This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Look, if cavemen and astronauts got into a fight, who would win?"
11976 members | you are not logged in | 23 February 2020


November 29 2007

The Body tied for Best Death. Joyce's death on BtVS tied for Best Death ever over at Zap2it.

Definetly a biased opinion, but for me, best death it should be a three way tie:

Joyce, Fred and Wash.
Don't know if I'd say Joyce's death was the "best death" but I do believe that "The Body" is the best handling of the death of a parent.
I'm not comfortable with the concept of "best death" but I agree that The Body was the most honest handling of the death of a loved one that I've seen...either on TV or the movies. Fred's death was painful to watch (therefore brilliantly done)and the element of complete shock made Wash's death memorable. When you think about it...every death in the Whedonverse was well done and different, I'd be remiss not to mention the death of Tara as well...still brings a tear to my eye all these years later!
Macha burr. Agree with MS's sentiment from alpha to omega.
I'm not comfortable with the concept of "best death"...

"Highest Deathiness Quotient" ? "Most Deathesque" ? ;-).

Know what you mean though, "The Body" was great TV but I doubt many people would call it entertaining or even particularly enjoyable, that was part of its power.

(. Maybe that's the sort of masterful little touch you can only expect from a Whedon or a Minear though - seems small but it speaks volumes)
The Body was handled so honestly, so perfectly. Fred was the most painful for me to watch though, because Wesley's arc across both Buffy and Angel was one giant gaping wound on my SOUL (thanks, Joss), and taking away that glimmer of happiness... Ugh. Now I'm all weepy.
I know this subject reaches each of us and we feel it in our own way. The topic is stating the impact of death upon us and how we continue on.
"The Body" slays me every time I watch it - and I really couldn't tell you how many times that's been. Because of how close to home it hits, there have been times when I've been tempted to skip over it and move on to the next episode, but I... just can't. It must be watched.

I can't remember where I read this recently (and I know I'm a Very Bad QuoterGal for paraphrasing and also not citing my quotes) - but I recall Joss saying that this episode was probably one of several of his creations that made him the proudest - he'd really said what he wanted to say in the way he wanted to say it.

I think so, too.

Can't wait for the writers to get a good contract, and then Joss can go back to doing what he does best and better than most - writing and sharing both the pain and joy of the worlds that live in his Josshead.
I agree that the idea of a "best death" is a strange one. I think that Joyce's death was probably the most indepth and accurate portrayals of death that Joss has ever done, and in the history of TV and film.

Some of the others were shocking purely for the fact that they come completely out of nowhere yet act as important parts of the stories that they provided a catalyst for- like Tara and Wash.

Fred's was interesting in that it was also quite sudden even though we did know Gunn was going to have a price to pay for his brain upgrade, but there was no indication that it was going to have anything to do with Fred. So the fact that she became sick and died within one episode meant it was quite shocking, but the sickness itself was long and painful which is probably quite a rarity even within the Jossverse.

I think Jenny Calendar's was also an important one within the Buffyverse, because it was the first significant death, of an vital recurring character rather than that of a one episode victim. It was also an exercise in tension and surprise, with Angelus playing a cruel cat-and-mouse game. Doyle's served a similar function on Angel although obviously I think that the character could probably have lived to fulfil so much potential had real life circumstances permitted.

But I think the fact that Joyce's death was the entire focus of one episode gives it much more weight as an examination of our reactions to the death of a loved one. In most cases, we never really got to see much of the immediate aftermath of a death- trying to resusitate the victim, calling an ambulance, informing relatives, and how the mind works at this traumatic time. I always felt a little cheated when some deaths weren't treated with the same level of intimacy but of course that's understandable when you have a plot to get on with.
I think that Joyce's death was probably the most indepth and accurate portrayals of death that Joss has ever done, and in the history of TV and film.

Agree, so very much. I can't watch the episode at all after I saw it the first time. Too spot-on, so I skip it otherwise I'd be a sobbing mess.
It's strange, Fred's death (while certainly horrible and moving) didn't effect me as much as some of the others, and I think I've finally figured out why. By that time, I was so burned out on characters I love dying that stuff just wasn't registering (as much) anymore. I understand Joss and co.'s fascination with killing off characters (and the dramatic need for such), but I think it got to be too much for me.

One death that I don't hear mentioned as much is Cordy's. I felt her death was really well done (although that had as much to do with her being a favorite of mine as the death itself).

As for Joyce's, I think the most powerful part of it was seeing everyone else try to deal with it. The fact that "The Body" isn't more widely recognized for it's sheer brilliance is a crime, if you ask me.
I'm not comfortable with the title 'Best Death' either. There's nothing entertaining in watching the end of someone's life. (Unless they're getting crushed by a space toilet aka 'Dead Like Me.')
Still, perhaps the 'Best Handled Death' tag would be a little more sensitive.

I agree that 'The Body' took me to emotional places I didn't even know I wanted to go to. In the most brilliant way.

But perhaps my favorite death in the Whedonverse is Darla's self-staking. The whole concept of maternal sacrifice struck a chord with me, and the image of the baby emerging from the dust was really powerful.
I wouldn't put Tara's death on the best-death list, not because it wasn't acted well (it was), but because it was so senseless. If Tara had to die, she should've died a heroic death, like saving Willow from the bullet. I have no doubt Tara would have given her life to save Willow, and it would've been even more incentive for Willow to go over the deep end. Instead, it was just implausible (magic-bullet hits the window in the front yard from the back yard, etc.)
I think it should go without saying that by "Best Death" what is meant is best portrayal of death. And to go beyond the 'verse, I agree 100% with the tie for first place. The Body isn't a specific portrayal of the death itself but rather of it's effects on loved ones and Buffy in particular.
But the portrayal of Bobby Simone's death on NYPD Blue is the exact opposite .... a brilliant, surreal look inside the head of a dying person, as well as the pain of those who are losing him.

I'd add Fred's death to the list as well, but not Wash, this is a list of TV deaths. And the only reason I wouldn't add Spike's death is that by the time I watched BtS season 7, I already knew that he was coming back, on AtS. So, as beautifully done & emotionally wrenching as it was, that knowledge did take something away from the experience.
Which begs the question, in a show where supernatural forces are in play and you know that death isn't necessarily "final", do you judge death scenes in a different light? Because if not, the most glaring omission on this list is Buffy's death in The Gift.

edited 'cause my spelling sucks.

[ edited by Shey on 2007-11-30 12:02 ]
I dunno, reckon it partly means "most affecting" Shey.

Buffy and Spike's deaths were, as well as being emotive, sort of "cool" y'know ? They were fitting deaths for heroes, Buffy's because it was so noble and serene (and so very deliberate, chosen) and well portrayed by SMG and Spike's because, though also noble, it was sort of defiant and "blokey" and balls to the wall, just like Spike himself. Significantly IMO, they were both active participants in their deaths.

In a sense which really isn't true of "The Body", I enjoyed their deaths, they went down swinging, like scrappers, fighting the fight.

(Wesley falls somewhere in between)

Wash, Fred and Tara on the other hand "just died" and were only noble because of the choices they made to put themselves in harm's way, not for the actual nature of the deaths (Fred's death in particular was nasty and slow and hella painful). And as others have said, "The Body" wasn't even really about Joyce's death (which, nice as she was, to be honest I didn't really care about that much), it was more about Joyce being dead, if you get me i.e. how it affected Buffy, Dawn and the rest of the gang (which I very much did care about).
quantumac, I have to say I find portrayals of death on TV more affecting if they're senseless - Tara's death I thought was one of the most affecting moments in all of BtVS. Not to say I wasn't moved by more epic or heroic deaths as well, but I think I felt it more when it was something so hideously mundane and evil as that bullet. Yeah, I got weepy when B jumped (especially when they showed Spike's reaction), but Tara's death, and Joyce's, tore me up.

[ edited by Kirochka on 2007-11-30 15:19 ]
Saje, that was actually kinda brilliant. :)
oops, not double-posty brilliant.

[ edited by Shey on 2007-12-02 09:24 ]
I wouldn't put Tara's death on the best-death list, not because it wasn't acted well (it was), but because it was so senseless. If Tara had to die, she should've died a heroic death, like saving Willow from the bullet.

I agree that Tara's death was senseless, but it was supposed to be. And they probably could have changed it so that it would have made more sense in terms of the physics of the bullet, for example having Willow and Tara standing in the kitchen on the ground floor rather than in their bedroom upstairs, however I can forgive the impractical logistics because it was important thematically that they were in their bedroom at the time, having just gotten back together and experienced such physical intimacy and affection.

But the death itself was remarkable because it was one of the few important, permanent deaths in the Buffyverse that wasn't related to something mystical. Buffy, Spike, Cordelia, Doyle, and Fred all died due to supernatural causes. Joyce's was the only death which was due to illness, a completely human death, one that couldn't have been prevented.

Tara's was the result of human violence. Reckless and cowardly violence. The fact that she wasn't even the intended target and was simply "caught in the crossfire" is another concept we weren't frequently forced to deal with in the Buffyverse, but for once the innocent victim wasn't some unnamed person attacked by a vampire in an alley, but a beloved character, forcing us to consider the danger that Buffy and the Scoobies regularly puts themselves into.

Of course there are also other interpretations as to why Tara died, such as it being a form of punishment for her impulsivity in settling back into a relationship with Willow despite not having worked through their relationship problems, but even if you share this view (which I don't), it's pretty clear that this death was one of the most realistic on the show.

Yes, Tara deserved to live, and if she had to die, to die a heroic death. But the point is that death isn't always noble like Buffy's or Spike's. Sometimes people are just killed without a chance to prevent it or even realise what has happened to them. It's brutal and it's ugly, and of course we wish that Tara had a chance to do something heroic or say something beautiful to Willow, but it's all the more tragic simply because of the injustice and randonmness of it.
Razor, I totally agree with you. Tara's death was painful, but obviously necessary to Willow's storyline. Willow was the core character, she deserved something really dramatic and focal, as the series moved toward it's end. Her own part in one of the "driving force" underpinnings of the entire series, the theme of atonement and redemption. And there was no way to justify taking her down that dark a road and then bringing her back, other than Tara's death.

I believe that Willows descent into a darkness that deep was a brilliant and brave move, made perfect sense for the character, and was in fact something toward which Willow had been heading, from the very beginning of her involvement with magic. Very slowly at first, then with the speed of a freight train.
The girl always in the background, who felt so overlooked and under appreciated, so overshadowed by Buffy. Then discovering her own power, and her subsequent struggle to learn how to deal with it, was such an integral part of the entire series. Any less dramatic storyline for Willow's character would have left her kind of dangling, in the context of the final season.

And without that storyline, we would never had a number of the most memorable moments of the entire series, especially the end of Two To Go .... Giles: "I'd like to test that theory".

In addition to everything you said. :)

This thread has been closed for new comments.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.

joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home