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