Revisiting AOQ Review 1-10: "Nightmares"

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Apteryx

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Mar 24, 2007, 6:53:35 AM3/24/07
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*Once again no > quote marks made their way through the complex
forwarding/replying process. Why? I dunno. So once again I will attempt to
distinguish my comments from AOQ's original post with an * at the start and
end of each para of my comments.*


From: "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com>
Date: Jan 21 2006, 2:26 am
Subject: AOQ Review 1-10: "Nightmares"
To: alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer


A reminder: Please avoid spoilers for later episodes in these review
threads.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Season One, Episode 10: "Nightmares"
(or "They shout about love but when push comes to shove/They search
for things they're afraid of")
Writer: David Greenwalt; story by Joss Whedon
Director: Bruce Seth Green

Like the name implies, this one's about nightmares. That makes most
of the episode pretty easy to summarize - various characters face
various nightmares come to life. How well something like this works
depends on three things: firstly how well it's presented, secondly
whether or not the viewer is a nightmare-oriented person, and thirdly
what else the show brings to the table beyond that central idea.

As far as presentation - okay, but not earth-shaking. The spiders
are an effective enough teaser, and Wendell, the first victim, is even
a little bit interesting given his menial role in the story; he gets a
line or two of BTVS-esque banter... then it turns out there's a
reason for the choice of spiders beyond ZOMG BUGS!!1EEEEW! It's his
personal nightmare. And the storyline is on. (Notice that the show
is
restrained enough that it's able to introduce a background character
like this and leave him in the background without needing to kill him
off on the way out.)


*Yeah, but I don't think we ever see him again, even in the background. If
that in fact is correct, it would appear that he walked out of this story,
and immediately got bit by a stray vampire.*


That brings us to the problem, though; terror is specific to the
individual. The show tries its best to cover all bases by having a
whole bunch of different dreams, but unless one of them happens to
correspond to the viewer's particular fear, it's not all that
effective no matter how hard the actors try to convince us that
they're facing their deepest terror. Yet so much of the show just
consists of meandering from dream to dream in these little mini-
scenes.


*There's only so much you can do about individual terrors that aren't shared
by particular audience members, but at times they do a good job of letting
the character convey the terror even to people who don't share it - eg,
Willow's spider moment - "Okay, but we're still caring about the spiders
here. Let's not forget the spiders."*


Some go on too long, some are too short, some are stronger, some are
weaker (Xander in his underwear, for instance, is quite the weak
scene,
and I say this as someone who's had that dream... and why not nude?).
In the end it's just a collection of scenes, many of which won't
do much for any given viewer. The second factor in question, whether
a
viewer is particularly nightmare-centered, also comes into play here
(which is why Mrs. Quality thought the episode was a lot more
effective
there than I did).

I would like to give credit to the show, even though it compounds the
too-much-crap problem, for realizing that a given character can
actually have more than one nightmare; most "good/bad dreams come to
life" stories don't seem to realize this. [This is Stock Fantasy
Plot #184, for those keeping track.] Buffy's in particular have a
nice variety to them, from the universal (history test) to the deeply
personal (Hank's "revelation" is a more foreign fear to people
whose parents get along) to the Slayer-specific (The Master free).
Maybe since that last one is also basically a scary monster, they
should've incorporated more universal tropes (i.e. have Buffy try to
run but unable to get her legs to work properly) and then given more
time to her dreams and less to everyone else? I dunno.

This brings us to the third element I listed: what does the show _do_
with its premise? "Nightmares" comes off well in that regard.
Xander's early-show blasé-ness sets the stage nicely. Hey, so far,
most of BTVS has come down to the title character finding the problem
and killing something. Well, I guess this episode is ultimately like
that too, but it's not that easy. Along the way, we see Buffy
helpless in a way that she really hasn't been before. She also cries
for what I believe is the first time (naturally, it's because of
family rather than evil or teen love or standard teen angst). Maybe
the reason I'm drawn to the Buffy portions of the show is that seeing
Willow or whoever get scared isn't anything special, but watching the
usually unflappable Slayer so completely out of her element is
something new and interesting.


*Buffy's portions are probably the most important, but all are fun, and
those of the main characters are important. Willow again shows her terror of
public performance, and the choice of composer is forshadowy - the next time
Whedon plays us Puccini (Giles finding Jenny's body in Passion) will be even
more horrific. Here the music is from the wedding night love duet in Madame
Butterfly, but Whedon tweaks it a little; the first pause made by the tenor
for Willow to sing is not from the opera - there are no lines for Butterfly
there, all of the lines sung by the tenor in this episode are in fact one
continuos passage for Pinkerton. And Butterfly's response in the opera,
which Willow fails to make when told it is her turn, translates as "I am
like the goddess of the moon, the little goddess of the moon who comes down
by night on the bridge of the sky"...*


*Also noteworthy (as in fact you noted below) is the fact that Xander is the
first to fight back against his nightmare. And Cordelia's ... well OK, not
informative, but still fun.*


Another reason that part of the show catches my attention is the
presence of Jeremy Foley. Billy is a tough character to play. He's
got to seem creepy before his role becomes clear. Then he has to act
scared, but not in an immediate-danger way. The character should be
small and vulnerable, but with a little bit of dignity - he's a
twelve-year-old, not a little kid. And he has to show remorse about
the damage he's causing and look like he means it, while refusing to
do what needs to be done without the help of someone a little older
and
braver. It' a tall order for a young actor, and Foley absolutely
shines with it. (Gellar is no slouch in the Buffy/Billy scenes
either.) However well you write the stuff, it doesn't work unless
the actors have the gravitas necessary to pull it off.

Moving on... the whole climax of the show is exhilarating, isn't it?
Start with the moment when Xander suddenly develops a look on his face
that says "fuck this, I'm not letting fear write the script
anymore." Then from there: Xander punching out the clown. Giles
being the necessary emotional support to help Buffy keep things
together while vampirized. Facing down the enemy in the hospital, and
Billy delivering the killing blow. Buffy's line that "there are
scarier things than you... and I'm one of them" is really just
standard action-hero stuff, but given what a bad day it's been for
everyone, it seems appropriate just then. It's about time for the
good guys to start satisfyingly kicking ass.

"Nightmares" finishes off with the nice revelation about Billy's
softball coach. This is one of those things that we really should've
seen coming, given how extensively the script set it up, but it still
surprised me. And it's thematically fitting too. Dreams are, after
all, shaped by the brain trying to make sense of chaotic neural
signals
based on what it's familiar with from the waking world.


*Yes. Although of course the people having these dreams haven't experienced
the coach... And he doesn't feature in their dreams...*

And in the
show, the (immediate) cause of all these fantastical nightmares is
something decidedly realistic and non-fantasy: a man who thinks that
the best outlet for his aggression is to pummel a twelve-year-old kid
a
third his size. Jail's too good for the fucker.


*It is in some resects a satisfactory grounding of the nightmares in
reality. But I do seem to feel (as if in a nightmare) the silent tread of a
dreadfully twee message about adults pressuring kids to succeed in sport.*

Random short takes:

1) I'm tired of Joyce waking Buffy up. But the car scene with Joyce
works great as both an exposition-dump and a, you know, scene.

2) Xander brushing against Willow and teasing her about the creepy
crawly spiders is a nice little moment. Very natural-looking.

3) Charisma Carpenter's pathetic attempt to convey "terrified" is
scarier than half of the nightmares in the show.

4) Greenwalt earns a smack in the face for "I had a dream, and you
were there..."

5) What's with the Nazis? It seems like just an offhand comment from
Xander at first about what kind of things are really scary in real
life, but then one of his nightmare sequences has swastikas painted on
the wall... which he doesn't acknowledge or even seem to notice.
Weird.

6) It's kinda unclear what's "real" at the end. Hank's
appearance at the end and Buffy's restored hotness suggest that the
nightmares' effects were actually un-done. But how far does time
rewind? Do the people in the room with Billy now have to start the
day
again, or is it still afternoon? Does everyone else remember a
different non-nightmare version of things?


*It's been fun, and well worth it for that. But I don't think it is possible
to fully reconcile the nightmares with reality. Particularly the nightmares
that require other real people to make them work. Hank is turning up in the
afternoon, as expected, after earlier turning up in the morning, early. But
if you ask afternoon-Hank where he was in the morning, what will he
remember? Will the Master remember his outing in Sunnydale? And what of the
demons waiting to be unleashed as soon as he was released from his awkward
position like a cork in the bottle of the hellmouth? And will Xander's
classmates remember his slight case of nudity?*

So....

One-sentence summary: The nightmares themselves are pedestrian at
times, but the overall episode is both entertaining and intriguing.

AOQ rating: Good

*Definitely Good for me too. It doesn't entirely make sense, but sense is
overrated. It's my 37th favourite BtVS episode, 5th best in season 1*

--
Apteryx


Arnold Kim

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Mar 24, 2007, 11:47:14 AM3/24/07
to

"Apteryx" <apt...@xtra.co.nz> wrote in message
news:eu2vvh$cnk$1...@aioe.org...

> *Once again no > quote marks made their way through the complex
> forwarding/replying process. Why? I dunno. So once again I will attempt to
> distinguish my comments from AOQ's original post with an * at the start
> and
> end of each para of my comments.*
>
>
> From: "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com>
> Date: Jan 21 2006, 2:26 am
> Subject: AOQ Review 1-10: "Nightmares"
> To: alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer
>
>
> A reminder: Please avoid spoilers for later episodes in these review
> threads.
>
> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
> Season One, Episode 10: "Nightmares"
> (or "They shout about love but when push comes to shove/They search
> for things they're afraid of")
> Writer: David Greenwalt; story by Joss Whedon
> Director: Bruce Seth Green
>
> I would like to give credit to the show, even though it compounds the
> too-much-crap problem, for realizing that a given character can
> actually have more than one nightmare; most "good/bad dreams come to
> life" stories don't seem to realize this. [This is Stock Fantasy
> Plot #184, for those keeping track.] Buffy's in particular have a
> nice variety to them, from the universal (history test) to the deeply
> personal (Hank's "revelation" is a more foreign fear to people
> whose parents get along) to the Slayer-specific (The Master free).
> Maybe since that last one is also basically a scary monster, they
> should've incorporated more universal tropes (i.e. have Buffy try to
> run but unable to get her legs to work properly) and then given more
> time to her dreams and less to everyone else? I dunno.

What's really great about this episode is the way the ngihtmares seem to get
more and more dark and serious. It goes seamlessly from, for instance,
Giles getting lost in the stacks to Giles fearing he failed her and cost her
her life.

And did anyone else find the killer clown scenes strangely funny -and- scary
at the same time?

> *Buffy's portions are probably the most important, but all are fun, and
> those of the main characters are important. Willow again shows her terror
> of
> public performance, and the choice of composer is forshadowy - the next
> time
> Whedon plays us Puccini (Giles finding Jenny's body in Passion) will be
> even
> more horrific. Here the music is from the wedding night love duet in
> Madame
> Butterfly, but Whedon tweaks it a little; the first pause made by the
> tenor
> for Willow to sing is not from the opera - there are no lines for
> Butterfly
> there, all of the lines sung by the tenor in this episode are in fact one
> continuos passage for Pinkerton. And Butterfly's response in the opera,
> which Willow fails to make when told it is her turn, translates as "I am
> like the goddess of the moon, the little goddess of the moon who comes
> down
> by night on the bridge of the sky"...*

Plus it's a nice bit of character continuity from the previous episode-
Willow has stage fright.

> 3) Charisma Carpenter's pathetic attempt to convey "terrified" is
> scarier than half of the nightmares in the show.

She does a decent enough job of it in the next episode...

Arnold Kim


Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 24, 2007, 12:35:16 PM3/24/07
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One thing that I thought was interesting is the way people gravitated
towards the Buffy/Hank scene as the highlight emotional moment of the
episode, and for some, of the series. Whereas I kinda brushed past it
in the original viewing - I was aware that it was a good scene, and
intellectually appreciate it perhaps more this time (the matter-of-
fact tone helps, like "c'mon, I'm only telling you what we both
already know"), but I didn't love it (not the right word, but you know
what I mean).

I remembered this one as being better than it was. I still think the
first half is a little clunky as it takes awhile to figure out its
direction. But I remembered the second half as being darker and more
exhilarating, and I may have used the term "thrill ride," I don't
remember. After having been swept up in episodes 6 and 7 and then
getting frustrated with the show's inability to engage me that way
again, I got caught up in this story. And since I was still learning
the ropes of the series, I remember loving the way they tied it back
to a reality-based villain at the end rather than just having it be
the nature of the magic. This time I still enjoyed it, but the busy-
ness didn't do it so many favors. Stuff I remembered having such
impact tended to fly by as the show raced to get on to the next
image. Which isn't so inappropriate for a story about dreams, but
makes the whole operation feel on the lightweight side. And as you
point out, "Nightmares" doesn't always make sense, which hurts it on
re-watching. It's still in Good territory for me, though.

The fact that Buffy's so scared of the Master, the idea that it's been
seeping into her dreams, goes a long way towards making him work as a
Big Bad as the season winds down. Of course, hearing not-so-cryptic
poetry about what'll happen when they finally meet won't hurt the
drama either.

-AOQ

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

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Mar 24, 2007, 3:49:05 PM3/24/07
to
In article <1174754116.6...@y66g2000hsf.googlegroups.com>,

"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote:

> One thing that I thought was interesting is the way people gravitated
> towards the Buffy/Hank scene as the highlight emotional moment of the
> episode, and for some, of the series. Whereas I kinda brushed past it
> in the original viewing - I was aware that it was a good scene, and
> intellectually appreciate it perhaps more this time (the matter-of-
> fact tone helps, like "c'mon, I'm only telling you what we both
> already know"), but I didn't love it (not the right word, but you know
> what I mean).

buffys got daddy issues
buffys got daddy issues

its suggested in conversations with dead people
that her parents divorce and fears of abandonment by a male fgiure
are part of why her boyfriend relations get so screwed up

> The fact that Buffy's so scared of the Master, the idea that it's been
> seeping into her dreams, goes a long way towards making him work as a
> Big Bad as the season winds down. Of course, hearing not-so-cryptic
> poetry about what'll happen when they finally meet won't hurt the
> drama either.

like fear itself we also get glimpses of how our heroes work
willow and her fear of public exposure
xander and silly fears then he faces them and deals with them practically
buffy is afraid of becoming a monster and losing her humanity
and giles knows the watcher slayer relation is usually ended with a dead slyer

meow arf meow - they are performing horrible experiments in space
major grubert is watching you - beware the bakalite
impeach the bastard - the airtight garage has you neo

chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu

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Mar 25, 2007, 3:04:39 PM3/25/07
to
Apteryx <apt...@xtra.co.nz> wrote:
> *Once again no > quote marks made their way through the complex
> forwarding/replying process. Why? I dunno. So once again I will attempt to
> distinguish my comments from AOQ's original post with an * at the start and
> end of each para of my comments.*

.


> From: "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com>
> Date: Jan 21 2006, 2:26 am
> Subject: AOQ Review 1-10: "Nightmares"
> To: alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer

.


> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
> Season One, Episode 10: "Nightmares"
> (or "They shout about love but when push comes to shove/They search
> for things they're afraid of")
> Writer: David Greenwalt; story by Joss Whedon
> Director: Bruce Seth Green

AOQ asked for an evil clown in his Teacher's Pet review, and here it is!
How's that for fan service?

> personal nightmare. And the storyline is on. (Notice that the show
> is
> restrained enough that it's able to introduce a background character
> like this and leave him in the background without needing to kill him
> off on the way out.)
>
> *Yeah, but I don't think we ever see him again, even in the background. If
> that in fact is correct, it would appear that he walked out of this story,
> and immediately got bit by a stray vampire.*

Heh. I think you're right, we never see Wendell again. He was a good
enough character that I would have enjoyed seeing him on Graduation Day,
or maybe leading some trick-or-treaters on Halloween. (He could have worn
a spider costume from Ethan's!) Oh, well, you can't have everything.

> Some go on too long, some are too short, some are stronger, some are
> weaker (Xander in his underwear, for instance, is quite the weak
> scene,
> and I say this as someone who's had that dream... and why not nude?).

I guess at this point ME was afraid that it would have been too daring to
even suggest nudity. (Obviously they felt a little more secure in later
years.) I think I've actually had a few dreams like that in addition to
the more common completely-nude dreams, for what it's worth.

> I would like to give credit to the show, even though it compounds the
> too-much-crap problem, for realizing that a given character can
> actually have more than one nightmare; most "good/bad dreams come to
> life" stories don't seem to realize this. [This is Stock Fantasy
> Plot #184, for those keeping track.] Buffy's in particular have a
> nice variety to them, from the universal (history test) to the deeply
> personal (Hank's "revelation" is a more foreign fear to people
> whose parents get along) to the Slayer-specific (The Master free).

One aspect of this dream that I particularly like is that Buffy sees the
real Master in her nightmare. She hasn't yet met him face to face, but
she's seen him in her other, standard-Slayer-prophetic-dream dreams.

(I also note that Buffy picks up a *third* history teacher here. This one
is probably just in the nightmare, though.)

> *Buffy's portions are probably the most important, but all are fun, and
> those of the main characters are important. Willow again shows her terror of
> public performance,

Heck, even when a demon forces the whole town to sing, Willow barely gives
us two lines! Which reminds me of Giles's line, "Dreams? That would be a
musical comedy version of this...."

> *Also noteworthy (as in fact you noted below) is the fact that Xander is the
> first to fight back against his nightmare.

Xander was lucky, in a way, in that he had one of the few nightmares that
*could* be fought against in that sense. I suppose he always dreamed of
being *chased* by the evil clown, rather than being killed, so his
nightmare was more open-ended and changeable. Would it be too much of a
stretch to see this as foreshadowing of The Zeppo? Probably, yeah.
Anyway, it does foreshadow the eventual resolution and leads to Xander
being the first one other than Buffy to "get it" about what Billy must do.

> And Cordelia's ... well OK, not
> informative, but still fun.*

Her wail "I'm not even *on* the chess team, I swear I'm not!" always makes
me chuckle.

> Another reason that part of the show catches my attention is the
> presence of Jeremy Foley. Billy is a tough character to play. He's

Yeah, he did a very good job, especially by child actor standards. Too
bad he was too old to play the Anointed One.

I have to agree with the conventional wisdom that Buffy's nightmare about
her father is the high point of the episode. (In terms of quality and
impact, not in terms of fun, obviously.) Great performance. Check out
Buffy's bleak, miserable expression at the start of her next scene: it
looks like something from one of her darker times in season 6 or 7.

SMG also does a great job of freaking out when the Master buries Buffy
alive. Being buried alive, and graveyards in general, are a real-life
phobia of Sarah's, which no doubt added to her performance. (This is one
reason ME built their own fake cemetary in season 2, though I'm sure
simple convenience was also a big factor there. They filmed a *lot* of
graveyard scenes by the time the series ended.)

Giles's last nightmare, about seeing Buffy's grave, was also quite good.
Unlike a lot of the others, this is one nightmare that Giles knew was very
likely to come true sooner or later.

> "Nightmares" finishes off with the nice revelation about Billy's
> softball coach. This is one of those things that we really should've
> seen coming, given how extensively the script set it up, but it still
> surprised me. And it's thematically fitting too. Dreams are, after
> all, shaped by the brain trying to make sense of chaotic neural
> signals
> based on what it's familiar with from the waking world.
>
> *Yes. Although of course the people having these dreams haven't experienced
> the coach... And he doesn't feature in their dreams...*

It is a little weird that Billy is both projecting his own nightmares and
enabling those of other people. We never really get a clear answer to how
the whole process works or why it's spreading. Presumably Billy had some
latent psychic/magical ability. After all, thousands of people live near
the Hellmouth, all of them sleep, and a number (many of them Giles) have
been knocked unconscious there, yet this never happens with anyone else.
But if you're going to have a slightly incoherent Danger of the Week, what
better place for it than a dream episode?

> 5) What's with the Nazis? It seems like just an offhand comment from
> Xander at first about what kind of things are really scary in real
> life, but then one of his nightmare sequences has swastikas painted on
> the wall... which he doesn't acknowledge or even seem to notice.
> Weird.

Yeah, he should have at least looked disconcerted for a second before
finding the first candy bar cheered him up. (Presumably it was Nazis, or
a gang of neo-Nazi students, who trashed the hallway in Xander's dream.)

> *It's been fun, and well worth it for that. But I don't think it is possible
> to fully reconcile the nightmares with reality. Particularly the nightmares
> that require other real people to make them work. Hank is turning up in the
> afternoon, as expected, after earlier turning up in the morning, early. But
> if you ask afternoon-Hank where he was in the morning, what will he
> remember?

My guess is that morning-Hank was entirely a nightmare creation;
afternoon-Hank was still on the road from LA when that happened, and
wouldn't remember anything but the traffic. Similarly, the Master Buffy
sees is just a nightmare figment, with no direct connection to the real
Master. BTW, it's interesting that Buffy's biological father and her
father-figure Watcher never meet in real life, only in Buffy's dream.

Favorite quotes:

"A dream is a wish your heart makes." --The Master.

"You were a lousy clown! Your balloon animals were pathetic! Anyone can
make a giraffe!"

"Well, we'd better hurry ... 'cause I'm getting hungry."


> AOQ rating: Good

Good for me too.


--Chris

______________________________________________________________________
chrisg [at] gwu.edu On the Internet, nobody knows I'm a dog.

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

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Mar 25, 2007, 3:31:14 PM3/25/07
to
> I guess at this point ME was afraid that it would have been too daring to
> even suggest nudity. (Obviously they felt a little more secure in later
> years.) I think I've actually had a few dreams like that in addition to
> the more common completely-nude dreams, for what it's worth.

naked late for a bus and chased by squiggly things

> (I also note that Buffy picks up a *third* history teacher here. This one
> is probably just in the nightmare, though.)

stopped when i realized in the dream i already have a college diploma
so what high school classes i mightve missed are no longer relevant

> Xander was lucky, in a way, in that he had one of the few nightmares that
> *could* be fought against in that sense. I suppose he always dreamed of
> being *chased* by the evil clown, rather than being killed, so his

its also xander who remains the one most grounded in practicalities
he never really learns magic or mystical
hes the carpenter with hammer and shim that puts the house back together
while others are fighting demons and spells

> It is a little weird that Billy is both projecting his own nightmares and
> enabling those of other people. We never really get a clear answer to how
> the whole process works or why it's spreading. Presumably Billy had some

they live on the center of a mystical convergence and evil stuff
these things happen on a hellmouth

Arnold Kim

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Mar 25, 2007, 3:31:49 PM3/25/07
to

<chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu> wrote in message
news:130dhu7...@corp.supernews.com...

> (I also note that Buffy picks up a *third* history teacher here. This one
> is probably just in the nightmare, though.)

Being consistent with classes isn't really one of the show's strengths.
Apparently Xander in season 1 has two science classes (Chemistry and Bio)
and two math classes (Geometry and Trig).

>> *Buffy's portions are probably the most important, but all are fun, and
>> those of the main characters are important. Willow again shows her terror
>> of
>> public performance,
>
> Heck, even when a demon forces the whole town to sing, Willow barely gives
> us two lines! Which reminds me of Giles's line, "Dreams? That would be a
> musical comedy version of this...."

I guess that's where Willow gets her "wacky Broadway nightmare" theory
from...

Arnold Kim


One Bit Shy

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Mar 25, 2007, 7:23:02 PM3/25/07
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"Apteryx" <apt...@xtra.co.nz> wrote in message
news:eu2vvh$cnk$1...@aioe.org...
> From: "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com>

> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER


> Season One, Episode 10: "Nightmares"

> That brings us to the problem, though; terror is specific to the


> individual. The show tries its best to cover all bases by having a
> whole bunch of different dreams, but unless one of them happens to
> correspond to the viewer's particular fear, it's not all that
> effective no matter how hard the actors try to convince us that
> they're facing their deepest terror. Yet so much of the show just
> consists of meandering from dream to dream in these little mini-
> scenes.

I don't think the episode needs to connect to the viewer's particular fears.
Trying to may be the episode's biggest problem. Much of the episode is
dominated by a flood of generic phobias easily recognized by most people -
probably experienced by many too. Even when the phobia is shared with the
viewer, it still lacks any in-story resonance. Where the show attempts to
show more depth beneath the random phobia - as with the spiders - it comes
across to me as a heavy handed announcement. Look how important spiders are
to this guy!! Then he's immediately dropped from the story. Frankly,
Willow's brief spider wiggins prompted more feeling within me than the rest
of that bit.

The only time people's fears rose above the comic relief was when they
connected strongly and meaningfully to the characters we know and
understand. (And with Billy - but he's made into a major character, and
care, time and attention are given to make sure we can relate to his
feelings.) Fortunately there are several really good examples provided.
Plus Billy's own pretty terrible monster.

In the meantime the show gets weighted down a bit with a deluge of the
trivial. Even some of our core characters' fears come off as lightweight.
Buffy's test for example. Giles getting lost in the stacks and then unable
to read the newspapers is more interesting than most - and better directed
at the character - but still not fundamentally important. It's not like his
character is driven by the fear of forgetting how to read. I was really
disappointed with Xander's clown fear. The depiction was lightweight. The
candy trail stupid. And with all the fears that Xander develops - some
already shown - it seems so non-illuminating. Fortunately he does get one
of the episode's highlights then when he faces his fear, foreshadowing what
Billy must do, and confirming what The Master said.

Willow's moment is kind of in between. I'm not sure the series had really
progressed beyond it being simple stage fright. (I do like her makeup.)
But with what we come to know of Willow, the scene fits quite comfortably
with the idea of Willow scared of exposing her true self - showing herself
to be less than pretended. I like how she expresses her fear in terms of
not knowing the words rather than being unable to sing. (In the prior
episode she suggested the dramatic reading - words - as the way to cover
lack of talent.) It hints at lack of control being half the problem for
her - which also goes towards her future controlling tendencies.

At this point in the series, though, it mostly comes off as simple stage
fright - a very generic phobia. So for a good portion of the episode we
mainly get comic relief. Sometimes good. Cordy is funny. Semi-naked
Xander is funny. I smiled at the giant bees flying around Sunnydale. To
some extent that offers contrast to the more serious fears - highlights
them. But there's so much of it that I think it really cuts into the weight
of the episode - prevents it from being really good.

> I would like to give credit to the show, even though it compounds the
> too-much-crap problem, for realizing that a given character can
> actually have more than one nightmare; most "good/bad dreams come to
> life" stories don't seem to realize this. [This is Stock Fantasy
> Plot #184, for those keeping track.] Buffy's in particular have a
> nice variety to them,

Which I believe are intended to represent Buffy's different aspects - as it
is with Giles. I believe special care is given to their nightmares - more
so than Xander and Willow. I think the episode is ultimately directed at
them.


> from the universal (history test)

The least interesting of her nightmares. It does hint at a disconnection
between her and school.


> to the deeply
> personal (Hank's "revelation" is a more foreign fear to people
> whose parents get along)

I don't think it's that foreign. Tons have experienced parental divorce.
And most everybody else would recognize the classic fear of the child being
somehow responsible for it.

So in one sense this is another readily identifiable generic fear. But this
time it's also genuinely personal and loaded with meaning. It's an
extraordinary scene, loaded with pain. The first time we've seen Buffy
genuinely hurt. And the first time this episode that we really learn
something about our characters. As we now know, father issues will continue
for Buffy.


> to the Slayer-specific (The Master free).

All three nightmares are actually Slayer related. The disconnection from
school can be attributed to her Slayer duties. And it's the Slayer
influence in particular that Buffy fears is the cause of her parent's
divorce.

Willow: My parents don't even bicker. Sometimes they glare. Do you know why
your folks split up?
Buffy: I didn't ask. They just stopped getting along. I'm sure I was a
really big help, though, with all the slaying and everything. I was in so
much trouble. I was a big mess.

It's never proven that Buffy's fear isn't true.

Fearing being turned into a vampire is of course generated from her ongoing
battle with them. That would be the worst penalty of losing one of those
fights. By the same token, the nightmare shows her trying the experience on
and coping with it. Even getting a little hungry. (Love that line.) One
might suggest that this nightmare opens the door to her being a little
attracted to it.

Anyway, the whole lot of them is about being the Slayer. The Slayer trap
shows itself in full flower. Buffy's nightmare scenario is her happy Slayer
construct so wonderfully expressed last episode crashing down around her -
ruining her life. Most important is the appearance of The Master - who
appears first in an actual nightmare at the start of the episode, not just
through Billy's influence. For the first time (other than obliquely) the
prospect of Buffy's own death is thrust before her. The ultimate penalty of
the Slayer trap, and the biggest fear that she must face.


> but watching the
> usually unflappable Slayer so completely out of her element is
> something new and interesting.

There isn't much of an arc this season in the usual plot sense. The closest
it gets is with the arrival of the annoying one, who ends up with the
glorious assignment of leading Buffy to a hole for her to enter and find The
Master. Since she already knew one way down from back in The Harvest,
methinks Buffy could have got there on her own.

There is a character and theme progression. This episode almost completes
it - a prelude to the climax. We started with the seemingly minor nuisance
of missing out on being a cheerleader and arrive here with the essence of
her life bared - shown to be shredded by her calling. And death standing
before her.

But only as dream. The reality will have to wait another episode.

Part of the progression has also been the construction of her support group
of friends and watcher. They act this episode too. Especially Giles, who
unravels much of the mystery and provides the necessary moral support for
Buffy when she needs it. The episode portends evil and shows how hard it is
to be the Slayer. But it also shows how much stronger she's become.

A lot of foreshadowing is mixed into this. Death at the hands of the
Master - and rebirth being the big ones. The foreshadowing I like the most,
however, is found within The Master's own arrogance. So vain about his own
great wisdom - and so contemptuous of everyone else. It doesn't seem to
occur to him that he's not the only one who can face their fears and
overcome them. But then he doesn't read prophecy as well as he thinks
anyway. He wouldn't recognize this as the prelude to his fall.


> Here the music is from the wedding night love duet in Madame
> Butterfly, but Whedon tweaks it a little; the first pause made by the
> tenor
> for Willow to sing is not from the opera - there are no lines for
> Butterfly
> there, all of the lines sung by the tenor in this episode are in fact one
> continuos passage for Pinkerton. And Butterfly's response in the opera,
> which Willow fails to make when told it is her turn, translates as "I am
> like the goddess of the moon, the little goddess of the moon who comes
> down
> by night on the bridge of the sky"...*

So those are the words she hasn't learned. That's kind of cool. Thanks,
Apteryx.

> Giles
> being the necessary emotional support to help Buffy keep things
> together while vampirized.

I didn't see much about Giles in the review. Maybe I missed it. Before
touching on that, though, notice how Buffy after rising from the grave seems
stronger. A lot stronger. She couldn't fight the monster before. Now she
breaks his wooden arm. A lot has been written about Buffy's variable
strength, but I haven't seen much of that before here. This seems to be the
start - which is foreshadowing Prophecy Girl. The Prophecy Girl experience
might be the template for the later weak, then strong oft repeated pattern.

Giles emotionally supporting Buffy is nice. I can't help but note, however,
that when Buffy actually does rise from a grave many seasons into the
future, Giles won't be quite so successful with the emotional support.

For now, though, the big deal for Giles is seeing Buffy's headstone. His
biggest nightmare. A very natural one that sure doesn't require a lot of
explanation. But it's not one we've seen him face before, which makes it
quite revealing. Until this episode Giles was the figure that stood fairly
solid. Yes, he had to adapt to Buffy's non-Slayer like ways, which could be
discomfiting for a traditional watcher. Mostly, though, he did his job -
even seemed to exult in it.

Now we suddenly realize that he's caught in the Slayer trap just as Buffy
is. The watcher cares for his Slayer. Feels her wounds. Is devastated by
her demise. In many ways he faces as brief a flash of a life as Buffy does.


> So....
>
> One-sentence summary: The nightmares themselves are pedestrian at
> times, but the overall episode is both entertaining and intriguing.
>
> AOQ rating: Good
>
> *Definitely Good for me too. It doesn't entirely make sense, but sense is
> overrated. It's my 37th favourite BtVS episode, 5th best in season 1*

Interesting episode. A good amount of it is awkward to me. Most of the
nightmares don't actually seem very well depicted to me, and there are too
many trivial ones. At times the episode just seems noisy. There's a lot of
humor. (I get a kick out of Xander still being attracted to vampire Buffy,
for example.) But it's really a pretty serious episode. At times I feel
like the humor is deflating the show.

But the good in it is very, very good. The baseline story about Billy is
done quite nicely. He gives a good performance. There's a nice mix of
creepiness and sympathy and tension around his appearances. And I was
surprised at the explanation.

We get our first true prophetic dream out of Buffy. (The opening to WTTH is
too nonsensical I think to really establish the precedent.)

We learn some good stuff about Buffy and Giles. Arguably about Xander and
Willow too.

And the tone of the series suddenly gets very serious - death facing us
serious. It's a nice set up for the conclusion, even if there's a kind of
interlude to come first.

I don't think I can honestly rate this as Excellent, though it's an episode
I really want to be Excellent. But it surely is a solid Good.

OBS


Arbitrar Of Quality

unread,
Mar 26, 2007, 9:12:46 PM3/26/07
to
On Mar 25, 6:23 pm, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:
> "Apteryx" <apte...@xtra.co.nz> wrote in message

> All three nightmares are actually Slayer related. The disconnection from
> school can be attributed to her Slayer duties. And it's the Slayer
> influence in particular that Buffy fears is the cause of her parent's
> divorce.
>
> Willow: My parents don't even bicker. Sometimes they glare. Do you know why
> your folks split up?
> Buffy: I didn't ask. They just stopped getting along. I'm sure I was a
> really big help, though, with all the slaying and everything. I was in so
> much trouble. I was a big mess.
>
> It's never proven that Buffy's fear isn't true.

Interesting thoughts. So basically we should just watch the season
assuming that everything that happens is really about Buffy coping
with being the Slayer?

> Interesting episode. A good amount of it is awkward to me. Most of the
> nightmares don't actually seem very well depicted to me, and there are too
> many trivial ones. At times the episode just seems noisy. There's a lot of
> humor. (I get a kick out of Xander still being attracted to vampire Buffy,
> for example.) But it's really a pretty serious episode. At times I feel
> like the humor is deflating the show.

This is a good paragraph to summarize my qualms. The first half is a
bunch of noise, and yes, this is one of the rare times where the show
doesn't mesh the humor with the darkness so well, making it seem
dissonant. And yes, the good parts are very good, enough so to get me
feeling in tune with the series again back during the first viewing
after the few before it hadn't done much for me.

-AOQ

Exp315

unread,
Mar 26, 2007, 10:48:56 PM3/26/07
to
On Mar 24, 2:53 am, "Apteryx" <apte...@xtra.co.nz> wrote:
> AOQ rating: Good
>
> *Definitely Good for me too. It doesn't entirely make sense, but sense is
> overrated. It's my 37th favourite BtVS episode, 5th best in season 1*

Nightmares holds up very well on re-watching. Definitely a high Good
for me. It would have been right at home (in terms of quality) in
season 2 or 3.

I noticed that the lighting was much improved in this episode compared
to the earlier episodes of Season 1, so maybe the production crew was
improving or getting new blood around this time too.

One Bit Shy

unread,
Mar 26, 2007, 11:04:51 PM3/26/07
to
"Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com> wrote in message
news:1174957966....@d57g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...

> On Mar 25, 6:23 pm, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry> wrote:
>> "Apteryx" <apte...@xtra.co.nz> wrote in message
>
>> All three nightmares are actually Slayer related. The disconnection from
>> school can be attributed to her Slayer duties. And it's the Slayer
>> influence in particular that Buffy fears is the cause of her parent's
>> divorce.
>>
>> Willow: My parents don't even bicker. Sometimes they glare. Do you know
>> why
>> your folks split up?
>> Buffy: I didn't ask. They just stopped getting along. I'm sure I was a
>> really big help, though, with all the slaying and everything. I was in so
>> much trouble. I was a big mess.
>>
>> It's never proven that Buffy's fear isn't true.
>
> Interesting thoughts. So basically we should just watch the season
> assuming that everything that happens is really about Buffy coping
> with being the Slayer?

Uh... Well, I sort of am doing that this time as a kind of exercise. So,
yeah, it's worth doing.

I wouldn't say that's the whole of the season. Other characters are fleshed
out on their own terms and there's a bunch of stories that also exist for
their own purpose. But the season as a whole is very centered on Buffy's
journey. It's the year she learns the fundamentals of what it means and
finally, at the end, truly incorporates the duty into her identity. Every
episode of the season contributes to that journey in some sense - in ways
that are fundamental reasons for the surface stories.

S1, even though it's almost all independent episodes with minimal plot
connection, is still the most narrowly defined season of the run. The
season opener features Buffy refusing and then accepting her job. The
season close repeats the refusal and acceptance - but with ten times the
depth of both. The episodes in between move Buffy to the place that allows
Prophecy Girl. Could WTTH Buffy have pulled off what Prophecy Girl Buffy
did? If the season did it's job right, the answer has to be no.

To my mind, S1 is the best realized season of all, in the sense of having
well defined objectives carried out relentlessly, completely and
successfully. It does it with a well defined and fairly narrow season theme
centered on Buffy, paralleled by a series of stark metaphoric episodes about
high school as hell. (Don't confuse that with my previously stated
feelings about S5 as having the best realized arc. The episodic aspects of
that season are a kind of jumbled mess.)

That in brief would be my argument for S1 being the best season ever in
BtVS. The only problem is that a different argument could be made for each
of the other six.


OBS


Elisi

unread,
Mar 27, 2007, 5:21:24 AM3/27/07
to
On Mar 24, 11:53 am, "Apteryx" <apte...@xtra.co.nz> wrote:
> *Once again no > quote marks made their way through the complex
> forwarding/replying process. Why? I dunno. So once again I will attempt to
> distinguish my comments from AOQ's original post with an * at the start and
> end of each para of my comments.*
>
> From: "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com>
> Date: Jan 21 2006, 2:26 am
> Subject: AOQ Review 1-10: "Nightmares"
> To: alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer
>
> A reminder: Please avoid spoilers for later episodes in these review
> threads.
>
> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
> Season One, Episode 10: "Nightmares"
> (or "They shout about love but when push comes to shove/They search
> for things they're afraid of")
> Writer: David Greenwalt; story by Joss Whedon
> Director: Bruce Seth Green

I wrote about this one when I started my re-watch, so I'll just do a
copy and paste thing:

First off, 'Nightmares' is one of the most overtly 'Well, these things
happen when you're on a Hellmouth' episodes - it's the only
explanation ever given, but really it doesn't matter because it's a
fascinating look into the minds of our heroes...

We start off with Buffy's nightmare of The Master killing her, and
later we watch him telling The Annointed One that Fear is the most
powerful force in the human world. Of course he is wrong - and this
actually ties in with S7 and The First's ways of using fear to
undermine The good Guys. The Master dismisses love and hate in the
same breath (yes I know! No breath! *spork*) before going on to talk
about his irrational fear of crosses... if he had thought but a little
deeper, he would see that the cross is the ultimate expression of
love! His fear is *not* confounding, but a response to a thing more
powerful than himself - as he says: "We are defined by the things we
fear".

Anyway, I really don't have time to go that deeply into all of it. I
liked how the spider thing was not because Wendell was afraid of
spiders, but because his brother carelessly let all his pet spiders
die, and he felt guilty over their death. That's a very complex
nightmare!

There are two sorts of nightmares here (talking about The Scoobies -
although Cordelia was hilarious). Those that are overcome and those
that will come true later.

OK, had to include Cordelia, because of the Teen!Cordy we see in
'Spine The Bottle':

Cordelia: (touches her short hairstyle) "Oh, God. Oh, God. My hair. My
hair." (crying) "The government gave me bad hair."

Sorry, but that never stops being funny... *g*

Xander battles his nightmare straight on and wins. It is part of his
growth and maturing and it's very satifying to watch.

Willow's stage fright is not overcome here (although it carries
through wonderfully from the last scene of 'The Puppet Show'), but at
some point later on - in S4 she takes drama classes. In 'Restless' of
course her dream comes very close to this episode, but I don't think
it's actually stage fright as such - but a fear of still being the
Willow who had stage fright. Of not having grown or matured at all.

Giles... ah Giles. First he loses his ability to read (and I guess in
S6 he loses his ability to read the problems), and then his greatest
nightmare comes true:

Xander: "Whose nightmare is this?"
Giles looks at a gravestone that reads: Buffy Summers 1981 - 1997.
Giles: "It's mine."
He then has a beautiful speech, each word of which will be true by the
end of 'The Gift':
Giles: "I've failed... in my duty to protect you. I should have been
more c... cautious. Taken more time to train you. But you were so
gifted. And the evil was so great. I'm sorry..."

Poor Giles...

But of course the really interesting bits are what happens to Buffy.
As Giles puts it:

"Buffy doesn't know this is happening. And given the sort of thing
that she tends to dream about, it's imperative that we find her."

Every single thing that happen to Buffy will be repeated in S6, in one
way or another.

First there is the history test that she hasn't studied for, complete
with clock that goes superfast. Both these things will happen in 'Life
Serial', when first she feels completely overwhelmed in Willow's class
and then time starts going haywire thanks to 'exploding lint'.

Then her father tells her that he doesn't like how she turned out and
wants to stop seeing her. Of course by S6 she has long since lost
touch with her real father and her mother has died, but in S6 even her
surrogate father, Giles, leaves her 'to grow up'.

After that we have Buffy's most frightening nightmare. At first it
plays out just like her dream, only this time The Master doesn't bite
her:

The Master: "[...] Come on, Slayer! What are you afraid of?"
He growls and bares his teeth, but doesn't bite. He throws her into
the coffin at the bottom of the grave, and the lid slams shut.
Buffy: "No! Help me!"
Master: "How 'bout being buried alive?"
This nightmare comes true in the most horribly real way in
'Bargaining', and I'm sure Buffy was incredibly traumatised by it.

Lastly, she becomes a vampire although she still carries out her
Slayer duties - so obviously is still herself on some level. frenchani
has written a very interesting essay (http://community.livejournal.com/
lateseasonlove/4473.html) on how Buffy comes back as a metaphorical
vampire in S6 - certainly she sees herself as a monster in her
behaviour towards Spike...

Now after all that serious stuff, at the end of the episode they
reference 'The Wizard of Oz' *and* 'Scoobie Doo' within about a
minute, which is quite something! And 'The Ugly Man' is one of the
most grotesque and actually frightening monsters they've ever done,
IMO.

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

unread,
Mar 27, 2007, 5:34:49 AM3/27/07
to
> same breath (yes I know! No breath! *spork*) before going on to talk
> about his irrational fear of crosses... if he had thought but a little
> deeper, he would see that the cross is the ultimate expression of
> love! His fear is *not* confounding, but a response to a thing more

anyway

- do you know what this?
- its a cross
a symbol of the quartering of the universe into active and passive principles
- no what is the cross made of?
- gold?
- have you got any?
- no but
- what about the seven cities of gold - las vegas tuscon phoenix reno

- temporarily humboldt county

George W Harris

unread,
Apr 11, 2007, 7:40:48 AM4/11/07
to
On Sun, 25 Mar 2007 19:23:02 -0400, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry>
wrote:

:> from the universal (history test)


:
:The least interesting of her nightmares. It does hint at a disconnection
:between her and school.

This nightmare is more universal than you realize. I
still have nightmares about realizing I'm in a class that I
haven't been to in weeks, and there's a test - so does my
mother, and she's in her 70s. It's a standard academic anxiety
nightmare, no more specific to Buffy than the naked in public
dream is specific to Xander.
--
Never give a loaded gun to a woman in labor.

George W. Harris For actual email address, replace each 'u' with an 'i'.

William George Ferguson

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Apr 11, 2007, 11:29:41 AM4/11/07
to
On Wed, 11 Apr 2007 07:40:48 -0400, George W Harris
<gha...@mundsprung.com> wrote:

>On Sun, 25 Mar 2007 19:23:02 -0400, "One Bit Shy" <O...@nomail.sorry>
>wrote:
>
>:> from the universal (history test)
>:
>:The least interesting of her nightmares. It does hint at a disconnection
>:between her and school.
>
> This nightmare is more universal than you realize. I
>still have nightmares about realizing I'm in a class that I
>haven't been to in weeks, and there's a test - so does my
>mother, and she's in her 70s. It's a standard academic anxiety
>nightmare, no more specific to Buffy than the naked in public
>dream is specific to Xander.

Or Willow being late for a test, naked, and being attacked by Audrey III
(okay maybe the Audrey III part is specific).


--
... and my sister is a vampire slayer, her best friend is a witch who
went bonkers and tried to destroy the world, um, I actually used to be
a little ball of energy until about two years ago when some monks
changed the past and made me Buffy's sister and for some reason, a big
klepto. My best friends are Leticia Jones, who moved to San Diego
because this town is evil, and a floppy eared demon named Clem.
(Dawn's fantasy of her intro speech in "Lessons", from the shooting script)

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