'The Girl In Question' seems to have split fans into two categories - love it or hate it. Hate is a strong word. I've used it before. I hated season 4. I can't say I hated this episode. I can't say I liked it much though either. Where to begin....
First off, my general problem is that this episode seemed irrelevant. May I have a point please? Oh, yeah, "change". But with everything else going on including a supposed (who could tell by this episode) impending apocalypse, the events here just didn't seem very important. Maybe had it aired earlier in the season I could have accepted it more. Now, it just seemed like a waste of their time and mine. And we can't blame the WB. This ep was in the planning stages long before the ax fell. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only change I'm aware of in this episode is that Dawn was supposed to make an appearance instead of Andrew. Since I can take Andrew's words with a grain of salt, I'm glad MT took a pass on this othrwise I may still be in a fetal position.
Apparently this was not the episode SMG would have appeared in, but the following one. I have no clue what happens next, but I do wonder what difference an appearance by her would have meant. We probably would know for sure one way or another if she knew Spike was alive. My head and heart have two different answers to that question.
The dialogue (or lack there of) leaves us in doubt to what she does or doesn't know. We could point to Spike's rush to break up she and the Immortal on the dance floor as proof she knows. Then again, Spike has almost always acted before thinking, so he probably would have jumped in regardless and dealt with the consequences later. Andrew announces that Buffy loves both of them as if they have had discussions about them. But, does that prove he spilled the beans? My heart can't believe, even if Buffy wasn't interested in rekindling any romance, that she wouldn't pick up a phone to see how Spike is doing. That's just not her (but is this the Buffy we know and love - more on that later).
Or, maybe Andrew did tell her the truth. She wanted to contact Spike but did not do so after Andrew informed her of Spike's wishes for her not to know. Either out of hurt feelinsg or respect for his desires, she hasn't spoken to him. Let's face it, neither Buffy nor Spike have a very good track record when it comes to being honest about their feelings so it wouldn't surprise if they both know the other knows and just having said anything to each other.
Hey, and if Angel can spy on her, who is to say she hasn't had contacts in LA checking up on Spike? To fanwank some more, Buffy could be aware of the presence of Spike and Angel in Italy and encouraged Andrew to let them know she had moved on in order for them to do the same.
I have many frustrations and disappointments with this episode and with BtVS gone and only two eps of Angel left, Joss and Co. should have thought about what they were saying and doing here more. There have been promises of, if not complete closure, some resolution to the triangle. We received none and things are actually more muddled as far as I'm concerned. Putting the ships aside, I'm not sure I recognized these characters as individuals - Buffy in particular. Part of me understands her actions. For the first time in her life she has some freedom and she wants to have fun and enjoy life. But, I have a bit of a problem as to who she's choosing to have fun with.
It was funny to have Darla of all people ease my mind - a bit. She states almost immediately that her fling with the Immortal was just that - fornication, nothing more. It seems like that is all it is for Buffy too.
Darla also makes mention that the Immortal is neither good nor evil, but somewhere in between. There is nothing to indicate that this man? demon? god? is evil. How can you fault him for besting two (at the time) soulless vampires. He also spent a 150 years with Tibetan monks and has a rep for being a spiritual individual. Spike and Angel are obviously jealous and want to believe he's evil, but there is no proof. Even so, I have to question Buffy choosing to hook up with this individual. It flys in the face of what she seems to have wanted in her life and what Spike and Angel wanted fro her.
And the Immortal seems to be quite the lothario. Both Angel and Spike make mention of how smart Buffy is, so how does she fall for a guy who will probably be moving on soon? Maybe Buffy knows and accepts that. Though, it seems strange with her history of taking relationships seriously. If she doesn't realize that she's just the latest in a long list of conquests, well that takes us back to Parker and apparently she's learned nothing. Either way, I'm perplexed how this is making her happy (and what does it say that even Andrew questioned if she was under some sort of spell?)
It's obvious that Buffy is not in love with this guy. Had ME gone down that path it would have been a real slap in the face to the fans. Whether a B/A shipper or a B/S shipper, fans have a lot invested in those relationships and what they mean to the growth of the characters. Still, I wonder how Joss allowed his heroine to be tarnished at all by this storyline? Not to mention, his heroes.
I love it when serious shows decide to take a comedic turn. I still recall watching The X-Files episode 'Humbug' for the first time and laughing so hard I had tears running down my face. But what made the funny episodes of that show so terrific wasn't just the one liners. It was the fact that the humor allowed new facets of the characters to shine through, furthering their understanding of each other while revealing more of them to us. TGiQ failed miserably at that sacrificing logic for the sake of comedy. Comedy that, personally, I didn't find all that funny. I know many people thought this episode was hilarious, I merely chuckled a few lines.
My main beef is how Spike and Angelus - two of the most feared vampires to have ever existed - have become buffoons, the butt of jokes. Also, what happened to remorseful Spike? Oh, that's right, it comes and goes depending on the script. I cringed when they made light of the fact he had acquired his coat from a dead Slayer. What's next, directing trolls to the local hospital for a light snack again?
Not that Angel comes off much better. He's been waiting for Buffy to finish baking??? Couple that with having her followed and someone seems a wee bit obsessed. Somehow I think we could have been shown that everyone needs to move on without it having been so heavy handed. (
Even though I know I can fanwank this to the cows come home, even though the Immortal is not Buffy's future and if they get out of their rut Angel or Spike might once again be in her life, why do I still have a knot in my stomach? Just none of this seems right to me. Maybe that's what I have to cling to. Buffy's not done baking, Buffy still isn't able to make a choice between the two men she does love, so she just latches on to the next gorgeous guy who passes by. Still doesn't mean I like it.
Hmm, I probably should address the Wes/Illyria/Fred storyline. This actually was the better constructed and written of the two storylines, it's a shame it didn't get more time. I know some people have taken issue with the Burkles not being informed of their daughter's death. My assumption is they are still trying to bring Fred back somehow and perhaps stalling on telling her parents the truth.
Of course, if they had known a fascinating question wouldn't have been raised regarding change and identity. Illyria can look like Fred, sound like Fred, act like her, and reference her memories, so, in some small way is this still Fred? Or at least a sign she could be brought back? It's also interesting to draw a parallel between Illyria and Lilah - both willing to pretend to be someone they're not to insinuate themselves into Wes' affections.
Time to call it a night. I've spent far too much time contemplating an episode I'm going to try to forget.