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Episode Poll: 5.10 Into the Woods

Welp, this episode is mightily controversial. You know the drill, guys! Ticky ticky, share your thoughts! Let's do Into the Woods.

Poll #1827612
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 114

1. Joyce's surgery turns out well in this episode, leading us to think that she'll be okay. However, a few episodes down the line, she dies due to a complication involving the surgery. Good play on Joss' part or cheap trick?

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Good play. It works well for the season.
73 (64.0%)
Cheap trick. It's just a way for Joss to jerk the audience around.
11 (9.6%)
A little of both
28 (24.6%)
Not sure
2 (1.8%)

2. There is controversy about how this episode portrays the problems in the Buffy/Riley relationship. Some people feel that it pushes the burden all onto Buffy's shoulders. Let's get some questions about this going. Do you think Buffy's being "shut down" was a significant part of the Buffy/Riley breakdown?

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26 (23.4%)
58 (52.3%)
I have another answer
17 (15.3%)
Not sure
10 (9.0%)

3. If you chose "no" in #2, do you think this episode piled the blame on Buffy?

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70 (64.2%)
9 (8.3%)
I chose "yes" in #2!
15 (13.8%)
Not sure
15 (13.8%)

4. Do you think the writers believed that Buffy's being shut down was the primary reason for the Buffy/Riley break-up?

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35 (31.2%)
28 (25.0%)
I have another answer
3 (2.7%)
Not sure
46 (41.1%)

5. Spike spies Riley going to the vamp house. The next night, he takes Buffy there to reveal what Riley was doing. Good thing?

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Absolutely. Buffy deserved to know.
22 (19.5%)
Buffy deserved to know, but the way Spike went about it was kinda douche-y
85 (75.2%)
No way. It wasn't any of Spike's business.
3 (2.7%)
I have another answer.
1 (0.9%)
Not sure
2 (1.8%)

6. At some points, Riley's repeated visitations to the vamps for blood-sucking fun resemble a drug addiction. At other times, the show draws a comparison to infidelity. Which one works best for you?

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Drug addiction
4 (3.6%)
38 (33.9%)
They both work
62 (55.4%)
8 (7.1%)

7. Buffy and Giles get into a disagreement about the bloodsucking-for-cash business. Do you think the Slayer should spend time rooting out the vampire-human feeding dens?

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Yes. "Vampires are vampires."
9 (8.0%)
No. "They're willing victims. [...] There are people out there who deserve your help who aren't."
69 (61.1%)
I have another answer
6 (5.3%)
Not sure
29 (25.7%)

8. Riley stakes Spike with a plastic wood-grain stake and warns Spike to stay away from Buffy.

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Riley's gone round the bend. That's fucked up.
63 (55.8%)
A little extreme, but no harm done. Spike's a vampire so violence is how he rolls.
27 (23.9%)
Spike was being a jerk. Riley had to keep him in line.
5 (4.4%)
I have another answer
13 (11.5%)
Not sure
5 (4.4%)

9. Riley's douchiest act of the episode?

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Visiting vamp-whores
4 (3.6%)
Torturing Spike
4 (3.6%)
Blaming Buffy for his visiting vamp-whores
85 (76.6%)
Giving Buffy an ultimatum
16 (14.4%)
2 (1.8%)

10. Tell me your thoughts on Xander's speech. You know the one. Check all that apply:

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It was more about Xander/Anya than Buffy/Riley
71 (24.7%)
Well-intended but off the mark
63 (22.0%)
47 (16.4%)
Insightful. It shows why Xander is the guy who sees things
12 (4.2%)
Buffy needed to hear it
10 (3.5%)
It hurt Buffy in the long-run by convincing her that she was the problem
77 (26.8%)
It helped Buffy in the long-run by spurring her to find a way to open up
7 (2.4%)

11. Biggest douche of the episode?

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88 (80.7%)
9 (8.3%)
12 (11.0%)
0 (0.0%)

12. Xander tells Buffy that she took Riley for granted. True?

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30 (26.8%)
55 (49.1%)
I have another answer
9 (8.0%)
Not sure
18 (16.1%)

13. Pretend you're a movie reviewer and give this episode a star rating:

View Answers
***** (Five stars)
2 (2.0%)
**** (Four stars)
24 (23.5%)
*** (Three stars)
50 (49.0%)
** (Two stars)
16 (15.7%)
* (One star)
10 (9.8%)


Mar. 20th, 2012 03:46 pm (UTC)
I left #9 blank because I wanted to check them all. I really hate the way Riley was written out.

I also left #11 blank. Because I couldn't decide which guy was the biggest douche. But I don't think Buffy was.
Mar. 20th, 2012 09:35 pm (UTC)
I actually went with Xander on #11, mainly cause Riley is going through hardcore angst and such. He's still a douche, but he left reasonable three stations ago. Xander doesn't have such an excuse. He's just being a douche and insists on continuing to be a douche.
Mar. 21st, 2012 02:21 am (UTC)
Yeah, I think that's a fair point. Riley's going through an existential crisis and serious angst and it's his relationship with Buffy that's falling apart.

What makes Xander's actions so uber-douchey is that he's so sanctimonious in his 'splaining about Buffy's emotional shortcomings, as he sees them, when he's the one who's guilty of that -- and Xander doesn't have the circumstances like Buffy where she needs to be strong for Joyce and Dawn nor where she was very open emotionally in Season 4.

But then I see Riley and Xander doing a lot of projecting when it comes to Emotional Stoicism is BAD if you've got lady parts and all. If you're a dude, keep on with the not talking about your feelings and find release via vamp-sucking or unloading on your best friend and telling her ~she's wrong when you really mean you are.

You know what I hate most?

How in the next episode, Anya says at the beginning that "maybe it's her" when she and Xander are talking about Riley leaving Buffy. It just seems to reinforce that it's Buffy's fault, that everyone thinks so. A great opportunity for a counterpoint and instead we get this scene:

ANYA: Maybe it's her.
ANYA: Well, maybe it won't happen to us because it's all about *her* messing things up. She couldn't make it work with Angel, and then she let Riley go away.
XANDER: Yeah, relationship debris is kind of piling up on the Buffy highway.
ANYA: Hmm. Humans make the same mistakes over and over. I saw it when I was a vengeance demon. Some guy dumps a girl, she calls me, I exact vengeance, blah blah blah, the next year, same girl, different guy. I mean, after you smite a few of 'em you start going "my goodness, young lady ... maybe you're doing something wrong here too."
XANDER: I don't think it's a pattern with her. No, it's just ... you know, now that it happened again ... man number two ... I wonder how she's dealing with it.

Followed up by Buffy considering joining a convent and wondering "how's the food?" SO MUCH BUFFY BLAME. :(

Mar. 21st, 2012 03:50 am (UTC)
Oh, I loathe that exchange between Xander and Anya. It's so smug and self-righteous. Buffy is twenty years old. TWENTY! She's had two serious, long-term relationships and a one-night stand that she thought was the beginning of something serious. That's hardly a pile of "relationship debris". Bleagh.
Mar. 21st, 2012 05:10 pm (UTC)
Blah! I hate-hate-hate that conversation too. The only way I can deal with is to see it as, once again, projection on Anya's part. It's just not handled in such a way as to make that clear -- since Xander and Anya are alone, there's nobody to call them on it.

(Willow magically appears in their bedroom for some reason and folds her arms and says, "Oh, yeah. Projecting, much, miss 'I'm human now, and in love, and it's all going to work out so differently from the last time I dated a guy'?")
Mar. 21st, 2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
I think it's still ultimately a flaw of the narrative, especially such a long narrative like BtVS. While it might be clear that Into the Woods is more heavily dictated by Buffy's POV, the show itself slips into less perceptually subjective moments. And in the past, it does a better job of presenting the situation from all angles.

Here, we're left with Buffy's Fault as the overriding narrative conclusion and with so many different characters concurring that it becomes a viewpoint approaching unanimous. No dissenting voice -- except when we get to Buffy later saying she wasn't supposed to be ready yet. But nothing to counteract the vehement judgment of ItW.

It makes the narrative unbalanced when it needn't be. And the opportunities to later address go unrealized; specifically, As You Were which just skews even further down the spectrum of Buffy's Fault. Admittedly, it does so in such a way that it becomes farcical, but there still should been some calm rational presentation to re-center the perspective.

Even with As You Were, perspective is again subsumed in Buffy's self-judgment -- which really demands an outside voice to counteract it. We never get it, though. And if Buffy is such an unreliable narrator, I think we should have.

Edited at 2012-03-21 08:14 pm (UTC)
Mar. 21st, 2012 08:44 pm (UTC)

Ugh, way to be judgy, you two. I kind of wish they'd had this conversation in front of Buffy just so she could throw it back in their faces after "Hell's Bells." Not that she would, because she's a lot more forgiving than me, but...
Mar. 21st, 2012 08:54 pm (UTC)
And it's so clear that they're riding off a superiority high, you know. Because Xander saw Buffy's relationship implode -- for reasons other than Buffy's Fault like Riley's existential crisis -- but he sees it as a sign for him to go fix his relationship. Because everything he accuses Buffy of doing is actually what he's been doing.

So not only does he project his failings onto Buffy, but then once he's externalized his failings enough that he can see them clearly, he then uses it as a way to go fix his relationship. And the next morning, he and Anya are practically bathing in the relationship superiority when they get all judgy over Buffy and her break-up -- and they still don't understand why the break-up was destined to happen. Nor does Xander ever own up to knowing how self-destructive Riley was for that season. He SAW it all happening, more so than anyone else, with Riley feeling unloved and Riley's self-destructiveness, and he did nothing about it.

UGH XANDER. This is not how you do friendship okay.


The One Who Isn't Chosen

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