Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Willow (from Buffy) on Columbus Day and Thanksgiving

Willow (Buffy's friend in Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and her mother do not celebrate Columbus Day or Thanksgiving. "It's a sham" she says. Awesome! This is the opening segment of episode 8, season 4...

Let's see how this episode unfolds...

Set in California, Buffy and Willow are in college now. At a groundbreaking for a new cultural center, turns out, there's a mission beneath the site. Zander fell into it and now he's sick, feverish.

Buffy wants to cook a Thanksgiving meal, saying "that's the point of Thanksgiving. Everyone has a place to go."

Hmm... there's a government project underneath campus, too, with guys who dress in fatigues and chase "hostiles" --- hostiles are vampires.

Some green smoke comes out of the mission, slithers along to the anthro office, into a glass case, and then materializes in the form of.... AN INDIAN. No feathers, just a headband and facepaint. He wears fringed buckskin, though. Trousers and a vest. He kills the anthro who is overseeing the dig of the mission.

In the anthro office, Buffy and Willow read the coroner's report. She was missing an ear! Willow and Buffy wonder why... They see the glass case, and the note card that reads "Early 1800s Chumash knife." Courese, it is missing! That's the knife the INDIAN --- who I guess is Chumash --- used to kill the anthro.

"Chumash," Giles says, "were indigenous to the whole area" (note the past tense verb).

Giles will do some research on the Chumash to see what he can learn. He muses "something was trapped there (in the mission) and wants release."

Angel tells Giles to send Buffy to talk to Father Gabriel, whose family dates back to Mission times...

She gets there, and finds the Indian, who has killed has killed Father Gabriel.

He says "You can't stop me! I am Vengeance. I am my people's cry. I am called Hus. I am seek vengeance! "You slaughtered my people. " Buffy fights him, but he turns into a bunch of crows and gets away.

Giles says "It's an Indian spirit of some kind. Common for them to turn into animal forms."

"Native American, not Indian" says Buffy. Giles says "oh right, I'm not up on all this."

Buffy can't quite fight this guy, out of guilt for the past.

Giles tells her to get over it because "he's killed innocent people."

Still, Buffy wants to find a "non-slayee way" to kill him.

Enter Willow with a pile of books about the Chumash and "atrocities." She reads about the Chumash, tells Willow and Giles that the Chumash were "fluffy indigenous kittens until we came along" and did awful things, like "imprisonment, forced labor, herded them into Missions. The few who tried to rebel were hanged. Proof of death was an ear." Ah---so that's why the anthro is missing an ear.

Willow wants to talk about giving something back to the Indians. Give them some land, says Giles, sarcastically.

Back in the anthro offices, the Indian is taking weapons from cases. Bows and the like.

Still talking about killing him... "He's a spirit, Willow says, not a demon." There's a big argument about what to do.

Meanwhile, the Indian spreads the weapons on the ground and starts chanting: "First people who dwelled.... Hear me and ascend." The Indian is, apparently, going to raise the dead.... And there they are! More Indians!

Willow refuses to look in books to find way to kill the Indian.

Buffy says "its hard, and he's been wronged, but we have to kill him."

Spike says "You came in, killed them, and took their land. You won! Stop feeling bad about it. You had better weapons and you massacred them. End of story. You exterminated his race. What can you possibly say to make him feel better?"

Buffy talks about wanting a nice quiet civilized dinner and just when she says 'civilized' an arrow flies in the window. She says "You have casino's now!"

Arrows fly in, Giles says "we're under seige." The fight begins. Buffy realizes "these guys don't die!"

An Indian turns into a bear. Spike freaks. He's tied to a chair (Buffy did that to him), shot full of arrows. He's a vampire, though so he can't die either.

Buffy realizes that their own weapons (from that case) can kill them. All gone, now. All of them.

Buffy, Willow, the gang... They all sit at the table, eating their Thanksgiving meal and talking about the fight, how they worked together to fight the Indians.

Willow mopes that she turned into Custer in two seconds, fighting the Indians.

End of episode.

Such mixed messages, mockery mixed with sensitivity. Kind of a mess.


* said...

Thanks for posting this, Debbie. I saw this episode because my partner taped it for me, knowing I'd be interested. I have to say, I found it more than offensive; as a Chumash/Esselen person, it was also laughable. Buckskin? come on! the guy woulda been nekid as a jaybird. The mix of empathy/Manifest Destiny that you mentioned was also confusing and maddening. Perhaps it was meant to show that we can have it both ways: sorry for what was done, but realistic about the supreme right of conquest. Make EVERYONE feel good, right? The biggest problem with the episode is the lack of contemporary Chumash people, but I'm almost relieved. God knows what Buffy's producers and writers would have done with a real Chumash. By the way - the Chumash were far from "fluffy little kittens" (mindless? what does that mean - without any agency?). See Pomponio, Toypurina, Estanislao, and the killing of Padre Luis Jayme...

Rob said...

Sounds like your typical bad TV show. The Indians are violent and vengeful. The Anglos say they had no choice but to wipe them out. Etc.

For more thoughts on this episode, see Pangs in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.