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May 07 2003

tildanet.com review of 'Touched'. "All-in-all, I’m gonna have to give "Touched" a 4.5/5.0 on the Score-O-Rama".

So having not seen the episode yet, what was the Mayor/Faith scene like?

It was the only good thing about the episode.

I'm giving it 1 star out of 5 for that.
I actually liked this episode more than I have done for a while. Things actually seemed to be happening and, although I've got reservations about certain aspects of it - is it just me who thought that weapon thingummy looked, well, just /cheesy/? - it seemed okay to me. What are the problems you - and anyone else, obv - had with it, Prolific?

[ edited by alpen on 2003-05-07 12:22 ]
The scythe looked a little too shiny new metal for my taste. It looked cooler in it's other appearance.
See, I /knew/ I was missing something about that scythe-y weapon thing then. When was it's other appearance? I don't remember having seen it before, but that could be because I have a memory as short as a little goldfish's.
I loved this ep, myself. The Mayor scenes (best Big Bad ever, IMO), Faith giving Kennedy a verbal smack-down, the fight between Spike and Faith, Andrew's brief possesion, the Buffy/Spike scenes, the misdirecting cuts between Faith and Buffy at the end... all so very very good. I was enthralled.

On the down side, the first act was a bit dull and I agree that the scythe looked a wee bit cheesy. But, for me, the good outweighed the bad.
Alpen, the other appearance of the weapon was in Fray.
I loved the ep. The only false note I saw was Kennedy saying "Come here, you" - how cheesy was THAT? I wanted to like Kennedy - and I do like the actress, she seems sweet - but Faith, PLEASE kick her ass for me.
"What are the problems you - and anyone else, obv - had with it, Prolific?"

I seem to have lost that lovin' feeling.

But to me more precise...

Buffy's a bitch and she treats everybody like crap. Her friends are 'traitors'. The only one she can trust is the bloke ('soul now') who tried to rape her... who then proceeds to tell Giles he's 'jealous'. Whatever. I kind of liked Kennedy up till now, but she was bloody annoying last night. Despite being an all time bitch, Buffy was 'right' and Faith was 'wrong' cause she can never be right and will always be bad. What was with all the pointless sex and the awkward 'cuddling'. Also... I wanted to punch that glycerine tear off Buffy face. (SMG, the woman who can 'cry on cue' doesn't even try anymore.)

And I'm not even having a bad day. Honestly, everything I liked about the show (and specifically the Scooby and Slayer/Watcher dynamic) is just not there anymore. So it's all about Buffy. Unfortunately, I don't give a toss about her.

Are they deliberately lowering the standard so Angel looks even better and will get picked up?

I hope that good news Whedon got was about Firefly - that show had everything BtVS has lost. Bring it back.

ETA: I really liked some of this season, Selfless and Storyteller and CWDP in particular. The second half of the season I will probably never watch again.
Overall I liked this episode, however I could see the bomb coming. I
think this is one of the few times that I have been able to correctly guess an ending. I wonder if anyone else could see that ending.
I liked the ep ok - kinda slow in parts, but not really bad anywhere. I liked Faith taking charge, and I didn't think the ending amounted to Buffy=smart and Faith=stupid. I think both Slayers have made some good and some bad decisions - interesting, isn't it, the way the Slayer In Charge always seems to f*ck up, and the Slayer Alone always seems to get it done? The lesson to me was more about the difficulties of leading a group than some inferiority of Faith's.

Food was pretty hot, Xanya was way too brief, and I'm acid-peeling Killow off the back of my retinas. Loved the Buffy/Spike scene in the script, but hated the way it was filmed - the strange position of their arms, the weird staring into each others eyes. Prolific is right, "awkward" sums up what should have been a very tender tableau.
My take was more Buffy = lucky & Faith = unlucky.
Heh. Buffy's lucky, Faith finds the weapons of mass destruction.
I'm watching the episode again now to see whether I still like it ;) I felt like I agreed partly with you, Prolific - I do think it's been the second half of this season that's been the weakest, and felt just kinda odd somehow.

Ooh, and Oddjob, thanks for the Fray reference, too. :)
I don't know that I'm a big fan of this episode. I'm hoping the themes will be made clearer in future episodes and in retrospect, but it lacked the thematic clarity and scope that I've really been grooving on this season. The pre-battle nookie sequence was rather random to me. You know what I wish had happened more than anything? What would have made the episode for me? I wish Tara had appeared to Willow while she was in bed with Kennedy. I know Amber Benson wouldn't have agreed to do it, but I would have been happy to see even an Amber Benson body double from behind just standing with her back to the camera, between us and Willow, offering silent judgment. Is it the First? Is it Willow's own conscience? Tara died right around this time last year, and as someone else noted, I would have really liked to see some deference paid to the anniversary. For now, I'll just have to imagine that sequence on my own. Sigh.
grrarrgh00, just cos I'm really interested in what you said there - what are the themes that you think make up the thematic clarity and scope you mentioned? Cos I've been having trouble this season understanding what the writers are driving at some of the time in terms of this kind of stuff, so if you can get me thinking about this in another way, that'd be really cool!
Well, alpen, I'm saving up a lot of my detailed ideas for my giant end-of-Buffy manifesto that I plan to start writing any day now, so I'm just going to give you a few gists. Please excuse the fact that I'm going to quote from my thesis, so there'll be academic jargon laced in with this.

As I've stated before, this show's genius for me is its willingness to use reversal and subversion to expose some of the most interesting questions about life that are never otherwise permitted to be asked, or realities about life that are never properly recognized. One of the first ingenious dichotomies corrupted by the show was the Hellmouth/suburb juxtaposition. I wrote in my thesis that The principle self-conscious irony of Buffy ... is the fact that the depiction of the Hellmouth is used primarily to reflect the inherent, real-life abnormality of [the suburbs]. Suburban realities, such as the overambitious cheerleading mother and the embarrassing high school talent show, are routinely configured as monstrous. The name of the town depicted in the show, “Sunnydale,” is an ironic nod to the falseness of the normalized suburban veneer, suggesting wholesomeness and light. In reality, Sunnydale is the Hellmouth.

The past three seasons for me have been intended to deconstruct some of the fundamental principles on which the show is based, weaving back through the show's history to confront the problematic simplicities that began the series. Last season, I've always argued, began to address the developments of the second and third seasons. Season 7, "back to the beginning," is addressing the fundamentals laid out in the series' beginning.

Take, for example, the very first line ever uttered in the show. "In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer." This mythology began to be corrupted as early as Season 2, with the introduction of the second Slayer. But this season, we've seen a proliferation of potential Chosen Ones that tackles that legend head-on. Finally, in "Empty Places," we saw Buffy effectively abdicate the position of Chosen One. She's part of the fight, yes, but no longer is she officially The Fight, or even the leader of it.

Let's talk about Giles for a moment. Also from my thesis: At the show's outset, Buffy occupies the traditional position of the Romantic heroine ... forced by a patriarchal society to enter its institutions (in this case slaying, usually marriage) against her will. Buffy is initially vocal about her opposition to the destiny she has been assigned. “First of all, I'm a vampire slayer,” she tells Giles in the show's pilot episode. “And secondly, I'm retired” (Welcome). Issues of masculine dominance emerge instantly as Giles identifies himself as Buffy's “Watcher,” a title heavily loaded with connotations stemming from Laura Mulvey's famous explication of the camera's masculine gaze. Buffy's problems with the patriarchy find a corporeal representative in the first season's villain, the Master.

Giles has had to increasingly renounce his patriarchal associations in order to be Buffy's Watcher, so we've never really seen his authority challenged, only obliquely in "Helpless" and "Checkpoint." But this season, he reestablished his connection with the Watcher's Council. And when he returned, patriarchy in full blaze, attempting to continue to impose his will on Buffy, she finally overtly signalled her unwillingness to play along (the closing of the door in LMPTM).

Xander and Dawn's roles and feelings have increasingly been articulated in mutual terms this season, a fact that's always been kind of latent, but has emerged fully for the first time. As a youngest sibling myself, I've gotten to appreciate the exploration of siblinghood that I think they've done well in episodes like "Potential" and other moments throughout.

The mantra of this season, "From beneath you it devours," hearkens back to the Gothic theme of the evil within. According to Gothic convention, everyone, especially every woman is repressing some inner evil that just waits to be unleashed. I see the mantra as a metaphorical reference to two things: The First is the only Big Bad on Buffy whose only influence is psychological, working beneath the surface; and secondly, the First can only take the form of the dead, those buried beneath the earth. The greatness of the idea that the last villain Buffy has to fight is a non-corporeal being who most often takes the form of Buffy herself is not lost on me. It also fits in very well with the sub-theme of this season, "It's all about power," a theme which has been used most often in service of the fact that sometimes, the most prudent use of power is the withholding of it. I did think Buffy's fight with Caleb in "Touched" resonated well with this sub-theme, I'll give the episode that.

There are a number of other questions this season has raised, both broader and smaller, about gender and fate and free will and war and game theory and a whole lot of other stuff, most of which I can't even comment on until the series is over and I see how it's all resolved and I get to think about it more and many of which I'm not even interested in. I know one of my friends has always been fascinated with the show's anxieties about touch; you'd have to talk to her to get the full low-down. But the idea of touching and corporeality has been omnipresent this season, and I would have expected it to be addressed more in an episode called "Touched."

Does that help you at all to see where I'm coming from, alpen?
You know, I was pretty disappointed with this episode in all. The camera work in the first scene with all the potentials and the crew was disconcerting and...yeah, I know that it was done to reflec the uncertainty in the group and how there was no balance any more with Buffy out of the picture...but it was kinda like watching the early episodes of "Law and Order" where I was screaming "Can someone buy them a Steady Cam!?!?!?!"

Buffy just walking into someone's house and taking over was totally whacked and I was really annoyed by that.

Spike totally pissed me off. He didn't even listen to the group and was absolutely clouded by his feelings for Buffy -- it is so clear that she was out of order in the previous episode (and has been in a downward spiral into self-centredness and a messiah complex for the whole season) that his aggression towards Faith and the others was uncalled-for.

The whole sex-o-rama went too long and too much detail. I didn't need the Kennedy and Willow neck licking at all.

I could have done without Buffy's sudden epiphany and realisation of how to fight using anti-gravity boots, but it was an exciting battle.

The scene with the Mayor was great though. The whole rest of the episode could have ended on the cutting room floor and they could have played that and 50 minutes of commercials and it would have been worth it.

The end, well, I appreciated the cutting between Faith and Buffy but it was a bit confusing (thank God for TiVo!!!!) and now I can't wait to see what happens next week.

If you missed this episode, it wouldn't do you any harm. I think next week's "Previously on Buffy..." will give all the necessary plot exposition from this episode.
grrarrgh00, yes, that was really cool. It's all really interesting stuff - I'm just this week getting to finishing my degree dissertation, which is on the representation of gender and sexuality on youth television programmes. It also mentions the whole Laura Mulvey/"gaze" thing, so that's a pretty amusing coincidence.

But in terms of a more personal, non-academic interpretation of this series, I'd not considered any of the "from beneath you it devours" or "it's all about power" stuff as much as that in terms of this season, so thanks for that explanation!
"Giles has had to increasingly renounce his patriarchal associations in order to be Buffy's Watcher, so we've never really seen his authority challenged, only obliquely in "Helpless" and "Checkpoint." But this season, he reestablished his connection with the Watcher's Council. And when he returned, patriarchy in full blaze, attempting to continue to impose his will on Buffy, she finally overtly signalled her unwillingness to play along (the closing of the door in LMPTM)."

An interesting notion, if you believe in having to cut umbilical chords to become your own person. I don't think you have to do that - you cannot separate from your family, even if you want to. And even if you do, it's practically impossible to give them up in your head. Your family, whether blood related or not, is what you are, I think.

I don´t think Giles came blazing in to oppose his will on Buffy. He came in trying to reason with her - like an adult. Buffy, however, continues to be that child and opposes him and whatever kind advice he offers. That's not being an adult, that´s not being self empowered. That's being a dumb teenager - which she's always been and always will be. Like most of us, I suppose.

Anyway, I've been following discussions at the Stakehouse closely this season and all the background on what this season is supposed to be about. And it's great that this series isn't one dimensional - that there's something more to it that it makes you think. But perhaps they should make sure that what they show on screen makes a kind of sense that is, you know, sensible. As I said elsewhere, this show used to make me feel. Now it makes me feel nauseous. Oh well, there's always Angel.

[ edited by prolific to remove term 'bullshit' on 2003-05-08 19:06 ]
An interesting notion, if you believe in having to cut umbilical chords to become your own person. I think it's bullshit - you cannot separate from your family, even if you want to. And even if you do, it's practically impossible to give them up in your head. Your family, whether blood related or not, is what you are, I think.

I'd absolutely agree with that, pro, and I think my reading's consistent. I think the love between Giles and Buffy is still there, and stronger than ever, but they had to resolve their issues of authority before it could become all love and cupcakes. Remember Prophecy Girl? Remember "I'm older and wiser than you, and just... just do what you're told for once! Alright?" And then remember Buffy knocking him out? I think her closing the door is the mature, more final version of that punch. I think it's completely consistent with their relationship; and that balancing of their role has to happen for them to fully accept and understand each other.

I don´t think Giles came blazing in to oppose his will on Buffy. He came in trying to reason with her - like an adult.

Hmmm. I think his aquiescence in the harebrained plot to kill Spike was about as adult as when he was going to go fight the Master by himself. And I was particularly impressed that they managed to show it clearly this time in terms of some of the overarching themes of his character: to distract Buffy, he decided to take her on one of his "father/daughter talks" (patrol sessions), a fact which communicated well the idea that he still thinks he knows what's best for her; also, his opposition to Spike is part of a stereotypical masculine aggression battle between Spike and Wood in which he becomes entwined, which I think is consistent with the fact that he feels threatened by the presence of another male figure in Buffy's life who she currently looks to as well for guidance and support. I think one of the coolest things about Giles' character is that this stodgy, old, put-together facade covers a rebellious, impulsive youth. He really does love Buffy, but I think that often manifests itself in the wrong way.

I think the other characters actions and interactions square with their portrayal throughout the series. I also think that as far as the dynamic between B, W, and X goes, it would be completely unnatural for them to be grabbing milkshakes at the Bronze together every day. I grew up with these characters, and the progress of their relationship echoes the progress of mine with my friends. Although we're still tremendously close, we have to work our time together into our schedules now, and when we are together, it's not the big dramatic friends-forever-luv-fest it was back in high school. Buffy has been very distant, of course, but I think the three have actually had some of their tenderest moments together this season (especially W & X), and I'm confident that in the next episodes, Buffy will signal her continued affection for her two best buds. Too little, too late? Not for me, I guess, but I'm easy. :)

Anyway, I hate sounding like the Last Defender of Buffy, but it's a dirty job, and somebody's got to ... well, you know. I'm interested in what you found insensible in this season, prolific.
Perhaps I should just put an implied "I think" at the beginning of my subsequent screeds so I don't have to write it 42 times. Sheesh.
A lot of what YOU say makes sense. How you managed to grasp that from what they showed on screen, I don't know, it's a miracle!

I don't 'believe' what I see on screen anymore and it has to be down to bad writing, because these actors didn't suddenly forget their trade.

As I said before - everything used to be straight to the heart, all about feeling. Now I've got to turn to you to explain what's going on. That's not right. It saddens me. I want it to be brilliant and to me it just isn't anymore.

(by the way 'pro' sounds really funny to me... the going shortening is 'prol' :-)

[ edited by prolific on 2003-05-08 19:05 ]

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