Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Goodbye Iowa" (Buffy 4.14): Try to make him go to rehab . . .

Riley says, "no, no, no." This episode is where Mamma Maggie's dirty deeds get their full airing. The Initiative can't be trusted, and they all know where Buffy lives. Plus, Adam is on the loose, doing his best impression of the Creature from Frankenstein. So it's time for the Buffy guide to going to the mattresses in Xander's Hideaway, or, as Spike terms it, squatting in a dank hole.

Giles deserves better.

DON'T forget where Spike is on his road to Scoobification. After being saved from the Initiative last episode, one might think Spike would be firmly on Team Buffy. One would be wrong. After a reprise of his "friend of Xandrrrr's" cover story, Spike admits and reaffirms his badness, and gives Riley one of these:

regarding his possible plans to kill the Slayer.

DO make sure Xander has your back. For once, I come not to bury Xander, but to praise him. Readers of this space know that Xander is my best frenemy. His petty jealousy and tendency to believe he operates in a consequence-free zone make my ass twitch. However, as quickly as he hates and mistrusts any man Buffy is involved with, he unquestioningly backs her up twice as fast. As Riley found out when he busted into Giles's flat.

Xand's "nobody puts Buffy in a corner. . . or tries to kill her" face.

DON'T underestimate Maggie Walsh's monomania. As it turns out, not only has Mags been creating an unholy cyborg from an amalgamation of demon parts, she's also been doping her boys.

Pictured: Riley strung-out.

Pictured: Graham strung-out. Need I even say it? Team Graham.
Riley spends most of the episode doing his impression of a clammy, shaky Johnny Cash before he detoxed with June.

Of course, Joaquin made the DTs look good.

As my intrepid co-watcher Jenn points out, only when Riley is off his "vitamins" does he start to ask questions, but they're the wrong questions. Rather than showing the kind of curiosity that solves problems, he instead wants to know why Buffy isn't following the rules (by harboring hostiles). So begins Riley's journey to the literal and figurative House of Suck.

DO brush up on your 19th century British literature classics. Speaking of self-awareness, the Adam arc is a clever repetition of Frankenstein with a difference. We have the amalgamation of dead parts given life and hyperarticulate consciousness but no moral instruction, along with the crucial addition of mechanization. Where Adam's heart should be resides a disc drive.

Hey, remember floppies?

Not only does this date the episode in terms of tech, it also furthers the mistrust of technology that shrouds the Initiative. Whereas Frankenstein's monster kills a young boy for revenge--a motivation that is deeply tied to human feeling--Adam dismembers a child to see how he "works." Unlike Scorsese's Hugo, the season posits that combining man with machine is a disaster. The drugs taken by the Initiative are an attempt to mechanize them--to make their bodies stronger, more resilient, and less human--which makes Riley a brother to Adam, no matter how much he might deny it.

Jenn commented that Buffy shows genuine self-awareness in this episode, realizing the ridiculousness of mustering the forces in her sushi pjs, for example, and Adam wants to achieve self-awareness, seeking "not what I am, but who I am." Which in turn made me think that perhaps Buffy and Adam are twinned in this Big Bad arc--Adam again representing, in LOTR shorthand, the military-industrial hellscape of Isengard, and Buffy the humor-filled communal space of the Shire. I'm telling you, co-watcher, there's an article here.

Oh, and since I haven't mentioned Tara in a while: Here's a little scene that won't get its payoff until one of the three episodes I like in season 5.

No comments:

Post a Comment