The Cultural Catch Up Project is watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer as someone who never watched the series before. He's a newbie and he's writing an analysis as he views the series and asking commenters not to post any spoiler info... I've mentioned it before under my "Recommendations" tab.
The only part that I don't like about the Project is that he doesn't really critique each and every episode. Instead he'll watch several episodes and then write a short essay on the direction of the series, what his impressions were about the strength of the storytelling in getting its themes across and so on and so forth.
But, in a few cases, he'll devote an essay to an individual story or episode. And, he's reached "The Body".
"However, [The Body] stuck with me in ways I hadn’t expected: watching an episode of Louie about his relationship with his mother, in which some rather horrible words were exchanged, I thought about what would happen if she died before they got to speak on better terms, and when I sat down to watch HBO’s You Don’t Know Jack, their biopic on Jack “Dr. Death” Kevorkian, the discussion of death and dying immediately sent me back to that image of Joyce lying lifeless on the living room carpet. That it has become a point of reference in the short term is not a surprise, but I can already sense that it won’t stop being a point of reference anytime soon, both within Buffy as a series and within television as a whole.
After my first watching of The Body, I couldn't watch another show (like ER) that had death in it without reflecting back on Joyce's. Every show that tackled grief was compared to this episode... and found sort of wanting. This episode breaks my heart, and not in a good way like the shock and anticipation of Buffy sending Angel to Hell in Becoming and wondering what they would do for an encore. This episode was more like the series itself should have been frozen, to allow us to regain our bearings. Myles makes a profound statement in the middle of his review that much like the discussion of negative space in the episode, there is a negative space in the episodes which proceed it.
Spike's infatuation, Glory, The Council... none of it continues to register because this episode takes all of our attention. And long after the last time you watch The Body, even after just one viewing, certain images remain so clearly in your mind: Joyce on the sofa staring upward, Buffy face when she screams at Giles that they aren't supposed to move the body, Dawn's collapse in the hallway while we barely hear what is going on through the classroom window, Willow's falling apart over what to wear, Tara trying so hard to be supportive but not knowing what to say, Willow's telling Anya to please shut her mouth, Anya's sudden and shocking breakdown in grief and utter confusion (which will still make tears well up in my eyes just thinking about it), Xander's helpless anger, everyone hugging each other as they wait on the preliminary autopsy results, Joyce lying on the coroner's table while scissors cut off her slip, the very physical battle of Buffy vs. the vampire in the morgue and the way it feels indecent - out of place - obscene that it should be there and finally, Dawnie trying to understand that her mother's body isn't her mother - that she's gone where no one knows and reaching out her fingertips to touch her mom's face with the credits cutting in just before she reaches her....
I love this episode. I hate this episode. But more than anything, I respect this episode's power and honesty.
Go Read the Review
And, if you haven't already checked these out, also visit: SuperJer, BuffyGuide and Television without Pity.