Monday, March 26, 2012

Buffy: Entropy (6.18)

Outside of the vengeance demon elements, this is Buffy entirely in soap opera mode. Now it's understandable that a show would get soapier in its later years, especially when the small ensemble begin getting a little incestuous with each other like it has this season, but Entropy is probably the most overtly soapy episode in a long while. The back-end of the hour is full of ridiculous contrivance and silly plot twists, Spike and Anya getting it on, the two of them being unknowingly filmed by video surveillance cameras that the Scoobies just so happen to be hacking into at that very moment -- it's all crazily annoying. Like always this year, logic seems to have flown out the window in the writers' pursuit of melodrama, but the strong performances manage to salvage things.

I've always thought Emma Caulfield was one of the more underrated actors on this show. She has an enormous range, her lack of major success since the show wrapped presumably of her own making rather than pure unluckiness. Throughout Entropy, she conveys so many different levels as Anya, arriving with that pent-up anger as she rages at Xander for abandoning her at the altar, before the hilarious comedy of those scenes where she tries to convince the Scooby women to curse Xander for her. Then, finally, there's that breakdown at the Magic Box, in which she lets go of the anger and confesses that, deep down, she's heartbroken. It's such a perceptive performance this week, layered with varying emotions that we can all kind of relate to as an audience.

As a character, she also makes a lot of sense. Xander's anger is entirely misplaced, seeing as he was the one that set all of this in motion; and Anya was right that she shouldn't be judged for sleeping with Spike. I also liked that she hasn't got an immediate handle on her powers, suggesting there's still a lot of humanity there. Then again, we already saw how much sadness she's feeling, so it's not like she even could become truly evil once again.

The rest of Entropy ties into the soapy theme to awkward effect. The entire set-up with the cameras is ridiculous, and the Buffy/Spike revelation at the end similarly bugs with its latent contrivance. I'm also insanely tired of the Evil Trio at this point, finding myself blacking out during their scenes together. Willow and Tara's reunion is handled well in that romantic final scene, but there's definitely a feeling that this story hasn't been as well explored as it should have been, almost as if the writers cut it short. Unfortunately, the whole thing became more about the horrible 'crack addiction' metaphor, and less about the effect selfishness and greed has on a relationship. It's Tara who was one of the real victims of all this, and it doesn't feel like her story has been told.

Entropy's script sometimes feels thrown together, but Emma Caulfield is spectacular, and at least Anya's characterization remains believable and engaging at this point. She's one of the few characters this year that hasn't felt either mismanaged or let down by bad material. C+

Guest stars Danny Strong (Jonathan Levinson); Adam Busch (Warren Meers); Tom Lenk (Andrew Wells); Kali Rocha (Halfrek); Amber Benson (Tara Maclay)
Writer Drew Z. Greenberg Director James A. Contner


  1. Wonderful review, I'm glad to see the Anya love here. She's always been one of my favorites, if not on my #1 favorite in Buffyverse.

    Again, this is one I struggle to remember too well, but I always hated the Anya/Spike sex thing. Not that it happened, the fact that they were drawn together makes sense, but just, like you said, the soapiness of it. It's not very Buffy at all.

    Very excited for next week's reviews, as you already know. =)

  2. Heh, the one for Seeing Red is huge. I get pretty vocal.