My understanding of Willow’s Season 6 journey, and correct me if I’m wrong here, is that she is addicted to magic for the power it gives her. But she spends this episode having things done to her. She is not the agent, she is the passive recipient. If this is supposed to be the episode where she really “turns a corner” into darkness, it fails to understand the core of that darkness completely and utterly. “Smashed” did a much better job of illustrating what her problem was.
Why, to this day, “Wrecked” still doesn’t work for me
Published by Nancy E. Shaffer
NANCY E. SHAFFER has been an experimental psychologist (M.A., Cognitive Psychology, Rice University), a philosopher (Ph.D., History and Philosophy of Science, University of California, Davis), and software developer. She taught history and philosophy of science at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec and the University of Nebraska Omaha. Her philosophical work has appeared in the journal Philosophy of Science and her pop-culture philosophy website, All Things Philosophical on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel: the Series. Dis/inhbition is her first novel. She currently resides in Tempe, Arizona. View all posts by Nancy E. Shaffer
25 thoughts on “Why, to this day, “Wrecked” still doesn’t work for me”
Yep, that pretty much sums up my problem with Willow’s arc. That, and I wish the show had just embraced the fact that she had no regrets about Warren’s death. That she lost Tara, yes. That she lost herself, yes. That he’s dead and she killed him? Not so much.
I think the PTB were too scared to make Willow truly complicit in her own darkness. Ah, well.
She’s one of Joss’s woobies.
I would disagree strongly about Willow not being the agent, but in this episode it’s just not worth splitting the hairs arguing about it. The real problem was that there was no direct setup about Rack or that kind of magic in earlier episodes, so that whole episode had a stinky-yak-cheesy quality about it. What each of us get out of it as side lights is going to be problematic.
The important things from Wrecked? 2 Lines.
Willow and Buffy together, thinking about them own problems – It’s over. It’s over.
Spike (earlier) – It’s too late for that!
My difficulties with the Willow arc, are the same one’s I have with Angel (Buffy S2-3 and comics – in his own series he actually appears to be culpable most of the time, it’s in Buffy’s as written by Whedon that he isn’t) and Cordelia’s arcs (S4) – they never really take responsibility for their actions. They are either “manipulated” or “possessed” or “it’s someone else’s fault”. It’s passive writing and it’s starting to annoy me.
I’m not sure how you parse authorial intent or textual outcome. Other characters might make distinctions between his particular incarnations, but Angel spends most all of his time on BtVS and AtS saying “I did that” in regards to his behavior sans soul. His interaction with Faith in “Consequences” wouldn’t make any sense if the character and the show didn’t considered him culpable for his crimes.
It feels like a cop-out to make the argument, but I just mostly think this is the outcome of a not very well thought out story. Because the metaphors changed to abruptly – whether it was the power magic gave her to make easy fixes in her life to suddenly magic itself being a drug and spending a lot less thought on what this revealed about Willow as a character or people in general. And more about making sure all the pieces on the board were set up for the finale, but less about how and why they got there.
Pretty much an anvil drug metaphor that isn’t very analogous to her situation.
I get the feeling they went for the drug metaphor because it was something that could be “cured” as opposed to a personality trait that would require a lot more effort (and episodes) to resolve. In any case it was a mess and poorly written. Even if Smashed was marginally better it still suffered from a Bedknobs and Broomsticks treatment of magic rather than something that was truly disturbing, like Willow’s mindwipe of Tara.
For me is’t the scene in Flooded with Giles and Willow. Where Willow switches from threatening Giles, to back to good old reliable Willow, on a dime. Who is the real Willow?
That’s another great example of getting right to the point of where she is.
And the frustrating thing is, at the end of “Wrecked”, Willow talks about her low self-esteem and how becoming “more than just Willow” (the high school nerd) has driven here to this place, and that’s right on, too, but the writer seems to have missed the stuff in that kitchen scene and in “Smashed” that shows who Willow is now, or is becoming.
Oh, no, the scenes in the Bronze with Willow and Amy were silly, but still better than the Rack-drug stuff in Wrecked. I agree.
Yeah, I kind of had faint hope at the beginning of Season 7 because it seemed like Willow was taking responsibility (“I did that”) even if it was all magic=crack instead of allowing her addiction be to power itself. But it didn’t follow through, from where I stand.
That said, with Willow as with Cordy, I’m willing to read their arcs as perhaps darker than the writers intended. I’m willing to believe they were as dark as they ought to have been, and it’s merely that their friends can’t bring themselves to see it, and that Willow and Cordy also lack the self-awareness, that it’s never made explicit in the text.
But hell, I still mourn the lost opportunity of Season 7 Willow and Faith recognising something of themselves in each other.
AtS spilled a lot of ink in season 4 having characters separate Angel from Angelus in a way they *never* did prior to that, especially out of Angel’s own mouth, and I think from a meta point of view, it was the writers’ discomfort with their lead hero having a dark spell, written in the story as his friends’ discomfort. But that was a new tact, and it fell flat, IMO.
Since the writer was Marti, who theoretically was running the show, you really have to wonder what was going on.
ITA. I don’t think it was as cut-and-dried, Angel vs Angelus, as Angel and the others would have liked to believe. They made themselves believe it, so they could live with it, since bringing Angelus forth was a strategy that seemed necessary. But I can’t see how they reconciled it with Season 2 without serious mental gymnastics!
Well, you can actually witness the gymnastics in some of that swingin’ season 4 metaphysics.
My problem with Willow’s S6 arc has always been that her addiction seemed to take a hard swerve. Willow’s issues were never about the magic itself… that was a tool, she’d have had the same issues if she had fame or fortune or any other way in which she could exercise control. Her personality flaw was always her inability to face up to unpleasant problems in her life. Magic wasn’t the point! The point was that the magic allowed Wills to avoid confrontations with things she didn’t want to deal with. Everything that was uncomfortable could be waved away with a spell from the pain of Oz leaving for his own reasons, to Buffy having died and left her (Willow) heartbroken, to Tara being angry at her … it was all about Willow’s need to control her environment by forcing things that hurt to go away, and magic allowed her to do that, but it wasn’t addictive in and of itself; At least, it wasn’t until Amy/Rack suddenly got written into the storyline.
And by doing this, they completely got out of forcing Willow to deal with her real character flaws, which would have been so much more interesting than getting a magic-buzz and magic-drunk driving. And, I don’t get why they did it, when it should have been so very clear where Willow’s own flaws lay and how that could have been explored by her irresponsible and flippant use of her magic. ARRR, so frustrating.
And, now in S8, she’s practically Mystical Sue.
Yep, I’ll see that frustration.
…Wait. What is this S8 you speak of? I have not heard of such a thing! It doesn’t exist!
::pokes fingers in ears and sings ‘tra-la-la’::
Actually, I notice looking back at the show that our main players seemed to have gotten away with A LOT. Either because everyone is very forgiving and let them slide, or because they’re made to feel some sort of token guilt about it and then allowed to slide.
Nearly every single character has done something horrible. I was going to say except Xander (yeah, yeah, lied to Buffy – yelled horrible things, blah blah) but then I remembered *choke* Summoning A Demon Who Consequently Kills People and realize, no, he doesn’t get a pass from me either.
Um… Dawn? I can’t remember her killing anyone, yet. And, uh, why do I actually love these characters when they all turn into monsters at some point? lol
Yes – this!
I’m not sure, but I wonder if this is connected to a concern that if the characters went too dark or were too flawed, they feared we’d lose sympathy for them forever, rather than taking it as an opportunity to dig into their redemption to win us back on their side (like I would argue they did with Faith and, for me, Angel post S2 of BTVS – mostly due to his own show).
So, suddenly it isn’t that Willow has a serious control issue and a moral failing… now, it’s all that magical Amy/Rack’s fault!
I’d say she hit the nail on the head in either ‘Two to Go’ or ‘Grave’ as well, when she called herself a loser and told Buffy that the only time she was good for anything were those moments when Tara had looked at her, and she was wonderful (about the only dialog that chokes me up in the whole trilogy of episodes). Of course, she was speaking about herself in the 3rd person, but I choose to believe she knew she was Willow speaking and was just disassociating from her own actions.
lol … I’m very sympathetic to this. I wish I could quit it, but I’m so beyond hoping that S9 is going to correct the most egregious damage.
I’ve finally read 39… if Angel isn’t being magically controlled, just how the hell do they think they can redeem his character again?!
I think there is a hint in there that Angel isn’t acting as a free agent, but is being used by the Seed/New World Trying to be Born Thing. But, mostly, I think that the ideas are too large for this format… a graphic novel might have been a better vehicle for this storyline.
Ooops – I forgot though, that this doesn’t exist. 🙂
Angel even being in Buffy Season 8 makes no sense, since chronologically, it would be happening the at the same time as Angel Season 5.
URGGH. You’re right, again!