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December 02, 2003
by Daniel Erenberg
Better Than Petruchio
Once upon a time, I wanted to be an actor. I went on auditions, I appeared in plays, and I even got a lead role once in a minor production of “The Taming Of The Shrew”. When I auditioned for that play, they gave me some audition materials. For contemporary voice acting, I had to use a Matt Damon monologue from Good Will Hunting. And to see if I could speak Shakespearian, they gave me a Petruchio monologue from the actual play itself. And I couldn’t help but think (as a massive Buffy geek) and wished I could choose my own monologue, because Buffy has a wealth.
Sometimes writing and performance all come together to create a perfect moment. A fine way to accomplish this is with a good intellectual (or sometimes even funny) monologue.
So, yeah. Without further ado…
TOP 10 BUFFY MONOLOGUES
10. “Graduation Day Part Two”, written by Joss Whedon and performed by Harry Groener as The Mayor
"Well. What a day this is! - Special day. Today is our centennial the one hundreds anniversary of the founding of Sunnydale, and I know what that means to all you kids: not - a darn thing. Because today something much more important happens: today you all graduate from high sch ool. Today all the pain, all the work, all the excitement is finally over. And what's a hundred years of history compared to that? You know what kids? …
"… for all of you it may be that there is a place in Sunnydale's history, whether you like it or not. It's been a long road getting here. For you… for Sunnydale. There has been achievement, joy, good times,… and there has been grief. There's been loss. Some people who should be here today… aren't. But we are. - Journey's end. And what is a journey? Is it just… distance traveled? Time spent? (shakes his head) No. It's what happens on the way, it the things that happen to you. At the end of the journey you're not the same. Today is about change. Graduation doesn't just mean your circumstances change, it means you do. You ascend… to a higher level. Nothing will ever be the same. (a shadow falls across the Mayor) Nothing. And so as we look back on… (Pain hits him again and he turns half to the side groaning) on the events that brought us to this day (another wave of pain)
We… (stops in pain again all the students are watching tensely) we must all…(screams) It has begun. My destiny. (smiles) It's a little sooner then I expected I had this whole section on civic pride… (shuffles cue cards) But I guess we'll just skip to the big finish!"
This one had it all: pathos, humor, commencement. It ended a season with a big bang of intensity and was perfectly spoken by Mr. Groener with his patented loopy father-knows-best delivery. This one had me in stitches but almost scared to see what he was going to come out with next.
9. “Storyteller”, written by Jane Espenson and performed by Tom Lenk as Andrew
Here's the thing. I killed my best friend. There's a big fight coming, and I don't know what's going to happen. I don't even think I'm going to live through it. (looks down) That's, uh, probably the way it should be. I guess I'm— (looks at the camera, sighs, points the remote control, presses a button, and turns it off)
This one’s not so long, but it’s so affective it hurts. Tom Lenk delivers it with such heartbreakingly penultimate sadness that it’s hard to watch. And it hits even harder after such a carefree, funny episode. This one works. An Espenson masterpiece.
8. “Earshot”, written by Jane Espenson and performed by Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy
You know what? I was wrong. You are an idiot. My life happens to, on occasion, suck beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle. And it's not just mine. Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they're too busy with their own.
The beautiful ones. The popular ones. The guys that pick on you. Everyone.
If you could hear what they were feeling. The loneliness. The confusion. It looks quiet down there. It's not. It's deafening. You know, I could've taken that by now.
Another excellent Espenson piece poignantly delivered by the lovely and talented Ms. Gellar. This one (which, sadly, I can relate to all too well) is painful to watch even now. The episode made my top ten episodes list back in like February and I still love it. And this is the best part.
7. “Beneath You”, written by Douglas Petrie (though rumored to be ghost-written by Joss Whedon) and performed by James Marsters as Spike
"Angel— he should have warned me. He makes a good show of forgetting, but it's here, in me... all the time. The spark. (pause) I wanted to give you... what you deserve. And I got it. They put the spark in me. And now all it does is burn."
Buffy: "Your soul."
Spike (laughing): "Bit worse for lack of use."
Buffy: "You got your soul back. How?"
Spike: "It's what you wanted, right? It's what you wanted, right?! And-and now everybody's in here, talking. Everything I did, everyone I— and him. And it. The other... the thing... beneath... beneath you. It's here, too. Everybody... they all just tell me go. Go... to hell."
Buffy: "Why? Why would you do that?"
Spike: "Buffy, shame on you. Why does a man do what he mustn't? For her. To be hers. To be the kind of man who would nev— (He pauses, almost crying.) To be a kind of man. And she shall look on him with forgiveness... and everybody will forgive and love. (Spike goes to the cross at the front of the church.) He will be loved. (He drapes himself over the cross. His skin begins to burn.) So everybody's okay, right? (Buffy is crying.) C-can we rest now? Buffy? Can we rest?"
This one (with a bit of necessary interruption by Buffy) I didn’t think of for a while. I had six monologues down on paper and I realized that none of them were from Spike, Willow, or Giles. I couldn’t think of any and I knew the Spike-heads were going to be pissed. That is until I remembered this bit of emotion from Whedon (?) absolutely beautifully, tenderly, and hard-heartedly delivered by James Marsters.
6. “Once More With Feeling”, written by Joss Whedon and performed by Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy
Life's a show
And we all play our parts
And when the music starts
We open up our hearts
It's all right
If some things come out wrong
We'll sing a happy song
And you can sing along
Where's there's life
There's hope, everyday's a gift
Wishes can come true
Whistle while you work
So hard all day
To be like other girls
To fit in in this glittering world
Don't give me songs
Don't give me songs
Give me something to sing about (ANYA AND TARA: Ahhhhh...)
I need something to sing about
Life's a song
You don't get to rehearse
And every single verse
Can make it that much worse
Still, my friends don't know why I ignore
The million things or more
I should be dancing for
All the joy, life sends
Family and friends
All the twists and bends
Knowing that it ends
Well, that depends
On if they let you go
Or if they know enough to know
That when you've bowed
You leave the crowd
There was no pain
No fear, no doubt
Till they pulled me out
So that's my refrain
I live in Hell
'Cuz I've been expelled
I think I was
So, give me something to sing about
Give me something
This one was sung: a sung monologue. And it’s perfection. Joss’s lyrics reflect the every emotion that the Buffy character was facing during season six. It spells it out so plainly but with such complexity. And it’s very prettily sung, might I add, by Ms. Gellar.
5. “Potential”, written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner and performed by Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
(looking over her shoulder, to Xander) What's up?
(walks into the room) Aw, I'm just thinking about the girls. It's a harsh gig, being a potential. Just being picked out of a crowd, danger, destiny, (grins) plus if you act now, death.
They can handle it.
Yeah. (sits in a chair in front of the desk) They're special, no doubt. The amazing thing is, not one of them will ever know, not even Buffy.
How much harder it is for the rest of us.
No way. They've got—
Seven years, Dawn. Working with the slayer. Seeing my friends get more and more powerful. A witch. A demon. Hell, I could fit Oz in my shaving kit, but come a full moon, he had a wolfy mojo not to be messed with. Powerful. All of them. And I'm the guy who fixes the windows.
Well, you had that sexy army training for a while, and—and the windows really did need fixing.
I saw what you did last night.
Yeah, I— (shakes her head embarrassed) I guess I kinda lost my head when I thought I was the slayer.
You thought you were all special. Miss Sunnydale 2003. And the minute you found out you weren't, you handed the crown to Amanda without a moment's pause. You gave her your power.
(shrugs) The power wasn't mine.
They'll never know how tough it is, Dawnie, to be the one who isn't chosen. To live so near to the spotlight and never step in it. But I know. I see more than anybody realizes because nobody's watching me. I saw you last night. I see you working here today. You're not special. You're extraordinary. (stands, kisses her forehead, stands to walk out of the room)
(tears welling in her eyes, calls after him) Maybe that's your power.
(pauses at the door) What?
Maybe it is. Maybe I should get a cape.
Cape is good.
Yeah. (leaves the room)
This is another conversation with shades of monologue mixed in. Nicholas Brendon is one of my favorite television actors and it’s such a shame that throughout the show he wasn’t given anything to say as good as this. But at least he got this. And he did it incredibly. And support Rebecca Rand Kirshner! She’s over at FOX writing for Las Vegas this year.
4. “Prophecy Girl”, written by Joss Whedon and performed by Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy
Buffy: So that's it, huh? I remember the drill. One Slayer dies, next one's called! Wonder who she is. (to Giles) Will you train her? Or will they send someone else?
Giles: Buffy, I...
Buffy: They say how he's gonna kill me? Do you think it'll hurt?
Tears are flowing freely from her eyes. Angel tries to hug her, but she puts up her hands and quickly steps away.
Buffy: Don't touch me! (to Giles) Were you even gonna tell me?
Giles: I was hoping that I wouldn't have to. That there was... some way around it. I...
Buffy: I've got a way around it. I quit!
Angel: It's not that simple.
Buffy: I'm making it that simple! I quit! I resign, I-I'm fired, you can find someone else to stop the Master from taking over!
Giles: I'm not sure that anyone else can. All the... the signs indicate...
Buffy: The signs? (throws a book at him) READ ME THE SIGNS! (throws another one) TELL ME MY FORTUNE! YOU'RE SO USEFUL SITTING HERE WITH ALL YOUR BOOKS! YOU'RE REALLY A LOTTA HELP!
Giles: No, I don't suppose I am.
Angel: I know this is hard.
Buffy: What do you know about this? You're never gonna die!
Angel: You think I want anything to happen to you? Do you think I could
stand it? We just gotta figure out a way...
Buffy: I already did. I quit, remember? Pay attention!
Giles: Buffy, if the Master rises...
Buffy: (yanks the cross from her neck) I don't care! (calms down) I don't care. Giles, I'm sixteen years old. I don't wanna die.
Is it just me or is this list quickly degenerating into conversation. Let’s change the title to LONG TALKING PORTIONS AND STUFF. Not as catchy but more fitting. Anyways, this was a great one, probably the first great one. Joss again. The man knows what he’s doing.
3. “After Life”, written by Jane Espenson and performed by Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy
BUFFY: (still looking down) I was happy.
Spike looks at her in confusion.
BUFFY: Wherever I ... was ... I was happy. At peace.
Spike stares, shocked.
BUFFY: I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time ... didn't mean anything ... nothing had form ... but I was still me, you know? (glances at him, then away) And I was warm ... and I was loved ... and I was finished. Complete. I don't understand about theology or dimensions, or ... any of it, really ... but I think I was in heaven.
Spike continues to stare at her in dismay.
BUFFY: And now I'm not. (almost tearful) I was torn out of there. Pulled out ... by my friends. (Spike continues staring, listening) Everything here is ... hard, and bright, and violent. Everything I feel, everything I touch ... this is Hell. Just getting through the next moment, and the one after that ... (softly) knowing what I've lost...
She looks up, realizes Spike is still there. She looks uncomfortable, gets up.
She walks just to the line where the shadows become sunlight, and pauses, but doesn't turn back to face Spike.
BUFFY: They can never know. Never.
Now THIS is a monologue. A great one too. It’s the third Espenson-penned monologue on the list too. I guess this makes up for her number of episodes on my worst episodes list. I love her. I swear I do. And she’s pretty in that mousy but sexy secretary kind of way. This is my mother’s favorite scene in Buffy history. One of mine too. And support Espenson too! She’s doing fantastic work over on Gilmore Girls this season.
2. “The Gift”, written by Joss Whedon and performed by Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy
Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I will *always* love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles ... tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world ... is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me.
This one’s short and sweet and one of my absolute favorites. It was also delivered in voiceover, which is extremely hard to pull off. Also, that great line “the hardest thing in this world…is to live in it” really brings to mind what the next season was all going to be about.
1. “The Body”, written by Joss Whedon and performed by Emma Caulfield as Anya
"But I don't understand! I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's, there's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore! It's stupid! It's mortal and stupid! And, and Xander's crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why. (She puts her hand over her face, crying.)"
This one hurts to even write about. Brilliantly penned. Heartbreakingly delivered. It has everything. There are quite a few moments in “The Body” that push me to tears, but that one word: “why”. That pushes me over the edge. And you don’t want to look at me when that happens.
That’s all for now, True Believers. ‘Nuff said.
|Daniel Erenberg lives in a gothic-looking house in a suburb of Long Island shrouded by trees and darkness. His backyard is so overrun with shrubbery that he can't plant flowers in the soil. He's penned articles for numerous magazines (and a couple of websites for free). Currently, he's writing his first novel, entitled People That I've Long Since Forgotten. He's also written two plays, Little Room and Dystopia and a screenplay called Youth Or Consequence. He lives a fairly happy life alone except for the mind-numbing loneliness he feels on occasion. If you’re a beautiful woman that’s fallen in love with Daniel, or you just want to talk Buffy with him, you can contact Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org.