Also, it's hard watching, when Grandpa was in hospital, and may be home now with cancer nurses and painkillers and not so much time left. There's nothing to do there, so I do nothing, but entropy and mortality and all that stuff, it is hard.
And that's the theme in season 5, even in played-funny small things like Anya freaking out and sulking cause she realises she's mortal now. Buffy vs death, powerless and losing. Starting watching in a low mood may be a mistake.
But there's an equally powerful theme of family, love, choosing each other. Empathy for people you've no particular reason to feel for, who somehow become essential. Dawn in all her teenage girl pettiness is not exactly easy to feel affection for. She's clumsy in so many ways and wants to be so important to everyone and yet mostly manages to say the exact wrong thing the exact wrong way. It was easy to believe she was something malevolent. I recall high school involving a lot of low grade malevolence. But no, just by turning up, she's family. Not easily, but for real. And Tara, and her blood kin vs her family, in an episode where pretty much everyone except Willow went on about how they don't really get her, yet they all were entirely willing to fight for her cause she's one of them now. And Spike said he didn't care but he willingly, happily, gave himself a hell of a headache just to prove a theory that would protect her.
What people will go through to support each other makes them family.
And the absolute worst is knowing there's nothing they even could do.
Riley... I can see exactly why Riley falls apart here. It's plenty plausible. He's just being a gigantic dick about it too. I mean, he's got a whole stack of issues about being controlled, but when people give him his space he feels left out. He nearly died because of the experiments making him all super confident, but he didn't really adjust well when the off button worked. Probably felt pretty crappy, back in the realm of feeling pain and doubt. Even without the lack of super strength. But he'd put so much of his self image into being a fighter, fighting alongside Buffy or trying to match her, that not being able to be the whole team on his own just messed with his head. Because big strong man must strong. Silly stuff like wrestling with Xander too. And he got all frown face about Buffy and decided she didn't love him, for why? Because she didn't suffer enough? Super fucking childish. Plus he felt all dumped when she didn't need him, but I'm watching and she needed him plenty, she just also stepped back and got on with what needed doing herself. And he didn't exactly pour out his needs to her, or admit to being less than fine, like, ever. They're a match like that, both standing tall, not willing to lean together. So the supporting each other part of a relationship didn't so much work out.
But I look at how Xander is with Anya, super happy cause he can be the smart one who understands things and teaches her, and then he feels all capable and stuff. And Anya supports him with an ongoing lack of subtlety that must be lovely after all the family of origin stuff. So is Riley really feeling that Buffy doesn't love him, when she'll call on him and try and keep him involved and trust him to patrol and look after Dawn, all the important stuff? Or is it more that he doesn't get to feel big strong necessary protector guy with her? He's not the one with the knowing, he's not the boss, and he just does not adjust to that.
Graham being all sneering about how he used to be the mission and now he's the mission's boyfriend... no. Macho idiot. He used to be the officer in charge, that didn't work out, and now he's her second. But he's not cool with that.
I guess I get judgey of Riley cause he started out promising and screwed up in such ordinary ways, and then went really dark. I don't know why he'd conclude that what their relationship really needs is more vampire. I mean, Spike told him that, but Spike is... not a reliable narrator. But that thing where Riley went with Sandy the vampire, talked to her, bought her a drink, went out to let her feed on him, and then staked her? I think that's pretty much murder. He used her, and he killed her. And it wasn't self defence. So that just crosses some lines to a really messed up place.
So, Riley, I judge.
Spike though, he starts from such a bad place, he just gets all the bonus points for any little thing. Not exactly fair. He's just so much fun when he's evil, and then so surprising when he starts being good. Fool for Love is several kinds of glorious and I would kind of rather not find all that pretty, pretty violence as fun as I do, or as attractive. But the most striking moment is at the end where he turns up and finds the Slayer in pain and just... doesn't enjoy it. Wants to help. Cares. For a regular human that's a nothing much moment, but he's not shown that kind of feeling before, except maybe for Dru, and even with her he often got angry and tried to hurt her more. Just seeing a theoretical enemy and feeling sad when she's sad? New.
Plus that phase like Buffy said about Riley in season four, sad when they're sad, smile when they smile.
Love, not just the appetite he'd previously been credited with.
Spike would still be such a terrible (pretty, fun) idea, but, well, progress is interesting.
With Riley I can see why Xander thinks he's great and thinks Buffy should keep him around, but Riley really screws up. I don't believe it was Buffy treating him wrong or shallow. She's got stuff to deal with, and he's heading off to the bar after she trusts him with Dawn. I realise 'bar' hits my buttons, but my sympathy for his behaviour runs out well before he does.
He needs help though, because he got screwed over biochemically and with betrayal from people he trusts and with his whole career falling apart. So he's behaving poorly for pretty big reasons. Just, still, poorly.
I like Giles finding new purpose, and then being overwhelmed pretty much right away. Because he responds by hiring more help, and Anya gets to be super competent at reasonable things. Also cause I like the Magic Shop set and all the books and shinies.
Giles got kind of screwed over by his career. Very much like Riley, with the flawed authorities and loss of employment with bonus frowning consequences. Kind of sad they never bonded about it, or anything. He was stuck being the Grown Up and as such didn't get a whole lot of support from anybody in Sunnydale. And that dream sequence in Restless with the baby/crying girlfriend... sadness. I get annoyed when people judge him against standards appropriate for fathers, because he's not Buffy's father, and as far as we know he hasn't had that whole side of life, because he's been preparing to teach and support and save the world as much as he can.
But it's not his story so that all happens in the corners and with unfunnies.
I like how the season feels coherent and character led. Buffy has problems, proper growing up problems where she doesn't get to be the kid cause her elder and younger needs her. That resonates.
But it's kind of not fun.
Eh, there's a lot more story to go, some of it will be fun, in between the bits that'll wreck me again.
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