Buffy Season 4 – Nearly Dustless

 Recently finished watching Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There is so much sex in this season – everyone, including Giles, is getting laid I now think of this as season fornicate. This is also the season when I gave up on it when it was first broadcast. Buffy’s emotionally vulnerability was, to me, forced & distracting. There was hardly any vampires slain either. Lots of demons though. I  didn’t buy into the military complex plot line – government conspiracy is so X-Files, it was tepid at best.

Some episodes suffered from too many characters & the writers never found a balance between them. At times it felt like they were given dialogue that kept them on screen as opposed to adding to the plot. At least they dropped the one trope I hated – you know the one in which no one believes there are vampire etc. This season everyone in Sunnyvale acknowledges there are evil forces at work.

The season has some of the worse episodes (so far) of the series. “Beer Bad” being one, the other, for me, was “Pangs” the Thanksgiving episode that is so embarrassing I was ready to give up again on season 4. But I’m glad I stuck with it because there were also some of the best written & performed eps as well.

The departure of Oz was emotionally resonant but (spoiler alert) he returns before the end of the season for another great episode. In fact some of the best episodes involved returning characters. Ethan Raine does things to Giles in “A New Man” that were thrilling to see. Danny Strong shines in “Superstar” a brilliant episode. Faith surfaces again in a well plotted & emotionally satisfying two-parter. 

Adam as a villain never felt like a threat. The shenanigans of  The Initiative – the military complex were predictable & left me feeling ‘who cares’ though Lindsay Crouse as the evil doctor was always a joy to watch. I was sorry to see her dispatched without a real face off with Buffy.

It took the writers ten episodes or more to get their footing after the departure of Angel & Cordelia. Spike was to be the smart mouth but seemed totally wasted in every episode. Anya was the best addition to the gang & it was clear the writers loved writing for her. 

There were some great stand alone episodes. “Hush” with the floating Gentlemen was creepy & fantastic; the abused children spirits, is “Where The Wild Things Are” seeking revenge was chilling as was the actress playing their ‘keeper.’ I’m hoping there a another episode in future seasons that deals with her.

The season did expand some of the Slayer mythos, as well giving us more a glimpse into the Watchers that I hope is explored more in future seasons. Willow became more of character, as opposed to a side-kick, as her magic powers & confidence grows. At times it felt more like the Witch Willow show than Buffy. Oh yes, Willow gets Tara – as a love interest. I still think it would have been more revolutionary if Zander got a boyfriend though say in the form of Forrest – as Forrest is clearly resents Riley switch of affection to a girl, namely Buffy.

Speaking of Forrest it was great to see a black character on Buffy in a recurring role. Though he was not a good guy he certainly made Riley seem almost interesting with the powerful gay subtext he was playing in all their scenes. Even in the final fight between them his motivation was more ‘how could you choose her over me’ than ‘I’m helping Adam conquer the world.’

By the end of the season I was glad I stuck with it even if there are some episode I wish I could un-watch. I was also missing the lack of vampire dustings. Come on she’s a vampire slayer – not a demon hunter. On to Season 5.

The Cell

a man weeps on the subway

well-dressed   mid-thirties

turns his face from us

with no corner to hide his tears

rubs a cell phone in his left hand

squeezing it as something to hold on to

glances at the screen

bumps his head on the window

harder and harder

should someone stop him

he lurches up

gets off at the next station

stares immobile as the train pulls out

 

was that even his stop

was he ashamed of strangers 

seeing his sorrow

our eyes wanting more than they could see

was our pity   curiosity   inaction

too much more to bare

on top of what he wept about

 

his cell phone still where he sat

I pick it up look around

no one acknowledges what I have done

what should I do with it

try the numbers on it

track him down

did he abandon it   leave his sorrow behind

I get off at my stop

take the cell with me

 

at home I press the right buttons

nothing lights up dead

my recharge cable doesn’t fit

I’m at a loss about what to do

suddenly it lights up   rings

hello

all I hear are 

 

painful gut-wrenching sobs

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