Guest Starring: 
 Kristine Sutherland: 
 Randy Thompson: 
 (Doctor Kriegel) 
 Amber Benson: 
 Kevin Cristaldi: 
 Stefan Umstead: 
 Kelli Garner: 
 Rae'ven Larrymore Kelly: 
 Tia Matza: 
 John Michael Herndon: 
  16. The Body.  
  Joyce is dead, and the Scoobies try to deal with events as best they can.  
  Great quotes:  
  • Xander looks
    Buffy finds her mother's body.
    for someone to blame: "It's the fricking doctors, they just let her out you know, clean bill of health. Dig a hole in your skull 'here's a band-aid, next!' They should have checked her over, they should have had her in. We don't have enough monsters in this town the doctors gotta help them out?" Willow: "Things just happen." Xander: "Things don't just happen!"
  • Xander: "I'm pretty much ready for barf!"
  • Tara talks to Buffy about her dead mother: Buffy: "Was it sudden?" Tara: "No, but yes; it's always sudden."
  • Anya: "I don't understand... I mean, I knew her and then she's... there just a body. And I just don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore. It's mortal and stupid and Xander's crying and not talking. And I was having fruit punch and I thought 'Well Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she'll never have eggs or yawn or brush her hair, not ever'. And no one will explain to me why?"
  Fantastic moments:  
    Tara and Buffy sit in awkward silence at the hospital.
  • Dawn's activities at school are painful to watch because we know what's coming, we're waiting for her world to collapse; when it does the camera cuts away so we can't hear Buffy telling her the awful news. There is an interesting contrast between the things that Dawn thinks are important about her life and horrors to come.
  • The sequence after Buffy finds Joyce on the couch is an amazing couple of minutes of outstanding acting and camerawork from Sarah Michelle Gellar and the crew. The handheld camera style gets in Buffy's face and wont let her have any time to process what is going on, while the camera shies away from looking directly into the eyes of the paramedics. We follow Buffy outside; where the world continues as normal, and see the mundaneness of life take on exceptional importance (Buffy's simple farewell to the paramedics is heart-rending to watch). The scene ends as Buffy shouts out to Giles "We're not supposed to move the body!", the horror of her mother's death suddenly hitting her.
  • The moment when we see inside Buffy's mind as she wishes for a 'beautiful miracle' to occur where her mother is a delightfully evil trick played on the audience by the scriptwriters.
  • Willow and Tara kissing,
    Tara and Willow find strength in each other.
    the perfect moment to do it, when Willow needs to find strength she does it through her girlfriend. The kiss isn't in the least bit exploitative; Willow is fretting about what to wear and complains emotionally "... why can't I be a grown up?". Tara, through her kiss, gives her the strength to pull herself together to be strong for Buffy.
  • Anya can't stop asking questions that, while being sensible questions, seem horribly cruel and thoughtless (like "Are we going to see the body?"). This encapsulates the idea that no one really knows how to treat death, and that there are no right answers in dealing with a friend who has just lost someone close.
  • In the final scene, Buffy finds Dawn in the morgue grappling with a vampire, she attacks a kills the creature in one of the most primitive and gruesome fights in the BtVS series with no sexy action music or cool high kicks, just a heavy blade through the neck. With the vamp gone Dawn spots Joyce's body lying on the table, the camera tracks back from Buffy, to Dawn and finally to Joyce. "Is she cold?" Dawn asks, "It's not her, she's gone." Buffy replies. Dawn reaches out to touch her "Where'd she go?", a close up on Dawn reaching out for her mother cuts away to the credits the moment before she makes contact. The audience, and Dawn, get no comfort, no re-assurances; we're just left with a dead body. You can start breathing again now kids, the show's over.
  Duff Bits:  
  • Nothing at all.
  Dean's comments:  
The final shot, Buffy looks on as Dawn confronts Joyce's motionless body.
What can I say but wow? This is 45 minutes of TV that made me angry and upset when I first witnessed it, then I realised that this was as necessary as it was painful in its portrayal of the mere boredom and hollowness of dealing with the death of a loved one. Joyce is reduced to nothing more than a corpse through the course of the show, a show which successfully captures the monotony of life for relatives shortly after a death in the family. 'The Body' is an episode, which in the words of Joss Whedon, is designed to show that there is no resolution in death, no greater message, no significance other than the fact that a loved one is dead and that we are unequipped to respond. Note how there is no background music, lots of awkward and unnatural camera angles and no appearance of Spike during the episode, the format of the show being different in order to emphasise this message. Note how as the camera shoots the action from awkward angles we get a lot of long and lingering close up shots of seemingly unimportant things, stressing the unreality of the moment while not allowing the viewer to have any respite from the horror of what is happening to Buffy and Dawn. Tara, because she has experienced the death of her own mother, is elevated here to the level of someone with wisdom and calmness beyond her years, she understands when Xander punches the wall (he wants to feel physical pain instead of dull mental anguish) and is able to give some comfort to Buffy when she talks about her numbness. The vampire in the morgue is a cliché of horror but totally necessary in order to bring the final message, that life goes on regardless of how much we think it should stop, and in BtVS life going on means killing vampires. In terms of taking a risk with its format, once again the BtVS production team have pulled out all the stops and created a masterpiece. This is a study of the depression of dealing with death, of the idea that one enters into a world where the most mundane of things suddenly have enormous emotional importance (like Willow fretting over what shirt to wear). Anyone who can still tell me with a straight face, after watching this, that BtVS is a kids show is a lost cause.
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