Retro Recap — Buffy the Vampire Slayer, S4.E9, “Something Blue”

Honey, we need to talk about the invitations. Now, do you want to be “William the Bloody” or just “Spike,” because either way, it’s gonna look majorly weird.

Willow casts a spell
Images courtesy of 21st Century Fox.

Something Blue! Something Blue! Ever since this season started, I’ve been looking forward to rewatching this episode. It ranks fairly high in my personal pantheon of “favorite Buffy eps.” It’s not the most heartrending or philosophically deepest, but it does show off something that I think the series does particularly well ““ tempering deep heartache with comedy, without cheapening either emotion.

We pick up the show a couple of weeks after Oz’s departure. Willow has been letting herself into Oz’s room and sitting among his things. Everything is just as he left it. Clearly, she thinks at any minute he’ll walk back in. It’s clearly this hope that’s keeping her moving; her friends think she’s “getting over” her heartbreak, though Spike, now a series regular, notes that Willow is hanging on by a thread.

That’s a thread that snaps when Willow returns to the band house one night to find it completely empty. All his stuff has been packed up, his posters are off the wall, and the t-shirt that Willow held of his ““ and we, know how that goes, holding on to a lover’s clothing, which smells of Oz ““ are all gone. Oz sent for his things, but didn’t bother to contact Will at all. She melts down.

Spike drinking from a "Kiss the Librarian" mug.
Images courtesy of 21st Century Fox.

Our heartbreak never happens at a convenient time. As much as we may want or need it, other people’s lives go on while yours has ground to a halt. Xander is just getting started in his relationship with Anya, so his tolerance for his friend’s moping is limited. Buffy is distracted by Spike’s appearance in their lives, trying to get to the center of the military mystery, and having to run out in the middle of Willow’s neediest moment to go recapture the vampire after he gets away from Giles.

Because Willow is Willow, and she’s a girl who desires power and is at the same time afraid of wanting it, she sneaks into the bathroom in the middle of the night and casts a rather impressive sounding “as my will be done” spell. As you do.

That’s the heartbreak. The rest is comedy gold. Gold!

Will’s spell doesn’t work quite as she expected to. She thinks that she can use the spell to force herself to get over Oz, but geeze, even my old Silver Ravenwolf teenaged witch paperbacks told me that you can’t spell yourself in that way. Come on, Will! Instead, she curses Giles into blindness when he expresses concern over her spellcasting when emotionally unstable, which leads to Spike getting free in the middle of her Buffy sleepover, which leads to Willow accidentally cursing Spike into running into Buffy. She accidentally turns Amy back into a human being for two seconds, and then back into a rat because she was looking in the wrong direction. Pissy over Xander’s relationship with Anya, Willow calls him a “demon magnet,” turning Xander into a literal demon magnet, which makes his life only slightly more dangerous than it usually is.

But of course, the real kicker and the solid meat of the episode is when Willow utters that grade school comeback about Buffy’s preoccupation with Spike, “Why doesn’t she just marry him.”

Animated gif of Spike's proposal to Buffy and subsequent kissing
Images courtesy of 21st Century Fox.

Oh, Willow. Thank you for that one.

Seeing Buffy and Spike play grab-ass is one of the great joys of season 4. They plan their nuptials (“Wind Beneath My Wings” is the first dance), argue over Buffy giving up her job (“Let’s see – do I want you to give up killing all my friends? Yeah, I’ve given it some thought.”), and paint their cake topper to make the groom look less insipid (fangs and blood trail). Buffy freaks out Riley, who is seriously sniffing around boyfriend territory, by telling him she’s getting married to some guy named Spike a couple of days after their picnic date. Giles can’t even see what’s going but looks like he’s ready to poke out his own eyes to keep it that way, while Xander flails around in that way he does.

Willow’s mucking about brings her to the attention of D’Hoffryn, Anya’s old demon boss. He likes a good vengeance-ing and senses potential in Willow (and boy, howdy was he right, season 6 Big Bad). D’Hoffryn offers to raise Willow to vengeance demon status, a role she’s quick to refuse, though if she changes her mind, she can just give him a quick chant. Sent back to Sunnydale, Willow quickly reverses her spell and sets about making non-magical amends, baking cookies and swearing to get past her grief the old fashioned way. Lessons are learned! Next week is “Hush”!

A demon grabs Willow
Images courtesy of 21st Century Fox.

I’ve come a long way in appreciating season 4 in the years since it aired. It wasn’t a particularly well received season at the time ““ Adam as the Big Bad was rather particularly loathed and it seemed stuffed with Monster-of-the-Week episodes. But much like season 6, there’s a lot of meat on its bones if you can look past what you expected from it. Six and 4 share a lot of similarities because they’re both about transitioning to different phases of your life. 4 in moving from the sheltered teenage experience to the freedom of adulthood. Six is moving from your youth to darker, harder points, with the loss and misery that often accompanies it.

There’s mirrored scenes ““ look at these two between Willow and Giles. While the stakes are raised in season 6, Giles scolds Willow for inappropriate use of magic ““ foreshadowing Willow’s impulsiveness and overreliance on magic, and her tendency to go for the biggest, most impressive spell around:

S4:

Willow: I know. I-I’ve been off. I-I even tried to do a spell last night. To have my will done? I was hoping it would make me feel better. But it just went ka-blooey.
Giles: A spell? I don’t think it’s wise for you to be doing that alone right now. Your energy’s too unfocused.
Willow: Well, that’s not true. I said I was off, not incompetent.
Giles: I only meant that you’re grieving, and it might be wise if you took a break from doing spells without supervision.
Willow: So I get punished “˜cause I’m in pain?
Giles: It’s not punishment. I’m only saying this because I–

S6:

Giles: Do you have any idea what you’ve done? The forces you’ve harnessed, the lines you’ve crossed?
Willow: I thought you’d be … impressed, or, or something.
Giles: Oh, don’t worry, you’ve … made a very deep impression. Of everyone here … you were the one I trusted most to respect the forces of nature.”¦”¦
Giles: If I had been, I’d have bloody well stopped you. The magicks you channeled are more ferocious and primal than anything you can hope to understand, (even more angry) and you are lucky to be alive, you rank, arrogant amateur!

How being a Slayer influences Buffy’s personal life:

But I can’t help thinking – isn’t that where the fire comes from? Can a nice, safe relationship be that intense? I know it’s nuts, but.. part of me believes that real love and passion have to go hand in hand with pain and fighting.

Giles and Spike, father-son duo:

S4:

Spike: What you want is a general reversal spell. Gonna need supplies.
Giles: Are you.. helping me?
Spike: Well, it’s almost like you’re my father-in-law, in’nt?

S6:

Giles: And you do inspire a, um … particular feeling of … familiarity and … disappointment.
Giles: Older brother?
Spike: Father. Oh, god, how I must hate you.

Willow, fountain of vengeance:

S4:

D’Hoffryn: The pain and suffering you brought upon those you love is inspiring. You are ready to join us here in Arash Ma’har.
Willow: Oh, God. But I didn’t mean to!
D’Hoffryn: But you did. This is the result of your power. You will make a fine vengeance demon.
Willow: No, please! You have to help them!
D’Hoffryn: It is not my concern. You are my interest in this matter.
Willow: Really.. no offense intended.. I mean, you’ve been super-nice and everything, but.. I don’t want to be a demon. I just wanna go back and help my friends.

S6:

Dark Willow: Wanna know what a bullet feels like, Warren? A real one? It’s not like in the comics.

 And of course, Spuffy:

S4:

Buffy: I know! It’s crazy! I mean, we fought for all these years, and then.. Sometimes you just look at someone, and you know.. You know?
Riley: No..
Buffy: I think maybe we fought because we couldn’t admit how we really felt about each other.
Riley: Can we start again?
Buffy: You’ll really like him. Well, nobody really likes him..
Riley: I just need to clear a few things up..
Buffy: I don’t even really like him..
Riley: Buffy..
Buffy: But.. I love him. I do.

 S6:
Animated gif of Buffy and Spike making out

 

 

Published by

[E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of powderroom.jezebel.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at slay@persephonemagazine.com. She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

7 thoughts on “Retro Recap — Buffy the Vampire Slayer, S4.E9, “Something Blue””

  1. Oh, Something Blue. It’s a riot, there’s TONS of foreshadowing, a few rounds of Buffy/Spike grabass, Xander trying to deal with MORE demons than usual, Giles having to deal with sudden blindness (which was welcome at some moments), and Willow’s angst.

    Speaking of Willow’s angst…I can definitely see both her frustration and anger that nobody is as available as she needs them to be, and everyone else’s frustration that she’s not making as much progress as they thing she should. She and Oz had a very deep relationship, and he not only cheated but left; that’s like having a knife in the gut and then that knife being twisted around a bit. And, really, it hadn’t been that long; two episodes probably equals about a month, right?

    And my favorite moment in this episode is Riley’s reaction to Buffy and the wedding dresses. Oh, God. It’s hilarious.

  2. Reading those season 4 vs season 6 foreshadows just got me all excited. Yes, I’m a weirdo.

    Also, I always get defensive of season 4 (yes, because its my favorite) and these reviews back me up!! All the foreshadowing, all the growing up and the changing and the life after Angel and high school! And speaking of—Angel!! Wouldn’t have had that series if he stayed. Oh please tell me you’ll be reviewing Angel’s series someday???

    1. Ok, confession time.

      I didn’t watch Angel.

      Well, I watched the first half of season 1 and all of season 5 (uh, Spike, of course). I’ve been playing around with the idea of doing an Angel rewatch series, which would be interesting since I know bits and pieces of the mythology, but most of the actual episodes will be knew to me. But! I can’t take anything new on until after my move this summer.

      1. I’d recommend watching Angel (and doing recaps!!). I didn’t watch all of it during it’s first run either; I stopped watching regularly somewhere around season 2 (and started again in season 5 for Spike – obvs). But then a few years ago I got a hold of the entire series on DVD, and it was the first show that I marathoned. I think it’s a show that lends itself to marathoning a lot more than the sporadic week to week watching that a TV schedule forces. The plots that I couldn’t get into the first time round (hello Connor, I’m looking at you) become exciting and make sense in terms of character development.

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