Screens: The WB

The Power And The Glory

Behold the fifth season's Big Bad. ...No, not the wardrobe department. Technically.

The November-sweeps backstretch of S5 is quite well done. The revelation that Dawn is the Key, the introduction of Glory, and Joyce's brain tumor -- and the instability these things create for Buffy emotionally, in terms of what and who she knows and can rely on -- all develop at a brisk pace without rushing. Granted, some of their power is lost for a viewer who already knows what's coming, but not having to pay terribly close attention to plot and exposition gives that viewer time to appreciate what nice work James Marsters is doing with a character who just doesn't belong there, and how carefully the writers built to Riley's dual-action alienation.

The downside of that space for appreciative contemplation is that not everything works. Glory is, in a red-pleather nutshell, the primary problem with Buffy once Joss no longer gave it his full attention: a potentially good idea, capable of depth and breadth, that thanks to inattentive world-building and/or good-on-paper casting that didn't go the distance and/or a reluctance to kill off "fun" characters isn't everything it could have been, or even half.

Better Than I Remembered

Spike v. Coffy Spike's styling, the grace note of his taking that Slayer's coat, the winking-out subway lights and grimy walls of the train car, that the car is empty but nobody riding the subway back then would have noticed a kung-fu brawl like that -- it's all pretty great.

Spike, period When he comes upon Buffy weeping on the back porch, his face runs through a whole conflicted crescent: determined to kill her, reluctant to kill her in a weakened state, curiosity, concern, sympathy. The gentle, awkward back-pat and "uh...right?" frown is perfect. Hat tip also to selling all the speechy "death is your art" Socratic dia-slog he's given in "Fool For Love." It's not that there's nothing to it, but the show gets bogged down in its own abstract rhetoric on the subject -- that's basically Season 6 -- and even this little bit of it is wearisome.

Glory bless and keep you, Kevin Weisman "Forgive me, shiny special one," Dreg says in "Shadow," and anyone else who recognized Weisman based on his jaw probably sat up all, "Marshall Flinkman!" Not this guy. I sat up all, "Earl from Felicity!" That's just how I roll. Love that guy.

You too, Tony 2014-12-18-buffy-giles-wizard

I might have to get a tattoo of this.

The unraveling of Briley At the time, Riley's weird cheaty blood-whoring felt abrupt, out of left field, a solution to a problem that didn't exist. Now, it plays far better for me, particularly Marc Blucas's relative stolidity in the face, because 1) Spike's right when he tells "White-Bread" that "Buffy's got a type and you're not it"; and 2) the Initiative is gone, Riley's lost his steroidal superpowers, and while sulking about not having a "use" in the relationship as the big strong man is not a good look, it...is a look that exists in the world, worn by real and decent dudes who nevertheless kind of can't deal with being The Man Behind The, and can't deal in turn with how they can't deal. It's ugly and hard to watch and subtle and it can't be gone back from, and we'll see how I feel when the string is played out, but this badness was thought through.

Worse Than I Remembered

Glory Unlike this one. Oo-fah, what a waste. I was thuh-RILLED to see Clare Kramer in this role back then, and she is doing the very best she can with writing that doesn't seem to know she's a god yet (I don't believe the show has said as much yet, just implied it). Nick Wechsler once said something to me in an interview about the actors on Revenge driving along and trusting the writers to get some road built under them in time; this is the kind of too-big stalling performance you get with that. But the conception of Glory never quite comes online. She's a god, yeah? So where's the omniscience that implies? Even accepting that monks can hide anything from her, why wouldn't she know where the snake is, or just teleport it to her instead of having to smash the glass, or read the monks' minds in the first place? It reminds me of the Greco-Roman -- more Roman, probably -- ideation of gods as, well, people, but very tall people backlit with a holy effulgence that got the point across in case the ten-feet-tall part missed. Like, Venus visits Anchises during a flashback in The Aeneid and is kind of just stuffed in his room in the battlement, and he's all "well I would offer you a chair buuuuut you're huge"? It's a strikingly childlike way to think about one's heavenly creatures, especially for such a militaristic culture, and Glory is apparently conceived along similar lines: she's a god, but not in the Judeo-Christian, don't-look-directly-at-her, "I am All and am in All" way. She's just an extra-strong demon. I mean, all the shoes from...Aldo? You're a deity. Get after some Choo, dang.

...A Vergil reference. Should I even keep talking, or just stuff myself in a locker?

Origin stories Except for a deft bit where Dawn blocks Giles's face with a broom, "Family" isn't great. It's a waste of Kevin Rankin and Amy Adams; Tara works better as a bit of a cipher; Buffy's a snot about Tara's birthday being "not the most thrilling social event of the season," like she's so busy; and it seems to take a long time. The payoff shot at the end is sweet, but it's not enough, and "Fool For Love" drags for many of the same reasons, but with much more unacceptable wiggery, Boreanaz Novocaining an "Oirish" accent, and the interminable "just tell me"/"wait, first a metaphor!" scene in the alley.

Ben Zzzzz.

More like "Why 2K," amirite? (I am) 2014-12-18-buffy-dawn-jacket
Screens: The WB

Screens: The WB

And the usual Willow horrors. Anya's got decent game, which is nice, since with every passing episode her character is more of a Rain Man sketch, so at least she looks good? Sigh.

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REL 103: World Religion Survey (prereq.)