Saturday, 24 December 2011


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

WRITER: Joss Whedon
DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Sunday, 18 December 2011


Buffy vs. Faith smackdown

WRITER: Douglas Petrie
DIRECTOR: Michael Gershman


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

To be continued…


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


The glorious Ms Lehane


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


'Buffy': “Five by Five.”


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

Willow: "That was the funnest coma ever."

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Friday, 16 December 2011


Short episode promo

WRITER: Marti Noxon
DIRECTOR: David Solomon


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


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


Adam and a withdrawal-ridden Riley


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Riley freaking out at Willy’s Bar.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Riley loses it. 3.5 (out of 5)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


A short promo for this episode

WRITER: David Fury
DIRECTOR: James A. Contner


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


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


Maggie Walsh, Polgara Demons, and Adam.


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

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

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

Willow and mousy Tara becoming closer. Aww.

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

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

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


Buffy wears out her welcome with The Initiative kinda quickly.

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


The Team works. 3 (out of 5)

Monday, 12 December 2011


A short promo for this episode.

WRITER: Jane Espenson

DIRECTOR: Michael Gershman


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


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


Ethan Rayne, The Initiative (kinda)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Demon Head. 4 (out of 5)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Short trailer for this episode

WRITER: Marti Noxon, David Fury, Jane Espenson

DIRECTOR: James A. Contner


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


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


The Vahrall demons


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Gleeful Spike right at episode’s end.


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

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

Giles: "Oh — as usual — dear."

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Friday, 2 December 2011


The Gentlemen are coming...

WRITER: Joss Whedon
DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon


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


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


The Gentlemen


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Silence is golden. 5+ (out of 5)


“Don’t I get a cookie?”

WRITER: Tracey Forbes
DIRECTOR: Nick Marck


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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