“The Body” feels less like an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more like a short film about grief. There are no gods in this one, no big battles, no Slayer quips, and aside from a quick, perfunctory vampire at the end, almost no supernatural elements at all. There’s just a body.
For once, a little good news. After anxiously waiting for Buffy’s mom to get out of surgery, the doctor-with-no-bedside manner tells them that the procedure was a “complete success.” They’ve removed the tumor, and Joyce should make a full recovery. Yay!
But of course, this is a Joss Whedon show, so good news must be counterbalanced with bad news. Now that the crisis is over, Buffy and Riley get time and energy to focus on their relationship, and it’s in trouble–in Riley’s mind, at least. They have a well-deserved romantic night together, complete with slow-dancing and sex–and for the record, Buffy seems super into it! She matches him gaze for gaze and tells him everything is “perfect.” But then he expresses admiration that she “never even cried” during the whole ordeal with her mother, and she admits that she “cried so hard she thought she’d never be able to stop.” So she’s opening up about her feelings, but he’s all upset because… she didn’t cry right in front of him, I guess? Those are super specific parameters for what it means to be emotionally available in a relationship!
Buffy is patrolling on a particularly vampire-heavy night, staking vamp after vamp, but just as she’s getting into a rhythm, Riley tackles the vampire she’s fighting. “What are you doing here?” he asks, stupidly. “My job??” she says, clearly annoyed. Another vamp shows up, and before Buffy can fight him, Spike jumps in! “Why do I even bother to show up?” Buffy mutters. Hee.
Normally, around this time of year, I would be lodging many complaints about who was nominated at the Oscars: too white, too male, too many white male biopics. But this is not a normal year in any sense. Most of the traditional Oscar bait was pushed off until we can see it in theaters again, which means that most of the nominees are more indie, and, in my opinion, more deserving than usual. Stories that usually wouldn’t gain traction with the Academy–movies made by and about women, biopics about lesser-known and more radical pockets of history, smaller stories about fringe subcultures and the lives of American immigrants–are now set to sweep the Oscars on Sunday night.
We pick up where we left off: Riley is on a suicide mission and facing Adam alone. Adam is pontificating about his destiny while Riley just sort of stares at him blankly. Which is honestly nothing new for Riley, but we’re supposed to think it’s super weird and a sign that he’s been brainwashed. Adam explains that Maggie (aka “Mother,” ew) put a chip in Riley’s central nervous system. “It’s chips all around then,” says Spike, who almost makes this whole plotline tolerable.
Janes (a True Stan) and Nerdy Spice (a New Fan) are watching all of Buffy together and comparing notes.Warning: May contain spoilers for later episodes!
Note to our readers: Like many Buffy fans, we’ve been saddened to see the allegations about Joss Whedon in the last couple of weeks. We addressed our complicated relationship with the series back in 2017, when his ex-wife Kai Cole spoke out against him. We wrote: “Joss doesn’t own Buffy anymore, but even if he did, any problems with its feminism have already been discussed by its fandom (and/or Buffy Studies scholars) at length. Buffyheads have known for a long time that Buffy sprung from a very flawed creator–we just didn’t know how flawed… These allegations are less a revelation, and more a reminder, that Joss Whedon is not the great white male savior, nor does he need to be. Because Buffy has become bigger than its creator, if only because it changed so many lives.”
We stand with all survivors of abuse. We love Buffy, its fandom, and all of you, even if we no longer love Joss. Thank you for reading!
We write this post every year, but this year it has a little more meaning. I don’t know about you, but reading was the only thing that got me through this year. We love television, of course, but reading was the only activity absorbing enough to get me to stop doomscrolling. So here are the books that got us through quarantine–the best books we read during this cosmic joke of a year.
Let’s get this out of the way: I think “Hush” is overrated, a little gimmicky, and certainly not worthy of being the only Buffy episode to be nominated for a writing Emmy. It’s good and all, but that’s just crazy.
Two things it does have going for it, other than the gimmick: a super creepy villain, and an equally creepy accompanying nursery rhyme. We see both in the prophetic dream sequence that opens the episode, where Professor Walsh is talking about communication, and then forces Buffy and Riley to make out in front of the whole class. (It’s all about how Buffy and Riley are talking too much, so they haven’t kissed each other yet? Or that they can’t make out because they haven’t told each other their secrets yet? Whatever, they’re so boring.) Then Buffy hears a classic little horror girl singing the nursery rhyme: “Can’t even shout / can’t even cry / the Gentlemen are coming by.” Yikes!