Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Selfless

Xander: "This isn't new ground for us. When our friends go all crazy and start killing people, we help them."
Willow: "Sitting right here!"

At the end, Anya said to Xander, "What if I'm really nobody?" That's what this episode was about. Anya has been three different and distinct beings, but she still doesn't have a self to call her own.

We had three really terrific flashbacks (I love good flashbacks):

1. Sjornjost, 880, when Anya was a human named Aud, rhymes with Odd. We got tidbits of Anya's history, most of which were about her relationship with Olaf, and how she trolled him. She actually loved bunnies, once upon a time. I was expecting to finally find out the source of her rabbit phobia... but we didn't. Unless... thought... she used them to cast the original spell on Olaf, and they turned on her? Plus, we discovered that Anya's speech patterns have nothing to do with her centuries as a demon; she always talked that way. I thought that was particularly funny.

2. St. Petersburg, 1905, when Anyanka was a workaholic vengeance demon; it was how she defined herself, entirely. Loved Anyanka and Halfrek sitting there chatting as the man on fire ran through the room, and loved that Anya was partially responsible for the Russian revolution.

3. Sunnydale, 2001, and the lost number from "Once More, with Feeling," when human Anya was so obsessed with marrying Xander. "I'll be missus, I will be his missus, Mrs. Anya lame-ass made-up-maiden-name Harris..." Again, Anya was defining herself totally in terms of someone or something else, not herself.

So now Anya is human again, and has no one else to define her identity. It had to happen, or Buffy would indeed have had to kill her, or Anya would have had to kill herself, as she tried to do. (I did see the Halfrek thing coming.) It'll be interesting to see what they do with a human Anya who isn't hanging around Xander's neck. Anya should try to become acquainted with the feminist movement, don't you think?

Dammit, Halfrek is dead! I liked Halfrek. Was it an in-joke all along, or was she Cecily? Will we ever know? I noticed that they didn't show her in flashback until after the William/Cecily time period, and of course, being dead has never held a character back on this show; maybe she'll be back.

Moving on to the rest of the plot, Willow was a lot of fun here; we got bits of nerdy, education-loving, helpful Willow, and bits of powerful, scary Willow. Interesting that using magic seems to make her nasty, isn't it? That can't be good.

Buffy, who is the law, kind of like Steven Seagal, looked a little tired and thin. And hey, shouldn't she have known that a sword wouldn't kill a vengeance demon after what happened with Halfrek on Buffy's last birthday? It pissed me off that Xander compared Buffy having sex with Spike to Anya killing people! Although Xander did come through for Anya, and even took her side against Buffy more than once.

We got exactly one short Spike scene. For just a moment, I thought Buffy was actually showing him some serious compassion, but noooooo! "Scream Montresor all you like, pet." That was Poe, right? Was the second Buffy the real one? Maybe both of them were illusions. Isn't it way past time for Buffy to help Spike? Yes, Anya was due for an episode entirely about her, but I'm still hoping we're going to get back to Spike soon.

This episode made so many references to previous episodes and in-jokes that it was almost one long in-joke. Here are the major ones:

1. Dru seeing the sky from inside (which season two episode was that?);
2. "Something Blue" with D'Hoffryn's talisman;
3. "Triangle," with the return of Olaf the Troll;
4. "Becoming, Part 2," where the "kick his ass" lie finally came back to haunt Xander;
5. "Once More, With feeling," of course, which must have been filmed after the fact;
6. "Hell's Bells" with Anya in her wedding dress.

Bits and pieces:

-- At the beginning of the musical number, you can hear "Once More, with Feeling" characters Parking Lady and Mustard Guy singing about getting mustard on his shirt.

-- Dawn has curls now. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

-- The CGI spider was a lot more impressive when it wasn't on top of Buffy.

-- It was very convenient that no one discovered the bodies for hours and hours, so that everything could be all better. Do you think the spell reversal brought back the dead guy in the woods?

Quotes:

Anya: "Trolls!"
Olaf: "Oh! They are wretched creatures indeed. The mere thought of them makes me bend at the knee and flex."

Anya: "Was Rannveig there?"
Olaf: "Bah! I've told you a thousand times; I have no interest in this Rannveig. Her hips are large and load bearing, like a Baltic woman. Your hips are narrow, like a Baltic woman from a slightly more arid region."

Villagers: "It's the largest troll I've ever seen!"
"Run! Hide your babies and your beadwork!"
"The troll is doing an Olaf impersonation!"
"Hit him with fruits and various meats!"

Anya: "What would I have to do?"
D'Hoffryn: "What you do best. Help wronged women punish evil men."
Anya: "Vengeance."
D'Hoffryn: "But only to those who deserve it."
Anya: "They all deserve it."
D'Hoffryn: "That's where I was going with that, yeah."

Buffy: "The heart is completely ripped out. This is our guy."
Xander: "Or a copycat spider demon."

Buffy: "I killed Angel. Do you even remember that? I would have given up everything I had to be with... I loved him more than I will ever love anything in this life, and I put a sword through his heart because I had to."
Willow: "And that all worked out okay."

D'Hoffryn: "The flaying of Warren Meers? Oh, truly inspired. That was water cooler vengeance. Lloyd has a sketch of it on his wall."

D'Hoffryn: "Oh, breathtaking. It's like somebody slaughtered an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog."

Funny and sad. I have to give it four out of four stakes,

Billie
---
Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.

4 comments:

Tommi said...

I missed a huge chunk of this episode purely because I had my eyes closed for the spider scenes! As soon as that girl said "the spider did it" and I saw a HUGE black hairy leg appear above Willow I shut my eyes firmly tight! I can not STAND spiders. Especially not the heart eating type!
But I loved the Anya storyline and I really felt for her especially when she remembered singing about marrying Xander - you could see a tear drop down her face whilst the sword was still in her chest.
Really good episode (despite yukky spiders)

Anonymous said...

In the part where Anya is signing the song which took place in the once more with feeling episode she has long blonde hair yet in the actual episope of once more with feeling if i remember she had short brown hair

Bahia said...

My favorite part of this episode was when Buffy talks about having to kill Angel and calls Xander on that lie. I always wondered if she knew about that. I also think that same scene sets up a lot of what will come later. Buffy is the general in the war that is coming.

I remember not liking this season much the first time I saw it, but it's starting out strong.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that Emma Caulfield was threatening to quit, and that Joss Waadon offered her an episode of her own if she stayed for the season. Thus: singing, sword-fighting, playing Lady MacBeth with the handwashing, etc.