles tries to touch her hand and she pulls away and he reads something into it. This doesn’t make sense to me because when she first saw him she gave him a massive hug so clearly she’s not too uncomfortable with human contact.

    Also Giles/willow kitchen scene!! Goosebumps. Trying really hard not to be a spoiler I just love what they do with Willow this season and this little precursor got me giddy!

    I loved Buffy’s facial reaction when Spike appears in the garden. It seems like that smile is the only genuine expression she has during the whole episode.

    The trio-they are lame, they are so
    dumb for smart people but I can’t help loving them. I was laughing throughout all there scenes. I love all the geeky humour that reminds me a lot of The Big Bang Theory style of comedy. I do wonder how they got that demon to rob the bank in the first place. I imagine that from now on any episode with them in is going to be heavy with the external refs.

    As always loving the podcast. Speak soon x

  8. I feel really pleased with myself for paying attention to external references this week:

    Spiderman – brought up my Anya, Marvel comic super hero

    Flying Buttress – Xander says “I’ll be your flying buttress of support” which is an external architectural thing typically on the outside of old cathedrals

    Bath – city where Giles has a flat, a very well-to-do town in West of UK

    parsec – said by Warren?, a unit of length (not time) wikipedia tells me it’s 3.26 light years

    screenwipe – from ?Johnathan I think, refering to moving from one scene to the next by letting the new image move over from the left hand side which I think was first made common in Star Wars movies

    Make it so – Warren to Demon, which is from Star Trek New Generation

    Jedi – Andrew or Johnathan, reference to Star Wars

    Worm Hole – can’t remember who said it, these are theoretical bridges in spacetime – I don’t really get it but if they exist they may be a way of travelling vast distances via short cuts, often pop up in science fiction

    Sure there were loads more…..

    As for the episode itself I think I agree with a lot of the posters above. The Giles/Buffy reunion scene is lovely, Giles/Willow confrontation pleasantly menacing, and the Buffy/Spike relationship continues believably.

    Bringing up money problems is going to be an issue. Most of us spend quite a lot of our time thinking about money to some extent or another but it’s not that exciting. It did make me think about the inequities of the watcher/slayer situation. We know that Giles got paid as a watcher (he even got his salary backdated thanks to Buffy in Checkpoint) but although there is enough money somewhere to pay numerous watchers, the one slayer doesn’t get anything. Maybe this is deliberate, to show gender inequities? Although we know some watchers are female…..Yeah they are going to run into a lot of logistical problems tackling financial issues.

    Thinking about Warren, Johnathan and Andrew (they haven’t been introduced as the Trio yet have they?) I sort of remember liking them but now I’m not so sure. I guess they are a way of adding humour in, as someone said in your last podcast, that has been a bit limited in this season so far.

    I really didn’t like the bit where the demon is threatening Johnathan and the other two are just giggling and happy to have managed to trick the demon into believing that Johnathan is their leader. I know they are supposed to be deeply immature but it seemed just too puerile to not care at all about a friend’s near death.

  9. I caught one external and one internal reference. Willow mentioned the Blair Witch when talking to Giles about the spell. And when Giles says that he knows he’s back in America because he was knocked unconscious is referring to all the times that he’s been knocked out in the show. Which is a lot. Here’s some lists!

    I liked how when Anya and Xander are talking outside the Summers house she calls him out on his crap about delaying the announcement. His hesitation and talk about a husband being a big step just makes me think he’s a total dirtbag and DID propose to Anya because he thought they were going to die. I think most of the time in a romantic comedy type scene, his words would have been taken at face value and I liked how she saw through it. Also, Anya’s moneymaking idea fits great with her other helpful ideas – like how to beat up Glory. Except her ex-demon self doesn’t really understand the meaning of honor and sacrifice, so the fact that Buffy just can’t charge people for fulfilling her destiny is beyond her.

    I had a huge chuckle out of the loan officer commenting on how Sunnydale home values inexplicably never rise. Hahaha, the whole town is in such huge denial.

    The best scene in this episode has got to be the showdown between Giles and Willow. The first time I watched it, I was just blown away that Giles reacted that way. I hadn’t even considered that he would be really pissed off about it, but it makes total sense. He remembers the consequences of the bad things that he did as Ripper, like that demon that was unleashed in the season 2 episode The Dark Age. He is also more accustomed to how things work in the supernatural world, and he’s probably seen his fair share of horrible things from his training at the Watcher’s Council. And then, to top the scene off, Buffy and Spike hear the entire thing from outside.

    Not much to say about the Trio, or whatever their official name is. I remember reading like 5 different names for their gang of geekery. Oh, another reference – hopefully someone can figure out what video game they were playing on the TV when that demon came asking for his payment.

  10. I just watched Mad Men’s season premiere with a very passive depressed main character in Don Draper and it reminded me of “Afterlife”. There was lengthy discussion about Spike’s reaction to Buffy but equally fascinating to me was Buffy reaction to Spike. She doesn’t let Dawn button her shirt but the moment Spike starts looking at her with that desperate Spike gaze she buttons the shirt and starts fidgeting with her hair. Discuss.

    • I think buffy is unsettled that spike can immediately see through her ‘everything is fine’ act hence her fidgeting. She is conscious of how she appears to him because he is the only one who can truly ‘see’ her and what she’s feeling.

  11. The discussion of the reveal made me see Dawn’s attempt to raise Joyce in a new light. The Scoobies know that souls are real, so there’s a fair chance that Joyce herself is in heaven. Therefore, even if there were no other negative consequences whatsoever, Dawn could easily have been doing the same thing to Joyce that Willow did to Buffy.

    Then that idea made me see the Buffy question in a new light. Joyce might be upset by being pulled out of heaven, but I have to believe that ultimately, she would choose to come back to help Dawn and Buffy – she’ll be dead sooner or later, after all, and her daughters need her now.

    I don’t know what that says about Buffy – probably that she’s so tired of her life that she was glad to have an excuse to be dead. Knowing that Dawn and the world need her, I assume she’ll choose to help them, but I think she resents the choice.

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