PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A SPOILER-RICH ZONE. If your diet requires you to dine on Buffy Spoiler-free ... good luck with that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rudely Attacked by Nothing

Episode 5.2: Real Me. Original Airdate 10.3.00

"As Harmony and her vampire gang plot Buffy's demise, Dawn adjusts to life with a S

Zelda's Thoughts:

  • Ugh. Dawn.
  • Okay so this is actually my first time rewatching Dawn stuff since I really started reading other analyses, especially ones in defense of Dawn, so I'm not sure how that will re-color what I'm watching.
  • I will say that a huge part of my distaste for her stems from MT's acting. I just don't think she's good. She's not listening, she knows the end of what she's going to say before she starts, there's just no discovery, so it all feels performed rather than lived. Blah.
  • We haven't actually started watching yet, I just wanted to get this out before we do.
  • The Adventures of Pete and Pete was an amazing show, for the record.
  • "There is nothing but you," intones Giles. EXCEPT ALSO THERE'S A DAWN.
  • Yeah you go, stunt Buffy! Do that one-armed hand stand!
  • Oh hey where are they anyway? Where are Giles and Buffy doing their crystal meditation yoga-ness?
  • Like actually, where are they? We don't have the Magic Box .. yet.

Seriously, where is this?

  • "Nobody knows who I am." And all the first-time watchers yell YES WHO WHO ARE YOU GO AWAY.
  • "I bet they've had sex." So I read that they originally wanted Dawn to be younger than she is, and then aged her up when they cast MT. And lines like this really demonstrate that they didn't adjust the writing to fit the age change.
  • Aw see at least in this ep Riley isn't at all resentful of Buffy having Slayer priorities.
  • "Giles, are you breaking up with your car?" // "Well, it did seduce me, all red and sporty!" // "Little two-door tramp!"

  • Dawn is apparently not currently aware that Tara and Willow gay together but SHENANIGANS Joyce is and is vaguely homophobic about Dawn's apparent interest in it.
  • Dawn's shirt looks vaguely like a Star Trek uniform. 
Beam me up....Spike?
  • Why does Tara consider herself a non-Scoobie? Or is she perhaps saying that because her actual goal was to look after Dawn, and this is a way of allying them?
  • Yes, Giles, the profit margins may be high at the magic shop, but so is the mortality rate.
  • It's really quite sweet how taken he is with it all.
  • I'm actually kind of impressed Harmony has minions at all. She's always been more a follower than a leader. 

  • Xander's actually really good at Dawn-sitting. He doesn't talk down to Dawn and doesn't seem to resent having to watch out for her. Glad you found a job you're good at, Xander!
  • Oh I forgot they actually address my earlier question, of Tara's feeling outside the Scoobies. Good for you, show.
  • Good subtle foreshadowing - Willow calls Tara one of the good guys, and Tara looks uncomfortable and breaks the embrace - because she still thinks she's part demon and evil and god her family sucks. Fuck Tara's family.
  • Parking lot! Do a shot.
  • "I know it's always been this way. She's the baby. But for some reason lately, it's just really getting to me. She's always around." We are being trolled.
  • "She doesn't get the sacrifices. She's a kid."
  • Anya barely even knows Harmony and her eyeroll is still hilarious.
  • "Afraid you and your buddies will have to come back and be killed by Buffy later."
  • Stop Dawn no. Dawn, you did a dumb.
  • "You'd think a Slayer's house would have more weapons lying around." Fact. Maybe Dawn's presence means they're more gated up?
  • Buffy laughing about Harmony's minions is one of the most delightful things. This may be the last time we see her this lighthearted on the series. Okay, now I'm sad.
Cheer up, Zelda
  • Second parking lot set of the episode.
  • Oh hey Dawn got kidnapped.
  • Bless poor concussed Anya, making sure they know Dawn was taken, even when she can barely keep her eyes open.
  • I do love that the minions are calling Harmony out on her shitty plan that we've seen a million times - there really is no need to keep Dawn alive except for main character reasons.
  • Tom Lenkpire is the first to die!
  • "We've met, Harmony, you halfwit."
  • I love that Harmony's obsession with unicorns gave Buffy one of her slaying weapons.
  • If nothing else, the sister bickering is believably written and acted.
  • "Boy, is she in for a surprise." So yeah the first time I saw this I thought maybe this was hinting that Dawn was some kind of evil premise (and they clearly wanted fans speculating in that vein). But nope, just Dawn being a 14 year old girl writing in her diary.

Daniel's Thoughts:

  • Yay! Buffy’s training again! And it’s all spiritually now which it never really was before.
  • Hey! It’s Dawn! Little sisters ruin everything! Always. Because she’s always been there. And she’s in the credits. But was she always in the credits? Oooh.
  • Yay! Mercedes McNabb!
  • I really love Dawn’s diary entry. It’s the epitome of a little sister who feels left out even if it makes her a little bratty.
  • Aww, Riley. He’s trying not to be jealous. He really is.
  • Nice new car, Giles.
  • Aww, Giles is also searching for his thing.
  • The friendship between Willow & Dawn – their first “real” introduction seems forced. It’s like, look, we’ve been friends and chess partners all along, let me say something to prove it to you and the audience right now.
  • But also, the whole Joyce thing not being cool with Willow & Tara. I mean Joyce grew up as a free spirit in the 60s. I don’t buy it at all.
  • Hey! New set! The magic shop is way bigger than it used to be!
  • Crazy guy talking to Dawn. First clue that something isn’t quite right.
  • “Do you wanna thumb wrestle?” “Ok. “ Heh. I can totally see Tara as a mom.

  • The Magic Shop owners do seem to die a lot. You’d think a magic shop would have some protection spells or something…
  • “What kind of unholy creature favors cheap tasteless statuary. “ Cut to Harmony. YAY!
  • Hey! It’s Andrew before he’s Andrew:
Andrew                         Vamp Andrew

  • There’s one of Harmony’s minions – I don’t know if they’re male or female. Peaches? Could be either.
  • Shush, Joyce. You knew Buffy was going to the magic shop.
  • Aww, Dawn wuvvs Xander.
  • Xander’s clothes are getting worse. Does he get his shirts from Uncle Rory?
  • Anya! “Ooh the game of life!”
  • Aww, Tara speaks from experience - getting to be a scooby is hard.
  • Ooh, some foreshadowing for Tara’s secret.
  • “It’s always been that way.” I love all these lines that make the audience crazy.
  • Enough with your leather pants, Buffy! Maybe you should start wearing something more comfortable to fight in.
  • Anya playing Life is wonderful. “Can I trade in the children for more cash?” She's starting to learn the value of money. Seriously, how has she been living up until now?
  • I love when Xander and Harmony fight even if it’s just verbal.
  • Oh, Dawn. “Come inside and say that.” Really? YOU’VE BEEN HERE ALL ALONG.
  • Anya, “A slayers house and no weapons lying around??” HA!
  • Buffy, “Harmony has minions?” I love laugh-y Buffy
  • Harmony is hilarious. I love her interaction with Spike.
  • Harmony gets a point for saying the episode’s title.
  • “It’s not like Dawn hasn’t grown up in this house.” SHE’S BEEN HERE ALL ALONG.
  • I like all the continuity form last week’s ep including the new bite from Dracula.
  • Oh no, Anya!
  • Slayed by a unicorn!
  • I like that Buffy can pop culture reference This is Spinal Tap!
  • “She thinks I’m just her dumb little sister. Boy, is she in for a surprise.” We all are! But Dawn doesn’t know! We only think she knows! Love this!


Zelda; Joyce, what are you wearing?
Daniel: Is that a giant safety pin?
Zelda: And what is that shirt?
Riley: Morning, Mrs. Summers. You look great.
Buffy: Suck up.
Riley: What? It's a nice outfit.

Favorite Lines:
Zelda: "I watched Passions with Spike. Let us never speak of it." - Giles

Arc/Continuity Stuff:
  • Dawn's in the credits.
  • Recurring: Joyce, Tara, Harmony
  • Willow's still taking drama, but Buffy's dropping it.
  • First appearance of the Magic Box set as we will come to know and love (and destroy) it.
It's a lot bigger than it used to be...
  • Also first appearance of one of Glory's mindsuck victims.
  • His "curds and whey" line a reference to Faith's Little Miss Muffet from the dreams.
  • Trivia: Tom Lenk is one of Harmony's villains, but clearly not (unless he sanshued) the same character as Andrew Wells.
  • Anya's love affair with capitalism continues as she learns how to play The Game of Life.
  • Giles is now a small business owner.


Anya's Hair - dirty blonde, curly
Xander's Job - construction/babysitting
Dead Humans - 1
Dead Undeads - 4
Giles Unconscious - 0
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 0
Buffy Breaks a Door - 0
Evil Reveal - 0
Unevil Reveal - 0
Shenanigans Called - 1
Apocalypse Called - 0

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Unholy Prince-bator

Episode 5.1: Buffy vs. Dracula. Original Airdate 9.26.00

"Buffy finds herself pitted against the legendary Prince of Darkness, Count Dracula."

Daniel's Thoughts:

  • Already we start to see that Buffy feels like she’s missing something in her life. She’s lying with the beautifully shirtless Riley, but she’s frustrated and needs more…action? The only thing that satiates that frustration is going out and staking a vamp. Now she can sleep.
  • Yay! Emma Caulfield’s in the credits!
  • Location! A real beach! It’s not a parking lot beach!  And considering Sunnydale is...out in the middle of some desert somewhere...spoilers for season 7....I guess this beach is a distance from their home town.
  • Willow’s got the shortest hair of her Buffy career. I like it.
  • And already, we’re seeing Willow’s powers are getting stronger…
(And Leon's getting larger...)
  • That’s a lot of pink, Willow. At least it’s not a fuzzy pink sweater.
  • No, Giles! Don’t go back to England!
  • Hey Joyce! In the first episode! I bet she has a good year. …
  • Those leather pants, Buffy!
  • “Do you know what a slayer is?" // "Do you?” You know, this isn’t the best season opener but it does lay the groundwork for a great season. It prepares us for Buffy, Joyce & Willow especially.
  • “I am Dracula”//”Get out!”
  • Oh man, that shirt, Xander. The Hawaiian shirt is bad enough – but it’s actually sparkling!
  • This whole conversation between Buffy & Dracula is so telling.
  • Anya hung out with Dracula! Again, a missed opportunity because lack of putting Anya at the center of things. A reunion would have been cool.
This amused me because it reminds me of co-blogger, Zelda.
  • Awww, jealous Riley is adorable.
  • And jealous Xander is just a dork.
  • Ooh, a wolf!
  • “You are strange and off-putting.” Dracula to Xander. Yep.
  • Spike’s so condescending to Riley. It does feel like he’s hundreds of years older than him.
  • Oooh, a fog machine!
  • “You walk in here with your music video wind…” Hey kids, music videos used to be a thing. And they were mostly creative and cool.
  • Angel reference!
  • I can’t believe I’m about to admit this but Nicky Brendan is doing a kick-ass job playing Dracula’s butt-monkey. (His words). I just don’t get why no one is noticing.
  • Eww, Xander, ewww with the spider.
  • She could have easily hid the bite with her hair. No scarf needed. [Hair ... moves around? - Z]
  • I guess Joyce doesn’t know about Willow and Tara yet which is odd since it's mentioned in the very next episode of her knowing.
  • It’s interesting that Buffy doesn’t seem too surprised that Xander was possessed this whole time.
  • The Master had the thrall as well and Buffy overcame it. I guess it’s one of the perks of being a real old vampire. Though Dracula doesn’t have the animal appendages that some of the older vampires get. (But he can change into animals.)
  • Oh Giles. At least the fall didn’t knock you out.
  • “You think you know what you are…” I don’t know if I’ve noticed that before. I love that Dracula repeats the same words as the first slayer in Restless.
  • I love the overuse of the word thrall in this episode.
  • Nice jump, Buffy’s stunt double!
  • And now pink leather pants? Does Buffy just have leather pants in every color?
  • The fight choreography has really stepped up this season.
  • Interesting end to Buffy vs. Dracula. I mean, I guess Buffy can’t really kill an iconic character but…that leaves Dracula still alive and…well it feels unfinished. Did Dracula just leave town or what? He never comes back. It’s not really like the characters to just let the evil of the week off. (Might’ve been a better season 7 big bad than the First. Just sayin’)
  • Hey, who is that chick in Buffy’s bedroom? SISTER? WHUUUUUUT? 
  • I watched Buffy late. Years after it aired and I’m glad I was never spoiled about who or what Dawn was. I even went to the IMDB boards and luckily no one was asshole enough to spoil it for me.

Zelda's Thoughts:

  • Oooh they splurged for a real graveyard for the premiere! Well, for some of the shots anyway.
  • Sneaky Buffy. You don't just crawl back into bed covertly, you crawl in, scooching immediately into spooning position.
  • Aw credits. So happy to see all my friends again!
  • Buffy beaning Riley in the face with a football will never not be hilarious.
I'm sitting here watching it over and over again.
  • Hi everyone's new season hair!
  • Oops Willow did a spell that was too powerful, created a sudden storm, and then denied responsibility for it. FORESHADOWING.
  • Oh look a black man in Sunnydale. Someone's about to die.
  • And I was right - of the two men moving the box of dirt, the only one to die on screen was the black man.
  • Willow's not in a pink sweater, but she is in a crushed velvet pink sleeveless what even is that.
  • Noooooooooooooooo Giles don't leave us! NO NO NO NO NO
  • I wonder if this was a nod toward the fact that ASH missed his family and did indeed want to return to England - laying out the groundwork, even though he wouldn't leave until a season later.
  • Aw hi Joyce. You're gonna be more important this season on account of Dawn and also brain tumor and GODAMMIT JOSS.
  • I'm not ready for this season.
  • Oh hey Dracula. I wish you were a better actor.
  • Aw Willow. You're so bad at secrets. It's adorably consistent of you.
  • Buffy, stop fangirling for the goofy guy in the cape just because he's heard of you.
  • This episode is mostly just a goof, but I do like that it sets up the question for Buffy this season of the root of her power, something we opened with the invoking of the Primeval spirit in S4. It's something that will continue to bother Buffy through the end of the series. What is the source of the power, is it rooted in darkness and demonness, is she a killer or a protector, is death her gift or just a party favor?
  • Xander's mocking of Dracula is pretty delightful. And then his twitchiness immediately after
Vun Two Three - Three Victims!
  • Riley, your jealous is showing. To be fair, so is Tara's.
  • And a quick reminder that Xander lives in the basement. Don't worry, Anya! He'll have a nice new place soon.
  • Parking lot! Do a shot.
  • I mean, he's goofy, but I like that Xander's (foolish) impulse is to fight Dracula, not run like a scared baby.
  • Of course, that did turn him into this episode's Renfield, so, you know, oops.
  • "You are strange and off-putting. Go now."
  • I think Xander's plotline this ep is kind of silly, but Nicky's clearly having fun, so I guess I can't begrudge it too much.
  • I love the idea that the vampires all resent Dracula for ruining the covert nature of their existence - as well as how to kill them - he may be the most famous, but he's by no means the most popular.
  • At least for this scene, Spike's crypt is lit by 3000 candles and not mysterious electricity that powers his TV.
  • Riley is so much taller than Spike. Tiny Spike.
  • Dammit Dracula stop Edward Cullening Buffy's bedroom.
  • "I bet you say that before you bite all the girls."
  • It's interesting that even Buffy is semi-susceptible to Dracula's compulsion. We saw that, too, with the Master - he was able to compel her up to a point. But then he had fruit punch mouth. And we know Buffy will eventually break this compulsion too.
  • So how come Drac has fangs but his forehead don't vamp out? Just curious.
  • It's possible I'm dealing with roaches right now.
  • Funny point - Xander is speaking about blood being life, which he seems to be in gross touch with on account of his thralling. Spike will remind us of this in The Gift.
  • Dear Riley, Do not take it personally that Buffy tried to hide her bite. It's thrall. You said it yourself. It's fucking thrall. It has zilch to do with you and stfu. It ALSO has zilch to do with Angel so stop obsessing over Buffy's ex.
  • "I am not transfer-y." Listen to Buffy, Riley. She knows her own mind. You're already pissing me off.
  • So here Joyce seems pretty oblivious to Willow's and Tara's relationship. But next episode she's very much aware. The inconsistency annoys me. I'll wait to call my shenanigan until next episode though.
  • Random castle in Sunnydale. To go with the airport, the seaport, the University of Contrivance, and other such excitements.
  • At least they call attention to it with the big honking castle line.
  • This episode is just a whole lot of weird, tonally. Goofy. The episode is goofy.
  • This season really is about the Slayer's relationship with death, and I guess that exploration starts with her sampling of Drac's blood. Continues with her near-death experience in Fool For Love, the death of Joyce, her desert adventure with the First Slayer, and the one thing she won't bargain - Dawn's life.
  • "Wow. That was gross." Yay! Go Buffy! "You know, I really think the thrall has gone out of our relationship."
  • "What is this?" / "My true nature. Want a taste?" Our Buffy is the best Buffy.
  • Drac's facial expressions during the fight scene are why I'm incapable of taking him seriously. He's way too smiley.
Haha! Yay fighty!
  • Buffy, watching where Drac's vapo-dust heads, runs up and stakes him just as he re-corporeals. I love it. I just wish it were permanent.
  • Haha Buffy staked Drac twice.
Again, the face acting of this guy.
  • I love that Buffy comes to Giles like this, acknowledging that Giles hasn't been her Watcher for a while - but it's to remind him, herself, and us, that there's still so much growing and understanding to be done here. She's an adult but she's in her college years which are all about self-exploration and self-knowledge. She wants to understand her power and her heritage, and she needs Giles's guidance to get through that.
  • And then freaking Dawn appears. Sigh.
  • That is a pretty big HAHA on the audience for a season premiere though. "Mom!" they both yell. And the audience says "whaaaaaaaaa?"
  • And I love that they don't explain it for a while. They just leave her there and everyone acts like she's always been there.
  • It's WEIRD you guys.


Riley: You're under the thrall of the Dark Prince!
Daniel: Bator.

Favorite Lines:

Daniel: Riley: I've lived in Sunnydale a couple of years now. Know what I've never noticed before?
Giles: Uh, a castle?
Riley: A big honking castle.

Arc/Continuity Stuff:

  • Anya's in the credits now!
  • Recurring characters: Tara, Joyce
  • Anya and Dracula hung out a few times back in her demon days.
  • Also Dracula owes Spike 11 pounds.
  • Buffy's on-again off-again scar from Angel's bite gets a cameo.
  • Jelly doughnuts, currently being devoured by Xander, are, as we all know, Giles's favorites.
  • So Buffy has a sister now.


Anya's Hair - short and dirty blonde, curly shoulder length
Xander's Job - Dracula's Butt-monkey
Dead Humans - 1
Dead Undeads - 2 (Dracula didn't die)
Dead Football - 1
Giles Unconscious - 0
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 1
Buffy Breaks a Door - 0
Evil Reveal - 0
Unevil Reveal - 0 
Shenanigans Called - 0
Apocalypse Called - 0

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In Defense of Riley Finn

In Defense of Riley Finn 

or... Why Riley Finn is the Perfect Boyfriend        


         I’d like to get something off my chest.  Right now, in front of all of you.  I love Riley Finn.  I just do.  This is not a confession.  Because confessions are for bad things.  I feel no shame in loving Riley Finn.  And I don’t necessarily feel that Riley is good for Buffy.  But I do feel that Riley is good for Buffy right now.  He entered her life at the perfect time.  He left her life at the perfect time.  

He wants to be your cowboy.
       You can’t talk about Riley before first mentioning Owen.  The lovable and adorkable hunk made only one appearance in Never Kill a Boy on a First Date, but he made a lasting impression in my heart.  He’s a precursor for Riley and I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were somehow related – an opportunity severely missed in the Buffy Universe.  They’re both hunky, larger than life, big doofballs; manly men with hearts of gold.  They want to help.  They want to be your hero.  They want to be Indiana Jones and John McClane all in one; but maybe not Jack Bauer.  They want to save the day.

       “Owen is just so Owen-y”, says Buffy and that sentence may make some sort of sense that’s not except you completely understand what she means.  In the same regard Riley is just so Riley…y. When Riley first meets Buffy, he barely notices her.  He immediately takes a liking to Willow because of their mutual love for psychology, reading ahead and the learning part of learning

        But then something magical happens. Riley notices Buffy; not because “she’s so hot, she’s Buffy”, but because of the way she defends her friends – and also her adorable peculiarities. I think if it were all about Buffy’s hotness, Riley would have started wooing her from the moment he met her in the campus bookstore. And then the wooing!  What boy woos anymore?  A cornbread Iowan boy whose momma brought him up right – that’s who.

        And the courting is fantastic.  We get to see what Riley is all about.  First, he goes to the best friend for information.  And he’s not all sneaky about it; he’s charming and not in a smarmy way.  He uses his knowledge of her cheese-loving for good; if not awkwardly.  And finally Buffy gives in.  Because how can you not?  Especially after the string of love interests she’s had thus far.  From Angel “I turned evil when we consummated our relationship” to Parker “I turned evil when we consummated our relationship,” Buffy hasn’t had the greatest past when it comes to boyfriends.  So it’s no wonder that she gravitated to this beautiful, sweet, husband-material type guy.

          Some say that Riley was a “safe choice”; someone she could rely on who wouldn’t cheat or leave her.  But if that were true, why not choose Xander?  Someone who has been devoted to her from the beginning?  Perhaps it was the timing.  Maybe if Xander had met Buffy in college after her experiences with Parker and Angel, he wouldn’t be stuck in that ‘friend zone’.  Or maybe it’s that one element that Xander doesn’t have: being a bad ass solider. (Shut up, his knowledge from Halloween doesn’t count.  It’s only used once in a while by the contrivance fairy.)

          So their relationship progressed.  Buffy slowly let Riley in…..very slowly.  They started dating but waited a while to sleep together.  Finally, in Hush, Riley & Buffy unintentionally revealed all their secrets.  It took a little bit for the shock to wear off, but Riley seemed happy to have a superhero girlfriend and didn’t seem that bothered that she was way stronger than him. 

Look at that smile.  That smile says, "Yep.  That's my girl.
She just defeated like 50 military guys in under a minute."

          When they finally sleep together, several episodes later, Riley is there when she wakes up which Buffy isn’t expecting.  She isn’t used to it, but it’s exactly what she needs at that moment. I bet he even called the next day…at least he would have if his boss hadn’t tried to kill her.

          This was a time in both Riley and Buffy’s lives where they needed someone stable to deal with some emotional blows.  Riley certainly needed Buffy when his world came tumbling down; when he found out his boss (“mother”) was using her research for evil. And Buffy was indeed there for him.

          But then it happened. Buffy got to a point where she didn’t need Riley anymore.  She had her friends for moral support and didn’t need the grounded boyfriend she had gotten used to.  She was too strong for him and Riley needed to be needed.  So yeah, Riley had some big flaws right there. He needed to be needed and ended up going somewhere else just to feel – something Buffy will do in a couple of seasons. And cheating isn't something I take lightly. Riley was an ass to cheat on Buffy instead of talking to her about how he was feeling.  But the thing is, Riley wasn’t an ass but circumstances were turning him into one and he needed to go.

          That's why the ultimatum he gives Buffy is ridiculous but necessary. It’s what he needs to do to get out and move on. He admits to Xander early on in season 5 that he knows Buffy doesn’t love him (Btw, a friendship that I wouldn’t have minded seeing developed).  And I’m not sure he was 100 per cent right about that.  I think Buffy loved him in her own way but she needed something she never ever quite got.  What was it that Buffy needed? More passion? Angst? Depressing men with stupid hair?  That’s the subject for another time. 

           It’s interesting that Riley is the one person in the Buffy universe that gets a happy ending when it comes to relationships.  I was glad to see him come back for one final episode, married to a strong woman – another superhero – but one that needed him as much as he needed her.  And I’d like to think that Buffy was happy for him.  Because in the end, despite his flaws, Riley was a good guy that deserved to be happy - even if it wasn't with Buffy.

Also, try my new sporcle game: Which Buffy Season Was That?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

You Think You Know What's to Come, What You Are. You Haven't Even Begun.

Series Stats:

Dead Humans - 101
Dead Undeads - 179
Dead Flashbacks - 7
Giles Unconscious - 12
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 13
Buffy Breaks a Door - 19
Evil Reveal - 41
Unevil Reveal - 14
Shenanigans Called - 94
Apocalypse Called - 6

Season Four Stats (including comparison to previous season):

Dead Humans - 23 (-6)
Dead Undeads - 43 (-27)
Dead Flashbacks - 0 (-2)
Giles Unconscious - 0 (-4)
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 2 (-3)
Buffy Breaks a Door - 4 (=)
Evil Reveal - 5 (-5)
Unevil Reveal - 1 (-4)
Shenanigans Called - 20 (-3)
Apocalypse Called - 1 (=)

Overall a marked decrease on all fronts from the previous season. We've still got more Dead Undeads than Dead Humans, so go Team Scoobies, and Buffy continues to break doors at a regular rate, but Giles managed to stay unconcussed for the entire season, and you must admit, that's a little strange. In fact, none of our stats this season were an increase on Season Three's stats - the best they could manage was to break even, with apocali and door breakage, but even our shenanigan count was a bit down. Season Five, we're counting on you to raise our numbers! And if not, well ... Giles has more Scotch.

Zelda's Thoughts:
Okay, so part of the reason we took so long to getting around to writing up our Season Four roundup is how damn long it took us to even get through it. This isn't a reflection on the season, but more on the behind the scenes drama we've both been dealing with. In any event, it's a bit hard for me to sit here and look back on the season with the same kind of coherent unity I've had for the last three seasons, because we had so many breaks. But, you know, I'll try.

I think Daniel and I both said at the beginning that we like this season more than the general consensus seems to, and I'm sticking to that. It boasts some truly strong episodes in the canon, including the Emmy-nominated Hush. And I think the finale (I'm counting both Primeval and Restless here) stands firmly with the series's tradition of strong season endings.

I think the arcs of our principal characters are, for the most part, organically crafted, and honest about how friendships and roles change after high school. Daniel has said, and he's right, that it sucks watching our Scoobies grow apart and not communicate, but they're all feeling massively insecure about these various changes, and worried that if they acknowledge them, their friendships might change or even disappear. So while it sucks to see Xander as listless as he is, or Giles at rather loose (if amusing and musical) ends, it makes sense - they've both lost the grounding daily presence of both the school structure and of having Buffy rely on them, to varying degrees. And as Willow finds herself more in magic - and in her relationship with Tara - she worries if this will pull her further away from Buffy, and so barely mentions either. Buffy, meanwhile, flirts with the idea of a whole new group of friends whose interests are specifically hers - slaying demons - even if their methods differ dramatically. This goes hand in hand with her new boyfriend, who is pulling her, deliberately or not, away from her old high school crowd.

So this is all fun to explore, but it would be ultimately very depressing if they were to end the season as isolated as their arcs seem to be directing them - and as Adam and Spike maneuver them - so it's of course satisfying and heartwarming to have them reaffirm their bond both emotionally and metaphorically as ScooberBuffy (patent pending). But I also like that this conclusion and kickass battle is chased by Restless, where they dream - still in isolation, even with their reaffirmed connection - and we check in with each character, to see how they've grown over the past four years (and especially this year), and where they stand now - their fears for their futures. Willow still worries that she's the same pushover geek she was before she came into her power. Giles has concerns that he's given up the possibility of a real life and family, in taking Buffy on as his surrogate daughter - a daughter, moreover, who doesn't even seem to need him anymore. Xander, still listless in his vocation and scared of climbing out of the basement to become his parents, sees himself as a brother to Buffy, a sexual object to basically every other female in his life, and someone who will never be a son to Buffy's surrogate father (that place being held, evidently, by Spike - har har har). And Buffy - dear, brilliant, strong Buffy - Buffy's dream is more fraught with premonitions, because that's what Slayers do, but she's clearly concerned with the source of her power, the question of what makes her who she is - something that gets explored in a variety of ways (Dracula, Dawn as an extension of Buffy's innocence, even the question of Toth splitting Buffy into Slayer and Civilian).

Okay so um that last paragraph is stuff I guess I didn't say enough of in our Restless post. Sorry about that.

Lest you think I love this season unequivocally, arc-wise in terms of overall story, Season Four is kind of a hot mess. And it's too bad. I think I already discussed this, but I remember being SO EXCITED the first time I watched this season, realizing the dichotomy that was being set up.between Buffy the plucky individual, destroying evil with fairly simple tools and her wits, and the Initiative, this large government-run lummox of an organization, trumping Buffy in both manpower and technology, but lacking in subtlety and any understanding of how to outsmart a demon. And that was going to be so cool. It was going to be really exciting and a celebration of the individual and then, well. And then Adam happened. And instead it was about him. And just. Yuck. So even if they managed to shuffle everything along into that satisfying finale, they missed so much potential, and I shake my head in disappointment.

But then I console myself with remembering Who Are You and Superstar and even New Moon Rising and try desperately to forget that Where the Wild Things Are was a thing

I try, anyway.

Daniel's Thoughts:
Ditto.  Pretty much.

Tune in next week for Daniel's Essay: In Defense of Riley Finn, or  Why Riley Finn is the Perfect Boyfriend.

Yep.  You read that right.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Quiet! You'll Miss the Humorous Conclusion!

Episode 4.22: Restless. Original Airdate 5.23.00
Men with your...SALES

"Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles experience dreams in which they are pursued by a mysterious figure."

Zelda's Thoughts:

  • Oh, no pre-credits scene. I forgot about that. Weird.
  • Awww remember VHS you guys?
  • "It's the feel-good movie of whatever year it was."
  • D'awwww they're all asleep they're so cute my babies.
  • Oh right that was the teaser, get all the credits out of the way before the dreams begin.
  • Man, this episode is so good. So many different textures.
  • Also the music. So good.
  • Awwww it's Oz. My Oz!
  • The lockers and the late bell here at the University of Contrivance are the first clues about Willow's concern that she's still who she was in high school
  • AAHHHHH I LOVE THIS SEQUENCE (apologizing now, there's so much of this ep that I love, I'm going to try to do analysis, but I may just flail a lot)
  • "Your whole family's in the front row and they look really angry!" I love how much fun the actors are clearly having in this, SMG as the flapper, MB as Cowboy Guy.

  • Giles as the director is perfect.
  • "It's about hiding ... It's all about subterfuge." Hey remember when Buffy had that dream at the top of Hush that spelled out that we would be exploring communication in that episode?
  • Props? No. Props? Yes.

  • I fucking love it. I love it so much. I forgot how much I love this sequence because most of what I remember of Willow's dream is the Tara stuff.
  • Oh look it's the Cheese Man, Joss's biggest laugh at his audience he ever achieved.
  • "The play's already started, that's not the point." I wanted to say something really thought out and interesting about this line, because it's always struck me, and I am just blanking. I have been staring at the screen for half an hour, blank blank blank. But maybe it was something about how in Willow's mind, it's not just that she's been pretending for years to not be who she used to be, but that she's convinced everyone else is pretending too, at least on some level. She still doesn't know everything about Tara, Buffy doesn't share when things get hard, Oz left and she doesn't know if she'll ever see him again, Giles is the patriarch but he's been so directionless this season, and here he is a director who can't seem to give a coherent speech. Oh look I said a thing after all. Okay, go me!
  • "I've coming lookin' for a man. A SALESman."
  • This is the best acting Riley has done all season.
  • Buffy's rant. Perfect.
  • Also who's the dead guy on the floor? Just curious.
  • "You must have done something." // "No, I rarely do anything. I'm very seldom naughty." Willow's lack of self awareness, ladies and germs! We'll see it out in full force in season six.
  • Aw little baby S1 Willow! Even the hair!
  • "It's exactly like a Greek tragedy." - shout out to the Scoobies' performance at the end of Puppet Show, the last time Willow attempted acting.
  • Oh man I love the fake Apocalypse Now script. "Men? Oh my god, what's happened to my men? Aaaaaaaaah!"
  • "I remember that it gets better." Xander about his liiiiiiiife.
  • "What's her deal?" // "Big faker." Buffy summarizes the fear inherent in Willow's dream in two words, that nothing she does is the real her.
  • "It's all about the journey, isn't it." Heyo, thesis for Xander's life (since it's certainly not about actual achievements, is it)
  • Poor Xander. All doors lead to the basement, the one place he's most desperate to escape. "That's not the way out." I quote this line a lot, for no particular reason beyond I like the cadence of it.
  • "Go on, put your back into it! A Watcher scoffs at gravity!"
  • The simple absurdity of Giles and Spike on swings is just so charming to me.

  • Also that was totally a Parking lot! Do a shot! scene.
  • I suppose it makes sense that now that Xander knows about Willow and Tara, they'd show up in his dream and make out.
  • "I've figured out how to steer by gesturing emphatically." If I could do that, I might finally get my drivers license.
  • This scoooooooooooooooooore as he climbs through the set - back to the basement. Poor Xander.
  • "I know what's up there!" Yeah, his dysfunctional family, the thing he fears to become, which will come back into play in S6. It's so upsetting.
  • "These will not protect you."
  • I love that we are still trying to explain things through the dream. "It's because of what we did, I know that." Within each subsequent dream, the other dreams are acknowledged and the Scoobies are still trying to solve it. I love it I love it and also sneaky way to give the audience a modicum of exposition in case we're completely lost because what the fuck is the cheese man.
  • I remember enough French to know that Giles just called Xander an idiot.
  • So this sequence is all Apocalypse Now-homage, yeah? Yeah
  • "Where you from, Harris?" // "Well, the basement, mostly." Poor Xander. This sequence is making me feel really bad for Xander. He so clearly feels doomed to mediocrity.
  • "Well, I'm supposed to meet Tara and Willow ... and possibly Buffy's mom."
  • I seriously I just I love Snyder so much.
  • It's the great connector-set sequence! All the sets are connected!
  • But it still leads back to the basement.
  • Oh hey apparently Xander's dad is Healy from Orange is the New Black! Also that dude from True Detective which I just watched in one day a few weeks ago. True story.
  • "This is the way women and men have behaved since the beginning." It's both birds and the bees and the history of the Watchers and Slayers and I'd rather go with the latter so we don't go Greek tragedy with the Buffy/Giles relationship, 'kay? 'Kay.
  • Buffy as the cute precocious daughter is the cutest effing thing.
  • "Buffy you have a sacred birthright to protect mankind. Don't stick out your elbow."
  • Oh oh Buffy's got the First Slayer face paint on.
  • Spike striking poses, so cute. Kind of weird and random as part of Giles's psyche, but ... I dunno. I still enjoy it.

  • "I wear the cheese, it does not wear me."
  • "Honestly, you meet the most appalling sort of people." feels like an Alice in Wonderland allusion
  • The Bronze! Haven't seen you in ages.
  • Anya's joke. Is just. Yes. "Quiet! You'll miss the humorous conclusion."
  • "I have a gig myself, you know." YES GILES WILL SING
  • "That used to be us." // "Don't get linear on me now." metaaaaaaaaa
  • YES
  • YES
  • Everyone agrees with me
  • If only he would clean those glasses he just took off
  • Giles is an actual rock star. It's a thing now.
  • Buffy's turn!
  • I wonder what the significance is of Anya being in Willow's bed. I mean, Joss may have just randomly wanted Anya to be there instead of Willow, because Willow is mostly with Tara now, but I still don't really get why she would be there? She and Buffy are never close. Whatever. This episode is inciting me to over analyze.
  • Aw Buffy's old bedroom.
  • It makes sense that most of the intentional foreshadowing is in Buffy's dream. She used to have all those prophetic dreams back in S1.
  • Poor Joyce in the wall
  • "Coffee makers that think."
  • "A lot of filing, giving things names" gonna take that as a shout  out to biblical Adam
  • "This could be trouble." / "We'd better make a fort." Reference to the boys and their toys, and to their complete lack of understanding of the scope of what they're fighting. Buffy has to be the grown up. "Wait, I have weapons!" she whispers after them.
  • This is so pretty. Buffy in her sweet floral dress and sandals, against the desert mountains, alone in the harsh sunlight
  • Tara's getting a lot of work this episode. Just ... not as herself.
  • "You're not in my dream." // "I was borrowed."
  • "The Slayer?" // "The first."
  • I love Buffy's speeeeeeeech.
  • "That's it, I'm waking up." Yeah, was the Cheese Man the last straw for you, Buffs?
  • Here's how you know Buffy has truly defeated the dream that's trying to kill her - rolling her eyes and breaking out the sass.
  • "You're not the source of me. Also, in terms of hair care, you really wanna ..."
  • "I said there could be dire consequences." // "Yes but you say that about chewing too fast"
  • I love their look of dawning horror when Buffy refers to the Cheese Man. Like it might actually have been significant. Meanwhile Joss is cackling to himself.

Daniel's Thoughts:

  • No teaser. Straight to the credits!
  • Last episode with “Emma Caulfield as Anya”! Cause she’ll be in the credits!
  • Hey Joyce! Remember her?
  • Did Xander just call Buffy’s mom “Joyce?”
  • Hey videos! 90s thing! If we were still tracking 90s things…
  • Buffy snorted in her sleep :)
  • Willow’s dream first:
  • This is really sexy, this scene. I love the drawing on Tara’s back. It looks so cool.

Tara just looks so gorgeous here

  • I love the way Joss writes dreams. He’s so good at it. I have such a problem with the way people write dreams. It always reads false but this is so good.
  • OZ!
  • "Spells" is code. For Lesbian sex.
  • Harmony!

  • Buffy looks amazing with a black bob. --->
  • He’s cowboy guy!
  • Cheese man! – Because there’s always that one thing in dreams that doesn’t need to make sense.
  • “I come looking for a man. A salesman.”
  • Omg, this whole Buffy monologue. MEN WITH YOUR SALES. Omg, I love everything about this episode.
  • The rooms turn into other rooms and the scenes turn into other scenes because that’s how dreams work!
  • Wow. The costumes are so good. Kudos, wig department. Willow looks exactly like season 1 Willow.
  • Even dream Xander is a dick.
  • Oh man…well that’s a fear….ex boyfriend and current girlfriend getting it on….

  • Xander’s dream! Xander in Apocalypse Now!
  • Joyce in a nightie. Ahh…and it comes back. He called her Joyce and then corrected himself to Mrs. Summers. I guess that opening “Joyce” was on purpose.
  • Stop being sexy, Joyce!
  • Hahahah. I love that moment….Xander going to the bathroom and the initiative watching.
  • Spike and Giles on swings!
  • Like a shark with feet, but much less fins. Is that a play on words regarding Riley Finn? Probably not.
  • I love this moment of Xander watching himself and the really bad fake greenscreen.
  • “I’ve been thinking of getting back into vengeance”. A fear of Xander's.  Unintended foreshadowing?
  • Oh the straight male fantasy that lesbians are somehow interested in them.
  • You can write a dissertation on the fact that when the women are interested in Xander, you can hear them speak without them moving their lips. It's like he's putting words in their mouths; the words he wants to hear. It's also interesting that Buffy calls him brother and Anya, his current girlfriend doesn’t proposition him at all.

  • Oh the French! The purposeful bad dubbing like the bad green screen. It’s cool because it’s a reference to all the movies Xander watches. I wish I studied French more. I understood some of that.
  • And more of the bad greenscreen. Apocalypse Nowish.
  • IT’S PRINCIPAL SNYDER! I’m so glad Joss found a way to bring him back – even if it was just for one dream episode.
  • Oh, the doors and the sets leading to one another. This must have been fun, yet really really hard for the set people to set up because it’s just one long shot. It’s Brilliant.
  • Interesting that the first time we see Xander’s dad is in a dream. The line, “Are you ashamed of us” is telling.
  • Giles’s dream!
  • Giles hypnotizing Buffy. Guilt from Helpless.
  • Olivia! It’s so cute, Giles thinking of He and Buffy as a family. With Olivia in tow.
  • Hey! The Bronze!
  • Yay! Anya’s joke! "Quiet! You’ll miss the humorous conclusion!"
  • Yay! Foreshadowing for Giles singing!
  • Giles’ dream is a bit deeper.
  • Buffy’s dream!
  • The first two people Buffy meets in her dream is Anya & Tara which I think is interesting.
  • “You think you know…what’s to come…what you are…you haven’t even begun.” What a great line to let the audience know if they love Buffy, they ain’t seen nothing yet.
  • Mom in the wall, metaphor for leaving her home all season.
  • Adam out of costume!
  • “The demons have escaped. Run for you lives.” Heh.
  • Xander appears briefly but he, Willow & Giles barely enter Buffy’s dream which is telling. Because losing them is the one thing she’s so terrified of.
  • And Buffy’s the one that realizes she’s dreaming.
  • The music is so good in this fight scene.
  • “I’m going to ignore you and you’re going to go away.” That’s how you kill Freddy too! At least in the first one…

Favorite Lines:
Daniel: "But what else could I expect from a bunch of low-rent, no-account hoodlums like you? Hoodlums, yes, I mean you and your friends, your whole sex. Throw 'em in the sea for all I care. Throw 'em in and wait for the bubbles. Men, with your groping and spitting. All groin, no brain. Three billion of ya' passin' around the same worn out urge. Men... with your sales." - Buffy
Zelda: "I walk. I talk. I shop, I sneeze, I'm gonna be a fireman when the floods roll back. There's trees in the desert since you moved out, and I don't sleep on a bed of bones." - Buffy

Arc/Continuity Stuff:

    • First appearance: The First Slayer, Xander's Dad (recast later)
    • Recurring: Joyce, Tara, Miss Kitty Fantastico, Oz, Anya, Harmony, Snyder, Olivia, Adam
    • Foreshadowing (intentional): "You don't know everything about me" (Tara), "Oh that clock's completely wrong" (Buffy's death clock), "You think you know, what's to come, what you are. You haven't even begun" (Buffy's interaction with Dracula, but also the origins of the Slayer line), "Be back before Dawn" (No clue, any ideas?), "We're not demons."/"Is that a fact?" (more on the Slayer origins)
    • Foreshadowing (unintentional): Spike's Randy Giles suit, being like a son to Giles, and a shark with feet, much less fins, and on land, Anya thinking about going back into vengeance
    • Reference to Willow's intention to take a Drama class. 
    • Apparently the bag that Buffy gets the mud to paint her face with is the same bag Principal Wood brings, from his Mother, with the Slayer's heritage (we think?)
    • Reference to Madame Butterfly, Willow's old nightmare, as well as to a Greek Tragedy, her only experience with performing.
    • Joyce flirting with Xander as a callback to Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered
    • Giles hypnotizes Buffy (reference to Helpless)
    • Reference to the bed Buffy made with Faith in Faith's dream

    Anya's Hair - blonde, honey-colored
    Xander's Job - Ice Cream Truck Driver (within the dream)
    Dead Humans - 0
    Dead Undeads - 0
    Giles Unconscious - 0 (Dreams don't count)
    Giles Cleans His Glasses - 0
    Buffy Breaks a Door - 0
    Evil Reveal - 0
    Unevil Reveal - 0
    Shenanigans Called -0
    Apocalypse Called - 0