Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | September 17, 2013

Podcast #125: Villains

Here’s the podcast for Season 6, Episode 20 – Villains

Willow goes dark

Willow goes dark

Download: Villains

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The next podcast will appear on Monday 23rd September 2013 for episode twenty one of Season Six: “Two to go” which picks up where this left off.

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  1. I wanted to quickly comment on the Willow debate that ended the last podcast. I agree with Robin that the fact that Willow feels she was a loser in high school is a lot of retroactive history. However Cordia is right that there is always been this through line of insecurity with her.the insecurity though is more from her power and her relation with others. There’s always been this part of Willow that enjoys her magic because it puts it on par with Buffy.

    Even if you go back to the very first episode, there is a power struggle between her and Cordelia. There is the fact that Willow is unpopular and Cordelia is the most popular girl in school but at the same time Willow takes the oppurtunity in computer class to trick Cordelia into deleting all her work. It’s a way of Willow gaining power over Cordelia using her own skills.

    It may seem like a subtle difference but I don’t see Willow as someone like the trio in that she was mistreated and had a horrible life in high school and they certainly haven’t shown us that. What they have shown us is she feels threatened by people like Buffy and Cordelia (the latter more than the former) and use alternate methods to become just as powerful as them. Willow has never been a venegeful character to me it’s more ambition based off insecurity.

    • Jumping fandoms but still kind of related to Willow’s character and psyche but someone made a much of photosets on tumblr of various (almost all) the Buffyverse characters in Hogwarts Houses from Harry Potter.

      Interesting to talk about if you consider that

      Slytherins are ambitious, resourceful and cunning (not “evil”)

      Hufflepuffs are loyal, patient and hard working

      Ravenclaws value knowledge and intelligence

      Gryffindors are daring, brave with a lot of nerve (not necessarily “good”).

      • Ignoring all the house stuff…

        If Buffy = Harry, who is everyone else?

        Xander = Ron
        Willow = Hermione
        Faith = Draco (has to be, right?)
        Giles = Dumbledore
        The Master = Voldemort…..

        No idea about Spike, Angel, and Warren.

      • Also I think Willow is more of a Ravenclaw than a Slytherin.

      • I agree with Willow being more of a Ravenclaw than a Slytherin but I do think she has enough ambitious in her that you don’t have to sell me too hard on Slytherin.

  2. No spoilers just curious on how many people are reading/have read the Buffy comics. Season 8, Season 9, or Both. Angel tie in comics? Did you enjoy them?

    I personally have grown to really love them. Kind of my methadone to my Buffy heroin addiction.

    • I’m in the process of reading season 8. I’ve just been checking out a few volumes at a time from the library. I’m enjoying the comic books but not as much as I enjoyed the show.

      There are some really good moments. For example there’s a revealing conversation between Willow and Buffy in about the 3rd or 4th volume. You probably know what I’m talking about.

      Season 8 is definitely good enough for me to keep going. I had to quite Angel After the Fall a couple volumes in. It was just too ridiculous.

      • Once you finish S8. The Angel tie in comic during Season 9 continuity is actually fantastic. I wish I could say more but I don’t want to spoil anything.

      • What is the Angel tie-in called? I’m guessing I’ll need to have finished After the Fall to be able to follow it???

      • I’m reading the comics, I’m mostly caught up, just waiting for the next TPB to be released. I kind of disagree about Angel, and that storyline (and season 8) really added to my fuel of hatred for the character. Also, some of the Spike series are really stupid. Bugs in space? Really?

      • I’ve never read the comics mostly because what I read on Wikipedia seemed like really ridiculous fan fiction and by the time I finished Buffy I felt mostly relief that was it over. Let’s just say I don’t have fond memories of season 7 but are they actually worth reading? Or is just enjoyable being that it is more Buffy, if it was another set of characters would you care basically?

        The Angel tie in comics do seem sort of interesting because I love the dynamic of the two characters they supposedly focus in but the mere existence of the comics kind of destroys what I loved about the series finale so it would take a very heavy recommendation for me to actually pick them up.

  3. I still put Tara’s death on equal playing field as Jenny Calender’s and still think its more shocking. Not the most emotional or shocking in the Whedonverse. But I could argue most shocking in Buffy. The main problem with Tara’s death has been echoed by many of you, it’s TOO fast. We don’t get any time to digest it or feel before We’re off to the races towards the finale.

  4. Also…

    YESSSSSSS!!!!!! Most bad ass cliff hanger EVER!!

    • I also really appreciated that they don’t show his name in the opening credits to “spoil” the guest spot, like they do when Angel shows up in a few episodes.

    • I totally agree that this may be the best ending to an episode EVER. I admit that this may partially be in part to my obsessive Giles adoration, but the impact of seeing him after his absence for so long shows how big a part of the Scooby Gang he is, and lends more credence to the Dark Willow story line, as only something world-ending would bring Giles back after his previous departure.

      The seven seconds in that clip just send shivers down my spine every time I see it. I swear, Giles just gets more and more bad ass every time he appears.

  5. When watching Two to Go, I really struggled with the thought that Dark Willow was not at all entertaining to me. Alyson Hannigan’s acting is superb and she is threatening but I still don’t feel it. On paper there is not a whole lot of difference between Angelus and Dark Willow, so what makes Angelus one of the best villains ever and Dark Willow so disengaging.

    I don’t think it’s the fact that Dark Willow feels so very much not Willow because I never saw Angelus as Angel. At this point though it’s not even the drug metaphor because when I think about it the dark magic as drugs seems like a clever idea but the presentation was so horrible.

    The real problem with Dark Willow is that everything happens so fast and everything is so convenient. With Angelus we really had half a season almost of him systematically torturing Buffy because that’s who he was he didn’t want to kill Buffy right away. Now Dark Willow has a very specific goal of wanting to kill Johnathan and Andrew and there’s really no reason why she can’t do it right away. Dark Willow just tends to be strong enough when they need her to be strong enough and weak when they need to stretch out time. Whereas Angelus was a vampire and while he might have been more clever than other vampires always had the same power level. Dark Willow is really powerful then they need to kill twenty minutes so introduce this draining thing. Ok! That’s fixed and now she’s as strong as Buffy! There is no rules for magic at all but black lightning looks cool, right? And Willow has veins on her face, so look how evil she is, right?

    It also doesn’t help that she is going after Johnathan and Andrew because while I don’t want to see people die and get tortured, Johnathan and Andrew aren’t real people to me, not even “TV real”. I don’t find the prospect of them never having to see them again particularly heart breaking. On the flipside when Dark Willow threatens Dawn I do feel slightly protective. The character changes week to week but there was a point I cared about her and her death would affect characters I do care about, like Buffy.

    This is really more of a sidenote but am I noticing how frequent the word “bitch” is being used on the show now. It’s as if I find the word particularly offensive, it’s actually pretty tame as far as words go but it feels weird on Buffy. It was Warren’s favorite word, Spike called Buffy it last episode and in this one Andrew refers to Willow as the Wicca Bitch and Dark Willow calls Buffy it. It kind of feels like the Riley super action hero lines of seasons past, where it was adorable how he thought that made him sound edgy and serious. It’s as if the show wants to convince me that because it uses words like “bitch” and talks about serious subjects like sex and Spike’s special pants that it is more dramatic and dark and it doesn’t. This all feels just way less impactful than when the gang was confronting stage fright in the “Puppet Show” in season one.

  6. TWO TO GO feels less impactful to me than VILLAINS, mostly because I felt like there wasn’t as much real emotion. Dark Willow is pretty much a caricature here, save the twirly mustache or cackling. (Can I say how much I hate how many more times we are going to have to see flayed Warren in the “previously on…” segments? Eww!) She’s obviously losing her mind, which I guess is the point. And the Buffy/Willow smackdown was uninteresting to me, although I can see how the writers may have thought it would be viewer-bait. (See our two female leads kick each others’ asses!) On first watch, I was pretty thrilled with the conclusion of Giles showing up. It kind of seems like the only thing they could do. All the other Scoobies are evidently no match for Willow at this point.

    As far as Willow’s past re: bullying, I sort of fall in the middle of the debate. I think her life experience has shaped her, especially in a desire for power kind of way, seeing how those who had power had more advantages. But I think the insecurities were more of a self-perception rather than actual outside influence. Her dream in Restless shows how she’s afraid that she is still the same person, the “nobody”. Often when the insecurities come up as a plot point, it is her idea of herself, not someone else calling her a loser.

    Trivia time!
    – Jonathan states he has asthma in Go Fish, so this explains how he is out of breath when running away from the Magic Box.
    – About the length of time that Warren’s flaying was shown: “The scene where Warren is skinned alive by Willow was edited out when shown in most places. Marti Noxon said of the scene, “The skinning of Warren was something Joss wanted. We pitched it to the network, and the network said, ‘As long as you only see it for 2.5 seconds, go for it.’”

    And because you guys wondered, Spike is reportedly in Africa. As Spike is strutting on the cat walk… er, sand… the man calls out to him in some African dialect. I think I saw a translation at one time, but I the internet is currently failing me.

    Now, the events of Villains, Two to Go, and Grave fall approximately in the same 24 hour span, and so the shortest flight to Africa would be 20 hours, but airplanes aren’t really vampire friendly (sunlight), so unless teleportation it would be difficult to get there that quickly, so some people have surmised that perhaps the Spike story takes place after the events of season 6, and are just shown concurrently with the Dark Willow story.

  7. Sorry I didn’t record many references but I wanted to discuss one that I noticed Andrew or Johnathan make about Willow going all Dark Phoenix. I remember reading the story-line of Dark Phoenix in the X-men when I was young and it really blew me away. Jean Grey is somehow infused with additional powers that she initially uses for good but eventually she loses her moral compass completely, is responsible for dreadful things and although partially rehabilitated she realizes she is ultimately a danger to humanity/the universe and commits suicide. It was the embodiment of the phrase “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and a very very cool storyline. I know Joss Wheldon is a big comic fan so I’m sure he wanted to go for something like that with Willow’s storyline but it fails because the corrupting influence on Willow is mixed. It’s partly about the power that comes with magic but also confused with the addiction metaphor and that’s why…..well I don’t think Willow is any Dark Phoenix.

    I also wanted to pitch in a bit on the debate about Willow’s character back in High School. I can’t remember where I heard the story (maybe even from your podcast in which case sorry to repeat) but apparently what really sold Alyson Hannigan at audition was the way she delivered a particular line that I think is in the the pilot. She talks about someone talking her barbie doll away from her when she was a child. Buffy asks if she got it back and she says “Most of it”, in a really upbeat positive way and that’s how she felt Willow should be. Chirpy in the face of bad events. So I tend to agree with Robin that she has been presented as someone who is a natural survivor at High School.

    I don’t really have a lot to say about the episode itself. It just carries along, fairly satisfyingly but not completely….coolest line award definitely goes to Giles at the end.

  8. A thought on Clem as a non-evil demon. What do we know about him? We know he plays kitten poker and finds kittens delicious, likes to watch TV, and seems to enjoy board games and snack foods. As far as how Buffy feels safe leaving Dawn with him in Villains…I mean, it’s upsetting that he eats kittens, but it’s not the same as the baby-eating demon we had earlier in the series. I hear there are people who eat guinea pigs in South America, and dogs in Japan, though I may be off on specifics possibly. I find these things very upsetting, but it doesn’t mean these are bad people who would be untrustworthy to watch my teenage sister who needs a hideout more than a babysitter. I do feel that Clem offers less protection from demons than Spike, but I suppose the crypt is pretty secure? Not sure. Just thinking a bit on the topic.

  9. Like some of the other comments have noted, this episode really doesn’t have much punch to it. It’s just a bridge to fill the gap between Villains and Grave. So I just wrote down some thoughts as I watched:

    -How can Andrew still believe Warren wouldn’t abandon him? Truly says something about his naiveté.
    -Buffy, Clem and Dawn all seem to find Rack’s place pretty easily considering the fact that it is supposed to be hidden from anyone not into the “big bad.”
    -The film major in me appreciated the camera work in the teleporting scene with Buffy, Willow and Dawn. The spinning background, combined with the more stationary camera on the three of them was cool. Not really a critical point so much as a technical one.
    -I disagree that Andrew and Jonathan are not perceivable as real people. Especially Jonathan. Jonathan’s change of morality, and his decisions to do the right thing, even going so far as to help the Scoobies in several instances over the past few episodes, show a growth in his character. This growth, however small it may be, makes him a real character for me. Going back even further, his character has even grown since his early one off appearances in season 2 where he was often taken advantage of by other students. He has learned to stand up for himself, and for what is right. He’s also learned to do it in a more mature way, going from the kid who passive aggressively pees in the pool to the one who can confront his friends face to face when they are in the wrong (even if he was unsuccessful in dodging Warren’s screwed up schemes). As someone who once was so desperate for friends that he tried to create them magically, his ability to stand up to the few real ones he has, even at the risk of alienating them, says something about his character in my opinion. Andrew has much less of a growth arc to this point, but he hasn’t been around as long as Jonathan, and I think he has potential for growth. I still view him as a real character.
    -GILES!!! His return is a perfect cliff hanger.
    -I read somewhere that their is a tombstone in Spike’s crypt that says James. Perhaps a reference to the man who brings him to life on screen, Mr. Marsters.

  10. For anyone who hasn’t seen, here’s what Clem looks like when he’s not in make up. His portrayer, James Charles Leary:

  11. To start with something trivial, I’ve been really bothered by the costuming of Dark Willow on rewatch- one of the things that made Angelus such a frightening villain was that he looked exactly the same as the character we’d come to trust when he went dark side, but when Willow does she looks clichéd and over the top, mostly because of her change in wardrobe as well as the eyes/hair/veins. It just seems silly to me, that we get literally ‘going dark’, as if the personality shift and vengeance weren’t enough, and frankly I think it would have had more impact if we’d had Willow still wearing the clothes spattered with her girlfriend’s blood, doing all these terrible things. I mean, she took the time to change but just left Tara on the floor? That just seems OOC, even for Dark Willow.

    Moving on to the more important things- I really enjoyed the scene with Jonathan and Andrew in the jail cell; all the way through I’ve had a soft spot for Jonathan and I liked the way his guilt and resignation was portrayed there. Andrew is completely in denial of all wrongs, still fixated on Warren and the plan, but Jonathan sees their part in all that has happened, knows they deserve punishment, and I really like that part of his character. It feels like he’s grown a lot over the course of the season, particularly in the last few episodes since Dead Things.

    Giles’ reappearance at the end still gives me shivers every time I watch it; I’m so glad he’s a part of the finale of this season, after being absent for most of it, and his line to Willow was so perfect, so matter of fact, and the contrast it draws just in that one moment between the Willow that had been his protégé and and Dark Willow is intense. Obviously, I can’t wait to see more of that in the next episode.

    Although I suppose it makes sense with the time scaling of these episodes, I don’t like how Spike’s trials are spotted about. There’s too little, too irregularly, and I think it doesn’t draw enough focus for those parts of the episode to have the impacts they should, but also manages to detract from the action going on in the A line of the story. I think it would have been better to have put everything from Spike’s POV out of Villains and into Two To Go and Grave (don’t think that’s really a spoiler, so much as an assumption :p), perhaps in place of the extremely tedious scenes with Dawn and Clem. That said, “Here we are now, entertain us.” – how can you not love that line? Spike to a tee.

  12. Hi guys. I’ve noticed there’s quite a lot of discussion in recent podcasts about the inherent evilness (or not) of demons & I just thought I’d highlight that a blurring (or perhaps more generously a deepening/nuancing) in relation to this was happening in general in the Buffyverse over the preceding two years, particular starting in Angel the Series with Doyle, Angel’s half-demon sidekick also dedicatedly ‘helping the helpless’, continuing with Lorne, the fully demon host of a demon bar who is also a thoroughly decent chap, & many more episodic examples – in fact it was the theme of the Season 2 opener, and arguably of the whole season (if not series!) – are demons necessarily bad or do they make the choice? Perhaps it seems quite new or out-of-character on Buffy itself, but having done my rewatch taking in both series in sequential order, this grey-area stuff around demonhood & ethics seems completely natural and in-universe to me with the early binary of humans-good, demons-bad long gone. I’d like to see it better EXPLAINED (eg what is a soul, how does it function, who has them etc), but I don’t think it hasn’t been SHOWN that demons aren’t necessarily evil. Agree the main characters appear inconsistent in their treatment of say, Anya & Spike, but then again he did keep telling them all Season 4 that despite not killing anymore he still ‘identified as evil’ & would kill if he could, so maybe thats why they treat him as such, rather than it being just because they ‘see him as a demin which is therefore evil’. Still loving the podcast: thanks you guys!

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