Friday, January 16, 2009

Buffy Retrospective: "Witch"

This episode does a good job of expanding on three important features of the show that are touched on in the premiere:

Buffy's ongoing quest to be a normal girl: Upon her arrival in Sunnydale, Buffy is intent on no longer performing her Slayerly duties. When it quickly becomes apparent that this isn't in the cards (though this won't be the last time she tries to quit), she becomes resigned to the fact to some extent, but is determined not to let her destiny get in the way of her having a normal high school experience. We witness her struggle with this for a great deal of the series, but most notably during high school. In fact, by the time Season 6 rolls around, Buffy isn't able to deal with the "normal" parts of her life, though there are extenuating circumstances in Season 6.

Not just vampires: At the end of "The Harvest", Giles informs the gang that the next threat they face could be something other than vampires, and sure enough, along comes Katherine Madison followed by a slew of different baddies. The villains become more sophisticated as the show progresses, as we see early on that the show was working on finding its footing in creating its own unique mythology without abandoning the sometimes cheesy bits of the horror tradition that viewers were used to. In this episode the witchcraft elements are rather simplistic and stereotypical compared to what we see in later seasons, and Giles' knowledge of witchcraft seems rather rudimentary despite what we learn in Season 2 about his past.

Love Hurts: The Buffy-Xander-Willow triangle is established from the get-go; the dynamic is made quite clear in "Witch". Of course, things get much more complicated as time goes on and more characters are introduced (Angel, Cordelia and Oz, for starters). As I watch, I'm working on an L Word-style chart of how all the characters are connected romantically.

Humble Geek-Infested Roots

Like Darla and Harmony, Amy Madison turns out to be a semi-recurring character. In fact, she appears in every season except Season 5 (though her appearance in "Something Blue" lasts mere seconds). Her part in Season 8 is still playing itself out, but it looks like she is going to be a key baddy this time around. I'd like to do a comparison of Amy and Willow's forays into dark magicks once I have reviewed Amy's episodes.
Sources: mouthfullofdust; Dark Horse Comics

Random Observations:
  • Why does her inability to see cause Cordelia to drive with excessive speed?
  • Continuity: Buffy casually mentions being a vampire slayer to her mother at breakfast, and Joyce's reaction is simply, "Buffy are you feeling well?" This is inconsistent with what we learn much later in "Normal Again" (Season 6) - Buffy's parents sent her to a mental institution when she first started slaying. Had this been a part of her story all along, Joyce would have likely reacted differently to the reference.
  • A positive bit of continuity is the blackness in Katherine's eyes when she casts her final spell, which remained a visual cue to the viewer that the individual was using dark magic.

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