Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | May 27, 2013

Podcast #112: Tabula Rasa

Here’s the podcast for Season 6, Episode 8 – Tabula Rasa

Randy Giles

Randy Giles

Download: Tabula Rasa

RSS Feed: The Buffy Rewatch

The next podcast will appear on Monday 3rd June 2013 for episode nine of Season Six: “Smashed.” That’s the one where Amy the Rat gets some attention and Spike and Buffy interact more.

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

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  1. I’ll admit it, I mostly like this episode for the last couple of minutes. The house falling apart around Buffy and Spike is such an apt metaphor for their relationship. It has no real foundation, it’s basically a huge mistake (but holy moly, they are so sexy together. It’s unfair, really!), and is bound to come crashing down around them. Spike also plays the dichotomy of his character really well in this episode. He’s so reluctant to actually bite the woman after he thinks his chip is broken, but he still intends to go through with it. He’s riding the line between good and evil throughout this episode. It’s really good writing, I think, because it’s completely believable that he is somewhat good and bad, and his reactions to things make total sense. I don’t know if I’m explaining myself really well, but I enjoyed the Spike and Buffy bits of the episode.

    The rest, it was okay. Amy’s reactions to being human again after being a rat for a couple of years made sense. Willow wanting to go out and do “magically-inclined” things made sense. I just didn’t really care, especially since Willow doesn’t seem to care at all about what she did to Tara. Anya and Xander are all concerned about Willow’s overuse of magic, although they never ever brought it up before? Or seemed to care?

    I had a thought about what a song that Willow would have sang in OMWF would have been like. If it were all about magic and power and her being awesome, seems like it would have been like a Disney villain song, like Ursula from the Little Mermaid mixed with Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. 🙂

  2. I remember watching this with my sister and we just kind of stared in amazement on how the house just fell around both Buffy and Tara. Honestly I don’t remember much from this episode besides that Amy came back…

    Which by the way, Willow and Tara NEVER tried to fix her? I don’t think Amy was even mentioned in season 5, the last I remember was her becoming briefly human in season 4 during Willow’s little magic rampage over Oz leaving. If they dragged this subplot out to season 7 we might very well have a dead ratgirl on our hands… how long are rodents supposed to live? 5 or 6 years?

    Also, if this season wasn’t going to happen… Amy staying a rat would have been a very dark dropped plot thread.

  3. On Giles: I forget to mention this in my voicemail but I was totally on Cordia’s side when it came to Giles first time around. In the world of the show Giles leaving makes no sense and is kind of a horrible way to for the character to go out. However it bothers me less on rewatch knowing that the actor wanted to go back home. This is really the lesser of two evils, Anthony Stewart Head wants leave so either Giles need to leave Sunnydale or he needs to be killed off. Killing Giles off completely changes the course of the season and having him leave keeps things the same, the course will still be Buffy dealing with her depression.

    Another thing I forgot to mention in my voicemail is I’m casting off my role as Dawn’s protector. First time watching the show I liked Dawn through all of the seasons she appears in but she really is unbearable in season 6. I still like her season 5 and that’s mostly because she has a role and she performs it well. She is probably my least favorite Scooby but I still like her. In season 6 this no notices me act is just not working, because its not true people spend a lot of time with Dawn. I understand she’d be close to Tara but for Tara to reassure her like a parent (who was not paying the bills, yet still has money to buy enormous milkshakes) just makes Dawn seem a lot younger than she is and immature. It’s true that people spend less attention on Dawn than last season but that’s because Dawn was in mortal peril. Am I really supposed to believe that Dawn is waxing nostalgic about demons slicing her open and being the key to hell on Earth?

  4. RIP the wonderful Buffy/Willow friendship of the past five seasons. Of the core three they were my absolute favorite Scooby pair, it’s sad that they can’t confide in each other anymore. Plus with Giles gone there goes my other favorite relationship dynamic (Giles/Buffy) on the show. 😦

    I really like that Amy said she was sorry to hear about Joyce. It’s a thoughtful little mention, but it also reminds you that Buffy could seriously use an adult in her life right now. It’s about time they brought back Amy, I just wish the scenes in the Bronze weren’t so ridiculous. I agree with you all that this season lacks the witty, unexpected, under-cutting/subverting humor of the earlier ones (basically just listing all the great words you all came up with to describe it). It’s definitely more broad and definitely not my style, at least not in the context of this show.

    Tara should just adopt Dawn and move them away from the Hellmouth, because she’s seriously the only one who’s there for her anymore (kidding of course, Buffy’s just not in any state to be a mom right now). Their scene together is sweet, and I like the way they’re still including Tara even though she broke up with Willow.

    No more cute scenes for Buffy and Spike. Buffy’s obviously overcompensating for her attraction to him by being mean, but calling him a thing and not a man is an especially low blow considering Spike’s little speech in The Gift. They are both pretty horrible to each other throughout this episode, trading verbal and physical blows, but it makes sense that Buffy would use the possibility of coming back wrong as an excuse to give into her desires. A very dangerous decision, considering she’s sleeping with a soulless vampire who can now hurt her, but still understandable (and an undeniably interesting development for the show). It’s all sad and twisted but I love the choice of having the house collapsing all around them – like meags said, very apt metaphor for Buffy’s life right now.

    • It is a shame about the Willow/Buffy friendship. I can’t really blame Buffy for not confiding in Willow after seeing Amy, though, especially after hearing Willow’s thoughts about bringing Amy back. “I just realized I could,” and “it’s nice, having another magically-inclined friend.” Yikes. Willow’s casual attitude to bringing Amy back would have to hit a nerve with Buffy, who would have to wonder if Willow had given any more thought or care to her decision to bring Buffy back.

      As for Buffy and Spike, I think those lines are absolute turning points in their relationship. You can see the thought form in Spike’s head after Buffy calls him an evil disgusting thing– he’s going to go out and prove her right. And when Spike tells Buffy she came back wrong, she buys into the idea with only a quick protest that he must have interfered with the chip. It doesn’t occur to her to look for other explanations. The irony is, it’s their connection to one another that allows them to drag each other down. I don’t think any of the other characters could have sabotaged either one of them so effectively if they tried.

  5. Firstly the Willow/Amy bits. Some parts were fine – the humour of recapping past plots was good and they didn’t overdo the ratiness – but other bits were a bit lazy. It makes no sense to me that Willow couldn’t change Amy until now when she regularly does quite epic magic. Nothing much appears to prompt her into suddenly being able to do it apart from writers convenience.

    The scene in the bronze doesn’t convey any seriousness about their abuse of others. It’s just played in a bright and breezy way – the dancing guys are utterly obnoxiously so I didn’t have any feelings of sympathy for them. And why are they now able to perform magic by just pointing? It always had to involve Latin, candles and stinky herbs before.

    Maybe I’m just cross because the garish scene in the Bronze inter-cuts with the Spike Buffy scene. Lord…..well……

    I remember first watching that scene and knowing that some sort of romance was likely but I didn’t expect it to start like that. After repeated punching each other hard in the face…..pretty grim wooing. It slightly reminded me of those really dreadful scenes common in old James Bond movies and others when a man fights with a woman, quickly gets the upper hand and then kisses her – to her eventual delight. God that used to annoy me. I think this is a subversion of that in a way. Buffy starts the fights and starts the kissing, and (thanks to that zip opening sound effect) we know she takes things further.

    • I haven’t seen many James Bond movies but I am completely with you that in general those kinds of scenes are really frustrating and gross. The fact that this is a subversion and Buffy’s the one who starts it makes it work better. Plus even though the sound falls away to music this doesn’t seem romanticized, if that makes any sense haha.

      • No I agree, it isn’t romantic – it feels quite sad really.

        I don’t think I expained myself well. I meant I felt very conflicted really. On the one hand feeling I thought it felt wrong, (violence leading to sex), on the other hand…..god it was incredibly sexy. But I think that’s the sort of emotion that we are supposed to take.

    • I can’t reply directly to your comment for some reason. Anyway, I think you explained yourself very well! I probably didn’t explain well if it didn’t come across that I was agreeing with you. The James Bond mention just got to me because I had to see a bunch of movies with those kinds of scenes recently for a class. They aggravated me so much that I was trying to articulate what made this different. I definitely agree, though – you’re supposed to be conflicted and that’s why it’s interesting.

  6. Just a quick note of a fallacy in this episode that’s been bugging me for a while:

    Andrew says that he’s seen every episode of Doctor Who (in an effort to impress Spike, because British=Doctor Who fan). However, any Whovian knows that several early episodes of Doctor Who do not exist anymore. The BBC was very poor and saved money by airing an episode, then taping over the old episode for the new one. They never thought people would want to watch it again or that it would become so popular.

    On to the episode itself: The only thing I have to add is that it’s just cruel that we’ve been begging for some Spuffy, and they give it to us in a way that is so unsatisfying. We want them to be together because they want to be, not because Buffy is desperate.

    • I can see how you and others might be disappointed by the mutually destructive way Buffy and Spike get together, but I was intrigued. This was so much more interesting than any scenario I had imagined, and completely believable.

  7. RE: Willow/Amy at the Bronze.

    It’s certainly an odd choice by the writers to play those scenes out in a cartoony way. I wonder if, with those scenes and with the heavy dosage of humor in the last episode, the writers aren’t trying to keep things from getting too dark?

    I like to think what we are seeing in the Bronze (in terms of the tone) is supposed to be from Willow’s perspective. Otherwise I might find the whole thing annoying too

  8. I’m watching the show for the first time and have finally caught up with this re-watch. Here are my thoughts and questions after this episode:
    1. Is Spike’s claim that Buffy ‘came back wrong’ valid? I feel sure that he must have tried to attack her before her death, but can’t remember a specific incident.
    2. The episode really shows the stabilizing effect Giles and Tara had on the group. The Scoobs are falling apart without them.
    3. Oh Warren, sure you know about robots, but does that really make you a plausible expert at brain wave analysis?
    4. Did Spike not notice the gigantic diamond in the middle of the table?
    5. i find the Buffy-Spike night of passion shockingly believable. Earlier in their ‘relationship’ I couldn’t fathom the series of events that could possibly bring them together. It is some genius writing that has made Spike a sympathetic character while maintaining his edge, and that has brought Buffy to the point of desperate risk-taking while maintaining her goodness.

  9. On the Spike argument from the last podcast:

    If we were to say that Spike’s love for Buffy is now a part of his true self, we have to consider the fact that after losing his memory, Spike doesn’t even know who Buffy is. While he may feel a connection to her, the connection would lack the logic provided by memories. It would be a more physical connection like the one Tara and Willow experience. They are drawn to one another, but they do not understand why. Due to the lack of logic, Spike may have some awareness that he hasn’t been eating humans, but he is not going to understand why. His natural vampire instinct should rule over this non-logical and, for him, unnatural behavior. Note that in Smashed, once he learns he can hit Buffy, his first reaction is to go after a human to bite. It is only his logical memories that leave him conflicted as to whether or not he should actually bite the woman. I still stand by the fact that his innate evil vampire traits should have shown themselves in Tabula Rasa despite the fact that I completely understand that having him become evil would not have fit the episode well. I was happy with the episode and what they did with the Spike stuff; I just like playing devil’s advocate in this debate.

    On Smashed:

    It was kind of cool to have human monsters in the opening as opposed to real monsters.

    It’s kind of scary that despite all the confrontations Willow has had with both Giles and Tara, and despite all the stuff that happened in the last few episodes, she is still convinced that Tara left for no good reason (as she tells rat Amy). She’s is in some serious denial about her magic problem. Adding insult to injury, she spends the rest of the episode continuing to abuse her powers with the freshly deratted Amy by her side. She also makes Dawn a liar.

    Dawn has apparently forgiven Tara for leaving. I really do love their relationship. Tara is essentially a surrogate mom to Dawn, and it comes out in their scenes together. Tara rightfully is not convinced when Dawn tries to imply Willow’s addiction is getting better.

    Probably the biggest plot development in Willow’s storyline, and also the worst possible thing she could have done given her situation is the deratting of Amy. We know from Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered, and Gingerbread that Amy is just as reckless, if not more so, with her magic use than Willow is. The first thing she does, after eating a massive plate of cookies, is convince Willow to go out to the Bronze where they proceed to use magic for their own pleasure. It’s like sending an alcoholic out to a bar with another alcoholic. No good can come of this rekindled friendship between Amy and Willow.

    The magic effects in the Bronze scene were kind of cool. I’m curious as to why Willow and Amy would have conjured sheep and a guy in a strawberry costume, but hey. If you’re abusing magic, might as well go all out with the weird.

    The rest of the scoobies are finally chiming in on Willow’s magic problem. Good to see them finally showing concern. For once Anya’s bluntness was totally called for, and quite refreshing actually. It really is sad that Buffy and Willow are so far drowned in their own respective problems that they can no longer confide in one another. I miss their once close relationship.

    Our lovely trio, and cue the museum with possibly the worst security ever. They just walk in without any problem, break open the case and steal the diamond. Good old Rusty tried his best I suppose, but there were no alarms? No cameras? Nothing? Kind of similar to the museum in Inca Mummy Girl….possibly the same one? Sorry Cordia for bringing up that gem of an episode.

    DVD commentary talked about a couple of interesting things:

    The first was that the scene where Willow uses magic to retrieve information from her computer was meant to show the dichotomy between old and new Willow. Old Willow relied on her computer to help the scoobies, new Willow relies on magic. It’s something I hadn’t really thought about when I first watched the episode, but it really does illustrate well how far she has come (or possibly strayed) since the high school years.

    Also, in the scene where Willow magically puts the 2 boys in cages for being jerks, she originally was supposed to make them kiss each other. Joss had the writers change this as he did not want to imply that homosexual kissing was in any way a punishment.

    Lastly, it was also Joss’ idea to have the sound drop out in the end scene and add the music to give the scene an epic feel. Cool idea. I think Buffy has generally found interesting ways to play with sound, or lack thereof.


    Jessica Fletcher, Gatorade, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Holodeck, Boba Fett, Dr. Who, Red Dwarf, Ellen DeGeneres, Dungeons and Dragons, and lots of 3rd season references with Amy including Larry and the Mayor, and the school blowing up

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