Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thoughts on Season Five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This season was the first season of Buffy that I would say was somewhat enjoyable. It felt for the first time that the characters had evolved into who they were meant to be.  Buffy was still as annoying as ever, and seemed to be the only one who could not live without angst. All of the other characters matured and only Buffy remained stagnant. Her death at the end of the season did nothing to change my opinion of her. I have to say, I hate the whole kill of the protagonist routine for a season ender, because we all know that they are just going to have to bring her back.  I don't understand why writers believe that this is shocking or suspense inducing,

To add to my irritation, this season gave us the addition of Dawn.  I don't understand what the writers were thinking with this character, because there certainly was not a shortage of angst before her arrival. I understand that she is a 14 year old girl, but the played out drama of bickering siblings is simply boring. Centering the plot around making Dawn the key, just felt like a justification for throwing more angst at the viewer.  If I were Buffy, I would have just handed Dawn over to Glory and been done with it, to be perfectly honest.

For the first four seasons, I felt as though Spike and Buffy had a lot of unresolved sexual tension, which stopped him from being the vampire he was meant to be.  Spike is at his best when he is not making Buffy the sun and moon of his existence, but alas, this season he was reduced to creepy stalker guy.  There were several things wrong with Spike's love of Buffy.  I didn't like the fact that no one validated his feelings, because he didn't have a soul. No matter what creature or person we can talk about, no one should ever have their own emotions denied.  It was so obvious that he cared about Buffy, even if it was not directed in the most healthy way.  The Buffy robot was absolutely horrendous. 

In Fool For Love, Spike told Buffy how he had killed two slayers of colour.  He sought them out specifically to kill them.  I know that we are meant to see this as an example of how much Spike has changed, but all I saw was that once again two women of colour were callously killed to prove a ridiculous point.  When he killed the Black slayer, he stole the iconic Black leather trench coat that he now wears, thus treating her like rubbish.  When he killed the Chinese slayer, she begged him to give a message to her mother and he outright refused.  These women that he killed had the exact same skill set as Buffy, and yet it is Buffy that drew his devotion.  How many times is Whedon going to kill off slayers of colour?  Even though Faith was cast as evil, she was allowed to escape with her life, however the slayers of colour are given no such accord.  Not only are they highly disposable, apparently, they are also unlovable. 

I was further happy to see that the scooby gang supported Buffy in her rejection of Spike, but upset that the reason they did so was because Spike supposedly does not have a soul, and not because he  consistently attempted to intimidate her and his behavior rose to the level of dangerous stalking.  Spike did after all steal tokens from her bedroom, as well as invented reasons to be alone together.  It felt almost as though these scenes were played for comedic relief, and when we consider that stalking is meant to intimidate, claim ownership over women's bodies, and often leads to violence, it certainly is not a laughing matter.

This season saw the first kiss between Tara and Willow.  It seemed to escalate throughout the season and began with Willow telling Anya, "hello gay," when Anya made some comment about her wanting to steal Xander back.  Tara and Willow also had their first disagreement, when Tara wandered if Willow was only gay for college.  As with previous seasons, the continuing issue with this relationship is that in comparison to the heterosexual relationships on the show, Tara and Willow are extremely chaste.  It is obvious that they love each other deeply, but once again how can we call this equal, when they are not allowed to be sexual?

I suppose I would be remiss if I didn't discuss Glory, because she was the big bad this season.  To be honest, I don't have much to say about her.  I really disliked the dual personality thing that they did.  Even though Glory was a God, the scene she did in Weight of the World, where she transformed quickly in an argument with Ben didn't sit well with me.The second division of a person occurred in The Replacement, with Xander also being split into two distinct halves.  I think coupled with the fact that Tara had her mind altered, these division of people in the season felt disableist to me.  I can't really explain why, but something about it didn't sit right with me.  Perhaps with further discussion, I will better be able to understand it.

It took until five season, but I am finally beginning to see what people like about Buffy.  Thus far my two favorite characters are Willow and Spike.  They seem to have grown and changed the most.  Had I not been working on a project though, I don't think I would have sat through four terrible seasons to get to season five.  There is starting slow, and then there is being downright ridiculous.