Monday, March 14, 2011

Buffy: Witch (1.3)

I have a particular fondness for this episode, even if its not particular great, since it was the first Buffy episode I ever saw. I remember that my mom was working late, so I used that as an opportunity to turn over and sneak a peek at this show that my mom thought was inappropriate for an eight year-old. Heh. Witch sees the show settling into a monster-of-the-week groove, a format I have no problem with on this particular show. It not only showcases a different kind of enemy, but expands the world of Sunnydale High and, with that in mind, follows up the pilot with a very 'high school' episode, with cheerleaders, jocks and extra-curricular activities. It's a lot of fun.

One thing I love about Buffy in general is how the writers rarely did the obvious thing. It's pretty clear from the first fifteen minutes that Amy is somehow involved in the mystery, and it's not totally surprising when she's exposed as evil midway through. But, being so ingenious, the writers pull a twist on all of our butts and introduce a body-swap idea, with poor Amy being magically traded with her overzealous mother-from-hell. It's a great idea, exploring ideas of maternal bitterness and personal dissatisfaction, as well as introducing the concept of witchcraft, which becomes hugely integral to the show's mythology as it goes on.

To parallel Amy and Catherine, we have some exploration into Buffy and Joyce's relationship. Joyce isn't being written as a stereotypical nagging mother figure, as she's completely understandable. She wants the best for her daughter, and simply lives in fear that she might just fly off the rails again. It's not her fault that she's clueless about Buffy's destiny.

Witch features so many incidents of strong imagery (the burning hands, Cordelia's blindness, the girl with no mouth), that it could be forgiven for being a disappointment elsewhere. However, with the intriguing Amy/Catherine mystery as well as the continued cuteness of Xander's crush on Buffy, it completely works as an episode. This is Buffy in a nutshell: funny, scary and ridiculously entertaining. B+

Guest stars Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers); Elizabeth Anne Allen (Amy Madison); Robin Riker (Catherine Madison)
Writer Dana Reston Director Stephen Cragg


  1. Thanks for the reply on 1.1. Yep, Chantarelle has been my username almost as long as I've been using computers. Most people just assume it's my name. Feels a bit silly using it on Buffy sites where people know where I pinched it from, but I use it on everything and I don't deal well with change.

    I'm glad I stumbled on this. Other people might think it's unwelcome or unnecessary, but I just adore Joss and love any excuse to chat about his greatness. It keeps taking me by surprise how long it's been since this show was finished. Feels like just yesterday sometimes. Maybe that's because I was watching it just yesterday....

    While I can't say I dislike this ep, it's not up there with my favourites, though I am certainly a fan of Amy. And when you look at the other 6 seasons (or 7 if you've followed Buffy into the comic book world) her character is just incredible.

    However, one scene in this ep has bugged me for years. When the Scoobies do their spell, and the Witch turns blue, Buffy says Amy was as freaked as everyone, implying that Amy was in that body at the time, but it was Mum doing all the nasty stuff. I just don't get the spell working on Amy's body when she was in it, and even if it did, Catherine takes that body home at the end of the day and makes Amy do her homework. I know I'm being petty, but clearly we were supposed to think Amy was and wasn't the Witch at the same time, and I just think it could have been done a little smoother

  2. Agreed about the show's legacy. I've already had people on here following it for the very first time, and I love that it's a show still being discovered and analyzed. It really is the greatest show ever.

    And agreed about Amy's evolution. I think she's one of the more underrated Whedon characters in that regard, considering how far she went and how she ended up. It's similar to Anne/Lily/Chantarelle, actually, another character that came out of nowhere and became a much bigger deal.

    About the witch test scene, I always assumed that she was playing along, and that Amy in her own body was never actually on-screen until right at the end. But, yeah, I get the confusion.

    Thanks for commenting, Chantarelle.