Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Disappointments of the Silly Sort

1. Joe Bob Disappeared

Back in June, the last few days of school, Number Two brought home a crayfish from her science unit. As pets go, Joe Bob was a pretty easy one. Just had to keep his container full of plants for him to eat, give him something to hide under, and check every so often to be sure he's okay. He hung out with no problem until last week.

When he disappeared.


I cleaned his container last Tuesday. J asked if I'd remembered to put him back in, and I blanked on that. But I knew Number Two had checked on him when she came home Wednesday, so I had to have. But there was an empty container, and no sign of good ol' Joe Bob anywhere.

Best guess is that one of the cats got him, since that happened to one of Number Two's friend's crayfish, but she found pieces on the floor. We didn't find anything anywhere, and the cats are not normally on the counter, and have never shown any awareness of his existence. If he'd flipped out of the container, he'd have expired somewhere we could find him. He's just gone. Not even any funky smell we can't pinpoint.

Number Two is fine, by the way. They weren't that close.

2. Perseid Shower

I've long felt guilty that I haven't made stronger efforts to get my kids outside for a meteor shower. A couple of years ago I got a great view of the Leonids, lying on my car hood in 20-degree weather. I think I saw about 21 in half an hour, something like that.

Last night the Perseids were supposed to peak. It's summer, not an early-morning night, so let them stay up to midnight to watch. I knew they would be more visible after moonset at 1:47, but that wasn't practical.

So we all went out and laid on blankets in the front yard. In an hour we saw four. That was disappointing. I mean, at least we all saw at least one, and my kids know what shooting stars are now, and we talked about constellations and saw a couple dozen airplanes and even a couple of potential satellites. But it wasn't really worth staying up that late for.

3. Joss Whedon is No Longer My Master

Okay, I admit, I don't know how I went four years without knowing how Buffy ended. Kudos to my Buffy-fan friends for not letting that out of the bag. Except...kudos is not really what I was feeling when I stayed up to 2:00 a.m. Monday morning to watch the last few episodes.

How did I feel?

Kinda like I did when I knew my mother had bought me some albums for Christmas, and instead of REO Speedwagon and Journey I got Barbara Mandrell and Kenny Rogers.

Very much like I did when I read The Horse Whisperer, loving the whole book, and then having the main character act completely out of character in a major plot-solution cop-out.


First, let's address the whole save-the-world issue. Maybe if I'd watched Angel at the proper times it would feel less like convenient writing, but I have a feeling it wouldn't. They go along for 20 episodes convinced they can't beat the Big Bad, then Angel shows up and casually gives Buffy this amulet thing that just when things are looking dire in the Hellmouth just happens to channel sunlight and kill all the ubervamps. That was very much a "hey, we have no idea how to get ourselves out of this dire hole we've written ourselves into, so let's introduce something new that will pull us out of it" kind of thing.

Next, let me take some responsibility for my disappointment. I mean, they showed signs all along that Buffy and Spike wouldn't get together. The attempted rape, the fact that Buffy kept saying she didn't love him, and then the things she told Angel in the penultimate episode, about maybe someday, but not now. But I'm a romance writer, so of course I saw all that as resolvable conflict. My perspective is not something the writers can control.

But as many hints as there were that it wouldn't work out, there were signs that it would. For cripe's sake, Spike got his soul back for her! He stopped pushing so hard to get her. She wouldn't let anyone kill him, or let him leave. She asked him to hold her when everyone else had pushed her away (and vice versa). Oh, and then there was the clairvoyant who said she'd tell him, someday.

Those last few moments were such a guy thing. And yes, Joss Whedon is a guy. But his later stuff ruined me for Buffy. Sure, the world didn't end, and maybe Faith found someone to be with, but the rest of them? Not a single happy ending for anyone. (No, I don't buy Kennedy and Willow as anything more than crisis comfort.)

So I feel betrayed. I didn't get a lousy kiss in all of season 7, never mind redemption for Spike and resolution for Buffy. For me, the show was never about her. It was about those loyal, strong, dedicated, loving people around her. I don't care that Buffy didn't wind up with Spike, but I care very much that Spike worked so hard to be a worthy man and got absolutely nothing for it. And while I enjoyed the entire series as I watched it, that finale ruined it for me. Completely.

Here's the thing. Shows like Supernatural and Lost and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even Terminator (okay, maybe not Terminator) can deal all they want in the human condition, using their fantastical elements to highlight our strengths and flaws and relationships and blahdy blah blah. But they are entertainment, and as such they cannot give us only the "realistic" endings.

I have enough reality. Like most people, I have painful loss, fear of painful loss, stressful struggles, and fear of stressful struggles. There is no guarantee of ever coming out of any given situation without damage and with something happy at the end. So I get that from TV. I get that from Dean and Sam riding off in the Impala to their next hunt. (Hear that, Kripke?! None of this blaze-of-glory crap at the end of next season!!) I want to believe that hope and joy are as possible as death and destruction, and Spike dying, alone and lonely, doesn't exactly do that.

Okay. That's enough giving too much weight to a silly TV show. I must get back to work, to my own less-than-perfect writing that nonetheless always delivers the happy ending.


Vicky B said...

Can't say as I disagree with you. I mean, they killed off Anya and left the wimp. They killed off Spike, alone. The ending left me completely dissatisfied. Yes, the world was saved, and, yes, in big nasty fights people get killed, but come on....


Natalie Damschroder said...

The Anya/Andrew stuff is one of those things that I can accept by itself, even though I hate it. Like Wash dying in Serenity. But it HAS to be balanced! And it wasn't. :(