Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | June 10, 2013

Robin’s Review: S6, E10 – Wrecked

Synopsis: Buffy is ashamed and Willow is exhausted after their respective nights out. Amy takes Willow to see Rack who has a supernatural hangout where he gets people high on magic. Willow is wiped out by the experience and gets scared by a demon who keeps appearing in her visions. However she can’t help but return and incidentally takes Dawn with her, leaving her in the waiting room for hours. When Willow emerges she is drunk on magic and drives them into a wall while trying to escape the demon who has now materialised.

The Good: The Buffy-Spike story remains strong and very interesting. Without getting graphic the story being told is that by exploring a side of her sexuality that wouldn’t be possible in a loving, human relationship Buffy is able to forget herself and deal with her depression. It’s a very interesting idea and Spike’s utter self assurance makes you feel certain that it’s set to continue. The sight of Buffy cowering behind garlic and a cross on her bed seemed a clever way to underline that really it’s her own desires she ought to be afraid of not Spike breaking in.

The Bad: Willow’s dangerous addiction to magic has been building for years so you can imagine my disappointment when the writers just grabbed the steering wheel and literally and figuratively drove it into a wall. The way last week’s Bronze playtime suggested magic as an analogy for drug use was something which flowed fairly organically from the way magic has been presented on the show. Here though the writers reached for their bag of clichés and just poured it all into the script. The wall crawling, shivering, shaking, the crack den, the crying in the shower, the stealing stuff to feed the addiction, the car crash and finally the endless apologies while in tears on the floor. I wouldn’t have batted an eye lid if Willow had driven past Amy selling herself on a street corner.

To be so derivative is problematic but doesn’t automatically lead to bad television. To cram all of it into one episode really does. It seems like such an odd and bad decision to push Willow’s addiction to magic into the iconography of drug abuse in just one episode. I think you probably could have stretched the elements of this story across three or four episodes and I would have felt far happier with seeing most of Trainspotting transplanted into Sunnydale. As it was though it felt obnoxious. To see Amy, only days after returning to human form stealing magic supplies while quivering felt utterly cheap. The junkies in Rack’s waiting room were an insult too. Where was the attempt to show them as fellow magic users? The use of Jeff Kober (he played Kralik in Helpless) was problematic too as I recognised him easily and his comment that Willow tasted like strawberries was irritatingly familiar.

I really began to resent Dawn during this episode too. She can’t cook for herself, she has no friends and apparently no backbone as she sits passively in the waiting room. Now sure she was scared and awkward, that’s fine. But her presentation as a weak person meant I didn’t believe she would actually slap Willow. Yet another moment that felt clichéd and flat. In fact as the demon stalked her it finally felt like Dawn had transitioned from the Key to just a prop. She is now “Victim Girl”, someone familiar to be in peril so that Buffy dispatching yet another demon won’t seem quite so predictable.

Finally we had Buffy giving Willow the cold turkey pep talk which felt pretty naive given all we knew about addiction then (and especially now). But worse was the attempt to make everything Willow was going through an analogy for the Buffy-Spike story. It left me with the impression that Willow was an unimportant minor character whose story was raced through in order to be merely a warning sign for Buffy. I’m sure we will get more from Willow’s addiction and maybe this will lead to something good but right now it’s a black mark against the writing of the show that this was so abrupt.

The Unknown: When Willow explains her motivations to Buffy she brings up the idea that magic made her seem cool. That’s something that had been referenced every now and again but I don’t completely buy it. She implies that Tara wouldn’t have noticed her without magic. I suppose the confidence she gained from being a useful Scooby could have been a part of what attracted Tara. But Tara was even more of a social outcast than Willow so it seems unlikely she would have felt differently. And before that Willow was with Oz who seemed like a pretty cool guy. To suggest that the fear of being seen as her old geeky self is the core reason for her magic use just doesn’t feel like enough. The character is being short-changed.

Spike claims he is sleeping off his big night with Buffy. But wasn’t that at least a couple of days ago given that Willow had spent the next night with Rack and then slept that off before going back?

Best Moment: Spike and Buffy had two good scenes debating the nature of their relationship. His certainness in the second one probably pipped it for me as he seems to understand her desires better than she does at this point.

The Bottom Line: A wild departure from the patient story arcs which had up to this point made Season Six more enjoyable than the previous two.

43/100

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