Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 49

7.13 The Killer in Me
7.14 First Date
7.15 Get It Done

Follow along in Bite Me!.

If you’re watching Angel, this week’s episodes are:

4.13 Salvage
4.14 Release
4.15 Orpheus

Follow along in Once Bitten.

This week’s episodes are ones that didn’t necessarily stand out for me (as someone mentioned in the comments last week, S7 is a lot like S5, in that the episodes just blend together and you can’t remember what each one is about in particular, because the season was so serialized). I was pleasantly surprised by just how good they were.

On Angel, we come to the end of the Angelus arc when Willow comes to town and performs a little mojo to bring Angel back, along with a little help from Faith. The scene of his bad hair days in the bar listening to Barry Manilow are worth the price of admission alone. Unfortunately, I neglected to mention last week that these episodes are out of synch with Buffy (sorry) so it’ll be a little odd when next week, in “Lies My Parents Told Me,” you’ll see Willow get a call from Fred to come to L.A. I’d completely forgotten about that, so I apologize. But it’s a little thing, and not necessary to watch one before the other, obviously.

This week’s guest host will cover “The Killer in Me” and “Get It Done” most thoroughly, so I’ll talk about “First Date,” mostly because I was pleasantly surprised by it on the rewatch. I remember this mostly as The Episode That Starred Ashanti (blaaarrggghhh) but I’d forgotten just how damn funny it was. (Then I checked Bite Me! and sure enough, I liked it the first time through, too… but was gaggy about Ashanti even then.) The dialogue is sublime, with Willow and Buffy talking in the living room as Willow folds clothes. The entire scene is laugh-out-loud hilarious, and the actors look like they’re having a great time with it. Willow and Buffy talk about Principal Wood, and Buffy wonders what it might be like to date a normal guy for once in her life.

Buff, if he's really interested, are you interested back?
BUFFY: I don't know. He's good-looking, and he's—he's solid, he's smart, he's normal. So, not the wicked energy, which is nice 'cause I don't want to only be attracted to wicked energy. Or what if he is wicked, in which case, is that why I'm attracted to him?
I'm gonna wait for that sentence to come around again before I jump on.

Buffy then speaks to Anya in the bathroom (more hilarity ensues), and then Spike and Buffy talk in the hallway, leading to yet another one of my favourite exchanges:

You don't have to—
What? Be noble? I'm not. Really, I'm all right. Think I still dream of a crypt for two with a white picket fence? My eyes are clear.
Good. I'm glad. Thank you.
Never much cared for picket fences, anyway. Bloody dangerous.

Once again, Jane Espenson proves why she’s one of my favourite writers on television.

And I haven’t even begun to mention the Chao-Ahn subtitles. When Buffy ended in 2003, I threw a big party for the finale viewing, and ahead of time I made up a booklet that people could take away. It was about 15 pages long, and contained my favourite quotes throughout the series – Willow & Oz, Spike lines, Xander commentary, Giles & Buffy – and I think one entire page might have been from this episode. ;)

Like this one:

 Uh, this one's either "I just got lucky, don't call me for a while" or "my date's a demon who's trying to kill me."
You don't remember which?
It was a long time ago.
Well, if we play the percentages...
Something's eating Xander's head.

Or this one:

What do you think happened? Another demon woman was attracted to me. I'm going gay. I've decided I'm turning gay. Willow, gay me up. Come on, let's gay.
You heard me. Just tell me what to do. I'm mentally undressing Scott Bakula right now. That's a start, isn't it?
ANDREW: Captain Archer... (nods)
Come on, let's get this gay show on the gay road. Help me out here.

Oh, Xander. You said way back in “Buffy Vs. Dracula” that you were no longer going to be anyone’s buttmonkey. You were wrong.

Of course, the key things in these episodes was finally seeing who Principal Wood was, and who his mom was. We don’t find out her name until the next episode, but it’s, like, the best possible name a Slayer could have. Truly.

These episodes start turning the season in the direction of the finale, finally, and we see General Buffy become a little more like Sergeant Buffy… a little too Full Metal Jacket for my tastes. She’s mean, out of character, and I know what the writers were attempting to do, but it just seemed inconsistent, especially when you see what she says in the episodes before and after. One minute she tells Spike she’s not ready for him not to be there, and the next she’s calling him a wimp and telling him to buzz off. Buffy’s nothing if not a complicated gal.

And as for Kennedy, I held back last week because I didn’t want to sway anyone, but I CAN’T STAND HER. Just when Dawn was becoming someone I could deal with and actually kinda like, it’s like they needed to fill the void with yet another annoying little person that I just want to whack upside the head. And that is Kennedy. She’s crass, rude, awful to people. She has no tact, and every word out of her mouth sounds like an accusation. I could never stand her. Sure, it would be hard to accept anyone after Tara, but it’s like they were trying to create the exact opposite of Tara. Why would Willow ever be attracted to someone who is THAT unpleasant? Oz was sweet, Tara was sweet, Kennedy’s awful. You can do better than this, Will. (And are we to assume the Potentials have no parents? Buffy’s burying them in the backyard like they’re cats.)

This week we have the amazing Beth Rambo once again, the editor of the Buffy Goes Dark book I’ve been featuring over there on the left since the beginning of S7. You want to read the best essays around on the final two seasons of the show, that’s the one. Take it away, Beth!

Buffy Rewatch
Season 7.13-15
“The Killer in Me”
“First Date”
“Get It Done”

I started re-viewing these three episodes thinking, “Well, the episodes 13 and 14 aren’t among my favorites and they’re not that important. Willow’s dealing with her guilt, Buffy and Xander go on “first dates” that end badly, blah blah blah. But then I actually watched the episodes and remembered one of my maxims for this (and possibly any Whedon) series: There’s no such thing as an insignificant Buffy episode. While the A or B narratives of an individual episode may not thrill, some key element of the longer narrative arc will also be revealed, and there’s usually at least one bit of standout dialogue. With these three episodes, we are moving toward the end of Season Seven and the entire show, so expect to see the action start to ramp up.

“The Killer in Me” (written by Drew Z. Greenberg) deals with real and suspected killers among the Scoobies. As the Andrew admits to the First in “First Date,” “Confidentially a lot of [Buffy’s] people are murderers. Anya and Willow and Spike.” We have three narrative strands that recall seasons 4 and 5. When Willow finds herself drawn to Kennedy’s straightforward seductions, she becomes vulnerable to Amy’s “penance malediction” spell which reacts with guilt. In Willow, the spell combines with guilt for her vengeance fueled rage, the murder of Warren, and especially her guilt for surviving Tara’s death or for being unable to save Tara. The spell imposes a “penance” of literally forcing her to walk in Warren’s shoes and reenact his crime. Oddly, Kennedy’s resistance to the idea of magic, or perhaps, her faith in “fairy tale crap” magic, allows her to break the spell with a kiss, just as her kiss began it. The Kennedy/Willow relationship was (and perhaps remains) extremely controversial. A lot of people simply could not forgive the Mutant Enemy team for the death of Tara, and no one would have been an adequate replacement. I can’t really judge Willow & Kennedy’s conversation in the bar, but I can say that Kennedy is at her most charming in this scene, as opposed to her previous “brat” act, and she stands up for Willow admirably as the episode proceeds.

Spike, of course, was a killer before he regained his soul, and again under the influence of the First’s “sleeper” trigger. Now we learn he literally has a “killer” in him as the Initiative chip is “misfiring” and causing devastating pain. In another “back to the beginning” moment, Buffy calls Riley for help (comic covert ops!), then she and Spike return to the abandoned Initiative underground labs, in search of anaesthesia. Of course they fight the obligatory demon, and then I couldn’t help smiling when the Initiative guys turn up with orders from Riley: “We're to provide you anything you need to help assface here. Those were his exact words, ma'am.” They can either remove the chip or repair it. Suspense!

And while all this is going on, Giles, recently returned from his travels with numerous rescued Potential Slayers, takes them out to the desert for a vision quest like of Buffy’s in Season 5. He says: “apparently, someone told them that the vision quest consists of me driving them to the desert, doing the hokey pokey until a spooky Rasta-mama slayer arrives and speaks to them in riddles.” When a phone call from an English Watcher suggests that Giles may have been killed by Bringers, and Andrew (who should know) reveals that the First not only appears as dead people but is incorporeal and cannot touch or be touched, suddenly everyone suspects Giles is an avatar of the first. They chase after him and wackiness ensues. I wondered about this myself for a while, but my favorite part of this scene is Andrew’s final threat to convince the crew to take him along: “OK, well, if you leave me here alone, I'll do something evil, like burning something or gluing things together.”
Key points: Amy is unrepentant, Spike’s chip will kill him if it’s not removed or repaired, manifestations of the First are non-corporeal (although some early versions did appear to touch people, but let it go), and Giles is, indeed, alive. Andrew is not evil, just annoying.

“First Date” is the least re-watchable of these three episodes, and also a bad pun. Notable information in the teaser: How Giles escaped from the Bringers (two versions of this—instinct! Or he heard its shoes squeak). And Buffy decided to have the Initiative remove Spike’s chip, which Giles thinks is very dangerous. Two literal first dates: Principal Wood asks Buffy out to dinner, which is inappropriate (“I’ll get the paperwork,” he says, apparently referring to her signing some form stating there is no sexual harassment). She suspects he may be evil, yet finds him attractive. Willow advises her to “dress for the ambiguity” but they agree that Robin’s job as Sunnydale H.S. principal is a problem:

BUFFY: …there he is. On the hell mouth. All day, every day. That's got to be like being showered with evil. Only from underneath.
WILLOW: Not really a shower.
BUFFY: A bidet. Like a bidet of evil.

This and other scenes reveal the comic touch of writer Jane Espenson, but overall, the episode doesn’t hold together particularly well. Xander, too, meets an attractive woman at a hardware store…but she turns out to be a demon. AGAIN. (Stunt-casting of Ashanti in this role doesn’t particularly help.) Recall this scene from the end of 1.8 “I Robot, You Jane.” They’ve all been discussing their disastrous supernatural lovers (vampire, demon robot, giant praying mantis):

BUFFY: Let's face it: none of us are ever gonna have a happy, normal relationship.
XANDER: We're doomed!
Their laughter trails off into dubious silence.

Giles is concerned about getting down to business and preparing the potentials (his comically gruesome flash-cards recall 4.10 “Hush”), while Andrew’s “date” is literally with the First (there’s the pun, sorry), who appears to him as Jonathan & tries to convince him to find Willow’s gun and shoot the Potentials, “because when they’re gone, the [Slayer] line is gone.”
We also learn the truth about Wood: he’s the son of a Slayer, which explains how he knows about Buffy and more. He’s looking for the vampire who killed his mother—and when she appears to him, courtesy of the First, we should be able to guess that she is the “subway slayer” of Season Five’s “Fool for Love.”

“Get It Done” (written by Douglas Petrie) is one of Season Seven’s key episodes. It opens with one of Buffy’s real-seeming dreams, in which she’s checking on the Potentials and sees one, Chloe, weeping in a corner. She tries to comfort the girl, only to be tackled by the First Slayer, who says, “It’s not enough.” At the high school, Wood gives her his mother’s “Slayer emergency kit,” which should have been passed down to her, then invites himself to the Summers house and, after meeting the Scoobies, Andrew the “guestage” baking to assuage his guilt (like Willow after “Something Blue”), and the Potentials, is introduced to Spike as a vampire. Wood is still testing the First’s information here, and doubts Spike’s sincerity overall. Buffy finally absorbs the truth that the Potentials aren’t prepared, her usual gang is now a “Wicca who won’t-a,” a “Wimpire,” a carpenter, and a sarcastic ex-demon. Everyone has to step up and start doing the impossible—getting it done. The emergency kit turns out to contain a mysterious locked box full of items which, surprisingly, Dawn is able to explain—she’s been studying, it seems, and can now step in as “Watcher Junior” to do the exposition and read the Sumerian: “You can’t just watch, you have to see” (a version of one of my themes for the season). Buffy must go “back to the beginning” of the Slayer line & reenact the making of the first slayer in order to gain the knowledge that she doesn’t want more demonic power (“You can’t fight evil with evil”), and this in itself is the beginning of the knowledge she seeks. Just as in episode 7.1, the shadow men (or two out of three of them) turn out to be “manifest spirits” she can fight and disperse by breaking a talismanic staff (“It’s always the staff”), in order to gain the information she seeks.

Meanwhile Dawn, in her mentoring role, walks Willow through the steps of using serious magic again, and Kennedy learns that there’s more to magic than “fairy tale crap.” Spike reclaims his vampire badness by retrieving the leather duster he took from the subway Slayer as a trophy (5.7 “Fool for Love”). As he strides down the high school corridor in this familiar coat, Principal Wood speaks from a doorway: “Nice coat. Where did you get it?” “New York,” answers Spike, confirming that he is, indeed, the vampire who killed Wood’s mother.

Now these are the Scoobies we remember. But are they ready for thousands of ubervamps?

Thanks, Elizabeth!

Next week: Wow, we’re coming into the home stretch with only three weeks left! David Lavery and Lorna Jowett return to cover off the next three episodes, which feature an episode that never ceases to make me laugh until it hurts (oh Andrew, I ♥♥♥ you), a great episode that flashes back to our favourite vampire again, the return of an awesome character, and if there’s anyone out there who loves Firefly and hasn’t seen Buffy, you’re in for a wicked treat.
7.16 Storyteller
7.17 Lies My Mother Told Me
7.18 Bad Girls

Our Angel episodes are:
4.16 Players
4.17 Inside Out
4.18 Shiny Happy People

See you next week!


Marebabe said...

There was a moment in “The Killer in Me” right after one of Spike’s chip-induced headaches, when he was staring intently into Buffy’s eyes, and I thought he was going to beg her to jab a wooden stake into his heart, thus ending his suffering. Not only that, but he would no longer be a danger to people. It was easy for me to hop aboard that train of thought because, unfortunately, I’ve had quite a few “Please kill me” headaches in my life. Easy to imagine Spike being all noble and asking to be dusted. Even as I was thinking he might make that request, I knew good and well that Spike would live to see another day. He’s on the cover of Nikki’s Angel book! Everyone with that book KNOWS that Spike is eventually gonna show up in Los Angeles. He just hasn’t yet. (I don’t think I’ve spoiled anyone here regarding Spike. If I have, please forgive me. I’ll never do it again.)

There were tons of cute and funny lines in this episode. Nikki, you chose “Who you gonna call?” as the highlight, but I’ll bet it was a tough choice, with about 6 or 7 runners-up. For me, the best laugh was when the commanding officer referred to Spike as “Ass Face”, quoting Riley. That was beautiful!

By the end of “The Killer in Me”, I remained unconvinced that Giles was really Giles. Sure, the Scoobs could touch (tackle) him, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the rules can change. We’ve still not seen what happened next when the axe was swinging toward Giles’ head. Did he do a brilliant block, and beat the Bringer’s ass? Let’s see it, then!!

Marebabe said...

LOL. Those last few sentences? Right above here? I scribbled those words literally ONE MINUTE before watching the opening blurb of “First Date”. It still took several minutes for me to stop giving my TV the stink-eye, but I eventually came to accept not only the explanation of how Giles escaped certain death (squeaky shoes), but also the way the writers jerked us around for weeks. (Too harsh?) OK. Toyed with us for weeks. That sounds a little less dastardly.

I LOOOVED Giles’ graphic flash cards, especially the “holy crap!” one Dawn held up. I did a nice, long freeze-frame so I could admire it. :)

After that vicious stab wound to his gut, Xander should’ve been cozily tucked into a hospital bed, recovering from surgery, with a nice, restoring IV drip and really good pain drugs every few hours. (NOT skipping through the front door and cheerily regaling everyone with what just happened.) He doesn’t have Slayer strength or Slayer powers. It looked to me like he was hurt very badly with that sword.

Marebabe said...

Ever since Joyce died, Buffy has struggled to be like a mother to Dawn. At the beginning of “Get It Done”, I REALLY saw Buffy inhabiting the mother role as she walked through the house at night, checking to make sure that all the Potentials were safe and snug in their beds. Sure, it turned out to be a dream, but I still liked the Buffy-as-mom-ness of that scene.

I don’t get burying dead Potentials in the backyard like when your pet hamster, Mr. Whiskers, dies. Sure, in real life it would be messy and time-consuming going through official channels, involving maybe police, coroner, and a funeral home. Not to mention the Potential’s FAMILY. I have a feeling that, someday, those hastily buried remains will be found, and then, talk about messy! Investigations, possible criminal charges, possible JAIL time. Are we just not supposed to think about these things?

Andrew is the brains?! Who would believe that?

Every time Willow does a magic spell now, I tense up. So much could go so very wrong. She swore off magic for good reasons! (I’m still not comfortable writing ‘magick’ or ‘magicks’. I just can’t bring myself to do it. Well, I did just then, of course, but I mean changing how I NORMALLY spell it.)

Whenever Robin Wood and Spike are face-to-face, I’m dreading the moment when Spike will learn that the Slayer he killed in the subway was Wood’s mother. I think that’s going to be awful. The vampires-with-souls have to work through and then live with monstrous guilt. And it’s because I care about Spike that I don’t want to see any more crushing guilt heaped on him. He already has enough. And of course, it’s tragic that little 4-year-old Robin lost his mother. It’s just a bad situation through and through, any way you look at it. :(

Marebabe said...

On Angel this week, in “Release”, the most noteworthy thing for me was the fact that the protection spell in the hotel stopped Connor in his tracks. So, what is he, a demon? With his parentage, that’s really not too much of a stretch. And he has always demonstrated super-human fighting (and leaping) skills. I guess I’m more curious about him now than I’ve ever been.

In “Orpheus”, I loved the mental torture Angelus experienced having to witness Angel’s good deeds. The puppy rescue was awesome! And Fred and Willow “yammering” together was way cuter than that puppy.

They got some e’splainin’ to do about Cordy. How did she get “en-eviled”? (Cue the flashback.) And how will they (or WILL they?) undo it? I had a shocking realization just now. I figure A) they will somehow set things to rights again, or B) they’ll regrettably and with much sadness kill off Cordelia. The shocking part is that, right now, I don’t care HOW this twisty plot gets resolved. I think I’m feeling some cumulative fatigue, impatience, and frustration over some of the ways that the audience – OK, *I* – have been manipulated recently. If I hadn’t just gone through all that weirdness with Giles, I would probably feel differently about Cordelia. She’s been with us since the Pilot episode of Buffy, for crying out loud. But seein’ how Charisma Carpenter was actually pregnant in these latest episodes, I can totally understand if she asked to be written out of the story, so she could focus on being a new Mommy to her new baby.

Waiting to see how this all turns out. It won’t be long, now.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

I have a question about Angel's hair in the seventies backstory. How did it grow so long!? He's (un)dead!

I am very happy to have Faith back. I think Eliza Dushku did a great job over on Angel this week. The reunion with her "watcher" Wesley was awkward, wasn't it? Wesley is SOOOOO different than he was back then.

Spike..how I love thee. So patient and helpful and understanding now.

Boo, hiss, Kennedy.

Page48 said...

Nikki, I tried to catch you being 5 seconds late posting this thing, but 8:00pm sharp it was. Wowsers.

wicca that won'ta and wimpire = poetry.

It doesn't occur to Buffy at dinner that maybe, just maybe Spike was the vampire in question who whacked Robin Hood's Mom the Vampire Slayer?

Giles flash cards scaring the crap out of a potential was hilarious. As was his offer of warm milk. Smooth, Rupert, very smooth.

I don't know Ashanti from The Pope, so her star power was lost on me.

Buffy's speech was a puzzle. What the heck does she expect the Potentials to do? They're in way deep with no experience. The best thing they could do is huddle in the basement.

Kennedy should be offered up as a sacrifice to The First. Who died and made her Drill Sergeant? And what's she got that Willow would want? If Willow crossed the floor for Tara, Kennedy should be enough to send her back.

Is Giles back in Beijing?

Andrew is really hitting his stride and we haven't seen his best work yet. I'm ready for some funnel cake.

Dusk said...

The Killer In Me is my personal least-liked.

Joss apparently wanted an anti-Tara but they went too far, it's completly unbelivable Wilow would go for someone with that bad atitide and understands so little about magic when it's so imporatant to her.

Her reaction to being Warren makes litle sense. She doesn't regret killing him so why did Amy's spell go that route?. (also the morality debate of S6 wasn't that well recieved, especially since it was so soon after someone te fans grew atached to just got killed). Her feelings for losing Tara aren't really explored, the writers seem to fixate on her magical fallout now. She ends the episode still wanting Tara back, so why would thevery thing that transformed her turn her back to normal?

Perhaps if they had done it like Willow commits to controlling her magic in honour of Tara it would have been better, but both Tara, and magical control aren't resovled. It does not close the Willow/Tara chapter at all.

Also I believe it was Cynthea who said one of her biggest problems with Dawn at the start was she was just inserted to the group. Kennedy has the same problem, she's in every episode since her first appearence. Her behaviour is far from endearing, and it's constantly there. Jenny, Oz, Riley, Spike, Anya and even Cordy and Angel were slowly phased into being constantly with the gang, but someone with no deph as a character, and her relationship with Willow makes no sense, Kennedy just doesn't work.

Dusk said...

Also people looking for Cordy answers wil get them...the quality of those answers is debatable.

Also Willow has more chemestry with Fred then Kennedy.

Alyson and Alexis were engaged at the time of that episode, am I correct?

"You think I'm evil if I take a bunch of girls out camping in the dersert and *don't* touch them?!?"

The Question Mark said...

My favourite quote of the week: Willow attempting to boost Buffy's confidence by calling her "a frisky vixen".

The Buffster is certainly building up a pretty cool team to take on the First.
In my fanboy dreams, though, Buffy would decide she needs all the help she can get and calls Angel & his team of do-gooders to come even the odds! How kick-ass would that have been?! I'd love to see Buffy and Cordelia take a few jabs at one another again, or see Giles and Wesley catch up on old times. Not to mention the sheer awesomeness that would be a conversation between Anya and Lorne :D

Speaking of Angel, the show's been taking a lot of interesting twists lately. I find myself missing Wolfram & Hart's dastardly ways. Now that they killed off both Gavin & Lilah, it feels like something's missing. But I suppose it's all well and good, as long as someone kills Connor soon.
Seriously, if you combined Episode I Anakin Skywalker, Dawn Summers circa Season 6, Robin from "Batman & Robin", and Snarf from Thundercats, together they would STILL pale in comparison to the whiny, annoying mightiness that is Connor. I can't wait till he leaves the demon-hunting world behind to become a Madison Avenue ad man. At least his whining on THAT show is a bit quieter. :P

The Question Mark said...

Oh, and a question out there for any re-watchers:

Are we going to get an explanation as to why/how Lorne incorrectly read Angelus and thought Angel's soul had returned?

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Spike's "ow, ow" - what William said when Dru bit him.

Don't get me started on Kennedy. Though I did once sit with Iyari and watch her eat a bowl of ice cream bigger than she is an complain about how much weight she'd gained since Buffy. Yeah, right.

Unlike Dusk, Killer In Me is my favourite of this group. I think both Alyson and Adam are outstanding. Though it's a bit ironic that when she momentarily gives up on Tara she turns into Tara's boyfriend (okay, Amber's.)

Robson looks very dead - in fact, he did when Giles arrived. I thought he was the First, at first. That whole thing could have been much better directed.

Hey, the lead witch is Hyde's sister from That 70's show.

I love the use of practical light in the initiative - they often did that on Firefly - built the lights into the set. Flashlights are a step further.

Riley calls Spike assface? Pot, kettle....

When Kennedy beamed to the backyard, all I could think of was "Ziggy, centre me on Willow."

Giles comes off as a doofus when he talks to Chao Ahn. He should get Dawn to help - she's great with languages.

The girls didn't know Spike had a chip - but they still trusted him enough to train with him.

Giles wanted Buffy to find her own way in life - then gets angry with her when she does.

Xander was right - that's rope for tying people up. Ashanti was in Bride and Prejudice, which isn't quite Bollywood but I still think it's cool.

Buffy says that people think she's "still in love with Spike." Since she always denied she ever was, who is she fooling?

Were the vampires near the restaurant the dancers from OMWF?

How can a restaurant in a dark alley do any kind of decent business in Sunnydale?

Doesn't Robin NOT see Spike in the rear view mirror?

So a few drops of Xander's blood can open the seal, but all of Jonathan's can't?

I think Andrew spends a lot of time mentally undressing Scott Bakula.

Anya is again trying to hook up with Spike - she spent most of her existence defining herself by taking vengeance on men, and as a human in relationship with them.

You'd think if Robin were raised by a Watcher he'd have a little more reaction to the council going kablooey.

"Bring it On" - Eliza and Clare's movie.

Xander says "Fonzie bear" - I guess that's the Muppet in the leather jacket.

I think the shadow puppets are the best part of the episode.

So, Slayers get their power from demon rape, forced by misogynistic men. Girl power, rah.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Are we going to get an explanation as to why/how Lorne incorrectly read Angelus and thought Angel's soul had returned?


The Question Mark said...

Thanks, colleen/redeem147! :)

Christina B said...

In last week's comments, I said I liked Kennedy...and I did!
But holy cow, did that change fast!
She was at least a little bit nicein the last three episodes. Now, she's just a mean, nasty...b-word! (Can I say the b-word here? Ha!)

These three episodes didn't really knock my socks off or anything. They had their funny moments, but I don't really have anything to add about them.

Now Angel, on the other hand...Talk about a rollercoaster!

I literally facepalmed at the reveal at the end of Salvage.
Really? THAT's where they're going this season? UGH.

And then there was Orpheus...FINALLY! Easily the BEST episode of the season so far.
You know I'm a big fan of the flashback episodes, Faith was tolerable...even almost likeable...and it was wonderful to see Willow with the LA crew.

It almost made me forget the horrible pregnancy plot. Almost. ;)

Efthymia said...

"The Killer In Me":

I don't know why I find the "Who you gonna call" so funny everytime, but I do.

I, too, have issues with Willow falling for her, primarily because she's so obnoxious, but also because it feels a bit soon (of course, I thankfully have no idea how long it takes to get over your murdered partner, but 6 months-ish doesn't feel long enough. Especially if the person you're moving on to is Kennedy). It smells of "Let's show the LGBT people who protested when Tara died that Willow is still a nice lesbian". Actually, I feel the introduction of Kennedy hurts more the LGBT people's image than the murder of Tara. But maybe that's just me.

Andrew keeps getting funnier. The moments he's on screen are usually the highlights in these episodes for me.

I also have to quote "You think I'm evil if I bring a group of girls on a camping trip and DON'T touch them?", because it's so great! =)

You see "The Witch" in Season 1 and there's no way to predict that Amy will become... this.

I remembered liking this episode less (because I only remembered the Willow parts -like I said, I have serious memory issues with this season), but I still wouldn't call myself a fan.

"First Date":

Xander: "I'll just ask a random girl on a date completely randomly because we need over 40 minutes of episode and the writers have run out of ideas."

"Get It Done":

The First Slayer sure is scary!

'guestage'! :)
I can't believe how adorable I find Andrew!

Buffy has often forgotten to show appreciation to her friends through all seasons, but this tops everything! She's annoying and ungrateful on a Harry-Potter-in-"Order of the Phoenix" level -and maybe even worse!

@Question Mark: I would also have loved a reunion, and especially Cordelia and Angel deserved to be in the final BtVS fight. Different networks be damned!
And, come on, Snarf?! No one in Thundercats was lamer than Lion-O.

Marebabe said...

It has been moved (Question Mark) and seconded (Efthymia) that the Angel gang should’ve joined forces with the Buffy gang for the finale-to-end-all-finales. All in favor, signify by sighing wistfully and wishing that the Powers had seen fit to do it that way. * s i g h *

Quarks said...

In my opinion this is probably the weakest week of Season 7 episodes. I think what Giles says at the end of ‘First Date’ is one of the main problems I have with this season. He basically says that it is time to stop having fun and making jokes and that they need to get serious. The thing is, ‘Buffy’ has always been able to combine humour with the serious drama that’s going on, so I feel that when it becomes too serious and starts to weigh heavily on the plot side at, arguably at the expense of some of the humour and the character development, it causes the series to lose something. That’s not to say that there isn’t humour in the show any more (generally in the scenes with just the Scoobies or Andrew), or character development, but I feel you have to look harder to find it.

‘The Killer in Me’ is probably the best of the bunch for me this week. It’s nice to have Willow at the forefront of the plot, as she has kind of been in the background since ‘Conversation with Dead People’ or arguably before. And, once again, Alyson Hannigan’s acting is first class, especially in the scene at the end of the episode, which also has some great dialogue. The backstories are also relatively interesting and, avoiding one of my problems was with ‘Sleeper’, they break up the main plot of the episode.

There are, however, a couple of things which I don’t like about this episode. The main one is that I don’t really understand the ending. I understand that the spell activated because Willow felt like she had let Tara die in her heart when she had stopped mourning her for a split second. And I understand that the spell turned her into Warren because that would be her greatest punishment (although it’s never clear whether that is because he killed Tara or because she killed him). I even roughly understand why the spell might have ended when Kennedy kissed Willow again, in that perhaps the spell ends when the initial cause happens again. What I don’t understand is how kissing Kennedy again resolves any of the emotional issues that Willow has surrounding Tara’s death, and they are never touched on again. Willow feels that she is letting Tara go when she stops mourning her for a second by kissing Kennedy, and she doesn’t want to move on from Tara because she loves her, so how does kissing Kennedy again change any of that? Sometimes ‘Buffy’ is good at showing what is going on in a character’s mind without having to say it explicitly, but this time it feels that we don’t even get a clue.

Another big topic for discussion about this episode, it seems, is Kennedy. I never have any real problems with Kennedy as a character, per se, I think up to this point at least she is one of the less annoying potentials who isn’t constantly berating Buffy for not knowing what she’s doing (*cough*Rona*cough*), but I really don’t like her relationship with Willow. I think we would have a hard time accepting anybody with Willow after Tara, but especially somebody so different and especially so soon. It hasn’t even been a year since Tara’s death, and even though they try to sort of deal with it in ‘The Killer in Me’ I find it hard to believe that Willow would move on that fast. I mean, Xander and Anya haven’t really moved on from what happened with them and neither of them died, and I would think that Willow would be reluctant to start a relationship at this point in time, when it is entirely possible that Kennedy could die soon, knowing how much it hurt when her last girlfriend was killed. Also, as has been mentioned, I find it hard to believe that Willow would change the type of person who she dates so drastically, as Kennedy is so different from Oz and Tara, and from Willow herself. Finally, it really doesn’t say much for Willow and Kennedy’s relationship if Willow is flirting with Fred a few weeks after they get together.

Quarks said...

Buffy and the gang are about to go to war with the ultimate evil, loads of soldiers seem to have come to Sunnydale to deal with Spike’s chip, and Buffy doesn’t think to ask for any help in the battle? Or even any weapons? I know Buffy has a thing against guns, but Potentials are dying left, right and centre. Surely they could use some help?

I was probably being a bit stupid, but it never occurred to me that Giles could have been the First until this episode. I just assumed that Giles being attacked in ‘Sleeper’ (?) was going to come back later or was a plot that had been forgotten about. Of course, I watched it all on DVD, so I didn’t have weeks to think about it between these episodes.

‘First Date’ really isn’t anything special in my opinion. It’s mildly entertaining at points when it feels like early ‘Buffy’, such as in the moments Nikki mentioned, but overall it doesn’t do anything for me. The Xander plot seems to come out of nowhere and not go anywhere and the same is true for the Andrew and the First plot. Principal Wood’s history is mildly interesting, but again I find that I don’t really care about it.

‘Get it Done’ is probably my least favourite episode this week, it’s one which I dislike as where ‘First Date’ I’m just uninterested in. The main reason for that is that Buffy is acting like a real bitca in this episode. Her ‘Everybody Sucks But Me’ speech is in my opinion, one of her worst moments in the series.

To an extent I can understand why she says what she says to the Potentials. She knows that the battle is going to be tough and that they aren’t ready to face the First. But, from what we see at the beginning of this episode, they seem to be progressing relatively well and doing all that they can. And, really, as Buffy is their leader it follows that if their training isn’t progressing fast enough it is her fault more than it is theirs. Having said that, most of the Potentials are very annoying so I don’t really have a problem with her putting them in their place.

However, what I have a real problem with is the way she is treating the Scoobies. They’ve been with her through thick and thin, and Buffy would be dead at least twice over if it wasn't for them. Furthermore, everything which they do is out of choice, not because it is their destiny. Willow and Xander and Dawn and the others could leave whenever they wanted and the First wouldn’t come after them. Instead they stay and fight because it is the right thing to do. And often they make quite important contributions. So it frustrates me when Buffy acts as though they are just a burden to her, especially when she is offered the power needed to beat the First and turns it down because she doesn't want to risk becoming less human, despite having complained because Willow and Spike wouldn’t use their full strength for the same reason.

We meet Chao-Ahn this week, who is a Chinese Potential Slayer, and it got me thinking: why aren’t there more international Slayers? The majority of the ones we’ve seen are American, with a couple who are British. China and India are the most populated countries in the world, so why aren’t there more Indian and Chinese Potentials? Or Australians? Or Russians? etc.
Dawn has some serious language skills. She taught herself Ancient Sumerian in, what, a day?

Overall, personally I don’t find this a particularly good week of episodes. Next week, in my opinion, things start to pick up as we start to get near to the finale.

Quarks said...

For the first time this week I did actually watch the ‘Angel’ episodes as well as the ‘Buffy’ ones, as these are some of my favourite ‘Angel’ episodes in this season, especially ‘Orpheus’. In terms of this season so far, I don’t particularly dislike the Beast plotline, although the Connor and Cordy plot is seriously ‘icky’. I wish I could say that this week is the turning point for the rest of the season, but instead I’ll just savour the moment and remind everyone that Season 5 is one of the best seasons of any show I’ve ever seen.

One of the main reasons I like the episodes this week is because of Faith’s return. I wouldn’t say that Faith is one of my all-time favourite characters in either show, but she does bring a certain degree of humour into the show upon her return here, and it’s nice to see someone who can put Connor in his place. Also, one of the big themes on ‘Angel’ is redemption, so it’s appropriate that much of Faith’s character development happens on this show.

Another great thing about this week’s episodes is Willow’s appearance. I have to say, I enjoyed seeing Willow in ‘Orpheus’ more than I have in ‘Buffy’ for a while. Although I love Willow, I think in ‘Buffy’ she has been hitting the same note for a lot of this season (i.e. needing to do magic but being too afraid to do so) so it is good to see her here being relatively important but without that issue being at the forefront.

I have one slight complaint about ‘Salvage’. In prison we see Faith is attacked by an inmate using a Bringer’s knife, who says she needs the money. Are we supposed to believe that the First Evil is subcontracting the assassination of one of the two real Slayers to a prison inmate? Surely it could come up with a more reliable way, like sending the Bringers in, or trying to get Faith to kill herself, or appearing to somebody in the prison to scare them into killing Faith, instead of paying someone.

The plot of having Faith inject herself with some kind of drug was quite clever in order to knock out Angelus when he drank from her was quite clever, I thought.

I really enjoyed Angel’s ‘This is Your Life’ with Faith. Some of it was hilarious (Angel saved a puppy!) and it also gave some character development to both Angel and Faith (and Angelus). I also loved the fight between Angel and Angelus at the end, especially as Angel and Faith were having a conversation at the same time (“Anybody notice a battle with your alter-ego going on here?”).

Overall, it was a good week of ‘Angel’ episodes this week. I probably won’t bother rewatching the rest of Season 4, except maybe the finale, but once Season 5 is on I’ll get back to watching every week as, and I’ve said this many times before, it is one of my favourite seasons of all time.

Christina B said...

@Quarks, thanks for your comments about Angel this week. That definitely gives me hope for season 5!

Suzanne said...

I liked many aspects of this week's stories a lot, but I continue to have a feeling that Season 7 just doesn't hold up to past seasons for some reason. This week had some great moments, though.

The episode with the story of the first slayer's origin (First Date ?) was very interesting to me this time and the first time around. I really liked the scene with the shadow figures and the way that the Buffy handles the situation with the Tribal leaders. The origins of the First Slayer fit in very well with the overall theme of the series and with past storylines, especially those dealing with the Watcher's Council, most notable Helpless. The actions of the Watcher's in that episode really resemble the actions of the Tribal leaders here very well.

I also noticed that the black smoke representing the demon was a lot like the Man in Black from Lost just like First is reminiscent of him in the way that the First can inhabit dead people's appearances. I noticed some of this while watching Lost's last season, but it really came through even more noticebly during this rewatch of Buffy.

The humor in Buffy is my favorite part of the show by far, especially the way it is always woven into most episodes even those that are fairly serious. I haven't felt that Season 7 has been as strong in this department, which is why I really enjoyed First Date. The non-stop humourous lines from several characters was great, and it felt like the Buffy of old to me in many ways even though I wasn't crazy about Xander's date (never knew she was a celeb and still couldn't place her). I adore the scenes with Buffy and Willow talking for instance and the way they relate to one another. I always miss these scenes in many of the episodes from later seasons, so it is so refreshing when we get them. As a result, for the first time ever I rolled my eyes and tisked Giles for putting a stop to the hilarity in First date when he chastised the group for not being serious enough in the face of the First Evil. He is right that they are facing someting really grave, but then again, when haven't they? How many end of the world scenarious have they faced in the past, and they have always been able to do so with humor. This is my problem with Buffy's sudden change into a drill sergeant role, too. She has faced some extremely serious situations before (look at Glory), and yet, she never turned militaristic on her group. I chalk this up to weaker writing this season. To sum up, I think the final season might have been stronger with more of the humor woven throughout each episode as it always had done in the past.

My last comment is that I absolutely despise Kennedy beyond reason! Why does she have to be in every darn scene, standing there as if she is a Scooby. She ain't no Scooby and never will be!

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I didn't want to see the Angel gang on Buffy. They were two different shows and the characters were played differently on them. Besides, they had enough to worry about in LA.

But it wouldn't have happened anyway. There was finagling to get Willow on Angel - they were two different networks.

The Question Mark said...

@ EFTHYMIA: Yeah, Lion-o did get pretty annoying, yelling "Thunder, THUNDER" over and over and over again. And, like Connor, Lion-O got old pretty darn quick while everyone else around him didn't age a bit.

Hmmm...does this mean that the Master who's impersonaing Coredlia is...Mumm-Ra?! Oh, snap, now THAT would be a hell of a crossover!

Blam said...

I think that my favorite thing about this trio of episodes is the return of Giles's drawings — one of the best parts of the awesomeness that is "Hush".

Nikki: Once again, Jane Espenson proves why she’s one of my favourite writers on television.

Amen, sister!

Marebabe: Everyone with that book KNOWS that Spike is eventually gonna show up in Los Angeles.

Unless, y'know, Angel's next season doesn't actually take place following the events of this season of Buffy — or in the same reality. I'm just sayin'. 8^)

Marebabe: And Fred and Willow “yammering” together was way cuter than that puppy.

So true.

The Question Mark: But I suppose it's all well and good, as long as someone kills Connor soon.


Colleen: Giles comes off as a doofus when he talks to Chao Ahn. He should get Dawn to help - she's great with languages.

Or Spike, if you really are what you eat...

Blam said...

Colleen: Buffy says that people think she's "still in love with Spike."

Yeah, I hadn't remembered and was surprised by that line — given that it more than implies, syntactically, that she had been in love with him, which isn't something we've ever heard her say.

Colleen: How can a restaurant in a dark alley do any kind of decent business in Sunnydale?

How can they have been walking so long through the center of town in li'l old Sunnydale and not gotten there sooner? How can Patrol Girl not have known it was there? I'm beginning to think that the Hellmouth changes the size and topography of Sunnydale just it like does with the high school's basement.

Quarks: What I don’t understand is how kissing Kennedy again resolves any of the emotional issues that Willow has surrounding Tara’s death

It really doesn't make sense. Like you say, one kind-of has to hang their hat on Kennedy's kiss undoing the spell because it brought it about in the first place — as just an act, somewhat devoid of meaning — and take it on faith that Willow has resolved the issues that let Amy's spell be triggered. Somewhere in there is the sense that Willow did need to move on, to let Tara go, and to be okay with letting her go, but that didn't come through properly (no fault of Alyson Hannigan's). Even apart from how fans may feel about Kennedy being too soon or too different from Tara — or just "too Kennedy" — the way it's presented it's rather odd. The spell coming on because Willow has guilt over not being faithful to Tara's memory, that she's letting her go too quickly, fine; and the spell being overcome because Willow accepted that Tara will always be a part of her but that it's time to release her in a way, fine; both, however, don't compute together the way the episode came across.

Quarks: Buffy and the gang are about to go to war with the ultimate evil, loads of soldiers seem to have come to Sunnydale to deal with Spike’s chip, and Buffy doesn’t think to ask for any help in the battle?

I'm not sure why that didn't even register with me, but, yeah, duh. There's a whole host of other characters, both seen previously in the series and simply presumed (like, given the proliferation of vampires and other demons throughout the world, the other "champions" [in Angel terminology] who must exist to battle them), who should be converging on Sunnydale to battle the First. But aside from the Bringers killing off Potential Slayers and the First arranging for the Watchers' Council to go boom, there's no good in-script reason that they don't. It's just that they're either tied to another series on another network or the writers simply chose to not show or even explain away other allies, just as they've tended to ignore the ramifications of things beyond the borders of Sunnydale in general all series long.

VW: pumince — Finely chopped cougar. Mmm!

Blam said...

Actually, I take back that line about Giles' drawings being my favorite part of these episodes. I watched ahead, to see Willow appear on Angel in the proper order, and forgot that the shadowcasters appeared this week. I'd forgotten about them until the moment that Buffy opened that lock on the thing in Robin's momma's bag, and then suddenly had a wave of memory about how cool the scene was. Them Buffy folks can still surprise with the nifty, even in a final season that suffered from being the final season without more Joss Whedon involvement.

Blam's thoughts of the day:

The Shadow Men don't quite make sense, by the way. I mean, the First Slayer still appears as she did before, all aboriginal-like, and we're told that her creation dates to a time long ago, before history was really recorded (except, I guess, in mystical artifacts like this), yet the Shadow Men have trimmed facial hair and fairly ornate dress that doesn't really date them to circa Just As Humanity Rose Upon the Earth.

So if Willow had actually fired the gun and killed her new gal-pal, would you have blamed Willow or Warren or Amy or some combination thereof? 'Cause whenever a Kennedy gets shot, there's bound to be a conspiracy theory.

I love that Spike looks like so much more like Billy Idol with his vamp face on.

Blam said...

A few random comments about this week on Angel:

Con-nor li-ikes Fai-aith...

Did anyone think that we were maybe getting Angel's version of "Conversations with Dead People" when Wesley began talking to — and with — Lilah in "Salvage"?

Faith has a habit of showing up in other people's unconscious minds.

Now for an edition of making with the quotey that's not as long here as it is in my notes since so many great lines have already been repeated...

Buffy 7.13 "The Killer in Me"

Spike: "Who you gonna call?" [Buffy looks at him funny.] "God, that phrase is never gonna be useable again, is it."

Buffy 7.14 "First Date"

Buffy: "Or maybe he knows that I suspect he's up to something, and he's taking me out to kill me."
Willow: "Well, you'll have to dress for the ambiguity."

Anya: "Observe my bitter ranting... Hear the shrill edge of hysteria in my voice!"

Andrew: "What do you want from me, Jonathan slash The First?"

Jonathan / The First: "Did you find the gun?"
Andrew: "Yes, uh... It was in Buffy's underwear drawer. She has nice things."
Jonathan / The First: "Show me."
Andrew: "Well, I didn't take any of them, but there were thongs, regular underwear..."
Jonathan / The First: "Show me the gun."

Buffy 7.15 "Get It Done"

Buffy: "The hellmouth has begun its semi-annual percolation. Usually it blows around May." [Just in time for the season finales!]

Wood: "So you hold him here against his will?"
Buffy: "Well, he was evil, and, y'know, people got killed, and now he... bakes."

Dawn: "Are you injured?"
Kennedy: "Just hurt."
[Uh... Somebody clue Kennedy into what synonyms are.]

Angel 4.13 "Salvage"

Broken-Horned Demon: "Couldja sign a little something for my hellspawn?"

Angel 4.14 "Release"

Fred: "I am so, so sorry."
Lorne: "Go on. It's the first good nap I've had since the apocalypse started."

Angel 4.15 "Orpheus"

Faith: "Dude. You just rescued a puppy."

Willow: "Hi. You must be Angel's handsome yet androgynous son."

Willow: "How've y'been?"
Cordelia: "Higher power. You?"
Willow: "Ultimate evil. But... I got better."
Cordelia: "You heard about Faith?"
Willow: "Coma again."

Wesley: "I never... flayed. I had a woman chained in a closet —"
Willow: "Oh, well, hey."
Wesley: "No. It doesn't compare."

VW: psitin — A non-violent protest held by espers.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Maybe, since the spell was self-imposed by guilt, Willow's kissing Kennedy the second time, deliberately, means she's made peace with Tara's death and is ready to move on, knowing that a part of her will always be with her.

Quarks said...

@Colleen/redeem147: Perhaps, but my problem is that if that is the case it's not made very clear by the episode. Although what you've said is a reasonable conclusion, there is little 'evidence' for it within the show, and I would have liked a little more explanation about how/why Kennedy's kiss instantaneously fixed Willow's issues surrounding Tara's death. It didn't necessary need to be at the end of 'The Killer in Me', but some kind of acknowledgement about what had happened in Willow's head to 'fix' those issues would have been nice, instead of the series just moving on from it as though it had never happened.

JavaChick said...

I don't have much new to add but I'm going to say it anyway. :)

"Bidet of evil." Ha!

I don't like Kennedy. I don't like Kennedy and Willow together. They don't suit and it's way too soon. Also, for me, that whole flirty conversation in the Bronze just feels awkward. And I agree - why is Kennedy suddenly in on all the Scooby meetings?

In the Buffyverse that lives on in my mind, Willow and Oz get back together and Kennedy is nowhere to be seen.

I have a hard time with Buffy's whole 'Chole was an idiot. You're all useless' speech. Knowing what's coming, I understand they were trying to set things up for specific outcome, but it doesn't ring true for me.

A shame. There is a lot of good stuff in season 7 but it's hard not to cringe at the not-so-good stuff.

Suzanne said...

I agree - I always wanted Willow and Oz to run into each other again like Willow predicted they would in their last scene together. It doesn't seem right that they didn't. And I also feel like Buffy just doesn't seem right at times this season. Not like in Season 6 where I thought the difference was well justified and seemed natural given the storyline. Here it often seems like bad writing.