Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Buffy 1x10 - "Nightmares"

"Nightmares" marks another attempt by the Buffy writers to delve into the psyches of their characters, with mixed success. But while some elements of the episode are less than inspired, it's overall a pretty enjoyable watch. Click through for the review.

"Well, that explanation was shorter than usual. It's Billy! Who's Billy?"


Probably the most interesting character here is Buffy herself, whose family life is explored more thoroughly here than ever before. For the first time, we learn about Buffy's father. Of course, what we find out is nothing too terribly out of the ordinary: Buffy feels responsible for her parents' divorce. Still, seeing her father confirm those fears, even as a living nightmare and not reality, is quite dramatic. Less dramatic, though, is Buffy's long-overdue first encounter with the Master. Their first meeting really should be under more dramatic circumstances, but instead it kind of seems inconsequential. Buffy in vampire makeup is really cool though, and it's strange that the show never chose to revisit the contradictions embodied by "Buffy the Vampire."

Giles's frustration at being unable to read are funny and interesting to watch, but problematic because it's based on a pretty superficial understanding of Giles as a character. Slightly more effective is the moment where he sees Buffy's grave, and realizes that this is his greatest fear--now we're seeing him as something more than a caricature-ish academic figure.

So overall, when this episode succeeds is when it digs into human emotion, which is appropriate because the root cause of the problem is not supernatural but interpersonal, between the little boy Billy and his coach. There are a few character moments that don't really work at all: Cordelia being nice to Buffy for no reason is one. But in the end it's a pretty interesting episode. Of course, it pales in comparison to "Restless," a dream-themed episode in season four, but at this point the show wasn't as ambitious in terms of pushing its own boundaries. Nor should it be, in its first season. So in the end, an enjoyable if flawed watch.


  1. This is actually one of my favorites in Season 1--while it certainly pales compared to "Restless," compared to most dream explorations on TV, it's genuinely interesting and ominous.

  2. My main issue with it was, as you mentioned in regard to Giles, it makes all of the characters out to be very superficial people. I mean, the idea is "everyone's worst nightmares are coming true," and the worst they're experiencing is being unable to read, having a bad hair day, and other equally trivial things? That being said, however, I found it to be one of season 1's strongest episodes. Also, I can't WAIT for your post on "Restless" now. That's gonna be a fun one!