FEATURE: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Something Blue
Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike has been neutered by the Initiative and can no longer bite people. He's taken up residence with Giles in a begrudged arrangement for information. Willow is still left hurting from Oz's departure and is also becoming more confident in practicing her magic. Buffy is tentatively moving towards a relationship with Riley.
When Willow goes over to Oz's room, she finds his stuff is all gone and that it's been collected and sent to wherever he is now. When the rest of the gang don't notice her pain thanks to their various other problems, she casts a spell that goes awry and starts to send everyone a bit loopy. Giles starts to go blind, Buffy and Spike decide to get married and Xander starts attracting every demon known to man. It's an apple cart upset of the highest order, especially with Buffy and Riley, who is understandably quite bemused when his would-be girlfriend announces her intentions to get married to someone else.
I love this episode. Like Pangs, it's one of the high points of the fourth season, a hilarious examination of the Scooby Gang's relationships, new alliances and the fractures that will later be exposed completely by Spike in The Yoko Factor. Much of the season so far has been setting these in place as the new college setting affects each of the characters very differently. Episodes that mess with established relationships and characters is always a fun move in Buffy because the characters are so well-drawn that comedy is mined from the twists on what we're used to. It also functions as one whole big whammy of foreshadowing.
Willow's spells have already got the habit of going awry, but this is the first time she really uses her powers on a big scale, specifically to harm her friends without that being her intention. In fact, Willow's magic solely comes from her good intentions, but we all know which destination they tend to pave the way to and her magic is selfish. It's always designed to make her life easier; here, it's to heal her pain, something that comes up again once she goes all Dark Willow. It's a big flashing warning sign, but not one that she heeds too greatly. After all, it'll become a pattern she'll fall into and one which always has negative consequences. You've got to love Willow's "Speak No Evil" t-shirt she wears in the final Scooby scene though, as she doles out guilt-based cookies.
The other example of that foreshadowing this is the relationship between Buffy and Spike. Even when they're antagonistic in the beginning of the episode, there's an element of flirting in their fighting. By the time they're supposedly in love and getting married, that chemistry is dialled up to eleven as the reactions to Giles increase in their desperation. Here, it's played for comedy but even Buffy admits that it wasn't a particularly nice experience, despite being in love with him. Their relationship is unhealthy right from the start, even under magical influence. It's something that will only continue as the series goes on. It also does kind of flag up the more chemistry with Spike than Riley thing...
Although I loved Something Blue when I first saw it, because it's hilarious, it's an episode that grows stronger on repeated viewings, especially after completing the series. Foreshadowing is something that Buffy has done a lot, particularly in the third and fourth seasons and it enriches the repeated viewing experience. We see these characters fall into oh-so-human patterns of behaviour and watching episodes like Something Blue back once we know that makes everything seem that more realistic behind the magic and the vampires. Willow's on a slippery slope already, as she has been from the moment she started using magic for her own gain. Buffy's behavioural patterns don't really come to the fore until later, but it's already easy to see the warning signs with Riley.
A much more intelligent episode than I think it is given credit for, Something Blue functions as the best kind of standalone, one which adds to the ongoing character development, enriched on repeat viewings, as well as being really quite amusing.
Quote of the Week:
Buffy: Spike and I getting married!
Xander: How?! What?! How?!
Giles: Three excellent questions...
Inventive Kill: Xander and Anya drown one of his attacking demons in a sink.
Let's Get Trivial: You can actually buy 'Kiss the Librarian' mugs now like the one that Spike drinks out of in this episode. I want one.
The LA Connection: This directly follows on from I Will Remember You. Buffy refers to seeing Angel for five minutes which was all it was from her perspective. Sob.
You can read what Becky thought of previous episode, Pangs, here.