Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | May 13, 2013

Cordia’s Review: S6, E07 – Once More With Feeling

Cordia’s Second Look
Once More, With Feeling
Season 6, Episode 7
Original airing: 11/6/2001

My Rating: 96

The Good: With this being a rewatch, I think it’s safe to say this was the episode everyone was waiting for. And with good reason. This episode takes all of our eight main characters and addresses their current life status, to a greater or lesser degree. That’s a pretty impressive feat. It also takes an unusual genre for TV and makes it watchable, engaging, and emotional.

Making this pivotal episode a musical really helped to get through the rather intense glut of material. Allowing your characters to sing their feelings create a direct link from their brains to their mouths and gets their ideas across much more quickly.

The shallowest part of this episode dealt with Dawn. Her continued thieving gets her into YET ANOTHER threatening situation, which the episode plays with in Buffy’s dialogue. It hints that Dawn is feeling overlooked and ignored, which is a reasonable explanation for her acting out.

Xander and Anya are a bit more in-depth. Their portion is focused on their impending marriage, which is obviously a huge storyline. We’ve already seen in the last two episodes that Xander is having some concerns about the whole thing, but now it’s shown that Anya is worried as well. I also really liked that the song showcased Anya as still not really understanding what she was getting herself into. Her concerns are rather surface and focused on both her and Xander’s looks and her societal status as a wife. This fits with her character thus far and shows she really is still learning how to be human.

Tara and Willow’s story also focused on their relationship. It was wrought with double meaning as an oblivious Tara sings how she’s under Willow’s spell without knowing she’s literally under a forgetfulness spell. I really appreciated that she figured it out pretty quickly and came to a decision about what to do. Her duet with Giles lays out her new distrust in Willow and how much she loves her. But she knows she can’t stay because she’ll lose herself completely. It was disappointing to not have a Willow song in this episode, but it seems it was at the request of the actress. So it was nice to see the relationship from Tara’s side instead.

Finally, I think Buffy and Spike’s songs were intrinsically related. The last several episodes have given examples of Buffy emotionally reaching out to Spike as a safe place to hide when she’s completely lost. He’s the only person she’s told about her after-life experiences. But Spike is getting sick of it and really has to let his heart show in his song. I think it was an eye opener for Buffy to see his emotions bared in that manner and to realize he’s right about her developing dependence on him as an emotional crutch.

This worked really well when she shuts him down in the Magic Box, but he comes to help at the Bronze anyway. He’s always said since his crush began that he’d do anything for her. Nothing else matters and he continues to display that. I really liked that he was the one to stop Buffy from combusting as well. It made sense that he’d essentially be the one capable of breaking through her stony exterior when she was at her worst. He makes her feel again. Which, of course, leads to the kiss outside.

Buffy may be confused as to her actual feelings for Spike, but there’s definitely an attraction. And for someone who’s been feeling nothing in the throes of depression, feeling anything at all is pretty intoxicating.

The Bad: Giles’ song was extremely emotional, but it didn’t work quite as well for me. His decision to leave certainly affected me more than Tara’s. I’ve never been a Tara fan, but I’ve always adored the father/daughter relationship between Giles and Buffy. To see him deciding to leave while Buffy is struggling so much made me angry. His reasons are sound enough – Buffy needs to stand on her own two feet again – but I didn’t really believe that he would thinking abandoning her to do it alone would be the best course of action. Giles has always stood by Buffy and supported her when she’s needed it. I felt the fingerprints of reality here and the influence of the actor, Anthony Stuart Head, wanting to be home in England, instead of filming the show in California.

The idea of Xander wanting to know his future with Anya is secure makes perfect sense. Having him summon a demon with the belief that nothing bad will happen is complete idiocy. That line of thinking might have suited the character in season one or two. At this point, it’s just lazy writing.

The only other part of the episode I found a bit confusing was the idea of making Dawn the demon’s bride. He never expresses why or what his motivation for that would be. And he quickly gives up on the idea when Xander admits he was the summoner. It’s very convenient.

Favorite Moment: The moment when Buffy admits she was in heaven is poignant for several reasons. Her determination to not reveal that secret followed by the discordant nature of the music makes it obvious it’s a painful revelation and against her will. The reactions on the Scoobies’ faces are almost as painful to see. It makes for almost a minute of completely uncomfortable and powerful television.

The Bottom Line: This is an exceptional episode. Not only does it examine and tear open the relationships of our main characters, it leaves them in disrepair to be picked up and sorted out in the future. The end of the episode has everyone literally throwing each other away and wandering in different directions. That’s a pretty heavy note and definitely has opened a lot of doors for the show’s storylines. I can’t wait to see where it goes.


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