I didn’t take the WB’s warnings of “graphic and disturbing violence and partial nudity” seriously because it’s the WB. But then people like thebratqueen warned, so i was prepared to be squicked. I wasn’t, at all. Plenty of times things have been built up and then not happened as expected, so this is no new thing. Meredith was really upset about having been hyped up for something that didn’t happen, though. It’s interesting the different things that people react to. Later i was thinking about how i don’t do spoilers, how i never want to know what’s going to happen, how i could do without advance casting knowledge even, [I still watch the promos (though they’re usually so misleading i often wonder why i bother) but i stopped reading TVGuide synopses after they spoiled “Tough Love”: Glory sets out to grab the person whom she now believes to be the Key — Tara.] and how this probably affects that -- that i’m not used to knowing things for sure in advance, am not used to having supposedly reliable advance knowledge. I’m used to working off of speculation, and speculation is often inaccurate, so i’m used to expecting things and then not having them happen.
Near the end of the episode, someone knocked on her door and she let her come in and proceeded to tell her in an almost louder than normal voice that something really gross was going to happen soon so she should be warned. I was a bit taken aback that she was so blatantly talking over the show, and when i mentioned that after the show she said that she just doesn’t care anymore, which is both sad and relieving, because fandom sucks so much of your time. I was thinking about that later, too. I write fanfic, and i read some, too, but both are low on my priority list. Mostly my involvement with fandom is discussion of the episodes. Proof that i really am an English major, i’m all about the text. I read old transcripts. I look at the shooting scripts to see what was changed. I read with avid interest theories about story arcs, allusions, characterization, etc. I’m kind of obsessed with the Whedonverse, but i’ve never really considered myself much part of the fandom per se.
But now, on to the episode itself.
I loved Spike and Angel on the couch except for the niggling issue of noncorporeal Spike. He walks through walls, desks, etc. -- he shouldn’t even be able to stand on a floor now that it’s come up, but a suspension of disbelief for that is acceptable. However, the intriguing “Reality bends to desire” later in the episode lends itself to fanwank. I loved the idea of being able to do stuff you’re not supposed to be able to do just by wanting to do it badly enough (a theme which harkens back to everything from Ghost to Memento). And of course it was classic Joss, breaking the rules (hearkening back to the Buffy series finale). And now that i think about it, Fred was doing the same thing “Well, if I bend [did she say bend or break?] nearly every law of nature....” Oh, but the fanwank. If he can (at least partially) corporealize by wanting to badly enough (oh, and who sees interesting sex later in the season?) then perhaps there’s a deep desire to be standing on floor (like how your body won’t let you suffocate yourself just by holding your breath).
Also, what was up with Angel somehow knowing that Spike was being pulled into Hell and Spike being so nonplussed about it? Though the following scene with Wes and Gunn being all “Well of course that’s where he’s going” makes that scene make more sense. (And the fact that they all knew it gives everyone’s nonchalance about the Spike issue something of a sinister edge reminiscent of the disturbing factor of the werewolf buffet and the gang just leaving the pleading man there.) But why does Spike go along with the whole “of course” vibe? Is it sloppy writing, or did Spike (answering my question of “If Spike knew the rest would know... why have Fred keep it a secret?”)
Whatever happened to Angel’s epiphany? (See my commentary on the previous episode.) Hmm, the only thing that matters is the destruction they have caused, not the good they have done. (Has interesting resonance particularly coming from Angel as he destroyed world peace, though one can -- and they did -- argue that the lack of free will made it a greater ill than it was a good.) Does that mean that evil is ultimately greater than good? (And paralleling Iraq, it’s an interesting opposite to my usual “end justifies the means.”)
But yes, the couch was quality S/A snark. And i was totally feeling the gay there. When Angel says there was one thing he liked about Spike and there’s that pregnant pause, you know the writers could feel the fans writing fics which jump off at that point with things like “fucking your brain out.” And he liked Spike’s poetry! That’s almost as gay a line as saying the one thing he liked was fucking him. And Spike’s response is “You like Barry Manilow.” Leaving aside the question of how the frell he knows that, dude, Spike, you write Barry Manilow poetry, tee.
And yes, Spike and Fred also have total chemistry. Someone [I thought it was minim_calibre because my brain pulls up that yellow style she has when i recall the entry, but i can’t find it in any of her entries on eps so far.] was talking about how Wes has chemistry with everything so the absolute lack of chemistry with Fred made the writers’ attempts at Wes/Fred extra painful, but i’m more of the camp that Spike’s the one who has chemistry with everything. They may or may not go Spike/Fred, but they have given themselves a convenient out with Fred’s assertion that she knows he’s playing her. I didn’t quite buy the whole “doing it to be good” thing. Okay, i get that he saved the world and therefore shouldn’t go to hell (I’m not up for debating thebratqueen on this one, suffice it to refer to my comment on Heaven and Hell here. But even if i didn’t actually agree, i get the rationale.) and of course Fred’s point about how similar Spike and Angel are (which makes a nice lead up to Angel’s statements about how he doesn’t deserve redemption) it rang false. Fred may realize she’s being played, but she’s still letting herself be played. She’s running herself ragged focusing on this one “case,” this one “problem.” superplin talked after last episode about Spike being a distraction, about how they were devoting so much time and resources to this one individual when they have an entire firm to run. This comes up even more explicitly than Angel’s previous dismissals of Spike as a distraction in this episode when we have the talk about the budget. But, the Whedonverse has always been about exceptions. We talk about how the grey the black and white, but really, everything is black and white unless (until) proven otherwise. And i’m too tired etc. to go into this in great depth, but you know it, right?
They’ve been hinting at old school Wes/Fred, so i liked the “dinner” bit.
Oh, and 4 “Dark Soul” references are Angel? The Dork!Angel who grabbed the book is the one kind of Dork!Angel i actually like (the other kind i can’t stand).
I was pleased that the episode wasn’t an obvious knock-off of “Amends.” The whole basement thing made me wonder if IT was The First, and i liked Spike’s line about “played this game before,” because of course we had been there done that before. (After the immediate reminiscent of the whole “What in the what-ment?” sledgehammered in by his falling to the basement [admittedly there’s obviously a lot of symbolism to that so of course that kind of stuff is going to happen in a basement] his hauntings reminded me of “Same Time, Same Place” with Willow being there but not being there, seeing things that both are and aren’t there.)
Oh and how can i forget? Gunn and the panther = HOTT.
[Whee, i’m again getting good at talking at length about the episodes without having to bounce off of other people’s thoughts on the same episode. Nice.]