Avox in Arcadia (perpetual) wrote,
Avox in Arcadia
perpetual

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Review etc: Lie to Me



Yeah the last one was "The Pack" and now I'm suddenly in S2, but I've explained elsewhere how it all makes sense.


The topic today is lying, and that's pretty heavy for a show which is usually only concerned with frivolous matters such as life and death. When you talk about lying, you're talking about honesty, which means you're talking about...truth. I was being flippant just now, but truth may be the only thing which really is heavier than life and death.

So, the context of a few young (or not so young) people lying to each other is actually a pretty good way to examine the importance of truth. I'm going to break it down a little further and keep a tally of every lie told in the episode. This won't tell us who's the most honest, or what the purest form of truth is, but it will give us a chance to think about all the different reasons people lie.

Not going to include any lines that are just the person being wrong, or subjective, or flippant, but I'm up for challenges on my own interpretations.

Buffy Is the Title: Considering her part in the episode consists mostly of being lied to and reacting to it (gloriously!), she does get in rather a few of her own.
"Did a couple sweeps...Nothing vampiry." Angel isn't relevant and she didn't know Drusilla was a vampire, so this is a technicality, but it's worth the mention because the audience is immediately aware that there's something she's deliberately leaving out. Same with, "I'm fine," a moment later.
"Not thirsty." Not thirsty enough to stand in the same area Angel's standing for a few more minutes. There's a difference.
"It's getting crowded"/"I'm a little hot." Actually, strike those. She may well have been bothered by the crowd and the temperature, and she wasn't obligated to go into detail about why they were suddenly bothering her.
"My purse. I left my purse at the Bronze." and "There was a cat...and then they left." These are the lies of Buffy's everyday life.
​"I'm glad." The first time Buffy and Ford talks after she finds out she can't trust him, the entire conversation is full of lies of omission, but not many actual lies. Buffy says she likes surprises, for instance, but...she does like surprises.

The Buffy and Angel Show: The relationship status of Buffy and Angel is currently at "No. Yeah. Maybe. Could we lay off the tough questions for a while?" Sounds foreboding, but I'm for real when I say this is exactly what I love about B/A: even they don't know what to make of it. If you're in love with someone, and he's in love with you, does that automatically make him your boyfriend?

The complications don't end there. Buffy says she doesn't think the woman she saw with Angel was a vampire, because "they looked friendly." Logical -- Angel doesn't like vampires. But why does Willow even ask? Because Angel is a vampire. It's the central conflict of who Angel is: enemy of his own kind. Later we'll find out that Drusilla is indeed a vampire, but Angel's supposed friendliness toward her is a product of guilt, not affinity. Buffy's turmoil in the meantime is utterly understandable; what she thought was her man getting close with a strange lady may actually be her man drifting toward evil. Honesty between Buffy and Angel affects more than just their own relationship.

Lies are below, but here's one for my "brood" watch, too: this is the first time the word is used to describe Angel. Who uses it to describe Angel? Angel. It's a longtime peeve of mine that nobody seems to realize how self-aware he is.

"I stayed in and read." Angel's list isn't as long as the others, but this is a big one. Even if Buffy hadn't asked, he had no right to pretend it wasn't her business and go on without ever bringing it up.
"We're friends of Ford's." As far as getting into secret goth clubs...that was easy.

Willow and My Feelings: Here's a fun game you can play with your friends: where does this image come from? What does it mean?



The answer of course is that it's Willow's shirt, how does she even find these things.



"Nothing...I cannot hang just now." I think I may have missed a couple innocuous ones aimed at protecting Buffy's identity, and even during her jumpy-coffee scene, she doesn't really say anything untrue. Makes her characterization very clear. We love her.

Xander and Bus Stations: I got nothin'. Dude is candid af.

Ford: If you read my fanfic series "Older," you'll notice I adopted Ford as my pet villain. I was just really impressed with the character: the concept, actor, dialogue, all of it. I think part of what made him work was his genuine fascination with old movies and horror tropes -- his clothing and awareness set him apart from the other True Believers, but he wasn't altogether above their delusions. He was in for (what he saw as) survival, but he liked the drama, and the fantasy of having some role to play in a story, be it victim or villain, kept him going.

Also, for a teenage human with cancer and no special abilities, he was a surprisingly competent bad guy. He manipulated a crowd of his peers, arranged an effective plan, and kept his cool around the vampires to the last. Like he said, it wasn't his fault that Buffy and the True Believers escaped, or that the vampires got locked in the basement. And what's even more intriguing is that as far as he was concerned, the plan worked perfectly: Spike and Dru held up their end of the bargain and sired him. If he had known more, he might have accounted for needing protection when he rose from his grave, but he did get the cure and the immortality he had wanted; it just didn't last very long.

"Matriculating. My dad got transferred."
"I didn't think you'd remember me."
"I've got to find the Admissions office, get my papers in order." Interesting thing about Ford is that we don't know how much of this is true. Did he run away from home, or did his father actually get transferred? When Buffy walked him to Admissions, did he wave goodbye and then pop in and make some excuse for being there?
"No, I'm actually here to stay."
"I killed her and she turned to dust."
"It's gonna be fun." Same conversation as Buffy's lie of omission above, and again, not necessarily a lie; maybe he thinks it is gonna be fun.

Giles and Objects: Yeah, pretty much the only object that Giles held throughout the entire episode was a note with Jenny's pager number.


His lies are all for the sake of courtesy, protecting Buffy's identity, or dishing out a monologue of sad yet comforting wisdom about growing up:
​"I've always been interested in monster trucks."
"She's given me her beeper number in case you need me for any…study help. Suddenly."
"Yes. It's terribly simple. The good-guys are stalwart and true. The bad-guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats and we always defeat them and save the day. Nobody ever dies…and everybody lives happily ever after."

Everybody Else: Spike and Dru, by the way, are not on the lie count. They had no reason to lie. They also had no reason to keep a promise, which is why I can't stop thinking about what happened after the final scene in the basement cut out, but their straightforward honesty throughout the episode provides a nice duality with the fibbing good guys.

Kairos's Official Lie Count: Results
Ford: 6
Buffy: 5
Giles: 3
Angel: 2
Willow: 1

Numerically, it's pretty meaningless. Ford being at the top is significant, but Angel's low score, rather than making me think he's particularly honest, makes me think he's just really good at keeping his secrets. When he doesn't want someone to know the truth, he just doesn't say anything. That's probably where Willow would be too, if not for Angel putting her into a situation where she couldn't not say anything.

Script quotes! There are a couple entire scenes which didn't make it to the final cut, but I've decided to start using those sparingly, as they're a pain to transcribe.

BUFFY
Do they know about "fun" in England?

GILES
Yes, but it's considered very poor taste
to have any. Very well. Do whatever
it is you like. You could spend some
time with Angel.

We missed out on a cultural divide joke.

BUFFY
You drink? Drinks? I mean, non-blood things.

ANGEL
Yeah. I eat, too. Not for nutritional
value -- it just kind of passes the time.

BUFFY
Oh. Who knew?

ANGEL
There's a lot about me you don't know.

BUFFY
I believe that.

Including this for the little bit of lore it contains, although most of us would have either assumed it, or figured it out soon watching the habits of Buffyverse vampires.

XANDER
Well, Sunnydale is a fun town to live
in. If you're a small patch of moss.

I already lost track of where in the script this was taken from, but I thought it was cute.

EXT. URBAN DISTRICT - NIGHT
(Okay, it's our damn alley.) Ford walks cheerfully along.

More funny stage directions.

A slinky goth girl, CHANTARELLE (formerly Joan), glides up to the boys with a couple of goblets.

Character introduction, with yet another name for Anne.

WILLOW
Oh, no. we come here all the time.

XANDER
My corset's just at the cleaners.


That laugh would have been totally worth the airtime, come on.

Notes:

• There's nothing remarkable about Buffy's retort, "You ceased to exist?" when Angel says he didn't do anything last night, but for some reason, maybe because Angel's a supernatural creature and we don't yet know all the rules his species follows, I kept thinking about it literally until I made up a vampire-style supernatural creature which really does periodically cease to exist.
• When I first read Bram Stoker's Dracula a couple years ago, I found a familiar-sounding quote: "Whilst they played wits against me, against me who commanded nations, and intrigued for them, and fought for them, hundreds of years before they were born, I was countermining them." It occurred to me at that point that I had never actually seen a screen adaptation of the original Dracula, because I recognized the line only from its bastardization in the movie that Ford lip-syncs to in the vampire club.
• "It took one of my books!" Funny how characters sometimes refer to a vampire as "it". Ford called this same one "her" earlier -- is this a difference between him and Giles, or is it more a matter of the context in which they encountered her?
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