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Buffy The Catch-up: a rewatch told through the live tweeting and emotional nostalgia of a fangirl

by Tori B. on April 01, 2014

“In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.”
 
The last week for me has been the biggest trip down memory lane as I fruitfully binged on everything Buffy ever to catch up fully to get me reacquainted with the universe I fell in love with and has taken me to be the nerd I am today. For the past week I felt like I was 14 again. Only I’m not and this re-experience of Buffy the Vampire Slayer grows with you. 
 
Despite my no longer being in high school for some time now, the first season of Buffy still remains a classic best, cheesy high school one-liners withstanding. It was easy as a 14 year old girl to watch a 16 year old girl face the horrors of every day high school and then to fight a whole set of different horrors at night. It’s cliché to talk about how Buffy was empowering and a strong character for feminism, but against the test of time, it still stands true. Seeing a girl who cared about boys and how she dressed and fought for homecoming queen, still have the strength to get a little dirty and slay some vamps and save the world more than once, was inspiring. As the seasons go on, it gets a little grimmer, Buffy is still a fashionista but there are no more school dances. Some say that the first season of Buffy isn’t to the same quality as the rest of the series but they are so wrong. It’s the perfect introduction to everything that we love about the series and the characters. Their quirky humour, the way they talk, and yes, even the way they dress. Some of my favourite quotes of Buffy history all come from the first season.
 
“Hello salty goodness. Pick up the phone, call 911, that boy is going to need some serious oxygen when I’m through with him.” – Cordelia Chase about Angel when she sees him for the first time.
 
Although I’m biased because Cordy is my favourite character and her prime in snappy lines was her high school days.
 

Which brings us to the first problem of a re-watch of one of your most beloved series, the fact that you already know everything that’s going to happen to them. It has its pros and its cons. Take Cordelia for example, each season her character grows to be a better person, and then she moves off to Angel: The Series, where she undergoes even better character development, until all that gets taken away later on in the series, on the plus side, while it hurts to see your favourite character at their beginning, knowing that while they have a happy ending it’s not totally happy (this is Joss Whedon we’re talking about here), it makes you kind of love that character a little bit more to realize all at once what kind of growth they do go through and it hits you like a brick wall as opposed to that gradual buildup.
 
 
That brick wall feeling isn’t recommended for everyone though. Especially for delicate sensies (sensitives) like me, because again, this is Joss Whedon we’re talking about and you’re bound to cry even when you don’t know what’s about to happen, and then when you do know, it’s so much worse. I don’t remember crying this much when I was 14. The worst of it coming around when I was finishing up reading season nine. I went into the comics thinking the comics wouldn’t make me cry because I’m not watching anyone else cry.
 
 
But they proved me wrong.
 
 
Sure that tweet of mine was in reference to the start of season two which was much more emotionally draining than I remember it being, but by the time I was through with season nine, it was much more applicable. I remember borrowing issues of Buffy from the library right when I found out about season eight, but most of season eight was a blur, and I just remember the crazy stuff (going back as someone who is more into comics now, I can appreciate the creativity that the comics allowed for a mind like Whedon’s to do what he wanted with the characters and the universe in general, but back then all I took from it was a lot of colours and space sex).
 
 
Unlike the television seasons to which the VHS tapes of season one are worn out and a couple of the other season DVDs might be a little scratched up and jumpy. Going back to season eight was a better experience this time around and season nine was an even newer experience. Especially after going through Buffy’s entire journey in one week, by the time I hit season nine (which is paced more similarly to it’s television counterparts, as opposed to season eight) it all came out (via tears). It’s easy to forget that every character is created with purpose and is awesome in their own right.
 
 
And some characters that seem insignificant at first will show up later on, and even more so in the spinoff series as a very good character (*cough*Chantrelle/Lily/Anne*cough*). But that doesn’t only apply to the good guys.
 
 
And it’s not just about individual characters and their growth either.
 
 
At the very essence of BTVS it’s about the relationship of these group of people, some good, some bad, some magical, some powerful, and some who are for lack of better word, rather ordinary (and just on the side of nerdy). They all grow together and you grow with them. Through the high school terrors both supernatural and not, of seasons one through three, the romances from Angel, to Riley, to Spike, and the many apocalypses prevented. There are alternate universes and futures, an episode where no one speaks, an episode where everyone sings, and pretty much everything in between. This is a series that is over a decade old and can grip you in ways that few other series can. Clearly I’m the prime example of that, and I’d like to encourage everyone else who wants aboard the Buffy train to experience it from the beginning, but with season ten of Buffy recently starting up, it might sound like a good jumping point so let me try and catch everyone up in a few paragraphs.
 
Buffy Summers is a young teen who is chosen to slay vampires and save the world from evil. Her high school is built upon the Hellmouth which is a bad gate to everything evil and will be the bane of her existence. Luckily throughout high school  she has two best friends, Willow and Xander, along with her watcher, Giles, who gives her strength as she faces evil witches, robots, hyena possession, insect and mummy women, and well, Graduation Day. This relationship will prove it’s worth by the end of season four after they’ve all suffered the stresses of the first year of college, had minor fallouts, drifted apart, only to realize that they need each other as they save the world again from great evils. There’s also the love of her life, Angel whom she meets and it turns out he encompasses everything that Buffy will love and hate, and will be an important player throughout Buffy’s life but not as important as the other three.
 
 
All the evils are oddly relatable enough, taking real life lessons and turning them supernatural. Internet dating, your first college drinking experience, your first heartbreak, or being ignored in high school, to list a few.
 
As Buffy is no longer a high school student, there’s no more Hellmouth under her feet, but there is something else starting. New boyfriend Riley (who sticks around longer than I initially remember and previous beau Angel who left at the end of season three to start his own series didn’t date Buffy nearly as long as I thought he did) is a government soldier part of a secret division tailored towards the supernatural (his and Buffy’s paths were bound to cross) called the Initiative.
 
 
The Initiative doesn’t quite get how to handle the supernatural as well as Buffy and crew do, so of course it all goes to hell. Don’t worry, they save the day but when we hit season five, Buffy has a lot of growing up to do. We’re introduced to Buffy’s sister who due to unfortunate circumstances as a Slayer’s life in wont to do, Buffy is forced to grow up fast to take care of and protect her sister from the new big bad, mischievous god Glory. Glory is the first bad to truly give Buffy a run for her money, strength and destruction wise. Buffy very nearly quits and gives up to escape it all. Season six ends up being a journey for Buffy and the rest of the Scooby gang in dealing with the entire aftermath that Glory had put them through. In fact it’s almost safe to say that season six is fairly dark as far as seasons go, especially when just a few seasons ago, it was campy and colourful and fun. It doesn’t mean it’s any less funny though, the Whedon humour of wit and nerditude still remain ever strong as Buffy’s new “archnemesisises” are a trio of your regular stereotypical nerds—let the battle over action figures, and sci-fi films, and comic heroes commence.
 
 
Despite it being a bit of a darker season, two of my favourite episodes happen. Once More With Feeling – the musical episode, and Tabula Rasa—which is probably the funniest episode until you see Michelle Branch rocking out Goodbye to You at the Bronze which is the hip club which manages to remain relevant through all seven seasons of Buffy much to my pleasure, and then it’s all back to the pain again. From there on out it’s all pain as we lead our way up to the seventh season and it’s final episode in which Buffy faces the First evil of all time, the biggest bad imaginable essentially, and will try to go against it with an army of potential slayers. Viewers will probably regard this season as one of Buffy’s most triumphant season as her friends seem to think differently. When Buffy needs everyone the most, she proves all along exactly why she’s the Chosen One and why she’s special, and why we as an audience love her so much.
 
Naturally there is an aftermath that they all have to live with that comes in the form of season eight. Season eight takes on a lot of creative liberties (now that there’s no special effects budget—but the talented hands of Georges Jeanty suffice pretty well). There’s a lot of crazy stuff that happens, but the essence of it is that there’s a bad called Twilight, and in order to stop it, Buffy will have to do something that changed the entire world completely, in which season nine is Buffy fixing the mess that she created. It will also guest star a lot of characters and ideas that come from Angel: The Series. Wolfrom and Hart an evil company, run by higher beings in The White Room, and Illyria a god on a similar vein as Glory. As far as seasons go, it’s a personal favourite, quirky, full of lovable characters, action-y, and still emotionally moving.
 
But here we go onwards to season 10 because season nine finished rather nicely overall and it’s bound to give us a nice little jolt to the soul.
 
Sure you can go with the cliffnotes, but nothing beats the entire experience as a whole. For me, it’s been with me for a decade and I have a lot of pent up feelings about it.
 
 
But I also managed to go through it in a week, so it’s not like it’s hard to catch up on. All seven seasons are available on Netflix, and then season eight and nine can be grabbed from Dark Horse Digital, so essentially there’s nothing stopping you. Come join the ragtag group of unlikely heroes as they continue to save to world from ending.

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