PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A SPOILER-RICH ZONE

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 30, 2014

A Sodding Breadbox

Episode 5.4: Out of My Mind. Original Airdate 10.17.00




"While Riley's Health begins to deteriorate, Spike and Harmony force a surgeon to remove the behavior modification chip embedded in Spike's brain."



Zelda's Thoughts:
  • Parking lot! Do a shot. I'd have alcohol poisoning if I actually did shots every time they use the parking lot as a set.
  • I feel like a long tied neck scarf wouldn't be the best for slaying? too easy to get strangled?
  • "Buffy, what are you doing here?" // "My job?!?"
  • And then Spike joins the fray because of reasons.
  • Tasting your own nose blood is pretty gross, Spike.
  • What's that? Spike's delivering an ominous threatening speech? Time to undercut it by having him fall into an open grave!
 *dusts hands*

  • Oh hey reminder that college is a thing. I love me some French Revolution debate.
  • This is actually making me really retrospectively sad, that Buffy is applying herself so hard at her studies, both academic and Slayic, knowing that it won't last long because Buffy is not allowed to have good things.
  • It's nice that Xander is good at something, all carpentery and such.
  • "What do you see?" // "Willow hand."
  • Aw they built Buffy a training room and it's huuuuuuuuuuuge. Let's celebrate by having Riley be a hyperactive puppy.
  • Dawn pouring all the cereal out to get to the prize - another sign the writers intended the character to be younger than they cast. By the time I was 14 I knew how to get prizes out without sacrificing delicious sugary cereal.
  • NO NO NO NO NO JOYCE COLLAPSED.
  • I like that Dawn's stethoscope playing is what leads to the realization that Riley is sick.
  • Dawn's a great catalyst this ep - she gives Buffy the idea of tipping off The Initiative to Riley's illness by speaking into Riley's tapped phone.
  • Did Riley just spike the basketball? I don't think that's how you sport.
  • Shenanigans! Graham said The Initiative has been at Riley "for weeks" about his illness. Bull freaking shit.
  • "Harmony, is it a sodding breadbox?"
  • Buffy, you ripped up that perfectly nice money! Bad Buffy, bad!
  • Ugh. Riley. Don't let this kill you because you want to be strong enough to arm wrestle your Slayer girlfriend. It's not quite the same but it's reminding me of Angel deciding he couldn't afford to stay human with Buffy.
  • "Loving you is the scariest thing I've ever done, Buffy." // "I don't know why." I really love that exchange. I've been trying to articulate what it is I love about it and I'm having trouble. It's what Buffy says, and the way she says it. That it shouldn't be scary, that it should be easy, natural, that it's not a competition but a partnership and there needs to be trust.
  • So um. They don't shave Spike's hair before cutting into his skull? They also didn't even bother to cut a hole in the blue sheet and you can see him moving against the sheet. One big shenanigan on this surgery.


  • Wow. Is he just like. Putting a bandaid on Spike's hair?
Yes, he is
  • Also the gauze is nowhere near where he was operating.
  • Parking lottttttttttttttttt.
  • Meanwhile Riley's heart surgery also has the tiniest bandage known to man. 


  • Listen, I know about laproscopic surgery but this was done in 2000, and I'm pretty sure that's not what was happening here.
  • Also they didn't bandage or even clean Riley's bloody knuckles. This is the worst doctor ever.
  • Oh right this is when Spike's crush starts officially with the kissing dream. "Oh God, no. Please, no."


Daniel's Thoughts:


  • I always feel like that one crypt they have is blow-up. Like there’s someone with an air pump blowing it up before each scene.
  • I was going to say how cool it is that Buffy staked a vamp before he even made it out of the ground, but…there’s no way she could have. It looks like she staked his head. SHENANIGANS.
  • Ugh, shut up Spike. “I will know your blood, slayer…I will make your neck my chalice and…” Seriously, shut up. Your poetry sucks!
  • Willow’s so cute that she’s proud that she and Buffy are having an intellectual debate.
  • All this witty banter. Back and forth and back and forth! I want to write it all down!
  • How does the Magic Shop have so much space? It’s huge.
  • Oh, Harmony. She’s so sweet for a vampire.
  • Yes, I know it’s a recurring theme: Smoking=Evil. And vampires are evil so they smoke…but how can they if they don’t even breathe? I’m not going to shenanigan it. I mean it’s kind of a series long shenanigan.
  • Oh man, Joyce, “Who are you?” Again, with the good foreshadowing. Also, it's laying out the rules of Dawn.
  • Ugh, Ben. He looks like Ken-Doll. Meaning his hair looks plastic.
His hair seriously looks fake

  • Very subtle click on the phone, initiative guys. Nope…no one is listening.
  • Oh, fantastic. It’s Graham. The most boring character to ever boring.
  • It’s like he’s being forced to be on this show.
  • And why is everyone in southern California wearing a damn sweater?
  • Jesus, would it kill you to have an expression, Graham?
  • I love how Anya thinks Xander’s metaphor is about them. She’s so adorable. Xander never knows what he’s got.
  • Wow, Buffy has a loud knock.
  • “How about knocking?” She…did? Didn’t you hear it? It was really loud.
  • Riley’s so scared to lose Buffy that he’s willing to risk his life. What an idiot. A romantic, lovely, sweet idiot.
  • “Peroxide-head” heh.
  • Sorry Spike, still got yer chip.
  • Did Riley just have heart surgery without anesthesia? Shenanigans?
  • And after all this, Buffy can’t at least walk him home?
  • This dream is so stupid and narcissistic and so Spike and I so wish it wasn't prophetic.


Crossfire!
Buffy: "If that's what I wanted, I'd be dating Spike."
Zelda: smiles a Cheshire cat smile at Daniel
Daniel: glares at Zelda

Favorite Lines:
Zelda: "In my montage, I have glasses." - Buffy
Daniel: "Oh! Who put the monkey heads near the Styx water? Do we *want* to pick exploded monkey out of our hair?" - Anya


Arc/Continuity Stuff:
  • Recurring: Tara, Harmony, Graham, dilapidated Sunnydale High, Adam's caves
  • First appearance: Ben the Intern
  • Spike watches Dawson's Creek


Stats:
Anya's Hair - dirty blonde, curly
Dead Humans - 0
Dead Undeads - 3
Dead Flashbacks - 0
Giles Unconscious - 0
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 0
Buffy Breaks a Door - 1
Evil Reveal - 0
Unevil Reveal - 0
Shenanigans Called - 4
Apocalypse Called - 0

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kill Us Both, Spock!



Episode 5.3: The Replacement. Original Airdate 10.10.00



"When a demon creates a Xander double, the real Xander must convince his friends of his true identity."






Daniel's Thoughts:

  • Aww, Double date night!
  • It’s interesting that I like the Xander-centric episodes like this and The Zeppo. But I mean, its an episode that points out all of Xander’s flaws and weaknesses…so what’s not to like?
  • Aww, Anya’s in a cast – continuity from last episode.
  • Riley’s got huge hands!
  • “Who uses a cauldron anymore?” Cut to cauldron and freaky looking demon. I love how this show does that.
  • I like Riley’s red leather jacket. It matches Buffy’s pants.
  • Anya is so wonderful. That’s all. She just is.
  • It is an awesome set. Err…Apartment. I look forward to musicals being set here.
  • Xander says that Anya has her own place. But does she? We’ve never seen it...yet.
  • I love the demon in this episode. He’s so unique looking.
  • I love that Buffy assumes Toth is a British expression meaning moron since there are so many words that do.
  • Aww, Hero Riley is so cute.
  • Riley: “People say they’re recycling. They’re so not recycling.” It’s like he gets me.
  • He’s scavenging, yes. Spike is scavenging for Buffy mannequin parts.
  • Oooh, two Xanders! I wish Toth had hit Riley instead…
  • Is it weird that I find Nick Brendan’s identical twin more attractive than him?
  • Also, is it possible that I just identify with Dawn…being the bratty kid sibling?
  • Joyce’s first headache….  Seemingly innocent right now… This show is so good at subtly foreshadowing.
  • Everyone calls each other by last name at the construction site because that’s what manly men do.
  • So red herring about the coin – yet – isn’t it still kind of annoying that he’s shining it in his boss’s eye?
  • Hey! It’s Anya’s apartment! HOW DOES SHE AFFORD AN APARTMENT WITHOUT A JOB? Shenanigans on Anya’s whole way of living and lack of explanation. Shame, writers, shame.
  • I love that Willow plays along even though she has no idea what’s going on with Xander’s freak out.
  • I love Xander’s snoopy-dance.

  • “It’s a robot!” Not yet, Xander. Not yet.
  • “I get in trouble and Buffy saves me.”//“That’s not true, sometimes we all save you.”
  • “I need [Anya]!” “Really?” Shut up, Willow. She’s so judgey. Anya is not Cordelia, Willow. Stop it.
  • I do love that they remember that Willow had an evil twin (as well.)
  • Hey, Xander’s new apartment has a balcony!
  • And I really like Xander getting into Anya’s psychology. It’s pretty amazing and something that should have been explored more and not just in Xander-centric episodes.
  • Anya’s foreshadowing her ‘David Brinkley’ line in Once More with Feeling.
  • Giles said, 'Oh Dear Lord.' That’s important!
  • “Which one is the real one?” Weren’t you listening, Riley? They both are!
  • “Being a Slayer is part of what you are. You keep thinking I don’t get that. There’s no part of you I’m not in love with.” See? This is why I love Riley.
  • Aww, Buffy’s trying to spare Xander’s feelings.
  • I love how Anya’s just not subtle at all about sleeping with both Xanders. Also, if they do…is that gay or just masturbation?
  • Marc Blucas is so wonderful in this moment talking about how lucky he is to have Buffy and when he confides in Xander and says, “But she doesn’t love me,” it just breaks my heart every time.


Zelda's Thoughts:

  • Yay this episode is fun!
  • I'm impressed that they waited five seasons to take advantage of the fact that Nicky Brendon has an identical twin. Well, besides stunt doubling.
  • I love that Buffy is critiquing the kung fu for bad strategizing.
  • Toth's makeup is gorgeous.

  • Riley's humor is very supportive this ep, first with the humoring of "dryer food," and then his willingness to hypothetically say "la la, I'm on my way to Xander's."
  • I love that Anya is planning out where the Scooby meetings will be in the new apartment. It's absolutely something I do when I go apartment hunting. Except less with the Giles and more with the bookcases.
  • YEAH GO GILES YOU HIT THAT TOTH WITH OOFDAR.
  • "Well, I'm not dead or unconscious so I say bravo for me." YEAH GILES YOU GO
  • On that note, this has been circulating the tumblrsphere lately, and it seemed appropriate given our stat counting:

  • "He called you a Toth. It's a British expression. It means, like, moron." I love this so much
  • "He mentioned Buffy? Where do we find him and how hard can I kill him?" Riley, your alpha is showing.
  • "Oh, there's a nice lady vampire who set up a charming tea room over the next pile of crap." I just love his delivery here.
  • Spike still very firmly not on the Scoobies's side, even though we saw last episode that he still likes to kill demons to work out his issues.
  • GASP TWO XANDERS.
  • Two very unfortunately costumed Xanders.
  • Speaking of odd outfits, Buffy, what is you wearing.

  • Oh it's Dawn. I almost forgot about her.
  • NO JOYCE THAT ISN'T YOUR TWO TEENAGED DAUGHTERS HEADACHE NO STOP HURTING US WHEDON.
  • So much rampant sunlight in Spike's crypt.
  • So that bit with the mannequin is clearly a nod-before-anyone-knows-it to his impending crush.
  • The job's winding down? Really? But that building isn't close to being done. 
Do I just super not understand how constructing buildings works?

  • Yeah, I'm calling a shenanigan.
  • It really is well done - I was taken in completely the first time I watched this - because SuaveXander is just so smooth. And little nods like "Harris. Me. Yes." which if Xander were completely Xander would have a bit more twitch to it, even though it's still his type of syntax.
  • Plus  the MacGuffin of the flattened nickel SuaveXander is fiddling with.
  • Okay, I'm calling a shenanigan again. You don't get the apartment the day you fill out the application, much less the day you sign the lease, unless it's the first day of the month. Also why is there already a working phone and like I'm happy for Xander and his magical beautiful apartment, but I'm pretty sure that's not how it works.
  • Willow's humoring of SpazXander even though she doesn't know about the two Xanders yet.
  • It's so cute that Xander thought Willow set a fire for him. Cute and a little arson-y?
  • YAY THE SNOOPY DANCE.
  • Buffy: "Toth." SuaveXander: glares at Buffy ENIGMATICALLY. I see what you do, show.
  • "It's a robot. It's an evil robot designed from evil parts that look like me designed to do evil." // "Uh huh. Or it's Toth." // "OR IT'S TOTH." I love this sequence.
  • I love this episode, you guys. The humor is top form, the segues between scenes are awesome, and it's a great development for Xander.
  • "But I never help. I get in trouble and Buffy saves me."
  • I like that Anya and his love for her is what spurs despairing SpazXander back into action.
  • "Hey wait til you have an evil twin. See how you handle it." // "I handled it fine." BEST THING EVER.
  • Shenanigans! SpazXander hit the play button on the voicemail and it was only the pertinent part of the message, not the whole message SuaveXander left earlier.
  • Aw little Anya, wanting to learn how to be an adult. But also because her injury freaked her out and she's feeling her mortality for the first time since she lost her demonhood.
  • "Being suddenly human? I think I can get what that would be like." You're trolling us, show.
  • Poor SpazXander. He loves Anya and he came to fight for her, but he doesn't have the words to plead with her.
  • "This time I know I had that locked." Poor Giles's lack of privacy.
  • "I said 'Oh, dear lord.'" // "You always say that." // "Well, it's always important!"
  • I'm gonna read all this talk about a robot Xander as foreshadowing for Buffybot, and you can't take that away from me.
  • And see this is also still part of the exploration of the essence of Buffy's slayerness - the idea of splitting Buffy into simple human Buffy and SlayerBuffy, The question, which we'll explore later, of whether distilling Buffy into her slayerness would make her more powerful, but also is she losing her humanity by delving into slayerness too far. It's interesting, because Buffy spent so much of her teenhood fighting that which would not let her be normal, and she's embracing it much more now, the full integration of all that is Buffy, but the dichotomy is still a thing to continue exploring.
  • XANDER NO WHERE DID YOU GET THE GUN.
  • Oh it was Anya's gun. Okay, that makes sense.
  • I like that SuaveXander protects both Anya and SpazXander from Toth.
  • "Check, candles and pretense."
  • You know, Tara's absence from this episode isn't helping with her already-feeling-left-out-ness.
  • "But she doesn't love me" oops
  • Also just like
  • I'm sorry
  • If he believes that - and I will go along and say he probably loves her more than she loves him - he should use his words. He should talk to her, not let it stew. Not let it fester and poison, not drive it to the point of vampire whorehouses and ultimatums.

Crossfire!

Anya: I may have as few as 50 years left!
Daniel: Or three.
Daniel & Zelda: Fuck you, Joss.


Favorite Lines:

Daniel: "When do we get a car? And a boat. No, wait. I don't mean a boat. I mean a puppy. Or a child. I have a list somewhere." - Anya
Zelda: "He called you a Toth. It's a British expression. It means, like, moron." - Buffy



Arc/Continuity Stuff:

  • Recurring: Joyce
  • Anya's still injured from the events of Real Me.
  • Xander's parents are pretty awful.
  • Xander's been in construction for at least two episodes but his job there is ending ... or is it?
  • Shout out to the old factory.
  • Joyce has a headache.
  • Shout out to Willow's evil twin

Stats:

Anya's Hair - dirty blonde, curly
Xander's Job - construction, FOREVAH
Dead Humans - 0
Dead Undeads - 1
Giles Unconscious - 0
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 0
Buffy Breaks a Door - 0
Evil Reveal - 0
Unevil Reveal - 1 (Suave Xander is NOT a Toth) 
Shenanigans Called - 4
Apocalypse Called - 0

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
layer."







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!




Crossfire!
Joyce:

Zelda; Joyce, what are you wearing?
Daniel: Is that a giant safety pin?
Zelda: And what is that shirt?
[later]
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
Daniel: 


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.

Stats:

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’)
  • SEE GILES. BUFFY NEEDS YOU.
  • 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!
  • GILES IS CLEANING HIS GLASSES. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME.
  • 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.
  • EW XANDER DO NOT EAT THE SPIDER DON'T DON'T DON'T EW FUCK EW
  • 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!
I AM DRACULA, BITCH!
  • 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 HIS FACE HIS FACE YOU GUYS.
HIS FACE.
  • 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.


Crossfire!

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.
Zelda: 





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.

Stats:

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!