Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Buffy: 2.22 ‘Becoming – Part 2’

A beautifully made video tribute to the Slayer

Writen and directed by: Joss Whedon

What's the sitch?

The police arrest Buffy but she escapes and heads to the hospital to check on her friends. Xander is up and about albeit with a broken arm while poor Willow is lying unconscious with possible brain damage. Giles, however, is missing. He’s been kidnapped by Dru and Angelus to help them figure out how to awaken Acathla.

On her way home, Buffy is stopped by another policeman, who is quickly knocked unconscious by Spike. Spike wants to stop Angelus from destroying the world as he likes the world just the way it is. He proposes that Buffy and he work together to stop and then kill his grandsire. In exchange for his help Spike promises to leave town forever, taking Dru with him. And so an uneasy alliance is formed, which is soon put to the test at Buffy’s house where they kill a vamp together in front of a shocked Joyce.

Buffy finally has to tell Joyce the truth – that she is the Slayer, and that she has to leave and save the world. Again. Angry and in denial, Joyce tells Buffy that if she leaves the house now she can never come back. Buffy, with no choice, leaves and runs to the school to find Kendra's sword, running in to Snyder, who, with much relish, expels her on the spot. Buffy takes the sword and goes to kill Angelus.

Meanwhile Angelus is torturing Giles, trying to get him to tell the secret of Acathla. But in the end it is Dru's hypnotic power pretending to be Jenny Calendar that tricks Giles in to giving away the secret. The secret is Angelus himself; it is his blood which will awaken Acathla. Back at the hospital Willow attempts the spell to curse Angelus with his soul again, while at the mansion Buffy arrives…and Spike makes his move. After neutralising the other vamp henchmen, Spike takes Drusilla and leaves the house and the town, leaving Buffy and Angelus in a fight to the death. But Angelus manages to touch his blood to Acathla, and the demon starts to awaken. Time is almost up for the world as the portal to suck it in to hell begins to open. Buffy knows that the only thing that can save the world and close the portal is to kill Angelus. And then the worst happens…the curse takes effect and Angelus's soul is restored.

Angel is Angel once more. The man Buffy loves.

But it's too late.

The lovers exchange a kiss and some intimate words, and then Buffy drives the knight’s sword through Angel, sending him to Hell.

Acathla's vortex closes. The world is safe once more.

The next day the gang's back at school, battered and broken but still (mostly) in one piece. But there's no sign of Buffy. They speculate that she may have gone off with a cured Angel for some alone time and hope to see her back soon.

But Buffy is not coming back anytime soon. She watches her friends from a distance and then turns and walks sadly away. We then see that she’s left a note on her bed for her mother, a note which makes Joyce cry when she reads it.

Our final sight of Buffy is of her sat alone on a bus, heartbroken, staring out of the window as the vehicle leaves town, passing by a sign which reads ‘You are now leaving Sunnydale. Come back soon.’

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

See part 1. But also when Buffy is forced to ‘come out’ to her mom about being the Slayer, the whole thing becomes a major gay metaphor, as if Buffy is admitting to her mom that she’s a lesbian. Her mom’s shocked reaction and then throwing her daughter out of the house only makes it more metaphorey. Heh. Metaphorey. See what I did there? I made a Buffy word.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

Angelus, Drusilla, Acathla and Joss Whedon, the evil genius.

Why it rocks

What do you mean why? Just watch it for gods sake.

Whedon you bastard! Television simply doesn’t get better than this. Epic drama, intimate emotion, big excitement, full-on pulse pounding action, heartbreaking tragedy, smart metaphor, pain, blood, love, loss, pain, more pain…it’s all crammed in to 44 exquisite minutes so expertly and effectively crafted you wonder how on earth anyone could do it and do it so well. But then you remember that this is Joss we’re talking about. He does this stuff in his sleep, at least it seems like that as it just feels so effortless.

Everything about this episode is stunning. Every scene fizzes and pops with energy, story, character, emotion, depth. It’s a template for how to make a truly great series finale and is my second favourite of all Buffy finales just behind Joss’s The Gift from season five.

All the cast give their all and are utterly brilliant. But in the end, this rests solely on the tiny shoulders of Sarah Michelle Gellar. And boy, does she do good. If you didn't love Buffy Anne Summers before, then I dare you not to love her after this. By the end of Season 2, Sarah and Joss were quickly firming up Buffy's place as one of the greatest heroes of modern fiction. This was always Joss's freely admitted aim. He always wanted to make Buffy a beloved icon. And by the end of the series seven year run he'd succeed in doing just that.

Favourite bits? All of it, but okay…

Spike and Joyce making awkward small talk in Buffy’s living room. “So, do you live in town?”

Spike explaining why he wants to save the world. “Dog racing, Manchester United…”

Giles calling Angelus a pillock.

Drusilla as Jenny Calendar

Buffy and Joyce arguing about her being the Slayer and Joyce’s stupid, “Well have you tried not to be?”

The epic sword fight between Buffy and Angelus.

The part in the sword fight where Angelus thinks he has Buffy and says confidently, “Now that's everything, huh? No weapons... No friends...No hope. Take all that away... and what's left?” He goes to ram the sword in to her face, to kill her, but at the last moment Buffy catches the blade between her palms and answers simply, “Me,” before smashing it back in to his face. It’s a real “YEAH!” punch the air moment.

The beautiful music by Christophe Beck titled ‘Close Your Eyes’ as Buffy kisses Angel and then kills him.

The whole sad epilogue as Buffy, heartbroken, leaves Sunnydale with the lovely song ‘Full of Grace’ by Sarah Mclachlan playing beneath.

The little Mutant Enemy guy at the end of the credits saying, “Oh, I need a hug,” instead of the usual “Grr Argh!”

Why it sucks

The hairline on Angel's stand-in during the climactic swordfight makes it obvious that it's not David Boreanaz.

It's been established in Buffy that vampires don't breathe, at least not in the "real" way that humans do. That is, they obviously can and do inhale and exhale air — it's necessary in order to talk (or smoke). But they don't actually need to. So, without that need for oxygen, the chokehold Spike puts on Drusilla should not make her lose consciousness.

It's Buftastic

Buffy catching that sword blade between her palms and striking back.

Dialogue to die for

Angelus (to Giles): I wanna torture you. I used to love it, and it's been a long time. I mean, the last time I tortured somebody, they didn't even have chainsaws

Spike: We like to talk big. Vampires do. 'I'm going to destroy the world.' That's just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You've got... dog racing, Manchester United. And you've got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real... passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye, Piccadilly. Farewell, Leicester Bloody Square. You know what I'm saying?

Giles: You must perform the ritual... in a tutu. Pillock!
Angelus: All right. Someone get the chainsaw.

Xander: Cavalry's here. Cavalry's a frightened guy with a rock, but it's here.

Angelus: Now that's everything, huh? No weapons... No friends...No hope. Take all that away... and what's left?
Buffy: Me.

Angel: What's happening?
Buffy: Shh. Don't worry about it. I love you.
Angel: I love you.
Buffy: Close your eyes.

Mutant Enemy monster: Ooh, I need a hug

And another thing

The "Grr...argh" at the end of each episode was altered for this one... instead, it said, "Ooh, I need a hug." However, most of the US did not get this version after the original airing (due, apparently, to a mistake made by the WB). The altered version can be seen in syndication and on the official DVD release.

The house used as Angel’s mansion is Ennis house, 2655 Glendower Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90027. It was designed and built in 1924 by world- famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It was also Deckard’s house in Blade Runner and was recently put up for sale for a meagre $4m.

How many stakes?

I definitely need a hug. Poor Buffy. 5+ (out of 5)

And so ends my review/guide of Buffy season 2. Season 3 coming soon, my personal favourite season - mostly for one reason: Faith. Big smile.

Buffy: 2.21 ‘Becoming – Part 1’

A short preview of Becoming – parts 1 & 2

Writen and directed by: Joss Whedon

What's the sitch?

We learn though flashbacks how Angel became a vampire after being sired by the gorgeous Darla (Julie Benz) in a dirty alleyway in 18th century Ireland. Then, years later, we see his soul being restored by the gypsies after he killed their princess, so that he will know suffering and will not be able to have a moment’s true happiness ever again lest he lose his soul once more. Then things skip forward and we see him being picked up from the gutter in 1996 by the good demon Whistler and taken to covertly see Buffy at her original school in LA. Angel is smitten by the girl and vows to help her from that moment on. Flash forward to 1998 and Angelus has stolen a recently excavated stone demon called Acathla from the University. The vampire has realised just who Acathla is, and that once revived the powerful demon will suck the entire world into hell. Something Angelus can’t wait to do. Meanwhile Buffy finds the disk of Jenny's with the spell to restore Angelus' soul and Kendra returns to town after her watcher tells her that a dark power is about to rise in Sunnydale. She has also come bearing a sword from the knight who first defeated Acathla, which should be able to slay the demon once again if needed. Across town in his new mansion, Angelus tries to awaken Acathla, but is unable. So Drusilla takes her gang to go and kidnap Giles in order to make the learned watcher tell them the correct way to awaken the sleeping demon. At the same time, Angelus distracts Buffy, luring her away from her friends in order for Dru to go capture Giles. This leaves Kendra alone to try and defend the Scoobies from Dru. But Kendra fails and she dies at Dru’s hands, having her throat slit by the insane vampire. During the fight Willow is put into a coma, and Xander has his arm broken and knocked out. After realising she’s been duped, Buffy rushed back to the library. But she’s too late. She finds Kendra's body just as the police arrive. They point their guns at the Slayer and go to arrest her for murder.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

Joss likes his one-word titles that sum up his episodes perfectly. Becoming parts 1 & 2 are both about exactly that. They are about people growing, changing, adapting, becoming what they want to be, what they need to be in life. There are hard choices and painful decisions throughout. There are past loves and new agonies. There’s terrible loss and utter heartbreak. Life moves on and growing up is painful, never more so than in Sunnydale. And Joss brings the pain here, as always, slowly stripping everything away from Buffy. By the end of part 2 she will have nothing. But she will ultimately become stronger as a result. As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

Angelus and Dru

Why it rocks

It’s a Joss Whedon written/directed by.

The themes are rich and the drama hugely compelling.

There is a ton happening here with lots of action and major character developments. It’s basically one massive set-up for next episode’s epic pay off.

Xander’s fish-stick re-enactment of Buffy fighting and staking a vamp.

Kendra (Bianca Lawson) is back…with a sword and her awful accent.

Bianca Lawson is Hot!

Kendra gives Buffy her lucky stake to use. She calls it ‘Mr Pointy’. :)

Why it sucks

Yet again Angel’s age is inconsistent. From latter episodes it seems that this one is wrong.

Angel’s Oirish accent. Oh dear.

The scene of Buffy listening to her parents argue in Los Angeles in 1996 conflicts with what was said in "Nightmares," aired in May 1997. In that episode Buffy says that her parents divorce was "finalised last year, but they were separated for a while before that."

Angel seeing Buffy from afar in 1996 does not jibe with his attitude the first time he met her in "Welcome to the Hellmouth."

Acathla makes for two world ending demons this season. Blimey! They're like busses...

It's Buftastic

That shot of Buffy running back in to the school corridor to go to her friends. The camera pans around as it follows her and cranks up in to slow motion partway through as Buffy, panic-faced, runs at us for all she’s worth.

Dialogue to die for

Cordelia (about Principle Snyder after he’s just left): How about because you're a tiny, impotent Nazi with a bug up his butt the size of an emu?

Spike: (looking unimpressed at Acathla's tomb): It's a big rock. Can't wait to tell my friends. They don't have a rock this big.

Buffy (on the phone to Willow): Well, I'll do a couple of sweeps, and then I'll stop by. Yeah, Xander was pretty much being a... Willow! Where did you learn that word? My God. You kiss your mother with that mouth?

Kendra: In case de curse does not succeed, dis is my lucky stake. I have killed many vampires wit it. I call it Mr. Pointy.
Buffy: You named your stake?
Kendra: Yes.
Buffy: Remind me to get you a stuffed animal.

Angelus: Jeez, is it me, or is your heart not in this? Maybe I'll just go home, destroy the world.
Buffy: Well, I think Mr. Pointy'll have something to say about that.

Whistler (end voiceover): Bottom line is, even if you see 'em coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are. You'll see what I mean.

And another thing

Angel was made into a vampire by Darla in Galway, Ireland, in 1753, and first met Drusilla in London in 1860.

Drusilla was precognitive before she became a vampire.

Becoming won the 1998 Emmy for best music composition for a series

How many stakes?

It’s a killer cliffhanger. 5 (out of 5)

Buffy: 2.20 ‘Go Fish’

Willow and Buffy Pictures, Images and Photos
Waiting for Xander and his Speedos.

Writer: Elin Hampton
Director: David Semel

What's the sitch?

Something seems to be eating members of the Sunnydale High swim team, leaving nothing but their skins behind. Only at Sunnydale High, huh? So what’s to be done? Answer: Xander and his Speedos to go under-cover in the swim team to find out what in ‘cod’s’ name is going on. Pretty soon he finds out the team members are being fed steroids by their dodgy coach, which is gradually turning them one by one into ravenous man-eating fish monsters. Xander escapes with out so much as a scale having grown while the coach tries to give Buffy to his fish-boys as they still have, uh, boy needs. But Buffy escapes and throws Coach to them instead. The fish-boys kill him, then escape out into the ocean and disappear.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

The metaphor is clearly about the use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs in sports. Apart from that it’s nothing but a bit of daft fun.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

Creepy Coach and freaky fish-men.

Why it rocks

It’s essentially the gang solving a freaky school-based mystery ala Scooby Doo and is more in tune with the stories and tone of series 1. It’s actually quite refreshing – especially seeing as how Buffy is having a bit more fun and joking more here rather than just being all sad and mopey. The third act twist works quite well too.

There’s some great dialogue and one liners dotted throughout.

Cordy, Willow and Buffy’s reaction to seeing Xander come out (in slo mo) in his Speedos…and then Xander’s embarrassed, stumbling reaction when seeing them all staring at him.

Why it sucks

It’s all just very, very silly and fluffy and a bit of a weird episode to stick in right before the big season finale.

The fish-men monsters are a bit carp…I mean crap.

It's Buftastic

Cordelia talking to the fish-monster in the pool thinking its Xander (it’s not).

Dialogue to die for

Xander: It's officially nippy. So say my nips. ( I use this line all the time when it's cold. Thanks Xan.)

Cordelia: It's about time our school excelled at something.
Willow: You're forgetting our high mortality rate.

Buffy: I'm a swim groupie. Oh, yeah, you know, there's just something about the smell of chlorine on a guy. Oh, baby.

Xander (in his Speedos): I'm undercover!
Buffy: You're not under much.

Buffy: I think we'd better find the rest of the swim team and lock them up before they get in touch with their inner halibut.

Coach: Boy, when they were handin' out school spirit, you didn't even stand in line, did you?
Buffy: No. I was in the line for shred of sanity.

Buffy: Great. This is just what my reputation needs: that I did it with the entire swim team.

And another thing

John Carpenter favourite Charles Cyphers (Halloween/Halloween 2/The Fog/Escape from New York) plays the Coach.

Wentworth Miller (Prison Break/Resident Evil: Afterlife) plays swim team member Gage Petronzi.

Shane West (ER, LXG, Nikita) plays swim team member Sean.

How many stakes?

Something smells fishy. 2.5 (out of 5)

Buffy: 2.19 ‘I Only Have Eyes for You.’

A video of the episode with a song by Evanescence

Writer: Marti Noxon
Director: James Whitmore Jr.

What's the sitch?

A school dance is imminent, but for understandable reasons Buffy isn't feeling the least bit romantic. Heading to the school library, she stops a student from killing his girlfriend with a gun. But neither the student nor his girlfriend have any memory of why they were fighting. And the gun has disappeared too. The next day, Xander is attacked by a disembodied arm coming out of his locker, while later in the evening Giles witnesses another couple fight in exactly the same way Buffy did. But this time the man shoots the woman and she falls over the balcony…only for the man to have no memory of what he did and for the gun to have yet again disappeared. Buffy and co. decide that a poltergeist is to blame, and they try to exorcise it. But it doesn’t work and the gang are subjected to individual scariness that sends them fleeing the school. It turns out that the ghost is that of a Sunnydale student called James from back in the 1950’s who killed his lover, Grace, a teacher in the school, and then killed himself out of guilt. Later, Ghost James lures Buffy back into the school…just as Angelus turns up to kill her; however, the evil vamp immediately becomes possessed by Grace’s spirit, while Buffy becomes possessed by James. They argue and she shoots Angelus. But being a vamp it doesn’t kill him and therefore gives the spirit of the murdered teacher the chance to forgive James/Buffy and to stop him/her from committing suicide. This act of forgiveness finally gives Ghost James the peace he’s needed and both spirits leave their hosts and ascend to who knows where leaving behind a highly confused Buffy and Angel, who rushes off overcome by disgust at having played such an intimate loving role with Buffy. Meanwhile, Spike has secretly recovered from his spinal injury.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

It’s all about guilt and forgiveness. And the sometimes dark and overwhelming passion that can drive people to do the things they do, a major theme of this season. But the episode tells us that no matter how terrible and burdensome guilt can be, it’s the simple act of forgiveness that carries far more power. Here we see that Buffy carries such terrible guilt over what happened to Angel, because she believes it was down to her why he lost his soul. And in this episode she rages at Ghost James for his selfishness and his destructive behaviour when it is really herself that she hates. The plot device of having Angel possessed by Grace works brilliantly. It is a distinctly weird thing to see Boreanaz playing the frightened fragile Grace and Gellar the furious, heart broken spurned lover James. But it works. They both act their socks off. And although it falls in to high melodrama, the simple, beautiful theme and the weight of the Buffy/Angel story behind it makes for genuinely touching stuff. This episode could easily have been a disaster, a silly, overwrought Kleenex-fest. It is still a blatant tearjerker but in writer Marti Noxon’s skilful hands the script holds more weight and meaning than it otherwise might and helps set up the grand season finale very well indeed.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

Ghost James and Angelus

Why it rocks

This isn’t just the run of the mill monster of the week show. It is about something intrinsic to the characters and where they find themselves approaching the end of the season. Ghost James is not evil. He made a tragic mistake (the gun went off accidentally it transpires) and he can’t rest because of what he did. His anguish infects others and manifests as scary things in the school. There is no beastie to be fought here, only the beasties within - the guilt and the self loathing, which can only be overcome by forgiveness.

Marti Noxon’s script is a beautifully crafted, densely plotted and thematically and emotionally weighty affair.

Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz. Together in their usual roles the chemistry always sizzles. Together in new and even more tragic roles playing the deeper meaning the chemistry boils over and the pain is palpable.

Nice spookiness. The ghost tries his hand at scaring the gang in individual ways with Cordy undergoing a Poltergeist-y mirror shock, Willow sinking through the floor and a zombie arm attacking Xander from his locker.

The lovely Meredith Salenger (Natty Gann herself) plays Grace.

Why it sucks

Contrary to Giles' explanation, poltergeists are supposedly entities that cause mischief merely for the chaotic fun of it and are not ghosts undertaking a haunting per se. This same mistake was made by the trio of Poltergeist films. Another mistake was making two rubbish Poltergeist sequels after the classic original.

It's Buftastic

Angel’s repulsed, horrified reaction when the spirit of Grace leaves him holding and kissing Buffy.

Dialogue to die for

Xander: Something weird is going on. Isn't that our school motto?

Xander: I defined something? Accurately? Guess I'm done with the book learning.

Giles: To forgive is an act of compassion, Buffy. It's not done because people deserve it; it's done because they need it.
Buffy: No. James destroyed the one person he loved the most in a moment of blind passion. And that's not something you forgive. No matter why he did. And no matter if he knows now that it was wrong and selfish and stupid, it’s just something he's gonna have to live with.
Xander: He can't live with it, Buff. He's dead.

Angelus: What do you know about it? I'm the one who was friggin' violated. You didn't have this thing in you.
Drusilla: What was it? A demon?
Angelus: Love!

And another thing

James listens to the song "I Only Have Eyes For You" as he prepares to kill himself in 1955. But the recording he's listening to is the Flamingos' version, which wasn't released until 1959.

The lovely Meredith Salenger, who played doomed teacher Grace Newman, had her name misspelled in the credits as "Meredith Salinger."

Meredith Salenger starred in the Disney film The Journey of Natty Gann opposite John Cusack back in the early eighties.

This episode originally aired with a public service announcement at the end regarding teen suicide. Co-sponsored by Cedars Sinai Medical Center's TeenLine and the American Association of Suicidology, the PSA was voiced over by Sarah Michelle Gellar.

John Hawkes who plays George the janitor has been Oscar nominated this year (2011) for his role in the film Winter’s Bone.

How many stakes?

I’m an old softy. 4 (out of 5)

Buffy: 2.18 ‘Killed by Death’

Young Buffy Pictures, Images and Photos
Eight year old Buffy

Writer: Rob Des Hotel, Dean Batali
Director: Deran Serafian

What's the sitch?

Poor Buffy, even being the Slayer doesn’t stop her getting a nasty case of the flu that’s currently doing the rounds. But even being as sick as a dog, she insists on going out on patrol, to keep the vamps down and to keep Angelus in check. Unfortunately she runs in to Angelus. They fight. And Buffy loses, collapsing to the ground unconscious. Luckily her friends step in just in time and ward off the nasty vamp before then rushing our fallen slayer to the hospital. Poor lamb is so ill that she is immediately admitted. Eventually she’s stabilised. But while initially delirious with fever, she sees what appears to be an ugly demon creeping through the hospital, following a small boy, who then dies the next day. The flu is very strong, and although Buffy is recovering, as are most people, the little kids in the hospital are still dying. Buffy is convinced the demon she saw when delirious is responsible, not the flu. But can she convince Giles and co. that the demon is real and not just a result of her fever? And can she stop it before it claims anymore innocent children’s lives?

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

This is a very familiar tale. Almost genetically familiar. It is basically a cautionary fairytale horror story about the nasty monster that preys upon young children when they are at their weakest. It’s very Brothers Grimm. This is the sort of thing Buffy has done before and will do again. Like with Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy, there is an intrinsic link to the darkest of fairytales in this series as well as with the more standard supernatural horror fare. I think that is part of the reason I love Buffy so much. I love the myth, allegory and metaphor and the ideas of childhood innocence and optimism vs. adult cynicism and dark devilry that fairytales represent. The demon’s name in this episode is Der Kindestod, which means ‘child death’ in German. The use of the German name links this even more to the Brothers Grimm idea (being that they were German and that’s where many of their collected folk and fairytales came from). Like fairytales of old this is a cautionary tale told as a metaphor about predatory adults who prey upon young children for whatever reason – a theme that reoccurs in Buffy and in many fairytales. Actually this reminded me somewhat of Wes Craven’s New Nightmare which I watched again recently. That film turned Freddy Kreuger in to a dark fairytale monster and covered some similar themes. It’s also interesting to note that this Buffy story puts forward the other familiar idea that children often see things that adults don’t and that they are not always believed when something bad is happening to them, something that unfortunately can be true in real life.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

The distinctly ugly and creepy demon called Der Kindestod. Plus Angelus pops up to try and get at Buffy in the hospital…only for Xander to heroically face him down.

Why it rocks

The script is solid and has a few good ideas, even if none of them are especially new ones.

Deran Serafian directs with a slick, moody, creepy style.

Der Kindestod is one ugly and creepy demon that can still give a major case of the wiggins. What it does to the children is even creepier and more disturbing, climbing atop them to drain their life away in a painful manner.

The creature design and make-up is fab – a cross between Freddy Kreuger and The Gentlemen from season 4.

Buffy isn’t afraid of much but she is afraid of hospitals. When she was eight she was alone in a hospital room with Celia, her beloved cousin of the same age who died in terror right in front of her. This is a horrible (in a good way) scene and in reality would certainly scar any child deeply. It turns out that the same demon was responsible for Celia’s death, which now makes things personal for the Bufster.

The fairytale feel.

Xander standing guard outside Buffy’s room and refusing to leave.

Xander facing down Angelus who’s trying to get at Buffy while she’s in the hospital.

Willow’s diversionary tactic.

Joyce and her kind words to Giles over Ms Calendar’s death.

Seeing Buffy in flashback as a little girl playing superheroes with her friend Celia. ‘Power Girl’ indeed. Very cute.

Why it sucks

Apart from Angelus trying to get at Buffy this is a standalone and has nothing to do with the bigger season arc.

No Spike and Dru.

It's Buftastic

Xander facing down Angelus. Go Xan-man!

Dialogue to die for

Xander: Man, Buffy! My whole life just flashed before my eyes! I gotta get me a life!

Buffy: No, I feel fine. I mean, I'm... the world's spinning a little bit, but I like it, it's kinda like a ride.

Xander (to Angel): You're gonna die. And I'm gonna be there.

Xander (to Angel): Take a walk, overbite.

Giles: Cordelia, have you actually ever heard of tact?
Cordelia: Tact is just not saying true stuff. I'll pass.

Xander: How are you gonna stop it?
Buffy: I thought I might try violence.
Xander: Solid call.

And another thing

Buffy's cousin Celia, who died in a hospital when Buffy was eight, is the first relative of Buffy's other than her mother and father to be mentioned in the series.

Buffy is not a natural blonde.

This episode marks the first time Willow becomes interested in magic.

How many stakes?

A very Grimm tale. 3.5 (out of 5)

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The End of Season 8 and Beyond...



Okay, so, with Buffy: Season 8 having ended this last week (on the Bufster’s birthday no less), here’s my final thoughts on the season just gone and on life in the Buffyverse afterwards.

Overall I've really enjoyed it, even if some parts have been better than others. At times the plotting did become so big, so convoluted, and just so plain bizarre, that I would on occasion struggle to keep up and to remember what was what. A few rereads had to be done, which was no bad thing. But for the most part it has been a logical, weird, and always entertaining continuation of the post-Chosen story made all the better by bringing back some of the very best writers from the show's seven year run. And Joss himself plotted the season and wrote and rewrote lots of it, just as with the TV series. It's been controversial at times, even making headlines around the world when Buffy had a little fling with fellow slayer Satsu, and then again when the identity of the seaason's big bad was released prematurely. Sales have been big. Critical acclaim mostly strong. Awards have been given. Fans ire has been stoked on occasion. So all in all some good work by Joss and co.

Highlights? Of the individual Season 8 arcs my own personal favourite was Drew Goddard's 'Wolves at the Gate', where Buffy and the gang teamed up with Dracula and headed to Japan to recover the stolen Slayer Scythe. Amongst other coolness, this gave us the hilarious and truly bizarre sight of Giant Dawn going all Godzilla in down town Tokyo. Plus a giant Mecha-Dawn to do battle with. Sounds insane, I know. But when magic is involved then all things are possible. So you just go with it and stay on that crazy train. I also really enjoyed Brian K. Vaughan's Faith-centric 'No Future For You' in which she teams up with Giles to take down a rogue slayer within the British aristocracy. And it goes without saying that Joss's stories were, of course, all excellent, with his wonderful one-shot 'The Chain' being extra shiny. His season finale, 'Last Gleaming - Part 5', was also great and a fine season epilogue and a fine prologue to the next lot of adventures to come.

Which brings me neatly to life post-Season 8...

Like the gang sings in OMWF, where do we go from here?

Well, after the huge globe trotting, new universe creating epicness of Season 8, it sounds as if Joss wants to bring things right back down to basics, to pull Buffy back to a simpler, grittier, more human base, concentrating more on the lives of the remaining core characters. And judging by the Season 8 finale that certainly looks to be the case. By the end of Season 8 Buffy has changed the world. Yet again. And, as always, there will be a major price to pay. A price beyond what she and the Scoobies have already paid in blood and great personal loss.

So how have things been left?

After destroying the Seed, magic is now gone from the world, though vamps and other nasties still remain. The slayer line has been ended leaving only the last remaining slayers active with no new ones ever to be called. Giles is dead at the hands of Angel/Twilight. Angel is in England staying with Faith and is a total wreck. Xander and Dawn are together and want out of the slaying life. Willow is forlorn at the magic she has lost, believing that the entire world has lost it's heart. Spike is flitting around in his insect-piloted airship fighting the good fight and trying to offer sound advice and encouragement to Buffy. And Buffy herself is no longer a leader or in control of anything. She is camping out on Dawn and Xander’s couch in San Francisco, working as a waitress by day and prowling rooftops and alleyways by night, alone, slaying vamps and also fending off attacks from gangs of furious ex-slayers (they still have power but have renounced the title) and furious magic-less ex-wiccans who believe she betrayed them. And even though the Bufster's approaching all of this with her usual grit and determination, getting on with the simple mission of slaying vamps and saving people in dark alleyways, it’s not an especially happy place for her to be at. So nothing new there then.

One of the more intriguing future plot threads highlighted in Joss’s excellent season finale is about Angel and how he and the others will deal with his being Twilight and the awful fact that, as Twilight, he murdered Giles. In the finale he appears a broken, catatonic mess, with Faith taking care of him…just as he did for her when she needed help. Buffy can’t even be in the same room as him let alone look at him. This whole outcome and Angel’s actions (albeit under the Twilight influence) have led some fans to decry the way the story developed and to threaten to abandon the Buffyverse for good, saying that Angel has now been ruined as a character and has no more reason to exist.

I say they are dead wrong.

Angel's not ruined. He's just continuing down the very, very bumpy road of his ongoing story. And here’s why:

From the very first time Angel ever laid eyes on Buffy his entire existence has been about her, whether he realised it or not. Everything Angel thinks and feels and does ultimately comes down to Buffy, to his love for her, his need for her. This has always been there – even in the latter stages of his own show. The main reason why he took on the Twilight persona was to push Buffy to evolve so that they could be together, finally. It was all about her. And about him being with her. Angel is a deeply flawed character. Always has been. And that’s partly what makes him a great character. A tragic character. He wasn’t some good and virtuous man before he became a vampire. Quite the opposite. He was an arrogant, selfish, unpleasant fool. And as fans know, in the Buffyverse a vampire still retains aspects of its previous human personality - hence Angelus the vampire was quite the monster. And even after getting his soul back, Angel could still be selfish, unpleasant and foolish from time to time. This latest gig has been just another (albeit huge) example. But then that's the beauty of the characters in the Buffyverse. They are all flawed and will indeed do highly questionable things that can have huge consequences. Even the non-humans are very human. Don’t forget folks, this is life painted large on a huge supernatural fantasy canvas. It is metaphor and allegory for how things really are.

Personally, I think it made perfect sense in the grand scheme of things for Angel to have done what he did in Season 8, although as it turns out he was rather deceived. Lets not forget that Angel's story is all about striving for redemption and making amends. It’s what defines the character. That and his eternal love and need for Buffy. Redemption and amends is a journey on a road that will have many, many bumps along the way. It’s also a journey that doesn’t necessarily have its own end, being that the journey itself is what truly counts. This point has been made before in both series and should not be overlooked by upset fans.

I’d simply implore anyone who says they love Angel not to abandon the character now. This Twilight thing has been yet another huge bump in the road along which Angel is journeying. But the journey will go on. That’s his story. It’s what he does. I can’t wait to see what happens in Season 9, to all of the remaining characters. And whatever does happen to them, I’m sure it won’t be nice and comfy and happy. Because since when has anything ever been nice and comfy and happy in Mr Whedon, The King of Pain’s little myth.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Buffy: 2.17 ‘Passion’

Angelus's 'Passion' monologue over some clips.

Writer: Ty King
Director: Michael E. Gershman

What's the sitch?

Angelus’s torment of Buffy continues. He leaves drawings on her bed of her sleeping at night, thus showing how easily he could have killed her if he wanted. He also leaves a picture of Buffy’s mom too. He is demonstrating his power over the Summers women. As a result, Giles finds a spell to revoke Angelus's invitation to the house. Meanwhile Jenny has found an ancient gypsy spell to restore Angelus' soul, but Drusilla finds out what Jenny is up to through her clairvoyant powers. Later, at Buffy’s house, Angelus confronts Buffy’s mom, acting as a deranged spurned lover. He tells Joyce that he and Buffy slept together. Shocked, Joyce goes inside and Angelus goes to follow… but he cannot enter as Buffy has cast the uninvitation spell. Soon after, finding out what Jenny is up to, Angelus goes to Sunnydale High, where the guilt-ridden teacher is busy translating the soul restoration spell onto a floppy disk. Angelus chases Jenny through the school and finally corners and kills her. A short time later and Giles returns to his house to find Jenny's body laid out on his bed. As the police arrive he calls Buffy and tells her what has happened. Buffy knows that Giles, blinded by hate and grief, will try to kill Angelus in revenge. And so the gang heads to his house to stop him. But they are too late. Giles has taken his weapons and gone to the old factory looking for flaming vengeance against the monster that murdered the woman he loved.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

It’s what the title says. This is all about passion and what it can drive you to do. Passion is what drives Angelus. It is the passion for cruelty and despair, which he indulges hugely in this episode. Before he lost his soul he was passionate about Buffy, passionate with love. Now he is soulless he is still passionate about her, with hate and cruelty. As Willow says, even now, Buffy is still the only thing he thinks about. And Buffy is still passionate about Angel, which means she still can’t kill him. And that is her major weakness. Early on in this episode, Giles tells her she doesn’t have the luxury of letting her passion rule her. If only it were that simple. Because by episodes end it is Giles who gives in to blind passion and almost gets killed as a result.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?


Why it rocks

Passion is an utter gem of an episode and another classic from Season 2. After Joss’s two-part season ender ‘Becoming’ parts1 & 2, and his earlier episode ‘Innocence’, this is the best of Buffy series 2. And Joss didn’t even write or direct it. Passion is a devilishly dark, tragic horror story from start to finish. Gleeful mental torment gradually builds to the eventual cold blooded murder of a season regular, an event which has a profound effect on the remainder of the season, and arguably the rest of the series.

David Boreanaz. As Angelus he has the tendency to slip in to panto land in his villainy. It got even worse when he got his own series. But here, in this episode, for the most part he is excellent, being subtly cruel and sadistic, lurking and watching in the shadows as the pain he has caused unfolds and the people he now hates start to fall apart. The most panto part of his performance comes with the most shocking moment – when he is chasing and then killing Jenny with it being maybe a little too big and moustache twirly. But the impact of what he’s done is intense and he still cuts a suitably cruel and scary figure. Better is his scene with Buffy’s mom where he is acting all unstable jilted lover before dropping the news to Joyce that her little girl is no longer a virgin. His deranged playfulness is very creepy and very good.

Passion has a fabulous script by Ty King. It is darkly poetic, scary and filled with great character stuff, thematic depth and major life altering events. Angelus’s voiceover at the beginning and end about the nature of passion and what it does to us is beautifully disturbing and sums up nicely the place both he and Buffy are at.

Michael E. Gershman’s direction is top notch too. He creates such a well-crafted atmosphere of dread, tension, horror and despair. Witness the scene shot from Angelus’s POV outside Buffy’s house as he watches her answer the phone to Giles who then tells her what has happened to Jenny. The sound inside is muted but we see Buffy and then Willow break down while Joyce tries to comfort them. All the while Angelus watches from outside, smiling. And also the extremely powerful previous scene where Giles comes home to find Jenny’s body left on his bed by Angelus. This scene in particular is beautifully shot by Gershman and equally beautifully performed by Tony Head with the mournful ‘O soave fanciulla’ from Puccini’s La Bohème playing loudly and building to a crescendo as Giles sees Jenny laying on his bed, her lifeless face staring at him.

The entire cast is once again digging deep. Witness Buffy and Joyce having ‘The Talk’; the Willow & Buffy breakdown; Buffy’s earlier selfless talk to Jenny saying how Giles misses her and Buffy doesn't want him to be alone. And then Buffy’s final angry/tearful/fearful confrontation with Giles where she is so scared that she might lose him. But all in all, this episode belongs to Tony Head. It is his heart we see break and his passion that becomes seriously riled. Great, great work.

Why it sucks

How did Angelus get in to Giles’ house with out being invited? I guess we have to presume he was once invited on an occasion we didn’t see.

It's Buftastic

Giles arriving home to champagne, flowers and Puccini, following a trail of roses up his stairs…only to find the lifeless body of Jenny staring blankly at him from his bed as the opera reaches its crescendo. Powerful stuff.

Dialogue to die for

Angelus: You went shopping at the local boogedy-boogedy store.

Xander: I'm sorry, but let's not forget that I hated Angel long before you guys jumped on the bandwagon. So I think I deserve a little something for not saying 'I told you so' long before now. And if Giles wants to go after the, uh, fiend that murdered his girlfriend, I say, 'Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!'

Drusilla: But, Spike, the bad teacher was going to restore Angel's soul.
Spike: What if she did? If you ask me, I find myself preferring the old Buffy-whipped Angelus. This new, improved one is not playing with a full sack. I love a good slaughter as much as the next bloke, but his little pranks will only leave us with one incredibly brassed-off Slayer!

Angelus (voice over): Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping... ...waiting... And though unwanted... ...unbidden... it will stir... ...open its jaws, and howl. It speaks to us... guides us... Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love... the clarity of hatred... and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we'd know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank... Without passion, we'd be truly dead.

And another thing

On the piece of music that starts as Buffy hugs Giles in front of the burning factory and carries over into the scene at Ms. Calendar's grave, the vocals are provided by Anthony Stewart Head.

One thing Buffy always did really well was continuity from week to week and year to year. In this episode we get Willow’s original reference to her and Xander watching ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ every holiday season and Xander always doing "the Snoopy dance." This will come back in the season 5 episode ‘The Replacement’ where we actually get to see Xander do the dance. Heh.

How many stakes?

I’m passionate about this one. 5 (out of 5)

Buffy: 2.16 ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.’

Buffy wants to make Xander her cuddle monkey.

Writer: Marti Noxon
Director: James A. Contner

What's the sitch?

Valentines Day comes to Sunnydale and Xander is feeling all romantic towards Cordy, buying her a lovely necklace and telling her how he feels about her. Unfortunately, feeling insecure and ostracised by her former friends, Cordy decides to dump Xander right after his gift giving. This royally ticks Xander off. And after noticing that Amy Madison from season one’s ‘Witch’ is now working some magic mojo of her own, Xander blackmails her in to casting a love spell over Cordy so she’ll want him back…only so he can then dump her himself and break her heart. But the spell goes wrong, and while Cordy remains immune, every other woman in Sunnydale (including Buffy, Willow, Buffy’s mom and even Drusilla) is now lusting after the Xan-man, the spell setting them all at each others throats and on an insane lovefest rampage.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

Not really anything deep here other than the emotional hell of high school and teen hormones running amok. This ep is simply a silly, frothy, very, very funny romp. Just sit back and giggle.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

Every woman in Sunnydale minus Cordy.

Why it rocks

Brilliant stuff! ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’ is just enormous fun and laugh out loud funny. This is a Xander comedy episode. And they are always something to look forward to. Nicky Brendon is a consummate comic performer. His timing and instincts are virtually flawless and he gets to have a great time here as the terrified object of lust by every crazed female in town.

Major kudos to Marti Noxon who wrote the funny as anything script and to the game cast for going that extra comic mile – especially Sarah who gets to, ahem, ‘vamp’ it up something rotten as slinky, sexy Buffy.

And speaking of sexy Buffy… The seduction scene with her wearing nothing but a very short mackintosh which she wants Xander to “unwrap” is the culmination of many a young late 90’s boy’s dream. She does look mighty cute. But then Amy goes and ruins things by turning Buffy in to a rat. Boo!

Oz and Giles searching for “Buffy-rat”.

Xander’s classic slow motion journey down the school’s main corridor as girls swoon and guys glare while Average White Band’s song ‘Got the Love’ plays in the background.

Oz punching Xander out because Willow spent all night on the phone crying to him about Xander.

Oz finding naked Buffy in the basement.

Why it sucks

Nothing sucks here. It’s just a lot of daft fun.

It's Buftastic

Buffy in THAT coat.

Dialogue to die for

Xander: Well, this is new territory for me. I mean, my valentines are usually met with heartfelt restraining orders.

Oz (after sparking Xander out): I was on the phone all night, listening to Willow cry about you. Now, I don't know exactly what happened, but I was left with a very strong urge to... hit you.

Buffy: I seem to be having a slight case of nudity here.
Oz: But you're not a rat. So call it an upside.

Xander: It's time for me to act like a man... and hide!

Xander: I wish dating was like slaying. You know, simple, direct, stake through the heart, no muss, no fuss.

And another thing

Oz's band, Dingoes Ate My Baby, perform on stage for the first time since their first appearance in ‘Inca Mummy Girl’.

Amy calls upon the goddess Diana as "goddess of love and the hunt," but in fact Diana was the Roman goddess of nature, fertility and childbirth. She is closely associated with the Greek goddess Artemis, who was goddess of the hunt, since both were goddesses of the moon as well. However, neither was the goddess of love (that was Aphrodite in the Greek pantheon, and Venus in the Roman).

How many stakes?

It’s a love thang. 4.5 (out of 5)

Buffy: 2.15 ‘Phases’

Writer: Rob Des Hotel, Dean Batali
Director: Bruce Seth Green

What's the sitch?

It’s the full moon. And in horror land you know what that means, right? Okay, so it’s actually the night before the full moon but this is properly explained in the episode. Anyway, a big, hairy, growly beast is stalking the sexual hot spots of Sunnydale – the lovers’ lane make out spot mainly, with Xander and Cordy almost becoming its victims. Yup, it’s a werewolf. Giles is excited by the news of tracking such a beast but tells Buffy and the gang that said werewolf is most likely a wholly innocent human who's totally unaware that three nights of the month they turn furry and hungry. You see, in the Buffyverse, a werewolf will transform the night before, the night of, and the night after the full moon. So on the next night, full moon night, Buffy and Giles go out hunting to “Bring ‘em back alive,” as Buffy jokes. But all too soon they run across Cain, a nasty werewolf hunter who’s out for werewolf pelts to sell for a pretty penny on the black market. And so the race is on for Buffy to capture wolfie before it hurts anyone and also before Cain can bag himself another beast. Meanwhile Xander has been investigating, seeing if he can discover who the werewolf is, with his sights being set squarely on Larry the obnoxious bully. But there’s a big shock for the gang when the true identity of the werewolf is eventually discovered.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

The major theme here is teenage male hormones and sexual identity. The metaphor in this episode is more or less in line with most modern werewolf stories – the struggle against the beast within. But the writers have also added the major sexual element to play up the hormonal male teenager as rampaging beast idea. The werewolf is attracted to places of gathered sexual heat, so it stalks the lovers’ lane area and also ends up at The Bronze where youngsters are busy dancing and making out. About half way through the episode we find out who the werewolf is after some misdirection including an amusing incident and admission from bully Larry to Xander. The identity of the werewolf is…Oz. He was bitten on the finger by his little cousin, Jordy. After a phone call to his aunt and uncle, Oz discovers Jordy is indeed a werewolf. The rest of the episode centres on Willow being frustrated over the lack of “smoochies” and intimacy with Oz now that they are dating. This leads her to confront him on it at exactly the wrong time…when he is about to chain himself up pre-transformation on the third night. She wanted the more sexually aggressive Oz, well, she’s about to get it.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

The werewolf. Cain, the werewolf hunter. And a cool cameo for Angelus.

Why it rocks

Yay! At last we get to see a lycanthrope on Buffy. And the writers, as often with this show, find a fun new spin on an old legend by adding in the whole hunting by/for sexual heat thing. Also the three night transformation before, on, and after the full moon is great and works well. If only other werewolf films had thought to include a simple new rule like that. As much as I love An American Werewolf in London, it has always bugged me that David transforms two nights following when it is stated he transforms only on the full moon. There is only ever one full moon per month. Fact. All it needed was a line of dialogue to slightly modify the legend as is done here.

This is an Oz and Willow centric episode…mostly Oz. And what’s not to love about that? Seth Green and Ally Hannigan make for an adorable onscreen couple.

Seth Green as Oz is simply a brilliant character.

The hilariously mundane phone call to Oz’s Aunt where he casually asks her if his cousin is a werewolf?

Cain is suitably creepy and obnoxious. His lewd comment to Giles when he encounters Buffy and Giles hanging around the woods together at lovers’ lane is funny and yucky.

Giles’s use of obscure British derogatory term ‘Pillock’ when describing Cain.

Larry’s confession to Xander and the whole mix up over what was really being said.

Why it sucks

The hulking bipedal werewolf costume with animatronic face is not that great. Still, it is infinitely better than the series’ later redesign which turns poor Oz in to some kind of rubbish loping chimp.

No Spike and Dru.

It's Buftastic

Oz waking up naked in the woods. He looks at himself, looks around and utters merely, “Huh!”

Dialogue to die for

Willow: It is nice. He's great. We have a lot of fun. But I want smoochies!
Buffy: Have you dropped any hints?
Willow: I've dropped anvils.

Giles: Quite. And it, uh, acts on pure instinct. No conscience, uh, uh, predatory and, and aggressive.
Buffy: In other words, your typical male.
Xander: On behalf of my gender, hey!
Giles: Yes, let's not jump to any conclusions.
Buffy: I didn't jump. I took a tiny step, and there conclusions were.

Oz (on the phone): Aunt Maureen. Hey, it's me. Um, what? Oh! It's, uh... actually its healing okay. That's pretty much the reason I called. Um, I wanted to ask you something. Is Jordy a werewolf? Uh-huh. And how long has that been going on? Uh-huh. What? No, no reason. Um... Thanks. Yeah, love to Uncle Ken.

Willow: Well, I like you. You're nice and you're funny. And you don't smoke. Yeah, okay, werewolf, but that's not all the time. I mean, three days out of the month I'm not much fun to be around either.

Giles (behind Cain’s back): Pillock!

And another thing

At the beginning of the episode, Oz is staring at the cheerleading statue in which Catherine Madison was trapped in Season 1 ep ‘Witch’. Amy Madison returns in the next episode.

How many stakes?

This puppy is something to howl about. 4 (out of 5)

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Buffy: 2.14 ‘Innocence’

Joss talks about making this episode.

Writer: Joss Whedon
Director: Joss Whedon

What's the sitch?

One moment of pure happiness is all it took to destroy everything.

Angel has lost his soul and as a result has reverted to the evil vampire Angelus. Buffy awakens in Angel’s bed, no longer a virgin, to find her lover disappeared. She leaves for home. And upon arriving back home her mom asks her if she’s okay, saying Buffy looks somehow different. Buffy just shrugs it off and heads out again in search of Angel, to track him down and find out why he left her all alone. Newly evil Angelus, meanwhile, has sought out Spike and Dru who are both over the moon to see their old grandsire and sire (respectively) returned to the evil fold. And with great relish, Angelus reveals to them his plans for Buffy – he intends to make her suffer terribly for having made him feel human, before he eventually kills her.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

The theme of this episode is right there in the title. ‘Innocence’ the episode is all about the innocence of childhood and then the loss of that innocence when the line in to adulthood is crossed. But here that line isn’t just crossed, it is stomped all over in size fourteen boots. As such, fear, hurt and desperation hangs over this episode like a heavy shroud and pushes the show in to deeper, darker territory. Up until now the monsters and whatnot have been scary and deadly for sure, but with Angelus, the big bad evil is now personal, intimate and emotionally crippling for our heroine. Angelus doesn’t just want to kill Buffy. He wants to control her, torture her emotionally, belittle her and cause her endless pain. Buffy has lost her virginity; she has lost her innocence. The ramifications of which will push her in to places of torment she had never even dreamt existed. Buffy has already lost a great deal. Before this season is done she will lose virtually everything.

As for the big metaphor... Well, it’s kinda obvious with Angel/Angelus being the boyfriend from hell who after being nice and lovely and getting what he wants, turns in to a vile, abusive, controlling jerk. And it works supremely well.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?


Why it rocks

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where Buffy the Vampire Slayer went from being a great show to being something truly special.

Leave it to Joss to bring us the uber-pain and to turn the whole world upside down. Basically, Joss Whedon is an evil genius. ‘Innocence’ will make you laugh, gasp, it may even make you cry. The hurt that hangs over this episode is palpable. This is Joss’s personal favourite Buffy episode and it is right up there for me alongside the other classics. Because this is the point where things changed. Where a lot of people looked up and really took notice of this show. If you ever thought that Buffy was just some silly kids show not worthy of serious attention then watch ‘Innocence’ and think again. Yes, there is silliness here, but it is clever silliness and it’s vastly outweighed by the emotional drama, the tender themes, the powerful acting. And above all else it has a cute girl with a rocket launcher. What more could you ever need?

More reasons for greatness? Okay...

Angelus casually blowing out of his own mouth cigarette smoke taken from the throat of a girl he’s just killed. One of the single greatest moments in Buffy history and TV coolness.

The scene where Angelus coldly dismisses their lovemaking and calls Buffy a “pro” is ghastly but great. Watch Sarah and if your heart doesn’t ache for Buffy then you ain’t a very nice person. David Boreanaz plays the scene brilliantly with just the right level of mocking and cruel disdain.

Buffy, a rocket launcher on her shoulder, fires the weapon at the Judge, blowing him apart, destroying him.

Sarah Michelle Gellar is put through the emotional wringer and gives it her all. When she’s in so much pain you can’t help but feel it too.

David Boreanaz doing evil. He’s having way too much fun as the cruel and sadistic Angelus to be healthy. It’s a bit pantomime in places but remains a highly effective turn.

Buffy’s end fight with Angelus. She can’t bring herself to kill him so the fight ends with one almighty slayer boot to Angelus’s man bits.

The scene near the end in Giles’s car when he brings a heartbroken and guilt ridden Buffy back home is a thing of simple tender beauty. Joss's dialogue and the performances from Tony Head and SMG are exquisite.

The very end of the episode. It has Buffy curled up on the couch with her mom watching a sad black and white movie on TV, feeling traumatised and far older than her mere seventeen years.

Why it sucks

Nothing sucks about this.

Okay, so if I’m being really picky then the whole Xander stealing the rocket launcher thing is kinda ludicrous. But then he did have his retained soldier knowledge from Halloween. And disbelief must be suspended. After all, this IS a show with vampires and demons and other ooglie booglies.

And I’m still a tiny bit uncomfortable about the whole idea that teenage girls having sex always leads to really bad things happening. Even Joss has admitted that he’s a bit uncomfortable about that too, but said that it works well within the context of this particular story and also as more of a metaphor about being used and abused by older men.

It's Buftastic

Ooh, so many classic moments to choose from. But it has to be a toss up between Angelus blowing the dead girl’s cigarette smoke out of his mouth and Buffy with the rocket launcher. Okay, I'm gonna go with Buffy and her huge explodey weapon as you just can’t beat a cute girl with a rocket launcher. See Zoe Saldana in ‘The Losers’ if you don’t believe me.

Dialogue to die for

Buffy: "I—I don't understand. Was it me? Was I not good?"
Angel (laughing): "You were great. Really. I thought you were a pro." (OUCH!)

Cordelia: "This is great. There's an unkillable demon in town, Angel's joined his team, the Slayer is a basket case... I'd say we've hit bottom."
Xander: "I have a plan."
Cordelia: "Oh, no, here's a lower place."

Cordelia: "Well, does looking at guns make you wanna have sex?"
Xander: "I'm seventeen. Looking at linoleum makes me wanna have sex."

Xander: Whoa. Whoa! I... I think I'm having a thought. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's a thought. Now I'm having a plan...Now I'm having a wiggins.

Joyce: "So what'd you do for your birthday? Did you have fun?"
Buffy: "I got older."

And another thing

The first time ‘Innocence’ aired it scored a 5.2 Nilesen rating, the highest ever viewing figure for Buffy in the US.

At the end, the movie Buffy and her mom are watching is Stowaway, a 1936 musical starring Shirley Temple, Alice Faye and Robert Young. The song "Goodnight, My Love" is being sung by Faye and Young.

Xander is older than Buffy.

In the flashback scenes of Buffy and Angel making love, the heavy breathing wasn't David and Sarah, but series creator Joss Whedon and supervising sound editor Cindy Rabideau. (Joss was far too embarrassed to ask his stars to record it.)

This is Joss Whedon’s favourite episode of Buffy. He says in the commentary that when he sees her with that rocket launcher he’s never loved her more.

How many stakes?

It’s an evil masterwork from Angelus and Joss. 5+ (out of 5)

Buffy: 2.13 ‘Surprise’

This SO is not gonna end well.

Writer: Marti Noxon
Director: Michael Lange

What's the sitch?

It’s Buffy’s birthday. And that never ends well. For a start she’s having disturbing prophetic dreams of Angel’s death. And while her friends are planning a surprise party at The Bronze for the Slayer, reinvigorated vampire Drusilla is planning a party of her own at the old factory to celebrate her return to full strength as wheelchair-bound Spike looks on. Dru’s ultimate party piece will be the reassembling of a powerful ancient demon called The Judge. Un-killable by any weapon forged by man, The Judge was cut in to pieces aeons ago and sent to the four corners of the earth. Now being brought piece by piece to Sunnydale, the last of the Judge parts, however, gets intercepted by Buffy. Recognising the Judge’s body part for what it is, Angel (as suggested by devious Jenny) decides to take said part as far away from Sunnydale as possible, far across the world in fact. Tonight. This news shatters Buffy’s world as she and Angel are now extremely close and she can’t bear to lose him. But when they go to the docks where Angel plans to catch a freighter, Drusilla’s men ambush them and steal back the Judge’s body part. Regrouping, Buffy and Angel head to the factory for some recon to see how far Drusilla has got in reassembling The Judge. And they are shocked to see the demon is up and around and slowly regaining his devastating killing strength. A fight breaks out and the heroic pair only just manages to escape with their lives. Caught in the rain they head on back to Angel’s place to dry off and nurse their wounds. One thing leads to another and eventually they end up making love. And so, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Buffy loses her virginity to the man she loves. But Angel is about to lose something far greater…

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

This is part one of a two-part story all about relationships, intimacy, betrayal and the hard lessons of growing up. It’s about the redefining of relationships with some people growing closer and others growing apart. Buffy and Angel are getting ever closer with the big ‘S’ starting to assert itself as the next logical step in their relationship. But there is fear and trepidation over taking that next step. Meanwhile Xander and Cordy are getting more and more passionate but are unable to move their relationship on to a proper footing, while Jenny and Giles are getting closer, though it turns out Jenny is keeping a very big secret from Rupert and the gang. And last but certainly not least Willow and Oz finally get together for a proper date…kinda. All too soon, though, events will throw some of these relationships in to utter turmoil.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

Newly revitalised Drusilla and the big blue meanie called The Judge.

Why it rocks

This is part one of one hell of a two-part story with writer Marti Noxon nicely setting up the chess pieces ready for Joss to come along in part 2 and gleefully, tragically knock the whole darn board over.

We bid a welcome return to Buffy’s often disturbing prophetic dreams.

Oz is such a great character. God bless Seth Green.

Juliet Landau as newly revitalised Drusilla is deliciously freaky, especially when she loses it over her roses.

The scene with Willow and Oz on the school bench where he asks her out is a highlight. It’s cleverly written and both actors are delightful.

Love the vampire party at the factory. Nicely goth with a great tune playing in the background – ‘Transylvanian Concubine’ by Rasputina.

The Jenny revelation is unexpected and adds a whole new aspect. Plus the late Vincent Schiavelli as her uncle makes a great addition to the cast.

The Judge looks pretty cool and the effect when he burns people up is shiny.

Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz’s chemistry boils over. You can tell all the way through this episode that their relationship is building up to an inexorable…um…climax.

That cliffhanger. Oh crap!

Why it sucks

The Judge is pretty cool but is one of two potentially world ending uber-demons the vamps try to resurrect in this season. Plus he looks a bit too blue – a kind of Smurf on steroids.

It’s an excellent episode but it is essentially just set-up material for the big payoff of part 2.

It's Buftastic

Oz asking Willow out.

Dialogue to die for

Angel: Leave her alone.
Spike: Yeah, that'll work. Now say 'pretty please'.
Angel: Take me instead of her!
Spike: Uh, you're not clear on the concept, mate. There is no 'instead'. Just first and second.

Buffy (to Willow about Oz): You think he's too old 'cause he's a senior? Please. My boyfriend had a bicentennial.

Xander: Buffy, I feel a pre-birthday spanking coming on.

Willow: Carpe diem. You told me that once.
Buffy: Fish of the day?

And another thing

Brian Thompson, who played Luke in ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’ and the X-Files’ alien bounty hunter amongst other hulking types plays the Judge.

This episode takes place on Buffy's seventeenth birthday, implying that Buffy was born in January 1981. This goes on to become canon with the original air date for this double bill of January 19th becoming our girl’s official birthday. She turns 30 this year (2011).

How many stakes?

A very pleasant surprise indeed. 4 (out of 5)

Buffy: 2.12 ‘Bad Eggs’

Xander being Xander

Writer: Marti Noxon
Director: David Greenwalt

What's the sitch?

The kids are being taught sex education at school. As part of the course they are each given an egg to take care of as if it were a child. This is to highlight the problem of unwanted teen pregnancy and the consequences. But this being Sunnydale, these are no normal eggs. Soon they start hatching at night and nasty little octopus-things come out and take over the minds and bodies of the students and some teachers. All except for Buffy, who killed hers after it hatched, and Xander, who hard-boiled his to make it harder to break…and also as a handy snack if he gets hungry. The possessed people are drawn to the school basement where they start digging up the egg’s mother, a huge slimy creature who keeps on laying. At the same time Buffy must contend with the Gorch Brothers, two dim-witted Texan vampires out to bag a slayer.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

Oh dear! Sometimes a metaphor can go too far. This is obviously about teenage pregnancy and how it turns you in to a slave to your offspring, effectively ending your own childhood. Don’t do it kids. Sex is bad, mmmkay?

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

Slimy egg monsters and two dumb cowboy vampires

Why it rocks

Uh, not much rocks here.

Ok, there's some nice if obvious movie references. The egg monsters are very much like facehuggers from Alien. Buffy’s showdown with one of them in her room is very similar to the scene in Aliens with Ripley and Newt being locked in the room with facehuggers by Burke. Only nowhere near as good. There is also a dissection scene that is right out of Aliens.

Why it sucks

Pretty much the whole thing sucks.

There's no real story. The people just turn in to mindless zombies and dig up the basement of the school. Great.

The Gorch brothers are crap and appear as if they’ve just been shoehorned in to add something extra to the (lack of) story.

It's Buftastic

Buffy climbs out of the pit, covered in black slime, pick axe in hand after killing the underground beasty, and gives the remaining Gorch brother one heck of a “Don’t you dare f&$k with me!” look. Needless to say he just turns tail and runs.

Dialogue to die for

Buffy: I see your gyuhhhh and raise you a ngyahhh!

And another thing

Marti Noxon wrote this? Really?

And for some reason this was the script that convinced Joss and David Greenwalt to take Marti Noxon on as a staff writer. Go figure.

How many stakes?

Bad, bad eggs. 1.5 (out of 5)

Buffy: 2.11 ‘Ted’

Nasty Ted

Writer: David Greenwalt, Joss Whedon
Director: Bruce Seth Green

What's the sitch?

Buffy discovers her mom has a new boyfriend, an apparently charming, kind and all round great guy called Ted. Everybody loves him. He gets Willow free software upgrades and is a super cook, which keeps Xander happy. But Buffy doesn’t like him. Not one bit. She hates this interloper in to hers and her mother’s life. But for her mom’s sake she tries to play nice. And all seems okay…until Ted catches her cheating at Miniature golf and threatens her out of earshot of her mom and friends. Determined to dig the dirt on Ted, Buffy investigates him even though none of her friends can see the problem. But unbeknownst to Buffy, Ted is also investigating her and invades her room and reads her diaries, learning all about her being a slayer. Buffy gets angry as Ted tries to use her diary (which he sees as evidence of her being mentally unstable) to blackmail her in to behaving. They argue and Ted hits Buffy. Buffy hits back. Resulting in Ted falling down the stairs and hitting the bottom, dead. Her mother is horrified, as is Buffy. But Ted isn’t everything he appeared. And a couple of days later the Summers women will discover that you can’t keep a bad Ted down.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

The metaphor is obvious and really good. It’s about a parent bringing in to the house someone new, a new romantic interest. Someone who upsets the status quo and who the child resents and wants nothing to do with. It’s also about that new interloper being an abusive, controlling, domineering force that is all smiles and niceties on the outside but is a dark and violent monster inside. The child abuse angle is also obvious. As is the fact that Ted is another in a long line of misanthropic male characters on Buffy who see women as objects to use and control as they see fit - just another reason for the Bufster to kick all their asses.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

Nasty Ted

Why it rocks

It’s a good solid idea and the situation is something that does effect a lot of people so can easily be identified with.

Ted is played by the late John Ritter who does an excellent job and is arguably the biggest name guest star Buffy ever had.

Sarah is so good at making you feel the pain. When she’s in trouble, physically, emotionally, you can’t help but emphasise and feel for her. The scenes where Ted bullies Buffy are actually quite nasty. Here’s this big middle-aged guy, a potential father figure, standing over a tiny little teenage girl and being really nasty, then violently smacking her. For some reason this has a lot more visceral impact than when Buffy gets smacked around by vampires and demons. I think it’s because Ted is apparently human and is trying to act like a father figure, albeit a cruel domineering one. Plus the fact that Buffy’s mother is the one who has brought him in to their home and is choosing to ignore what her daughter is saying about him. Nice parenting, Joyce. It just makes you appreciate Giles even more for being Buffy’s one true father figure.

Buffy dealing with thinking she’s killed a person is very well handled. Again, Sarah bringing the pain. The killing of real people by a slayer is a theme that will be revisited a couple more times in the series run – most notably next season with Faith.

Why it sucks

The revelation about Ted is rather silly. And what he’s been doing, though very creepy, doesn’t hold up if you start thinking about it.

It's Buftastic

Buffy hits back. Yeah!

Dialogue to die for

Buffy (to Ted after he hits her): "Oh I was so hoping you’d do that!"

Cordelia: "But she’s like this Superman. Shouldn’t there be different rules for her?"
Willow: "Sure, in a fascist society."
Cordelia: "Right! Why can’t we have one of those?"

And another thing

After reading her diary, Ted tells Buffy that psychiatrists have a word for people like her – delusional. This foreshadows season six’s excellent ‘Normal Again’ where Buffy wakes up in a psychiatric hospital and is told she’s been living in a self-constructed delusion for several years and that Sunnydale and slayers and vampires are not real, that she’s just a very ill girl.

How many stakes?

Nasty Ted gets three. 3 (out of 5)

Buffy: 2.10 'What's My Line - Part 2'

Kendra kicking ass and taking names.

Writer: Marti Noxon
Director: David Semel

What's the sitch?

The conclusion of the story set up in part 1. Spike discovers what he needs to cure Dru: the blood of her sire – meaning Angel. Angel is kidnapped by Spike after being locked up by Kendra who thought he was a bad guy. Buffy and Kendra arrive too late to rescue him. Giles and the gang discover what Spike is up to and Buffy heads off alone to the abandoned church to rescue Angel after leaving a stubborn Kendra to await orders from the watcher. Buffy arrives but discovers it’s a trap and is taken prisoner while Angel is bled to start healing Drusilla. As Buffy watches helplessly while Angel is slowly being bled to death, Spike prepares to finally kill the slayer...

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

This continues the themes from part one and also examines questions such as is it what we do that defines us? Or is it who we are that defines what we do? Buffy and Kendra argue the point about what it means to be the Slayer. To Kendra, it is her life and an integral part of who she is, the major part in fact. It defines her. To Buffy, being the Slayer is a job. She’s Buffy, slaying is just something she does because she has to. Kendra is the textbook slayer. Cold, emotionless, lethal, takes orders, slays vampires and does nothing more. She has no friends, no family, no life outside of slaying. She is the polar opposite of Buffy. She thinks Buffy having friends and emotions and a life makes her weak. But Buffy counters that it is exactly that which makes her powerful. And she’ll be proven to be right. Textbook slayers like Kendra have a very short shelf life. It's often only a couple of years before they get killed. Buffy, because of her friends and family and support and her emotions will survive way beyond any previous slayer…even after dying twice. But by the end of this episode, Buffy has moved her viewpoint as well. Slaying is no longer just her job. She embraces it as part of who she is. Just not the only part.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

Spike and Dru

Why it rocks

It’s a great payoff to part one with some excellent character stuff and some top-notch fights. Buffy and Kendra make a fearsome pair and their tag team slaying at the end is wicked cool. Love the bit when Buffy yells “Switch!” and they roll over each other to change opponent.

Juliet Landau as Drusilla ups the insanity here with Dru taking twisted pleasure in torturing Angel for everything he did to her including killing everyone she loved, sending her insane and then turning her in to a demon the night before she was to become a nun. Landau is spooky eerie even if the accent is of the Dick Van Dyke type. The whole concept of Dru as a kind of mad vampire junkie is highlighted when we see her laid out in bed. She’s so thin and pale and her arms are covered in small bruises that look like she’s been injecting. Brrr.

Cordy and Xander bicker, argue, and yet keep making out despite them both being appalled at their lusty actions. The relationship and banter is very funny and hugely watchable. Nick Brendon and Charisma Carpenter make for a great love/hate double act.

Bianca Lawson is super hot.

Oz and Willow start to bond over Oz’s minor gunshot wound (received after he pushed Willow out of the way in part 1) and a box of animal crackers and Oz’s realisation that monkeys are the only animal that get to wear pants. Cute.

The Spike and Dru role reversal at the end and that really cool final slow motion shot of Dru carrying an unconscious Spike down the aisle of the old church

Why it sucks

It doesn’t. At all.

It's Buftastic

It’s a toss up between Oz and his Animal Crackers and Buffy yelling “Switch!” to Kendra to swap opponents in the midst of battle.

Dialogue to die for

Oz, to Willow: "The monkey's the only cookie animal that gets to wear clothes, you know that? You have the sweetest smile I've ever seen. So I'm wondering, do the other cookie animals feel sorta ripped? Like, is the hippo going, 'Hey, where are my pants? I have my hippo dignity.' And, you know, the monkey's just (French accent) 'I mock you with my monkey pants.' And then there's a big coup at the zoo."
Willow: "The monkey is French?"
Oz: "All monkeys are French. You didn't know that?"

Kendra: "Did I not see you kissing a vampire?"
Willow: "Buffy would never do that! Oh. Except for... sometimes you do that."

And another thing

Buffy says to Kendra, “Back off Pink Ranger!” referencing the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It’s also an in-joke as Sarah’s stunt double on Buffy, Sophia Crawford, was also stunt double for the Pink Ranger.

Buffy tells Kendra to enjoy the in-flight movie on the way home, unless it involves Chevy Chase and a dog. This is a reference to the film Funny Farm, in which Sarah Michelle Gellar had a small role.

How many stakes?

It’s slaytime x2. 4 (out of 5)

Buffy: 2.9 ‘What’s My Line: Part 1’

Buffy and Kendra Pictures, Images and Photos
Now that’s what I call girl power!

Writer: Marti Noxon, Howard Gordon
Director: David Solomon

What's the sitch?

Its careers fair time at Sunnydale High and all of the students have to fill in multiple choice questionnaires to identify their future career paths. This aggravates all of the scoobies but raises particular anxieties in Buffy about her own future. What kind of life and career can she have? She has her slayer duty and that seems to be all that lies ahead for the Bufster. Meanwhile, Spike is trying to decipher a text to find a cure for Drusilla, to restore her back to full strength. This requires a little tomb raiding, bringing his gang in to direct confrontation with Buffy and nearly ruining his plans. Annoyed, Spike decides to bring in the big guns: The Order of Taraka: the baddest of the bad assassins who will stop at nothing until their mark is dead. In this case a mark called Buffy Summers. But as the assassins start turning up in Sunnydale to each take their shot at the slayer, another new arrival has also come to town – a tough as nails girl from overseas who claims to be a vampire slayer.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

No real metaphors in this one but the underlying theme is all about the future – life, career, family. Buffy starts thinking about all of that; something most teens don’t bother with. She lies when Angel asks her if she ever thinks about the future. She says no. But she clearly has been. But as with most teens, the future seems so distant that she decides to ignore it as best she can…except that the inanity of the school’s careers fair is not gonna let her off so easily. Part 2 will continue this theme when new slayer Kendra arrives proper, giving Buffy the idea that she could possibly retire as the slayer and go off and have a real life and future of her own. It’s an idea that will resurface in season 3 when Faith comes to town.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

Spike and Dru and the various members of The Order of Taraka including the creepy bug man, the hulking dude and the lady cop.

Why it rocks

This is Buffy’s first big two-parter since the pilot episodes so the story is bigger and broader with more locations including planes and airports. The stakes are also higher (pardon the pun) and there are some new huge developments in the season arc and in Buffy lore.

Buffy’s future and her struggle for a normal life is at the heart of this story. And that’s always good seeing as how that continual struggle is at the very core of the entire show. Interesting questions are also raised about what will happen to her down the line and what kind of a life she can possibly have. When you actually stop and think about it the whole thing is kinda depressing. You really wouldn’t wanna be this girl. She seems to be stuck, along with the vampires she slays, in a never ending, never changing soulless existence with nothing to look forward to in life.

Xander and Cordy, trapped by the creepy bug man, give in to their passions.

Spike and Dru. ‘Nuff said.

Sarah looks good on ice skates, which involves a ‘cool’ use of said skates in offing a bad guy. Pun absolutely intended.

Mr Gordo, Buffy’s stuffed toy pig, being absently cuddled by Angel is chuckle inducing.

Bianca Lawson as Kendra the Vampire Slayer is ridiculously hot. Shame about that awful mock-Jamaican accent though.

Why it sucks

Bianca Lawson’s above mentioned accent makes my ears hurt.

It's Buftastic

The cliffhanger. Up until the very end we have assumed that the insanely cute girl with the awful mock-Jamaican accent who beat up Angel is one of the Order of Taraka. But as she faces off with Buffy, she announces: “Me names Kendra, the Vampire Slayer!” Cue Buffy’s shocked face, the audience going “Huh?” And the screen saying ‘To be continued.’

Dialogue to die for

Buffy (after Giles explains what a reliquary is): Note to self: religion: freaky.

Buffy (seeing Angel in her room holding her stuffed pig): Just dropping by for some quality time with Mr. Gordo?

Dalton: Yes, but... The Order of Taraka. I mean, isn't that overkill?
Spike: No, I think it's just enough kill.

Giles: You're behaving remarkably immaturely.
Buffy: You know why? I am immature. I'm a teen. I have yet to mature.

Cordelia: Oh, great, so now I'm your taxi and your punching bag.
Xander: I like to think of you more as my witless foil, but have it your way.

And another thing

This is the first Buffy script from Marti Noxon. She would go on to become one of the show’s head writers, then the exec producer alongside Joss, and would finally take over day to day running of the show in its last couple of seasons while Joss was off doing Firefly.

In this episode the gang are referred to as the Scoobies for the first time. Up until now they’ve called themselves the Slayerettes.

How many stakes?

The aptitude test score is 4 (out of 5)

Buffy: 2.8 ‘The Dark Age’


Writer: Dean Batali, Rob Des Hotel
Director: Bruce Seth Green

What's the sitch?

An old friend of Giles from his youth comes to Sunnydale looking for him but is found dead. He bears a mysterious tattoo, which Giles also bears. This sends Giles a bit loopy especially when he discovers all of his old gang are now dead except for him and a certain troublemaker called Ethan Rayne. Shutting himself away from Buffy and everyone else, Giles desperately tries to find out what has happened while Buffy and the gang are looking to find out what Giles has done in his past to make him act so strange. Pretty soon they discover the truth. In their youth, Giles and co had been messing with dark powers and had raised a powerful demon, which then killed one of their group. They managed to banish the demon but now it is back and looking to finish the job. Only Giles and Ethan now remain. Can Buffy discover how to save her watcher before it’s too late?

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

Giles is having flashbacks to his drug experimenting days as a rebellious teen with the stuff he did back now coming back to haunt him. Yeah, it ain’t too subtle in the metaphor. One of their original gang OD’d on the ‘demon raising’. This is about the sins of the past and past mistakes that eventually come back to bite you with the drugs one being the most obvious. But it works pretty well as a metaphor with the whole drugs hurt those around you and not just you thing. What is great here is that basically Buffy and Giles reverse roles here. She becomes the sensible responsible one who must take control and get the truth and figure out what’s happening and solve it. She becomes the adult to Giles’ wayward, withdrawn, angry teen. And she really does step up, showing how much she cares for her watcher.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

The demon Eyghon who can briefly possess the dead or anyone unconscious for much longer. And Ethan as well to a lesser extent.

Why it rocks

Another metaphor show and it works pretty well.

We get to know a bit more about Giles’s past. His ‘Ripper’ years. He wasn’t always stuffy and tweed wearing. He was a full-on bad boy.

Tony Head does a great job showing Giles’s panic and emotional deterioration as he flounders about what to do and as a result pushes people away and turns to drink. Sarah matches him by Buffy stepping up to the mark and taking charge. But this is Tony Head’s show and he rocks.

The demon Eyghon is pretty darn creepy especially when it possesses Jenny Calendar. Great make-up and Fx in general.

Robin Sachs is back as Ethan. Always fun to watch.

Why it sucks

Sorry, but Giles liked the Bay City Rollers? I think not.

If the demon uses the tattoo to track and target its victim then why didn’t Ethan and Giles and the rest get it removed years ago?

It's Buftastic

Willow yells at Xander and Cordy, telling them to get out of ‘her’ library.

Dialogue to die for

Xander: "Giles lived for school. He's actually still bitter that there are only twelve grades."
Buffy: "He probably sat in math class thinking, 'There should be more math. This could be mathier.'"

Xander: "Ooh, gang, didja hear that? A bonus day of class plus Cordelia! Mix in a little rectal surgery and it's my best day ever!"

Buffy: "Don't be sorry, be Giles. C'mon, we fight monsters. This is what we do. They show up, they scare us, I beat 'em up and they go away. This isn't any different!"

And another thing

The photo that Xander finds of young Giles playing a bass guitar is actually Tony Head’s face from a photo when he was seventeen stuck over a picture of Sid Vicious.

This episode was rated as TV14 in the US although there is no blood or gory violence.

How many stakes?

I’ll give it 3.5 or else Ripper will beat me up. 3.5 (out of 5)