Rewatching Buffy – Episode 94

buffy-titleWelcome to Rewatching Buffy, the part of the blog where I rewatch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Each Tuesday evening, you’re invited to join me as I attempt to rediscover what made me love this show 21 years ago.

The Body

  • Okay, just the opening scene of Buffy discovering Joyce’s body on the sofa and saying, “Mom… Mom… Mommy…” is enough to bring me to tears.
  • This is not going to be an easy episode to get through.
  • We flash back to a Christmas dinner. The whole gang is gathered at Buffy’s house and Joyce is getting ready to serve dessert.
  • One of the pumpkin pies is burnt, so Buffy just suggests cutting off the burnt edges.
  • In the moment that Buffy accidentally drops the pie on the floor, we come back to the present.
  • Buffy enters panic mode, desperate to revive Joyce.
  • After shaking her and yelling at her, Buffy rushes to the kitchen to grab the cordless and dial 911.
  • The dispatcher walks her through performing CPR, which Buff then attempts (incorrectly, btw).
  • Buffy’s Slayer strength causes her to crack a rib, which brings her back to panic mode.
  • She informs the dispatcher about hearing the crack and also informs her that Joyce is cold.
  • “The body is cold?”
  • “No! My mom!”
  • This is all done in one take, by the way.
  • Buffy hangs up on 911, expecting the paramedics to arrive soon. Then she calls Giles.
  • “You have to come. She’s at the house.” And then she hangs up.
  • Paramedics arrive, move Joyce to the floor, and do their thing.
  • Buffy watches as Joyce gasps for air and they ride to the hospital and everything is just fine.
  • Of course, that’s just a fantasy. Because that’s just where your mind would go when something this horrible happens.
  • Joyce is cold. She was dead long before Buffy found her.
  • The paramedic informs Buffy that it was likely an aneurysm or clotting, some complication from the surgery she had earlier in the season, and that she probably felt little or no pain.
  • The paramedics leave Buffy, knowing that someone is coming to be with her.
  • Buffy walks back to the kitchen and throws up on the way there. A correct response to all of this. Then she opens the back door to get some air.
  • She hears children playing and life, basically, going on.
  • Giles arrives in a panic, of course thinking, from Buffy’s abrupt phone call, that Glory is somewhere close.
  • Buffy seems to be in shock, but calmly explains that the coroner is coming and that she needs to tell Dawn.
  • That’s when Giles notices Joyce on the floor in the living room.
  • Giles goes to her, but Buffy yells at him that they’re not supposed to move the body.
  • And it becomes real. Again.
  • Dawn is having a typical day at school. There’s drama, as there tends to be with middle school girls.
  • Apparently, some girl named Kirstie is the worst.
  • She then heads to art class where they’re drawing. But not the object. They’re drawing the negative space around the object.
  • Buffy arrives and takes Dawn out of class.
  • Dawn, as you can imagine, does not take the news well.
  • At Willow and Tara’s dorm, they’re waiting for Xander and Anya to arrive.
  • Willow cannot figure out what to wear. And it’s kind of freaking her out.
  • Tara kisses her to calm her down. Not sure it works.
  • Anya is confused about what they’re supposed to do. She doesn’t understand her role in this grieving process because she, in spite of being 1,000 years old, has never had to grieve anyone’s death.
  • There are a lot of things I like about Anya’s character and how she grows during her time on the series, but this may be my favorite scene of hers.
  • She has no idea how to respond to Joyce’s death and Emma Caulfield plays this to perfection.
  • You know what? Time out. Every actor in this episode was spot on.
  • Nicholas Brendon displaying Xander’s anger. Alyson Hannigan displaying Willow’s overthinking the situation. Emma Caulfield displaying Anya’s confusion. Sarah Michelle Gellar displaying Buffy’s shock and sadness.
  • Seriously. Everyone. Spot on.
  • Back to the play by play…
  • Anya asks questions because she doesn’t understand. Willow gets pissed because, in polite society, one doesn’t ask these questions regarding someone’s death.
  • Then Anya breaks down in tears because she just can’t grasp why Joyce was here and now she’s not and no one will explain to her why.
  • Xander decides to punch a hole in the wall, which helps him for a second, but then it’s just more pain.
  • At the morgue, the autopsy is completed (which seems kinda quick to me).
  • Everyone arrives to be there for Buffy and Dawn.
  • The medical examiner lets them know that it was an aneurysm and, even if someone had been right next to her, there would have been little that anyone could have done.
  • Dawn goes to the bathroom while Xander, Anya, and Willow go to find vending machines.
  • Tara sits with Buffy and shares about losing her own mother.
  • Buffy asks if it was sudden.
  • Tara says, “No… and yes. It’s always sudden.”
  • Dawn emerges from the bathroom and decides to explore, heading back to the actual morgue.
  • You’d think, in Sunnydale, there would always be someone keeping an eye on things in the morgue.
  • You know… in case one of the bodies decides to get up and walk away.
  • Or in case young teenage girls go exploring…
  • Dawn needs to see Joyce, because there’s likely still a part of her that doesn’t believe she’s really gone.
  • Sure enough, one of those dead bodies turns out to be a vampire.
  • The gang gets back with snacks and drinks, but Dawn’s still not back from the restroom.
  • Buffy goes to find her.
  • The Slayer’s on the case and shows up to save Dawn. But she’s understandably off her game.
  • She still manages to behead the vampire.
  • Kids, this is an extremely difficult episode to watch, but it’s so worth it to see how amazing this ensemble cast is.
  • I read a theory once that throws out the idea that the monks’ creation of Dawn may have been the cause of Joyce’s tumor and, therefore, her eventual death.
  • Not necessarily the Key being placed in Buffy and Joyce’s care as Dawn, but all of the false memories that had to be created for Dawn’s existence to make sense.
  • It sort of works, as theories go. So many people had to be affected for Dawn to work. Joyce just happened to be the one whose mind couldn’t handle it.
  • Body count: Vampires – 1

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