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RRR: Buffy — A rare slip-up by Joss Whedon

Posted by Mr. Feeny on August 23, 2009

No, not the show itself. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is phenomenal. I only started watching it this summer, but it’s quickly moved into my Top 10 (which is really a list we should each do at some point).

But I was very disappointed in parts of the last episode I watched. Typically, creator and writer Joss Whedon is adept at keeping track of tiny little details. This is often my favorite part of serial shows. Recalling characters from seasons ago. Putting together little clues to create a timeline. That’s why I love LOST. I want to be immersed in a world when watching shows. I want to know as much about the characters as possible.

And Whedon typically does a fantastic job appealing to that part of his fan base. He often brought back minor characters, like Jonathan or Amy (even for just a split second, as she changed from rat to person to rat again). His scripts constantly allude to previous events, so that everything makes sense to long-time viewers. And the forshadowing is brilliant, seasons in advance. Like Willow’s double being a lesbian, or Tara screwing up a demon-finding spell. Little throw-aways that play an important role much later.

It’s for that reason that I had been looking forward to S5:E7 “Fool for Love” since the second season. As someone who loves the back stories, I had been dying to find out who Spike used to be. How he killed two slayers. What made him who he is. In the second season, they showed where Drusilla came from, but not Spike. So this episode was three years in the making. And they screwed it up. Twice.

In the third episode of Season 2, we were just getting to know Spike. And he clearly called Angel his sire. In other words, the vampire that made him a vampire [see the clip on the side]. But in “Fool for Love,” Drusilla is the one who bit Spike. Complete disregard for the story. And if that weren’t bad enough, the same episode features a flashback to 1900. Spike, Drusilla, Darla (Angel’s sire)…and Angel…hanging out in China. But two years earlier, Angel’s soul had been restored by gypsies, according to a flashback at the end of Season 2. Very sloppy.

It doesn’t by any means ruin the show. But I don’t know what to believe. I thought a few episodes earlier Whedon has jumped the shark by bringing in a random sister that never had been a part of the show and no one seemed to notice. But, episode 5 resolved that. So Whedon restored my confidence in his story fluidity…until now.

As you can tell, I’m one of “those” fans. The ones who obsess over little details. It makes it more fun for me. I rarely get into a show if it doesn’t have that background info for me to absorb. And it really bothers me when they scrap it. The worst example is Friday Night Lights, where they completely changed the grades of most of the characters to keep them around longer. Horrible.

But don’t worry. I won’t harp on this often. I just needed to get it out there. But you can bet I’ll mention it again if LOST does the same thing in their final season. You create a history…stick to it.

(By the way, “RRR” stands for Re-Run Review. We’ll occassionally post reviews of episodes or entire series that are no longer on the air. And we’ll catalogue them under the tab at the top)

[Oh, and a shoutout to one of our readers, “Blu” who lent me the last four seasons of Buffy to catch up. I really appreciate it…and now you can blame him for future posts like this]


8 Responses to “RRR: Buffy — A rare slip-up by Joss Whedon”

  1. Blu said

    You feel my pain now after I watched the Star Wars prequels.

    With your love for details like that I really believe that B5 would be one of the very next shows you should target. It is exactly as you described with lots of attention to detail. Primitive computer generated graphics aside the story is where B5 shines.

  2. Katie said

    Believe me, I appreciate the blast to the Whedon past.

    You are very right about the continuity error regarding Spike’s sire. Bad form. I chalk it up to seasons 1 and 2 being a little bit of throw aways. Let’s keep in mind the inherent cheesiness even in Season 2. Also, we could make ourselves feel better by acknowledging that Angel is Spike’s GRAND sire. I know, pathetic, but it helps me sleep through the night.

    SPOILER: As to Angel’s presence at the Boxer Rebellion, my understanding from having watched and rewatched Buffy and Angel both is that Angel attempted to ignore his soul for a few years and tried to be an “ordinary” vampire. I could be completely out of left field with this as it’s 6:30 in the morning and it has been 8 months since Angel and six-ish since Buffy, but that’s sorta what I recall. Unlike Star Trek, Whedon is a bit better about cleaning up ret-cons. A bit better.

    • Mr. Feeny said

      Ahhhhh. That makes me feel better. I’m only on season 1 of Angel…and I’m not sure if I’ll continue past it. It doesn’t have the same charm as Buffy.

      And yes, good thinking with Grandsire. Someone else mentioned that to me as well. I guess it’ll do. I tried to get Whedon himself to comment on it, by sending him the link on Twitter. But no such luck.

      • BarbMacK said

        Soz, just came across this post in a random google I was doing (looking for particular pic of a Spike smirk…no luck on it yet…anyway!)

        To make you feel better, the Boxer Rebellion bit is covered in Angel S2. He was trying to ignore the soul to stay with Darla (though whole sire/childe connection thing)

        As for the sire thing…I guess the only help can offer on that is when Spike was fairly new, Angelus took him under his wing a bit, much like Dru should’ve…so maybe he was meaning sire in that way? It’s sketchy but still…but then Spike WAS originally meant to die under the church rubble, it was only cos fans loved him so much that they brought him back!

        As for Angel…my advice is don’t go past S3, and even that one’s a bit sketchy towards end. I loved both S1 and 2 cos they both showed completely different sides of characters we hadn’t seen before (most notably Angel and Cordelia) But it’s more a grouping of smaller plots than real continuous show after that…don’t get me wrong, there are some episodes I absolutely adore…just…something missing

        All that said, hope you still enjoy it

        (sorry for the unbelievably long rant from complete stranger!!)

        ~ B

  3. rachel said

    I would like to thank you, Mr. Feeny, for pointing out these two continuity errors which have always bothered me and ruined any sort of connection to “Fool for Love,” which should be one of my favorite episodes as Spike is one of my favorite characters.
    Apparently Angel gets better. I’ve never seen it, but you should stick it out and let us know.

  4. orangewaxlion said

    Incredibly late but I came across this while googling for something else. I thought I’d toss in that I actually thought Angel hit it’s stride in the last two seasons. This may have been since I mostly started toward the end of season three and had to go back through plot points that didn’t seem as dynamic and rife with potential since I already sort of knew their ramifications.

  5. Mr. Feeny said

    OK…here’s another one that I won’t dedicate another post to. But as for as continuity, I’m just not getting it.

    I’m halfway through the final season of Buffy. Why do the never mentiont that there’s another Slayer? Buffy and the others keep saying how the First has to get through her, Faith and the potential slayers. But, since Buffy died in Season 5, shouldn’t there be a third Slayer out there? Please tell me this gets resolved in of the last episodes.

    • Richard Rahl said

      Mr. Feeny,

      My best guess on why there is not a 3rd Slayer after Season 5 is that Faith’s presence prevented it.

      Think of it this way. Being a Slayer is a dangerous job. Buffy’s “death” in Season 1 activated Faith because there was (for that time) no Slayer. You’ve got to think that over the last 1,000+ years something like this near death (or temporary death) has happened before. Yet, we don’t have lots and lots of Slayers running around.

      So, probably a new Slayer is only activated when there is no Slayer. Since Faith was still alive when Buffy died, “Slayer Powers” were still active in this world. There was no absence of a Slayer to trigger a new Slayer.

      Slayer powers are very delicate in the balance of good and evil, as we learned in Season 7. This is probably the check needed to prevent an unbalance in the forces of good and evil that could trigger an apocalypse.

      Also, it is not a mistake for Angel to have been in China. The record clearly shows he did try to ignore his soul…or at the very least pretend to ignore his soul (he let some folks go behind Darla’s back.

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