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'Buffy' nostalgia recap: 'Forever' foreshadowed so much about season 6

Season 5 | Episode 17 | “Forever” | Aired Apr 17, 2001

Joyce Summers’ death left a gaping hole not just in Buffy the person, but in Buffy the series as well. Joyce’s death and the quietly devastating effect it has on each member of the Scooby gang is the total focus of “The Body.” The following episode, “Forever,” deals more with the aftermath.

If “The Body” is about that stunned, silent moment of shock that comes with death and trying to process it, “Forever” is about the acceptance stage and what happens when a death starts to feel real. We all react differently in both situations. “The Body” did a truly excellent job of illustrating a range of those moments of processing. Some people shut down; others panic; others weep and question the way of the world. Still others get angry and punch walls (Xander, sigh).

“Forever” shows a range of reactions as well. Some people grieve seeking comfort. Other people try to show selfless kindness in memory of the dead. And other people try to resurrect their loved ones as scary zombies. But, you know, to each his own. While “The Body” is still the pinnacle of BtVS’ attempts at musing on this particular emotion (grief and everything adjacent to it), “Forever” succeeds in another way: It foreshadows a lot about the characters and their season-six arcs. Considering we Buffy fans weren’t sure there was even going to be a season six when this episode originally aired, thanks to The WB’s reluctance to renew the series, these moments are especially satisfying, looking back.

Here are a few of the biggest season-six plot points “Forever” hinted at:

  • Buffy turns to hunky vampires for emotional comfort when she’s grieving. Okay, this is admittedly the weakest of the predictions I found in “Forever” (they get stronger as you go, so stay with me). Why? Well, first of all, it’s entirely normal to seek comfort when you’re grieving. It’s not really specific to Buffy. Second, the kind of “comfort” she seeks with Spike following her own death is very different from the sweet, chaste comfort Angel offers her in the cemetery after Joyce’s funeral. Still, the two most personal deaths Buffy has to deal with both end with her in the arms of a vampire who loves her, so there’s that.
  • Spike and Dawn have a very strong bond. They’ve both always felt like outcasts in the Scooby Gang, but Spike’s willingness to help Dawn with even her worst idea (resurrecting Joyce—it’s a terrible idea) proves how deep their friendship runs. In season six, Spike takes on a guardian-like role for Dawn, and after [SPOILER] Tara dies, it’s Spike she wants to protect and comfort her. It’s one of the sweetest friendships on the show, particularly outside of the principle Scoobies.
  • Dawn is a klepto. In “Forever,” it’s theft with a purpose (she needs the ingredients for the resurrection spell and can’t buy them because she’s a teenager with no money, and also, not supposed to be resurrecting people). In season six, Dawn’s thievery escalates to full-blown kleptomania, getting her into major musical trouble in “Once More with Feeling.” Also, she frequently steals from the Magic Box, and by extension Giles, which makes the whole thing that much sadder.
  • Tara is the responsible one when it comes to magic. Sure, she’s always seemed more reserved about it than Willow, but that’s easy to chalk up to her shyness. In “Forever,” she warns Dawn of the risks of trying to resurrect someone, and even references the Wiccans’ oath against it. This will be important to remember when Willow faces the consequences of resurrecting Buffy in season six.
  • Willow doesn’t have a ton of respect for the rules of magic or nature—and she has no problem lying about her magical misjudgments. When Dawn expresses interest in using magic to resurrect Joyce, Tara is quick to give her a firm “no” and a speech about why it’s definitely, 100 percent not a good idea. Willow, on the other hand, goes behind Tara’s back, using magic to help put Dawn on the right track to finding the resurrection spell on her own. Then, when Tara figures out what Dawn is up to, she plays dumb. In retrospect, this is clearly foreshadowing Willow’s descent into dark magic in season six. After resurrecting Buffy, Willow becomes addicted to magic and displays all of the classic signs of being an addict, including lying to her friends about it. It gets so bad that Tara decides to end their relationship, and the seeds of it are all planted so clearly in this episode.

Even though “Forever” had a lot of these amazing moments of foreshadowing, they aren’t uncommon in rewatching Buffy; I feel like I catch a few every week. This just goes to show how layered the show is—and how rewarding it is for those who commit to multiple viewings.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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