Saturday, 11 February 2012
BUFFY: 4.21 ‘PRIMEVAL’
Buffy’s best fights from season 4
WRITER: David Fury
DIRECTOR: James Contner
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
Adam reveals his plan to his ‘brother’ Riley who it turns out has a chip planted inside of him by Maggie Walsh; a chip which allows Adam to control him. So what's Adam been up to? Well, he's been deliberately loading the Initiative with demons and wants Buffy in there to lead the humans in battle when he releases the demon horde upon them. Buffy, he figures, will maximise demon casualties allowing for lots and lots of human and demon spare parts, which he can then use to build an army of hybrids to begin bringing order to a chaotic world. Meanwhile at the caves, Buffy has a run in with Spike and figures out what’s been going on. She, Giles, Willow and Xander meet up and realise that Spike, working for Adam, has been playing them off against each other, looking to isolate Buffy from her besties. Buffy also figures out Adam’s plan and our girl decides to mount a surprise attack on Big Bad's secret lab in the Initiative before he can put his nasty plan in to action. But how to defeat the big nasty? It seems he feared the strength that Buffy drew from her friends, which goes and gives Giles an idea for a powerful spell to give the Buffster the advantage in combat. The gang then heads to the Initiative where they break in through Riley’s old frat house, repelling down the secret elevator shaft. However they are soon captured by Initiative types and pretty soon must watch helplessly as Adam takes control of the facility releasing all the demons from their cells. A massive human vs. demon battle ensues complete with explosions, mass casualties, body parts cleaved away. Buffy and the gang escape custody and cast their spell, imbuing Buffy with the strength of her three best friends and of the original primeval magic of the Slayer. Meanwhile Riley manages to remove the controlling chip from his chest and fights the newly demoned up Forrest, eventually besting his now monstrous ex-best friend. At the same time, primevaly boosted up Buffy finds Adam and engages him in a one on one smack down. Adam is unable to match or work around Buffy’s new power and ends up having his power cell ripped from his body by her, killing him stone dead. Later, somewhere in Washington DC, a bunch of Government officials discuss what happened in Sunnydale and make the decison that their interference in all things supernatural was a mistake and that the Initiative should be shut down and buried forever.
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
The power of true friendship, of drawing strength from those who care for you and who you care for. Not being alone. This is one of the fundamental themes of the entire series. Buffy has only lived as long as she has, has only been as successful as she has because she’s got what no other slayer ever had: friends, family, a life (of sorts). She has people to care about and who care about her. Who have her back. The power in that is immense.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
Adam, Demon-Forrest, lots of let loose demons.
WHY IT ROCKS
1. Action. You want big action? Fights? Explosions? Gun battles? Fire? Sets blowing up? Limbs severed? Check all those. Primeval is big. It’s ballsy. It’s an action spectacular. Humans and demons fight, fly through the air, lose body parts, explode. You name it, almost every stunt is in here. Seeing the fantastic Skunkworks location used as the Initiative engulfed in flames and carnage is pretty darn cool. Director Jim Contner and the stunt team did a splendid job. The stuntmen really earned their pay on this one inc. high falls and full body burns – still the most dangerous stunt to do. Contner shows lots of wide-angle destruction as well as fast cut frenetic carnage and more intimate battles and bloodshed. I especially liked Forrest blowing up, his dismembered head sent spinning at the camera. Cool.
2. Buffy goes Neo. Okay, so Joss loves The Matrix. It’s his favourite film. And here you can tell. When Buffy becomes possessed by the primeval force, she slows time, stopping bullets in slo mo and turning missiles in to doves. The FX look amazing if totally ripped off of the Wachowski’s. But its kinda cool seeing the same thing used in a magic/supernatural context as opposed to the scifi one in The Matrix.
3. The Buffy/Adam fight. Buffy’s hand to hand fight with Adam is bloody great. It is fairly brief but its a big ol’ fist pounding slug fest as she dodges his huge blows and counters with hard and fast poundings of her own. A tiny girl laying epic blows on a huge, hulking Frankenstein monster type and sending him reeling is just such a goddamn awesome image. Its moments like those that remind me why she’s possibly my favourite hero character ever, and still, all these years later, just so dam cool.
4. The elevator repelling scene. In a very Buffy scene, Buffy and Willow have a touching heart to heart and reconnect as best friends…while repelling on ropes down an elevator shaft. This sweet and touching scene is then undercut with funny as the pair hug…and then pratfall the rest of the way down. At the bottom of the shaft they continue to hug, and when Xander comes down next they hug him too. Unaware of the context Xander takes it the wrong way and thinks they are all about to die. Heh.
WHY IT SUCKS
1. Despite the coolness of Buffy and Adam’s big end fight, it does feel oddly small scale and ends kinda quick. Basically they are fighting one on one in a small room with nobody else about. I wish they’d been able to stage the fight out in the main Initiative set somehow. It would have been a lot more visually interesting with all the carnage going on around them.
2. Sarah lost a fair bit of weight over seasons 3 and 4 and her stunt/fight double is, in several scenes, obviously a lot more muscular.
3. I love Spike, but how come Buffy didn’t just stake him when it became clear he was working for Adam? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad she didn’t, but it doesn’t make a whole heap of sense.
The fights and FX are fab but I do love the elevator-repelling scene. It’s disarmingly sweet, character based and funny. Quintessential Buffy.
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Xander: “Spike's working for Adam?! After all we've done — Nah, I can't even act surprised.”
Willow: “Oh, wonderful Xander!”
Buffy (while giving a group hug): “You know we love you, right?”
Willow: “We totally do.”
Xander (morose): “Oh God, we're gonna die, aren't we?”
Spike (to Adam, about getting his chip removed): “Hello? Paging Dr. Owe-me-one.”
Willow (to Colonel McNamara as he's searching their equipment): “It's a gourd.”
Giles: “A magic gourd.”
Colonel McNamara: “What kind of freaks are you people?”
Uber-Buffy: “You could never hope to grasp the source of our power. (Pushes a hand in to Adams chest, pulling out his power core). But yours is right here.”
Spike (faking enthusiasm to help the Scoobies and save his own skin): "Then lets go save 'em, by gum!"
AND ANOTHER THING
Primeval is the standard big fight/epic conclusion to this season’s story arc concerning The Initiative and Adam. But it is not the season finale. In a left field decision made by Joss, and flying in the face of normal TV drama, he decided instead to end this season with a strange little character driven coda; an experimental episode about dreams and consequences which explores our main characters inner most fears, strengths and weaknesses. Restless is that episode. The one that ends season 4 proper. And it quickly became one of the most discussed, debated and beloved episodes of Buffy and of Joss’s writing career so far.
See ya in the Scoobies’ dreams.
HOW MANY STAKES?
Uber-Buffy beats all before her. 4 (out of 5)