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2003-04-29 05:41:14+00:00 - Some Early Comments on "Empty Places" [Episode Spoilers] - (Growltiger <tyger@never.invalid>)


Avast... thar be... episode... spoilers... for "Empty Places"... below! Look down... look way down. Here we go. And so it came to pass that Buffy was cast out of the Summers household and into the wilderness not by Faith, nor by Robin Wood, nor even by Giles. That ignoble act will be committed by Dawn, the cling-on sister who herself feared abandonment by Buffy. And so Joyce's admonition to Dawn back in "Conversations With Dead People" comes true: "When it's bad Buffy won't choose you. She'll be against you." What? How is that, you ask? It was Buffy who was supposed to do the choosing, not Dawn! How did Buffy find herself set apart from her friends, in this empty place? And empty well describes the current state of not only Buffy's psyche, but also Sunnydale. After all the demons, vampires, and past apocalypses, the citizens of Sunnydale at last buy a clue and make tracks out of town. The episode opens with Buffy walking amidst a line of cars: refugees attempting to make good their escape from terror filled Sunnydale. What makes this a striking scene is that walking alone in between the line of cars headed out of town reinforces the idea of Buffy's isolation. In this case it is her isolation from the people in her home town; the people she was chosen to protect from evil's way. Amongst the throng Buffy stumbles on Clem, who makes clear his admiration and support of the Slayer. Well, at least she has his distant admiration because Clem figures that however roxor Buffy may be, Sunnydale is a ground zero for evil and so he joins the exodus. No doubt all the cats of Sunnydale can, for the time being, breath a sigh of relief as Clem makes good his escape. Empty is how one can now describe Sunnydale High School since school has been cancelled. Again the image of isolation is drawn as Buffy walks alone in the empty school corridors amidst the detritus of school children. Although students no longer stalk the hallways, Buffy discovers that Caleb has taken a liking for the halls of academia. He observes that there is a certain irony to the empty school what with the way modern American public education struggles to keep the Lord out of schools. One would think that Caleb would seize this opportunity to do away with the plucky and pert Slayer, but now is not the time. A simple taunting and thrashing session is all Caleb wants for now. That and, as we learn later, to sow some seeds for his nefarious plan. It should be clear by now that "Empty Places" is a determined study of abandonment and isolation. But there is sufficient action in what remains of the Slayerettes to keep this viewer from becoming as detached as our hero. The supporting players are busy as beavers. Giles and Willow gather information from the Metropolitan Police Department about Caleb. (Metropolitan Police Department? Were the Sunnydale PD so incompetent that they were disbanded?) It appears that Willow has learned a variation of the Jedi mind trick to accomplish this task. No doubt Andrew would be proud. Speaking of whom, Andrew goes off on his first field trip with Spike, no less. Bonding ensues as the two discover common ground over a culinary delicacy, deep fried onion blossoms. The trip takes them to a monastery in Gilroy where it appears there have been police reports of a Caleb sighting. I guess the fact that Spike's only misgivings about this mission, besides the fact that Giles is sending him into a dodgy situation, proves that garlic is not a deterrent to vampires. After all, Gilroy is the garlic capitol of the world, but I digress. Spike does confess some uneasiness to Andrew about being in a religious setting. That uneasiness was appropriate since they are set upon by priest. After Spike subdues the holy man, we learn that he was part of a religious community who gave sanctuary to Caleb. And their reward for providing food and shelter was their decimation once Caleb discovered a reliquary of some sort hidden behind what appears to be a statue of a woman in contemplative prayer. As far as the action goes, this is where the Spike's and Andrew's excellent adventure ends, but it appears that to which the priest leads them is a significant find. Spike is shown a legend written in Greek that warns "It is not for thee. It is for her alone to wield." It was Caleb's discovery of this information that lead to his assault upon the mission. Meanwhile, back in Sunnydale, things have reached a breaking point. Tensions are high and Faith thinks the ticket to relief is a party at the Bronze. How could you have a Buffy episode without some time spent drinking and dancing at the Bronze? Yet I find it puzzling that after the initial scene showing us the folks in Sunnydale in diaspora mode, we see the Bronze still open for dining and dancing to live music. Perhaps Dawn had a point when she says "the band was just another sign of the impending apocalypse." In any case, it was a pleasant escapade until the MPD show up and try to take Faith away. These guys have their own notion of justice, and it appears they must have been taking lessons at the Caleb School for Behavioral Studies. Much beating and thrashing of Faith ensues until the potential Slayers figure out what is happening and then render the cops unconscious. Then Buffy shows up and throws a wet blanket on their heroics. The potential Slayers rush home and gird themselves for yet another sermon on the importance of the mission. All of Buffy's speeches on commitment to the mission have been wearing thin on the assembled multitude. Heaven knows I have had my fill of them, but after the fiasco of the cellar at the vineyard, we learn that Buffy's friends have had enough. The coup d'etat, although not unexpected, is still a dramatic moment. It begins with the emotion filled return of Xander from the hospital. Buffy demonstrates exquisite bad timing by choosing this moment to spring her new plan: return to the cellar in the vineyard and take on Caleb where he lives. When challenged that they had tried this already and suffered much loss of life and maiming on their part, Buffy responds that they have been doing this for seven years. Buffy can be a nice gal, but she sometimes does not recognize irony even when she uses it against herself. Her reason for going back to the vineyard is that she supposes that this is where Caleb keeps his power source. Caleb is not guarding the Hellmouth, nor the Seal of Danzigar, nor any place but the vineyard. We, the audience, have no idea what Caleb sees in the place either. So it is not unreasonable to assume that there must be something special about this hideout. Well, we do know one thing that makes this place special is that it is, of course, a setup. Earlier on there was a scene between Caleb and the First Evil that occurs after the thrashing Buffy got back at the school. Caleb apprises the First Evil that everything is going according to plan and Buffy will soon lead her charges back into their clutches. And then they can make life really interesting for Buffy. I suspect that though this is a trap, irony upon irony, Buffy is probably guessing right this time. There must be something in the vineyard that keeps bringing Caleb back besides the wine. Alas, Buffy's crew has had enough of guesswork that leads to terror and violence. What makes this season's break up of that old gang of mine special compared to the "Yoko Factor" is that heretofore there was much dissension between all the members of the gang with each other. This time they are united against Buffy. This mutiny is well orchestrated and memorable. It begins with Faith casting the first stone. She wants proof that there is something more tangible than suspicion. Next, Giles asks for substance and Buffy accuses him of not trusting her. Giles slays the Slayer with the observation that Buffy has made it clear in centering all decision making in herself that she is the one who lacks trust in her friends. And the house of cards that Buffy has built around her absolute authority as the Chosen One to lead collapses. Rona accuses Buffy of being reckless. Kennedy chimes in that the results of her decisions have been deaths, their deaths. Willow announces that she is worried about Buffy's judgement. Anya brings home the problem with Buffy's "you really do think you are better than we are" attitude: Buffy may be better because of the legacy of being chosen to be the Slayer, but being chosen is a matter of luck and not merit. Xander follows by making the sad observation on the price of their operations to date. Buffy retorts that she will listen to suggestions on tactics but holds firm to her plan. She demands unity, but Giles argues that they are not unified with her. If they are not with her, then Kennedy drops the other shoe that they are against her and that the time has come for regime change. And so that other Slayer is nominated to replace her. Faith resists the mantle of leadership and Buffy decries their foolhardy decision. She is more than bitter and blames Faith for trying to once more take what is Buffy's away from her. It is bittersweet to observe how Faith has changed for the better whilst observing how brittle Buffy has become. At last, Dawn rises to the occasion to end the dispute. What caught me by surprise was that she asks Buffy to leave. After all the years of angst from being ignored and/or fear of being left behind by her big sister, Dawn abandons her sister in order to preserve the unity of the group in its war with the First Evil. You could have knocked me over with a feather as I contemplated this move. I still have many questions and among them are these: Has Dawn grown up and become her own person? Did Dawn decide in light of Joyce's admonition that if someone was going to chose, it was going to be her and not Buffy? To her credit, Buffy resists making a terrible situation horrible and concedes defeat by leaving the house. Faith follows and apologizes for the situation. She no doubt relates all to well to Buffy's predicament. Buffy again shows character by encouraging Faith to both protect and lead the army that was once hers. Buffy then walks out, alone, into the darkness. It was significant that Spike and Andrew were out of town at the time Buffy was cast out of her own household. When they return I suspect that they will provide moral support for Buffy and somehow, someway bring her back into the fight. They will also have information about this thing which only she, presumably a Slayer, can wield. Since Caleb took poorly to the news of this thing, it is fair to assume that when whoever she is wields it she will no doubt wield it against him. With three episodes left in the series, there is plenty of time to get this thing from Gilroy to Sunnydale. After all, Spike and Andrew will be driving against traffic into town. They should be able to find Buffy somewhere in the empty places of Sunnydale. -- Be seeing you, Growltiger

2003-04-29 05:41:14+00:00 - Some Early Comments on "Empty Places" [Episode Spoilers] - (Growltiger <tyger@never.invalid>)


Avast... thar be... episode... spoilers... for "Empty Places"... below! Look down... look way down. Here we go. And so it came to pass that Buffy was cast out of the Summers household and into the wilderness not by Faith, nor by Robin Wood, nor even by Giles. That ignoble act will be committed by Dawn, the cling-on sister who herself feared abandonment by Buffy. And so Joyce's admonition to Dawn back in "Conversations With Dead People" comes true: "When it's bad Buffy won't choose you. She'll be against you." What? How is that, you ask? It was Buffy who was supposed to do the choosing, not Dawn! How did Buffy find herself set apart from her friends, in this empty place? And empty well describes the current state of not only Buffy's psyche, but also Sunnydale. After all the demons, vampires, and past apocalypses, the citizens of Sunnydale at last buy a clue and make tracks out of town. The episode opens with Buffy walking amidst a line of cars: refugees attempting to make good their escape from terror filled Sunnydale. What makes this a striking scene is that walking alone in between the line of cars headed out of town reinforces the idea of Buffy's isolation. In this case it is her isolation from the people in her home town; the people she was chosen to protect from evil's way. Amongst the throng Buffy stumbles on Clem, who makes clear his admiration and support of the Slayer. Well, at least she has his distant admiration because Clem figures that however roxor Buffy may be, Sunnydale is a ground zero for evil and so he joins the exodus. No doubt all the cats of Sunnydale can, for the time being, breath a sigh of relief as Clem makes good his escape. Empty is how one can now describe Sunnydale High School since school has been cancelled. Again the image of isolation is drawn as Buffy walks alone in the empty school corridors amidst the detritus of school children. Although students no longer stalk the hallways, Buffy discovers that Caleb has taken a liking for the halls of academia. He observes that there is a certain irony to the empty school what with the way modern American public education struggles to keep the Lord out of schools. One would think that Caleb would seize this opportunity to do away with the plucky and pert Slayer, but now is not the time. A simple taunting and thrashing session is all Caleb wants for now. That and, as we learn later, to sow some seeds for his nefarious plan. It should be clear by now that "Empty Places" is a determined study of abandonment and isolation. But there is sufficient action in what remains of the Slayerettes to keep this viewer from becoming as detached as our hero. The supporting players are busy as beavers. Giles and Willow gather information from the Metropolitan Police Department about Caleb. (Metropolitan Police Department? Were the Sunnydale PD so incompetent that they were disbanded?) It appears that Willow has learned a variation of the Jedi mind trick to accomplish this task. No doubt Andrew would be proud. Speaking of whom, Andrew goes off on his first field trip with Spike, no less. Bonding ensues as the two discover common ground over a culinary delicacy, deep fried onion blossoms. The trip takes them to a monastery in Gilroy where it appears there have been police reports of a Caleb sighting. I guess the fact that Spike's only misgivings about this mission, besides the fact that Giles is sending him into a dodgy situation, proves that garlic is not a deterrent to vampires. After all, Gilroy is the garlic capitol of the world, but I digress. Spike does confess some uneasiness to Andrew about being in a religious setting. That uneasiness was appropriate since they are set upon by priest. After Spike subdues the holy man, we learn that he was part of a religious community who gave sanctuary to Caleb. And their reward for providing food and shelter was their decimation once Caleb discovered a reliquary of some sort hidden behind what appears to be a statue of a woman in contemplative prayer. As far as the action goes, this is where the Spike's and Andrew's excellent adventure ends, but it appears that to which the priest leads them is a significant find. Spike is shown a legend written in Greek that warns "It is not for thee. It is for her alone to wield." It was Caleb's discovery of this information that lead to his assault upon the mission. Meanwhile, back in Sunnydale, things have reached a breaking point. Tensions are high and Faith thinks the ticket to relief is a party at the Bronze. How could you have a Buffy episode without some time spent drinking and dancing at the Bronze? Yet I find it puzzling that after the initial scene showing us the folks in Sunnydale in diaspora mode, we see the Bronze still open for dining and dancing to live music. Perhaps Dawn had a point when she says "the band was just another sign of the impending apocalypse." In any case, it was a pleasant escapade until the MPD show up and try to take Faith away. These guys have their own notion of justice, and it appears they must have been taking lessons at the Caleb School for Behavioral Studies. Much beating and thrashing of Faith ensues until the potential Slayers figure out what is happening and then render the cops unconscious. Then Buffy shows up and throws a wet blanket on their heroics. The potential Slayers rush home and gird themselves for yet another sermon on the importance of the mission. All of Buffy's speeches on commitment to the mission have been wearing thin on the assembled multitude. Heaven knows I have had my fill of them, but after the fiasco of the cellar at the vineyard, we learn that Buffy's friends have had enough. The coup d'etat, although not unexpected, is still a dramatic moment. It begins with the emotion filled return of Xander from the hospital. Buffy demonstrates exquisite bad timing by choosing this moment to spring her new plan: return to the cellar in the vineyard and take on Caleb where he lives. When challenged that they had tried this already and suffered much loss of life and maiming on their part, Buffy responds that they have been doing this for seven years. Buffy can be a nice gal, but she sometimes does not recognize irony even when she uses it against herself. Her reason for going back to the vineyard is that she supposes that this is where Caleb keeps his power source. Caleb is not guarding the Hellmouth, nor the Seal of Danzigar, nor any place but the vineyard. We, the audience, have no idea what Caleb sees in the place either. So it is not unreasonable to assume that there must be something special about this hideout. Well, we do know one thing that makes this place special is that it is, of course, a setup. Earlier on there was a scene between Caleb and the First Evil that occurs after the thrashing Buffy got back at the school. Caleb apprises the First Evil that everything is going according to plan and Buffy will soon lead her charges back into their clutches. And then they can make life really interesting for Buffy. I suspect that though this is a trap, irony upon irony, Buffy is probably guessing right this time. There must be something in the vineyard that keeps bringing Caleb back besides the wine. Alas, Buffy's crew has had enough of guesswork that leads to terror and violence. What makes this season's break up of that old gang of mine special compared to the "Yoko Factor" is that heretofore there was much dissension between all the members of the gang with each other. This time they are united against Buffy. This mutiny is well orchestrated and memorable. It begins with Faith casting the first stone. She wants proof that there is something more tangible than suspicion. Next, Giles asks for substance and Buffy accuses him of not trusting her. Giles slays the Slayer with the observation that Buffy has made it clear in centering all decision making in herself that she is the one who lacks trust in her friends. And the house of cards that Buffy has built around her absolute authority as the Chosen One to lead collapses. Rona accuses Buffy of being reckless. Kennedy chimes in that the results of her decisions have been deaths, their deaths. Willow announces that she is worried about Buffy's judgement. Anya brings home the problem with Buffy's "you really do think you are better than we are" attitude: Buffy may be better because of the legacy of being chosen to be the Slayer, but being chosen is a matter of luck and not merit. Xander follows by making the sad observation on the price of their operations to date. Buffy retorts that she will listen to suggestions on tactics but holds firm to her plan. She demands unity, but Giles argues that they are not unified with her. If they are not with her, then Kennedy drops the other shoe that they are against her and that the time has come for regime change. And so that other Slayer is nominated to replace her. Faith resists the mantle of leadership and Buffy decries their foolhardy decision. She is more than bitter and blames Faith for trying to once more take what is Buffy's away from her. It is bittersweet to observe how Faith has changed for the better whilst observing how brittle Buffy has become. At last, Dawn rises to the occasion to end the dispute. What caught me by surprise was that she asks Buffy to leave. After all the years of angst from being ignored and/or fear of being left behind by her big sister, Dawn abandons her sister in order to preserve the unity of the group in its war with the First Evil. You could have knocked me over with a feather as I contemplated this move. I still have many questions and among them are these: Has Dawn grown up and become her own person? Did Dawn decide in light of Joyce's admonition that if someone was going to chose, it was going to be her and not Buffy? To her credit, Buffy resists making a terrible situation horrible and concedes defeat by leaving the house. Faith follows and apologizes for the situation. She no doubt relates all to well to Buffy's predicament. Buffy again shows character by encouraging Faith to both protect and lead the army that was once hers. Buffy then walks out, alone, into the darkness. It was significant that Spike and Andrew were out of town at the time Buffy was cast out of her own household. When they return I suspect that they will provide moral support for Buffy and somehow, someway bring her back into the fight. They will also have information about this thing which only she, presumably a Slayer, can wield. Since Caleb took poorly to the news of this thing, it is fair to assume that when whoever she is wields it she will no doubt wield it against him. With three episodes left in the series, there is plenty of time to get this thing from Gilroy to Sunnydale. After all, Spike and Andrew will be driving against traffic into town. They should be able to find Buffy somewhere in the empty places of Sunnydale. -- Be seeing you, Growltiger