Day Ten: I liked it, fandom didn't
Yeah... The fact that I marathoned the whole thing in a matter of days probably has something to do with it. I never felt the lack of suspense/tension/whatever. Watching all the episodes in quick succession – and in a complete vacuum – actually gave me the impression that they were all pretty consistent in quality. Also, that none of them were really standalone. I felt more like I was watching a big continuous narrative than a bunch of individual episodes. Maybe this is the cause of frustration? I’d imagine that that break between episodes for real time viewers would be infuriating, especially with some episodes that pretty much just act as preludes for the next one. I see how there’d be a pacing problem there. Still. I don’t know. I never found myself getting bored.
I’ve seen the sentiment that it’s only an enjoyable season for the Buffy/Spike-friendliness of it, but I’m not sure I agree. I mean, yeah, love those kids, but I never got this impression of their relationship taking up a heap of narrative focus. They get quite a lot of screentime in “Beneath You”, “Sleeper” and “Never Leave Me” in the first half, but after that they pretty much just exist in the background until “Touched”. In any case, the ship doesn’t have much bearing on my enjoyment of FAVORITE EPISODES such as “Selfless” and “Conversations With Dead People” and “Storyteller” (in which they hardly interact). So, no, I can’t say that my liking of the season is down to shippiness.
I also, shockingly enough, DON’T HATE the First Evil. I think it does exactly what it’s supposed to do – erode the faith and self-belief of the heroes to such an extent that they end up turning on each other. I think it’s almost annoyingly subtle though? For a long time I was wondering when Buffy would ~not choose Dawn like “Joyce” warned, but these days I’m pretty sure that was actually just a bogus message which contributed to Dawn’s banishment of Buffy in “Empty Places”. There are plenty of bigger examples, like Wood trying to off Spike after being encouraged by not-Nikki. The First Evil gets a lot of flak for ‘talking too much’ and not really DOING anything – but with the overarching theme of losing human connection, I really can’t criticise the narrative choice of making the Big Bad non-corporeal. I mean, not-Buffy in “Touched” telling Caleb, “I know why they grab at each other. To feel. I want to feel. I want to wrap my hands around some innocent neck and feel it crack” – is probably one of my favourite moments of the damn season.
There's also the fact that the FE doing nothing but talking is textually acknowledged when Buffy calls it “The Taunter” in “Chosen”. So, I can’t say that it bugs me. But besides that, I also disagree that ‘words’ – or mere ideas – don’t make for effective monsters. Maybe this is just me coming back from seeing The Deathly Hallows Part 1 for the third time (GETTIN’ SPOILERY NOW), but I can’t help being reminded of that Horcrux destroying Ron (before he destroyed it) purely by bringing all his feelings of worthlessness to the surface.
Also, just, simply, experiences with anxiety and depression in general. I can testify that harbouring a ceaseless chorus of self-hate in one’s head SURELY MAKES FOR A WORTHY OPPONENT, so I don’t find it too difficult to dismiss this idea that the First Evil was a weak villain. No doubt it could have been executed better (as could many other things), but I really don’t have a beef with the concept.
GRANTED, I’m not too fussed about that ~plot thing in stories in general. Maybe I am just extraordinarily easy to please? Which is probably a BAD thing, but... it doesn’t FEEL bad. I mean, it’s far more pleasant to enjoy something than to not enjoy something. So you may bombard me with OMG YOU HAVE AWFUL TASTE comments if you so desire, but I doubt I’ll care much.
But ~defences aside, I think there’s plenty to enjoy about the season. The individual Scoobies are at their most likeable and sympathetic (well, to me). Xander is amazing. Gives awesome speeches and fixes windows like a champ. BUFFY IS MY GIRL, OF COURSE. And WILLOW. FAVOURITE WILLOW. I don’t even dislike Giles here. Many bemoan the fact that their friendship is not what it used to be, but that’s what makes it REAL to me. DAWN IS A BAMF. And Anya. THAT WOMAN. “I’ll be his missus.” Her whole damn speech about humanity in “End of Days”. WHEELCHAIR FIGHTING WITH ANDREW. ANDREW IN GENERAL. HIS HAPLESS QUEST FOR REDEMPTION. No, the moment that REALLY guts me is in “Chosen”, after the final battle, when he asks “Why didn’t I die?” to nobody in particular. He was 100% willing to. THE RETURN OF FAITH. FAITH AND BUFFY TOGETHER AGAIN. FAITH AND SPIKE FOR THE FIRST (but not actually first) TIME. Robin Wood. Dude is hilarious. Spike blowing up the fucking town. BUFFY’S SMILE. I AM A SMILE FAN. I DO NOT APOLOGISE.
But yeah, okay. Enough blathering. I’ve made my unpopular case now.