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Networks galore - revised

I have a surprising amount of stuff to say about these two episodes (1.06 The Pack and 1.07 Angel), but I suddenly find myself with a lot of other things that need doing. So I will say some of it here, and hopefully find time this weekend to say some more.

I'm going to start with a couple of diagrams of the type you've already seen, and then show you something new. First, 1.06 The Pack:

The Scoobies are firmly established as a group, and school has assumed its rightful place as the center of their Sunnydale universe (red boxes: highest influence). The yellow boxes (high influence) focus on the players and themes of this episode, especially the zookeeper and his hyena spirits. Now, I ran this analysis after we did the podcast, but issues of masculinity really do figure prominently: guy is right up there among the high influence terms, and fairly central (with several ties to other terms). Since we talked about how this episode emphasizes both guy-ness and the nature of predators, it's interesting to note that guy is linked to primal, but not predatory. The latter is farther down, and I'm especially intrigued by the connections to animal and talk: while the hyena-students certainly go well beyond talk in their predatory behavior, by devouring poor Herbert and even poor Principal Flutie, these events are primarily visual. (Especially, say, in the cut from the principal's office to the documentary scene of hyenas devouring a carcass. Shudder.) But there is also a lot of predatory verbal expression, especially towards Willow and Lance.

Moving on to 1.07 Angel:

Here, Giles isn't much in the picture, downgraded from a red box to a yellow one, his place taken by Angel. We finally learn what's the dealio with this mystery dude. Darla, too, finally breaks out (mostly) from her breathy, girlish role and starts to become the Darla Angelus knew and loved (so to speak). We're back to dealing with vampire(s), and especially the question of whether it's possible to have a good one. (Ah, the black-and-white of the early seasons: here, a vampire must be either good or evil; in season 5, we start talking about ones that are "okay.") It amuses me that life is an isolate (with no ties to other terms): if that isn't a metaphor for Angel, I don't know what is. Also, note that despite their best efforts, Angel and Buffy are strongly linked--not just by their direct, personal (love) connection, but via good. Buffy and Willow are joined by talking about a guy... which actually is a nice lead-in to this next part.

Now, for something a little different. The semantic network software I use, Crawdad, also has the capability of comparing two files to identify shared influential relationships and words. Since we discussed some of the comparisons between these two episodes in our podcast (and if I get a chance, I'd like to write about them as well), I thought it would be interesting to run the comparison and see where the two episodes overlap, in semantic network terms.

Here's what I found:

Seriously: Willow is the one person Buffy can connect to about Angel, and that triangle appears in both episodes. (Interesting, since off the top of my head I only remember Xander mentioning Angel in The Pack, not Willow. But I haven't gone back to check.) Animal is another theme connecting the two episodes: Xander becomes possessed by an animal spirit; in the next episode, Angel says "I'm an animal." (Which Buffy refuses to accept, on the grounds that "animals I like.") Somewhat less seriously, but not without merit: Buffy is plagued by bad thing(s) in both episodes (and the rest of the series, really); poor Xander is relegated to the guy friend zone along with Giles, even when he becomes a predator and despite not being threatened or even needing to watch Angel and Buffy together.

That's it for now. Feel free to to offer interpretations, ask questions, suggest patterns. Even if it looks like a bunch of boxes and squiggles to you--and don't worry, it's not a kind of diagram familiar to most people, even in my field--you may notice that some squiggles draw your attention, and they connect words and boxes that suggest some kind of meaning to you. Go for it. Conversation is a lot more fun than just spouting off my own ideas.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 3rd, 2008 02:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a relief. I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't understand this.

I keep looking at it but all I see is like...a math graph of sorts and I'm so not good at the math. So then I read what's written cause I love the written word but I still don't get it so I end up feeling uber-stupid or something. It's a vicious cycle.

Yet I know there are people who not only understand this type of work but who could glance at all that *points up* and glean reams of meaning from it.

superplin, I'd like to link this at the Herald but I'm not sure how to entitle the link. Any suggestions?

Jul. 3rd, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
Oh, don't feel bad: this is a relatively new technique, so even a lot of people in my field don't get it without a lot of discussion.

I've actually gone back and filled in a lot of explanation now, so hopefully it will make more sense. At least a little more sense.

As for the link title, um, good question. I'm guessing "semantic networks in The Pack and Angel" wouldn't exactly draw hordes of readers, huh? I suck at titles.
Jul. 3rd, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. Well, we'll see. I went ahead and linked it like that. Perhaps those who get semantic networks will drop by and check it out.
Jul. 3rd, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
Heh. That would be about, oh, 20 people or so? And I'd be surprised if any of the others are BtVS fans. (Although that would be way cool if they were!)

But hey, maybe some people will think it sounds exotic. ;)
Jul. 3rd, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
Yeah but Btvs/Ats fans are frequently surprising. You never know. :)
Jul. 3rd, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC)
I think your comments shed a lot of light on what these analysis diagrams mean. I look forward to seeing more!
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 5th, 2008 02:33 am (UTC)
Oh, good, I'm glad!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )