The Body

Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

There is no way in hell any summary can even begin to do justice to this episode, the awesome directing, and the frankly incredible acting. It took twice as long as usual to do this summary, and I still didn't even come close. And I started crying again. Also, for the sake of ambiance, remember that there was no background music at all throughout the episode.

We pick up where we left off last week, as Buffy arrives home, relatively cheerful and impressed by the bouquet of flowers her mother's date sent over. Ready to tease, Buffy wanders through the house to find her mother. Joyce is in the living room, sprawled on the couch, fully dressed in a business skirt and blouse. She looks relaxed, asleep -- but her eyes are open, staring blankly out at nothing. Buffy walks towards her mother, trying to wake her up. "Mom? Mom?" Her voice begins shaking as fear begins to register. It's a little girl's voice that asks, "Mommy?"

Cut to credits.

As we return from commercial, it's to a very different scene. The Scooby Gang in its entirety is settled around the Summers dining table, staring at the remains of a thoroughly enjoyed Christmas dinner. Xander and Anya express their appreciation in, well, Xander and Anya terms ("And then I'll be pretty much ready for barf....You know, barf from the eating. 'Cause all was good and too much goodness." Giles covers with, "Yes, everything was delicious." and Anya ruins it by tossing in, "Yes. I'm going to barf, too." Joyce chooses to take it all as a compliment.) Things are pretty much as peaceful and happy as things ever get in the world of the Slayer; when Dawn accidentally gets alcoholic eggnog, Xander informs her Santa's not coming for her this year. Anya then spills the Santa beans -- no, the ones where he's real. "Been around since, like, the 1500s. But he wasn't always called Santa. But with, you know, Christmas night, flying reindeer, coming down the chimney -- all true. Well, he doesn't traditionally bring presents so much as, you know, disembowel children. But otherwise..." As discussion continues, Buffy heads to the kitchen to help Giles and Joyce with the dishes and the dishing out of (burnt) pie. "As long as you two stay away from the band candy, I'm cool with anything," Buffy teases; Giles blushes and retreats, and Joyce glares at her unrepentant "demon child". "I live to torment you. Is that so wrong?" Buffy grins, and her mother kisses her forehead as they start trying to figure out what to do with the burnt pie. Buffy tries to cut it and the plate slips, crashing to the--

Joyce is still on the couch, her eyes still open and sightless, her face pale and empty. Buffy races to her, calling out to her mother, shaking her body and screaming. She stumbles, crying, to the phone, making the 911 call on spinal reflex rather than rational thought. The operator talks her through the procedure, trying to find out what happened, but Buffy doesn't know, and can't think enough to figure anything out. The operator gives her instructions for CPR. Dropping the phone, Buffy cradles her mother, and begins chest compressions and artificial resuscitation -- until a rib breaks. Buffy freaks, and the 911 operator tries to talk to her again. "She's cold," Buffy sobs, and the operator pauses. Finally, she tells Buffy to wait for the ambulance, which is on its way. Buffy straightens, staring out the window as if she can will the paramedics to arrive. Then she picks the phone back up and says, quite calmly, "I have to make a call." She stares for a long time at the buttons before hitting speed dial. "Giles, you have to come. She's at the house."

Buffy hangs up before Giles can answer and opens the front door as the ambulance pulls up, sirens wailing. The paramedics go to work immediately, setting up equipment and moving Joyce to the floor. One of them tries to talk to Buffy, trying to get information without freaking her. Buffy tells them about the operations, "but she's fine now. She's been fine." The other paramedic intubates Joyce and begins AR; Joyce's chest suddenly spasms and her eyes pop open. "We got her!" the paramedic shouts as Buffy's eyes widen. She races to her mother, stays beside her in the ambulance as the paramedic pronounces it a miracle, is by her mother's side in the hospital as she cradles Dawn, "Buffy, thank god you found me in ti--"

And Buffy stares, silent as wide-eyed, as the paramedics work on her mother, and the monitor remains stubbornly flat-lined. "She's gone," the first paramedic pronounces sadly. Buffy doesn't get it, stammers out questions until he stands and looks at her. "I'm sorry. I have to tell you that your mother's dead. She dies a little while before you found her," he explains gently. "There's nothing you could have done." He believes it was an aneurysm or clotting, a surgical complication. She probably felt no pain. The paramedics are called away for another emergency, but promise to call the coroner's office. "Is there anyone you can call?" he asks quietly. "Someone's coming," Buffy murmurs numbly. "I'm very sorry for your loss," he stops to say on his way out. Buffy watches them go, standing in the open door. "Good luck," she calls after them.

She turns back to the living room, to her mother's body, then wanders back out, still cradling the phone to her chest. Then she falls to her knees, vomiting painfully on the carpet. Shakily, she gets back to her feet, wind chimes echoing oddly from the back porch, birds chirping and children playing in the background. Her face is sweaty and uncomprehending. Moving mechanically, she finds paper towels to clean up the carpet, the roaring in her ears getting louder, until Giles' voice shatters it as he comes in the front door at a run.

"Buffy, what is it? Is it Glory?" Buffy turns to him carefully. "I'm waiting," she tells him, every word an effort. "The coroner's coming." Giles blinks in confusion and starts to walk to her. "I have to tell Dawn, "Buffy continues in a monotone. "She's at school. I'll go there." Giles walks forward again, trying to understand; it's only when he glances at the living room that he spots Joyce and realizes. Giles' reflexes kick in and he strides to Joyce, kneeling next to her to try to revive her. Buffy is jolted out of her daze enough to try to stop him, but Giles doesn't hear her until she almost screams, "We're not supposed to move the body!"

It hits them both. As Buffy's first tears come, Giles crosses the floor in three strides to pull her into his arms. But she can't look away from her mother's face, laying back on the carpet, her eyes still open.

* * * * *

The coroner arrives, zipping Joyce carefully into a black body bag. The sound of the zipper almost drowns out Dawn's tears, as she leans against something, crying. "I can't believe it." Someone from off-screen assures her, "It's not that bad," and Dawn blinks. "I just don't think it's that big of a deal," the other person continues. Dawn begs to differ, since Kevin just called her freaky in front of everyone. Seems rumors are flying around school about Dawn's cuts, and one girl in particular is making Dawn's life hell. "What a prima be-yatch. I swear, if I could make her head explode using only the power of my mind, that's what I'd be doing right about now."

Dawn and her friend eventually emerge from the girls' room and head for class, playing it cool for all they're worth. They settle into art class, and Dawn's takes her easel next to Kevin, who is super laid-back and cute for his age. He compliments Dawn on her drawing, then, being a guy, says, "I hear you freak out and cut yourself." Dawn tries to defend herself, but Kevin tells her he understands. Dawn responds immediately, admitting that she was going through some intense stuff. They bond over that and trashing the "be-yatch", and Dawn is starting to enjoy herself when her sister's voice comes from behind her. "Dawn. I have to talk to you." Dawn looks at Buffy's drawn face, than at her art teacher's expression, and wants nothing to do with this conversation. She looks everywhere but at Buffy. "What? Can it wait? I'm in the middle of class." Buffy nods, her face and voice under firm control. "I know. Please come with me."

The two girls leave the classroom, Buffy closing the door behind her as they go. "What's going on?" Dawn demands. Buffy tries to lead her outside, but Dawn wants answers now. "It's bad," Buffy begins carefully. "Mom had an accident. Or.. something went wrong, from the tumor." It's starting to sink in and Dawn doesn't want to hear it. "But, she's okay. It's serious, but...." Buffy's control is beginning to crack. "Dawn..."

From inside the classroom, Dawn's classmates can see her face begin to fall as Buffy breaks the news. They can dimly hear her sobs, then her screams, as she collapses to the floor. Buffy kneels beside her sister as students and teacher watch in silence.

* * * * *

Joyce is on a slab in the coroner's office, as they begin to cut off her clothes in preparation for an autopsy. Tara sits in the sunny dorm room she shares with Willow, watching in silence as her lover stares sadly at the shirt she's holding. Anya is equally silent, staring out the passenger window of Xander's car as he grips the steering wheel, jaw set and eyes grim. Xander double-parks outside the dorm, and couldn't care less about the ticket. "I think they're here," Tara says, and Willow puts the shirt on the bed. Then begins hyperventilating about what to wear. The purple because it's somber... or too depressing. The yellow is cheerier... no, it's rude and disrespectful, if I had the blue one, Joyce really liked the blue one.... But the blue one is nowhere to be found. Tara tries to help, assuring her that the purple is okay, it's royal, and Willow freaks again, because Buffy needs her to be supportive. "Why do all of my shirts have such stupid things on them. Why can't I dress like a grown-up? Can't I be a grown-up?" She's crying in earnest, and Tara holds her, stroking her shoulders and hair and kissing her carefully on the forehead and lips. "We can do this," she assures Willow through her own tears. "We can be strong." Willow almost smiles. "Strong like an amazon?" she asks, and Tara agrees. Willow steadies a little, but, "I wish I had the blue."

Xander and Anya head up the stairs to the room slowly, side by side. "So, what do we do?" Anya asks, but Xander isn't sure; they need to talk to Giles. "What will we be expected to do?" Anya persists as they go down the hall, but Xander doesn't answer. Willow goes to Xander as soon as he comes through the door, walking into his arms. Anya watches, rubbing her arms uncomfortably as they cling to each other. "How are you doing?" Xander asks gently, but Willow just hugs herself and backs away, unable to answer. Xander nods. "I know the feeling." "I'm afraid I'm going to start to cry again," Willow explains. "Xander cried at the apartment," Anya says. "It was weird." "It's a thing we do," Willow explains again.

The four stand in the middle of the room, until Anya breaks the silence. "What's going to happen?" The plans are to meet Giles at the morgue, where he went with Joyce while Buffy went to Dawn. All of them know where the morgue is. Willow goes to change her shirt, while Xander asks Tara what Giles said. He needs to know if Joyce's death was natural; if Glory hurt her and is trying to cover it up, Xander wants to go after her, to deal with her. Willow points out that this is unlikely, since Glory would want them to know she'd done it. Xander's rage instantly redirects itself at the doctors who released Joyce. "We don't have enough monsters in this town, the doctors got to help them out?!" Willow just shakes her head, tears threatening again. "It just happened." But Xander's not going to accept that. "Things don't happen! I mean, they don't just happen. Somebody's... I mean, somebody's got..." Tara shakes her heads helplessly, near tears herself, and his voice trails off, his eyes very confused and very young. Best friend Willow steps up to the plate, challenging him to a mock fight if he needs to take someone on. The last of Xander's rage drains away as he watches her, and he kisses her forehead. "You know I can't take you."

The moment of understanding is rudely broken as Anya asks, "Are we going to see the body?" Xander's heard this before and wanders away, leaving Willow to cope with Anya's persistent questions. The consensus is that they will stay by Buffy as long as they need to; Willow goes to change her shirt, still wanting to figure out where she left the blue one. Tara goes to check the laundry room for it. "Are they going to cut the body open?" Anya asks, and it's too much for Willow. "Oh my god! Will you stop talking? Just... shut your mouth. Please."

Anya doesn't get it. "What am I doing? Am I supposed to be changing my clothes a lot?" she asks. "Is that the helpful thing to do? No one will tell me." Willow gets more and more furious at Anya's behavior and questions. "It's not okay for you to be asking these things!" she almost shouts. "But I don't understand!" Anya shouts back, her voice breaking on the last word.

The other two stop in mid-sentence to stare at her as she continues, beginning to cry. "I don't understand! I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's... there's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore. It's stupid. It's mortal and stupid... And Xander's crying and not talking. And I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever. And she'll never have eggs or yawn or brush her hair. Not ever. And no one will explain to me why."

Anya breaks down entirely, burying her face in her hands as Willow fights back her own tears. Xander tries to comfort her, but Anya holds him off, collapsing slowly into the papasan chair in the corner of the room, staring helplessly at her hands. Xander wanders away as Willow says helplessly. "We don't know how it works. Why." She sits on the bed as Xander paces restlessly, silently. Anya tries to settle into the chair, pulls out a blue shirt and stares at it, then puts it in the dresser. As Xander puts his hand through the wall.

"Sorry," he apologizes as the girls go over to him. He's well and truly stuck, more embarrassed than anything. "Did it make you feel better?" Willow asks curiously. "For a second there," Xander says. "A whole second..." Willow smiles wistfully. Tara returns and blinks at the scene, as Anya explains, "Xander decided he blames the wall." Xander finally extricates himself, bloody knuckles and all. They stare at his hand until Tara murmurs, "It hurts." Xander looks at her, and she smiles sadly. Anya finds band-aids as Tara confesses that she couldn't find the shirt. But Willow is past that; it's time to go to Buffy. "Time fore the Avengers to get to assembling," Xander agrees. "We'll go. We'll deal. We'll help out. That's what we do." They stream towards the door, Anya trailing behind asking, "how are we going to help?" The door closes quietly behind them. It burst open again after a moment, and Willow races in to retrieve a dark red shirt, then leaves again. Outside the window, a meter maid tickets Xander's car.

* * * * *

The autopsy is done; hands strip off bloody gloves as Joyce stares sightlessly upwards, a white sheet her only covering. It comes up to cover her face as the doctor leaves the darkened, silent morgue. He makes his way through the halls to the waiting room, and the noise of the hospital, as the Scooby Gang arrives. Hugs are exchanged -- Dawn and Willow, Willow and Buffy, Xander and Giles -- embraces and whispered words of comfort and gratitude blending and fading into each other. "They're not telling us anything," Dawn tells Tara, as Anya seizes Giles in a fierce hug. He pats her tolerantly, and affectionately, until the doctor comes and takes all of their attention. Buffy, Giles and Dawn go to meet him. Dawn wants to see Joyce, but Buffy tells her to wait. It was a hemorrhage, the doctor says, from near the area of the tumor. Joyce had been aware of the possibility. "She couldn't even get on the phone, so clearly this was very sudden. She may have felt a little nausea, and probably passed out as it happened. I doubt there was much pain, and even if someone had been by her side--" Buffy rushes to her mother as she collapses on the couch. 'My head...' She's safe in the ambulance and the hospital-- "--it's doubtful that this could have been dealt with in time."

They stare at the doctor, but only Giles can nod his understanding. He starts to thank the doctor, but Buffy has to know. "Are you sure... that there wasn't a lot pain?" The doctor nods. "Absolutely." His lips move out of synch; whatever he says, Buffy hears him continue, "I have to lie to make you feel better." There's paperwork to complete and Giles volunteers to deal with what he can, heading off with the doctor. Buffy tells the Scoobies, who cluster around the sisters. Dawn starts to ask something, then changes her mind. "I have to pee." She wanders off alone, leaving Buffy to stare after her, worried. "She didn't want to believe me. I still don't think she does." Anya breaks into the silence suddenly. "I wish that Joyce didn't die. Because she was nice. And now we all hurt." The sentiment is awkward, but Buffy gets the idea. "Thank you."

Xander, Anya and Willow head off to find food, needing to do something, and Tara stays behind with Buffy, sitting next to her on a couch. "I'm sorry you have to go through all this," Buffy says awkwardly. Tara shakes her head. "You don't need to worry about me." Buffy sits huddled in on herself. "Everybody wants to help. And I don't even know if I'm... here. I don't know what's going on. I've never done this." She laughs shakily at herself. "That's just an amazingly dumb thing to say. Obviously, I've never done this before." Tara stays still for a long time, then says, simply, "I have."

Buffy looks at her. "My mother died when I was 17," she explains hesitantly, brushing aside Buffy's attempts at condolences. "I'm only telling you this because... I know it's not my place but... There's things... about some reactions I had that I couldn't understand or even try to explain to anyone else. Thoughts that... made me feel like I was losing it, or like I was some kind of ho-horrible person. I know it's different for you. It's always different. But if you ever need..." Her voice trails off with her courage, and silence falls again.

"Was it sudden?" Buffy asks carefully.

"No. And yes." She looks at Buffy "It's always sudden."

Dawn emerges from the ladies room and looks over at her sister. Then, deliberately, she goes the other way. She slips down the halls almost silently; the door to the still-dark morgue is unlocked when she opens it, and latches it behind her. There are several sheet-drapes forms, but she walks unerringly towards her mother's. Carefully, she reaches out to the sheet covering her face.. then stops, and pulls her hands back, standing in frightened indecision.

And a body rises silently from a gurney behind her, the sheet falling away to reveal a vampire's twisted face. His body is naked, as some instinct tells Dawn to look around.

The Scoobies return, arms laden with the contents of a few vending machines; they went a little overboard. Buffy isn't hungry.. and she doesn't know where Dawn is, either. Leaving her friends, she heads down the hall towards the morgue, guided by a sister's instincts -- or a Slayer's, as she sees her sister fighting a vampire through the glass windows. Dawn's screams against the vampire's grasp, then Buffy is there. Dawn falls to the floor, leaving Buffy to take on the vamp. She gets in a kick, then is slammed against a cart of instruments, then to the floor... taking the sheet over Joyce's face with her. Dawn looks up at her mother's hair, barely visible past the edge of the gurney. Buffy manages to get on top of the vamp, and gropes for a bone saw. It works as well on this dead body as any other, and Buffy falls to the floor in the dust.

When she manages to roll over, it's to see her sister still on the floor, staring up at Joyce, frozen. Carefully, Dawn gets up, staring expressionlessly at her mother's body, at the open, staring eyes. "Is she cold?" she finally asks.

"It's not her," Buffy says from a few feet away, not moving.

"Where'd she go?" But Buffy doesn't have an answer. Dawn lifts her hand, moving it slowly and carefully until she can touch Joyce's face--

* * * * *

Joyce is dead. No monsters, no weirdness, no nothing. She's just dead. RIP.

Kind of interesting to watch the relationship dynamics, actually, as Tara and Anya try to figure out how to comfort Willow and Xander. Tara's better at it, of course, but Anya is genuinely trying.

What's to say about someone who just found her mother's body? Who tried to breathe life into it, and failed? Who is suddenly faced with the responsibility to a teenage sister, on top of her own crippling grief? Buffy copes as she always does, by just moving forward on grim momentum alone and, being Buffy, torturing herself with how she could have, should have, prevented it. Guilt is a commonr eaction to death, according to all the shrinks; how much harder is it for someone who's spent most of her life trying to prevent people from dying. When she's saved all those strangers, how much guilt does she feel for not being able to help the one person she should have been able to? The fact that she couldn't have done anything means nothing; she should have, and it's going to haunt her for a very long time. I would also imagine it's going to make her even more protective of Dawn than before; that's going to be fun for all parties concerned....

And poor Dawn. Already struggling to figure out her place in the world, knowing she was created instead of born, and one of the few real things in her life, one of the two touchstones she relies on to tell her she's real and loved, is suddenly gone. Add that to the angst of any normal 14-year-old who loses her mother, and the surprise isn't that she gets fixated; the surprise is that she didn't go full-bore psycho. But she's a tough kid, one who doesn't believe anything until she's seen it, particularly when she doesn't want to believe it. But she's seen it now; what she'll do with the certain knowledge that her mother is gone is anyone's guess.

Xander and Willow are in a damned tough spot, riding on the second tier of grief. It's not their mother who's dead, but it is a woman who has, for the most part, taken better care of them than their own parents have; their best friend's mother, one of the only two 'real' adults who shares their secret. Their loss is no less real than Buffy and Dawn's, but they have to be the strong ones, to set as much of their grief aside as possible, because they have to take care of their friends. Willow fixates on her wardrobe because it's easier than concentrating on anything else, because it's something she can control. Xander needs to find something to blame, someone responsible, because if there's a reason, if there's something to fight, he can cope. And both of them cling to each other, as the only other person who truly understands where they're standing.

They're fortunate, in that they have each other, and their respective girlfriends. Giles has his own, lonely place on that second tier --he's The Grown-Up, with all the same responsibilities to care for the girls, at the same time that he deals with the loss of a woman who was once his lover, who was the mother of his surrogate daughter, who was the only other adult he's had to share his life, his responsibilities, with since Jenny Calendar's death. He has the advantage of experience and age over the other two, and the ability to actually do some tangible things to help. He handles the paperwork, calls the Scoobies, handles all of ther little details that need to be handled, because he's done it before and knows how. And I bet he'd trade every bit of that knowledge for even one hint of a way to ease his children's grief.

Anya and Tara settle into the third-tier of grieving, to stretch a tenuous metaphor. Joyce wasn't as woven into their lvies as she was into the others'; they know her in relation to someone else, rather than in relation to themselves. In some ways, Tara has it the easiest -- she's been through this before, under the worst of circumstances, and she knows she'll survive, that they all will. So she can still function, can deal with Willow's stunned grief and still have energy left over to offer what help to Buffy that she can. Anya has never been through this before, or at least not in the last 1,000 years. She forgot about being human in her years as a demon, and learning about love and money and friendship is no preperation for learning about death. She's a six-year-old, told that someone is gone forever without any explanation of what that really means, and without any clue to what she's supposed to do next. So she asks annoying questions and pokes and pries until someone, anyone, tells her what she's supposed to feel. Oddly enough, that uncomprehending sadness makes her reaction the most heartwrenching one except for Dawn's.

Best Moments:
To do this properly, I'd pretty much have to do another synopsis. The entire episode essentially consists of five scenes, each one damn near perfect.

Buffy throwing up. Not pleasant to watch, but very human.

Joss sneaking that Willow/Tara kiss in there. He did it beautifully, with the two of them in a clinging, comforting situation where it would have been strange if Tara hadn't kissed her. that she did was simply natural.

Xander coming into the dorm room and Willow going into his arms instantly. The bond between these two is almost tangible. It's even more so when Willow tries to egg Xander into a fight to get him past the rage part of his grief; they know each other so well, and it's never been more evident than during this scene.

Anya's entire outburst on no one explaining anything. Just beautifully done, a heartbreaking exhibition on the weirdness of grief and loss from someone who genuinely doesn't get it, and never wanted to.

Xander putting his hand through the wall. An abrupt, welcome change of direction for the scene, and one I can sure as hell relate to.

The montage of greetings and comfort and hugs at the hospital. Again, the bonds between these people are almost visible -- and it's a really wrenching comparison to the last time they were all in the hospital, celebrating Joyce's successful surgery. We're talking Alanis-level ironic, here....

The overlap of the doctor's 'voice' on his lips, as Buffy hears what she feels, instead of what he's saying. Really effective trick.

Tara trying to talk to Buffy about losing her mother. Probably the best Tara scene so far, and her first real act as a Scooby Ganger in her own right, really. "It's always sudden." was just.. perfect.

The vampire rising up behind Dawn. After almost an hour of normal, real, heartbreaking time in the universe, suddenly we remember where we are, and that this world doesn't stop for death. Very creepy, very wigworthy.

Questions and Comments:
As I said in the intro, words really can't explain what makes this epsiode so incredibly special. It's a whole bunch of tiny, little details -- Willow racing back for her shirt, Xander putting his fist through the wall, Anya finding a shirt and putting it away, Giles hugging Buffy and dealing with the paperwork, Dawn wandering along completely unaware until Buffy comes to tell her.... The fact that each act is only one single scene allowed Joss to make the entire thing more real. We're not cutting back and forth through a pre-planned story, with background music carefully inserted and calculated to make us care. Instead, we're standing against a wall, or in someone else's head, watching a group of people go through the day-to-day actions and moments and emotions of grief, with only the sounds of the world accompanying them. Nothing rings false, nothing pulls us out of these horrible moments in time. Amazing.

And for the record, I started crying about halfway through Act One, was violently sobbing by the end of Anya's speech, and didn't stop until about halfway through Angel. Just so you know. Joyce was a wonderful character, and one that it was a delight to watch develop over four+ years. She'll be missed.

Rating: 6 stars out of 5. This one blows all the scales off any rating system; I have to go higher just to do it justice. One of the most incredible hours of television ever.


"Ow. Pretty much sums it up."
"I second MaryBeth's OW with an emphatic *whimper*. Joss damn well better get an other Emmy nod for this. Because there was not a moment that I didn't identify with. God, I feel for him if he went through anything resembling this. For once, I'm not cursing him, I want to hug him for having this in his brain." -- Mary Beth and Lizbet [ED: He didn't. Which confirms that the Emmys are utterly pointless.]

"That was just *brutal*. My god. More comments later, after my brain stops spinning. Yeeks." -- Maureen

"Poor Anya; she's not used to everyone else being as confused as she is." -- Jennie

"Nicely handled with the school, although when I was in high school one of my classmates' did get called out of class because her mother died and they called her to the office to be told where there weren't other students watching." -- Jennie

"Amy is now repeating "They abandoned dramatic structure." Over and over. And over. She doesn't object to that (she wanted me to make sure I explained that...) but it does heighten the 'this is weird' effect." -- Jennie

""The Body" was truly excellent -- with a unbeatable monster out of sight but in every single frame." -- Dawn

"Noted: the lack of music. The odd camera angles, so you'd either see things from Buffy's (or Dawn's) POV, or from one of the other participant's, or as if you were there in the room with them. Ow. Lots of sunlight, so you felt safe, it being the day and all, which was why the vamp at the end was such an ugly shock."
"It just seemed obscene at that point, somehow... that on top of all the real-world, real-life, concrete real human trauma they'd been trying to deal with the whole time, that they should have to deal with *that* too. It made perfect sense (how many corpses in that morgue rise every day, I wonder?), and yet was just *so* wrong...."
"Wrong. Wrong. WRONG! I would never think that Joss would do it, and I'd never expect it, but a small corner of my brain was just *waiting* for Joyce to move so I could climb the ceiling. Eeeeeeeeeeeee!" -- Chris, Dianne and Lizbet

"Anya was just awful and wonderful. Emma Caufield was great; the standard 4-year-old who doesn't understand *any* of this, and just wants it to stop."
"God, her little monologue thing was beautiful. An articulate 4-year-old who could explain what she was thinking. And I've done exactly that. "Here I am doing some mundane little thing. Someone I know will never do this mundane thing again." And boom, it becomes real in a way that just the words couldn't make it."
"And she was trying so hard to do the right thing, to plan out what was going to happen and what was expected so that she wouldn't goof up at such a time. And (of course) no one wanted to talk about it or think that far ahead, which just put her in an awful spot. -- Chris, Lizbet and Dianne

"God, Anya was when I finally LOST it. I teared up and sniffled at others and Willow got me started, but *Anya* of all people hit it right on the nose. All of them, really, just perfectly portrayed some aspect of dealing with death: Anya, trying to understand; Dawn, disbelief; Xander, trying to find something to blame; Willow, complete and utter wreck; Buffy, shock. Tara was the rock, the one who'd been there before and was just enough removed to be there for everyone. I just love her move and more." -- Mary Beth

"They snuck in The Kiss. *snort* And I wasn't so far gone that I didn't notice. I wonder if the censors still care, or if Joss threatened them with moving sheets and moaning if they didn't let him show an on-screen kiss? The backstory on Tara's mom was done wonderfully well. And I'm glad they remembered that, and let her offer as much comfort to Buffy as she could."-- Chris

"The daylight and the no sound just threw me. Actually, I didn't even notice no music until the end of the 2nd act. But I did notice, you know? I just knew things were horribly horribly wrong all around. God, this was hyper real. It was all so damn natural. Including the death. Which made it all the worse." "I think this was the most disorienting thing about the ep. I so seldom think about how much we depend on the incidental music to partially interpret what we're seeing until it's gone. And it was the most evocative of Buffy's utterly shell-shocked state of mind." -- Mary Beth and Valerie

"The ties to Restless in this just really hit home, too: Joyce in the wall. . . . dead. Giles with a childlike Buffy . . . and a child on the way . . . Dawn? Will he somehow gain custody? I have to wonder if Almanzo will be visiting. Tara being the guiding force. This makes me worry worry worry about Xander -- Mr. Laid out on a sacrificial stone. *gulp*" -- Mary Beth

"I've been waiting for this blowup on Anya's part for quite a while now, and I'm glad it was received in the proper spirit. I know she's made petulant-seeming comments on the subject before; but because they were read as petulant and petty, they didn't really impact anyone with the possible exception of Xander. For the first time Willow, in particular, really understands the depth of Anya's frustration with her inability to have the "correct responses" that come so naturally to everyone else. She may have to live the rest of her life that way, or at least a number of years to come--having to mentally go through a list of rules every time she wants to do something, not necessarily having the conceptual connection between one situation and another to know whether a particular rule is cross-applicable. It's the social equivalent of trying to communicate with native speakers of a language that you know well enough to translate in and out of reasonably well, but are far from the fluency that allows you to encode thoughts directly into that language. It's frustrating and exhausting, and proves that far from being the impulsive brat she appears, Anya has an enormous reserve of patience that she exercises every day just in trying to be human. The others haven't really understood that before, because she hadn't been able to adequately express it. It's ironic that what finally gave her the license to do so was that everyone around her was openly showing a level of pain and grief that I don't think has happened in her presence before, giving her a situation in which (from her perspective) it must therefore be appropriate to express those feelings fully at this time. She's needed to for a long time. And her finding the blue sweater and tucking it neatly into the drawer was the perfect touch to keep it from getting too maudlin. *giggle*" -- Valerie

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