Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Buffy: 3.1 ‘Anne’

Writer: Joss Whedon
Director: Joss Whedon

What's the sitch?

The new school year is about to start at Sunnydale High and Xander, Willow and Oz are valiantly (and only partially successfully) slaying vampires by night while preparing for the start of school by day. And all without thier missing vampire slaying friend who no one has seen or heard anything from all summer. Giles, meanwhile, has been following up potential leads and continually jetting off all over the country serching for Buffy...but to no avail. And as for Joyce, she's been waiting at home, beside herself with worry.

And so just what has become of our runaway Sayer?

Well, turns out she's been living alone in a run down area of LA, working as a waitress in a diner and calling herself Anne, her middle name. She just wants to be left alone to wallow in her misery, but a chance run in with Lily aka Chantarelle from last season’s ‘Lie To Me’ soon gets her embroiled in helping search for Lily's lost boyfriend. This eventually brings Buffy in to confrontation with a bunch of nasty demons masquerading as do-gooders for homeless kids. These demons are in fact kidnapping young runaways and taking them back to work as slaves in their own demon dimension, eventually returning the kids to Earth a few days later, only as old people who are about to die. You see, time moves much faster in the hell dimension than it does on Earth. Anyway, so Buffy ends up following Lily in to the hell dimension and our girl quickly leads a revolt, freeing the young slaves and slaying nasty demon boss ‘Ken’, before returning the captured kids back to our world. Back in LA, Lily takes over Buffy’s job, her room and the name of Anne, while Buffy heads back to Sunnydale to finally put her life together again.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

The main metaphor for this story is the despair and hell endured by kids that, for whatever reason, run away from home and end up living on the streets, becoming targets for abuse and exploitation, making them old before their time. And this is also about Buffy living in hell after what she’s gone through…but then fighting back and reclaiming her life and rediscovering who she is.

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

Ken and his nasty demon slavers. And some random vamp that Willow, Xander nd Oz are trying and failing to slay.

Why it rocks

It’s a Joss episode. And it’s all metaphory.

There is one heck of a good and complicated (if very showy) continuous DePalma style take that follows Xander, Willow, Giles, Oz , Cordy and various other kids through and around the corridors of Sunnydale High as they all meet up and restart school.

Julia Lee who plays Lily aka Chantarelle aka Anne is a beautiful girl and makes for a very sweet character. She will come back a few times as ‘Anne’ in Angel, running a shelter for runaway kids.

Michael Gershman’s photography turned more colourful and glossy in this third year. The hell dimension scenes look especially great. After the first two years being shot on 16mm film, Season 3 shifted to the higher grade 35mm. As a result the image became sharper and richer, but also lost the moody grain of before.

‘Anne’ has what is possibly the single greatest fight scene in all seven seasons of Buffy, and one of the best ever seen on TV. Buffy’s run as she escapes the demon horde and then fights them all off in a continuous bone-breaking, knock down slug fest, is bloody marvellous. Seriously, this fight would look awesome in a major Hollywood movie.

The Gellar is back and giving great mope. Plus she has a new haircut with coloured streaks and stuff. Somehow she looks even younger and tinier in this episode than she did last season.

New title design. The ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ title card in the opening credits has been replaced with what is now seen as the definitive design.

Why it sucks

It’s a solid enough story and a pretty good (if unsubtle) metaphor…but it just doesn’t get up to the dizzying heights of Whedon’s last few efforts.

Lily is sweet and cute but is just a tad too simpering.

It's Buftastic

That epic Buffy vs. demons smackdown.

Dialogue to die for

Xander: You don't hide. You're bait. Go act baity.
Cordelia: What's the plan?
Xander: The vampire attacks you.
Cordelia: And then what?
Xander: The vampire kills you. We watch, we rejoice.

Buffy: You know, I just... I woke up, and I looked in the mirror, and I thought, hey, what's with all the sin? I need to change. I'm... I'm dirty. I'm, I'm bad with the... sex and the envy and that, that loud music us kids listen to nowadays. W...Oh, I just suck at undercover.

Demon Slave Master: Who are you?
Buffy: I'm Buffy. The Vampire Slayer. And you are...?

And another thing

Carlos Jacott who plays nasty Ken is a Whedon fave having been in both Angel and Firefly.

Street scenes from this episode find their way in to the opening credits of Angel.

Seth Green becomes a regular cast member in this episode.

This episode features the debut of a new opening credit sequence, with a re-recorded theme, new logo and a new montage of scenes.

Buffy's middle name is Anne. Here in the UK we have a chain of sex shops called Ann Summers. Maybe a little joke by Joss seeing as how he went to school over here for a while.

How many stakes?

Buffy go home. 3 (out of 5)

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