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


Monday, June 27, 2016

Aw Puppy!

Episode 7.2: Beneath You. Original Airdate 10.1.02 

"A giant worm-like  creature begins stalking a young girl [woman]. As the gang begins to investigate, they realize its appearance in Sunnydale may be linked to Anya."

Zelda's Thoughts: 

  • Another 2002 memory for you: I remember getting super excited when I found out the title, as I immediately thought of Buffy and Spike's conversation near the end of Fool For Love, when she says he's beneath her (echoing Cecily's reproof). Here, as with the title of Lie to Me, the title of the episode operates on a number of levels (Ronnie the worm, The First, and this callback)
  • Germany! Time for our Run Lola Run homage.
  • Bad move, sound mixers/foley artists. The Bringers shouldn't be making grunts. They're mute.
  • Heh. It's actually a fairly good bit of misdirection, planting the "from beneath you it devours" line - which is about The First and the Hellmouth - and then having the ep be about this big underground worm thing, and trick us into thinking that's the thing from beneath us, all devour-y.
  • Is Spike hunting rats a callback to Angel in that alleyway in Becoming?
  • "speaking for everybody who are me in the car" OMG I LIKE DAWN IN THIS SEASON I FORGOT I STOP HATING DAWN
  • Seriously, DB Woodside's delivery is amazing. The post-bastinada joke stuff. "No one ever knows what that thing is."
  • Can we go visit Giles (okay fine, we can visit Tony Head) in England? His place is very pretty
  • Gasp Spike is here. And he got his roots retouched. And his shirt is reeeeeally tight.
  • Oh look, Buffy kept Spike a secret and now everyone's mad at her. That's fun.
  • Hey Dawn and Xander, stop punishing Buffy. She's the one who got almost-raped and it's up to her how she handles her trauma. Stop judging her.
  • So we see later that Spike is not steady and sane, so what is this scene? Did The First leave him alone and let him focus? Or is he under the "Never Leave Me" thrall? We definitely see that he's preternaturally calm and collected in subsequent episodes when he's under thrall. But he's not trying to sabotage Buffy right now, nor is he about to go feeding, which hurts that theory. I can't really find a good in-canon explanation for this current bout of sanity, except to keep the viewers off-balance as much as possible.
  • And now I'm again mad at the writers for how they - many times this season - try to deliberately keep us off-balance by basically trolling us with lies. There's misdirection and then there's this shit. *glares at Giles and his chopped off head*
  • I wonder if Spike genuinely believes it was the three ghost-things in the basement that made him crazy or if he knows the truth. I mean, he doesn't know it's specifically The First who's been tormenting him, but he knows someone has, to the degree that he can't trust his own senses. Especially when it looks like Buffy or Dru. So I now have a follow up question - did The First find him right after his soul was restored, or only after he returned to Sunnydale? Did his guilt drive him a li'l bit bonkers and then The First jumped in to finish the job, or is it all The First? How did he get back from Africa anyway? Did he ride his motorcycle the whole way? Did he ride it underwater? Did he befriend the sea creatures while he did so? Are mermaids real, and if so, can they sing? SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS, YOU GUYS.
  • A+ to Dawn for being awesome and scary and protective of her sister.
  • "I can't say sorry. Can't use 'forgive me.'" Okay but you could maybe TRY STARTING THERE? IDK. JUST A THOUGHT.
  • I get the in-canon morality that the souled demon is not responsible for the un-souled demon's actions - it's how we were able to trust Angel again in Season Three. But like. Remorse is still a thing. As is apologizing. The writers can't make the attempted rape about Spike's feels, okay? It should be about Buffy's. It's her show, it's her trauma, and this is like the last we ever hear of it, on her end.
  • Man, this scene in the Bronze is a mess. All the "banter" about who used to date whom, who boned whom, feels really forced and awkwardly phrased and unnaturally placed and just flat out clumsy first-draft stuff, all for the purpose of landing on Nancy's joke about who hasn't slept with each other yet. The only bit I like is the Xander/Spike eye glance to troll the slash shippers. But the lead up is just clumsily done and it's not funny.

  • I do like when Anya's able to see Spike's soul. It's just a cool touch, and I love her reaction. "Oh my god. How did you do it? I can see you!"
  • Aaaaaaand Spike has snapped. Because his behavior now is definitely not that of remorseful soul-y Spike, or of out-of-his-senses Spike, or of preternaturally calm Spike. So is this thrall-Spike?
  • "You don't want to see [D'Hoffryn] angry. Trust me." Oh how right Anya was.
  • And then stabbing re-humaned Ronnie activates Spike's chip ... which seems to break him out of his bravado/thrall, and send him back into scattered wits Spike, full of nonsense and metaphor.

Also, I consider this a deliberate callback to the same move
 in Fool For Love

  • Oh look, more undelivered promise of awesomeness to come: "This? Just the beginning, luv. A warm-up act. The real headliner's coming, and when that band hits the stage, all of this ... all this ... will come tumbling in death and screaming, horror, and bloodshed."
  • The fact that Spike knows "from beneath you it devours" is confirmation that it's about The First, and not about Ronnie the Worm.
  • "I know this is bad, but it could be worse." // "Oh, it will be."
  • I don't care what the haters say, I love this final scene in the church. Such good acting from both SMG and JM. Really well shot too. 

  • "It didn't work. Costume. Didn't help. Couldn't hide."
  • "I dreamed of killing you. I think they were dreams."
  • Buffy's face when Spike mentions Angel, "He should have warned me." That's when she figures it out.
  • "And now everybody's in here, talking. Everything I did ... everyone I - and him ... and it ... the other, the thing beneath - beneath you. It's here too. Everybody." I remember spending so much time parsing this line, when the episode first aired. It sounded like there were three beings he was referring to, and I was sure one of them was The First, but what about the other two? And I connected it to Anya's bit about "I can see you" and my confusion as to why he was de-crazified earlier and I wondered if there was somehow some kind of personality split within Spike, and what that meant. Reading it now, it seems more clear - there's 1 - current remorseful Spike; 2 - The First; and 3 - "the thing beneath [Buffy]" - a direct callback to their conversation in Fool For Love - the thing beneath Buffy is the monster, the soulless vampire, the thing from which current crazy Spike now feels a sharp disconnect (his excuse for not apologizing about the near rape thing?). Spike still feels the monster inside him.
  • The other thing I keep thinking about is, Spike got his soul because "it's what [Buffy] wanted." He spent the last season and a half using Buffy as his moral compass, his lodestone, because he had no internal one. And he's always one who's been guided by his heart that way. But in order to be a man worthy of Buffy, his moral compass needs to come from within, and that's what his soul is supposed to be. But he's too broken to know how to use it yet, and The First is feeding on that. Basically Spike is just a hot mess right now.
  • "To be the kind of man who would nev- to be a kind of man." the way his voice breaks on that line, oof

Daniel's Thoughts:

  • Frankfurt Germany! This will be theme for at least a few more episodes, right?
  • This is about the same time as Alias and it’s no coincidence that this potential looks like Sydney Bristow, my other favorite kick-ass female hero.

Dead German Potential                            Sydney Bristow

  • Buffy nightmare! I wonder if she had a dream about the Istanbul girl.
  • From beneath you it devours…. Oooh.
  • More crazy Spike… ok.
  • Xander and Buffy talking about Anya being a vengeance demon as if…it’s not a problem…yet.
  • Wood is such a dork. I love it.
  • Hey, Willow is still in Westbury, England….in Giles’ MANSION. Man, his house is big. (I think that’s actually ASH’s house.)
  • Random woman walking her dog and she’s a dick because she’s all like, I shoulda gotten a cat. DOGS RULE, woman.
  • Nancy doesn’t even seem to care that her dog’s been eaten up.
  • Hey, Spike’s not crazy since this morning and he had time to peroxide his hair.
  • Why haven’t they Spike-proofed the house since he left? Since you know, he attacked Buffy.
  • I mean seriously, he got over his craziness pretty quickly.
  • “Something’s coming” - does he not remember speaking to all the big bads that weren’t actually there last week?
  • Seriously, Nancy, your dog just died.
  • Ooh, Dawn being over-protective little sis – I like it.
  • There’s really no reason Buffy would be working with Spike right now. Not just because of what happened last year.  He's been MIA all summer and she just saw him acting all crazy-pants in the school basement.
  • Why is Spike lying? Why not just tell her? He did this for her. And maybe it would make her less scared of him – to know that maybe he’s not a threat anymore.
  • FLIRTY NANCY. YOUR DOG JUST DIED. I like the actress, though, she’s kinda funny.
  • She’s kinda too pretty for Xander, though.
  • What is with Anya’s clothes this season? She’s dressed like an old woman.
  • Anya:

I think my grandmother had this blouse

  • Awww, Puppy! THIS IS WHY ANYA IS MORE AWESOME THAN NANCY (OR ANYONE ELSE). She’s upset about the puppy. Seemingly the only one.
  • Oh, yes, Anya knows! She knows about Spike! It’s such a great revelation.
  • Dude, Spike punching Anya. Not cool. Why is Xander not doing anything? What the hell?
  • Hey, Buffy is defending Anya’s honor. That’s nice. Fucking Xander.
  • And here’s what’s weird. Angel and Angelus are such polar opposites. But Spike is just no different from err…soul-Spike. William? Nah, still Spike.
  • “Sooner or later, that excuse stops working”. No, it doesn’t, Xander. That “excuse” started it all; started her on a downhill spiral and it won’t stop until it’s fixed. You, asshole.
  • Hey, naked guy!
  • Man, more crazy Spike. (bored now.)
  • Hey, now Xander is actually being kinda nice to Anya. That’s new.
  • Hey, remember those few years in the early 2000s when girls wore these like lingerie type shirts? Glad that’s over.
  • Well I’m glad this wasn’t stretched out too much. I’m glad Buffy knows that Spike has his soul.
  • Hugging a cross….sizzling but not burning up like another vamp would…

[context: Zelda recently went full-Khaleesi with her hair]
Spike: *shows up with freshly-bleached hair*
D: (to Z) And it took you six hours to peroxide your hair?
Z: Yes, but for roots it would only take like an hour and a half.
D: So he had time after being crazy this morning.
Z: Yes.
D: And apparently stopped by H&M as well.
Z: And they didn't have his size so he bought smaller.

Crossfire, Part Deux!
Nancy: *hits on Xander*
D: Your dog just died!
Z: It's not like her husband just died!
D: No, it's worse!

Favorite Lines:
Zelda: the final scene. not a particular line, just the whole scene, acting and writing.

Arc/Continuity Stuff:
First appearance: "From beneath you, it devours"
Recurring: potential and bringers, Principal Wood, Giles
Shoutout (the second) to Principal Flutie

Anya's Hair - brown, retro flip
Dead Humans - 1
Dead Undeads -0
Dead Potentials - 1
Dead Doggies - 1
Dead Flashbacks - 0
Giles Unconscious - 0
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 0
Buffy Breaks a Door - 0
Evil Reveal - 0
Unevil Reveal - 0
Shenanigans Called - 0
Apocalypse Called - 0

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Synchronized Swimming - Complete Mystery to Me.

Episode 7.1: Lessons. Original Airdate 9.24.02

"Sunnydale High is reopened, with a new designed campus and a new principal, Robin Wood. It is Dawn's first day at school there and Buffy accompanies her to class, only to discover evil spirits lurking in the basement."

Daniel's Thoughts:

  • Oh man, Season 7 is starting
  • Winter is coming? No, wrong show.
  • What? We’re in Istanbul?
  • Uh oh! Girl running! She’s gonna kick ass, right? That’s where we’re headed? Cause this is Buffy the Vampire Slayer!
  • The Istanbul set is kinda cool. They kinda went all out. Or went to a random movie set.
  • Oops, She’s dead.
  • I love that Buffy followed through on her promise to teach Dawn how to fight. She never actually taught any of the others. Xander still can't throw a punch.
  • When Buffy picks the vamp up, his jackets corners are stretched like….he’s on a contraption.
  • I love how Buffy is using this vamp as a teaching tool and she really has no fear that he’ll hurt either of them. If Dawn messed up, she’d be there to save her. (And she was.)
  • Sunnydale High is back! Where has everyone been going the last few years? Bussing to the nearest other HS, I guess? [When the high school in my hometown collapsed - true story - at first they went on night shift at the middle school, then they bussed to the next town over to share their schools. It took a few years, but they have a new high school now. I wonder if it's evil. - Z]
  • England! Giles is on a horse!
  • Willow seems better. She has red hair again, so you know, that's a sign. [Sideblog where we analyze Lily's hair color as gauge of evil on How I Met Your Mother - Z]
  • And I like this so much. It’s a continuation from last season where Willow realizes that she doesn’t have to quit magic altogether; that there’s good and bad magic.
  • See, this is going to be a good season where all our characters grow and thrive, right? RIGHT?
  • “I killed people, Giles” Well, only one…
  • Dumbledore shout-out!
  • Hey, Xander looks all grown up.
  • Wow, according the blueprints, the principal’s office is as large as the library was. Pretty big office.
  • Marcy shout out!
  • Hey Robin Wood!
  • Man, he mistook Buffy for Dawn’s mom. Even if he was joking/lying, that’s so mean.
  • Class Protector shout out.
  • Zombie ghosts!
  • Sharing way too much, Dawn. This is not how we introduce ourselves in class.
  • Wow, way to embarrass your lil sis on her first day.
  • Lol, Anya & Hallie having coffee; Halfrek in her human form, which is rare.
  • Man, Anya’s shirt is horrible. Her hair is back to being a brunette now!
That shirt, tho.

  • “Is this an intervention? Shouldn’t all my demon friends be here?” “Sweetie, they are.” OMG, Hallie is such a bitch.
  • Dawn’s making a friend!
  • I remember the first time seeing this thinking how scary the zombie ghosts were…but they’re actually kinda lame.
  • The hellmouth’s opening again! Omg!
  • Buffy is acting all wiggy about Principal Wood questioning her past – but I feel like she should be questioning him. She needs to find out what he knows.
  • "Are you dead?” “Stop saying that.” They…only said it once.
  • DB Woodside is funny. He’s got good timing and delivery.
  • “I’m the one who dates dead guys”
  • I love how Buffy has zero fucks for the dead people’s sob stories.
  • Ugh, Spike. And he’s got like weird hair. And he’s crazy…soo… ok. Can we move on?
  • What kind of dead zombie ghost uses a metal pipe?
  • Ugh, I really don’t have time for Spike’s crazy crazy.
  • He tried to cut out his heart? What? Ugh. I just-
  • Zombie Ghost: “Why do you think we picked you? The ones no one will miss.” Uh…the sister of the slayer? Really?  That's completely contradictory because it seemed like they picked Dawn because Buffy wasn't there to save them.
  • So who made the talisman?
  • Dawn has new friends! And Buffy tells them to stick together! I’m sure we’ll see them again! [Right... - Jessie]
  • Aww, Principal Wood quoted Alice (in Wonderland) "Curiouser and Curiouser."  
  • What? Warren? What? Glory? WOW! And now Adam! What is going on? It’s the big bads from each season! The Mayor!!! DRUSILLA, it just keeps getting better.
  • THE MASTER! All of the big bads! This is so chilling. This means it’s going to be a good season, right? RIGHT?
  • OMG, NOW IT’S BUFFY. EVIL BUFFY? WHAT’S GOING ON? (I know, and it’s not that good.)
  • I mean. I really had such high hopes for this season given the first few episodes. It’s such a great set-up. It has the continuity from the last season. It feels like all our Scoobies are growing and changing for the better.
  • Oh well.

Zelda's Thoughts:

  • Home stretch, you guys! We're in the final season.
  • We need to seriously start thinking about what show to do next.
  • Oh right. "Istanbul." I forgot about these Potential chase cold opens.
  • "It's about power. Who's got it. Who knows how to use it." Willow told us this in the finale, and it's the question of the season, and one Buffy won't figure out the answer to until the finale, when she chooses to share the power.
  • Man, Dawn really is like a foot taller than Buffy.
  • I do like the sentiment they started this season with, this return to the old familiar, an acknowledgement of where they started. We start (well, after Istanbul) in a graveyard, with a vampire, a girl, and a stake.
  • I love that they shot this at Tony Head's home. That's just. So cute. And British.
  • And here we have a much more zen Willow, using earth-sourced magic, hair not going black. There's a somberness to her. She knows what the dark power is, and she's still carrying the grief of Tara's death, too. And the weight of having killed Warren (even if the comics take that back in a way that throws a shenanigan at the final sequence of this episode but whatever).
  • "This isn't a hobby or an addiction. It's inside you now, this magic. You're responsible for it."
  • Giles's line, "In the end, we all are who we are, no matter how much we may appear to have changed," over Xander, dapper in a suit and shiny car, looking like a functional adult.
  • I do love that his construction job is actually plot relevant here, with his providing the blueprints of Sunnydale High to Buffy.
  • The principal's office is freaking huge, you guys. It's the same size as the old library, per the blueprints? Wtf.

  • The number of shoutouts to early seasons of this show is warming my cynical heart.
  • Wow, Wood, way to neg Buffy. You came to Sunnydale knowing who she is, expressly to find her, and you pretend to think she's Dawn's mom. I love Wood (and I LOVE DB WOODSIDE) but that was kind of a dick move, when we find out later how much he already knew.
  • Yeah, Buffy strolling around the halls? That wouldn't be permitted even at my small town high school. She'd get caught and hauled out of there so fast. [No one ever checked hall passes in my HS - D]
  • omg tho the ghost guy screaming "Get out get out get out!" at Buffy, especially in a Dawn-heavy episode, has me cracking up.
  • Buffy, stop ruining Dawn's first day of school.
  • Okay but how did Buffy know which room Dawn was in for her class so she could run in screaming and ruin everything?
  • I consider the "Mrs. Czolgosz" throwaway line of Halfrek's a nod to the musical theater nerds, as the only ones besides super history buffs likely to recognize that name. Especially considering she pronounces it like they do in the musical and not how it (apparently) is really pronounced. File that distinction under Things I Know Because of My Dad's Book. (I think it's something like Tsolgots, vs Cholgosh)
  • I get so excited every time Principal Wood shows up. DB Woodside's just such a good actor and so charismatic.
  • Spinning creepy camera work as Buffy talks to Wood. IS HE EVIL. WHAT DOES HE KNOW. CAN WE TRUST HIM.
  • Oops the bathroom floor broke. Xander! Cleanup on aisle three!
  • "I saw the earth, Giles. I saw its teeth." The hellmouth stuff, even though it's scary, is still a nostalgic callback in a way.
  • I remember after this episode aired, the message boards were worried that Kit and Carlos would become the new Willow and Xander, and how much distaste there was for a new cast of children. I even saw a recap that had Kit and Carlos recycling the bitca dialogue. It was kind of cute.
  • At least the show finally acknowledged technology by giving our Scoobies working cell phones.
  • omg Wood reacting to Buffy's fib about her dead dogs. I'm dying.

Thanks to our buddy Lucas for making these two gifs!

  • Buffy: *opens door* *sees giant gaping hole in the floor* *jumps through hole* ... Buffy is not like the rest of us.
  • "Again, wrong sister. I'm the one that dates dead guys." BAHAHAHAHA
  • "Hello, not making myself clear. I don't care how you died."
  • So um ... do we ever find out who placed that talisman that summoned these three random deados? Since they're protecting the door hiding Spike, maybe they're somehow agents of The First, in which case, the Bringers probably placed it. Okay, headcanon accepted.
  • JM is really good at playing scattered wits Spike. His laugh when she asks if he's real. That's the question he's been asking of everyone who's been talking to him for months.
  • I can see the logic of The First going after Spike now he's got his soul. It went after Angel in the same way, after his soul was reinstated by Willow. They see the souled vampire as a way to weaken or even take out Buffy. And Spike, not being used to his soul, was in a much more vulnerable spot than Angel was. And Angel nearly went mad, too. He had Buffy to pull him back. 
  • Cell phones to the rescue! Get Xander to destroy the talisman.
  • Meanwhile Dawn is being awesome and proactive and problem-solve-y and I don't hate her this episode!
  • I'm impressed with the stitching of Kit's bag. I feel like mine would definitely come apart at the seams after the way Buffy swings it, full of bricks.
  • Oh look, Buffy's lying about finding Spike. That will end well.
  • "You really weren't kidding about this place. I guess it hasn't changed." // "I dunno. Seems smaller."
  • "Curiouser and curiouser." Okay can we get an AU where Robin Wood goes to Wonderland and just pwns everyone?
  • mmmmph I love this final scene. I remember going through this whole gamut of emotions the first time. Warren shows up and I'm like WTF YOU'RE DEAD. And then he's Glory and then it keeps going through all the Big Bads (well, the dead ones. and the ones who aren't Angelus). And sure, Adam's hair and makeup is all wrong but LOOK IT'S THE MAYOR I LOVE HIM. It's just so epic. But yeah I think we figured out, my sister and I and probably the message boards, that this had to be The First, what with the morphing among dead characters. And at the time, IT WAS SO EXCITING, you guys. We had such high hopes for this season. The Big Bad, revealed in the premiere, is the source of all evil, it can look like people we know, INCLUDING OUR HEROINE, and we have all these throwbacks to earlier seasons, and there's a high school on the hellmouth again, and we knew this was the final season, and it was just so exciting! We were going out with a bang. We didn't know how disappointingly repetitive and impotent The First would be, how the writers would have to keep creating new henchpeople to give it agency (ubervamp, Caleb, etc).
  • I apologize for the turn of phrase, but Season Seven suffers from an incredible failure to meet its potential.

Favorite Lines:
Daniel: Halfrek: Waitress downtown wished her husband was a frog? You made him French.  Anya: well, he's smelly and with a little mustache...
Zelda: "Humnu?" - Buffy
Netflix and Zelda disagree about the spelling of Buffy's gibberish.

Arc/Continuity Stuff:

  • First appearance: Potentials, Robin Wood.
  • Recurring: Bringers, Sunnydale High on ye olde hellmouth, Giles (because he doesn't love us enough to stay the whole season), Halfrek, The First
  • Shoutout to Buffy's first slay in that puffy orange coat
  • Shoutout to the last two Sunnydale High principals' getting all eaten up
  • Shoutouts to hyena people and invisible people.


Anya's Hair - brown, sideswept bangs, sloppy bun
Dead Humans - 1
Dead Undeads - 4
Dead Potential - 1 (this is a substat of Dead Humans)
Dead Flashbacks - 0
Giles Unconscious - 0
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 0
Buffy Breaks a Door - 0
Evil Reveal - 0
Unevil Reveal - 0
Shenanigans Called - 1
Apocalypse Called - 1 (it's a season-long call, but Willow said it first)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

There's So Much I Want To Show You (Season Six in Review)

Series Stats:

Dead Humans - 155
Dead Undeads - 281
Dead Flashbacks - 9
Giles Unconscious - 17
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 28
Buffy Breaks a Door - 27
Evil Reveal - 46
Unevil Reveal - 18
Shenanigans Called - 129
Apocalypse Called - 8

Season Six Stats (including comparison to previous season):

Dead Humans - 9 (-36)
Dead Undeads - 60 (+18)
Dead Flashbacks - 0 (-2)
Giles Unconscious - 3 (+1)
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 6 (=)
Buffy Breaks a Door - 5 (+2)
Evil Reveal - 4 (+3)
Unevil Reveal - 1 (-2)
Shenanigans Called - 10 (-15)
Apocalypse Called -  1 (=)

The huge drop in our Dead Humans stat was enough to give us pause that we hadn't been counting properly, but it is true that most of what we've battled this season has been either less deadly (the Trio) or more emotionally destroying than the other thing (except when they kill Tara, which is both). Our Dead Undeads count is up in a big way, so go Team Not Evil! We're also impressed that, with Giles's largely absent role this season, he still managed to maintain his clean glasses, and even increased his concussion rate! As for the drop in Shenanigans called, we're inclined to attribute that to apathy about taking it to that degree, considering how much we carped along the way.

Zelda's Thoughts:

Since this is the first season of the show I watched "live" (as opposed to two episodes a day as syndicated on FX), a lot of this is going to be comparing my experience then to my experience now.

I will say that re-watching it this time, particularly with discussions with you all, has helped me better appreciate the ebb and flow of Buffy's depression, as portrayed here. The internet has also educated me that the writers did intend for Buffy to "heal" sooner, then delayed Tara's death and Willow's turn, and that can also explain why they couldn't seem to make up their minds there.

I also remember feeling supremely annoyed with what felt to me like a largely forced plotline of Willow's addiction. Never before this season had we seen magic portrayed as something addicting. We saw it first as a liberation for Willow, and later as a metaphor for her relationship with Tara and her exploration of her sexuality. I know many people felt betrayed by the shift of the metaphor here, and I'll agree it wasn't handled cleanly. They do some backpedaling in the next season, as separating good magic from bad, and recognizing that cold turkey isn't the healthiest approach for Willow. But I'll also say that our rewatch of the whole series has helped me much better appreciate this season's arc for Willow and I actually believe it's very well grounded in how we've seen her develop. Because it's not about magic per se - it's about power. It's about not feeling helpless. It's about an addiction to control and emotional shortcuts. Tara doesn't object to Willow using magic as a rule, but she objects her using it as a crutch - as the first recourse to every problem solve. And Willow's need for control, her fear of being exposed as nothing underneath, is something we've seen as far back as Season One. So I'm cool with that now.

The Trio is such a mixed bag for me - I think the actors are funny, the nerd debates feel very familiar, but they're frustrating as a villain, even if it was a bait-and-switch that we weren't supposed to see coming. And my god the misogyny. I still don't feel Andrew ever truly receives his comeuppance for his actions this season, as he becomes pure comic relief in Season Seven.

As for Dawn ... blah, the inconsistent characterization is so reminiscent to me of Angel in Season One. I blame the writers for not getting it together, but I also kind of want to blame MT, who has only a few colors to paint with, range-wise. Xander's arc is frustrating but consistent. Anya's arc is depressing (and will get more so next season, particularly when the writers just stop writing anything for her at all, wtf), Giles abandoned us, and Tara revealed herself to be the most stable of the Scooby Gang, so of course she must be killed.

Season Six is a hard season to watch, but I'll always be grateful it gave us Once More With Feeling and Tabula Rasa - two gems in the BtVS canon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Willow Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Episode 6.22: Grave. Original Airdate 5.21.02

"The Scoobies continue to try and stop Dark Willow, who is now intent on destroying the world. After Dark Willow neutralizes Buffy, though, Xander is the only one left who can save the day. Meanwhile, in Africa [never not funny], Spike completes the demon trials and gets his reward."

Zelda's Thoughts:

  • "Giles?" // "Giles!" // "Uh oh, Daddy's home. I'm in wicked trouble now."
  • I love Giles's intense focus as he studies Willow, trains his borrowed magic on her. Tony Head is just so skilly.
  • Okay so I adore that the first time Giles looks directly at Buffy, he notices her haircut. And then she hugs him hard. And then Anya points out her hair changed too, which means she also gets a hug.
  • Buffy does a quick summary of each character's arc over S6, and then Giles gives us the salve we didn't know we needed:

  • And then he tries to stop laughing and laughs even harder:

  • I MISSED YOU, GILES, WHY DID YOU GO AWAY. DON'T LEAVE US AGAIN. Especially because when you come back next season you're going to be suddenly all shitty and frustrating.
  • ASH is better at laughing than SMG tho. Smart move to have her be at the point where she's more crying from laughing than anything else.
  • "I know you're all stupid. I should never have abandoned you." CORRECT
  • "But it was my time, Giles. Someone would have taken my place." ...No? The line of succession is with Faith now. And she's still in prison. There was no one to take your place except for a Buffybot. I get really frustrated when people get confused about this. Buffy died for a whole summer and a third Slayer wasn't called. Faith has the succession line in her, and Buffy's out of that equation. She still has the Slayer powers and she can help maintain the balance between good and evil, but she's stepped outside of the Slayer line at this point. I'm not saying Buffy wasn't entitled to stay dead if that's what she wanted, but the succession has had nothing to do with her since Prophecy Girl.
  • Meanwhile, in Africa, blah blah blah Spike fighting randoms
  • ewwwwww bugs
  • "Nothing can hurt me now." Because she's numbed herself
  • Xander, why are you trying to kick in Alpert? That's our staple tomb! Leave Alpert alone!
  • "Mexico, huh?" So much for Jonathan's redemption.
  • "Silly girl, I'm dying." // "No, you're not!" LISTEN TO ANYA, GILES. NO MORE DYING THIS SEASON.
  • gasp! Willow made root demons. Their pincers are rather ungainly but otherwise I like the idea.
  • Here's what I do love about what Xander does here. Yes, obviously, he wants her to not end the world. That would be the most convenient option. But I believe him when he says that if this is where and when it ends, he'd rather be with his best friend than anywhere else. Because he loves her, no matter how Dark Willow she's gotten. There's something beautiful there. "Where else am I gonna go? You've been my best friend my whole life. World gonna else, where else would I want to be?" "If you wanna kill the world, well then, start with me. I've earned that."
  • I think it's not til she starts striking at him that he realizes that's how to stop her - you see it in his face - just keep telling her she's loved, no matter what she does.
  • Alyson Hannigan is really good at making me cry, you guys.
  • "Giles, you're not dead!" // "*surprised* No." // *hugs Giles* // "However, I am still in some pain."
  • And here's Sarah MacLachlan to take us home. Or Mexico, as applicable.
  • Oho they went on location to a real cemetery for this last bit. No parking lots for us!
  • Oh right, Spike's soul.
  • We survived season six, you guys! [And a movie? - Abed]  [Probably would have been better than season 7 -D]

Daniel's Thoughts:

  • GILES!!!
  • “Stay down”, with the flick of a wrist. I love it. Giles has gotten so bad-ass.
  • “When you were still under the delusion you were still relevant here?” – damn, Willow, that’s cooooldddd.
  • Buffy and Anya hugging Giles. Makes me miss him all the more.
  • Anya always gives Giles the best hugs:

They're so sincere.

  • And I’ve always loved Giles and Anya’s relationship. They annoyed the fuck out of each other but you could tell how much Anya respects Giles and how much Giles cares for Anya. I always wished that that was explored more.
  • Buffy: Here’s a list of everything horrible that’s been going on here, Giles: HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA.
  • Oh it’s such a brilliant scene.
  • See Giles? This is why you’re needed here.
  • Giles: I shouldn’t have left. YES, YOU ARE RIGHT.
  • Ok, she threw knives at Giles. Not cool. NOT COOL.
  • Here’s the two most useless characters, Xander and Dawn, protecting the duo.
  • And ok, Xander’s right about not trusting Spike and the Summers’ blind spot about how dangerous he is…but he didn’t really need to tell Dawn that Spike tried to rape Buffy. It wasn’t really his business to tell her.
  • And now Spike time: CGI Bugs crawling everywhere.
  • If you lose someone you love ... the other people in your life who care about you...become meaningless. I wonder what Tara would say about that.” Love that line.
  • Hey, Willow finally created that fireball. Maybe she can use that in season 7 so that no one else gets killed by vamps or you know, ubervamps. Or maybe not.
  • Willow is now monologuing – the final trait of a real supervillain/big bad.
  • The veins on Willow’s face are weird. I don’t think they’re accurate… [No, but they're still awesome. - Z]
  • How convenient that the weapons fell in the hole with Dawn and Buffy.
  • “Willow forced me to help her with her brain!”
  • Lots of work for the stunt people lately.
  • Dawn’s got a point, boo. She lives in a world where she needs to learn how to fight rather than be protected.
  • Yep, that’s a satanic temple alright. Well, just the tip.
  • Uh oh! Earth demons!
  • Now Buffy wants Dawn to help? With absolutely no training?
  • Uh oh. Sunnydale is imploding. Sunnydale: Not yet.
  • Aww, Anya pleading with Giles not to die.
  • Great. Here comes the yellow crayon speech.
  • I wonder what this scene would have been like if they cast Xander with a better actor. Would I give it such shit? Probably. But Probably not as much.
  • OK, it’s actually kind of a cute speech. I just…don’t believe that this would help. At least it’s coupled with the surprise that Giles’ powers that Willow consumed was also a help.
  • And just the part where Willow does that cliché thing where she fake-woman-punches him in the chest without any chance or even inclination of hurting him.

Losing my powers...going back to being weak woman...

  • But I really like this idea – that there’s good magic out there that is more powerful than the evil dark magic. – And that that’s the type of magic Willow needs to learn how to use instead of just cutting off the magic completely. (Which, beginning of season 7.)
  • And to me, this scene is more memorable than the yellow crayon. I love Buffy and Dawn’s relationship and I love that Buffy finally realizes that she has to stop sheltering Dawn and start teaching her.
  • Of course we end the season on Spike. The only thing more annoying than the potentials in season 7.
  • Shoulda been more specific, Spike.

Favorite Lines:

Daniel: "Things have really sucked lately, but it's all gonna change. And I wanna be there when it does. I want to see my friends happy again. And I want to see you grow up. The woman you're gonna become. Because she's gonna be beautiful. And she's going to be powerful. I got it so wrong. I don't want to protect you from the world. I want to show it to you. There's so much that I want to show you." - Buffy

Arc/Continuity Stuff:
Recurring: Giles, Jonathan, Andrew, no one remembering Andrew's name
Anya's Hair - as she points out, she is blonde after not being blonde; ponytail with sideswept bangs
Dead Humans - 0
Dead Undeads - 2
Giles Unconscious - 1
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 0
Buffy Breaks a Door - 0
Willow and Giles Break the Magic Box - 1
Evil Reveal - 0
Unevil Reveal - 0
Shenanigans Called - 0
Apocalypse Called - 1

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Darth Rosenberg

Episode 6.21: Two To Go. Original Airdate 5.21.02

"After killing Warren, Dark Willow tries to track down Andrew and Jonathan. Meanwhile, in Africa [brb, dying of laughter], Spike battles against a numerous amount of foes to try to get his chip removed [this entire summary is a mess]."

Daniel's Thoughts:

  • We start right where we left off. Running through the woods.
  • Anya: “Jonathan and whats-his-face” Hehe.
  • Anya can teleport. Is it sad that, the first thing I thought of if I had teleportation powers is that I could pop over to the store and get some milk for my cereal tomorrow? [Can you grab me some, too? I ran out this morning. - Z]
  • Buffy’s gonna run there! Super-cardio!  And Xander, being not special at all, will take the long way.
  • Sunnydale police station – a place we don’t really see much, but should.
  • It’s such a set-prison.
  • Ugh, I don’t get this hero-worshipping of Warren by Andrew.
  • I love Anya’s no-nonsense breakdown of what happened to Warren and everyone.
  • “So please stop looking at me like it’s your first trip to the circus.”
  • Can’t Anya get his key or something?
  • See, this is why I don’t think Willow is pure evil now. She hurts/stops the cops but she doesn’t kill them when she easily can.
  • I love the way Buffy runs sometimes. It’s so demure.
  • OMG, the Willow scream.
  • Xander stole a police car!
  • Buffy smacking Andrew.
  • Oh hey, there’s Willow – on top of a truck.
  • Really good action scene that they did not have the budget for in season 1.
  • It’s also nice to see a non-set street.
  • Hahaha, Clem doing a potato chip taste test.
  • Demon: “You understand?” “[Yes, I have to take a test. Shirtless. It has to be shirtless right?]””[Why exactly?”][“It’s uh…part of the ritual.”]
  • I wish Buffy remembered that Jonathan helped her defeat Warren. I’m still not sure I understand why that happened, but I wish it would at least come up again.
  • Damn, Rack is so damn creepy.
  • Now he’s a dead Rack.
  • Man, Willow making fun of Dawn is so creepy-funny.
  • Jeez, Andrew is so damn pathetic.
  • “Darth Rosenberg” – love it.
  • Ugh, shut up, Xander.
  • “And if it gets really bad-” “Let me guess, you’ll propose?”  Daaaaayyyyummmm Anya. Someone call the burn unit!

  • “That wasn’t vengeance. That was solace.” How could Xander not understand that?
  • “You don’t get to play the martyr.” YES. YES. EVERYTHING ANYA IS SAYING. YES. ALL OF IT.
  • What is with the self-hating in this episode? First Xander and now Willow.
  • Ooh, Willow’s laying down the truth-bombs.
  • Oh, so Willow can teleport now…when she couldn’t just last episode? I’m assuming it was the Rack-iness – so I won’t shenanigan that.
  • Ooh Buffy vs. Willow smack-down.
  • Breaking the magic shop!
  • GILES!!!!

Zelda's Thoughts:

  • Another chilling moment - Villains ends with Willow saying "One down ..." and this episode is titled "Two To Go"
  • So this originally aired back to back with Grave, so this is sort of the finale part one.
  • As Buffy goes charging off, we begin the arc of Xander Feels Useless and Human, in preparation for Xander Saves the Day with Crayons
  • "Laugh it up, fuzzball!" It was in this horrifying moment that I realized Andrew might be me.
  • "You were out of the Trio a long time ago ... *tries to resist making the reference. fails* ... in a galaxy far, far away." Actually it was this moment. They're really playing up the humor of our clowns here. I guess it's because 1 - we know they're no longer the Big Bad, and 2 - Villains ended pretty heavily, and we could use some comic relief.
  • "Oh my god, Warren." // "Oh my god, me."
  • "Don't move, you'll be safe here," the guard says as bricks from their prison are magically ripped out. He certainly fits the criterion of deeply stupid required for the Sunnydale police force.
I don't have a comment, I just love this moment.

  • Oooh Wlllow's rocking the banshee scream.
  • "Boys, if you don't knock it off, I will pull this car over and you can just walk to your painful deaths from here."
  • "But we didn't do anything." // *Buffy punches Andrew in the face* // *Zelda cheers*
  • I like the nod here that Jonathan's also known the Scoobies for ages. He remembers old Willow too.
  • Clem is ranking his snacks. I love how this has grown into his primary character note, his affection for snacks. No wonder this red-eyed, creepy-looking sweetheart became a fan favorite. He's just so endearing.
  • Back to Africa! Full of vaguely-phrased allusions to Spike's soul/chip.
  • I can't help but laughing, though. "Here we are now, entertain us." // *suddenly fire fists* // "SON OF A -" *is facepunched*
  • "No, I can't [sense Willow], which means whatever she's feeling, it's gone way beyond simple vengeance." It's true. She already got her vengeance on the actual direct cause of Tara's death. It didn't fix it. It didn't fix the hole in her. But she has to keep going anyway.
  • Rack is such a gross presence. I mean, way to commit to the dealer parasitical thing, from the writers and actor. But. "You still taste like strawberries, only now you're ripe." Ugh. Can't wait for Willow to dead him.
  • Digging the black veins Willow's sporting now.
  • "You don't have to talk. Just think real loud. I can hear you." So creepy. So detached.
  • "Wanna go back? End the pain? You'll be happier." That's definitely the trajectory Willow's heading for, for herself.
  • "I can't do this. I'm in retail. Stupid ancient Sumerian."
  • Xander, you don't get to go all self-pitying and being butt hurt if Anya's mean to you. You fucked up, Xander. As Anya says, you don't get to play the martyr.
  • Though I do have sympathy for the survivor's guilt he has right now, having two of his friends get shot.
  • "Let me tell you something about Willow. She's a loser and she always has been. People picked on Willow in junior high school, high school, up until college. With her stupid mousy ways. And now? Willow's a junkie ... The only thing Willow was ever good for ... the only thing I had going for me were the moments, just moments, when Tara would look at me and I was wonderful." It kills me. It's the first time she's admitting to pain, and it's when she shifts from third person trashing of Willow to using "I." But it's also ... it's heartbreaking that she considers the only good thing about herself was the love reflected back at her by Tara. We know her self-worth wasn't always so warped like that.
  • That spinning move to get them to the Magic Box is so cool.
  • Anya's amazing. She's terrified, speaking a language she doesn't understand, but she's there and she's chanting and she doesn't stop. And she's the only thing holding Willow's power at bay.
  • Gosh, it's lucky Spike is the least flammable vampire ever. He just held the fist of Fire Hands for like 10 seconds and the fire magically didn't spread to engulf him.*cough* SHENANIGANS.

  • And then Anya stays when the rest evacuate. Anya's awesome.
  • I can't believe they actually end up following Andrew's half-baked Mexico plan. Especially after Jonathan agreed to stay in Sunnydale and face prison for his crimes.
  • "The Slayer thing really isn't about the violence. It's about the power." We'll return to that theme next season.
  • I'm so glad they didn't telegraph his presence in the guest star credits at the top of the episode

Favorite Lines:

Daniel: Xander: "And if it gets really bad ..." Anya: "Let me guess, you'll propose?"
Zelda: "I'd like to test that theory." - Giles

Arc/Continuity Stuff:

  • Recurring: Jonathan, Andrew, and the joke about no one remembering Andrew's name, Clem, Rack, GILES
  • Dawn knows to look for Rack because of that one time Willow dragged her to his lair


Anya's Hair - blonde, ponytail, sideswept bangs
Dead Humans - 1
Dead Undeads - 1
Dead Flashbacks - 0
Giles Unconscious - 0
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 0
Buffy Breaks a Door - 3
Willow Breaks a Prison - 1
Evil Reveal - 0
Unevil Reveal - 0
Shenanigans Called - 1
Apocalypse Called - 0