Monday, February 13, 2012

Buffy: Life Serial (6.5)

So the major themes of Buffy season six continue. Life Serial is all about Buffy trying to discover her role in the world she's found herself suddenly occupying again, the script neatly divided into four separate vignettes in which Buffy tests out some new kinds of vocation. She experiments with college, then hard labor, then retail, and finally boozing. By the end she's chosen to not pursue any of them and turns to Giles for help, assuming he'll be around whenever she runs into a bind. It's sad seeing her rely on other people, but it folds in neatly with what this season appears to be doing with the characters.

Life Serial also serves as a better introduction to the nerd trio, 'better' meaning the group given a clearer identity, not so much 'better' as in 'more enjoyable'. While the villainous schemes that they cook up this week are fun, the trio themselves continue to bug. I also can't wrap my head around Jonathan's eagerness to hurt Buffy. The last two times we saw him he appeared to have a real fondness for her, considering she's helped him out in both his attempted suicide and when one of his spells went awry. The idea that he'd want to mess with her sanity just meshes badly with our pre-existing knowledge of the character -- which is disappointing.

Of course, the character that walks away with the episode is that darn mummy-hand in the basement of the Magic Box. The entire third act is a master-class in comedic hilarity, with the funniest depiction of a time-loop I've ever seen on television. It's just too perfect, from Anya telling Buffy to picture herself naked to the quick cut-to of Buffy weeping in the midst of the loop. The pacing is spectacular, the dialogue on fire. It's one of the best scenes in the history of the series.

Finally, there's the continued Buffy/Spike friendship, which is unfolding in a pretty genuine way. While everybody else is constantly buzzing around her, Buffy goes to Spike whenever she wants to be care-free and relaxed. Maybe because she knows he'll do whatever she wants, or maybe because she genuinely likes the guy?

The complete success of Life Serial depends on your opinion of the trio, but as a collection of comedy stories it's a masterpiece, with a genius central performance from Sarah Michelle Gellar. "I was bored to tears even before the hour that wouldn't end." A

Guest stars Anthony Stewart Head (Rupert Giles); Danny Strong (Jonathan Levinson); Adam Busch (Warren Meers); Tom Lenk (Andrew Wells); Amber Benson (Tara Maclay)
Writers David Fury, Jane Espenson Director Nick Marck

1 comment:

  1. Great review, I agree with every word.

    That Magic Box sequence has to be one of the show's greatest montages in it's entirety. It's just so easy and fun.