Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 23

4.7 The Initiative
4.8 Pangs
4.9 Something Blue

Read along in Bite Me! pp. 222-226.

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

1.7 The Bachelor Party
1.8 I Will Remember You (♥♥♥)
1.9 Hero (sob)

Read along in Once Bitten, pp. 118-124.

Before I get started I wanted to mention that if you're in the Chicago area on June 25th, you could stop in to the annual Slay-a-thon Whedonverse fundraiser, with all money raised going to the Children's Make-a-Wish foundation. You can find more information about the event here.

A brilliant week in the rewatch for both Buffy and Angel, this is where the underlying arc of season 4 is revealed – the Initiative are a bunch of army guys relying on government weaponry over folklore and books to catch the bad guys so they can study them, not slay them. They use the university as their cover, with the leader actually teaching the first-year psychology course. Yeah… my least favourite of the season-long arcs.

Now, as this week’s guest host will reiterate below, S4 is much more fun to watch the second time through, when you’re already aware of the disappointment that the arc will bring and instead you can look at the upside to it all (plus, I'm playing it down so the first-time watchers can go into it not expecting much and be pleasantly surprised). See, The X-Files did it better. MUCH better. It was about government ops and supernatural beings and army guys acting like civilians… Buffy is a show that’s always been about folklore and fantasy and books, and it has a fairy-tale-like quality to it, and the Initiative just… didn’t work. On a rewatch, it’s more fun to watch because you know what to expect and you can just sit back and enjoy the one-off episodes (and honestly, despite “The Initiative” being the disappointing reveal, it’s actually a great episode filled with excellent dialogue and situations).

No, I don’t like Riley. But I mind him less on a rewatch. (I said, I mind him less… do I like him yet? NO.) That… hair. And that good gosh golly I’m just a good ol’ boy from the midwest loserness is just too much. You can tell they were going for an actor who looked similar to David Boreanaz, right down to the large Cro-Magnon-like forehead. Big guy, broad shoulders, wants to protect Buffy, etc. But they needed to contrast him with Angel and Angelus’s dark past by presenting us with this super nice guy who just wants to “court” Buffy (really, Riley? “Court”?? I mean, COME ON, Angel lived in a time when they actually said that… and he doesn’t say that…) But in the end Riley’s just Angel-lite. He doesn’t work. At the time, when the season first aired, fans tired of him instantly, there was a backlash against him, the Initiative storyline, and a lot of the fourth season… so now, watch as things switch gears quickly as Joss & Co. realize this arc just ain’t gonna work, and they move to standalone episodes just to get us through the season in the best way possible. At the time, when it was first airing, I remember thinking it was a great idea, because it made sense that if the Mayor and police department knew what was going on, wouldn't the government know, too? But I'll say no more, and we'll just watch it play out and I'll see what everyone thinks. As I said, every time I watch this season I like it more and more. And the worst season of Buffy is better than yadda yadda yadda...

Maggie Walsh is rather loathsome, Riley is milquetoast, the other commandos are annoying and stereotypically macho, but you can easily overlook all of that (and what they’re ultimately doing) by looking at the best parts of season 4: Anya, Xander & Giles (more scenes with these two, please!), the friendship between Willow and Buffy. All of the original elements are still there, and these characters are still so fantastic. And I have to mention Spike, who becomes a series regular with these episodes and really shines as the new fan fave throughout the series. He's hilarious, he's insightful, and he fills the void left by both Angel and Cordelia, always arguing with everyone else will still managing to be the vampire with the dark past. He's brilliant, and the best part of S4.

“Pangs” is one of my favourite Buffy episodes of all time, written by the inimitable Jane Espenson. While Buffy prepares for her yam sham, Xander’s penis gets diseases from a Chumash tribe. Rhonda Wilcox gave an interesting paper on “Pangs” at Slayage 4, where she talked about the shifts in dialogue in each scene, but also talked about how many people discounted this episode because it fell on the side of the conquerers… others discounted it because it said it was an apologist episode on the side of the natives. (Then she quoted my book where I said I felt the episode presents both sides and lets us make the decision.) Angel is here because in the previous episode of his show, his associate had a vision that Buffy was in trouble. This episode concludes over on Angel, and even if you’re not watching that show, I beg you to go watch “I Will Remember You.” If you’re a fan of the Buffy/Angel relationship, it’s one of the best centric episodes of that relationship on either show.

“Something Blue” marks the return of writer Tracey Forbes, who wrote “Beer Bad.” This episode makes up for the mess she created in the other one, but I’ve noticed that her specialty was to take the characters and make them act completely unlike themselves. In these two, and the next one she’ll write, Buffy is unrecognizable, like the writer had never seen an ep of the show and had no idea what her normal behaviour would be. And I hate the “beer is BAD, Willow… BAD!” reiteration of the didacticism of that earlier episode at the beginning.

But there, I got my nitpicks out of the way, and “Something Blue” is actually a very funny episode, but also mixed with a lot of pain. More Willow tears (seriously… can’t… handle… those) and we see the pain that Willow goes through when she realizes once and for all that Oz is not coming back and she must stop kidding herself that he is.

• “The girl’s so hot… she’s buffy.”
• “There’s something a bit off about her.” “Maybe she’s Canadian.”
• The look on Xander’s face when Buffy says she needs to find something slutty to wear.
• Spike: “I always wondered what would happen when that bitch got some funding.”
• Giles going ghetto at Xander’s. “Is it… raspberry… fruit punch??”
• Xander’s army monologue in the bush, and Giles’s “Oh SHUT UP.”
• Willow: “If you hurt her I will beat you to death with a shovel. A fake disclaimer is nobody’s friend.”
• The Harmony/Xander epic bitch slap fight!!!!! This might be my favourite moment of season 4. I laugh my head off every time! For anyone who was at Slayage 4, I’ll let you in on a secret: The Pateman/Stafford debate was originally going to end with a Harmony/Xander bitch slap remake, but because we were on opposite sides of the Atlantic, we simply couldn’t practise it and figured we’d never pull it off. So… it was excised and we just disagreed a lot instead.
• The entirety of the scenes between Willow and Spike. BRILLIANT. They liken his inability to perform to erectile dysfunction. “Maybe you were too nervous.” The references back to what Willow was wearing in “Lover’s Walk” in season 3 are perfect, and I love that Willow even encourages him to wait a bit and maybe they can try again, while Spike encourages her that she’s actually very biteable indeed. SO brilliant.
• “Pangs”: Willow mumbling through Angel’s hand that he’s bad again.
• Willow: “Hey, is Cordelia really working for you? Cause that’s got to be a… special experience.”
• All the British jokes in the ep. Giles: “I’m still trying to stop referring to you lot as ‘bloody colonials.’”
• “Spike had a little trip to the vet and now he doesn’t chase the other puppies anymore.”
• Spike: “Caesar didn’t say, ‘I came, I conquered… I feel really bad about it.’”
• Angel: “I’m not evil, why does everyone keep thinking that?!”
• Willow, Xander, Anya, riding in like cowboys on bicycles.
• Spike getting skewered like a vampiric Saint Sebastian.
• Spike: “A bear! You made a bear! Undo it! Undo it!” For me, the “Did I get it? Did I get it?” of season 4. I LOVE this line.
• Something Blue: Spike complaining that he’s missing “Passions” while sitting in the bathtub.
• Giles’s utter disgust at Buffy and Spike making googly eyes at each other.
• Buffy attempting to explain her impending nuptials to Riley. “He’s really old… well… not as old as my last boyfriend!”
• Blind Giles: “Stop that right now! I can hear the smacking!”
• Buffy: “Honey, we’ve got to talk about the invitations. Now, do you want to be William the Bloody or just Spike? Either way it’s gonna look majorly weird.” “Whereas the name Buffy gives it that touch of classical elegance.”
• Buffy post-spell: “Spike lips! Lips of Spike!! Pah!!”
• Buffy: “You’re a pig, Spike.” Spike: “Yeah, but I’m not the one who wanted ‘Wind Beneath my Wings’ as our first dance at the wedding!”

Did You Notice?
• When Spike’s looking through the dorm list, it’s not in alphabetical order: Lisa Rosenberg follows Willow.
• Still sweaty from the fight, Riley stands before Walsh to defend his report. Um… did he write it in the walk back over to headquarters??
• In case you missed it, go and watch the final five seconds of “Pangs” and watch the look on Spike’s face when you have the Buffy POV looking down the table. It’s hysterical.
• When Season 2 first aired, many fans didn’t like Angel and instead talked about how Buffy should set her sights on Spike instead. This episode was a wish fulfillment episode for those fans who just wanted to see what it would look like if Buffy and Spike ever hooked up.
• For some reason Xander’s mother in these episode is entirely unlike the mom we’ve gotten to know… the one who lets him sleep outside on Christmas because of the drunken arguments she has with Xander’s dad, the one who forces him into the basement and makes him pay rent, the one who doesn’t give him the time of day half the time or notice he exists. Suddenly she’s making fruit punch and fruit roll-ups for his friends.

And now on to this week's guest host, the return of Michael Holland! We last heard from him in The Zeppo week, and he entertained us with his perspective on that week's episodes. Now he's back to discuss this excellent group of eps. As always, if you see a large white space, highlight it to see the spoilers underneath... but only if this is a REwatch and not a first watch for you.


I promised Nikki I’d keep this brief.

My last entry – The Zeppo, Bad Girls and Consequences – ran nearly 6,000 words, longer than most, but she was kind enough to post as-is, and I do thank her for that. It didn’t feel long (to me, hope you agree), but I did promise to keep this one around 1,500.

I went back and looked at that first entry. Yikes, the Zeppo part alone ran more than 1,500 words! Had I once again bitten off more than I could chew? I have to admit, I was nervous trying to cram so much fun into so few words. (So why, you must be thinking, am I wasting so many with this drivel? Well …) Buffy’s a lot of fun. More than anything else, it’s great fun, and we as fans get to enjoy it over and over again (without it ever feeling old; probably the great compliment to Whedon & Co).

I started watching from the very first ep, and by Season 2 my then-wife and I hosted every Tuesday night so friends could watch together. (I actually miss yelling “It’s on!” when commercials ended, but I wax lyrical on that in a Dollhouse article I did.) I’ve always been a “more the merrier” kind of guy, but those get-togethers (especially by Season 4 when, along with Angel, it became a two-hour event) greeeeew; so much so that a couple people started staying home to watch because our viewings were getting too rowdy. “I can’t hear!” “Wait, what just happened?” (And we couldn’t TiVO back.) To that end, my dear friend Andy Gattuso wrote up this (I kid you not, it was taped to the outside of the front door every Tuesday night) --

Frankly I was surprised I still had it. (And I apologize for its crudeness. I even blocked out a bit. We were twenty-something then; oof, it was back when I still smoked.) Another dear friend of mine, Anne Mialaret, one of the regulars, actually stood out there until the first commercial break. Now that’s a fan! So much so, in fact, that when I couldn’t make it to ComicCon during Buffy Season 3 to have our WB Posters signed, she got two and gave me one.

Now, if you’ve continued reading this far, I know you’re asking, “Why is he wasting all this time on this?” Because the show is fun. Because we as fans enjoy talking about the fun we’ve had watching it as much as the show itself. Because, as consistently good as it is, and the longevity with which it will continue (and not get old), we’ll continue having fun with it. So thanks, Andy and Anne. All fans deserve a few words before we begin.

Speaking of, I better do so. And so, once again, the camera pushes in on me staring wide-eyed at my laptop, furiously typing away and –

Opening Credits.

The Initiative
w Doug Petrie
d James A. Contner

I’ve always thought that Season Four works really well – certainly better – the second time you see it. I remember enjoying it as it aired, but there’s definitely a change in the air. We no longer have The Library as headquarters. Buffy isn’t living at home. Angel is gone. Oz having just left? Everybody’s changing. And, in typical Whedon & Co fashion, the first third of the season are pretty much stand-alones, only teasing with The Big Bad before finally revealing it. We’ve been poked by The Commandos, but now we’re hit with them head on. Not to mention the good-looking All-American who might be a new love interest for Buffy is one of them? Indeed, lots of change in the air.

In fact, Riley is the best example of Season Four working better the second time around. For three years we fell in love with Buffy and Angel right along with them. For my money they’re one of the great storytime romances. I’m getting ahead of myself, but Pangs begins the two-part crossover with the Angel ep I Will Remember You which only solidified their relationship for us long-viewing fans even after he’d left! So, yes, it took a lot of time for me to get on the Riley bandwagon. Years and multiple DVD viewings later. Now I do like him. But then? No, change wasn’t all that comfortable.

Which was most likely Whedon & Co’s plan, and one of the things that I think makes Buffy work through seven seasons. While – as I wrote throughout Zeppo et al – they never wrote against character (key in a good show) they do love to shake things up. And shake things up they do from Initiative forward.

It’s interesting that it rests on Doug Petrie to make the turn. He wrote Bad Girls which is Season 3’s turn, and here he is again, revealing for us The Initiative as Big Bad. And I’m indeed getting ahead of myself here, but David Fury’s The I In Team will reveal Adam, the personification of The Initiative as Big Bad. While I prefer my Big Bads to be a bit more fantastic (a la The Master, Spike/Drusilla/Angel, The Mayor; even Glory and eventually The First), I guess the idea of a Government anti-demon conglomerate was inevitable. Somebody was bound to ask, “Wouldn’t they have a hand in this by now?” After all, we see rumblings of the like as far back as Season 1’s Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight. That Whedon & Co handle it as well as Season 4 plays out – especially considering the Penultimate and then Finale – deserves kudos. Remember, we’re in the change.

w Jane Espenson
d Michael Lange

More so than most of the writers in The Whedonverse, I tend to gravitate toward Ms. Espenson. While Whedon himself hits us with the big eps, Espenson tends to bring the funny, the off-kilter, and I often list more of hers under “personal faves.”

For me, Pangs is bitter-sweet. On the one hand, given as big a Buffy/Angel fan that I am (and I mean that as opposed to Buffy/Riley or Buffy/Spike), I was thrilled to hear we were getting our first crossover (after Angel left to L.A.). Angel’s The Bachelor Party ends with Doyle having a vision of Buffy in danger, Angel returns to Sunnydale here, Buffy visits L.A. in Angel’s I Will Remember You, and it’s capped in Something Blue. I just can’t help but feel that “Angel’s return to Sunnydale” should have been bigger – later in the season? – than for a primarily comedic episode such as this. Though I Will Remember You is anything but comedic, and one of the really great tortured romance episodes of both series. Now, on the other hand, as well as Ms. Espenson handles this episode – especially with the funny – what could have been a monster-of-the-week peppered by Indian-Vs-Native-American soapboxing holds up really well, even after multiple viewings.

The His Girl Friday banter of Giles and Willow arguing over that very “Vs” is really well written, from both sides, and is (almost) as funny as its counterpoint: Buffy just wanting to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner. There are great momens throughout like --

This isn't a Western, Buffy! We're not at Fort Giles,
with the cavalry coming to save us! It's one lonely and
oppressed warrior guy who's just trying to --

-- kill a lot of people?

I didn't say he was right...

Will, you know how bad I feel. This is eating me up --
(to Anya, who holds up the bottle of brandy)
-- a quarter cup, and let it simmer --
(to Willow, as Anya goes back)
-- but even though it's hard, we have to end this. Yes,
he's been wronged, and I personally would be ready to

Oh, someone put a stake in me!

Capitalized by the great end with all of them at the table, even tied-to-the-chair Spike as returned-from-Syphillis Xander, loveable old Xander, blurts out that Angel was there.

Something Blue
w Tracey Forbes
d Nick Marck

As mentioned, this ep caps the big Angel crossover, Buffy mentioning to Willow she only saw him in L.A. for five minutes – yep, sniffle for those of you who know. As I say, I always feel it could have been bigger than Pangs although I Will Remember You works so well that I write it off as “more of the change.” Buffy has to move on, so that her relationship with Riley can evolve. And fair enough. But the biggest change I realized in watching these episodes again (primarily Pangs and Something Blue) is this: this is where we begin to love Spike.

We’ve always loved to hate Spike, but these are the two eps in which Whedon & Co ingratiate him to The Scoobies and, more significantly, to us the audience. Whedon himself says (I’m paraphrasing), “When we lost Cordelia to Angel, we needed someone to fill that saying-what-we’re-all-thinking hole, and Spike does that beautifully.” So he was brought back. Of course, to give him those Cordelia moments, and not have him back just to wage war on Buffy, he had to get into the group, hence the implant (introduced in Pangs), being held at Giles’, and his (still biting but) more comedic handling.

Speaking of the comedy, Ms. Forbes handles it very well here; in most people’s opinion, getting a tabula rasa after her Beer Bad.

Giles is blind?

Xander goes to Giles, waves his hands wildly in front of Giles' face.
Stop whatever you're doing. You smell like fruit roll-ups.

This is the crack team that foils my every plan?

Spike's right. We have to get organized.

Why are you holding hands?

Xander turns, eyes them.
They have to hear it sooner or later...

Spike and I are getting married.

(to Giles)
How? What? How?

Three excellent questions.

Buffy and Spike kiss, big time.
(off this)
Can I be blind too?

As I wrote in The Zeppo how much I love What Ifs, this too has that feel. Some have said this ep feels like Season 1’s Nightmares, specifically in which (in that ep) Giles can no longer read, and everyone faces their own demons, but where I think Whedon & Co get away with it is in playing the comedy instead of rehashing a monster-of-the-week. (A similar argument can be made for Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight Vs Season 6’s Gone.)

And as I have the soft spot for Xander, I have to point out here that he’s the one to figure out what’s going on, underlining just how close he and Willow are (foreshadowing the Season 6 end. Speaking of that, do take note of D’Hoffryn inviting Willow to join his merry men, foreshadowing just how powerful she is, and will become).

All in all, I think these three eps play out quite nicely; as I say, especially in repeated viewings when you’re not just coming off the whirlwind Buffy/Angel storyline and can watch Season 4 for its own merit. I hope you’re enjoying it, and have enjoyed these three eps’ mostly comedic breather. Because what comes next is wonderfully anything but.


Marebabe said...

Near the beginning of “The Initiative”, there was an exchange that I really liked, which I would not necessarily have enjoyed so much were it not for my history with this-here fun-loving group. Riley was talking to a dude whose name I don’t remember.

Riley, talking about Buffy: “There’s definitely something off about her.”
Riley’s pal: “Maybe she’s Canadian.”
Me: LOL !!!! (I wonder what Evil Blam has been up to lately...)

I loved it when Xander and Giles were on patrol together. Xander was providing narration, sort of like live, on-the-spot coverage of a sporting event as he was looking through the binoculars. Giles: “Oh, shut up!” Really, Xander needed to shut up and concentrate, because there’s no telling what might be lurking and/or stalking up on them – vampires, demons, assorted monsters, Evil Blam...

For me, there will never be a more surprising moment than when Spike and Willow had their heart-to-heart talk. In this episode, it even tops the reveal of who, exactly, is in The Initiative. (I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Evil Blam got his start in The Initiative.)

I had never considered the possibility that a round from a flare gun would ricochet, so I was very much surprised by that bouncing flare. I asked my husband about it, and he said that they would indeed ricochet. So, I learned something. Bonus!

The way that Buffy said, “Contain this!” reminded me of Lisa in “Team America” saying, “Terrorize this!”

Marebabe said...

As sometimes happens when I’m watching TV or movies, I might (possibly) get a little drowsy. I think I was starting to fade a little bit while watching “Pangs”, and when that arrow flew in and struck the Pilgrim centerpiece on the table, I JUMPED like it was a real arrow in my living room! A spectacular hallucination, and a major fright! I wasn’t drowsy after that, no sirree!

I think we got all viewpoints regarding the Thanksgiving holiday and the fact that, let’s face it, the West was not won by humanitarians. Being thus reminded of the slaughter of the Native Americans by basically every invading culture over the centuries, I thought again of the irony of this year’s newly issued U.S. Sacagawea dollar. There’s a different design on the reverse of every year’s coin, and the 2011 dollar features two hands clasped in a handshake, and a peace pipe. It’s commemorating a particular treaty, maybe the first one ever, I forget. But I think it must’ve been designed by the Mint’s Department of Irony, because EVERY SINGLE treaty ever drawn up by White Men was, sooner or later, broken. How many was that? Hundreds? Thousands? I don’t have any idea, but it is one of the deeply shameful aspects of American history.

“Something Blue” – I LOVED it! This is now one of my very favorite episodes. I was enjoying it so much, I couldn’t bring myself to keep pausing the DVD to take notes. I just let it roll, and rolled with it. After it was over, I reflected on what I had just seen. My overall impression was satisfaction and a big, goofy grin. To sum it up: Willow has gone way beyond the pencils-spinning-in-the-air stage!

And I’ll just say that, as wonderful as this week’s Angel episodes were, it seems odd that we’re not here to discuss them. Love, love, love!

Dusk said...

I love that sign. Lost fans need it too!

Something that shows the range of this show is how it can go from a rape metaphor in one scene, and an, um, "unable to perform" (that's what the scene is literally called in my DVD),metaphor in the next scene and totally pull it off! I knew Wilow was going to be OK, but that till creeped me out at first, especially since in the commentary they say they wanted you to realy think Willow was going to die.

Poor Xander, he's clearly lost his soilder powers now, but that was one of the best, worst fights ever!

Cool flare fight effects.

"Pangs" balanced out that historical conflict very well for a TV show and using it for some comedy. Loved the faces at the end, and Spike's reaction to the bear.

And "Mmruph, Evil Again!"

I loved Anya's running commentary of watching Xander dig. In a way, she like a perversion of Hurley, no filter between her brain and mouth.

Loved blind Giles reaction to the smaking and his reaction to being asked to give Buffy away. Touching then pissed off.

Name banter! That was golden.

Willow "Speak No Evil shirt at the end was a nice touch.

OK, Riley pretty much had the same reaction to Buffy's comments at the wedding dress store that I would have. I don't hate him, and his annoyances aren't that bad for me.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

Rewatching "The Initiative", I wondered how they knew that Spike was a vampire and therefore tazed him in the first place. He'd only just returned to Sunnydale, and he wasn't vamped out or attacking anyone. Oh well. Rhetorical.

When Riley and his friends were running commentary on Buffy in the cafeteria, one of them said she was "matressable", which reminded me of our LOST "palatable" conversations.

I did not know that Oz's name was Daniel Ozbourne. Haha.

I love when Spike gets out of the underground initiative and sees Buffy for the first time: "Hello, gorgeous."

In "Pangs", I loved Buffy trying to do everything to make the perfect Thanksgiving...totally going over the top and wanting it to be just like ones she had had when she was a kid (BTY, isn't Joyce only 5 miles away???) Then Willow saying, "Yay--and later we can churn butter and make sweaters out of sheep." And later, Willow and Giles arguing about the plight of the Native American: Willow says to Giles: "I happen to think mine is the level head, and yours is the one things would roll off of."

This episode marks the beginning of my personal love affair with Spike. Sigh.

Something Blue: Now that this is a rewatch for me, I truly LOVE this episode. I laughed out loud more during this episode than any I can remember up to this point. There is one coming in season 6, I think, that I can't wait to talk about though. My all time fave laugh out loud. Anyway, back to this episode. All of the quotes I wanted to mention have been mentioned in the excellent blog post, so I won't go there, but I will comment on how studly Xander's flower shirt is. And I adore Anya and Xander together. Anya is probably my second or third favorite Buffy character. Glad she and Spike are here.

Christina B said...

“A bear! You made a bear! Undo it! Undo it!”

I HOWLED at this line. I literally had to pause the DVD because tears were streaming down my face and I couldn't breathe, I was laughing so hard!
Then I watched that bit AGAIN, and laughed just as hard!
Then I read it here...and I started howling AGAIN!
One of the BEST Buffy lines, ever!

Now, onto Angel.

You all told me to stick with it, and I did.
And wow. Wow, did it pay off.

This was my facebook status this afternoon--"I've decided that Joss Whedon is an evil, evil man, putting "Hero" right after "I Will Remember You".
There were tissues EVERYWHERE!
It's GOOD to stay unspoiled...but it almost killed me!"

"I Will Remember You" had me sobbing like a baby.
Poor Angel! Poor Buffy! "I'll never forget! I'll never forget!"

And then...Hero. My GAWD, I was a mess. A sniveling, sloppy, crying mess.
I had NO idea Doyle was going to die, and when he did, I just lost it.

"Is that it? Am I done?"

And then, I got angry! How DARE Joss do that to me?
How DARE Nikki make me watch this KNOWING what happens?! (Hey, I had to blame SOMEONE!) ;)

And then...I watched it again. And I sobbed, again.

And I'm not angry anymore. But I feel like there's a hole in my heart....especially after reading that Glenn Quinn died just a few years later (again, I had NO idea).

These two episodes were even more difficult for me to get through than Buffy's season 2 finale.

PLEASE tell me it's STILL worth watching? Will someone else fill this Doyle-sized hole in my heart?

Joan Crawford said...

For the love of all that is good - I must know what that blocked out bit on the sign said!

Page48 said...

OMG, Christina B, "Angel" is definitely still worth watching. You can't NOT watch it.

Back to Buffy, this week's episodes really ushered in the era of Spike. What a journey this guy takes in the Buffyverse. Watching it a second time is going to be so much fun.

"The Initiative" reminded me of all those organizations on "Alias" (The Covenant, The Alliance, etc...). Harmony and Xander's fight is a thing of beauty. Harmony is so not cut out for vampirism. I have a good deal of sympathy for her.

"Pangs" was not rocking my world until the moment Spike showed up at Giles's door. Welcome home Spike. Nikki mentioned his insight, which is remarkable. Buffy thinks Willow is "dealing" with Oz's absence. It's up to Spike to clue them in on her real emotional frailty. It's obvious to him. And his speech about conquering forces was exceptional. The guy brought some needed backbone to the wishy-washy Thanksgiving gathering. He earned his place at the table for the Yam-Sham (thankfully not the Sham-Wow).

Spike's self-healing red shirt takes about 10 arrow holes in it and looks good as new by the time they sit down for dinner. No wonder he never takes it off.

"Something Blue" had its moments. Amy gets unratted for about 2 seconds and Buffy and Willow don't even notice. Ha!

Seems that the Scoobies are gradually taking a shine to Spike. As Willow sticks a cookie in his mouth, we see that, even though they're still tying him to a chair, they're no longer bothering to restrict his hand movement. The ice is slowly melting.

I wonder if any characters on "Passions" watched BtVS.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I wonder where the story would have gone if Forrest (possibly Parker II) had gone after Buffy instead of Riley.

Last week we had Spike's panther crawl - this week he paces his cage like a wild cat.

It's mentioned in the commentary too, but Willow and Riley have far more chemistry than Buffy and Riley.

When did Xander have time to requisition anything on Halloween night? He was kind of busy.

I wonder how much fun Harmony and Xander's fight was to film - and I'm kicking myself that I didn't ask when they were at Wizard World here this March.

Maggie calls Spike 'It.' I kind of hate Maggie.

Spike proves he's better than Angel - by using a computer. BTW, I had to go sit in the bathroom during a group watching of I Will Remember You because I kept mocking it. B/A Blech! Though I've learned to appreciate it by seeing it from Angel's pov.

Also on the commentary, they mention that the Initiative story was inspired by The Prisoner - in which they cast Spike as the hero (Hostile 17 - he is not a number, he is a free vamp!)

The vampire at the beginning of Pangs has a very growly voice in vamp face. Actor's choice?

Might I say - OMG, Xander. I'm so with Anya!

I love the eyebrow wiggle Xander does when he says to Anya 'You should go'.

Supernatural shows should not attempt to do native spirituality. I also cite The X-Files and Smallville. Maybe if someone aboriginal was actually writing it...

Why did Doyle have the vision about Buffy - ratings? Xander's more help than Angel is.

Is Spike being skewered by arrows payback for torturing Angel?

"Sorry about that Chief". You never really expect Spike to quote Maxwell Smart.

Something Blue is my favourite episode, because after years of my kids trying to get me to watch, Buffy and Spike together caught my attention and their chemistry was my gateway to my most obsessive fandom.

Buffy talks about being attracted to bad boys - usually Angel isn't a bad boy. It certainly wasn't what drew her to him. Maybe she meant brood boys.

What's Willow going to do if one of her dorm mates has a weak bladder?

Amy has the best cameo ever. Actually, I wrote that before I saw X Men First Class...

Buffy doesn't consider her father family anymore?

One of the books Spike picks up (ahhh, he's gonna do a spell for his father-in-law) has the symbol from Gingerbread on it.

Buffy says nobody really likes Spike. I like him.

Riley says he's going far away - promises, promises...

Next to Sarah, James looks tall. He isn't.

Stephanie said...

Re: Willow: “If you hurt her I will beat you to death with a shovel. A fake disclaimer is nobody’s friend.”

Call me crazy but I always thought she said "a vague disclaimer" re: being specific about killing him with a shovel..

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie said...

The Initiative

Eames chairs in the cafeteria- wish my cafeteria in college was that chic!

Can you spot the mirror/repeat in the Initiative HST holding pens?

Xander “The latest in Fall fascism”

I love how Giles and Xander are hanging out- both feeling a bit useless

To echo Nikki’s comment- when did Xander’s mother become a hostess? I thought his parents were violent alcoholics? I guess the fruit punch line was too good to leave out!

I agree- Pfft Riley…who says “courted”?! *eyeroll*

Question: if Spike had the chip implanted in his brain when he was captured, then why could he fight the scientists when he escaped the Initiative?

Anne said...

Chritina B said:

PLEASE tell me it's STILL worth watching? Will someone else fill this Doyle-sized hole in my heart?

You have no idea!! I think you will be pleasently surprised.

Buffy and Spike's chemistry is sizling hot, that picture is a perfect example.

Even though I love Buffy and Angel, Buffy and Spike is something else, refreshing.

Tom D. said...

Colleen/redeem147: Why did Doyle have the vision about Buffy - ratings? Xander's more help than Angel is.

But Angel going to Sunnydale leads to Buffy going to LA, which leads to the whole IWRY situation. The powers work in mysterious ways. (Or maybe they're just screwing around with people for fun.)

Joan Crawford: I must know what that blocked out bit on the sign said!

"huge c**k." I hope that's censored sufficiently for this blog.

Colleen/redeem147: When did Xander have time to requisition anything on Halloween night? He was kind of busy.

I guess he got it later, the same way he got the rocket launcher in Innocence. Or maybe he swiped that stuff from the military base at the same time he got the rocket launcher -- just on the off-chance he'd need it later?

Stephanie: Call me crazy but I always thought she said "a vague disclaimer" re: being specific about killing him with a shovel.

You're crazy! But you're also entirely correct about that line.

Stephanie: when did Xander’s mother become a hostess? I thought his parents were violent alcoholics?

My impression is that it's pretty hard to be a violent alcoholic 24/7. It doesn't seem that weird to me that Xander's mom might at least try to be a good hostess once in a while.

The first time I saw The Initiative, I hadn't yet seen season 3, so it was intriguing to watch Spike and Willow sort of reminisce about the last time he captured her. I love continuity stuff like that.

Chris said...

First some unfinished business from last week:

Marebabe since you asked, I first read about 'Beer Bad' as a result of network interference in an essay by Kevin Murphy in the book "Seven Seasons of Buffy." The essay was about outside influences on Joss and the writers. However, the agreement between the US gov't and the networks about putting anti-drug and alcohol messages into shows did happen.

Now on to this week:

I love Jane Espensen's work. She is my second favorite writer behind Joss himself. The problem I have with 'Pangs' is her total miss regarding Willow. In 'The Initiative' Willow is totally heartbroken, as she still is in 'Something Blue', however in 'Pangs' which takes place between the two, Willow is more bitter and slightly distracted than heartbroken. I can kind of understand the lack of continuity, however it is very distracting and noticeable when I do a re-watch. My suspicions are that having a very down, depressed Willow would have taken away from the story that Jane and Joss wanted to tell.

Still, these three are some of the best of season 4 - as others have said a season with many good solitary episodes. And since Nikki hasn't put up next weeks episodes yet (at least as of my posting this), let's just say, without being spoilery, that the next one 'Hush' is extremely special - the only Buffy episode nominated for an Emmy Award for writing (Joss wrote it himself)

Tom D. said...

Willow in Pangs adorably says "ooh! We could not invite Anya!" I like how Willow's dislike of Anya stretches back to their first meeting, in Doppelgangland. "Did you try looking under the sofa, in hell?!" Anya often brings out Willow's sharp tongue.

In the same scene in Pangs, Willow still has the Dingoes Ate My Baby poster up near her bed. I would think she'd have taken it down by then -- if not set it on fire.

Tom D. said...

Giles gets some particularly good lines in all three of these episodes. I love this exchange from Pangs:

Giles: Let's give him some land, that should clear things right up.
Buffy: Sarcasm accomplishes nothing!
Giles: It's sort of an end in itself.

Efthymia said...

"The Initiative":
What better way to help me recover from Oz's departure than bringing Spike back for good?! (Still, I wish I could have them both.)
I have a note about how lame "courted" is, too. I'm starting to think that Riley is what men think women want a man to be.
And yes, the Xander-Harmony fight is one of the best fight scenes EVER in both cinema and TV history!

Anya's unique way of showing affection is lovely!
I've personally never been too crazy about this episode. Maybe because I, too, like Willow, feel bad about the Native Americans; maybe because I was expecting a far greater danger for Buffy after Doyle's vision in "Angel"; maybe because Angel's return to Sunnydale -which should have been a big deal- is mostly him going around town and chatting with people. But the Spike moments are, as usual, priceless.

I don't have anything different to say about "Something Blue" than what's been said already, so I won't tire you with repetition.

Regarding "Angel": I was thinking that perhaps there are people who can't/won't watch the show at the moment, but who might want to watch it in the future, so maybe any comment on that show should be made in the Spoiler forum. Just a suggestion.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I have a note about how lame "courted" is, too. I'm starting to think that Riley is what men think women want a man to be.

I remember a discussion we had on another list during the show. Granted, we were all Spike fans, but many women commented that their husbands preferred Angel and Riley - they were more manly or something.

Is this why more than 50% of marriages end in divorce? The men think their women want Riley? ;)

Missy said...

I wish I could have told you I really do...it kills me to stay quite on such subjects
but it's a rule around here and I'm having too much fun reading replies to wanna spoil that for myself.
The pain of Doyles death will never fade but character/s will make the pain dull over time.
My original feelings My residual feelings and the emapthy for 1st timers is potentially overwhelming.
Dramatic yes,but I watched 'Hero' the other night and it makes me nostalgic...and dramatic Lol.

'The Iniative'

Can't stand Forrest.(He really is Parker 2.0...he has personal issues coming out the wazoo)
Enjoy ogling Graham(Bailey Chase is soooo pretty,don't get me wrong I like to look at Leonard Roberts too..his upper torso is impeccable)
Pr.Walsh is annoying and to be completely childish a poo poo head.
Lowell house is a dangerous place ;)
Spike&Willow are adorable...and as stated Joss&Co. have this uncanny ability to make a horrific scene hilarious but in an uncomfortable way.
I'm certain I've said this befor I had no problem with Riley during the original run....my dislike of him comes much later,and has yet to leave.
I really like the Clark Kent/Superman scene involving Buffy and Riley...it's beyond ridiculous but in a good way.
Speaking of beyond ridiculous Harmony and Xander get into a spat and the result is one of the funniest things committed to film.Thank God for SloMo.

I Love 'Pangs' sooo very much :)
Thanks Giving
Anal Buffy
Social Commentary on some of the worlds worst atrocities
Jane Espenson
It doesn't automatically scream FUUUUUUN....but to hell if it didn't give it it's best shot.
"I liked his wife. She gave me pie." & "So this is angel. He's large and glowery, isn't he?" Anya
"You made a Bear ...Undo it undo it" Spike
The adorable way Nicky(AKA Xander) delivers "That's no fair" makes me melt.
and this exchange from my no.2 Whedonverse couple

Xander :Ok. I'll stay. But you should go. You could catch it.

Anya :We'll die together. It's romantic. Let me get your trousers off.

Xander : You're a strange girlfriend.

Anya : I'm a girlfriend?

Xander : Uh...There's a chance I'm delirious.

Anya : Ah, yes. Well, whatever it is that's making you sick, so far, I like it.

anywho all round love for Miss Espenson and 'Pangs'

Missy said...

'Something Blue'

Peculiar describes Buffy,Riley and Ironically 'Something Blue'

Amy's back ....Oh wait,false alarm.Bummer.
Willow is a brave little toaster and beer helped...for awhile atleast.(Beer Helpful)

I LOVE Buffy and Spike ....like Love Love.
Insulting each others names,Kissing,Fighting...being snarky&sweet.
I LOVE everything about Buffy and Spike.

Xander as a Demon magnet...is that breaking the 4th wall or a believable in joke?Not that it matters,I love it.
Giles is still Giles even when he's blind....it's kind of comforting.
D'Hoffryn is back YAAAAAAY....Offering Will a vengeance job not so YAAAY.
Willow is really stepping outside the socially exceptable wiccan box.
I've always loved Buffy and Riley's exchange Re: Lesbian Alliance Banner.

All in all I've always thought these were are great trio.

Re: Daniel Osborne
It's only said that once.
I kinda miss the option of getting to call him Daniel...I'm weird like that Lol.

I love Willow's 'Speak No Evil' shirt.

Marebabe said...

@Chris: Thanks for the info about outside influences on Joss and the writers. I can just see it - govenment suits talking to network suits around a big, shiny conference table, hammering out their meddling details...

Stephen said...

Nikki, I'm usually in agreement with you on Buffy issues, but not today. I like Riley.

And I rather dislike Pangs. I mean, not on the same level as I Robot, You Jane, Bad Eggs, or Beer Bad, but the next tier above that. In fact, I like most of it (especially Buffy's intensity on having Thanksgiving dinner), but I'm really annoyed every time I watch the episode by the morality arguments with Willow about the Chumash. I don't see them as presenting both sides, but rather mentioning both sides and then having them shout past each other about them. I cringe during every line of it, especially because it seems to me like they have Willow argue with people who don't really disagree with her, while she doesn't actually have an alternative plan of action, so she comes off as whiny. As someone who loves Willow dearly, I always dislike when she's portrayed poorly in a way I don't feel like is earned (just get my biases out there). :)

Tom D. said...

Efthymia suggested: Regarding "Angel": I was thinking that perhaps there are people who can't/won't watch the show at the moment, but who might want to watch it in the future, so maybe any comment on that show should be made in the Spoiler forum.

But then, anyone who is currently watching both shows for the first time would have to go to the spoiler forum to discuss Angel, and would thereby be spoiled as to future events on both shows.

The Question Mark said...

Great trio of episodes! "Pangs" is now tiedd with "The Zeppo" for my favourite episode ever.

Witness Aria said...

"The problem I have with 'Pangs' is her total miss regarding Willow. In 'The Initiative' Willow is totally heartbroken, as she still is in 'Something Blue', however in 'Pangs' which takes place between the two, Willow is more bitter and slightly distracted than heartbroken. I can kind of understand the lack of continuity, however it is very distracting and noticeable when I do a re-watch."

This doesn't bother me because I see the progression differently I guess. In Initiative, she's heartbroken; in Pangs, she's recovering a bit and also distracting herself with the Chumash situation; in Something Blue, her recovery is completely overturned when she finds Oz's things gone and realizes he's not planning on coming back. I think she was holding out hope for that, but her hope was taken away from her without her even knowing about it.

Don't know if that helps, but it makes sense for me.

JS said...

The Odd/bad = Canadian theme reminded me of LOST.

@marebabe - or in the Matrix, when Trinity says "dodge this"

I actually thought Hero was a bit over the top on the metaphor...until the last 10 min. Then I choked up. I enjoyed Doyle. Interestingly (or not, you decide), I somehow skipped IWRY and watched HERO and thought the whole beginning with Angel saying their memories were wiped was some sort of joke and was extremely upset they would tease us like that. Until I realized I just missed it. IWRY was painful. SMG was great in it.

Joan Crawford said...

@Tom D. - Heeeeheee! Oh my word, I am glad I asked! In all seriousness though, you should all be ashamed of yourselves.


lyssiria said...

(I'm the noob Rebecca from last week)

I give my replies lots of thought (some might say too much), and it takes me a while to gather them. Lots of what I thought was already said, so I have replies!

@Dusk - Because you mentioned the commentary, I watched it, even though I hate to watch commentaries. And yes, they really did want you to think Willow was gonna die. But even when I watched it the first time (sadly it was in syndication by then), I wasn't ever scared that she would. I mean yes, it does look terrifying, and yes, Joss & Co. have killed off series regulars in the past (sob! More on that later I think), I never thought Willow would. You'd never know from Spike's escape scene that he was chipped (see Bite Me pg 223), something DID seem off since Spike himself didn't actually kill anyone. He's not the greatest of thinkers, and his plans always go awry, so you'd think he'd fight like he meant it and not leave enemies at his back. But obviously he couldn't. I always assumed that even though that fight scene was an oversight on the part of the editors, it could have been spun that Spike was so hungry or drugged or in the heat of the moment that he didn't notice the pain. Or maybe that the chip didn't work inside the Initiative. Spike's chip brings to mind the concept of electric fences and shock collars for dogs. If there's something he wants bad enough on the other side, a dog won't hesitate to cross the fence line. But in normal circumstances, sometimes the fence doesn't have to even be ON to work. Wearing the collar is enough of a deterrent. So Spike doesn't know that he has a chip or what it does when he's trying to escape, and he may not connect a headache with attacking a doctor. Wow, that thought ended at a different place than it started.

@Lisa - You asked how they knew Spike was there in the first place? I betcha they had that crazy thermal scanner out with them on patrol and then spotted Spike. He was standing on a rise, after all. Poor planning again. But then that explanation (and the scene with Buffy and Riley in 'The Initiative' where she pulls a stake on him) raises a larger question of: How come the commando guys never knew Buffy was out there? If she's out there every night killing the crap that they're trying to capture, and occasionally running fill tilt into them (Wild At Heart), why aren't they at least trying to find out why she's there? Haven't they at least spotted ONE altercation? Meh.

@Christina B. - Ya, Angel is good for ripping your guts out in the beginning of this season, but DO keep watching. You'll kick yourself if you don't.

@Pg48 - During that fight scene (heeehee!) did you notice how HARD Mercedes McNab is trying not to smile? You can really see it in slo-mo.

I know everyone thinks when Riley says 'courted' that it's trite and icky, but I love it. It emphasizes how GOOD he is as a person, and how innocent, and obviously doesn't know about Buffy. And he might be square, conventional, and affected, don't you LOVE when he decks Parker? Chivalry is not dead. (And check out his butt in those jeans! :D )

lyssiria said...

@Chris - Re: Willow's emotional continuity or lack of same.
Witness Aria makes the point I wanted to make. Willow is either purposely holding out hope because Oz's stuff is still there, or doing it unconsciously, but she's coming to deal SLOWLY with the fact that Oz is not there. As long as his stuff is there, he WILL return. When she realizes that he won't, the illusion she has built for herself comes crashing down, and she's at bottom again. Having been a teenage girl, I can vouch for the fact that it's normal for the feelings to fluctuate between utter despair and seething anger, and it's also normal to try and find ANYTHING that can distract you. And yeah, why is it always Spike with the blazing insight? Hanging on by a thread indeed. Hidden depths that one has.

As an afterthought: by 'Something Blue' I was as sick of Willow's "griefy poor me mood swings" as the rest of the Scoobies. But it's still one of my favorite episodes (though I can't stand that "beer bad" line either).

Giles - "A truth spell. Why didn't I think of that?"

Willow - "Because you had your hands full with the Undead English Patient."


Spike - "It's telly time! ... Passions is on! Timmy's down the bloody well and if you make me miss it I'll..."
Giles - "You'll do what? Lick me to death? ...Among other things I'd like to shower today. ALONE!"
Best. Ever.

Dusk said...

@lyssiria-I know the chip thing in Spike's escape os a writer error, I just assumed it took a little bit of time for the chip to activate.

Tom D. said...

Another favorite line of mine is Giles's "It's alright -- I have more scotch!"

There are so many occasions for which that line is suitable. Though I prefer tequila.

Evil Blam said...

I have been invooked again by one of the minions of the Nikki Stafford? This "Marebabe" speaks my name thrice, eh, and soo even across vast distances in the otherworldly dimension of Iceland, where I am on Summer Vacay to tend to my stoorage of froozen puppies, I find myself pulled back into this nattering crowd. Who is this "Marebabe"? Her choosen handle suggests that she be a comely human woman fond of the female hoorses, eh, or perhaps a nicely propoortioned centoor. Tell us which, eh! For if it is the latter then there might just be one member of this sycophantic coohoort who has one end that's even less attractive than Joan.
Verification word: What? Just look at her!

Blam said...

Nice job, Marebabe... *sigh*

I hope you'll all forgive me for repeating quotes already quoted. This week I actually got to watch and write my thoughts up in advance, only to have computer troubles delay me yet again. And there were so many great lines in this batch of episode, so hopefully there's no, um, quota on citing them.

What I will try to omit are points that other folks have already made — especially if they've made them better.

Buffy 4.7 "The Initiative"

The best dialogue —
Willow: "Talk. Keep eye contact. Funny is good, but don't be glib. And remember: If you hurt her I will beat you to death with a shovel. (pauses) A vague disclaimer is nobody's friend. Have fun!"
[Sorry, Nikki... It's "vague", not "fake" (and much funnier that way).]

Buffy's meal of champions is soda and frozen yogurt. Even apart from the utter lack of nutritional substance, isn't that combo just, like, ew? I'm not a big fan of ice-cream sodas. granted — I want to like a nice root-beer float more than I do — but just empirically it seems like a sweet fizzy beverage does not mix with a sweet creamy foodstuff.

I love how Spike looks immaterial thanks the relflections when we first see him. Were any first-time viewers faked into thinking that he was phasing out of reality instead of behind glass that threw the light on him funny?

James Marsters in the credits! On one hand, his being there makes me feel less bad about folks talking about Spike's long-term presence this season in a potentially spoilery fashion. On the other hand, the sudden disappearances of co-lead characters on both Buffy and Angel (Oz and Doyle) mean that you can never feel too comfortable with the status quo.

The jangly guitar playing as Riley wises up to the fact that he's interested in Buffy strikes me amusingly as Christophe Beck indulging in the musical equivalent of "Oooohhh! Somebody has a cruh-uh-ush!"

Depressed, getting-over-Oz Willow is impressively like early Willow; the Oz relationship really brought her out of her shell.

Spike picks up a halberd and swings it while Harmony's talking to him. One can dream. It is all right to dream of a fictional soulless vampire getting beheaded, I hope.

VW: trence — A hypnotic state held for exactly three seconds.

Blam said...

Harmony and Xander's slo-mo slap fight is a genius pièce de résistance.

And then, Harmony just drops the match on Spike's stuff — in the middle of a grassy area surrounded by trees.

Spike to Willow: "Remember last year... You had on that fuzzy pink number with the lilac underneath?" Yeah I do.

How does Buffy whale on that Initiative guy in the dorm hallway and not just punch his innards straight through the door he's up against?

Douglas Petrie mentions on the commentary that some fans expected a twist in which Willow got with Riley because of their chemistry. I could actually see that; they do have chemistry, insofar as Marc Blucas is the most relaxed here in any of the scenes we've seen from him yet, and it would have been an interesting way to go — putting Willow with a traditionally "hunky" guy after the quirky, cool Oz, especially since they have the social awkwardness and academic focus in common but his extracurricular work (the Initiative) is so at odds with hers (witchcraft). But of course Alyson Hannigan is so good she could have chemistry with an empty room (which, yes, in some instances would be preferable to Riley).

As for this season's covert-government-agency-studying-creatures arc, Petrie says: "It's almost like we're taking a field trip to another TV show." That's an interesting way of looking at it, and also kind-of funny in that the week after this episode aired Buffy actually took a field trip to another show (albeit the shared-universe one airing right after hers).

VW: cragbio — History of a jutting rock (published, of course, by Tor Books).

Blam said...

spoiler alert for viewers not caught up on Angel

4.7 "The Bachelor Party"

The best dialogue —
Richard's dad: "Who wants a wife whose knees only bend the one way?"

I can see how the episodes to date haven't thrilled Buffy fans, but in some ways this is a return to the parent show's sensibilities — it's certainly different from the pattern Angel has set up of Doyle getting a vision that tends to involve a damsel in distress. Demons on Buffy, it's true, are almost always just plain bad, whereas Angel shows that many of them exist as a substrata / shadow society trying to get along in today's world (if not get ahead and yes, in some cases, still get a head — to eat). If you didn't like this installment, well, it's still necessary to help set up the events of a couple of episodes hence, but (and this can be good news or bad news) it also sets up that larger dynamic of workaday supernatural beings central to Angel in the long term.

VW: caticeph — A being with a feline head.

Blam said...

Buffy 4.8 "Pangs"

The best dialogue —
Spike: "... A bear! You made a bear!"
Buffy: "I didn't mean to."

But there are so many runners-up this ep that practically all my notes were just quotes.

There's Xander's persistent galpal mooning over him gettin' diggy with it...
Anya: "I'm imagining have sex with him again."
Buffy: "Imaginary Xander is quite the machine."

There's Anya calling Thanksgiving "a ritual sacrifice... with pie."

There's Willow's "Mmh! Grumble grumble," which just may be her or anyone's Cutest... Delivery... Ever.

Giles:"Still trying not to refer to you lot as bloody colonials..."

Buffy: "You're the reason we had to have pilgrims in the first place."

Buffy: "I have to baste."

Buffy: "So you haven't murdered anybody lately? Let's be best pals!"

Xander: "I think my syphilis is clearing right up."
Buffy: "And they say romance is dead."

Speaking of bloody colonials, by the way, in addition to the noted disappearance of holes in Spike's shirt there's his comment, "An entire siege — you'd think one of you would bleed a little." Uh... Did Buffy not get an arrow in the arm?

And doesn't Giles have neighbors (or in his case, neighbours) who'd be alarmed over this ruckus? With the Native American spirits out in the atrium or whatever, you'd think that it would be even more noticeable than previous, uh, rucki.

Those are about my only complaints with the episode, however, including the potentially (or as seen here, perhaps demonstrably) touchy subject matter. I thought that the script did an admirable job of not just pointing out various viewpoints but illustrating how friends who really aren't that far apart in their take on things can stubbornly disagree on fine points or just get tripped up when the feel-good nostalgia of a holiday's trappings is at odds with the holiday's religious or cultural significance.

I love Jane Espenson's stuff. And I'm so glad to see that others feel the same way. I didn't even know that she'd written for Game of Thrones until today — yet another reason to check it out, although since I don't get HBO I've been waiting 'til I can grab time on a family member's set and catch up with On Demand; last summer I was house-sitting and watched all of True Blood's previous season in a few days before the new one started.

VW: copedall — Get everyone working on a tandem cycle moving in unison.

Blam said...

spoiler warning for anyone not caught up on Angel

Angel 4.8 "I Will Remember You"

The best dialogue —
Cordelia: "Oh, please. They've got the Forbidden Love of All Time. They've been apart for months. Now he's suddenly human? I'm sure they're down there just havin' tea 'n' crackers." And... We cut to them havin' tea 'n' crackers.

How many first-timers went "OMG! SMG!" when Buffy popped up on Angel? Despite his guest appearance in the immediately preceding Buffy, her visit to his digs in Los Angeles didn't seem like an obvious thing; in fact, Xander's kicker comment in "Pangs" still feels like the final word on the subject, bookending in a way Doyle's vision of Buffy at the end of "The Bachelor Party" last week.

And since I didn't see these episodes as originally aired, a question for those who did: Was this advertised as a Special Two-Hour Crossover Event on The WB, and/or were you otherwise spoiled in advance, or was Buffy's guest appearance a surprise follow-up to Angel's expected appearance in Sunnydale (based on Doyle's vision) at the time?

Blam said...

I had my heartstrings pulled along with everyone else, but there is an element of the creepy in Angel remembering his literally lost day with Buffy when she doesn't, however much of a burden it may be to him.

While the plot was somewhat borrowed from Superman II (look it up, kids; if you've never seen it, or even if you have, try The Richard Donner Cut), the Oracles set was straight out of early Star Trek: The Next Generation — and I'm being charitable by not going all the way back to the original series.

My first big problem with the ep: Don't Angel know by now not to just smear his bare hand on an unknown demon's blood?

My second big problem with the ep: Angel really just decides to let Buffy wake up without him there again? Is there a surer way to remind her of what happened the last time they did the horizontal mambo? Can he be any dumber than to not just dredge up that fear in her but then engage in the very real risk of not being up to snuff in battle and having her find out that, no, he didn't turn evil again, he just went and got himself killed?

Again, I'm not callous to the star-crossed tragedy of what's transpired; it's just that the nobility feels as much chauvinistic as chivalrous.

We did get a nice, bold Soaring Buffy/Angel Love Theme, though, plus some great acting from both Gellar and Boreanaz, as well as a big addition to the series' mythology.

VW: dabless — 1. What dapriest does to daflock. 2. Lacking hair product.

Blam said...

Buffy 4.9 "Something Blue"

The best dialogue —
Buffy: (giddy) "Spike and I are getting married."
Xander:(confused) "How? What? How?"
Giles: (exasperated) "Three excellent questions."

I love the performances in this episode, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. The Spike/Buffy stuff in particular is just inspired — Gellar commits so hilariously hard — and even when all three sets of cursees are interacting at Giles' place it's as though they're each inhabiting a slightly different bubble of reality based on the facets of the spells they're under. Unfortunately there's zero consistency to when something Willow says is interpreted as a wish / command, no rhyme or reason to the phrasing and thus the baffling selectivity.

The Amy zap is always hella funny, though — one of my favorite sight gags in the entire series.

VW: BenCur — Sadly unsuccessful all-dog production of Ben-Hur.

Blam said...

Angel 1.9 "Hero"

The best dialogue —
Doyle: "Hey. Is this a private catharsis, or can anyone watch?"

I'm dealing with computer issues again, so that's gonna be it for now.

VW: reifying — Making something realer.

Blam said...

I wanted to comment last week on Christina B.'s remark about the "tiny lilt" that she felt Angel had at times, suggesting that "his Irish accent tend[s] to come out more when he's around Doyle".

You would think and even hope that the creative crew meant for this to happen, given that Liam/Angel was (is) Irish. But I doubt that anyone was interested in suggesting that David Boreanaz reprise his dubious brogue. Rather, I suspect that you're hearing the inflections of his native Philadelphia accent. DB was born in Buffalo and went to college in Ithaca, both upstate of New York City, but he grew up here in the Philly area where the accent can give words such as "nice" an "oi" sound to the vowel that's reminiscent of Irish.

And that's... one to grow on.

@Michael: I too love the Jane Espenson episodes more than perhaps any others. She recently did a nice interview with Jenna Busch for The Huffington Post, by the way.

Oh! Fun fact! Epsenson's IMDB page says that she came up with the name of the much-maligned, would-be-hip alcoholic drink Zima. My first and last taste of Zima came during the very same long-weekend visit to a friend's place wherein I first saw a movie called Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Blam said...

@Nikki: this super nice guy who just wants to “court” Buffy

Hey! What's the deal with all of this attacking Riley for using that word? I get attacking Riley for most of his general Rileyness, but I'll have you know that I have frequently spoken of courting my wife. And the fact that we are no longer married has nothing to do with my usage of the verb. I courted women before her; I shall do so again.

@Marebabe: As sometimes happens when I’m watching TV or movies, I might (possibly) get a little drowsy.

It's the Asti.

@Dusk: OK, Riley pretty much had the same reaction to Buffy's comments at the wedding dress store that I would have. I don't hate him, and his annoyances aren't that bad for me.

The problem is that he's so... wooden. If he and Faith had a child the Blue Fairy would need to show up to make it a real boy.

@Colleen: Why did Doyle have the vision about Buffy - ratings?

Ha! TPTB work in mysterious ways, like Tom D. said. [spoilers for "I Will Remember You"] I suppose Angel had to go visit Sunnydale to bring Buffy to LA so that when Angel got infected by Maura Tierney's blood (wait... that's not right...) and turned human he would have cause to renounce such a seeming blessing before 24 hours were up since after a full day went by the Oracles may not have been able to reverse time.

@Colleen: Amy has the best cameo ever. Actually, I wrote that before I saw X Men First Class...

Whose first cameo is awesome but whose second is even more surprising and not unlike the Amy thing.

@Efthymia: I have a note about how lame "courted" is, too.

Geez! You women have no sense of romance.

@lyssiria: How come the commando guys never knew Buffy was out there? If she's out there every night killing the crap that they're trying to capture, and occasionally running fill tilt into them (Wild At Heart), why aren't they at least trying to find out why she's there? Haven't they at least spotted ONE altercation? Meh.


@lyssiria: I know everyone thinks when Riley says 'courted' that it's trite and icky, but I love it.

you! While I'm not a Riley fan, at least in execution (in concept, he should work), I do stick up for him in this regard.

AEC said...

I loved Something Blue! I didn't realize it was the same writer as Beer Bad, but I thought of the similarity as I was watching in terms of the characters acting nothing like themselves. This time though, I thought it was really funny. I thoroughly enjoyed the Buffy/Spike relationship and thought there were some great laugh-out-loud moments in there!

I'm also not sure I hate the whole thing that Riley and the professor are involved with in wrt the experimentation facility. I always thought it was odd that the gov't wasn't aware of the demons and doing experiments on them.

Blam said...

@AEC: I always thought it was odd that the gov't wasn't aware of the demons and doing experiments on them.

It is (would be) odd. I think that for many of us, at least, the disappointment is more with how the idea plays out than with the idea itself, although there are certainly those who feel that this sort of sci-fi / black-ops encroachment upon the world of Buffy is an irreconcilably poor fit, period.

VW: LavaLad — Member of the Legion of Super-Heroes who can produce and control molten rock.

Marebabe said...

@Evil Blam, sir: Much to my surprise, I find that I am out of my depth here. I give up! Please don’t hurt me!

Marebabe said...

@Blam: “It’s the Asti.” Me: “Hmph!”

I loved reading all your musings and responses to people. Along about Friday every week, I start looking for your comments, and they brighten up my day. In much the same way that there are too many choice bits in an episode of Buffy or Angel to comment on them all, your long posts are a delight to read from beginning to end, even if I don’t itemize. And your VWs are all good, so I’ll just highlight the ones that actually had me laughing out loud at work today: trence (my favorite), cragbio, and dabless. Well done!

Dusk said...

@ Blam I get that, a quick Wikipedia glance at his works show he started in 1995, it does show his inexperence, but he gets better, not flawess, but better as time goes on.

Ronald Helfrich Jnr. said...

I watched Passions during its final years just to see what Spike was on about. They had a character named Tabatha (a shout out to Bewitched, I presume) and a character named, wait, Spike (a shout out to Buffy?)...

Chris said...

Blam asked: And since I didn't see these episodes as originally aired, a question for those who did: Was this advertised as a Special Two-Hour Crossover Event on The WB, and/or were you otherwise spoiled in advance, or was Buffy's guest appearance a surprise follow-up to Angel's expected appearance in Sunnydale (based on Doyle's vision) at the time?

I did see the two eps. ('Pangs' and 'I Will Remember You') back-to-back when they first aired. While I cannot remember exactly how much publicity the WB put towards the crossover (It was over 11 years ago), I do remember that there was some. At the time It would have been difficult to do previews of the next episodes without at least giving away hints. I do remember not being surprised by Buffy showing up in LA (remember too that Mutant Enemy was trying desperately to get Angel: The Series going, so crossovers were sort of expected and anticipated by fans).

Unknown said...

@Blam: "The problem is that he's so... wooden. If he and Faith had a child the Blue Fairy would need to show up to make it a real boy."

Thanks so much, now I have to Google "Riley/Faith fanfic" to see if it exists, and then drink a lot of beerbad tonight to forget it, if it does indeed exist!