Monday, April 9, 2012

Buffy: Two to Go (6.21)

While there's a lot of vacuous fun to be had as Willow tears up the joint, my problem with this entire arc is that it quickly loses track of Willow's purpose for wreaking havoc. It becomes less about Tara's demise and Willow's self-destructive levels of emotional devastation, and more about Willow making snarky jokes and being mean to people. All season has built up to this point, and it's annoying to see such interesting character work thrown out in exchange for typical 'evilness'. It's underwhelming.

There's obviously a lot to like here, notably in the Dark Phoenix-inspired carnage that Willow is responsible for. In general, Two to Go feels like a bunch of elaborate set pieces: there's the jail break-out and the flying bricks, the highway chase with Willow on top of the out-of-control truck, that final smackdown at the Magic Box. But it's at the expense of interesting character work, Willow's transformation rooted not so much in something that makes sense anymore, but more in the writers wanting to shock the audience. There's an implication that bleeding Rack dry of his magic taints her sanity, but it still folds into that horrible drug storyline from earlier this year, Will even referring to herself as a 'junkie' in one of the more annoying moments of the episode.

The writers at least try to salvage some of the characterization in that intense stand-off between Buffy and Willow at Rack's place, with Willow referencing her own unhappiness and her anger at being a sidekick all this time. I mentioned it last episode, but Alyson Hannigan seems more comfortable in those moments when she lets her fa├žade slip, her inner turmoil seeping through. With that in mind, the writers really should have pushed that angle of the story, and not pursued showy visual craziness instead.

Two to Go is fine, if slightly hollow compared to what this show usually does so well. I loved the Buffy/Willow fight (there's this one part where Alyson herself does this double-kick thing to both Buffy's belly and head, and it's ridiculously badass), but a lot of Willow's motivation feels contrived from here on out and some of the dialogue ('Get off me, super-bitch!') is crazily horrible. C+

Credits
Guest stars Danny Strong (Jonathan Levinson); Tom Lenk (Andrew Wells); Jeff Kober (Rack)
Writer Douglas Petrie Director Bill Norton

7 comments:

  1. Wonderful review, Adam.

    First of all, I do love that double kick. I haven't seen this episode in a while, but I knew exactly what you were talking about. (I'm such a Whedon nerd sometimes).

    I actually agree with what you've said, but I'm someone who's way to drawn in my the flashy, evilness of Willow to really take any of the episodes other negatives too seriously. All your points are valid though. Particularly the super bitch part. It's not that its cringey, just a little weird, and totally out of place.

    Like you've said, the moments when old Willow slips out are when things really make sense.

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  2. Heh, you were commenting literally as I was posting. I'm glad you remember the kick thing! It's such a little moment but I rewound it like four times because it was so badass!

    I figured that you would disagree about the Dark Willow story, but I admit that it wasn't as bad this time around as I remembered it. I still felt it was deeply flawed, but a lot of the season was like that.

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  3. Willow's comments about Tara making her feel special is probably my favourite moment in the entire arc, because it felt very in character and the way Alyson delivered it absolutely destroys me. I was far too invested in Willow/Tara.

    You were spot on in your previous reviews about this arc, and I agree that it would have felt more earned if they had mined Tara's death and Willow's devastation a bit more. I still find it entertaining, but if you're going to kill off a character and have another major character go on a murderous rampage then you should tread carefully. Especially with this show, that has been so great at handling the aftermath of death and the devastation it can cause.

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  4. I remember that Double kick too! Although season 6 is a blur for me, I have a scary memory of fight scenes especially finale ones and that move was epic! I loved that Alyssan Hannigan visibly did it although SMG wasn't on the receiving end (her stunt double was as always).
    Too bad really, after sitting through Ringer, Gellar deserves a swift kick or two in hindsight :)

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  5. I thought in that moment when Dawn mentions Tara it was quite clear Willow was willingly losing her mind, she just brushed any logic out of the window and craned herself back to the hatred because it felt better.

    You're right, probably just too outlandish to suspend belief but I'm not ashamed to admit I thoroughly enjoyed this episode- Giles, you've come home! Amazing! I was supposed to be going to bed but I'm so tempted to watch the next one now, even though I want to be more awake for it!

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  6. OMG! I thought i was the only one who remembered that! It's the reason why i clicked this review!
    And i agree, You can really feel Alyson's disdain of SMG seeping through!
    I remember the editing being absolutely terrible.. but most of all, i remember Gille's kickass entrance.
    And i found the clip on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KBZ6eQ0LHc&feature=related

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  7. tvfan That's true about earning it. Think back to Passion and see how they handled Giles' devastation, and compare it to the elaborate showy stuff here. I think it goes without saying that Giles' story was more powerful.

    Nad So much violence! Jeez!

    Maya It's absolutely entertaining, but I always felt it was a little contrived. Not a bad episode, though.

    Mario Aww, I don't think they hated each other. I assume they weren't exactly friends, but I don't think anybody out of high school literally hates anybody they work with for superficial reasons.

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