Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | August 24, 2013

Podcast #122: Normal Again part 2: Feedback

Here’s the podcast with all the feedback for “Normal Again” and “Hells Bells.”

Normal Again

Normal Again

Download: Normal Again Feedback

RSS Feed: The Buffy Rewatch

The next podcast will appear on Tuesday 3rd September 2013 for episode eighteen of Season Six: “Entropy.” That’s the one where Anya and Spike are bitter. Comment on this post to get your views on the podcast.

You can get your voice on the podcast by leaving a message on our voicemail 206-338-7832 (It’s a US number, so add 001 if you are elsewhere).

You can email an audio clip to thetvcritic@gmail.com

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Responses

  1. I don’t really have much to say on the “great Meags debate”. I actually thought you were going to take issue with the Xander is a misogynist idea, which there are TONS of internet commentary on. I would just say on that note, that while he may have been written as a stereotypical teenager, the issue that he never really is punished for his misogyny is the problem of the show, and why a lot of feminists take issue with the show as a feminist panacea. Essays have been written on the topic, I urge anyone interested to check them out. (Quick example, his attempted rape of Buffy in The Pack and how Giles helped him cover up his memories instead of actually facing the awkwardness of an apology. Yes, he was possessed, but would it have killed him to acknowledge that it was a crappy thing to do? Buffy was nearly violently raped, but it’s too embarrassing for Xander to man up and say something.) As for Anya, I was just explaining that to me, I hadn’t seen much change in her. She probably had friendship with demons such as Halfrek in her vengeance days and so had relationships with them, so relationships with humans in her human form is just an extension of that. I don’t think her affection for them shows much growth. Don’t forget, the vengeance is thought up by the wronged individual, albeit with some prompting from the demon. So the woman wronged by Fake Xander probably said “I wish he could be tortured for eternity like I will be!” and poof. Sent to hell dimension. I doubt Anya spent much thought on cooking up an exact punishment for each misdeed.

    A note on the canonical element of the graphic novels and the movie: I don’t think it’s much of a secret that Joss HATED the film adaptation of his script. The actual movie product is NOT considered canon, however, his original script IS. The script was made into a graphic novel which is supposed to be closer to what actually happened in the Whedon Buffyverse, but that, along with all comics done before Season 8 are not considered canon (including the one about Buffy’s first time in the institution.) I love the Buffyverse so much that I read all of the non-canon graphic novels anyway (and some were really cool). I do sympathize with disliking the art work. The cover art is usually fantastic but in the interest of time, the artists take shortcuts with the panel drawings. I’ve also read the Angel post-season 5 graphic novels and was incredibly disappointed, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Sorry to report that the commentary for Normal Again was pretty lame. The only interesting tidbit I got (other than this was both a first time writer and director on this episode) was that Joss insisted that both realities be shot in a way that wouldn’t manipulate the viewer into believing one over the other. So no slow-motion or visual effects. That certainly adds to the reliability of both sides!

    • I know this is changing the subject, but Meags and Robin’s discussion made me think about the vengeance demons.

      I think Anyanka and Halfrek are the embodiments of vengeance, and I’m always reminding of Uncle Enosh (?) telling Jenny that vengeance isn’t justice.

      Anyanka sees herself as avenging wronged women, and Halfrek as getting payback for harmed children, but the only times we’ve seen them act, their vengeance has harmed everyone: Dawn is just as trapped in the house and miserable as everyone else; and Cordelia gets killed. I’m not sure if that’s just the nature of vengeance or if it’s D’Hoffryn pulling the strings on his agents, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that the demon guy’s wife isn’t any happier than he is that Anyanka got involved.

      • Oh yes, I agree that the one that is supposedly “venged” is seldom better off or happy about this scenario.

    • First Xander’s misogyny as I am/was Vice President of Xander is a Douche Club, I ca definitely say that he does have his moments. Having just rewatched “The Wish” he spends the entire episode spent in our reality angry at Cordelia because he cheated on her and she doesn’t want to talk him. I wouldn’t say it’s much over typical teenage guy douchiness though.

      As for Anya they definitely tone her down from her first appearance “The Wish” she relishes in the chaotic-ness of the universe Cordelia creates with her wish and it’s never really addressed how evil she was a vengeance demon. I understand that the first appearance is not the whole character and she was only supposed to exist in that one episode. However much fun I find Anya, I really wish they would have at least touched on how she feels about what she did as a demon. To be fair, they didn’t do much more with Cordelia but they did something. Cordelia also had the benefit of being a high school drama archetype so it was easy to imagine her life and thoughts. Anya never got even that.

      • Just because Xander’s behavior is “typical” doesn’t mean it can’t be misogynist.

  2. In response to the question about whether or not the comics includes the movie as canon. There is an issue of the comics that is based on Joss Whedon’s original script of the movie, which does include the first watcher and the burning of the first gym. So if there is any reference to that it is probably based on what Joss wanted it to be without all the silly movie elements.

  3. More specifics on the movie. Yes, vampires could fly. Not superman fly, more of a light hovery flying.

    As for as how cannon it actually sort of is, there are a few massive details that throw it off. In the movie buffy is a senior, while tv buffy was 14 (so 8th grade or highschool freshmab) when she got Slayered.

    Also the main badguy is said to be 1200 years old, but looks just like Monica from friend’s husband does after being recently vamped, i.e. not Master-old, just regular vampire.

    i didn’t get through the movie, but i also vaguely remember catching the climax when i was younger somewhere. I recall buffy just jumping around in slow-mo and punching vamps into dust.

    also the movie is more 80s than 90s. So… There’s that.

    And just so it’s finally clear, I have 0 analytical views on Yes, dear. it was a sort of joke. not that the show is awful, it does tons of things average sit coms didn’t do at the time and would’ve fit more in the world of the middle or raising hope.

    But digimon, that’s no joke. Robin’s eys barely watered when Buffy killed Angel, but tears rolled down my chin when… well, spoilers.

  4. Entropy
    I’m throwing this out here now, because I have a point to make about it when you finish the podcast – Spike here seems to believe that Buffy actually does love him, and she’s just saying that she doesn’t.

    It seems that the Trio here have actually given up on their plans to “take over Sunnydale”, and now they just want to get boatloads of cash and get outta Dodge. Yes, they could have robbed any ol’ place anywhere (and chances are there are places in other states that would give out a better payday) but I’m thinking that they are operating on the Hellmouth Advantage ™ where they can use magic and other Hellmouth-y weirdness to complete their plan. And possibly enlist demons as aid, as they did in Flooded.

    I love Xander’s apology here (the rehearsed version) because he is finally actually apologizing for a screw up. Of course, it goes horribly wrong, and he wasn’t really expecting that. It’s funny, though, because when you apologize to someone, you aren’t entitled to forgiveness, and I think Xander here thinks that he should receive something from Anya, even if it’s just a “I forgive you, but I never want to speak to you again.” Also, why doesn’t Anya grant Xander’s wish? This gives a little insight into how vengeance demons work, I guess, they can pick and choose which wishes they grant?

    I enjoyed both Tara and Willow’s interactions, and also how Anya and Spike bond over being “non-Scoobies”.

    Andrew is supposed to be written as gay, and his reaction to the Anya/Spike sex video is supposed to be a clue to that. I think there were others before this, but I didn’t really notice.

    I was trying to figure out what the self-contained story in this episode was, and I guess it is Anya trying to get revenge on Xander, but mostly this episode is a stepping stone to the final act of the season. You are going to have to make like 4 feedback episodes for Seeing Red! It’s a controversial one!

  5. Note: I got a tad over zealous and commented on the last post before realizing their would be another feedback episode because I missed the disclaimer (note to self: read details before posting). I copied my comments here so they could be a part of the rest of the entropy discussion. Sorry for the duplicate :/

    Classic Spike move to be nonchalantly dangling the vampire from the cemetery gate. Had to chuckle.

    Anya is back, both in Sunnydale and as her former demon self. Anya going around trying to get people to wish a curse on Xander was kind of amusing, mostly in terms of the reactions of the others. However, I can understand that Anya’s in a great deal of pain, and we’ve seen before that she doesn’t really know how to deal with pain well. This is the only way she knows of to deal.

    Willow and Tara have pretty much reversed roles. They have come full circle. Their relationship used to be based on Willow’s plans, and Willow’s terms. Now, Willow is the one who is slightly shy and uncertain around Tara, and it is on Tara’s terms that they get back together. I really love her speech at the end. There is the recognition that there are still some issues they need to work out, but the moment is just so sweet. Let’s face it. I’ve been waiting for this moment since they broke up.

    Buffy and Dawn can’t go shopping because Dawn has been kicked out of al the stores. Oh Dawn… At least she is showing some semblance of growing up by being willing to pay for her mistakes. Speaking of Dawn, I’ve always been a little annoyed that Dawn always gets told she is too young to fight, considering the fact that she is the same age Buffy and the scoobies were when they started fighting demons. I understand Buffy being concerned for Dawn’s safety, but it’s another example, it feels like, of Dawn being written like a little kid.

    I’ve never been completely sure how to feel about Anya and Spike’s drunken one night stand. I mean, they obviously connected over their respective heart aches, but I still don’t know that I believe that those two characters would be together. In some ways it really seems like a bit of a story contrivance, particularly the way he just happens to stumble into the magic box when Anya is looking for someone to wish ill on Xander without care.

    Spike and Buffy are finally outed. As much as Buffy thought her friends would totally forgive her relationship with him, Xander is not so quick to do so. Anya aside, Xander has loved Buffy since episode 1. In a way it makes me think of the Xander, Willow, Cordelia triangle from season 2. Xander is now in Willow’s shoes, and to paraphrase Willow, Buffy would rather be with someone she hates, than to be with Xander. This news, in combination with Spike and Anya, is more than he can take in one blow. This is one of the first times that Buffy has truly been knocked off of the pedestal that Xander has had her on since high school.

    As for the Trio, I just don’t like them period. They’re my least favorite of all the Buffy villains, and I really just find them annoying.

    • Robin has super blogging comment super powers and always seems to find the recent comments no matter where they are placed!

  6. The problems with Entropy have nothing to do with the actual episode and more to do with the lack of development in Anya before this point. When watching Buffy passively the first time I loved Anya and I still find her enjoyable, even believe that she exists but that is really all on the actress. Anya’s different from her first appearance but that’s because that character is only meant to be in that episode if you look at what I believe to be her first true appearance. Anya now is not that different from how she was in Doppelgangland. It’s not the worst thing in the world for a character to be stagnant but I really want to care about Anya and because she hasn’t been written to be anything more than funny I can’t really emotionally connect to her at all.

    The closet we get to Anya worldview is implied in this episode that she saw her vengeance doing good on behalf of a wrong party, not really thinking if the punishment fit the crime. There is a certain morality there but the problem is this is Anya’s third season on the show and we are only now getting that.

    The comparison to Cordelia is more evident than ever in this episode because if you look at their arcs Anya and Cordelia are remarkably similar. Cordelia and Anya both give up their former lives to be with Xander and Xander responds with betraying that commitment. The thing is becuase Cordelia was the most popular girl in school we had a very clear idea of who she was before she started dating Xander. She even had character development moments like telling Buffy she was surrounded by people and still felt alone and we even saw her enjoying the Scoobies company. Anya just kind of existed with Xander.

    The fact that she doesn’t let Spike make the wish does imply that she has changed but I don’t really know how that happened. The evidence in the episode is that her experience being human changed her and that she perhaps can’t brush off acts of vengeance anymore but again I’m really just guessing.

    In What Kind of Character is Dawn This Week News:

    Dawn continues her trend of being whatever is necessary for the plot. I did like seeing Buffy back to normal. (It’s amazing to tell how different Buffy is from two episodes ago just by the way she carries herself and speaks.) However as nice it was see the sisterly dynamic that made me care about Dawn in season five, I’m just waiting for Dawn to walk out and slam a door. Even when Dawn’s outside I’m waiting for her to somehow storm out. Maybe by opening a portal to another dimension that exists solely for teenagers to whine about how hard their lives are despite producing no evidence to support such a claim and make everything about them. I’m assuming this is the Hell dimension Angel got sent to at the end of season two. The reason he was such a rabid animal when he came back makes so much more sense now.

  7. Entropy:

    I basically liked this episode, but felt the writers’ fingerprints were way too visible.

    – First, the only reason Xander’s apology fails is that he doesn’t say the one obvious thing: “I was (or am) scared that I will let you down, and that I can’t help being my father.” If he has said that, the whole show would have been different, and there’s no reason for him not to say it except plot contrivance, especially in a rehearsed apology. He rehearsed the part of the apology where he said “I should have told you sooner” but not the part where he explains WHAT he should have told her?

    – Second, Tara and Willow were laying on the Buffyspeak way too heavy at the beginning. I liked their last scene, but the first one read like someone was trying to copy Joss’s dialogue style but not getting it right.

    – Joss apparently thinks that Tom Lenk is hilarious, because he keeps casting him in stuff, but I don’t see it. Warren and Jonathan are interesting, but Andrew makes my teeth hurt.

    On the other hand, I did like quite a bit:

    – It’s fun to watch Jonathan do magic. I like magic a lot better when there’s ritual and some limitations, rather than watching Willow and Amy snap their fingers.

    – Adam Busch is doing a really nice job with Warren. Warren is still clearly a bad guy, but he also feels like a real, complete character, just from a few minutes a week.

    – It’s nicely ironic that Anya inadvertently got classic Anyanka revenge on Xander. Xander got hurt, but so did everyone else, including Anya, the wronged party. I wonder if seeing what vengeance feels like from the ground will change Anyanka’s attitudes?

    Random thoughts:

    – Today’s episode didn’t give much support for the “Halfrek is Cecily” theory. Spike gave her a couple of mild looks, but the scene was hard to square with them having much of a past.

    – Why didn’t Halfrek just grant Anya’s wish?

    – Buffy’s advice to Spike to “move on” seems short-sighted. I know that she has some affection for him, but what does she think he would do if he wasn’t trying to win her approval?

    – Lastly, what did the nerds think Spike was doing with Anya? It looked sort of like he was biting her, and unless you know that he has special pants, I don’t think you would assume that he was having sex.

    • Re: Halfrek and Spike, my impression is that she recognized him, but he didn’t realize she was Cecily, just maybe that she looked familiar.

    • Spike’s “special pants” made me laugh…I’m going to make a guess that what we see in the show is not exactly what “actually happened” in the characters’ reality. Such as, when the house fell down, more clothes actually came off, as you would assume would have to happen. And when the Scoobies saw Spike/Anya, it was actually a lot more obvious. But even on the new network they weren’t going to show what the Scoobies saw in “real life” to us via TV. Just a theory…

  8. Xander is just awful in this episode. His “I can’t look at you” to Anya is ridiculous. He’s got no claim on her at this point. Though Buffy is clearly hurt, she doesn’t berate Spike about betraying her. She had just told him to “move on” and her complaining when he does wouldn’t be justified.
    I like Anya a lot, and loved her reasonable retorts to Xander’s tirade.
    I actually thought a Spike and Anya relationship makes a lot of sense. They are both subscoobies in the same way and have a lot in common. As it happens though their fling is clearly a mistake. Their awkward silent post-coital getting dressed was well done and really drives that point home.

  9. I think the scenes where Anya is trying to get her friends to make a vengeful wish against Xander have entirely the wrong tone. What’s with the quirky music in the background? They’re not doing the Anya character a lot of favors

  10. I really liked all of the interaction between Buffy and Dawn this episode, but especially Dawn’s reaction to Buffy’s, “Technically, you’re one and a half.” I love when Buffy’s attempts at humor misfire and she has to backpedal.

    Meanwhile, not one of the Scoobies notices that Anya is a vengence demon again. Does that mean there’s no difference between Anya as a vengence demon and Anya as a human, or is it just one more example of how the Scoobies don’t make very good friends this season? I could make a case for either premise.

    Does Spike recognize that his attempts to manipulate Buffy this season have hurt her? This episode seems to argue that he doesn’t. Spike says he doesn’t hurt Buffy, and she agrees.

    The scenes between Anya and Spike made all kinds of sense me. Up until her conversation with Spike, whenever Anya has tried to talk about the non-wedding, no one has been willing to hear her out without mentioning how bad Xander feels, too. We know she’s trying to get them to make a wish against him but they don’t, and they easily could have talked to her about her feelings without making any wishes. Meanwhile Spike’s relationship with Buffy was supposed to stay a secret, so even if one of the others might have been inclined to offer him sympathy, which is admittedly unlikely, he can’t talk to any of them about it.

    Meanwhile, Xander and Buffy both seem to need some instruction on how breaking up works. It’s no business of theirs who their exes sleep with, and they were both pretty awful.

    • So, I was thinking about Anya the human and Anyanka the vengeance demon…what are the actual differences between them? Anya looked and acted human in The Wish before revealing her demon face in granting Cordelia’s wish. But then she became human for real, and it was a significant change for her. I seem to remember it largely involved feeling feelings she hadn’t felt as a vengeance demon? Now, was that lack of human feelings directly because she had been a demon, or because of how long she had been a demon, or what do we think? Because here she is a vengeance demon, but seems very clearly to feel at least some emotions. If there hadn’t been the wedding debacle and Anya just happened to decide to become a demon again, would Buffy &co have any way to realize it via conversation with Anya, or would they have been just oblivious until they realized men were meeting terrible fates? If so, then perhaps Anya’s heightened (?) anger would have tipped them off, except that it’s also pretty fitting for the situation with Xander? Not sure. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

      • Her emotions may be related to the state of her mortality, which obviously has bothered her in the past. Recognizing that you won’t live forever may change the way you interact with others. Just a thought.


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