Friday, January 27, 2012

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Enemies

Episode 51.
airdate: 16 March 1999.

Scene 1 shows a breathless Buffy and Angel emerging from a movie theatre. They have obviously just seen a really sexy movie which resurfaces their issue of not being able to do it, ever. She apologizes for getting him "worked up" and he is all upstanding and sweet. I retroactively like Angel. I didn't the first few times around, but I like more masculine men the older I get. He is a little whiny, but it's not like he's Ross-whiney.

Faith and Buffy see a demon in the cemetery that offers them the Books of Ascension for cash. Buffy has never heard of them and Faith has of course, since she's now working for the Mayor. The Mayor suggests Faith go get the books and kill the demon after offering her a glass of milk and encouraging her to fortify herself with calcium.

Cordelia is still only showing up to hit on Wesley. Faith kills the demon. She gets a lot of blood on her hands and it obviously bothers her for a second...yet another nail in her coffin. She goes to Angel for "help". She lays it on thick and even attempts to seduce him, but he's virtuous, of course. After the rejection, she runs off, but not before Buffy sees Faith at Angel's kissing him on the cheek. Afterwards, we find out the Mayor put her up to it...he wanted her to seduce him to get him to lose his soul. Since that tactic didn't work, they decide to take a new route...which has something to do with a creepy blue Mortal Kombat-lookin' dude.

Buffy expresses her jealousy of Faith to Willow and Willow reassures her that Angel only has eyes for her. She then uses a phrase I repeat often: "I too know the love of a taciturn man..." I LOVE that line! Willow commands that Buffy go talk to Angel.

Faith and the Mortal Kombat lookin' dude do a spell and Angel immediately starts making out with Faith in Vamp face and then punches her and kicks her, seemingly soulless again. Gross. I don't enjoy Angel as Angelus, even though I respect David Boreanaz for his acting abilities. He meets the Mayor and finds out that he's impervious to harm (for the 100 days before the Ascension, apparently). Angelus knocks out Xander as they pass him on the street saying "that guy just bugs me". they meet up with Buffy at her house and Buffy is still looking all vulnerable. He reveals his vamp face and Faith simultaneously reveals her alliance with Angelus. Xander tells the gang that Angelus is back. Xander is relishing this fact, of course. Angelus has Buffy chained up while Faith reveals a lot of info about herself and the Mayor's Ascension.

Sarah Michelle Gellar is so hot. I don't think she's had any plastic surgery, either. And she's a normal weight these days. And she demands she have the weekends off to spend with her family from the set of her new TV show. She seems like a down-to-earth person. I'm so glad the chick that played one of the most important characters EVER, in my opinion, seems to have kept her head through fame. That's so cool.

After Faith reveals info about the Mayor, she says something about being the "World's Best Actor" and then Angel says "second best". Oh! Angel and Buffy were playing her all along. He's not really Angelus and Buffy was in on it. Everything is out in the open. When the gang shows up Buffy and Faith are fighting. Mortal Kombat guy was working with Giles all along as well. No one told Wesley, of course.

Buffy is visibly upset seeing Angel act like he liked Faith. This is a good touch to show real world ramifications of what they did, even though it's nauseating to see Buffy all hurt over Angel. I like her better when she's heartless. She goes to Angel and tells him she needs a bit of a break from him. That's one of the things I love about Joss. Even though there's vampires and shit, he's realistic about emotions.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Doppelgangland

Episode 50.
airdate: 23 Feb 1999.

Opens with Anya pleading with her Vengeance Boss to give her another chance. She hates being human. He says no.

Snyder forces Willow to tutor an asshole football, or maybe basketball--something sports-related, dude. He's awful to her and makes her do all the work. There's a definite theme of Willow being taken advantage of and being perceived as "reliable" and "boring" and a meek little girly-girl. Anya goes to Willow for spell help and Willow is totally into it because it's about a spell and not academia. Anya is trying to get her amulet back so she can be a proper Vengeance Demon again but she tells Willow it's a lost family heirloom. The spell gives Willow visions of the alternate universe shown in "The Wish".

Unknown to both Anya and Willow, Vamp Willow was summoned back during the spell instead of the necklace. She's confused being in this world not taken over by vampires. Percy (jock asshole dude) sees Vamp Willow at the Bronze (of course he thinks she's Real Willow) and they have a confrontation. The first utterance of "Bored now."!!! Buffy and Xander see her and she does Vamp face so they freak out and think Willow's a vampire now.

There's a sweet moment where Giles, Buffy, and Xander talk about how she was the "finest of all of us" all bewildered on the stairs of the library. Then Willow comes in...Real Willow. They all hug her. It's cute.

Vamp Willow seeks out Real Willow to convince her to help her get back to her own world. Real Willow shoots Vamp Willow with a trainquilizer dart and dresses up like her to infiltrate the shenanigans Vamp Willow started at the Bronze. There's a little conversation where Real Willow postulates that Vamp Willow is a little gay and Buffy "reminds" her that vampires are nothing like who they were as humans and Angel says, "Well, actually..." but Buffy shoots him a look, so he stops talking. I take back a LITTLE of what I said in an earlier blog about how they had no foreshadowing into Willow's gayness. They did, although I'm still upset at how they handled it overall.

Vamp Willow is now in Real Willow's clothes and chases Cordelia after an entertaining scene wherein Cordelia lectures Vamp Willow on the "Ethics of Boyfriend Stealing" before letting her out of the "book cage" again not knowing she isn't Real Willow.

This is a really sweet, funny episode. Willow used to be so endearing in the early days. She is just starting to find herself beyond smart, studious, shy girl with the spells and stuff, but she isn't yet mean or self-sabotaging.

Real Willow won't let Buffy kill Vamp Willow, so they send her back to her world. The SECOND she arrives, Oz stakes her.

The end scene is Percy groveling at Willow's feet giving her an apple and submitting homework to her that he did as he is now scared of her. Cool.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Consequences

Episode 49.
airdate: 16 Feb 1999.

In the Buffyverse, rule #1 is that every action has consequences, and Faith fucking KILLED somebody. So, there will be consequences...

Opening sequence is Buffy dreaming of Faith drowning her. She is wearing innocent flannel sheep pajamas, of course. Joyce is watching the news; of course they've found the body of the deputy Faith killed.

Icky: sexual tension between Cordelia and Wesley.

Angel is lurking at the scene of the crime and knows what's up 'cause he saw Buffy right afterwards in that area with blood on her hand...and I'm sure he can smell the blood on her hand and the blood on the scene and know it's the same blood. Vampire senses.

Faith has infinite wisdom, as per usual: "It doesn't matter what kind of vibe you get off a person 'cause 9 times out of 10, the face they're showin' you ain't the real one." Buffy wants to tell and Faith is wanting to let it blow over. She tells Buffy that they've saved thousands and she "missed the mark" with that guy and she's sorry, but they're in the plus column. Buffy says that doesn't make them better than anyone else and Faith says "We ARE better." I kinda agree with Faith on this one. I would trust telling Giles, but you have to reconcile the good with the bad. It sucks that it happened, but seriously, when you're built to be a killing machine, how can you not ever harm a human amongst all the baddies? How many accidental deaths have happened at the hands of well-meaning police officers? I'm sure it haunted them forever, but it's part of the territory. You can't be perfect. You can't unendingly do good. There's no use beating yourself up about this if you're a Slayer. Buffy will always have trouble confronting how she feels about her duty as a Slayer. She DOES think she's better. If she could admit that, she might be able to use it to her advantage. Her insistence that they do everything HER way alienates Faith. There was some openness to her...she could have gotten in if she had given just a little.

Cops question Buffy and Faith. Angel is still lurking about...Mr. Lurky.

Buffy tells Willow first. I like it when they emphasize their friendship; it doesn't happen often, but it's meaningful. Willow suggests she go to Giles, of course. She does, but Faith has already told him the story backwards. I'm callin' it: She has officially turned to the Dark Side. Buffy rushes to defend herself but as soon as Faith leaves Giles reveals that he could tell she was lying. Giles tells her its "not the first time something like this has happened" and she's shocked of course because she can't see anything beyond her dramatic and tiny little sphere. They agree on a meeting of everyone (everyone being Xander and Willow, I presume) to talk about how to help Faith deal with what has happened. Wesley overhears the whole conversation, so of course he's going to call the Council and be impetuous and fuck everything up for Faith even more. My heart really goes out to Faith. I hate to see her fall every time. It's devastating to watch someone so close to recovery from a life of emotional turmoil just be shoved in the opposite direction.

During the talk between the Gang they agree one-on-one is the best way to approach Faith and Xander suggests he do it because they've been close. He reveals that they slept together and Willow is visibly upset. She is later shown crying in the bathroom. The way they dealt with her later lesbianism ruins the gravity of moments like this. I've always thought it would be much more believable if they would have wrote her as being bisexual once she met Tara. It is clear that she at one time really loved both Xander and Oz. I don't understand the shift they made in her later...she never looked at another boy once she got with Tara. That's not how being a lesbian works. She could have had the exact same relationships she has season 4 and beyond without suddently BECOMING a lesbian. That's just a pet peeve of mine.

Xander goes to talk to Faith. He says insightful things, like Xander does. Faith kind of almost rapes Xander. Scary. Kind of almost strangles him. Good thing Angel has been lurking. He saves Xander then kidnaps Faith and chains her up in his house. Then you go, "AHA! Angel is the perfect person to talk to Faith!" He really is. He's on a path to redemption and knows what it feels like to kill. And JUST as he's starting to get through to her, Wesley and the Council show up. Grrr.

She escapes. After Faith bests Wesley, he is remorseful and finally lets them have the power instead of trying to exert his control. Buffy finds Faith.

Faith: You need me to tow the line because you're afraid you'll go over it, aren't you, B?

I love that line! She's right. The Mayor's people show up and Buffy and Faith fight them. Faith has a chance to escape while Buffy is in danger of being drained by Mr. Trick, but she saves her. Hopeful convo with Buffy and Giles afterwards, then

Faith shows up at the Mayor's office. She convinces him to give her a job. I forgot she went to him and not the other way around! Much as I hate to watch her fall, Faith's relationship with the Mayor is really fun to watch.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Bad Girls

Episode 48.
airdate: 9 Feb 1999.

I've been avoiding this episode because it is so emotional. This is the turning point for Faith. It is the time in her life wherein she is finally pushed off the deep end of that cliff she's been teetering's heartwrenching. I don't like to even watch it, but it's an important episode...

We start with a fight between Buffy, Faith, and two vampires. Vampires versus Slayers. Mayor is talking about his Ascension (different scene).

--I can't decide how to approach these blogs, still. Do I describe the action as if you can't see it for yourself or do I assume y'all have seen the episode or would be watching it along with me while reading the shownotes? I don't know if I feel like describing today, so I'm not going to try. Perhaps I'll just theorize and you can watch along with me if you have the DVDs or the entire series is available on Hulu AND Netflix streaming. So, nothing's stopping you.--

Enter Wesley...there's no way he could have found the musty old book he wanted while he's still unpacking.

(enter Faith into the library...sizes up Wesley)
Faith: New Watcher?
Buffy and Giles: New Watcher.
Faith: Screw that!
(Faith exits library)

Buffy goes after her and Faith does her whole "We're Slayers, we're better than everyone" thing.

"Slayin's what we were built for...if you're not enjoying it, you're doin' somethin' wrong." The theme here is Slayer vs. Slayer, how two very different girls handle the same job. Buffy tries to be pious and denies the corruption the job inevitably dispenses in great abundance, while Faith embraces it and takes it to its opposite extreme. Buffy and Faith both need to be a bit more like one another, but in this episode Buffy gets a little too into Faith's point of view. I am getting ahead of myself. Right now Faith is telling Buffy she doesn't have a plan and she's going anyway to fight 6 vamps all by herself and Buffy has to save her from her recklessness, so she goes too...

One of the vamps attempts to drown Buffy, and of course when she comes up from the water she's more hardcore than ever. This is the first time we really see her being heartless, a ghost of the Cold Buffy to come. She's growing up, you guys! It's sad, really. A hero's life would really suck. The next morning, her newfound darkness is prevalent in her wearing of a black leather jacket in contrast to her pastel of earlier in the episode.

Faith sneaks Buffy out of class to infiltrate a vampire nest and then they go out dancing at a club in the middle of the day...riiiiight. Oh, wait, it must be night 'cause there's Angel. Ew, Buffy's doing baby talk to Angel. Gross. The Bronze is so cool. Why isn't there a Bronze in real life? '90s music, Lush couches, Cibo Matto as regulars. Now there's breaking and entering. "Want. Take. Have." I suppose this is Wave of Corruption Phase 2. 1 was recklessness and the delusion of invincibility. Two is theft. The cops caught them as well so they're running from the police...after they wreck the squad car and break out. Morning two and Buffy is now wearing all black, and Faith is wearing a white shirt. I wonder if that's a nod to Buffy rubbing off on her just a little.

And then it happens. Buffy and Faith are fighting vampires in an alley and Faith accidentally kills a human. She's initially remorseful, which exhibits her propensity for good. This act of killing a human in the Buffyverse is a big no-no. There will be huge moral repercussions for both Buffy and Faith.

At the end of the ep Buffy goes to visit Faith as she's obsessively scrubbing blood from her shirt of the night before in the sink. She's still wearing the same amount of white as before while Buffy is now wearing pale blue again, though she looks like someone's mom here...Faith denies responsibility and her real feelings about everything. It ends with Buffy saying, "You don't get it. You killed. a. man." Faith, "No, YOU don't get it. I don't care." End credits.

Commentary (by Doug Petrie) notes added 5.19.13: Doug talking about Buffy's almost-drowning being a sort of baptism. Duh. Petrie isn't completely boring, but I may skip forward anyway...I'll give it a few more minutes. I never realized the heart that Faith draws on the window to lure Buffy out of class was a heart with a stake in it. I assumed she didn't finish a heart with an arrow through it. Doug keeps mentioning "lesbian subtext" but I don't really get that from this. When women are bonding in a new friendship, they're a little flirtatious. Big deal. That's the way of things. It would have been nice to see B and F building a good friendship over more than just this episode. I wish it could have been a longer run. If they had been allies longer, they could have BOTH felt less alone in the world.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Zeppo

Episode 47.
airdate: 26 Jan 1999.

This is the Xander-centric episode told mostly from his POV. He has his own little plucky soundtrack and the whole vibe is whimsical and much less dramatic than most episodes. Does this mean we take Xander less seriously? Perhaps. Let's dive in, shall we?

We begin with fog and Giles, Buffy, Faith, and Willow fighting a scary lady demon. They kill her. Willow is fighting with spells (turns out the fog was hers), Giles is fighting with knowledge, and Buffy and Faith are the brawn, of course. Xander is an afterthought. You don't even find out he's there, offscreen passed out, until the foe is vanquished and they've been assessing for a few lines of dialogue...

Buffy then encourages Xander to be "Fray Adjacent" from now on, stay out of danger etc. Giles concurs. So, the premise is set that Xander doesn't feel like a man and has some insecurities surrounding his place in the pack, etc.

Scene two shows Xander attempting to join in on a game of catch with some football jocks. He misses the ball when someone finally throws to him and it hits a slimy-looking bully kid who then threatens Xander. Cordelia oversees/hears and torments Xander and his lack of manliness/cool, calls him the zeppo. defines zeppo as; One person in a group or gang that is either used, ignored, and/or stepped on quite frequently.

Poor Xander.

At lunch, Xander ponders the essence of cool aloud to Oz. Xander decides he needs a thing.

Cut to Giles and Buffy...there's an Apocalypse comin'. The Hellmouth is going to open up and Oz's werewolf self is howling. Everyone is in research-mode but they barely mention it to Xander. Xander shows up in a beautiful turquoise convertible. A girl is interested in Xander because of his car and Cordelia oversees/hears. Turns out the girl is obsessed with cars and pretty boring. Xander sees Angel and offers to help, but Angel tells him "to stay out of harm's way".

Xander hits a car. Bully-dude shows up and threatens Xander with a knife. A cop shows up and Xander covers for bully-dude. Bully-dude decides Xander will be his wheel-man. He has Xander take him to "get the boys", which turns out are in the cemetery, 'cause they're dead. Zombie-dudes.

Cut to dramatic chanting in Latin or Aramaic or whatever from Giles...whoever he just summoned won't help him. Xander shows up along with his whimsical theme music and offers his help, again he is denied. Giles doesn't notice Xander is hanging out with zombies.

Poor Xander.

The Zombie Dudes make Xander take them to break into a hardware store for supplies to "bake a cake". Xander runs into Willow and she hugs him and tells him she loves him all dramatically. Xander escapes the Zombie Dudes and finds Faith fighting another lady demon. They escape to her room without her getting to kill the demon. She seduces Xander...thus he loses his virginity. Xander with his shirt off! Faith promptly kicks Xander out afterwards.

Oz-as-werewolf is pretty wound up 'cause of the Apocalypse and all, so Willow has to shoot him with a tranquilizer gun twice.

Xander realizes the "cake" the Zombie Dudes were making is actually a bomb. Xander decides he's out of his league and goes to find Buffy. Cut to Buffy and Angel in their normal yelling at each other drama...Xander shows up to ask for help, but seeing them yelling at each other decides to handle it on his own. The gang is doing heavy spell action in the library over the Hellmouth while Zombie Dudes are in the broiler room below setting up the bomb...meanwhile, Xander decides to find Giles for help, but at the last minute sees Zombie Dudes and drags one of them alongside his car getting information from him about where the bomb is.

The music in this episode really MAKES the episode. Xander's theme is whimsical fiddle, which plays when you're seeing his POV, whereas the rest of the time it's all drama Apocalypse orchestra...the transitions to and from Xander's theme to the serious movie theme that we'd be used to in an End-of-the-World episode is brilliant. Seeing it from Xander's perspective takes the pressure off a bit from the usual histrionics of the world through Buffy's eyes. It really makes the Buffy-world seem overly ridiculous.

Everyone is in the school now while Xander is trying to dismantle the bomb unbeknownst to the rest of the gang fighting the scary monsters coming out of the Hellmouth in the library. No one knows that the whole school might be blowed up by some mean Zombies and that Xander is on it! It comes down to a staring contest of will between Zombie Bully Dude Leader and Xander as the seconds tick by on the bomb. Xander wins out and Bully Dude dismantles the bomb, thus Xander saves the freaking world AND proves his manliness to Bully Dude, then Oz eats him...Bully Dude, not Xander (but Xander doesn't see this).

Xander's self worth is restored, and he tells no one what he did. So classy. Cordelia attempts to taunt Xander again and he just smiles and walks on by, not validating her at all. Yeah! Take that, bullies of the world!

Moral: Self worth comes from within. You don't need anyone else to validate you. I like it.

Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer...

Last post was THE DAY before the tornado that took my house away...I also lost season 3 because it was out by the tv and got brutally damaged by winds, like a lot of things I loved...

I watched a few episodes sometime in June and July and didn't have the wherewithal/presence of mind to write about anything, so for now, those few episodes will remain un-blogged, but I will summarize them briefly here:

Episode 40; Band Candy: All the adults eat candy sold by the students at Sunnydale and act like teenagers while under the influence of witchy chocolate. It's Ethan Rayne's fault, of course. Giles and Joyce do it.

Episode 41; Revelations: Faith gets a new Watcher named Gwendolyn who is super-snobby towards Giles...turns out she's evil, la la la. This is an emotional time for Faith...yet another authority figure lets her down.

Episode 42; Lover's Walk: one of my favorite episodes EVER. Spike comes back to town and he's wasted the whole time as Drusilla has left him. Hilarity ensues...also, Spike has some insights into Buffy and Angel's relationship (them saying they're just friends when they obviously want each other) that is spot-on. Buffy is moved by the speech and tells Angel she has to move on and they can't see each other, even as friends, anymore. Also, this is the episode where Cordelia and Oz find out about Xander and Willow.

Episode 43; The Wish: This is the introduction of Anya!! Cordelia wishes Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, so this is an alternate reality episode wherein life at Sunnydale is MUCH different, of course. There is a huge fatality rate at Sunnydale High, there's a curfew, everyone has to wear drab colors so as not to attract the vampires...Willow and Xander are vampires. It's a whole big thing. But Giles senses something is off (Cordelia convinces him as she's the only one that remembers the Buffy-at-Sunnydale world) and figures out how to break the spell of Anyanka.

Episode 44; Amends; This one is all about Angel's eternal atonement and the introduction of the First Evil. The First taunts Angel into killing himself, so he waits on a hill for the sun to come up, all tortured and broody. Buffy yells at him and I think they decide to be together at this point. The sun doesn't come up, 'cause it freaking snows in California and it's all magical, pointing to some divine purpose for Angel to remain a tortured soul and keep fighting for atonement that he can never attain...thus the plight of the souled vampire, ya-da ya-da.

Episode 45; Gingerbread: Two kids are murdered and Joyce causes an uproar...turns out the kids are demon spirits or something and put a spell on the whole town. At the end the town is burning Willow and Amy at the stake. Amy turns herself into a rat to escape and somehow Buffy saves the day...but Amy remains a rat in WIllow's care until season 6.

Episode 46; Helpless: Giles drugs Buffy on her 18th birthday so that she has the strength of a regular girl and has to fight a foe. All a tradition of the Council. Buffy has to question her identity as a non-Slayer and hates it. She is very mad at Giles and Giles helps her at some point, which is against the rules, so he gets fired by the Council.