Thoughts on season 6 so far (to Entropy)

by Klytaimnestra

Okay, I was thinking over the season so far this morning. I'm lightly spoiled for the rest of the season but doing my best not to know any more, and I won't refer to what little I've heard here (not even for Seeing Red, which I gather that about 90% of the board has already downloaded and seen, since I haven't).

It's clear that they're bent on pursuing this ugly story to its bitter end. I can see the reasons for that; it makes better drama than a story in which everyone behaves like a charitable, sensible human being. Putting in any cut-outs where people actually start behaving decently for five seconds would eliminate the possibility of ratcheting up to a truly intolerable climax. I can see all this.

So Buffy has to not only break things off with Spike, but deny that she knows him, was ever a friend of his, ever fought with him, ever turned to him for help. She has to forget every good thing she ever knew about him and believe the stupidest things Xander could possibly say about him. Xander has to believe every stupid thing he can about Spike rather than confront his own inner fears. And so on.

Their point is to drive their primary characters down to the absolute rock-bottom worst those particular characters could ever be; to break them, in order, one has to hope, to build them up again on a less adolescent basis. And they did this partly for reasons involving this stage of the Hero's Journey (I think), and partly to dramatize the problems of early 20's at their very worst, and partly to show the Dark Side of the Force. It's not just Willow, but all the Scoobs who have a potential to become Darths.

And driving it to its ultimate conclusion instead of having any of the characters wake up and behave decently for five seconds is, I grant you, good drama. And I even think it's been well-executed. The last couple of episodes have convinced me that the writers really haven't dropped the ball. They're doing exactly what they want to do with this season; destroy the characters. I derive some comfort from the idea that this is all intended, and not the result of simple-minded incompetence.

What keeps coming to my mind, however, is the phrase "they've gone too far".

Earlier this season I kept hoping they'd stop the process in time for the end of the season. Now I see that they're not going to; that the point is to break the SG all the way down, and leave them atomized, crushed, in no sense the characters we used to care about. The story arc is down, down, down, down, down. They WANT to go too far. They WANT to go so far that the characters aren't just damaged, but completely broken.

So I can simultaneously see that for what they want to do, they're doing it very well, and think, this was a bad creative decision. It was a comic-book creative decision, to make the characters black and white, and this year make the "heroes" cartoonishly dark. We all know how much Joss likes comic books, and it does make for a compelling story.

But I'm left with characters that even when my anger has passed, I don't like or want to know about anymore.

I think ME has done what it set out to do, but has quite possibly overestimated its ability to resurrect its characters after destroying them. I'm sure they thought that they could destroy them, have them learn their lessons, and then grow up painfully and learn from this and be sadder, wiser people. And maybe they can. But I don't know how many of us are going to hang on for the journey.

Because dramatically, it's a good story; emotionally, it's not. I just saw Xander, whom I used to like, flat-out try to kill Spike, beat him up when he knew he couldn't fight back, and be prevented from actual murder only by lousy aim and by being stopped by Anya and Buffy. Exactly how is he going to come back from that? In terms of narrative, drama, etc etc, I'm sure ME can cause him to learn the error of his ways, etc. But I'm not going to forget what he did. And I'm not going to forget what Buffy's done either.

And I don't see how they could have so greatly overestimated their ability to retrieve their creations. I think they may have gotten so wrapped up in the story they're telling that they didn't consider its emotional impact on an audience that doesn't get to participate in the creative decisions.


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