Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | June 3, 2013

Cordia’s Review: S6, E09 – Smashed

Season 6, Episode 9

Original airing: 11/20/2001

My Rating: 48

The Good: The good of this episode rests squarely on James Marsters and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Their interpretation of the shift in the Buffy/Spike relationship is incredibly well done. I love the mini-arc of Spike discovering he can hit Buffy and what that means for his personality. Once free of the chip, he immediately heads out to eat a human. That doesn’t work, so instead he uses his new knowledge to attack Buffy. I think it’s clear the show is saying that Spike is evil through and through. Give him an inch and he’ll take five or six miles.

I really like how the show points that out because it makes Buffy’s eventual decision to sleep with Spike that much more heart-rending and compelling. All episode Buffy is pushing Spike away from her and it hits a high point when she demeans him by calling him a thing. She’s fighting her own attraction. At the end, she just lets go and allows the violence of the fight to fuel her passion. I feel like her decision to have sex with Spike is an actual decision and she realizes it fully when they first get started. That pause and eye contact is very powerful and she makes a very deliberate decision to go forward with the event.

I personally viewed this as complete shock on Buffy’s part. She’s so used to not feeling at this point I think she was amazed that she could have such a connection to Spike.

I also enjoyed the presentation of Amy. While it’s obvious she’s being used as an impetus to propel Willow into more and more magic use, I still think her reintroduction to the show was pretty well handled. I like her twitchy and manic behaviors. I feel she is being presented as outwardly adapting while obviously in deep denial.

The Bad: Unfortunately, I feel like the rest of the episode fell flat. The Trio was again over-the-top nerdy and are feeling more and more like caricatures instead of characters. Tara is overly blunt, Dawn is overly childlike, and Willow is overly insensitive. I’ve said before that I feel like I can see the fingerprints of the writers on a particular scene. In this case, it was more like a backhand across the face. There was absolutely no subtlety.

The Trio is just way over the top at this point. Warren’s ineffectual attempts to work the words “Freeze Ray” into the conversation with the guard are topped only by Jonathon and Andrew’s inability to pick up on his blatant hints. The whole thing is ludicrous. But the worst was the scene with Spike where he threatens BobaFett. The seriousness with which the scene is treated is just too much. Why in the world wouldn’t Spike just threaten them? They don’t know he can’t hurt them. And Warren acts as if Spike is killing a person. The absurdity is too much for me to find amusing.

Tara and Dawn were just as bluntly characterized. The metaphor of divorce couldn’t be more strongly presented. Tara even uses the clichéd terms of “It’s not your fault” and “I’ll always love you.” I kept waiting for Dawn to remind Tara she’s been through this all before… you know… her estranged father and dead mother. But instead Dawn is presented as having the tact and understanding of a six year old.

The worst offense, however, was Willow. Having her just suddenly call a spell into existence which can turn Amy back into a human after three years is the laziest writing I can remember seeing on the show. And then suddenly both of them can do any magic they wish with a wave of their hand. Prior to this, the show has made it pretty clear that magic has to be earned for a human. Every other thing has required an incantation or components. I’d be fine with Willow becoming strong enough for certain things to be easy for her, but I need that presented. Instead the show just made her capable of this all of the sudden.

What hit me the most was her complete disregard for every person in the Bronze. Amy and Willow treat them like play things and Willow apparently decides this is fine since they can turn everything back to normal with a wave of the hand. This type of amoral behavior is so far from the Willow we know and should be a big deal. Instead, the show basically makes a joke out of the whole scene. Even the attempt to express the seriousness of Willow’s problem through concern from Xander and Anya is brief and played for humor.

Favorite Moment: Buffy and Spike were the saviors of this episode, as much as they could be. The sex scene at the end was incredibly well constructed, filmed, acted, and presented.

The Bottom Line: One the one hand, this episode has a much anticipated moment where Buffy and Spike finally deal with their sexual attraction to each other. This particular scene is raw, passionate, painful, and vulnerable. Unfortunately, a lot of the lead up to this scene is silly. And the rest of the episode suffered from lazy writing and poor execution. Overall, this episode was a major letdown and I just can’t give it a high score.


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