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27 June 2006 @ 12:40 pm
2.7 Lie To Me  
Angel: Do you love me?
Buffy: What?
Angel: Do you?
Buffy: I love you. I don't know if I trust you.

Hi, I'm your guest moderator. Thank you to entrenous88 for the opportunity (and believe me, I have a worshipful admiration for her now that I've tried to do this myself).

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.

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Lie to Me
Writer: Joss Whedon
Director: Joss Whedon
Airdate: November 3, 1997

1.Theme for the Season
Buffy: The more I know, the more confused I get.

There’s a theory that the seventh episode has a special meaning to its season’s thematic arc: Angel, Lie to Me, Revelation, The Initiative, Fool for Love, Once More With Feeling, and Conversations With Dead People are all seventh episodes. Since Lie to Me is written and directed by Joss, how do you think the themes of trust and betrayal are important to his creation of Buffy?

2.Lies, Lies, and Damned Lies
Buffy: And don't lie to me. I'm tired of it.
Angel: Some lies are necessary.
Buffy: For what?
Angel: Sometimes the truth is worse. You live long enough, you find
that out.
Buffy: I can take it. I can take the truth.

Throughout the episode people are not telling the truth to Buffy and when she becomes aware of that, she is angry; at the story’s end, she asks Giles to lie to her; why? Buffy’s friends go behind her back to do something they think is for her own good; is this a good thing or a mistake?

3.Trust and Betrayal
Ford: Everybody lies.

We have both Angel and Buffy meeting old friends. Why is Angel so quickly suspicious of Ford? Why doesn’t Buffy just ask Angel about Drusilla instead of seeing if he’ll tell her the truth? Is there any difference between Ford’s betrayal of Buffy, a Slayer and an old friend, and his betrayal of the misguided vampire-lovers? Is one more serious than the other? Spike is evil; why would Buffy assume he would forgo killing a Slayer to save Dru’s life? Why does she trust Spike’s love for Dru?

Other Potential Topics: The omg! makeup on Angel and Willow when he visits her bedroom; Was it a betrayal of trust for Jenny to take Giles to see a “monster trucks” show?; Chanterelle calls vampires ‘the lonely ones’ and everybody in the cellar has a rosy-eyed view of them. Is this just an exaggeration of how Buffy sees Angel? She took the Watchers’ book but never really read up on his misdeeds. Did she just not want to know? How come we never really see any Goths in Sunnydale High?
mazal_mazal_ on June 28th, 2006 04:58 pm (UTC)

This is a layered, excellent episode of the show. It is a clue to us that even those whom we, as viewers, tend to trust -- Giles, say, or Angel -- have lied. Soon afterward, we learn about "Ripper's" past and that he lied in Season One's "The Witch" about that being his first spell. And, we learn at season's end that Angel telling Buffy (in his eponymous Season One episode) that he had not fed on a human since gaining his soul was a lie.

One of my favorite parts of "Lie To Me" is toward the end when Buffy tells Ford, "You have a choice. You don't have a good choice, but you have a choice." To me, that is one of the over-arching themes of the entire series (ditto A:ts) and is true in RL as well.
your royal pie-ness: giles iconentrenous88 on July 3rd, 2006 04:36 pm (UTC)
Re: layers
That's a good point, that this brings us to a turning point in telling stories about one's past and one's investments. And Giles, who seems like the most truthful character in some ways, and certainly the one that Buffy depends on to tell her how things must be done, is about to have a big reveal shortly after.
Owenowenthurman on July 4th, 2006 07:01 pm (UTC)
Re: layers
Angel telling Buffy (in his eponymous Season One episode) that he had not fed on a human since gaining his soul was a lie.

I don't think we see for certain that that was a lie until AtS Darla (S2) or even AtS Orpheus (S4).
your royal pie-ness: dru iconentrenous88 on July 3rd, 2006 05:03 pm (UTC)
Dru and women of angel's past
Interesting to see that just after "Halloween", when Angel insisted he didn't like the women of his time, we see him speaking to the out-of-the-past, otherworldly looking Dru. It seems to contribute to the overall theme of lies and lying to make others feel better, that Buffy might perceive at least momentarily that Angel has misled her in what he prefers in girls, when she sees him speaking to Dru and assumes the encounter is something of a romantic one.

Interesting too that when Buffy did have access to see what Angel's past had been like, she used that entirely to try to figure out what women were like during the time he was alive, rather than go read up on his vampiric exploits. You would think that Dru would loom a little large in the Watcher's Chronicles, so in a way her misreading the scene/exchange between Angel and Dru really is an example of mis-reading, of not looking at things from a perspective of finding out about them. Rather, she wants to focus on the things/perspective that interest her, which doesn't necessarily provide the most information.

your royal pie-ness: xander duh faceentrenous88 on July 3rd, 2006 09:52 pm (UTC)
I've probably said before there are very few characters on Ats and BtVs that I don't like.

But there are a few one-shot characters I really don't like at all. Shelia is one (from "School Hard", and I blame the actress entirely -- the role wasn't poorly written, but her delivery and presentation, blech). Another is Ford.

With Ford, I think it's both the actor and the depiction in the writing and direction. In an episode about twists and turns of what people tell one another, he seems fairly out-and-out smarmy in any incarnation of liar/charmer/truth-teller. There's no real point at which I feel sympathy for him, even when he does his dramatic, "Oh, yeah? Well, I would have died!" speech while they're in the bomb shelter. Someone willing to sacrifice dozens of others, and to trap a hero to give her to the bad guy, so he can live just can't muster sympathy, brain tumors or no.

But in addition the character is written as a very wink-wink fun-with-genre way, which is so difficult to pull off if the character can't actually charm the audience (and *hearing* that the character is deemed charming by someone else, in this case Buffy, doesn't do that work for the writer/director/actor).

And sorry, but even though I love BtVS for its awareness of narrative and pop cultural references, Ford is like one of those awful guys who follows you around at a boring party and can't stop demonstrating how he can quote every line from Clerks or Seed of Chucky verbatim.

So in a way, I think a bit of the lies and betrayals lesson is lost on me. Ford comes on so randomly, is a jerk and endlessly pleased with his jerkiness, does bad stuff, lies, then dies/dusts. I don't see how it's a real blow to Buffy whether he's there or gone -- certainly it never comes up again as even a passing reference, unlike other monsters of the week or story-arc allusions. In a way the episode hangs on him, and he's written and played as too much of a self-satisfied ass for that to work.

And sorry, didn't we already have a character dying of a brain tumor in season one? Morgan in "The Puppet Show" knows he's ill, but does whatever he can to help Sid kill the demons who are trying to strike at the students of Sunnydale High. If we know that Ford has a choice, even though it's not a good one, well, we've seen someone in his position choose the alternate path with apparent resolution.
mazal_mazal_ on July 4th, 2006 01:14 am (UTC)
Re: Ford

"If we know that Ford has a choice, even though it's not a good one, well, we've seen someone in his position choose the alternate path with apparent resolution."

And now I'm thinking that maybe that's the point, that characters (and maybe even real people in real life), even those in difficult and unfair circumstances still have choices. Sometimes they make the mature, compassionate choice and sometimes they don't.

Looking at the two shows together and quite a bit further on ... Faith, coming from a difficult background and making some tremendously poor choices, ultimately returns to the white hats. Lindsey, from a somewhat similar background, does not.
your royal pie-ness: XanderEntre (xmirax)entrenous88 on July 4th, 2006 01:36 am (UTC)
Re: Ford
Oh, sure. I mean, the show is all about making things complicated, putting twists on expectations, and of course showing us different ways situations might turn out (especially with parallel characters and alternate 'verses).

Even so, I just think Ford's annoying, so it stands in the way of the other good points of the episode for me.
your royal pie-ness: dawn dork (kornpeep)entrenous88 on July 4th, 2006 01:40 am (UTC)
Re: Ford
And of course it strikes me that I sound rather petulant about Ford. But I figured I'm allowed to dislike one or two characters, especially if they're around for one-ep appearances at that. :)
mazal_mazal_ on July 4th, 2006 06:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Ford

Of course you have a right to dislike Ford; he was intended to be dislikeable. For that matter, one is allowed even to dislike even regular characters. For instance, I've never really liked Willow, even though of the regular characters on either show, she's the one most demographically like me.

Counting Joyce, this now makes three characters with lethal brain tumors. It's known that Joss Whedon's mother died early of natural causes; I would love to know if this is specifically what took her.

Joss has killed off far more regular/recurring female characters than male in both shows; Jenny, Joyce, Tara, Anya, Amanda (and some other Potentials), Lilah, Cordelia, Darla, Fred (and Buffy twice though not permanently in either case). It's known that he believes in sharing his pain with the audience; I think he may be reliving his mother's untimely death over and over and taking us along for the ride.
your royal pie-ness: angel drawn-comicentrenous88 on July 4th, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Ford
Interesting point. I'd always asssumed the brain tumor is just one of those things you do when you want to kill a character dead. I mean, on soap operas, most types of sickness end up being operable/curable, but brain tumor is one of those things you hear and say, "Oh, that person's contract is up."

So I'd always thought that Ford and Morgan just needed to die, for various plotty reasons, and so brain tumor it was.

With Joyce, I had guessed it was that Joss really wanted to give Buffy something that she could not fight, that inexorable death of her mother even when it seemed at first that it had been at least partially treated.

But who knows, in terms of your suggestion about his mother's death (I mean, if she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and so that type of cancer had a terrible resonance for him, so much so that he used it for Joyce).

For the other female characters, hmmm, a great many of the ones you'd named I'd have a very hard time as seeing their characters as maternal in any way, or their ends as somehow representing the devastating closure that would make them similar to a mother's death. Many of them just seem too young to fit that role. It's certainly an interesting consideration, though.
(Deleted comment)
your royal pie-ness: XanderEntre (xmirax)entrenous88 on July 5th, 2006 12:51 am (UTC)
Re: Ford
Yes, I think you could go through and make a case for their qualities and their responses to different situations, and imagine (perhaps! because we have zero clue in this context what JW's mother was like or how he reacted towards her at different stages of his life) that those characters/personas somehow provide a modality through which we might work through such a comparison.

However, I freely admit that I have a strong resistance to thinking there's any sort of easy translation between an artist or writer's work and their personal experiences, or doing a psycho-biographical read of material. I doubt that would change.

And even if there is such a correspondance that the author/artist admits, I don't really have much interest in it, since I view the work as open to interpretation beyond what the creator has decided it represents (if in fact they have decided such a thing).

For anyone else, though, who feels this is productive, definitely feel free to pursue.
mazal_mazal_ on July 5th, 2006 04:47 am (UTC)
female characters
I hadn't thought it through that thoroughly, just noting the greater number of female character deaths vs. males. It may or may not be related to the creator's life and, even if so, may not be meaningful. I just happened to know that factoid about JW's mother.

This is even more OT, but I note the paucity of siblings for characters on both shows. From what I can recall, we meet only three, all younger sisters, two of whom die very young and one of whom almost does (Liam's Kathy, Gunn's Alonna, Buffy's Dawn).

And I think virtually no one could miss the near-constant theme of bad daddies on both shows throughout their entire runs.

So, I, personally, can't help wondering about Whedon family dynamics.