The Gift - Trailing Clouds

I apparently like "Anne" a lot more than fandom does - and in fact I might even love it (1/?))

The first time I watched "Anne" a few months back (which I apparently enjoy more than the general fandom does?  With possible exception o norwie2010, I dare say) I remember seeing a blink-and-you'll miss it image of Buffy with a hammer and sickle and thought "Did I just see what I thought I saw?"

I didn't take it to mean that JW was espousing communism, but in the context of the imprisoned workers throwing off their masters in the factory, it was simply a clever steal and a bit of a joke.  (Or painfully obvious and on the nose, depending on your POV.) But I still love that ridiculously and I think Buffy's fight in that factory is one of her most awesome, kick-ass battles in the entire series. I hadn't been able to find a screencap of that moment until today, from http://twitter.com/whedonesque/


Of course there's the emotional context of the episode, that of Buffy is fighting to reclaim her identity after the tragedy/trauma of Becoming: "I'm Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.  And you are?" SMG is wonderful in that episode, parsing through all the layers of Buffy's emotions: numbness, grief and despair giving way to fierce determination, hope and love, leaving behind a self-imposed hermitage to reconnect with friends and family. "Anne" packs into a single episode what Season 6 takes 22 episodes to unspool; the final image of Joyce embracing her prodigal daughter will be called back in Buffy and Dawn's embrace in "Grave".


Glorious Buffy, indeed. (With apologies to norwie2010 or stealing the phrase, and to readerjane or finding the photo.)

twitter.com_whedonesque_photo1


I have so much love for this episode I cannot contain it to one post, so....Part two of my "Anne" meta HERE.
That image makes me think of River Tam.

Or River reminds me of Buffy. Either way.
I think I know which image you're talking about. Joss has a thing for slender young women who are fierce but damaged warriors, doesn't he?
I am vastly amused that the sickle-thing is called a "hunga munga". It is very cool indeed. I do like "Anne", though it suffers from lack of Spike. ;-) The Chantarelle/Lily/Anne character is interesting to me, and she appears now and then in a meaningful way in "Angel", which always makes me happy.

The guy who plays Ken appears in other Whedon projects, and he embodies the banality of evil almost too well!
I didn't know what that thing was called; I know it's really not a sickle or scythe - then again, the Slayer scythe is not really a scythe, either - but the reference to the communist symbol is still pretty cool. And Buffy with an axe is always a good thing.

I do like "Anne", though it suffers from lack of Spike.

Agree to disagree? When I was first watching the show I bemoaned the disappearance of Spike, NOT because I shipped them in any way, but because he was a terrific character. I had thought he'd be the Big Bad of S2; so when he came back as a bit of a heartbroken woobie in Lover's Walk I was sort of disappointed. It all paid rich dividends in the end, but I didn't know that yet.

But in terms of "Anne", his presence for me would have been inappropriate; this is very much about Buffy's trauma re: Angel, and she needs to climb out of that Hell on her own, I think.

The guy who plays Ken appears in other Whedon projects, and he embodies the banality of evil almost too well!

YES! In the scene where he first interacts with Buffy, he could be good or evil - the show doesn't tip it's hand - yet - either way, except in that his message of comfort has implicitly (conservative religous) undertones - like the Christian groups that promise prenatal education and are really anti-abortion centers, etc. But he speaks truthfully to her in that scene ("When I was a demon I told the truth all the time". Ha) and could either be friend, guide (like Whistler) or foe.

And is it just me, or does his sort of wholesome, square-jawed appearance remind anyone else of Riley?
People don't like Anne? I always thought it was one of the better season openers, though the Bangel of it all makes me gag (and as Reb says, no Spike is to its detriment!) But if you think about it, the episode also is a statement of where the show is at that point: it's before things get complicated and messy, before the moral grayness of the later seasons. At that point in the series Buffy's confidence isn't broken by abandonment issues, so she can look danger in the eye and say "I am Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Later on things will be harder, it will take effort for her to make that kind of self-identification, but at the beginning of season 3 things are still black and white, Buffy is still the bearer of absolutes. This is something that goes away as the series continues (again, abandonment issues tear our girl apart, thank you very much, Angel and Riley!), but for now it's something that she can state without question. She is the vampire slayer. The end.
I recall reading negative opinions of it on the ATV Club threads (although maybe I'm confusing it with "when she was bad"? But I don't get the sense of Anne being loved in that corner of fandom, although S3 was generally considered the best season (aka, the "we love the early seasons and everything else was shit" faction.)

But if you think about it, the episode also is a statement of where the show is at that point: it's before things get complicated and messy, before the moral grayness of the later seasons. At that point in the series Buffy's confidence isn't broken by abandonment issues, so she can look danger in the eye and say "I am Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

*nods* I've also read comments that AtS was morally greyer than BtVS but they are very different shows; Buffy is a coming-of-age story, and AtS gets to build on the back of that.

In terms of being broken, she's very close, closer than I was aware of at the time. She's utterly distraught when Angel returns in Beauty and the Beasts.

(again, abandonment issues tear our girl apart, thank you very much, Angel and Riley!),

WORD to recognizing Riley's role in her abandonment issues! At the ATV Club he was just dismissed as "boring"; and I don't find a lot of discussion about how he added to her emotional trauma (it's always about Angel.) Angel may have got there first - actually Hank did - but I think that his leaving her had huge repercussions, or much more than generally acknowledged as far as I've seen. Riley is a lot more like Angel IMO than not, in terms of how he regards and treats Buffy (as opposed to exterior looks.)
Anne is one of those episodes that's had to grow on me a bit. Good call of the hammer & sickle though!
Thanks! That just jumped out at me when I first saw it - and rewatching, it's one of those things yoiu could miss because the action is so intense and frenetic. (Really a wonderfully staged fight scene IMO.)

I don't think I really appreciated it either, until recently. I love the fact that so much about the show depends on the way the entire story works as a seven-season unit, the callbacks and foreshadowings. So many layers.

I may end up doing an S3 rewatch because I may have underestimated it? I know the season itself is highly thought of in certain quarters of general fandom (usually the ones who prefer the earlier seasons). Although calling it "the best" is a bit of a stretch for me, though I may change my mind. And the angst, the angst - anytime SMG cries I lose it.
Ha! *love*

"Anne" is a truly great episode and it is a shame that it's twin "Graduation Day" is comparatively weak in it's metaphor. Whether Whedon meant to "propagate" communism or not - "Anne" depicts extermination through labor in frightening detail. From the name "Anne" (Frank) to identification through a tattoo on the forearm(!) to symbolism depicting the one force which destroyed the European death camp system (there were over 1000 concentration camps all over Europe with 13 to 17 million murdered to fill the bank accounts of the owners of the industry).
"Anne" is a truly great episode and it is a shame that it's twin "Graduation Day" is comparatively weak in it's metaphor.

There is the aspect of summoning the troops, an army of the people (students untrained in battle or warfare - although the aspect of sending other students to her death when Buffy herself said in S1 "I don't want to die" is a bit dodgy IMO. Even if it resulted in VampHarmony.) I think the presence of Angel, and Buffy's focus on saving him (nearly leading to her own death) is detrimental, in that it pulls a lot of focus - and the romance is long past dead, anyway. (Bored now.) The show has to give the two of them some sort of closure (Angelus drinking from Buffy - and her sacrificing herself to him in that way - is both erotic and extremely disturbing. Fortunately Buffy comes around to the other side in S7, when she tells Dawn in "Him", "No man is worth your life", and Spike sacrifices his own for her in Chosen. So, yay.)

I think the lack of Angel except in that dream sequence is a strength of "Anne"; it's more suggestion than anything else, and it allows space to focus on Buffy on her own, rather than as part of a couple.

From the name "Anne" (Frank)

Good call, I hadn't thought of that before!
Great cap.

I don't think Joss is much of a marxist in political terms (though his storytelling depends a lot on Hegel and Marx with the constant thesis-antithesis-synthesis and focus on alienated and disenfranchised characters, but then whose doesn't these days). But that said, I always liked the idea that the season starts with Buffy in worker's clothes, wielding the hammer and sickle, and then features both the Mayor and the Council extensively (Buffy becomes politically aware) and ends in a people's revolution as the graduating class throw off their shackles robes (with a reversed Battleship Potyemkin homage shot, no less!). As unsubtle as the above image makes it look, it really is quite clever. And of course, the next season then makes it obvious that utopia isn't quite that easy...
I don't think Joss is much of a marxist in political terms

Agreed, but then again that's pretty much what "post-modern" culture has become anyway: a grab-bag, where the past is sort of a buffet to be picked over regardless of context, and sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn't: "ooh lets throw this in, this works!" I'm very much reminded of Baz Luhrmann: I loved Moulin Rouge very much (and am trying to remember now why) but his work has that same grab-bag, throw it on the wall and let's see what sticks feel to it. (I personally think the final scene in the original Star Wars in much the same way: I had no idea the imagery came from Leni Riefenstahl until I was much older. But Lucas clearly wasn't saying "the rebels are fascists"; it was just an effective visual to use there, which tells me more about Lucas & Co than about the film itself.

Then again, Eisenstein said as much in his essays on film theory in the 1920's, didn't he? That the juxtaposition of shots created meaning that did not reside in individual images, therefore meaning could be altered for propaganda purposes. (though how his work is any less "propaganda" than the capitalist films he decried is beyond me, and neither here nor there anyway.)

I always liked the idea that the season starts with Buffy in worker's clothes, wielding the hammer and sickle, and then features both the Mayor and the Council extensively (Buffy becomes politically aware) and ends in a people's revolution as the graduating class throw off their shackles robes (with a reversed Battleship Potyemkin homage shot, no less!)

I hadn't really analyzed S3 to any extent, so I may need to do a rewatch in light of your comments. Something I noticed rewatching "Anne" this morning is this is the first time, that I recall, that BtVS touches on issues of class and priviledge (For instance, Xander may be "working class" compared to Buffy and Willow and Cordy, but compared to the kids on the street in LA he's extremely privileged in ways he doesn't realize.) And this theme is played out through the season via the arrival of Faith.

Visually I also noted some homages to Metropolis, which pretty much set the standard for our filmic template of "oppressed workers as cogs in the wheel of modern industry".
Agreed, but then again that's pretty much what "post-modern" culture has become anyway: a grab-bag, where the past is sort of a buffet to be picked over regardless of context, and sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn't

Agreed - and it's also part of the reason why a lot of the time, pop culture not only fails to make any truly subversive point, it cannot do it. Some iconic images have been used and re-used so many times that they have no context beyond emotional resonance and can be used for any purpose (see also the abundant use of religious imagery in Buffy). No, Lucas doesn't mean to hint that the rebels are fascists (nor did Jackson in LoTR, despite all the focus on Free Men Of The West With Pure Bloodlines), but the point is that if they had wanted to make that point, nobody would have gotten it. (See also Starship Troopers.) We identify with the lead characters, therefore they are good and right, and therefore any imagery that tells us this makes us cheer. You could argue that that in itself is a subversion, that it helps defuse the very idea of propaganda, but I'm not entirely sure that's always true, if it doesn't blind us to it instead (which is a whole other discussion, really). BtVS partly avoids that trap, at least IMO, with the (comparatively) consistent storytelling that the imagery, but...

Visually I also noted some homages to Metropolis, which pretty much set the standard for our filmic template of "oppressed workers as cogs in the wheel of modern industry".

...Anne still ends with the Shiny Special One freeing all the uneducated serfs from their subterranean hell. ;)

Edited at 2012-11-20 03:14 pm (UTC)
</i>Agreed - and it's also part of the reason why a lot of the time, pop culture not only fails to make any truly subversive point, it cannot do it. Some iconic images have been used and re-used so many times that they have no context beyond emotional resonance and can be used for any purpose.

100% agreement back on this entire post. I'm not in academia, haven't been in some time, and don't know all the latest theories - but it seems to me our current era, the "post-modern" era, has very little in the way of paradigms, ideas, guiding principals that we can all our own, other than "Reuse, renew, recycle"? Even our architecture nowadays looks like someone digested all past styles, chewed it up and spat it all out.

I wonder if the internet isn't part of the problem? I love the possibilities of it - obviously or I wouldn't be writing here - but everything is just out there, totally devoid of context (like post-modern architecture). Of course, TV was there first - and I found it ironic, when I was studying film history in college (a million years ago) that the filmaking techniques that Eisenstein espoused as a reaction against capitalism have become the techniques used primarily in commercial advertising. Images strung together in quick succession, removed from their original contexts, to create an emotional response

You could argue that that in itself is a subversion, that it helps defuse the very idea of propaganda, but I'm not entirely sure that's always true, if it doesn't blind us to it instead

I think a lack of awareness, of history, and unwillingness (or inability) analyze imagery or ideas is a huge problem (to be incredibly vague and non-eloquent about it.)
Well, it's a tricky thing. I'm a huge fan of post-modernism in fiction, but there's no denying that it demands a lot of responsibility both of the creator and of the reader/viewer. There needs to be a critical eye on both sides for it to work.

the filmaking techniques that Eisenstein espoused as a reaction against capitalism have become the techniques used primarily in commercial advertising.

But of course. It's one of the central tricks of marketing: sell something mass-produced to people by convincing them that it makes them individuals, tell them to be rebels by following your narrative. (One of the scariest commercials I ever saw was for running shoes. It had a futuristic marathon race, where every runner was exactly alike, looked exactly alike, ran exactly alike, dressed exactly alike, all in grey in a black depressing rain... And then one of the runners suddenly started growing colours, and we saw that he was wearing THOSE running shoes, and he grew a face, and he grew his own clothes, and he smiled into the camera, every inch the superior being to the other faceless peons. ...AND THEN HE KEPT RUNNING IN THE SAME RACE. Ghaaaaa.) Hell, Eisenstein himself was selling the revolution.
it demands a lot of responsibility both of the creator and of the reader/viewer. There needs to be a critical eye on both sides for it to work.

Very true. And it terms of critical eyes - on the audience/viewer side, I think that's harder to find than we might think. Thanks to VHS tapes, DVD's, cable TV and now the internet, we know a lot more pieces of information, we have access to a lot more of the cultural products of our age (films, pictures, recordings, etc) than any generation before us. But without context (back to that word) or an ability/willingness to analyze. And not that it's entirely our fault? Or rather, the rush and amount of images, the speed of the computer, are addictive (or why else do I sit here so many hours?), and beyond the brain's ability to process. Which I guess is the point? Don't think about it, just consume it, soak it in. (As with political ad campaigns and commercials.)

I'm actually pretty stunned by the amount of analysis fans do regarding BtVS (hell, I'm surprised how much I have to say about it). But that's just one fandom, not the general public. If religion was the opiate of the masses in Marx's day, I guess "entertainment" (video games, internet, etc) are ours.

It's one of the central tricks of marketing: sell something mass-produced to people by convincing them that it makes them individuals, tell them to be rebels by following your narrative.

The other trick is the one Betty Friedan wrote about in The Feminine Mystiqu, which is actually related, that of preying on people's negative self-esteem, on their fears and their desires to be better, to be respected, to be loved "if ONLY you use such and such a product" otherwise your life will be incomplete.

Hell, Eisenstein himself was selling the revolution.

*nods* And denial is not just a river in Egypt.
We identify with the lead characters, therefore they are good and right, and therefore any imagery that tells us this makes us cheer.

Quick thought ETA: This is part of the reason I love The Sopranos. The entire last season of that show turned into the writers basically telling the audience "Yes, Tony is the villain. No, he won't get caught or killed. Yes, you've been cheering for a murderous sociopath the whole time. No, we won't let you rationalise that."
...Anne still ends with the Shiny Special One freeing all the uneducated serfs from their subterranean hell. ;)

Nah, you're falling victim to your own hubris. :-P

Buffy is the avantgarde of the working class, the revolutionary bolshevik (bolshe-chick? ;) party which leads the proletariat to freedom and bread...

... the "Shiny Special One" is "Metropolis" - which in itself is a product of social democratic hubris and delusions of self importance: The main failure of the social democracy has always been the wish to serve the capitalists while staying the leaders of the working class. ;-)

See? You just need to squint "right" and everything makes sense, again! :D
The first time I saw Anne I enjoyed it, but thought the metaphor was a little too flat -- oh, here's their episode about teenage runaways. But it's grown on me over time. I think there's more going on than it first appears.

The moment when the camera pans up at Buffy with the hammer & sickle becomes what Joss calls the "hero shot" for the next several seasons of opening credits, although they pick a moment where you can't see the hammer & sickle.

The first time I saw Anne I enjoyed it, but thought the metaphor was a little too flat -- oh, here's their episode about teenage runaways.

I actually thought they handled the social aspect (teen runaways, or people of any age on the streets) fairly well and appreciated that about it. (It brought to mind people I've seen in New York - or Norwich or New London CT, where I live.) I actually found the handling of it relatively deft compared to treatments of it I've seen elsewhere. It doesn't get too preachy or "Lifetime special" about it, it doesn't romanticize living on the streets, and it doesn't offer a solution to the problem.

I'm glad it's grown on you though. What I noticed this time was all the other stuff going on around the social themes. Storywise, it just sort of exploded on me, how much of the entire series is right here. (Xander and Cordy's relationship deserves it's own meta treatment.)
I like this episode, but I don't love it. I don't love it because it sucks to see Buffy so sad and alone, physically detached from the rest of the Scoobies (In S6 she will be emotionally detached, even being physically present) and dreaming about Angel. I don't like sad and lonely Buffy, especially in her early days, when she was a little girl, really. But it's a great episode and I love the moment when Buffy "takes back" her true self, her essence as Slayer and hero, and fights back those demons. Maybe, I find hard to love this episode - while I adore Buffy's sadness in S5 and S6- because this thing about Angel will never be resolved ... she will always had this presence (That's the whole point or whatever) and she will struggle with disfunctional Bangel for the rest of the season.
Anyway, my opinion could also be influenced by SMG's hair in the episode. Awful, awful hair.
I don't love it because it sucks to see Buffy so sad and alone, physically detached from the rest of the Scoobies (In S6 she will be emotionally detached, even being physically present) and dreaming about Angel. I don't like sad and lonely Buffy,

And yet SMG is so freakin' good at it.And Buffy always somehow pulls herself to the other side, so I find that inspiring. And honestly, I dislike the treatment of Buffy in the *cough*comics*cough* and quite a lot of fanfics more. there's a constant delight in humiliating Buffy, or glorifying Angel or Spike at her expense, without the dignity or layers of SMG's performance to counterbalance (or a writer who loves and understands Buffy without pitying her); the comics in fact almost seem like a satirical commentary on fanfiction, but only makes matters much worse.

I love the moment when Buffy "takes back" her true self, her essence as Slayer and hero, and fights back those demons.

So much YES to this.

she will struggle with disfunctional Bangel for the rest of the season.

It's fascinating in Anne and Beauty and the Beasts, but it gets old really quick, especially as it becomes more and more about him and he makes unilateral decisions for both of them. And it becomes hard to tell if it's being played subversively or straight (I think SMG and DB were very much playing or conceptualizing it straight.) "Amends", anyone? Maybe magical snow is meant to be satirical but only comes off silly.

Awful, awful hair.

But, but...I don't hate her hair in this episode, (Amends? Yeah, the bangs are awful.) I mean, Buffy braids! Buffy braids are always to the good. I actually think she looks adorable. I'm not so fond of her shorter hair in S6, esp those tiger-stripe highlights (Dead Things); but when I watched Anne today I realized her hair is about the same length as it is in Normal Again. (And actually that nightgown and plain apartment remind me of Normal!Again Buffy. I don't know if that's a deliberate call-back or happy accident.)

Don't get me started with Buffy's characterization in the comics. Don't even! Luckily, I have my series and I can rewatch my girl in all her amazingness. Also I can write fanfic. I need it!

Her braids are the cutest thing, but those horrible stripes! Those horrible stripes! Nope, nope, nope!
Don't get me started with Buffy's characterization in the comics.

Sorry - I shouldn't compound the trauma. (The pain, oh the pain....)

You mean the S6 stripes? Yes, awful awful awful. (But damn it, Dead Things is a superb episode so I have to endure them.) I noticed her braids reappear (in Smashed and Wrecked) for possibly the first time since S3 (?)

Yes, I am really that shallow. :)
She's got the braids in Freshman and in Fear Itself! I have to check other episodes, but I clearly remember that S4 was also a braids!fest.
Let's share the shallowness! XD
I love "Anne" I actually wrote meta about it years ago, which is something I very rarely do. Buffy reclaiming her identity as the Vampire Slayer is one of my favourite moments in the whole series.
i just wrote another meta today that covers a lot of the same ground you do, but not half as succinctly or elegantly. It's wonderful stuff and I'll reply there.

Just friended you, btw.

I never see Anne talked about much.

I quite like it. It's not perfect, but the Buffy sections of it are pretty great, IMO. What I've always noticed is the way it sort of undermines Buffy's opinion of herself demonstrated through the rest of the series (until S7). The scene where she automatically darts out in front of the car in particular.

I agree with Norwie; I think it works a lot better than its mirror ep at the end in GD, but that could be because the High School=Hell stuff never worked very much for me.
it sort of undermines Buffy's opinion of herself demonstrated through the rest of the series (until S7). The scene where she automatically darts out in front of the car in particular.

I just watched Him again, which is another one I quite like, though it's not as deep as Anne; more light and frothy, and Buffy isn't depressed but she's under a love spell (and in the Buffyverse, being bespelled and being depressed are much the same things in terms of cognitive impairment); and similarly her love for Dawn and her instincts override the spell and she saves Dawn from the train tracks.

I agree with Norwie; I think it works a lot better than its mirror ep at the end in GD, but that could be because the High School=Hell stuff never worked very much for me.

The tone of the show shifted so profoundly from PG on, and esp with Passions, that I think they were never able to really go back to the "high school is hell and we're playing with horror and high school movie tropes" in the same way again. It became a genuine drama and character study, rather than a tongue-in-cheek homage. So that's probably part of it.

ON the other hand, they seemed to have a better handle on the high school setting than college (as in S7, where the high school setting felt more confident again); maybe that's because there are few movies about college, and high school has a limited and restricted setting where everyone does the same thing every day; college is more about options and choices and is more chaotic on a storytelling level.
I liked "Anne." That's all I can say! I have no analysis to offer; just mind that here is one more Buffy fan who likes this episode. I mean, I think it's really great; I love emotionally-charged episodes. I love it when characters feel displaced. It's so realistic, I suppose, because of course in a world like Buffy's you would break, for a little bit. Of course!
Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I really have been thinking a lot lately about underrated episodes, although "underrated" seems to depend on what corner of fandom you play in.

I love emotionally-charged episodes. I love it when characters feel displaced.

Very much so. It's something I can identify with, which is probably why 5-7 are my favorite seasons. (On the other hand, I love light and frothy ones like Something Blue and Him.) in almost any ep of Buffy there's more going on than meets the eye.

in a world like Buffy's you would break, for a little bit. Of course!

Of course. And the lack of a genuine support system is crucial. Like I say in my part two of this, no therapy for Buffy.