Saturday, 24 December 2011


Buffy: Who Are You? Vs. Linkin Park (Numb)

WRITER: Joss Whedon
DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon


Part 2 of this story sees Buffy and Faith having switched bodies with Buffy trapped in Faith’s body, drugged up and on the way to jail, before being stolen away from the cops by a Watcher’s Council wetworks team. Faith, meanwhile, is busy practising living in Buffy’s skin whilst also planning to skip the country courtesy of mommy Summers’ credit card. Having some time to kill before she leaves, Faith takes Buffy’s bod for a test drive, stirring up some trouble amongst the Scoobies, before moving in on Riley, trying to take the big unwitting guy on a sexy slutty Faith ride. But Riley is having none of it and insists on ‘making love’ to who he thinks is Buffy. This turns out to be a deeply disconcerting event for Faith. Genuine physical love is alien to her and experiencing it puts her in direct contact with something she hasn’t known for a long while: her conscience. Meanwhile Buffy escapes the Watchers and goes to a sceptical Giles for help. Tara and Willow soon turn up having already worked out what’s going on. The witches have devised a magical plan to get both slayers back in to their correct bodies. But first they have to find Faith. Speaking of, the dark slayer is at the airport and is about to skip the country when she sees on TV that a local church in Sunnydale has been taken hostage by a bunch of crazies (vamps she realises). That pesky conscience starts to sting her again. Meanwhile Buffy has also seen the same news item and is rushing to the scene to rescue the parishioners. Another slayer vs. slayer showdown seems imminent.


It’s the beginnings of the road to redemption for Faith. By ‘becoming’ Buffy she gets to really see and feel the goodness and love that surrounds Buffy and the effect it has on her, making her stronger, more resilient, making her care. It also allows Faith to see herself for what she truly is, that the pain and anger she holds on to, for so long aimed at Buffy, is really aimed at herself. And in the end showdown at the church, Faith lets that pain and anger out. She gets to pummel on herself, literally, unleashing all of her self-loathing. Faith’s continued redemption carries on in season one of Angel, which runs concurrently with this season of Buffy.


Adam, a vampire gang, the Watcher Team, and Faith.


Well it’s a Joss episode so it’s great. But you want specifics? Okay…

Sarah and Eliza. They are both wonderful playing each other. I bet that Sarah acted out Buffy’s scenes first while Eliza watched, then copied her, and vice versa. In many ways Eliza has the hardest job seeing as how Buffy doesn’t have the same big character tics as Faith – the cocky swagger, bad girl attitude, catch phrases. But Eliza does a great job. She captures Buffy’s earnestness, her wide eyed pleading, her little looks she gives when scared, confused, the way she reacts when she says something wrong or when she goes off on a bit of a tangent. Sarah, meanwhile, gets Faith down pat. She masters the swagger, the way Eliza holds herself, her unique vocal inflections. To be honest, it’s weird that Buffy’s friends don’t think something’s wrong almost immediately. It’s Tara, a stranger to Buffy, who realises.

Mirror. The scene early on with Sarah as Faith, alone in the bathroom, staring in to the mirror, practising being Buffy, saying Buffy-like things and pulling odd faces. It’s utterly brilliant and quite unnerving. Sarah is looking directly in to camera, speaking directly to us with the editing being deliberately erratic. The sequence is designed to emphasise the dark chaos of Faith’s mind, to put her (and us) off balance. “Because it’s WRONG!” she keeps repeating, trying to make it sound correct. Pure genius!

Faith and Spike. The scene at the Bronze where Faith (in Buffy’s body) has a run in with Spike is fab. Of course Spike thinks she’s Buffy and while he’s being all pissy and macho Faith throws him totally off guard by coming on all sultry, slutty, sexy, flirtatious. And for a while Spike doesn’t know how to react, looking like an undead rabbit caught in headlights. Poor chap.

Willow and Tara. We’ve guessed for a while now where their friendship was headed. But this episode confirms it. Tara pretty much tells Willow how she feels. The pair then ‘do a spell’ together to access a higher plane in order to help Buffy. The dreamy sequence of the two girls’ spell casting together, eyes closed, breathing hard, both of them building to a point of ecstasy and then collapsing is well done if not exactly subtle.

Faith meeting Tara. Willow brings Tara to the Bronze where they run in to Faith, though Willow of course thinks she’s Buffy. Willow introduces Tara to ‘Buffy’ and goes to get a drink. Faith quickly realises the true nature of Tara and Willow’s relationship, saying to Tara, “So Willow’s not driving stick anymore.” She is also casually cruel to poor mousy Tara, making fun of her slight stammer.

Faith and Riley. Faith (in Buff’s body) then goes to find Riley and tries to seduce him in her usual aggressive, dangerous way. Riley doesn’t want that kind of thing and insists on being gentle and making love. The scene is great. It is not in the least bit sexy or erotic but feels rather creepy and unpleasant. It’s all about character and tells us so much about Riley and how he feels about Buffy as well as how Faith sees herself and how she views men.

Church fight. The Buffy and Faith vs. vamps, then Buffy vs. Faith fight at the church is great. Some splendid fight co-ordination and stunts.


British goons. The Watchers Council goon squad is a bit rubbish for a so-called special ops team. Plus they are annoyingly cliched British, calling people a “ …ponce.” A word I only ever hear in American TV shows when people are trying to be British.

Holy Hostages! The vampire church/hostage thing is a bit odd. It feels more like a purely functional thing for the script rather than a genuine event that comes out of the story. It’s there only to get Faith to start on her road to redemption and to have her confront Buffy yet again so that they can be swapped back in to their own bodies. Still, some nifty fights and stunts.


The mirror scene. “Because it’s WRONG!”


Willow (regarding Faith): "Ooh, I wish those council guys would let me have an hour alone in a room with her. If I was larger, and had grenades."

Anya: "We were going to light a bunch of candles and have sex near them."
Faith-in-Buffy: "Well, we certainly don't want to cut into that seven minutes."
Anya: "Hey!"
Xander: "I believe that's my 'hey.' Hey!"

Faith-in-Buffy (to Riley): "What nasty little desire have you been itching to try out? Am I a bad girl? Do you want to hurt me?"

Giles: "Um, if you are Buffy, then you will let me tie you up without killing me until we find whether you are telling the truth."
Buffy-in-Faith: "Giles, Faith has taken my body, and for all I know she's taken it to Mexico by now. I don't have time for bondage fun. Ask me a question, ask me anything."
Giles: "Who's President?"
Buffy-in-Faith: "We're checking for Buffy, not a concussion."

Buffy-in-Faith: "Oh, when I had psychic power I heard my mother think that you were like a stevedore during sex. Do you want me to continue?"
Giles: "Actually I beg you to stop."
Buffy-in-Faith: "What's a stevedore?"

Faith-in-Buffy (manic, beating up on Buffy-in-Faith): "Shut up. Do you think I'm afraid of you? You're nothing! Disgusting! Murderous bitch! You're nothing! You're disgusting!"


Faith’s full redemption story was originally supposed to play out in its entirety through this season of Buffy. But it was seen as too much extra story to incorporate in to the season and so it was decided instead to move the rest over to Angel with Buffy doing a guest appearance. A good idea as Faith works great in Angel. The two characters have a lot on common and make a good team. Something they are still doing in the current official comics continuation series ‘Angel & Faith’.


We got Faith in Buffy. 4.5 (out of 5)

Sunday, 18 December 2011


Buffy vs. Faith smackdown

WRITER: Douglas Petrie
DIRECTOR: Michael Gershman


Buffy is scared for Riley, wounded and back in the hands of the Initiative. She starts planning a desperate raid on the facility…when Riley suddenly shows up. He seems better and says he just walked out, albeit after they tried to stop him. Buffy is joyful to see her man back to his old self and in seemingly good shape, though still kinda sore from his Adam inflicted wound. Meanwhile, across town, in the hospital, Faith, still unconscious following her battle with Buffy at the end of last season, is dreaming scary dreams. In those dreams she is being constantly stalked and attacked by Buffy. Then, after the pair tussle in a rain-sodden open grave, Faith finally appears victorious. And wakes up. Disorientated, she escapes the hospital and wanders the town, running in to a demon who gives her a present from an old friend. The Mayor. He left her a recorded video message to watch if/when she were ever to wake up. Part of his message is to tell Faith that with him gone and their plan failed, the dark slayer will be all alone with no place in the world for her anymore. So he gives her a small magical device. Then, message over, and with her mind set, Faith sets out to track down Buffy, to seek revenge. However Buffy has now been forewarned, having been told by the police that Faith is awake and on the loose. Buffy immediately starts searching for her. The next day Faith surprises Buffy on campus and the pair fight. But Faith goes and escapes. Later that night though, she turns up at Buffy’s house and takes Joyce hostage. Buffy arrives to save her mom. And thus another brutal slayer vs. slayer fight ensues. But before Buffy can get the upper hand, Faith employs her magical gift from The Mayor. A beat later and Buffy clocks a distracted Faith, knocking her out. The police arrive and take an unconscious Faith away. Buffy’s mom asks her rather stunned looking daughter if she’s okay, to which ‘Buffy’ eventually replies with an evil smile: “Five by Five.” Gulp!

To be continued…


As Faith is back so we return to the whole mirror image/dark side of yourself thing that Faith represents to Buffy. She also acts as Buffy’s conscience, pointing out her flaws and selfish shortcomings. In this episode we are reminded that Joyce has not been a part of this season except for early on when Buffy was feeling lost and alone. Since then, her mom has been a sidelined character in Buffy’s life, something Faith gleefully points out to them both. She’s not wrong. When Buffy took the ones she cares for most in to hiding a couple of episodes ago Joyce was noticeable in her absence. It is also cool to note that in Faith’s head Buffy is the monster, the cruel one who wants nothing but to cause pain.


The glorious Ms Lehane


Gotta have Faith. She’s my second fave character in the Buffyverse and Eliza Dushku rocks my world in this role. To have her back is brilliant! As always she’s an inferno of anger, lethal violence and dangerously provocative sexuality. And yet beneath all of that lives a scared, damaged and deeply vulnerable child. Here, Faith is desperate to find a new life and to take revenge on the person she believes ruined her old one. Namely Buffy. Faith makes for a brilliant villain. In this one episode there is more sense of danger and dread than in the entire season so far.

The Mayor. Awesome to see Harry Groener back as Mayor Richard Wilkins. He’s only in two scenes - in Faith’s dream enjoying a nice picnic with her, then again in the video message that newly awakened Faith watches. Such a great character. A truly loveable bad guy.

The script. Ace Faith writer Doug Petrie returns to the character he does best using Faith as a conduit to explore the darker, more selfish realms of Buffy’s soul, to show us Buffy as the monster, the big bad in someone else’s life. He manages to show us Faith as a victim. A victim of her upbringing and of her own doing with Buffy as the single physical embodiment of everything bad that has ever happened to her. The Buffy/Faith mirror image thing is then taken to its logical ends with the episodes final uber-cool reveal.

The fights. We get two major slayer vs. slayer smackdowns. The first is in broad daylight at Sunnydale U in front of hundreds of students. The second is in Buffy’s house where windows, doors, furniture all get destroyed. Both are great. The first is briefer and more of a traditional Buffy battle, while the second is a big ol’ brawl with loads of property wreckage as bodies go flying through glass doors, tables are crushed, walls pounded. As always, the director, fight co-ordinators and performers do us proud. The camera stays back and just lets ‘em go at it. Editing is rhythmic and propulsive and we get to hear and feel every single bone-crunching blow.

Dream sequences. Faith’s dream sequences are terrific and tell us lots about how she feels and what scares her as well as foretelling a key event in season five. Buffy and Faith are making up a bed in Buffy’s home when Faith says they have to get things ready cuz “Little sis is coming.” Just shows Joss and co. had lots of Buffy planned out in advance. Once more continuity (past and forward) will prove to be a major strength of this show.

Gutted. While out searching the woods for Adam, Buffy and Xander come across a dead demon hung in the trees with its innards splayed open. According to writer Doug Petrie this is a direct homage to Silence of the Lambs.


Why the hell does Buffy think Xander can fix an Initiative blaster? He ain’t Scotty.

There is some seriously awful costuming in this episode. I’m no fashion expert but Xander’s orange vest/shirt combo is hideous. And Willow’s fluffy orange hat she wears throughout is equally nasty. Also, what they dress poor Tara in is far from flattering. At least Faith looks cool. But then she’d look cool in a garbage sack.

After the fight on campus, Faith escapes and we see her vault a high stone wall. As she does, the whole thing wobbles rather obviously. EEK! Also, any Buffy fan will know that this fake wall is a part of the exterior standing set on the Buffy production lot. We see it all the time as part of the graveyard.

Right before Buffy finds the demon hanging from the trees, we can clearly see someone in the bushes to her right. It looks like a boom mic operator as we can see the long pole reaching out above him. Oops!


'Buffy': “Five by Five.”


Xander (regarding Adam and Faith): "I'd hate to see the pursuit of a homicidal lunatic get in the way of pursuing a homicidal lunatic."

Willow: "That was the funnest coma ever."

Buffy: "Faith, these are innocent people."
Faith: "No such animal."

Willow: "She's like this cleavagey slutbomb walking around going 'Ooh. Check me out, I'm wicked cool. I'm five by five.'"

Spike: "Can't any one of your damned little Scooby club at least try to remember that I hate you all?"

Joyce: “Are you sure you’re alright?”
‘Buffy' (evil smile): “Five by Five.”


The first day in this episode is Friday, February 25, 2000 - four days before it actually aired in real world time (February 29th 2000).

Around the time Eliza Dushku was filming this episode she was also filming the well thought of and highly successful cheerleader comedy Bring it On in which she co-starred with Kirsten Dunst.


I now have Faith in this season. 4 (out of 5)

Friday, 16 December 2011


Short episode promo

WRITER: Marti Noxon
DIRECTOR: David Solomon


Professor Walsh is dead and her monstrous creation Adam is on the loose. Riley’s Initiative pals think that Buffy killed Prof. Walsh but they soon discover the truth when Adam finds, kills, and dissects a young child in the woods, curious about what makes the little boy work. Buffy and the Initiative separately investigate. They search everywhere for what they think is an escaped Polgara demon. Meanwhile Riley is acting strange: paranoid, angry, violent. With Xander’s help, Buffy sneaks in to the Initiative to find out what has been going on with Riley as well as the mysterious ‘314’. It soon becomes clear that Riley is suffering withdrawal from a secret drugs cocktail Maggie Walsh had been feeding him and her other soldier boys with. As paranoid Riley starts accusing Buffy of betrayal (especially after seeing Spike hiding at Giles’s and then Buffy in a demon bar) things seem ready to explode. And then things get even worse: Adam suddenly turns up, having returned to the Initiative, looking for answers too. The horrible secret of ‘314’ is finally revealed to all.


The twisted parental/family theme continues as Adam reveals to Riley that they are ‘brothers’ - If not genetically then by the fact that they were both created and nurtured in their current forms by ‘Mommy’ Maggie Walsh. She saw them both as her creations, her children. So now we are going to have two warring brothers – one of whom is desperate to have the other with him, by his side, and will do anything to make that happen. There’s also the continuing theme that life is not black and white. It is not straightforward. Riley sees things very simply and rigidly whereas Buffy has learned to manoeuvre her way through the confusing, oft contradictory maze of life. This is all gonna be a big wake up call for Agent Finn.


Adam and a withdrawal-ridden Riley


Continuation. This episode continues directly on from where the last episode ‘The I in Team’ finished, from the very same scene in fact. That’s the second time Buffy has done that this year, the previous one being from Hush to Doomed.

The mystery of Tara. Amber Benson is sweet as mousy Tara. She secretly and deliberately sabotages Willow’s demon locating spell - a character point that will pay off in episode 6 of season 5 entitled ‘Family’. Talk about planning ahead.

Life of Riley. This episode is a showcase for Marc Blucas. Riley is gradually becoming unhinged as he suffers major drugs withdrawal. And Blucas is excellent. Seeing nice, affable, wholesome Riley slowly degenerate in to a violent, paranoid, abusive psycho is kinda cool and scary. The scene in Willy’s Bar where he threatens to shoot dead a terrified woman is pretty intense. So stuff the haters cuz I like Riley. And I like Marc Blucas as Riley.

Buffy and the gang hiding out in Xander’s basement. The three girls sharing the bed and watching cartoons is cute, as is Giles’s annoyance at his uncomfortable night spent in a beachball chair. Then, dressed in her stylish Yummy Sushi pyjamas, Buffy goes and gives a commanding speech to the gang about what she’s gonna do next, which she quickly concedes isn’t really commanding at all while dressed in PJ’s with fish on them.

Evil Adam. What Adam does to the little boy (all off screen thankfully) is ghastly. The scene where they meet is reminiscent of the one in Frankenstein where the monster meets a little girl by the lake, then throws her in, drowning her. George Hertzberg is rather good in this scene and later when confronting Riley and Buffy at the Initiative. His cool, dispassionate manner is disconcerting and at odds with his deeds and his appearance.


Disjointed. This is a season plotting episode. Its main function is to link story points together across various episodes and advance the main season arc. As such, it feels more like a series of incidents and events than a cohesive story in its own right.

Continuity errors. The Polgara demon was captured the night before this episode starts. But two days into the episode, Riley says that "the Polgara demon [we] captured last week" must have killed Walsh. And later, Willy says that he heard a Polgara demon was in town and taken off the streets "a week or two ago."

A 90’s Demonoid. I like the design and look of Adam if not being totally sold on the way the character is used as the big bad. However for a state of the art human/demon/cyborg, why the heck would he have an old fashioned floppy disc drive in his chest and use that to load up info? C’mon, this was made in the year 2000! The internet was in full flow. Couldn’t he have had some better way of accessing info? Wireless hacking in to networks maybe? It just looks really silly.


Riley freaking out at Willy’s Bar.


Buffy: “This is Spike. He's um... it's a really long story. But he's not bad anymore!”
Spike: “Hey! What am I, a bleeding broken record? I'm bad! It's just... I can't bite anymore, thanks to you wankers.”

Buffy: “I'm the only one that can pass the retinal scan.”
Xander: “The — Eww! I don't wanna see that!”
Buffy: “Retinal scan, Xander.”

Xander (amazed, seeing the Initiative base): “I totally get it now. Can I have sex with Riley, too?”

Spike: “Double shot of O-Neg, keep. Make it the good stuff. I don't want no freakin' Orangutan.”

Buffy: “I feel an attack of dumb blonde coming on.”


Buffy's "yummy sushi pyjamas" are real. They are made by the same company (The Cat's Pyjamas) that made the butterfly pyjamas she wore in "Beer Bad."

Joss is very definite about how Tara’s name is pronounced. It is Tear-ah, not Tah-ra as we Brits would say. He apparently tells people off for saying it wrong.


Riley loses it. 3.5 (out of 5)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


A short promo for this episode

WRITER: David Fury
DIRECTOR: James A. Contner


Riley officially brings Buffy in to The Initiative where she gets a beeper and lots of reading material. To begin with, Buffy is excited and swept up in her new world. But a worried Willow tells her to be careful and watchful as they don’t know what the Initiative is really all about. Once inside, Buffy discovers that things in the Initiative are need to know only. Riley and his boys just go on mission as ordered and do as they are told no questions asked. But when Buffy comes in to the mix she starts asking questions of Professor Walsh. Questions that are making the Professor more and more uncomfortable – especially about the mysterious ‘314’ as mentioned by Ethan Rayne in the previous episode. Soon, Professor Walsh, thinking Buffy too much of a liability, hatches a nasty plan to send our girl out alone and have her trapped and then killed by some rogue demons. Then, come episodes end, the mystery of ‘314’ is revealed, with deadly consequences.


The primary theme here is about questioning authority, not just taking things on blind faith. Riley and his boys are trained and conditioned to just do as they are told, no questions asked. But Buffy is the total opposite. She simply has to ask questions, she has to know what she is fighting for. She wants reasons. And they better be good ones. There’s also a weird rather twisted parental thing going on with ‘mommy’ Maggie Walsh and her ‘children’ Riley, Adam, and even Buffy. Maggie wants to create perfect (in her eyes) children who will behave just as she directs them to behave. Buffy does not fit the bill and so needs to be kicked out of the family. Permanently.


Maggie Walsh, Polgara Demons, and Adam.


Nasty Maggie. In this episode we realise just how nutty Prof Walsh is. And what she’s been doing all of her demon experiments for. Her cold and calculating attempt to kill Buffy is…cold and calculating. Lindsey Crouse is nicely chilly in her final appearance on Buffy.

Spike needs help. In a lovely reverse of last episode, Spike gets shot by an Initiative tracking dart and needs Giles’ help to escape them and to get the dart out. Let’s just say Giles gets his money back. Heh.

Buffy and Riley’s bonk/battle. There’s a beautifully and rather erotically filmed sequence in this episode which crosscuts Buffy and Riley making love for the first time with them in violent battle with multiple demons.

Willow and mousy Tara becoming closer. Aww.

Willow’s spell to ionise the atmosphere in Giles’s home has an amusing hair raising effect.

It’s a trap! The sequence where an unwitting Buffy is sent by Prof. Walsh in to a deadly trap is great. Watching on monitors, Maggie thinks Buffy has been killed…just as Riley turns up. Maggie tells Riley that something terrible has happened, that Buffy rushed off alone and against orders, and is now dead. As Maggie is busy lying to Riley, Riley sees on the monitors behind the professor Buffy’s grim face appear. Shocked, Professor Walsh turns to see Buffy alive and well as our girl tells her that she’s made a big mistake. And that she’s going to find out what a slayer really is. Yes!

Adam. The secret of ‘314’ is revealed. A huge demon, human, cybernetic hybrid monster stitched together ala Dr Frankenstein’s creation. Though Adam was never my favourite Buffy big bad, he is still a striking looking creation. Kudos to the make-up guys. And to actor George Hertzberg for wearing it well.


Buffy wears out her welcome with The Initiative kinda quickly.

Professor Walsh makes a rather hasty exit (due to Lindsey Crouse suddenly deciding she wanted to leave).

I love Buffy but she can be a bit of an unfeeling so and so sometimes. Whenever something new and shiny comes along she’s kinda quick to drop her friends, especially poor Willow. It happened last season with Faith. And look how well that turned out. Still, that’s part of the main theme of this season – the power of true friendship, being more confident, more powerful when with the right people.

Adam. Yes, I know he’s in the ‘Why it rocks!” section above but I’ve always had mixed feelings about him. He looks cool. The basic concept behind him is pretty good (putting science and the supernatural together in to a physical form). But he just always felt kinda flat and lacking in any real challenge for Buffy. Plus there’s no real connection between them. In season one, The Master and Buffy were locked together in prophecy. In season two, Angelus was Buffy’s ex-lover. In season three, Faith is the temptress and the dark reflection of Buffy, and The Mayor is an odd (and evil) fatherly presence. The connection here is between Riley and Adam, not Buffy and Adam. I think Buffy always works best when she has a real emotional connection to the big bads she battles.


Grim-faced Buffy on the monitors behind a shocked Professor Walsh, telling her she’s going to find out what a slayer really is. Go Buffster!


Willow (about Buffy): “Guess she's out with Riley. You know what it's like with a spanking new boyfriend.”
Anya (re: Xander): “Yes, we've enjoyed spanking.”

Buffy (about Riley's lunch selection): “ ... A Twinkie! That's his lunch? Oh, he is so gonna be punished.”
Willow: (Miserable) “Everyone's getting spanked but me.”

Buffy: “You said it was big. You told me, but you never said it was huge!”
Riley: “Don't like to brag.”

Walsh : “You might want to be suited up for this.”
Buffy: “Oh, you mean the camo and stuff. I thought about it, but on me it's gonna look all Private Benjamin. Don't worry, I've patrolled in this halter many times.”

Buffy (grim-faced on monitors): “Professor Walsh? That simple little recon you sent me on — wasn't a racoon. Turns out it was me, trapped in the sewers with a faulty weapon and two of your pet demons. If you think that's enough to kill me, you really don't know what a Slayer is. Trust me when I say you're gonna find out.”


Professor Walsh’s exit feels rushed for a good reason. Lindsey Crouse suddenly decided she wanted to leave the show, forcing the writers to bring forward her demise by several episodes. A shame.


The Team works. 3 (out of 5)

Monday, 12 December 2011


A short promo for this episode.

WRITER: Jane Espenson

DIRECTOR: Michael Gershman


While the gang are all moving on in their lives with new college careers and/or new relationships taking up their time, poor Giles is feeling ignored, left out, forgotten. Buffy hardly calls on him anymore and has completely failed to mention the fact that she’s dating Riley and that Riley is part of The Initiative, an organisation Giles knows nothing about as he never got told by Buffy that the commandos he’s been investigating are in fact a secret government demon hunting outfit based beneath Sunnydale U. Giles is understandably annoyed at this, hearing it for the first time by accident from Willow. Later, an encounter with old nemesis Ethan Rayne leads Giles and his once-upon-a-time friend to go for a few beers, allowing Giles to drown his sorrows…only to wake up the next morning having been turned in to a huge, ugly Fyarl demon by dastardly Ethan. Naturally the ex-watcher seeks out the gang to help him. But they can’t understand his demon-speak and think he’s the rampaging monster who’s kidnapped the real Giles. Amazingly only Spike can understand him. And so, for cash, the mercenary vamp agrees to help Giles track down Ethan Rayne and reverse the spell, to hopefully return Giles to his old human self.


Giles is unintentionally sidelined, forgotten, ignored. Plus he also gets castigated by Professor Walsh who suggests that Buffy has lacked a strong father figure in her life, lacking discipline. And to top it all off, nasty ol’ Ethan Rayne gets him drunk and turns him in to a demon, hoping that an unwitting Buffy will then slay her former watcher. Becoming the demon personifies what Giles is feeling: old, angry, and not recognised by the gang anymore.


Ethan Rayne, The Initiative (kinda)


A strong theme. Jane Espenson’s script is right on the mark. It’s meaningful, character driven and very funny indeed.

It’s the Giles and Spike show. For a significant portion of this episode Giles (albeit in demon form) teams up with Spike to find Ethan Rayne. The two together make a great odd couple team – bickering like a couple of old women. One might be evil but the pair share a certain unspoken bond what with being English an’ all.

A car chase. Yep, we get the first Buffy car chase as the Initiative pursue Spike and Demon Giles in Giles’s knacked out old car with Spike driving. It’s kinda small scale but quite cool and mostly played for laughs with Spike having trouble finding the gears.

Scaring Professor Walsh. The simply genius moment where Giles, in his demon form, makes Spike stop the car just so he can run out and scare Professor Walsh, then casually hops back in to the car feeling a little happier with life.

Robin Sachs. Yep, he’s back as chaos worshipping sorcerer/Giles nemesis Ethan Rayne. And he’s great. The scene with the pair of old mystics and one time friends getting drunk over a few pints is most amusing. While Giles is sharing his troubles, Ethan is busy trying to drunkenly pick up the waitress. It’s funny and is also a useful plot point for later on.

Tony Head. This is Giles’s episode. And Tony Head steps up to the mark. He really sells the tired, hurt, world weary Giles. And when he becomes a giant scary demon encased head to toe in prosthetics and creepy ram horns (great make-up BTW) he is obviously having a ball. His violent clumsiness is great as is his desperate attempts to make himself understood by the gang. But it’s the scaring Professor Walsh moment that is complete and utter genius.

That crappy Citroen finally gets totalled. Get a proper car Giles.


It takes a while until Giles actually turns in to a demon.

Xander and co. don’t exactly do a proper search of Giles’s home before coming to the conclusion he isn’t there and that he’s been kidnapped/eaten by a demon.

The resolution is cute but pretty unbelievable. We’re expected to believe that Buffy stops at the last moment from killing Demon Giles by recognising the look of disappointment in his eyes. Huh?


Demon Giles taking time out of hunting for Ethan to give Maggie Walsh a well deserved scare. Priceless.


Buffy (introducing Giles to Riley): “Giles was the librarian at my high school.”
Riley: “Ah, I've seen the library. It's gone downhill since you left.”

Buffy (about her surprise party): “Of course, you could smash in all my toes with a hammer and it would still be the bestest Buffy birthday bash in a big long while.”

Walsh: “So, the Slayer.”
Buffy: “Yeah, that's me.”
Walsh: “We thought you were a myth.”
Buffy: “Well, you were myth-taken.”

Giles: “What am I? I'm an unemployed librarian with a tendency to get knocked on the head.”

Ethan: “I've really got to learn to just do the damage and get out of town. It's the stay and gloat — gets me every time.”

Giles (about Ethan): “You have to help me find him. He must undo this, and then he needs a good being killed.”
Spike: “And I'm supposed to do this just out of the evilness of my heart?”


In an online chat, Jane Espenson said about Spike after he crashed the car: "That was cut... for time. In fact, he got out of the car injured and he said 'I can kill demons. I can crash cars. Things are looking up!' It’s too bad this got cut. It was a nice moment. And now you know..."


Demon Head. 4 (out of 5)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Short trailer for this episode

WRITER: Marti Noxon, David Fury, Jane Espenson

DIRECTOR: James A. Contner


Beginning where ‘Hush’ ended, Buffy and Riley are sitting together, not talking, unsure how to begin explaining to each other about their now not-so-secret lives. Eventually they do, and Buffy reacts badly. She wanted a nice normal guy. But now she seems to think that a relationship with Riley would be doomed. And so tries to end it between them. But Riley doesn’t understand and won’t walk away so easily. The couple’s heart to heart is suddenly interrupted by an earthquake. Riley is excited. But Buffy is scared as she sees earthquakes as omens of impending doom. She goes to see Giles who seems utterly unconcerned by the quake, putting it down to the usual Californian landmass shifts. Meanwhile Willow, at a party, makes a gruesome discovery, while Spike, who’s still staying with Xander, has become suicidal due to his now utterly miserable and degrading existence. Pretty soon though, Buffy is proved right about the earthquake being an omen of doom when the gang discovers that a demon cult is planning to reopen the Hellmouth beneath the destroyed Sunnydale High in order to usher in the apocalypse.


It’s about attitude, positive and negative thinking, being fatalistic. Buffy starts the episode utterly fatalistic – about Riley, the world, everything, but she gradually changes as it goes along, discovering that it is possible to rewrite at least part of your own destiny. Plus it's also about never quite being able to leave your past behind, but also letting it go enough so as not to ruin your future. Willow and Xander are both unhappily reminded about their geeky pasts, while Buffy is still living in her past, haunted by her doomed romance with Angel. Then of course the gang quite literally revisit their past by having to return once more to Sunnydale High to battle evil.


The Vahrall demons


Three of the best. You’ve got three of the series’ best writers credited for this ep. As such, there are some great character beats and lots of wonderfully funny scenes and dialogue.

Suicidal Spike. James Marsters is hilarious as poor miserable Spike who’s been reduced to living in Xander’s basement, doing laundry and wearing some god-awful clothes. The scene where he tries to stake himself by falling on a table but only destroying said table is very funny. He can’t even do that right. In this ep poor Spike reaches an ultimate low. Luckily by episodes end he discovers something that gives him a new lease on (un)life.

Sunnydale High. Yay! We get to visit the semi-collapsed and burned out remains of Sunnydale High complete with chunks of charred Mayor Meat.

Xander’s ol’ pal. Riley thinks he recognises Spike (dressed in some awful Xander clothes). Spike, putting on a dreadful American accent, declares: “Me? No. No, sir. I'm just an ol' pal of Xander's here.” Heh! What you have here is an American actor playing a Brit doing a bad American accent. Most amusing indeed.

Joyful Spike. Towards episodes end Spike discovers that though he can’t hurt humans he can hurt demons, much to his immense joy. The last few seconds of the episode shows an excitable Spike trying to get a TV watching Willow and Xander up and out with him to go and find evil to fight, ”For the safety of puppies….and Christmas.” Good ol’ Spike. He just wants to do some damage. And if it’s only to demons then so be it.


What story? The actual story itself is a bit naff. It’s just some demons trying to open the hellmouth to start an apocalypse. It’s paper thin. Basically this is an episode to cover the fallout from ‘Hush’ and to move the characters in to new positions for the rest of the season, though thematically it works ok within the terms of the episode itself.

Is it just me or does Giles’s voice in the scene where he’s telling Buffy that the earthquake is nothing to worry about sound a bit odd? It’s almost as if his lines were rerecorded and then overdubbed. It sounds a bit…fake.


Gleeful Spike right at episode’s end.


Buffy: "I'm the Slayer. (Riley looks blankly.) Slay-er. Chosen One. She who hangs out a lot in cemeteries. (He still looks blankly.) You're kidding me! Ask around. Look it up. Slayer, comma, The."

Riley: "Buffy. She's pretty cool, huh?"
Forrest: "Yes, already! She's cool. She's hot. She's tepid. She's all-temperature Buffy."

Giles: "Oh — as usual — dear."

Spike: “My sodding sleeping chair's bloody... sodden.”

Xander (to Spike): “I hate to break it to you, O Impotent One, but you're not the Big Bad anymore. You're not even the Kind of Naughty. You're nothing but a waste of space. My space! And as much I always got a big laugh watching Buffy kick your shiny white bum, and as much as I know that I could give you a little bum-kicking myself right now, I'm here to tell you something: You're not even worth it!”

Buffy (anxiously to Giles about the earthquakes): “I told you. I said 'End of the World,' and you were like pooh-pooh, Southern California, pooh-pooh.”

Xander: “Think of the happy. If we don't find what we're looking for, we're facing the apocalypse.”
Spike (cheering up): “Really? You're not just saying that?”

Spike (on his newly regained bad-assness): “That's right! I'm back and I'm a bloody animal! Yeah!”

Spike (excited to a bored looking Xander and Willow): “I say we go out there and kick a little demon ass! What, can't go without your Buffy? Is that it? Too chicken? Let's find her! She is the Chosen One, after all. Come one, vampires, Grrr, nasty! Let's annihilate them. For justice, and for... the safety of puppies, and Christmas, right? Let's fight that evil! Let's kill something! (Frustrated now) Oh, come on!”


As of this episode Marc Blucas gets added to the opening credits

Forrest tells Riley that he "don't got game," which might be an in joke seeing as how Leonard Roberts who plays Forrest co-starred in the 1998 movie He Got Game.


We’re doomed, we’re doomed! 3 (out of 5)

Friday, 2 December 2011


The Gentlemen are coming...

WRITER: Joss Whedon
DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon


Buffy has a disturbing dream featuring a glimpse of a very creepy looking ghoul and a little girl singing a strange nursery rhyme. Back in awake land, she and Riley clearly like each other a lot but seem reluctant to communicate that fact to each other. Giles has an old friend to stay (Olivia) so he has Xander take Spike for a few days. Xander though is having problems with Anya. She wants to know where their relationship is going and Xander seems unable to communicate his feelings to her. Meanwhile Willow has joined a disappointing Wicca group but finds a possible new friend in quiet, mousy Tara. Later that night, a group of scary, ghoulishly grinning ‘Gentlemen’ float in to town accompanied by their weird straightjacket-clad henchmen. These ‘Gentlemen’ steal everyone in Sunnydale's voices, before then starting to harvest human hearts from conscious victims who've been rendered unable to scream. Trapped in total silence, Buffy and the gang eventually work out what’s going on. And the next night Buffy sets out on patrol to find and stop the nasty fairytale ‘Gentlemen’ before they can steal any more human hearts. The only problem being, Riley and his soldiers have been sent out too, meaning Buffy and Riley may very soon come face to face while battling the shared demonic threat.


It’s all about communication. How often what we say gets in the way of what we mean. Actions usually do speak louder than words.


The Gentlemen


Everything about ‘Hush’ rocks! It’s a Joss episode and my second favourite episode of Buffy ever.

A legend. This episode is legendary. It can be argued that, along with one or two other episodes of Buffy, ‘Hush’ has transcended the series to become a pop culture entity in its own right. You can watch this ep totally separate from the rest of the series, know what’s going on, and absolutely love it. It is scary, creepy, vicious, visually stylish, funny, thematically rich and just all round fab. One of the best hours of television ever.

The Gentlemen. Inspired by fairytale villains mixed in with the influences of Nosferatu, Dark City’s ‘The Strangers’, and a heavy dose of Tim Burton weirdness, these guys are truly the stuff of nightmares. Their ghoulish appearance, eerie gliding, weirdly polite manner and horribly rictus grins only add to their uber creepiness. The best Buffy monsters by far, they have also earned a place in the wider pantheon of great screen monsters. A genius and truly scary creation. Brrr

Doug Jones. The fabulous mime artist/actor Doug Jones plays the lead Gentleman. You’ll know Doug’s work as Abe Sapien in Hellboy and as Pan in Pan’s Labyrinth amongst others. Once you know him he is easy to spot even under loads of make up. And he always manages to be brilliant!

The script. For a 44 min episode of which 27 mins has no dialogue, Hush is brilliantly written. A lot is exchanged between actors in looks, behaviour, body language i.e. using forms of communication other than speech as is the theme of the tale. Joss packs a lot in to the episode and makes it entirely character based (as always) and very, very funny, not to mention action packed and pretty darn creepy.

The direction and look. Joss also directs and does his usual sterling work. The episode looks gorgeous, from the dark and moody photography to the splendid art direction to the gloriously creepy make up and visual FX. This ep could happily be shown on the big screen. I wish it would be. Joss keeps his usual directorial style of long takes and playing scenes in one shots (keeping the actors in frame at the same time, not cutting between them). This helps lend extra chemistry and energy to scenes.

The score. Christophe Beck provides a lot of music in a wonderfully spooky Danny Elfman-esque score. It reminded me a bit of Sleepy Hollow (which came out about the same time as Hush).

The ‘Who are The Gentlemen?’ lecture theatre scene. Giles provides a hand drawn overhead projector presentation to the gang (while playing Danse Macabre on a tape deck) spelling out who The Gentlemen are and what they plan to do. This scene is utterly brilliant and is now iconic in TV land. So damn funny, so damn cool. The gag with Buffy miming staking someone is pure gold. TV doesn’t get any better than this.


It doesn’t. And if you think it does then go away and never speak to me again.


Lots of candidates but I love Buffy’s ill-judged staking mime. It always cracks me up.


Dream Girl's Rhyme: “Can't even shout, can't even cry, The Gentlemen are coming by. Looking in windows, knocking on doors, they need to take seven and they might take yours. Can't call to mom, can't say a word, you're gonna die screaming but you won't be heard.”

Spike: “Sometimes I like to crumble the Weetabix in the blood. Gives it a little texture.”
Giles: “Since the picture you just painted means that I will never touch food of any kind again, you'll just have to pick it up yourself.”
Spike: “Sissy.”

Anya (to Xander): “You don't need me. All you care about is lots of orgasms.”
(Giles and Spike stare at them.)
Xander: “OK, remember how we talked about private conversations? How they're less private when they're in front of my friends?”
Spike: “Oh, we're not your friends; go on.”
Giles: “Please don’t.”

Giles: “I have a friend who's coming to town, and I'd like us to be alone.”
Anya: “Oh, you mean an orgasm friend?”
Giles: “Yes, that's exactly the most appalling thing you could've said.”


Joss Whedon received an Emmy nomination for this episode, in the category of Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series. The episode also received a nomination for Outstanding Cinematography. It didn’t win either. Dammit!

The newscaster seen telling the world about the mysterious laryngitis that has swept through Sunnydale is Carlos Amezcua, an actual newscaster on KTLA's morning news, a WB affiliate in Los Angeles.

The music Giles plays during his transparency lecture is Danse Macabre. It was also the theme for the BBC’s Jonathan Creek, which co-starred Tony Head in its first episode.

’Hush’ is the episode where we first meet Tara played by Amber Benson. Tara will go on to become Willow’s girlfriend and a much-loved character in the show.

Several members of the cast are on record as being well and truly creeped out by having The Gentlemen around on set. Apparently they looked and behaved just as creepy off camera as on. Just no heart stealing I hope.


Silence is golden. 5+ (out of 5)


“Don’t I get a cookie?”

WRITER: Tracey Forbes
DIRECTOR: Nick Marck


Willow, still feeling terrible over Oz’s leaving, tries a spell to lessen her heartbreak. Unfortunately the spell goes wrong and unbeknownst to the misery stricken Wiccan what ever she says about the people she is closest to actually happens to them. Arguing with Giles, Willow says that he just doesn’t see anything. And a short time later Giles starts going blind. Then, angry at Xander over his advice to her about love, she tells him he’s in no position to give advice as he’s just a demon magnet. Pretty soon demons start showing up out of the blue, accosting poor Xan. Best of all though, Spike escapes from Giles’s place and Buffy has to leave Willow to go find and recapture the naughty vamp. Willow, upset that Buffy has left her to go find Spike, says that Buffy should just go marry him then. Next thing we know (much to Giles and Xander’s horror) Buffy and Spike are very much in love and planning their wedding, which leads to one confused conversation between Buffy and a totally flummoxed Riley. Things start getting even more out of hand as the gang is cornered by more and more demons out for Xander’s blood. At the same time, impressed by Willow’s curses on her friends, the great vengeance demon D'Hoffyrn goes and brings the unwittingly havoc wreaking girl to his dimension and offers her a job.


Dealing with heartbreak. Friends helping those who are dealing with heartbreak.


Willow (unwittingly), lots of various demons out to get Xander, and D'Hoffyrn.


The script. Making up for some of the naffness of ‘Beer Bad’ Tracey Forbes writes a fun, frothy frolic of an episode. It’s not deep, it’s not clever, and it plays almost like a dose of fan fiction, but it is a lot of goofy fun.

Comedy. There is some broad and very funny comedy in this episode. A lot of it comes from Giles and his loss of sight and his exasperation and disgust at Buffy and Spike ‘in love’. The stuff at Giles’s house with Buffy and Spike being all lovey dovey is hilarious. After Xander arrives and sees Buffy and Spike canoodling, and then hearing that Giles is blind, he stares in horror at the mystically loved-up pair and says plaintively, “Can I be blind too?”

Spike and Buffy sitting in a tree… Spike and Buffy start out the episode at each others throats (well, Spike would be if he could actually hurt her). The platinum vamp is chained up in Giles’s bathtub being fed blood from a novelty mug while Buffy taunts him with her bare pulsing throat. They continue to go at it until Willow’s spell does its thing and suddenly the pair is in blissful love and all over each other, planning their wedding. The chemistry between them is great and they are so darn funny together.

Giles. Tony Head is fab. He sells the growing blindness so well not to mention his wonderfully judged air of horrific exasperation at everything that’s going on. Very funny indeed. He even gets to do a spot on pratfall.

The Amy rat. Very briefly we get to see Amy turned back human again, albeit for a split second behind an unwitting Willow and Buffy’s backs. It’s a swift gag. But it’s a nice nod to continuity (something Buffy does brilliantly) and is rather chucklesome.


Rubbery demons. Some of the demons attacking Xander are kinda rubbery and not too convincing.

Poor Willow. The gang’s rather insensitive attitude to Willow (mostly behind her back) is pretty grim and not very nice. Lest they forget Buffy had only recently stopped obsessing over nasty Parker. Cut the poor redhead some slack people!

Fluffy Buffy. This ep is a lot of goofy fun but is entirely fluff and doesn’t add anything weighty to the season.


Giles’s reaction to seeing Buffy and Spike ‘together’.


Xander (watching Willow dancing energetically at the Bronze): "I believe that's the dance of a brave little toaster."

Giles: “We can't let you go until we're sure that you're impotent or —“
Spike: “Hey!”
Giles: “Sorry, poor choice of words. Until we know that you're...”
Buffy: “Flaccid?”
Spike: “You are one step away, missy!

Buffy (faux-sexy): “Look at my poor neck — all bare, and tender, and exposed. All that blood, just pumping away.”
Spike (angrily): “Giles, make her stop!”
Giles (to Willow, exasperated): “If those two don't kill each other, I might lend a hand.”

Spike (yelling): “Passions is on! Timmy's down the bloody well, and if you make me miss it I'll —“
Giles: “Do what? Lick me to death?”

Giles (hearing Spike and Buffy kissing): “Stop that right now! I can hear the smacking.”

Buffy (gleeful): “Spike and I are getting married!”
Xander (stunned): “How? What? How?”
Giles: “Three excellent questions.”

Buffy (to Willow): “And the bad boy thing? Over it. Okay, I totally get it. I'd be really happy to be in a nice relationship with a decent, reliable… Oh my God, Riley thinks I'm engaged!”


Willow didn’t mean to do it. 3 (out of 5)

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


A bear! You made a bear! Heh.

WRITER: Jane Espenson
DIRECTOR: Michael Lange


It’s almost Thanksgiving and in his latest menial job, Xander is helping excavate the ground at Sunnydale U for a new faculty building, only to fall through the ground in to what is the lost Sunnydale Mission, buried in an earthquake years and years ago. Unfortunately Xander’s accident also unleashes the vengeful spirit of a Native American Chumash warrior who infects Xander with all the illnesses the original European settlers infected his people with. The spirit then moves on to start taking murderous revenge on local people of status for the slaughter of his people centuries ago. At the same time, Spike, hunted by Initiative commandos, is wandering the town, miserable and starving, staring longingly through windows at other vampires having happy blood feasts. Poor chap. Meanwhile, Buffy is feeling the need for some homespun Thanksgiving food and general cosiness and decides to lay on a big meal at Giles’s house for the gang. But circumstances are gonna make Buffy’s meal harder and harder to prepare for. First, Willow is anti Thanksgiving. She sees it as a celebration of the massacre of an indigenous people. She is also against ‘slaying’ the Chumash warrior because he is rightfully upset by what was done to his people. This leads to her falling out with Giles who remains insistent that they must stop the warrior at all costs. Second, Xander turns up sick as a dog, finding out he now has several diseases including syphilis. Third, Spike turns up out of the blue seeking sanctuary and with info about the Initiative. Third, Buffy feels a strange invisible presence around her. A presence we soon find out is actually Angel who’s secretly been helping her after Doyle received a vision back in LA of Buffy in mortal danger. So, can the Chumash warrior be stopped before he kills anyone else? Can Spike be trusted? Can Xander’s syphilis be cured? Can Buffy get the turkey on the table in time for a nice cosy Thanksgiving dinner?


It’s all about Thanksgiving and what it means. Not being an American Thanksgiving means virtually nothing to me. But I understand there seems to be a debate about it in the US of which Willow takes one side: that it is a nasty sham - a ‘yam sham’ which is really all about the massacre of indigenous peoples. I do like how Giles, and to a greater degree Spike, (both Brits like me) take a far more hard-nosed and practical view of the whole thing. Anyway, as with all things there’s always more than one side, and at least this episode of Buffy, though very charming and very, very funny, makes an effort to expose some of the darker truths.


Hus, the Chumash spirit warrior


Big funny. Pangs is hilarious. The great Jane Espenson ™ wrote a wonderfully funny script that deals with the whole Thanksgiving issue nicely while playing up some great character beats and producing plenty of laugh out loud moments – many of which are to do with Spike. And speaking of…

Spike. Yep, once again James Marsters rocks! This is the start of Spike becoming an unwilling part of the Scooby Gang. Its needs must for poor Spike. He can’t get blood from people anymore so is starving while also being hunted by the Initiative commandos. So he seeks refuge with his sworn enemies hoping they won’t hurt him, as he’s all helpless and fangless. Putting Spike at the centre of the group dynamic works a treat. He sits there, tied to a chair, giving blunt acidic commentary on everything going on around him. He is the truth teller. He spells it out like it is. This role was originally taken by Cordelia and will soon be taken by Anya seeing as how Spike is limited in what he can do and where he can go by that darned daylight. But he will from now on remain an integral part of the Scooby Gang whether he or they want him to or not.

Sickly Xander. Poor chap. He gets various diseases all at once including (gulp!) syphilis. His pasty pathetic state is very, very funny.

A Buffy bear hug. Buffy wrestles a bear and it looks so silly but manages to be (intentionally) hilarious and made all the better by Spike’s reaction.

The ‘cavalry’ charging to the rescue…on bicycles.

The end Thanksgiving dinner scene and Xander’s faux pas. And Spike’s smug look.


The whole Angel sneaking around thing is pointless and contrived. It is only there to get Buffy to go visit him in LA in the following episode of Angel. Still, its cool seeing Captain Forehead mixing with the gang again.


Spike’s horrified reaction to the Chumash warrior turning in to a bear.


Buffy (about construction-working Xander): “Very manly. Not at all Village People.”

Willow (angrily to Giles): "You know, I don't think you want to help! You just want to slay the demon and go 'la, la, la.'"

Spike (on his implant): "I'm saying that Spike had a little trip to the vet, and now he doesn't chase the other puppies anymore."

Spike (shocked): "A bear! You made a bear!"
Buffy (timidly): "I didn't mean to!"
Spike (panicking): "Undo it! Undo it!

Xander (looking ill and worried):”Can we come rocketing back to the part about me and my new syphilis.”

Giles (dryly): “Yes, I’m always behind on terms. I'm still trying not to refer to you lot as 'bloody colonials.'”

Spike: “What part of 'help me!' do you not understand?”
Buffy: “The part where I help you.”

Anya: “So this is Angel. He's large and glowery, isn't he?”


I give thanks every time I watch this episode. 4 (out of 5)

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Xander and Harmony’s pathetic fight. Heh.

WRITER: Doug Petrie
DIRECTOR: James A Contner


Spike, zapped unconscious at the start of the previous episode, wakes up in a white, sterile cell. He soon discovers he’s a prisoner, along with other supernatural types, in a secret government facility beneath Sunnydale and is destined for study and eventual vivisection. Naturally Big Bad wants out. And being a cunning badass he soon escapes. Meanwhile Buffy is helping Willow deal with Oz’s leaving, while Riley discovers to his surprise that he has feelings for Buffy and decides to try and “court” her. Buffy and Willow attend a party at Riley’s frat house where Riley attempts awkward conversation with Buffy before being urgently called away by his pals. Buffy is also called away urgently by Xander, who tells her that Spike is back in town and gunning for her. Back to the frat house and we soon discover that Riley is actually Agent Finn and he and his frat buddies are in fact the masked commandos seen sneaking around town this season. Riley and co. work for the secret government organisation that captured Spike. And Professor Walsh is the one in charge. We follow the boys down underground beneath their frat house where the huge hi tech headquarters of ‘The Initiative’ is revealed with its cells and its labs and its soldiers with laser guns. Professor Walsh tells Riley, who is the head soldier, that Hostile 17 (Spike) has escaped and needs to be tracked down and recaptured. Riley and his men suit up and head out on a Spike hunt. Meanwhile Spike has found out where Buffy now lives. He goes to her dorm surprising a morose Willow. Annoyed to find Buffy not there, Spike comforts himself by attacking poor defenceless Willow instead.


This is the episode that kicks the season’s main plot and theme in to gear. The plot is The Initiative and its plans to capture, study and use demons (or ‘subterrestrials’) for possible government applications. The theme is the clash of science and magic and how the two don’t play well together. The underlying theme I guess is about nature and primal forces (represented here by magic) and its continual clash with the ever increasing power of science and human invention and development. There is also the theme of human arrogance, thinking we know everything and then bumbling our way in to places and situations we find we can’t properly handle. Perhaps a bit of a comment on western foreign policy too? Though this was made pre the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions.


Spike and The Initiative


The script. Regular writer Doug Petrie delivers a mighty fine smorgasbord of a tale crammed full of drama, action, comedy, pathos, action, comedy, more action, more comedy, and plot twists. And he juggles it all perfectly. He also delivers one of THE best scenes of the entire season with the Spike and Willow dorm room scene. Pure genius. Only on Buffy.

The direction. James A Contner is, according to Doug Petrie in his episode commentary, the go to guy on Buffy for action. And he does a great job here. Spike’s escape from The Initiative is visually cool and pretty darn exciting. And the end corridor fight in the dorm is simply brilliant! But Contner also delivers big time with the comedy. This episode juggles multiple styles and tones often in the same scene. Great stuff!

Spike. James Marsters gets added to the main title credits and delivers a fangtastic performance. He’s the bad guy of the episode but he is also heroic in his cool James Bondian escape from The Initiative. He just radiates uber-cool badass before turning horrifically evil when attacking poor Willow in her room, which then, after the scary cliffhanger act break, leads directly in to one of the best and funniest scenes of the entire season.

The Spike can’t perform scene. Spike attacks Willow in a horrifically savage way, all frenzied hand held camera style. But when we come back to the scene we find a dejected Spike sat on the end of Willow’s bed, Willow unharmed and consoling him because he can’t bite her. Due to her post-Oz state she even takes it personally thinking Spike’s inability to perform is because he didn’t really want her anyway, to which Spike then consoles her by saying he’s always liked her and would bite her in a second if he could. It’s a wonderfully written scene performed with such bizarre warmth and humour by James Marsters and Alyson Hannigan. Moving from pure frenzied horror one moment to warmly hilarious the next is no mean feat. But this is partly why Buffy the Vampire Slayer works so well as a show. It isn’t just one thing. It straddles multiple genres and styles. It’s horror, comedy, romance, action, drama, teen angst, scifi etc. sometimes all in the one scene. And it works.

Nasty Parker gets knocked the f*%k out! Riley, hearing Parker Abrams make an especially crude and unkind joke at Buffy’s expense, punches the guy, knocking him out cold. The punch is as much a shock to Riley as it is to everyone else. It is then that he realises he has feelings for this rather “peculiar” girl. Nice one Agent Finn.

The Initiative HQ. We get the big reveal of the huge underground HQ in this episode. And it’s quite something. We get the gleaming white cells plus the central command and experimentation area. It’s huge and full of scientists and soldiers and high tech equipment. It looks fab. Very James Bond.

The Xander vs. Harmony fight. Xander, coming across Harmony in the woods, faces off with the upset (dumped again by Spike) vamp. The pair then engages in what is the saddest most pathetic fight ever. And it is hilarious. The director shoots it as if it is an epic fight between titans, using wide shots, close ups and even dramatic slow mo with a soaring score underneath. The truth is it is two people wrestling badly, slapping, kicking, hair pulling, and generally making a hash up of a fight. It ends with the pair agreeing to separate and go their own ways both highly embarrassed. Genius!

The end fight. The big showdown in Buffy’s dorm is great. It’s a threeway battle between Buffy, a bunch of Initiative commandos (including Riley) and Spike…all done in the dark and with gas from an exploded fire extinguisher and smoke from a flare gun. Thus Buffy can’t see Riley properly (he’s masked anyway) and Riley can’t see Buffy due to the darkness and the smoke. But the fight is big and wonderfully staged and directed and edited, taking place down a long dorm hallway. There’s even a cool Matrix homage with Buffy and the flare gun. “Dodge THIS!” Heh.


Spike and his implanted chip. Nothing against the chip itself, it’s a great plot device used to neuter the poor lad and stop him from hurting people. Only problem is, in this episode he is clearly hitting people and fighting after he gets chipped while also not being able to bite Willow. It is clearly stated that the chip is working and stops him from hurting any human. Joss admitted right after the episode aired that they dropped the ball here. It simply shouldn’t have happened. Spike should NOT have been filmed fighting and hurting any humans. It was an error, something that was missed.


The Spike and Willow ‘bedroom’ scene. Poor Spike.


Spike (about Buffy): "I always worried what would happen when that bitch got some funding."

Buffy (coming to Willow’s defence after Prof. Walsh lays in to her): "You know for someone who teaches human behaviour, you might try showing some."
Prof. Walsh: "It's not my job to coddle my students."
Buffy: "You're right. A human being in pain has nothing to do with your job." (walks away)

Forrest: “Check her out. Is she hot, or is she hot?”
Riley: “She's Buffy.”

Buffy: “Now if you'll excuse me, I need go find something slutty to wear tonight.”

Spike: “I don't understand. This sort of thing's never happened to me before.”
Willow: “Maybe you were nervous.”
Spike: “I felt all right when I started. Let's try again.”
(He tries to bite her, but he can't do it.)
Spike: “Damn it!”
Willow: “Maybe you're trying too hard. Doesn't this happen to every vampire?”
Spike: “Not to me, it doesn't!”
Willow: “It's me, isn't it?”
Spike: “What are you talking about?”
Willow: “Well, you came looking for Buffy, then settled. You didn't want to bite me, I just happened to be around.”
Spike: “Piffle.”
Willow: “I know I'm not the kind of girl vamps like to sink their teeth into. It's always like, 'Oh, you're like a sister to me,' or, 'Oh, you're such a good friend.'”
Spike: “Don't be ridiculous. I'd bite you in a heartbeat.”
Willow: “Really?”
Spike: “Thought about it.”
Willow:” When?”
Spike: “Remember last year? You had on that fuzzy pink number with the lilac underneath.” (Gives her a sexy look.)
Willow: “I never would have guessed. You played the bloodlust kinda cool.”
Spike: “Mmmm. I hate being obvious. Being all fangy and 'Rrrr.' Takes the mystery out.”
Willow: “But if you could...”
Spike: “If I could, yeah.”
Willow: “You know, this doesn't make you any less terrifying.”
Spike: “Don't patronise me! (Paces around the room.) I'm only a hundred and twenty-six!”
Willow: “You're being too hard on yourself. Why don't we wait a half an hour and try again? (Makes a funny face, coming to her senses.) Or... (She grabs a lamp and whacks him over the head.)


The Initiative HQ was actually filmed at Skunkworks in California where the US Airforce Stealth Bombers were built. Hence it looks huge and suitably high tech.

Doug Petrie in his commentary states that the main touchstones for this episode were James Bond movies, the classic British TV show The Prisoner (of which he and Joss are huge fans – see the big white balls hanging around The Initiative HQ as a homage) and The Matrix. Plus a bunch of classic rom com movies.

James Marsters has been added to the opening credits.

Seth Green's name has been taken out of the opening credits.

It is in this episode that we finally discover that Oz's real name is Daniel Osbourne.


Take the Initiative. 4.5 (out of 5)

Sunday, 27 November 2011


A video about this episode featuring ‘Need to Destroy’ by THC as heard in the episode.

WRITER: Marti Noxon
DIRECTOR: David Grossman


It’s full moon time again and Oz is getting ready to get hairy. But his growing friendship and obvious attraction to sultry singer Veruca is worrying Willow, though she won’t say anything as she doesn’t want to come across all jealous. On the first night of the full moon (remember in Buffy that werewolves change the night before, the night of, and the night after the full moon) Oz gets loose from his cage and meets up with another werewolf, scaring Professor Walsh in the process. The two werewolves fight. Fade to black. The next day Oz wakes up in the woods naked…entwined with a naked Veruca. It is obvious the pair got it on while in wolf form. Veruca is a free spirit and won’t be caged when she turns. She tries to entice Oz to give up locking himself away at full moons and to be with her from now on. Their mutual animal attraction is undeniable but Oz resists. That night, concerned that Veruca might hurt someone, Oz tricks her in to his lockable cage. The next morning Willow turns up to free him but she is heartbroken to find a naked Oz and naked Veruca entwined yet again. Oz tries to explain but Willow is inconsolable. The next night, Veruca, determined to get Oz for herself, decides to eliminate the one thing standing in her way: Willow.


The heartbreak around relationships that for what ever reason are just not working anymore. Plus the old resisting the beast inside, and how pure animal lust based upon nothing more can be destructive.




The script. Marti Noxon wrote a smart, funny, tragic, heartbreaking script that in one episode utterly destroys a brilliant relationship which had been at the very heart of this show for the previous two years.

Oz and Willow. We watched as Oz became utterly entranced upon his first seeing Willow back in early season 2, a then rather awkward, geeky young girl. And we watched Willow become deeply attached to this kind, whip smart, stoically funny base player who just happens to be a werewolf. Their chemistry together has been second to none, making them a pure joy to watch on screen. But in the space of 44 minutes it all gets torn asunder.

Alyson Hannigan. We already know she’s an excellent actress and in this episode she gets to bring the pain in a big way: the floods of tears, the look of utter devastation that haunts her face and her entire demeanour. As Joss once said, and I paraphrase, if you want to get the audience on side then just put Willow in danger or make her cry. Instant emotional gut wrench. And he’s right. Ally making the big wet eyes just stabs your heart.

Seth Green. We love Seth Green. He’s Scott Evil. He’s Chris Griffin. He’s co-creator of the ace Robot Chicken. He’s been in loads of movies. But to some of us he will always be Daniel ‘Oz’ Osbourne – the first big love of Willow’s life. Here, Seth gives a typically low-key Oz style performance, though you can feel the confusion, the anger, the pain and the anguish radiating from him throughout. His last scene with Willow is brilliant and would make the stoniest of hearts crack just a little. We will miss you Oz. You were THE (wolf) man! *Sniff*

Spike’s hilarious cameo. At the start of the episode the platinum vamp is watching from a safe distance as Buffy bests a vamp. He then starts to give an angry and dramatic monologue directed at the Slayer only to be suddenly and unceremoniously stunned unconscious by one of the mysterious army guys seen prowling around all season. And that’s the last we see of him all episode.


Though a very good episode it feels like a rather rushed exit for such a beloved character. But there were unavoidable reasons for this. See ‘AND ANOTHER THING’ further down for more.

Veruca. The sexy, sultry, dangerous bad girl act doesn’t really come off. She comes across more as a rather annoying wannabe. You want sexy bad girl? Faith. ‘nuff said. Paige Moss who plays Veruca is okay but using my own inner animal I detected no real depth or edge to her performance. Nothing to make my inner beast perk up. Guess it’s just a werewolf thing.

The werewolves. Since the show redesigned the wolves after their first appearance in 2.15 ‘Phases’ they have looked like utter shit. I hate them. They look like people in silly furry costumes prancing around like idiots. There is nothing remotely wolf-like about them. Professor Walsh even says in this episode that at first she thought they were gorillas. That’s an insult to gorillas. And what's with Oz’s ridiculous werewolf mutton chops in his mid-transformation phase? Jeez!

Lip synching. Paige Moss’s lip synching to the songs Veruca sings is terrible. It doesn’t match at all. Plus her ‘sultry’ and ‘seductive’ stage performance is so overdone it is pretty darn funny.


A tie between Spike’s hilarious cameo at the start and the last scene between Willow and Oz. It gets you right here (points at chest).


Buffy (to random vamp she's fighting): "You know very well, you eat this late... (Stakes him.)... you're gonna get heartburn. Get it? Heartburn? (He turns to dust.) That's it? That's all I get? One lame-ass vamp with no appreciation for my painstakingly thought out puns. I don't think the forces of darkness are even trying."

Willow: "I have wrong feelings about other guys sometimes. But I feel guilty and I flog and punish."
Buffy: "Exactly. I'm sure Oz is flogging and punishing himself... this is sounding wrong before I even finish."

Spike (to Buffy, out of earshot): “Watch your mouth, little girl. You should know better than to tempt the Fates that way. 'Cause the Big Bad is back, and this time it's... VARGHHHHHH!” (As he's being shocked with a taser.)

Giles: “Don't look at me that way. I'm down with the new music.”

Willow (To Xander): “I need a translator from the 'Y' side of things.”

Oz: “Look, Buffy, you should know that, that —“
Buffy: “Oz, now might be a good time for your trademark stoicism.”

Willow: “Oz, don't you love me?”
Oz: “My whole life I've never loved anything else.”


THC is the real band playing the music of Shy, Veruca’s band.

Seth Green’s departure from Buffy was a rather short notice affair. He’d had a big hit that summer with Austin Powers 2 and was looking to further his film career. Luckily Oz wasn’t killed off and would reappear in one episode of season 5 to draw a final line under the Willow/Oz story.


Bye, bye Oz. 3.5 (out of 5)


Excellent musical tribute vid to the slayer and her relationship with booze.

WRITER: Tracey Forbes
DIRECTOR: David Solomon


Still feeling depressed, confused and dejected over being a Parker Abrams one night stand, Buffy takes solace at the on campus pub where Xander is now working (illegally) behind the bar. In a vulnerable state, she gets drawn in by a gang of hard drinking upper classmen and starts knocking back the beer by the pitcher developing a real taste for the amber nectar. Only problem is, said beer has been magically enhanced so that prolonged ingestion regresses someone to a inward and outward caveman state – complete with heavy brow, monosyllabic communication and acting purely on base wants and needs. Can Xander and the gang get to Buffy before she regresses to full on cave slayer, and can they stop the marauding cavemen upper classmen from hurting people?


There is none. It’s all there in the title and on the surface. Metaphors be gone! Apparently beer is bad for you and too much turns you in to an aggressive, foolish sub human. There’s a bit of stuff about the human id, ego and superego and how we manage their competing needs in life, but it’s really just padding to what is the most blatant and unsubtle story ever done on Buffy.


The writer? No, okay, I guess it’s the gang of marauding upper classmen cavemen.


Beer Bad is notorious amongst fans as possibly THE most despised episode of Buffy. Personally I don’t hate it as it still has a few redeeming features. But not many. So here goes…

The caveman make-up and transformation FX are actually pretty good.

Xander’s enthusiasm to his friends about being a barman and his barman’s opening spiel, which includes a concerned face, a clicked on lighter, followed by the words “Rough day?”

Willow getting the upper hand with nasty Parker. The single best scene in the episode. Way to go Will.

Cave Slayer Buffy. Always the pro, Sarah throws herself in to the role. Thankfully she’s not gone all heavy browed like the others (Xander cut her off in time) but she’s still all matted straggly hair, monosyllabic aggression and ape-like pratfalls. She’s pretty darn funny too.

Normal Buffy’s earlier fantasies of Parker apologising to her for his behaviour, which comes full circle hilariously as he actually does apologise to Cave Slayer Buffy, not realising what’s happened to her. Cave Slayer Buffy’s scowling response? After a beat, she whacks him over the head with a stick, knocking him out cold. Screen goes black. Credits. It’s a perfectly timed gag.


The story is quite simply rubbish. Metaphor and theme is disposed of and replaced with a stupid, rather insulting and patronising story about the dangers of alcohol. Buffy has done this sort of thing before but in far more subtle and creative ways. I expect a lot more from this show. If this were some other less intelligent, less sophisticated supernatural drama (*cough*Charmed*cough*) then I’d kinda expect it. But not from Buffy. Was Joss away that week or something?

The upper classmen cavemen are all utterly embarrassing in their running around, grunting and general stupidity. The make-up is cool but can’t mask the stupidity of the whole affair.

Buffy still obsessing over Parker. It's getting annoying now. C'mon Buff, snap out of it.


Willow getting one over on nasty Parker. She had me going for a while.


Xander (chipping in on a conversation between Buffy and Willow): "Pfffft. Nothing can defeat the penis!" (Notices how loud he was) "Too loud. Very unseemly."

Xander: “Giles, don’t make Cave Slayer unhappy.”

Xander: “How much beer would you say a person would need to consume before they start seriously questing for fire?”

Willow (To Parker): "That's right. I got your number, id boy. Only thing you're thinking about is how long before you can jump on my bones."

Buffy: “I'm suffering the afterness of a bad night of... badness.”
Willow: “You didn't. Not with Parker again.”
Buffy: “No. with four really smart guys.”
Willow: “Four? Oh... ow. Oh, Buffy, are you OK? Do you want to talk about it?”
Buffy: “I went to see Xander. Then I saw Parker. Then came... beer.”
Willow: “And then group sex?”
Buffy: “Pffft... gutterface. No! Just lots and lots of beer.”

Buffy: “Want beer. Like beer. Beer good.”
Xander: “Beer bad. Bad, bad beer. What the hell am I saying?”

Xander: “And was there a lesson in all this? Huh? What did we learn about beer?”
Buffy (grins stupidly): “Foamy!”


This episode was Emmy nominated for hairstyling.

Kal Penn of Harold and Kumar fame (amongst other things) plays one of the cavemen.

In this ep we are introduced to sultry singer Veruca who in the following episode will play a major role in one of the main characters leaving the show.


It’s not Scooby Doo anymore; it’s Captain Caveslayer! 2 (out of 5)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Short episode promo

WRITER: David Fury
DIRECTOR: Tucker Gates


It’s Halloween and one of the frat houses is throwing a Scary House Halloween party. Said house has been prepared to be everything innocently spooky and scary for the soon to arrive party guests. But unbeknownst to the frat house boys, a symbol they found in a book and then painted on to the floor for creepy effect is really a mystical symbol designed to bring forth the terrible fear demon Gachnar. All the symbol needs to start its work is some human blood, which Oz accidentally supplies after cutting himself while fixing the party’s sound system. Later on that night, Buffy, Willow, Oz and Xander arrive at the frat house ready for some silly, creepy seasonal frolics…only to find it seemingly deserted. After venturing inside, the house then traps them, separates them, and begins to subject each of them to their deepest personal fears…


Well, the whole thing is really just a big ol’ Halloween fest. An excuse to have some creepy good fun. Thematically though we are in fairly obvious territory: facing and conquering your fears, not letting them control you. The gang’s fears have changed now that they’ve grown older. Back in season one’s ‘Nightmares’ Willow’s biggest fear was being on stage. Now it is one of her spells going wrong and turning on her. Xander’s fear was clowns. Now it is being invisible to his friends. Of course Oz wasn’t in season one but his fear is of losing control and turning in to a werewolf and hurting Willow. Meanwhile Buffy’s fear is no longer rejection by her father. Now it is that no matter what she does, how hard she fights, she won’t be able to save people. As the gang has matured so have their fears.


A scary house which includes knife-wielding corpses, transforming werewolves, vampires buried in the basement, bats, spiders, eyeballs and all sorts of creepy stuff. Oh, and Gachnar, the fear demon. And Anya dressed as a bunny.


The story. David Fury wrote a fun rollercoaster spooky house tale for Halloween that has decent thematic depth and is all about the characters.

Giles fully embracing the spirit of Halloween…in a sombrero. And Buffy’s reaction.

Gleeful Giles with his toy Frankenstein’s Monster. “It’s alive!”

Anya and the thing that scares her the most: bunnies.

Anya in her giant bunny costume. So cute. So funny.

Giles with a chainsaw.

Buffy as Little Red Riding Hood. She looks real cute in her blood red cloak. It harkens back to season three’s ‘Helpless’ where we last saw her wearing a red hooded cloak whilst fleeing from psycho vampire Zachary Kralik.

Xander dressed in a tux just in case they all get turned in to their costumes again ala season two’s ‘Halloween’. If they do, then Xander wants to be James Bond. Buffy thinks he’ll more likely be a waiter.

Oz’s Halloween costume. Willow has come as Joan of Arc as she appreciates Joan’s close relationship with God. When the gang ask a normally dressed Oz what he’s come as, Oz silently reveals a small nametag on his jacket. It reads simply ‘God’. Heh.

The ‘big’ reveal of Gachnar.


It’s a standalone episode and a token Halloween episode so doesn’t really add anything to the season. Still, it’s a lot of fun.


It’s a toss up between Anya in bunny costume and the hilarious final reveal.


Xander: “Well, that's the funny thing about me. I tend to hear the actual words people say and accept them at face value.”
Anya: “That's stupid!”
Xander: “I accept that.”

Buffy: “Thank the Lord.”
Oz: “You're welcome.”

Buffy: "Conjuring? Will, let's be realistic here, okay? Your basic spells are usually only about 50-50."
Willow (angrily): "Oh yeah? Well... so's your face!"
Buffy: "What?"

Xander (taunting the fear demon in a silly voice): "Who's the little fear demon? Come on, who's the little fear demon?"
Giles: "Don't taunt the fear demon."
Xander (worried now): "Why? Can he hurt me?"
Giles: "No, it's just... tacky."

Giles (annoyed, suddenly realising what the caption under the drawing of Gachnar says): “Actual size.”


A fearful 4 (out of 5)

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Spike v Buffy smackdown

WRITER: Jane Espenson
DIRECTOR: James A. Contner


Spike is back in Sunnydale. He’s searching for the mythical Gem of Amara - a precious stone that can, according to legend, render any vampire who wears it unkillable. The gang finds out and Buffy sets out to find Spike and stop him before he can find the Gem and become invulnerable. But Spike hasn’t come back alone. Drusilla is AWOL still. So instead Spike has now hooked up with…Harmony! Um, Harmony? Cordy’s one time airhead best friend? Yes indeed. It was a small bit in the ‘Graduation Day part 2’ end battle but Harm got bit by a vamp and is now a denizen of the night, though she is still just as vapid and airheaded as always. And now, for some bizarre reason, Spike has hooked up with her, even though she is steadily driving him nuts with her continual inane chatter and constant demands. Meanwhile, Buffy has hooked up with smooth and seemingly sensitive fellow student Parker Abrams. She spends the night with the guy after they go to a party, only for him to latterly cruelly discard her as nothing more than a bit of fun. Poor Buff is confused and emotionally wounded by this rejection and just doesn’t understand. At the same time, ex-vengeance demon and now cute human girl Anya confronts Xander, saying she wants to have sex with him to try and get him out of her head. Being a guy and apparently unable to resist Anya’s, um, charms, Xander agrees and they do indeed do the deed. But afterwards things don’t quite work out as Anya had planned.


The emotional implications of sex. Oh, and bad, bad men. We can be such a thoughtless, cruel, unfeeling bunch. Well, at least the guys in this episode of Buffy are. This is basically about emotionally vulnerable girls being ‘taken advantage of’ by predatory men. Okay, in Xander’s case that’s kinda unfair as Anya is basically doing all the predating. But Xander could see she was acting strange and was clearly confused and vulnerable, yet he still went ahead and got his jollies. Meanwhile it is obvious that Spike is with Harmony for only one reason. He clearly can’t stand her and is continually and viciously mean to her, even going so far as to try to kill her at one point. Yep, she is annoying, and a soulless demon, but even so. And then there’s Buffy. Suckered in by ‘sensitive’ sweet talker Parker. He tells her just what she wants and needs to hear, and thus gets her in to bed, getting his jollies, before then cutting her loose and moving on to the next potential conquest. The episode ends badly for the three main women of the piece with the final shot being of Buffy, Harmony and Anya all walking away in different directions, moving slowly, sadly, in to darkness.


Spike and nasty Parker.


Jane Espenson. Yep, it’s a Jane Espenson script. So you’re gonna get some great character beats and some big funny amidst the drama and thematic depth. This episode has one of my all time favourite lines in Buffy. After a pouty Harmony says to Spike, “You love that tunnel more than me,” Spike replies caustically, “I love syphilis more than you!”

Spike. It’s James Marsters playing Spike. ‘nuff said.

Anya. Not only do we get the return of Spike – the best character in all of Buffy and (in my opinion) all of TV ever, but we also get the return of ex-vengeance demon Anya and her innocently direct, often horribly rude, yet always hilarious attitude. Emma Caulfield is simply brilliant. Anya rocks!

Music. There are some good tunes in this episode, especially at the party Buffy and Parker go to where for some reason the then already famous singer Biff Naked is playing.

Daylight vamp fight. The daytime showdown between a gem wearing Spike and an emotionally bruised Buffy is small scale but is still an inventive, well-staged battle. The fight blocking and stunt work is top notch.

Crossover. This story leads directly in to Angel episode 1.3 ‘In the Dark’ in which Oz brings the Gem of Amara to Angel in LA as a gift from Buffy only for Spike to show up and try to get it back. Back then, before Buffy moved to UPN from season six, Angel aired directly after Buffy on the WB. Two hours of solid Buffyverse every week. Yay!

Harm’s Way. A special shout out to Mercedes McNab who returns as Harmony and has much more to do now that Harm’s joined the fang gang. She makes for a wonderfully shallow, ditzy vampire.


It doesn’t. Spike returns and he is brilliant. As does Anya. My only issues are how come someone as famous as Biff Naked would be openly playing a frat party? And how does Buffy manage to wake up the next morning after a night of raucous sex looking a million dollars and with not a single hair out of place. Only on TV.


Xander’s explosive cranberry juice reaction when he turns around and sees Anya naked. Heh.


Buffy: “Harmony’s a vampire? She must be dying without a mirror.”

Anya: “Sometimes, in my dreams, you're all naked.”
Xander: “Really? You know, if I'm in the checkout lane at the Wal-Mart I've had the same one.”

Anya: “I like you. You're funny and you're nicely shaped, and frankly it's ludicrous to have these interlocking bodies and not... interlock. Please remove your clothing now.”
Xander: “And the amazing thing? Still more romantic than Faith.”

Harmony: “You love that tunnel more than me.”
Spike: “I love syphilis more than you.”

Oz (to Giles): “OK, either I'm borrowing all your records or I'm moving in.”

Spike (to Buffy): “So, you let Parker take a poke, eh? Didn't seem like you knew each other that well. What exactly did it take to pry apart the Slayer's dimpled knees?”

Buffy: “So what I'm wondering is: does this always happen? Sleep with a guy and he goes all evil?”


Harmony's last name is Kendall. The character Sarah Michelle Gellar played on US soap All My Children was named Kendall. A little inside joke?

The album that Oz holds up at Giles' place is Loaded, the Velvet Underground's 1970 album.

James Marsters was uncredited in the original airing of this episode (he is later added to the opening credits).


This one’s a Gem (of Amara). 4.5 (out of 5)

Sunday, 13 November 2011


It's all super fun!

WRITER: Marti Noxon
DIRECTOR: David Grossman


Creepy demons turn up in Sunnydale, clearly looking for something or someone. Meanwhile Buffy is getting more and more aggravated by her relentlessly perky, neat freak, Celine Dion and Cher loving roommate Kathy. So much so that Buffy begins to suspect that Kathy is in fact evil. That she is not human, and that she must be stopped. Buffy’s friends are freaked out by this and think Buffy has gone off the deep end, so they try to convince her that Kathy is really a normal (ish) human being and not some evil hell beast that needs to be slayed. But Buffy won’t be convinced and is determined to gather the proof of Kathy’s inhumanity in order to validate her intended forthcoming slaying of her roommate.


The metaphor is the roommate from hell. Literally. And carrying on from 4.1 ‘The Freshman’, it remains part of the whole moving out in to the world and out of your comfort zone deal. Part of doing that successfully is learning to get on with people you might not have bothered with before, to allow for people’s foibles and habits, to learn patience and compromise. This is Buffy’s first experience of living with someone outside of home. And she gets Kathy, who’s a total neat freak (whereas Buff can be a bit of a slob) and obsessed with annoyingly mundane details like keeping a log of phone calls for when the bill comes in, for labelling individual items of food etc. Plus she has habits that Buffy truly hates – closing the window at night, clipping her toenails on the bed, playing Cher’s horrendous chart botherer ‘Believe’ over and over and over and over…


Yes, Kathy is annoying, and there are a couple of creepy looking demons who lurk around the place, but as has been done before and will be done again, it is actually Buffy herself who is doing the scary stuff for most of the episode.


The script. Marti Noxon’s script is, to quote Kathy, “Super fun!” Watching Buff slowly start to unravel due to the extreme mental torture of having to listen to Cher’s ‘Believe’ over and over and over is most amusing. It is hilarious that Buffy’s only plausible answer as to why a human being would behave in such a way is because they are an evil soulless demon.

Kathy. Yes, she is annoying – though mostly due to her music tastes. But she actually comes across (to those of us not obsessed with her possible evilness) as a rather sweet and (overly) friendly girl. She makes the effort to hang out with Buffy and to be nice to Buffy’s friends. But as we know, Buffy is mightily territorial over such things and is often extremely possessive and defensive about her gang of pals. See what happened last year with Faith. Dagney Kerr is a cutie and she plays Kathy with energetic perkiness and an offbeat charm. Sorry Buff, I kinda liked her.

SMG unhinged. Sarah gets to do all out comedy…if rather dark and batty comedy. And she is very, very good at it. Nutty Buffy is funny.


It’s perhaps just a bit too light and silly, though the metaphor of the roommate from hell is nicely played. Problem being, despite the awful music, and the ultimate reveal, I quite liked Kathy. Sorry.


Xander and Oz watching Buffy who has just been tied up and Xander’s nervously manic laugh when Oz suggests they go check that her bindings are tight enough.


Buffy (to Oz): "So then Kathy's like, 'It's share-time.' And I'm like, 'Oh yeah? Share this!'" (Buffy punches the air a few times.)
Oz: "So either you hit her or you did your wacky mime routine for her."
Buffy: "Well, I didn't do either, actually. But she deserved it, don't ya think?"
Oz: "Nobody deserves mime, Buffy."

Buffy: "Kathy's evil. I'm an evil fighter. It's simple. I'm gonna have to kill her."

Buffy: “And what are we if not women up to a challenge?”
Willow: “Exactly. I mean, did we not put the 'grr' in 'girl'?”

Buffy (to Willow as she leaves to patrol): “Wish me monsters.”

Buffy: “Cool. You guys can do the brain thing. I'm gonna go to class.”
Oz: “Which could also be construed as the brain thing.”
Buffy: “Not when you're minoring in Napping 101.”

Buffy: “She irons her jeans. She's evil.”

Xander: “Why couldn't Giles have shackles like any self-respecting bachelor?”


Clayton Barber, who played a demon in this episode, was Angel's stunt double in the past. He was another vampire's stunt double (Frost's), in the movie Blade.

Dagney Kerr used to be a singer and dancer on cruise ships before she started acting. She went on to a recurring role on Desperate Housewives.


Do you believe in life after love? 3.5 (out of 5)