Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Into the Woods" (Buffy 5.10): Don't let the chopper hit you in the ass on the way out

Or on the other hand, do. So this is the episode Jenn and I have been waiting for. We finally get to watch the increasingly whiny, petulant, misogynist and emotionally stunted Agent Finn exit the Buffyverse (for now). As you take a long last look at Riley, allow Jenn's goodbye chorus to echo through your ears: "Ding dong the douche is gone / the tedious douche / the selfish douche / ding dong the horrendously boring douche is finally gone."


So we should be happy, right? Are we happy? Not so much. To paraphrase someone much more badass than Riley, nothing in his character becomes him so much as his leaving of the show, and that just ain't fair. Rather than structure this special Buffy guide to giving me exactly what I want and somehow pissing me off in the process with the typical Do's and Don't's, I'm going to instead anchor my observations off of the phrases that got the most question marks and/or exclamation points while I was taking notes during this rewatch.

SERIOUSLY????!!!! The scene that prompted this outburst was Riley sneaking out of bed with Buffy post-coital to get a suck job (Spike's words) from a lady vamp.

Riley: "Harder." tracy: "Barf."

Now, let's leave aside the fact that, since Riley has been getting serviced for weeks now, he is presumably covered with bite scars, making naked sexytime a little awkward. Let's instead focus on the fact that he has exactly what he wants, i.e., Buffy all to himself, and he STILL isn't satisfied, making the next point all the more salient.

UGH!!!!!  Okay, this expression of revulsion was in response to Spike's further elucidation of why the Buffy/Riley unholy alliance was doomed. It boils down to "she needs a little monster in her man."

The scene of them swilling wine in mutual despair is exempted from the "ugh," however.

Which taken in this textual moment is fine. Riley IS too dull and milquetoast for her--not because she's a Slayer, but because he's a hulking slab of boring. But this speech is a warning of moments to come. It's sowing the seeds of the Buffy Is Messed Up plant that will come to full bloom in season 6. Jenn observes that Spike's debate as to which unrequited lover has it better, him or Riley, and deciding on Riley, is also going to have disturbing implications in "Seeing Red." However, in my "humble" opinion, the problem is, IT'S NOT HER PROBLEM. Captain Cardboard has the problem. His model of being needed, the only way he'll feel loved, is to have Buffy latch on to his carotid. That requires a level of commitment that is, shall we say, a touch unsustainable? You didn't hear Angel, or even that brain tumor dude from season 2, boohooing because she wanted to sit with her friends at lunch sometimes. Look dude, she has a lot on her mind right now. It's not like she didn't ever talk to you about it, and we were all patient with you through your endless withdrawal from super-meth/mourning of Dr. Substitute Mommy/loss of your band of brothers last season.

He also yells at her and taunts her to hit him. It's not hot.


Because he can throw Blue Steel like a champ.

EFFING MOTHEREFFING XANDER!!!!! Now, I love Xander. He is loyal and funny and brave. But. Where THE HELL does he get off lecturing Buffy about what it means to be in a healthy relationship and how to be emotionally available? His babyish jealousy is the reason that she had to stab re-souled Angel* which sent her off on this disorienting tailspin of self-doubt that she still hasn't recovered from. Not to mention the fact that he's, you know, wrong. If his take were the problem--that she was still questioning who she was and what she wanted and that's why the Riley thing was dying, then fine (sort of). But NOOOOO. The "problem" is that she didn't call him fast enough when her mother was in the hospital. Give him a reason to stay? Give him an effing reason? Give ME a reason she's been banging him this long.

And he also sort of yells at her, in a condescending and self-righteous way.
BUT, he does try to account for his assholeish behavior towards Anya at the end of the episode, indicating, as Jenn notes, that he sees the problems emotional walls can cause and tries to fix them.

*Which I still have trouble forgiving him for.

RUNNING?????  The show has the unmitigated GALL to have her run after that needy man-child as if she were going to beg him to take her back! Again, I say "!" That's what bothers me about this break-up. She was not wrong in the way she acted towards him. She was not being a bad girlfriend. But now she has to feel bad about herself and feel like she's fundamentally messed up or unlovable for not indulging his every unreasonable demand? NO. NO SIR.

You deserve better, Buff.

AND: Riley doesn't deserve a cool copter exit. Angel just walked away. Unchased, I might add. 

Pictured: A boyfriend who is chase-worthy. For reference.

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