In this episode, Cory and Laine discuss the Scoobies’ fears, Power Rangers, and wittle fear demons!
Thanks for listening to our discussion of Season 4, Episode 4: Fear, Itself.
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2 thoughts on “Episode 67: Fear, Itself”
Hi this episode on spotify is just episode 66 again . It didn’t upload the new episode.
I have always enjoyed Fear, Itself as just a fun Halloween episode, but I absolutely get what you mean re: the horrifying things that (as far as we know) happen to the people in that house and the general comedic tone at the end. I didn’t mind that the fear demon was tiny, as it plays off of that idea of fear getting smaller the closer we get to it, but again, I can definitely see the dissonance between the murder house and the blatant comedy.
Willow’s magic (I am so sorry, this got really long): I think there are some interesting threads that are going through Willow’s development w/r/t her magic (addiction is not one of them and I don’t really like that that’s where they took it). I completely agree that Willow’s natural curiosity and desire to learn is a positive thing, generally, and one of her strengths. But I do think that the power that witchcraft brings her is something that ends up highlighting some of her flaws or less developed traits. And I think a lot of it comes down to Willow’s perception of herself as largely insignificant.
I think that Willow tries to be a good and moral person and do the right thing, but I also think that, in Willow’s mind, she’s not capable of being the aggressor, or the one doing the hurting. Even as she gains more power, I don’t think that ever crosses her mind. It’s why it doesn’t occur to her in Lover’s Walk in season 3 that doing magic on herself and Xander without consulting Xander about it first might disregard Xander’s own autonomy. I think her view of herself as insignificant is something that comes up a lot in season 4, particularly after her breakup with Oz, which I think really shook her confidence (but even before then, in this episode we have her telling Buffy she’s not her sidekick; she’s feeling insecure about her place, and it’s possible her growing power with witchcraft is, even as it gives her more confidence, making her more aware of and possibly ashamed of who she was before). We see how shortly after the breakup with Oz, she’s really hurt by Percy dismissing her as a nerd to the girl he’s with, and how she focuses more on her magic to deal with her breakup feelings in Something Blue. In that episode, she’s hurting and she doesn’t realize in that moment that she can hurt anyone else – that her magical actions have consequences. She gets irritated with Giles when he tries to suggest that she pull back and use caution, because to Willow, her own intentions are always good. She’s completely surprised when she realizes she has hurt the people she cares about and fixes it immediately, but still, the idea that she could even do that doesn’t really factor in to her reasoning.
Even her relationship with Tara is an avenue for Willow to feel like she has more power and control over how she is perceived (this is not to say she doesn’t love Tara, obviously, but I think Tara viewing her with a kind of shy awe is something Willow, particularly at that time in her life, responds well to). At the end of season 4 in Restless, we see her insecurities manifest in her vision of herself in her outfit from the very first episode of Buffy, doing a book report in front of Oz and Tara who whisper to each other, judging her. This is how she still sees herself – she’s insignificant. She’s a nerd who’s just trying to learn and do a good job and people talk about her and make fun of her. Even as her power is expanding and she’s becoming more powerful, she never really FEELS powerful. She frequently highlights all that she can’t do, even as she’s eager to try new things – and her being so eager to try new things is partly because she’s so insecure about her own standing that she always wants to push further and further, again not fully realizing that she already has power and can already help and hurt people with it.
Because Willow’s insecurities from being dismissed by those around her as a nerd (from the first episode of Buffy and all her school years before that, I’m assuming) still affect her view of herself so much, I think she always sees herself as on the back foot, just trying to prove herself and have respect from those around her. But how does someone quantify respect, really? However much power Willow gains, she’s never able to see herself as someone who is in a position of power. Even in season 6 when all of this comes more to the fore, she’s of the same mindset. How could she be the one hurting people? Other people are trying to hurt and take things away from her. This is also why, even though I’m not a fan of the turn towards addiction that the story took, that I love that it was Xander who ended up bringing her back to herself. Xander, who has known her the longest, who loves her unconditionally – she’s always been significant to him, and he was the only one who could tell her that and make her understand.