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Old flame

I was flipping the channels yesterday and suddenly came across reruns of BTVS (it was the end of season 3, "Graduation Day" Part I and II, in French), so I decided to fetch my DVDs and I'm having a season 4 marathon!

I have always considered season 4 to be the best season of Buffy, and so far I'm having a great time. The episode with Buffy's roommate, Kathy, is just so funny, and I love "The Gem of Amara" of course (Vamp!Harmony is terrific, Spike's lines are priceless, Anya/Xander first time is great) and season 4 Giles is just yummy....

I can't wait for the return of Ethan Rayne!!!!!!!!

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
bleodswean
8th Nov, 2012 16:44 (UTC)
I cannot even begin to imagine a BTVS re-watch....Hmmm....I am fascinated that you feel S4 was the best season. I have such HUGE respect for your serialized tv thoughts...but this one is stumping me. I felt S4 was terrible and S3 was the perfect season. Admittedly, S4 does improve somewhat after the halfway mark...but the first handful of episodes are unwatchable to me...and I've never liked secret government conspiracy things...so maybe it is just me.
frenchani
8th Nov, 2012 18:15 (UTC)
We couldn't be more different here, as season 3 is my least favourite season after season 1, although The Mayor is my favourite Big Bad! For me it was a step-down writing-wise after season 2, because I think that everything became text instead of subtext, all surface with little depth, and I didn't like the character of Faith which I found too obvious and caricatured (and Elisa Dushku's limited acting skills didn't help). Also it has "Amends" an episode that I loathe!

The reasons season 4 is the best in my eyes? It has the two best episodes of BTVS, the true masterpices that are "Hush" and "Restless" – a dream come true for any viewer with an analytical mind –; other episodes that I simply love to bits ("Something Blue" or "A New Man" for instance); the best Buffy character ever (Spike) was back and became a regular, and I liked the Intiative storyline very much for the way it was used to revive and subvert the Frankestein myth or the themes of labyrinth and Minotaur. Everything I loved about the show, the layers, the depth, the connections, the foreshadowing elements, the humour, was there, and peaked with "Restless".

Rewatching it I even like Riley, even though Marc Blucas is rather bland.

bleodswean
8th Nov, 2012 18:18 (UTC)
As per your usual, you have me rethinking my positions.

I could not stand Riley. That was a serious bone of contention. And I really preferred...early Spike, not sympathetic Spike.

I'm going to mull this over.
frenchani
8th Nov, 2012 23:05 (UTC)
Sorry to continue this a few hours later but I had to go out (I was at the movies seeing Argo)!

I forgot to say that I really like the structure of season 4 and how it was a matter of disassembling things/parting ways and then reassembling them. The lab experiences they did with the hostiles in the Initiative rooms echoed that but it started with the protagonists : Xander feeling estranged because he was not in college and starting a relationship that put him apart(nobody could stand Anya back then); Buffy feeling alone and like she didn't belong while Willow embraced college life, and then being torn between her own gang and duties on the one hand and Riley and Professor Walsh's organization on the other hand; Oz leaving the merry band; Willow experimenting on her own and having trouble coming out about Tara; Giles being jobless and off campus and therefore kind of an outsider, while he used to be "in" as the librarian of Sunnydale High and as Buffy's watcher; Spike becoming an isolated vampire because of the chip, doomed to exclusion in the demon's world.

At some point Buffy was even separated from her own body when Faith did the body swap thanks to the Mayor's device!

That deconstruction was emphasized in "The Yoko Factor" but it was more like an aftertaste and a sort of shock therapy, and by the end of the season the pieces were put together, which was represented by the union spell in "Primeval" that Buffy, Giles, Xander and Willow used to beat Adam (himself being a creature made out of various pieces of demons that had been assembled, so the mirror worked perfectly) and by their imbricated dreams in "Restless".

Riley was a nice guy in season 4, but nice guys aren't easy to make interesting and sexy on screen. It takes charisma, excellent writing and great acting. Hey not everybody is a Sol Star! ;- )

As for Spike, early Spike was a cool villain but quite one-dimensional as a character. He was still very fun in season 4 because he had great lines, more like a comic relief, though. That said in my eyes the character became much interesting later when he got layers and showed more ambiguity and atrue development, and James Marsters' acting got really good in season 5. But I'm very partial to William the Bloody Awful Poet and "Fool for Love" is one of my favourite episodes. I know that some fans thought that the character was changed, but I do not. Spike's journey was perfect for a show whose main theme was growing up. He started with the morality of a child, mostly behaved like a teenager during seasons 4-6, and ended up becoming a man.

Ok I must stop and be quiet now!
sister_luck
10th Nov, 2012 19:53 (UTC)

Oh, that's why I love Season 4 so much! Well said.

For me it's the growing up aspect, the thematic coherence - it's high concept but it works out because the individual story lines are so brilliant. Also, often so very very funny.
rebcake
15th Nov, 2012 19:53 (UTC)
Oooh! Season 4! Tasty.

I also adore this season, for all the reasons you mention. Spike, Faith, evil government conspiracy, and the return of the patriarchal Watchers Council, are all great fun. Often in the love-to-hate-'em sense. It's also the last season in which Buffy is able to contemplate a relatively happy future. After this, the burdens are really piled on the poor dove.

Season 3 has some great episodes (Band Candy, The Wish, Lovers Walk, Doppelegangland, The Zeppo) but the Angel arc really bogs it down. "Amends" is my least-favorite episode of Buffy, hands down.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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