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21 May 2006 @ 08:18 pm
2.2: Some Assembly Required  
Cordelia: Darn, I have cheerleader practice tonight. Boy, I wish I knew we were gonna be digging up dead people sooner. I would've canceled.

Prompts and questions are there to spark discussion. If they're useful or interesting to you, go ahead and respond to any aspect of them. But please feel free to bring up anything else that interests you, as long as it somehow relates to the episode under discussion.


2.2 Some Assembly Required
Writer: Ty King
Director: Bruce Seth Green
U.S. Airdate: September 22, 1997


1. Cordelia as Victim
Cordelia: It was horrible. Angel saved me from an arm. God, there were so many parts, they were everywhere. Why are these terrible things always happening to me?
Xander: (*coughs*) Karma!

Why are terrible things always happening to Cordelia? What's Cordelia's role within the Scooby group as she begins to become more of a member? How does that work out in terms of characterization? Narrative structure?


2. New and Interesting
Giles: Grave robbing? That's new. Interesting.
Buffy: I *know* you meant to say gross and disturbing.
Giles: Yes, yes, yes of course. Uh, terrible thing. Must, must put a stop to it. Damn it.

How well does the introduction of horror plots work in the series? Do we wait for favorite themes to be introduced -- finally, witches, or yay, zombies! Or does it seem arbitrary, having to come up with a horror angle to satisfy that part of the show? How well do the one-shot episodes (random problem or horror plot in place for a single episode) fit into the narrative arc in s1 and s2?


3. Love and Death
Xander: (as he sees Giles approaching) And speaking of love...
Willow: We were talking about the re-animation of dead tissue.
Xander: Do I deconstruct your segues?

How well do genre plot and romantic plot fit together in the show? Is the joining particularly successful or unsuccessful in this episode? Is the overall goal to marry the two together, or is it just to create parallel storylines that don't intrude on one another too much? How much do the scary moments need to feed into lessons or illuminations about the characters' lives?


4. Technical Side of the Supernatural
Buffy: Okay, Giles, just remember, 'I feel a thing, you feel a thing...' But personalize it.
Giles: Personalize it?
Buffy: She's a technopagan, right? Ask her to bless your laptop.

This season sees more of a development for the Jenny Calendar character. In what ways does she fill a needed function within the group of the Scoobies? How well does her expertise as a techno-pagan play out? What other plot lines does Jenny influence besides Giles's? Does the show take some good opportunities with the advent of technology combined with the interest in supernatural?


Other Potential Topics: Translating Frankenstein into a high-school context; Willow's disappearing "competition" in the form of smart kids who get involved with the bad side of the Hellmouth; how well extras or one-shot characters are integrated into the series as a whole at this point; hints of the Xander/Cordelia storyline
 
 
 
zandra_x on May 22nd, 2006 06:15 pm (UTC)
After the angsty, dark last episode, this one is a throwback to the monster-of-the-week.

I have to confess that Angel/Cordelia is an OTP for me. In Buffy she makes him smile and manipulates him into doing things; in Angel she kicks his butt when he acts too much the moody recluse. And his mission gives her a purpose in life. For me, they’re pretty much a grown-up love story.

I think Cordy starts hanging around with Scoobies because they’re interesting. We learn later when she does so well in her SATs that she is smart but has put a lot of energy into hiding the fact, to fit in with her crowd. But the bunch in the library are much more entertaining than Harmony and her ilk; I think Cordy sees she doesn’t have to dumb things down for them. Although, Xander is clueless at the end, mostly, I think, because he’s never thought of Cordelia “that” way.

I don’t think it pays to attend too much to the plot of this one. If Chris really brought his brother back from the dead, he presumably kept the knowledge of how to do it and could reproduce the results. As Willow points out, that’s sure to win the Science Fair first place. You’d think, in fact, that sort of thing, bringing the dead back, would have some repercussions on an international scale, but everybody seems to forget about it at story’s end. And it’s possible Chris went on to work for Dow Chemical in gene splicing or maybe Wolfram & Hart.

Jennie Calendar’s great participation is a great move. I wonder if TPTB thought that Giles’ needed a grown-up friend so that he wouldn’t look like a creepy older guy who hangs around teenagers (like he kinda looked like in season 4). Anyway, the relationship between the two teachers gives another layer to the stories and has a big payoff later on.

(So there are some of my rambling thoughts and I’m getting excited because Spike and Angelus are coming!!!)
your royal pie-ness: giles/jenny iconentrenous88 on May 23rd, 2006 07:00 pm (UTC)
Chris working for W&H -- that's a fabulous story idea.

I'm with you on the participation of Jenny Calendar in the gang -- it mitigates Giles's presence in the group, gives him a chance to seem awkward and more human, and of course expands the potential for seeing choices and decisions at different stages of life, and not only from the one consistently included parental figure, Joyce.
lizzygir3: A Pirate's Life For Melizzygir3 on May 22nd, 2006 06:56 pm (UTC)
My problem with season 1 and 2 eps is that they are either all over the place and it's very hard to put the right threads together or they drive the point home with a sledgehammer and you're insulted.

For me "Some Assembly Required" totally goes into the first category. It was misleading what with the brotherly love thing and us thinking that Buffy's oh so wise "love makes you do the wacky" were important. Actually it isn't really love but social mating practices that are the overall topic, in that it has a strong Midsummer Night's Dream-y vibe to it. Everyone wants other people for more or less superficial reasons. For Buffy, Xander, Willow and Angel it's the whole "the more unattainable, the more attractive"-thing that's mirrored in Daryl and his sudden love for Cordelia. Cordelia on the other hand changes preferences at the drop of a hat, from Daryl, the star, to Angel, strong mysterious guy, to Xander, her knight in not so shining armor. And it gets suggested that Giles falling for Ms. Calendar isn't that surprising either, nor is her falling for him. They both can't really connect to other people because of their involvement in the supernatural.

But we also get the warning that these things aren't as harmless as they seem, Daryl dies because he can't let go of his image of a perfect woman and a "happy end".
Maybe a bit of foreshadowing? Buffy goes down this season as well, and she does it because part of her can't let go of her image of Angel and of him returning to her for a happy end.

Cordelia as Victim

I think Cordelia's main function in the beginning of BtVS is to be a mirror character to Buffy, a "What if Buffy were powerless" and this is why she is the victim so often. BtVS was built on the cliché of damsel in distress and the idea to have the damsel not be powerless which obviously works much better when you can actually see both.
And she does get treated as the typical narrative device character. She is more or less useless, gets funny quips and every now and then gets to hold a serious and revealing speech with unusual depth.
zandra_x on May 22nd, 2006 10:41 pm (UTC)
I thought that was an excellent observation about the theme being the unattainability/attractiveness connection. I hadn't seen the parallels.

I do think that Cordy serves as the anti-Buffy, but I think we get a glimpse of her deeper character, too, in the moment after she's been rescued from a kidnapping, she shakes herself off and goes out to cheerlead. In most shows, the rescued girl would be shown crying and afraid, but Cordy (whether or not the viewer values cheerleading) is shown as fulfilling her obligation to what she sees as her duty.
lizzygir3lizzygir3 on May 22nd, 2006 11:39 pm (UTC)
I didn't actually mean anti-Buffy so much as just Buffy the way she would have been without her powers. The show actually draws quite a few parallels like in Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight, or Homecoming, just that where Buffy uses physical strength, Cordy's weapon is her mouth.
your royal pie-ness: giles/jenny iconentrenous88 on May 23rd, 2006 07:03 pm (UTC)
Ha, good point about Jenny and Giles! For people who take their work home with them, it's going to be easier to have someone who understands their committment to the supernatural.

Interesting that Jenny has an online community we don't really see/hear much about after she's gone. We do get IRL communities of witches (the wannablessedbes in s4, the never-shown coven that gives Giles his power in s6), but there is this sense that Jenny gets information and interaction with other people on these supernatural topics online, while the gang has Giles, and Giles in turn has his books, but not many other options (I guess to me the Council seems to administative and distant at this point in canon, it hardly seems worth thinking of them as a community, even a failed one, for Giles).
aychebaycheb on May 26th, 2006 11:15 am (UTC)
How well do genre plot and romantic plot fit together in the show? Is the joining particularly successful or unsuccessful in this episode? Is the overall goal to marry the two together, or is it just to create parallel storylines that don't intrude on one another too much?

I think this episode has a problem a lot of the re-workings of classic horror movies had in season two, which is that lurking in the horror movie element is a very powerful story that can suddenly leap out at the rest of the episode and unbalance the whole thing. Bad eggs is a work of genius precisely because it never takes the horror plot too seriously. Some Assembly does pretty well with its Daryl/monster, he's a parody of all the scoobs in their search for a mate. The problem is the Frankenstein figure, Chris. That one scene where Buffy visits him at home gives him a back story about grief and loss and denial which is so much more compelling than the idea of high schoolers looking for love that it throws the whole episode out of kilter.

Giles dissing American football is hot.
your royal pie-nessentrenous88 on May 26th, 2006 12:17 pm (UTC)
That's such an interesting point. I think in some ways, if Chris is to be an overall nice kid gone bad, a good person pushed to an extreme and unthinkable thing, we need that amount of desperation and grief in the house. But you're right that once it's in the picture, it has its own resonances that don't fit with the more typical high school woes of the romantic search.