Wednesday, 26 December 2012

BUFFY 5.20: SPIRAL


Trailer

WRITER: Steven S. DeKnight

DIRECTOR: James A. Contner

WHAT’S THE SITCH?

Buffy grabs Dawn and makes a run for it from Glory, who gives immediate chase. After a brief battle Glory gets knocked down by a truck which allows the sisters time to escape. Regrouping with the rest of the gang, Buffy decides they all need to run away, that they can’t win this fight and must flee to somewhere safe. Spike steals them a big motor home and the gang heads out of town, out in to the desert in a vain attempt to get away from Glory. Unfortunately the Knights of Byzantium give chase on horseback and a running battle ensues along the desert highway with Buffy atop the speeding vehicle fending off the continuous attacks from the warriors on horseback. Soon though, a well-aimed spear takes out Giles in the driver’s seat and the camper turns over and crashes. The gang manages to flee the ruined van to a deserted gas station where they engage in a brief battle with the pursuing Knights, capturing the Knights’ leader in the process. Using magic Willow creates a protective barrier around the gas station as the gang prepares for a prolonged siege against the nasty Knights outside. But Giles is badly hurt and needs medical attention. So using rules of warfare Buffy negotiates a truce to allow for medical help to arrive…in the form of nurse Ben, who treats Giles and saves his life. Unfortunately Glory soon decides to make an appearance and Ben turns in to the hell god right in front of the gathered Scoobies, though only Spike amongst them can seem to remember after the fact that Ben is Glory and vice versa. After a short fight, Glory grabs Dawn and makes off, killing all the gathered knights as she leaves. A panicked Buffy rushes after her…only to find that Glory and little sis have vanished in to the night. Utterly traumatised by her failure to protect Dawn, Buffy lapses in to a catatonic state from which her friends seem unable to rouse her.

WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?

The pressure is on and everyone looks to you to make the big decisions, to tell them what to do in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Do you rise to the occasion or do you crack under the strain?

WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?

Glory and those pesky Knights of Byzantium

WHY IT ROCKS

Rollercoaster. Spiral is a non-stop rollercoaster of an episode. It is jam packed with action and desperate decisions and desperate measures. Buffy is pushed to the edge and beyond as she has seemingly no way out of the situation she finds herself in. Fight or flight kicks in. And as fight seems impossible then flight it is. And the Slayer goes on the run.

Road Warrior. Buffy goes all Mad Max as she engages in a running battle along a desert highway against pursing warriors out for blood. It’s a big and exciting sequence with athletic fights atop (and inside) the speeding motor home as the gang fends off seemingly endless arrow, sword and spear attacks.

Buffy goes bye bye. Poor Buffy, everyone is turning to her, wanting more and more from her, and she doesn’t know what to do, except to run. She has one role in life now: protect her sister. And she fails to do that. The shock of her failure drops our girl in to a catatonic state, a glassy eyed zombie who has retreated deep in to herself, away from the big bad world. It is worth noting that Buffy’s mental health has always been a lurking issue in this series. She confesses to time spent in an institution, and reality to her always seems a fragile concept. This comes to a head in the underrated season six episode ‘Normal Again’.

WHY IT SUCKS

I’ve fallen. Oh dear, at the start when Buffy and Dawn are running away from Glory, Dawn very quickly falls over and squeals in pain, forcing Buffy to pick her up and carry her as she runs on. A terrible cliché that makes Dawn seem pretty darn pathetic.

The Knights Who Say "Ni!” The Knights of Byzantium are still a daft concept, at least visually. They just look like Monty Python extras from The Holy Grail. How on earth would dozens of medieval garbed men on horseback brandishing deadly weapons be able to make their way around contemporary California without getting arrested and/or sectioned? And that must be one quiet highway for no one driving by to have noticed a big medieval battle and siege going on and to report it to the police.

IT’S BUFFTASTIC

Back flips and kicking ass atop a speeding motor home. Cool!

DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR

Glory: "Last words, Slay-runt?"
Buffy: "Just one-- Truck."

Anya: "Anybody else feel that?"
Willow: "What?"
Anya: "Cold draft of paralyzing fear?"

Anya: "We should drop a piano on her. Well, it always works for that creepy cartoon rabbit when he's running from that nice man with the speech impediment."

Anya: "Oooh, snacks! The secret to any successful migration. (pulls frying pan and Spam from her bag) Who's up for some tasty fried meat products?"

Dawn: "You're not fleeing, you're...moving at a brisk pace."
Buffy: "Quaintly referred to in some cultures as 'The Big Scairdy Run-Away'."

Tara: (looking out motor home window) “Horsies!"
Willow: "Tara!"
Giles: "Weapons?"
Spike: "Hello! You're driving one!"
Willow: "Don't hit the horsies!"
Buffy: (to Willow) "We won't!" (whispers to Giles) "Aim for the horsies."

Dawn: (bandaging Spike’s hands) "Keep the pressure on."
Spike: "Always do, Sweet Pea."

AND ANOTHER THING

What with the Holy Grail-esque knights and Anya's offer to cook Spam there seems to be a whole Monty Python thing going on here.

Steve DeKnight’s original script was much bigger scale with more epic fights, especially in the opening escape from Glory. But Joss read it and ordered him to cut it right back as it would take weeks to film and cost millions more. Steve drew the line at the Winnebago chase though. That HAD to stay in.

HOW MANY STAKES?

It’s all too much for the Buffster 4 (out of 5)

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