Wednesday, 26 November 2014


The Dark Willow story

WRITER: David Fury
DIRECTOR: James A. Contner


Giles is back! He battles Dark Willow and manages to best her…temporarily. But soon Willow is free again and forcing Buffy to take off after Xander, Dawn, Andrew and Jonathan to save them from a seeking fireball Willow launched after them. Buff saves them just in time, but gets herself and lil sis trapped below ground in a collapsed section of graveyard. Meanwhile back at the Magic Box and Giles lies beaten and broken, the store in ruins, Anya by his side. Willow drained him of all his borrowed power and in doing so she became connected to every living thing on Earth. Being dark still she focuses in on every human being’s pain. And determined to end that pain, she decides to destroy the world!


It’s all about the pain. What else in a Joss Whedon TV show?


Dark Willow


Giles is back! ‘nuff said.

Have a laugh: Buffy is so happy to see Giles and unloads on him all the grief that has happened to her and the gang in his absence. Giles stares at her with quiet sombre concern…only to then break in to uncontrollable laughter at the insanity of it all. Buff quickly joins him. And it is most amusing.

Spike: the platinum vamp, bloodied and bruised, completes the trials and gets what he wanted.


Huh?: Okay, so I get what they were aiming for with this series finale – bringing our characters back to simple emotional truths about themselves and each other, having them realise what growing up is really all about. BUT… it gets fluffed. Xander stopping Willow and saving the world by saying “I love you” and reminding her about a yellow crayon she broke in kindergarten? Really? And Buffy’s realisation that she doesn’t want to be protecting Dawn from the world but wants to be showing it to her is beyond cheesy. The dialogue is pure bad soap opera.

Evil temple: So there is apparently a conveniently buried satanic temple on a cliff top which Willow can raise up and use to destroy the world. Um…okay. That came from out of nowhere. Talk about handy last minute plot contrivance. Sigh.


Giles and Buff having a good ol’ laugh


Willow: "Uh-oh. Daddy's home. I'm in wicked trouble now."
Giles: "You've no idea.”

Buffy: "Everything's been so.. Dawn's a total klepto, Xander left Anya at the altar and Anya became a demon again. And I.. I'm so.. I've been sleeping with Spike."

Anya: "Giles? Giles! Don't die.. not yet. I.. there are.. I need to tell you... Thanks a lot for coming. I mean, it was nice of you to teleport all this way.. Though, in retrospect, it might have been better if you hadn't come and given her all that magic that made her ten times more powerful.. that would have been a plus."

Willow: "Is this the master plan? You're going to stop me by telling me you love me?"
Xander: "Well, I was going to walk you off the cliff and hand you an anvil, but it seemed kinda cartoony."


Grave marks the first (and only) Buffy series finale not to be written and directed by Joss Whedon. And you can tell. Joss was busy with Firefly at the time and only wrote one episode this season - Once More, With Feeling. But boy, what an episode.

If you look closely at the devastated Magic Box, there's a smouldering William Shatner book on the floor. Poor charred Shatner.

The song played at the end of the episode is Prayer Of St. Francis, by Sarah McLachlan and is a rare track which appeared on the bonus disc originally included with the limited edition double CD release of her Surfacing album in 1997.


Not quite ready for the grave 2.5 (out of 5)

And so concludes my Buffy season 6 retrospective/review. Tune in soon for season 7.

Monday, 24 November 2014


UK episode promo

WRITER: Doug Petrie
DIRECTOR: Bill Norton


Dark Willow continues her violent warpath through Sunnydale, grabbing power where she can as she seeks out the two remaining members of the Trio – Andrew and Jonathan. Along the way there are more confrontations with Buffy in which the Slayer comes off worse. In a destructive showdown at the Magic Box it appears our black eyed girl has Buffy at her mercy...until the last minute intervention from an old friend.


The unleashing of Dark Willow and her wrath continues. Themes touched on are the abuse of power, consequences of our actions and taking responsibility for those actions.


Dark Willow


Dark Willow: by far the best thing about these last three episodes of season 6 is Alyson Hannigan in full on evil Dark Willow mode. She is terrific and clearly having a load of fun especially when insulting and goading her friends. Her verbal and physical smack down with Buffy being a particular highlight.

Truck surfing. Willow standing atop a semi truck magically driving it to try and run the Scoobies off the road is a great image. Kinda Terminator-ish.

Slayer vs. Wicca: The Dark Willow v Buffy fight is pretty good, esp poor Anya hiding behind a counter trying to keep the protection spell around Andrew and Jonathan going.

Teleporting from Rack's: the sequence where Buffy confronts Willow at Rack's place thus saving Dawn from being turned back in to energy by Willow is great, especially as the two talk the camera slowly pans around them then pulls back to reveal Willow has teleported the three of them to the Magic Box.

The final moments of the episode feat. the return of an old friend.


Dark Willow's rather obvious stunt double during the big Willow v Buffy fight scene.

The destruction of the police cell wall looks terrible. The set looks hugely fake – like blocks of precut Styrofoam.


“I'd like to test that theory.”


Jonathan: “Um, Anya, you're gonna have to break this down for us a little.”
Anya: “Warren shot Buffy. Warren shot Tara. Buffy's alive. Tara's dead. Willow found out, and being the most powerful Wicca in the western hemisphere, decided to get the payback. With interest.”
Andrew: “Wh-what about Warren?”
Anya: “She killed him. Ripped him apart and bloodied up the forest doing it. Now she's coming here and the two of you are next.”
Andrew: “Oh my god... Warren.”
Jonathan: “Oh my god... me.”

Willow: "Mom!" "Buffy!" "Tara!" "Waah!" It's time you go back to being a little energy ball. No more tears, Dawnie.

Willow: “So. Here we are.”
Buffy: “Are we really gonna do this?”
Willow: “Come on, this is a huge deal for me! Six years as a side man, and now I get to be the Slayer.”
Buffy: “A killer isn't a Slayer. Being a Slayer means something you can't conceive of.”
Willow: “Oh, Buffy. You really need to have every square inch of your ass kicked.”
Buffy: “Then show me what you got. And I'll show you what a Slayer really is.”

Willow: “Buffy... I gotta tell ya... I get it now. The Slayer thing really isn't about the violence. It's about the power. And there's no one in the world with the power to stop me now.”
A blast of magic energy knocks Willow over
Giles: “I'd like to test that theory.”


Previously on Buffy: Being part 1 of the final episode of the season (it was shown as a double bill with Grave in the US) the opening recap is much longer than normal and has Xander announcing, "This is what happened this year..." as opposed to the usual Giles spoken, “Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer...”

Dinowillow: To herald the arrival of Dark Willow at the police station, the camera pans in to a cup of coffee which ripples in time with the thunder and lightening in a homage to Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park.


Big G is back! 4 (out of 5)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014


A lovely tribute to Tara & Willow

WRITER: Marti Noxon
DIRECTOR: David Solomon


After Warren's shooting spree at Buffy's house Buffy is rushed to hospital seriously wounded while unbeknownst to the rest of the Scoobies Tara lies dead in Willow's bedroom. Willow, overcome by rage, and with dark magic in her system, takes off alone in search of more power which she intends to use to hunt down and kill Warren. Soon she has all the power she needs and Dark Willow is born. Warren (and the entire world) are in for it now.


The almost banal hideousness and heartache of real and regular everyday evil.


Warren. And Dark Willow.


Hunting Warren: This episode is basically all about Willow, fuelled by rage and hate and the blackest of black magics, relentlessly hunting down a fleeing Warren as her friends try in vain to stop her from killing a human being and from being consumed for good by darkness. They have no chance though. And this story can only end one way. And so it does.

Dark Willow: If nothing else about this episode...nay...this entire season was any good then Dark Willow and Aly Hannigan's portrayal of her alone would make it all worth while. Our newly raven haired, black eyed, blood thirsty uber powerful goddess of revenge is a wondrous thing to behold. Aly Hannigan is clearly loving playing this version of Willow who is not afraid to tell her friends some home truths and to go toe to toe in a knock down drag out fight with her best friend Buffy. The look is great too – the black hair, black eyes, white face, veins showing... Brrr. Creepy. But also Oh I'm such a bad man. Anyway, Dark Willow is up there with Vamp Willow as genius creations by Joss and Ally; two awesome aspects of an already awesome character.

Sucking out the magic: the sequence where Willow sucks out all the magic from the books in the Magic Box is brilliant! A terrific visual effect that shows all of the words and spells traveling over Willow's skin.

Warren the joke: Warren finally discovers the truth about himself and his sad little gang when he is gloating at a demon bar about how he 'killed' the slayer. He soon finds out from the gathered demons that Buffy is alive and will be out to get him. The demons have never heard of him or his gang and find him and his predicament hilarious. So hilarious they don't want to kill him as it will be far more fun to see what the slayer does to him when she finally catches up with him. Although unbeknownst to them all it isn't Buffy that Warren should be worrying about. It's Willow!

Clem: More Clem goodness as Buffy drops Dawn off at Spike's crypt only to find Clem now living there since Spike upped and left town. Buffy asks Clem to watch Dawn and the kindly demon happily agrees suggesting they rent The Wedding Planner and play Parcheesi.

Skinned alive: Warren's eventual death at Dark Willow's hands is fittingly nasty as, tied up Evil Dead style by creepers and vines, Warren is first tortured by Willow who, using magic, slowly pushes a bullet in to his chest. Then, with the immortal words “Bored now!” uses her magic to rip his entire skin from his flesh in one agonising go, before then burning him up in a fireball. And yes, this is just as gruesome as it sounds. So much so that it was so heavily edited when shown on the BBC that viewers were left wondering what exactly happened to Warren. Answer: nothing good.

Cliffhanger: the episode ends with Willow, having killed Warren, telling a shocked Buffy and Xander, “One down...” before vanishing in a cloud of black smoke and fire. The next episode is titled 'Two to Go'. Meaning Jonathan and Andrew are next.


How did Warren know that he'd killed Tara? In fact, how did he kill Tara from that angle? Magic bullet time. Someone call Oliver Stone.

How did Spike get all the way from Sunnydale USA to Uganda in Africa in the timespan between Seeing Red and Villains seeing as how Villains follows on directly from Seeing Red? Has he developed teleporting powers??


“Bored now.”


Andrew: He's coming up with a plan. Like, "War Games." Remember that decoder that Matthew Broderick used?
Jonathan: Oh, yeah. That was rad. The one he made from the scissors and the tape recorder?
Andrew: I miss "Ferris" Matthew. Broadway Matthew? I find him cold.
Jonathan: Really? No, I- Shut up!

Buffy: We love you. And Tara. But we don't kill humans. It's not the way.
Willow: How can you say that? Tara is dead.
Buffy: I know... I know. And I... can't understand... anything. Not what happened... a-and not what you must be going through. Willow, if you do this, you let Warren destroy you too.
Xander: You said it yourself, Will... the magic's too strong, there's no coming back from it.
Willow: I'm not coming back.

Xander: I just... I've had blood on my hands all day. Blood from people I love.
Buffy: I know. And now it has to stop. Warren's going to get what he deserves. I promise . But I will not let Willow destroy herself.

Willow: Wanna know what a bullet feels like, Warren? A real one? It's not like in the comics.
Warren: No. No.
Willow: I think you need to. Feel it.
Warren: Oh god! Stop it!
Willow: It's not going to make a neat little hole. First, it'll obliterate your internal organs. Your lung will collapse. Feels like drowning.
Warren: Please! No.
Willow: When it finally hits your spine, it'll blow your central nervous system.
Warren: Oh please, stop, god! Please-
Willow: I'm talking! The pain will be unbearable, but you won't be able to move. Bullet usually travels faster than this, of course. But the dying? It'll seem like it takes forever. Something, isn't it? One tiny piece of metal destroys everything. It ripped her insides out... took her light away. From me. From the world. Now the one person who should be here is gone... and a waste like you gets to live. Tiny piece of metal. Can you feel it now?

Willow: Bored now.


The song playing in the demon bar Warren visits is Die, Die My Darling by the Misfits.

When Buffy flatlines on the operating table after getting shot in the chest, this is the third time she has died on the show. Surely some record for a TV show's main character.


I'd be skinned alive if I didn't give it five. 5 (out of 5)

Sunday, 16 November 2014


James Marsters on THAT scene

WRITER: Steven S. DeKnight
DIRECTOR: Michael Gershman


The Trio steal a pair of magic orbs which will grant their wearer super strength and invulnerability. Warren takes them for a spin in a bar macking on ladies and beating up guys...only to run in to Xander. Xan makes it out in one piece...just...and goes to tell Buffy only to find our girl, suffering from a slaying related injury, lying on the bathroom floor after having had a shocking and deeply disturbing encounter with Spike. Nevertheless Buffy sets out to confront Warren and co. and stops them from robbing an armoured truck. A fight ensues and Buffy manages to win after destroying Warren's magic orbs. But he gets away leaving Andrew and Jonathan behind. The next morning a blissfully happy Willow and Tara watch from their bedroom window as Xander appears in the back yard and reconciles with Buffy. But tragedy soon strikes when a crazed Warren suddenly appears brandishing a gun. Shots are fired, some going wild but with two of the bullets finding there targets: one in the back yard and the other in the bedroom above. And as a result things will never be the same again.


Male ego and misogyny – power, control, domination with rampant testosterone running wild. But also genuine love and friendship with good people who love and care for each other sticking together no matter what.


Warren & Spike


Script: Simply Steve DeKnight wrote a great script. It treads a fine line, a balancing act between daft and goofy and dark and disturbing. But it does so brilliantly. The character work has depth and pushes our heroes to even greater places of darkness and turmoil than before while also managing to bring them back together, to reignite the spark of genuine love and friendship between them. Well, all except for one.

Performances: across the board they are great. But special mention goes to SMG and James Marsters who have to play what is the darkest and most ghastly scene this series ever did. And they are both fabulous. Oh and Alyson Hannigan and Amber Benson are beyond cute together...right up until the end when they will break your heart.

Jet packs: Heh. The sequence where Andrew tries to escape using his hidden jet pack...only to hit the roof and collapse to the ground is hilarious. A terrific sight gag.

Saws: when Buffy searches the Trio's abandoned lair she is attacked by multiple huge circular saws requiring her to engage in some Spider-Man-like acrobatics to avoid being sliced and diced. Its a great sequence and looks very cool.

Clem: Yay! Spike's nice guy demon pal Clem shows up to be a sounding board for a confused and distraught Spike. Gotta love Clem.

Two moments: “Ask me again why I could never love you!” and “Your shirt...” If you aren't hurting inside then your heart is cold.

Warren: Oh he makes such a wonderfully evil villain. So easy to hate. And what he does in this ep arguably makes him the worst and most hated villain in all Buffydom. Kudos to Adam Busch who does a terrific job in the role.

Balls: The blatant testosterone metaphor of Warren and his pair of super powered orbs...and Buffy smashing them to defeat him. YES!!


It doesn't suck. At all. But it is one heck of a cruel episode both for the characters and for the audience. Three awful things happen in the space of forty two minutes. It is almost too much to take. Almost.


Buffy's victory over Warren, throwing his misogynistic insult right back at him before kicking his ass to the kerb. “Good night, bitch.” Yeah!!


Andrew: “I don't trust that leprechaun.”

Buffy: “Ask me again why I could never love you!”

Willow: “We were able to decipher pretty much everything except these.”
Tara: “It isn't written in any ancient language we could identify.”
Xander: “It's Klingon. They're love poems. Which has nothing to do with the insidious scheme you're about to describe.”

Spike: You know, everything always used to be so clear. Slayer, vampire. Vampire kills Slayer, sucks her dry, picks his teeth with her bones. It's always been that way. I've tasted the life of two Slayers. But with Buffy... It isn't supposed to be this way! It's the chip! Steel and wires and silicon. It won't let me be a monster... and I can't be a man. I'm nothing.”

Warren: “I was wondering when Super Bitch would show up.”
Buffy: “You've really got a problem with strong women, don't you?”

Andrew: “I really want to get my hands on his orbs.”

Warren: “Say good night, bitch.”
Buffy (crushes his magic orbs and knocks him down): “Good night, bitch.”

Tara: “Your shirt...”


The scenes at the amusement park were specially filmed at Six Flags Magic Mountain, 35 miles north of Los Angeles.

The following tracks were featured in Seeing Red: The Leaves by Daryll-Ann, Stranded by Alien Ant Farm and Displaced by Azure Ray.

James Marsters says to this day that the Spike assault/attempted rape of Buffy scene is the worst thing he has ever had to do in his career. He found it deeply traumatising and it left him an emotional wreck.

For the one and only time since she joined the show Amber Benson gets her name in the opening credits sequence. Kind of a sick joke considering her fate.

When Buffy explores The Trio's lair, she discovers several action figures – grimacing in particular at the one of Vampirella, a comic book superhero from the planet Drakulonn who devoted her life to destroying all vampires - and wearing very skimpy red outfits.


A painful 4.5 (out of 5)



WRITER: Drew Z. Greenberg
DIRECTOR: James A. Contner


Anya returns to town having been reinstated as a vengeance demon and is determined to find someone who will wish ill on Xander allowing her to enact a curse on her behalf. It doesn't go so well for her though, and when Spike comes to see her at the Magic Box looking for a spell to ease his own hurt over being dumped by Buffy, the two end up in a clinch, finding solace in each other. Unbeknownst though to the intimate pair the whole thing is being broadcast via secret cameras the Trio have set up all over town including one at the Magic Box. A camera Willow has just managed to tap in to which suddenly allows all the gathered Scoobies including a stunned Buffy and horrified Xander to watch the vampire and vengeance demon getting it on together.


As the episode's title suggests this is about disruption and disorder, how things seem to be falling apart. It's also about dealing with personal hurt, lashing out, making mistakes and trying to cope with the consequences.


The Trio. And Xander...kinda.


Emma Caulfield: Anya is back with a vengeance...literally. And this is her episode and Emma Caulfield is terrific. Poor Anya is consumed by anger and hurt at what Xander did to her (justifiably so) and is looking for vicious payback. However you can tell that beneath the surface she feels somehow responsible, that she was somehow to blame and that Xander never really wanted her. She hates what Xander did to her. But she hates herself even more for allowing herself to be put in that position in the first place. Emma plays every scene with layered nuance even when she is being hilarious and trying to get unwitting people to wish horrible things on Xander.

Real world shopping: The scene near the start where Buffy and Dawn are out shopping together was filmed on the Santa Monica promenade in the heart of LA . It is kind of jarring but also very cool to see Buffy being filmed off set and in a real city location that's bustling with people. This is something that unlike Angel Buffy rarely did.

Temple of Doom: Warren calling Jonathan Short Round is most amusing.

Willow and Tara: They get back together. And it is beyond cute. Yay!


Soapy: Okay, so there is no real story this week. It is all about the consequences of what the characters have been doing to each other and behind each others backs. Who has been sleeping with who. Who dumped who. Who kept secrets from who. Yes, it is all very soap opera-ish. But that's just about okay here as the characters and story up until now have earned it and we are invested. However it does make you think you are watching an ep of Spike's beloved Passions!

Xander the Dick: Okay, so Xander being all self righteous and angry over Anya and Spike and what Buffy has been up to is very annoying. He has no right at all to judge either of them, not after what he pulled only two eps ago. Nothing against Nicky Brendon who is really good but, like with Buffy, it feels like we are losing the character this season. Xander has become 'gulp' unlikable.


Anya hilariously trying to convince Buffy why she should hate all men, especially Xander.


Anya: I... I wish you had tentacles where your beady eyes should be! I wish your intestines were tied in knots and ripped apart inside your lousy gut!
Xander: They are.
Anya: Really? Right now? Does it hurt?
Xander: God, yes. It hurts so bad it's killing me. Anya... I love you, I want to make this work.
Anya: Those are metaphor intestines! You're not in any real pain! What's wrong with me?

Willow: Well, if there's anything we can do, just let us-
Anya: Actually... um... there is an eensy something I could use a little help with. You're lesbians, so the hating of men will come in handy. Let's talk about Xander.

Buffy: I don't think he could feel any worse.
Anya: Let's test that theory.
Buffy: Anya, Xander's my friend. I know what he did was wrong, and... if it had happened to me, I'd-
Anya: Wish his penis would explode?

Tara (to Willow): There's just so much to work through. Trust has to be built again, on both sides... You have to learn if... if we're even the same people we were, if you can fit in each other's lives. It's a long... important process, and... can we just skip it? Can-can you just be kissing me now?


When Tara is talking to Willow at the end Willow's dress from the episode Once More, With Feeling can be seen hanging on the door.

After Xander leaves with a weapon Willow sees the open door and open chest. The weapons chest she sees is the same one Xander made for Buffy's birthday in Older and Far Away.


A chaotic 4 (out of 5)


Slayer, Interrupted

WRITER: Diego Gutierrez
DIRECTOR: Rick Rosenthal


While out searching for the Trio Buffy is ambushed by a demon conjured by Andrew. Amidst the ensuing fight the demon stings her and Buffy starts having intermittent flashes of herself in another life – as a normal Buffy Summers who's been locked away in a mental hospital for six years undergoing treatment for believing she is a super powered chosen one who fights monsters and saves the world. What's more, in this 'other' reality Buffy's mom is there as is her dad both pleading with her to reject her fantasy and come back to them, back to reality. Soon poor Buff doesn't know what is real and what isn't which puts everyone involved in great danger.


The difference between reality and fantasy. Escaping from reality, from responsibility.


The Trio, the waxy looking demon who stings Buff. Oh and Buffy herself towards eps end.


High concept: the idea of challenging Buffy's (and the viewers) concept of what (if anything) about Buffy's life is actually 'real' is great. This sort of thing has been done before in genre television notably in the great DS9 episode Far Beyond the Stars. Making the audience believe that it is possible that everything they have watched and loved for six years might not be 'real' but rather the delusions of a very ill young girl is quite the thing. It's just a shame the ep isn't as successful as it could have been at doing this.

SMG: Quite simply she is magnificent. She single handily raises this episode above where it otherwise would be by turning in a damaged, tormented, scary and highly affecting performance. Her revelation to a shocked Willow that as a child she did spend some time in a mental hospital is achingly effective. A teary, fragile, vulnerable SMG really hits you where it hurts.

Mom: Kristine Sutherland makes a welcome return as Joyce Summers even if it is in the other world flashes. It's always great to see her though and we feel for Buff as she is tempted to reject Sunnydale and everything in it for the chance to be with her mom again.


Lack of commitment: It is frustrating that this episode won't commit fully to its high concept. The idea that Sunnydale and all the supernatural stuff is really just the delusions of a sick girl is a scary and terrific idea. It would be great if we really were made to believe that the entire series truly could be the result of a very troubled and ill young girl's delusion. If the entire episode was played from Buffy's pov then that would likely be the case. But it breaks away all the time and makes it quite plain that her flashes are definitely a result of the demon sting and this renders the final emotional scene of 'real' Buffy in hospital, falling for good in to deep catatonia as her helpless and heartbroken parents look on, pretty much redundant. A real shame.

Dawn: ARGHH! Yet again youngest Summers manages to make everything about her. She whinges, sulks and storms off when she finds out that she is not around in Buffy's 'real' life. Jeez! Also Buffy tells her that she hasn't been doing her chores lately. Um...when has Dawn ever done any chores? Buffy is the only one who ever seems to do any stuff around the house, not Dawn or Willow. Kick em out, Buff!


Buffy tearfully admitting to Willow that she did spend time in a mental institution.


Willow: "Hi, uhm.. Tara. How are you? I was wondering.. do you want to go out sometime? For coffee? Or food? Or kisses and gay love?"

Buffy: "I could wrestle naked in grease for a living and still be cleaner than after a shift at the Doublemeat."

Xander: “Oh, come on, that's ridiculous! What? You think this isn't real just because of all the vampires and demons and ex-vengeance demons and the sister that used to be a big ball of universe-destroying energy?”

Spike: “Oh, balls. You didn't say he was a Glarghk Guhl Kashma'nik.”
Xander: 'Cause I can't say glar- “

Xander: “Hello! I'm back! Clean and with the better smell now. Friends? Romans? Anyone?”


When Buffy looks at the photo of herself as a child, it's Alexandra Lee, who also played young Buffy in season five's The Weight of the World.

Normal Again marks the only script for Buffy by Diego Gutierrez who prior to its writing was Joss Whedon's personal assistant. He would go on to write scripts for other successful TV shows including Dawson's Creek and Warehouse 13

This is one of two episodes of Buffy directed by Rick Rosenthal (the other being season 7's 'Help'). Rosenthal is perhaps best known as the director of Halloween 2, the first sequel to John Carpenter's original horror classic. He also went on to direct 2002's Halloween Resurrection.


A pretty normal 3.5 (out of 5)

Saturday, 15 November 2014


Buffy & Spike

WRITER: Rebecca Rand Kirshner
DIRECTOR: David Solomon


It's Xander and Anya's wedding day. The bride and bridegroom's families are all there with tension between them mostly exasperated by Xander's ghastly father who spends his time being rude, obnoxious and drunk. Pre-wedding jitters are present too which only get worse when a mysterious old man turns up and secretly tells Xander that he is in fact old Xander from the future come back in time to warn his younger self not to marry Anya as their life together will be hellish and awful and that he'll end up hurting her in the worst of ways. Seriously spooked young Xander takes off leaving poor Anya unaware of the situation and Buffy and Willow panicking as to what to do next.


It's pretty obvious – the fear of commitment, of creating a binding future together and all that doing so entails. It's been subtly and not so subtly portrayed throughout the season that both Anya and Xander have issues with each other, fears about their future together. He can often show her little respect in public, correcting her, siding with others against her. And she can be borderline obsessive and needy. Many of these issues were aired in Once More With Feeling so it should come as no real surprise what happens in this ep. Though when it does it is still horrible and ghastly thing to do to someone you are supposed to love.


Old 'Xander', Xander's ghastly family, and Xander himself. Oh, the toxic looking bridesmaids dresses are pretty darn scary too.


Emma & Nicky – both Emma Caulfield and Nicky Brendon are great. Anya is so weirdly cute and sweet especially when practicing her rather un-PC vows. And when she realises at the end what is happening the look on her face might just put a crack in your stony old heart.

SMG juggles – Yep, SMG is a good juggler (who knew?) and gets a chance to show off while Buffy tries her best to entertain the waiting guests as Willow hunts for Xander.

Spike – Okay, no idea who actually invited him. But his attempt to make Buffy jealous by bringing a date and then owning up to it along with his and Buff's subsequent borderline affectionate truce is kinda sweet.

Emotionally invested – it is telling how much we have invested in these characters, so much so that to many of us they feel like genuine family or friends. And when what happens happens as a result we really do feel the hurt of it. Poor An.


Story (lack of) – There isn't much to the story here. The basic plot of the old Xander thing ends up being a non-event and paper thin not to mention all the wedding farce clich├ęs we've seen a million times before get trotted out of storage for use here.

Light on the funny – not much in the way of witty sparking dialogue here. A few chuckles but nothing to write home about.

Weddings – I'm someone who doesn't have much patience for weddings and all the hoopla that goes on around them. Thankfully the Anya/Xander one is a pretty low grade affair so not much silly extravagance to annoy me. But wedding shenanigans can still grate

Spike – Yeah, I know. I love Spike...but who actually invited him? Xander hates him and wouldn't want him anywhere near his big day. Plus it's broad daylight and he appears not to have a blanket (just a trashy looking date designed to make Buff jealous) so why isn't he roasting nicely?

Bad Xander – Look, I love the Xan man...but really?? What he does here is pretty much unforgivable. And his reasons are the lamest, most self centered baloney possible. It was his idea to get hitched. So he's just been stringing poor An along all this time? Jeez!


Buffy juggles


Xander: I must wear das cummerbund!

Anya: 'I, Anya, promise to cherish you...' Ew, no, not cherish. Uh, 'I promise... to have sex with you whenever... I want, and, uh... uh, pledge to be your friend, and your wife, and your confidant, and your sex poodle...'


SMG's talent as a juggler was especially incorporated into the script.

In a scripted but unfilmed scene, it was revealed that Giles remained in England to fight demons, and was thus unable to attend. But he did pay for all the flowers.

We finally get to meet Xander's legendary Uncle Rory who has been name checked several times throughout the series. Uncle Rory was always the black sheep of the family and Xander first referred to him in Season 2's The Dark Age as, "The stodgiest taxidermist you'll ever meet by day. By night it was booze, whores and fur flying."

George D. Wallace, who plays 'old' Xander, had a long career in Hollywood appearing in many films and TV shows. One of his early and notable appearances was as the Bosun in the scifi classic Forbidden Planet alongside Walter Pidgeon and Leslie Nielsen.


Bad Xander! 2 (out of 5)

Monday, 18 August 2014


Episode dailies

WRITER: Doug Petrie
DIRECTOR: Doug Petrie


Out of the blue Buffy's former lover Agent Riley Finn drops back in to Buffy's life asking for her help to track down an especially nasty demon he's followed through central America and back to Sunnydale. Riley is also after a rumoured local black market dealer known only as 'The Doctor' who is planning to sell the demon's highly prized eggs to a foreign power. But Agent Finn hasn't come back alone. He has brought his new wife with him.


Re-evaluating what a healthy relationship actually is. Moving on. Self forgiveness.


A Suvolte demon. The Doctor.


Riley's back! I always liked Riley and Marc Blucas' portrayal. I thought Riley had a rough ride from the fans just cuz he wasn't Angel. I mean, God forbid Buffy should ever have a healthy relationship with an honest to goodness human being who is just a nice, reliable, dependable guy. Sheesh! This time Riley is in full-on 007 stealth mode but is essentially the same nice, thoughtful, gentleman he always was...except now with a brand new wife, Sam, another special opps soldier who is just as nice, respectful and capable as he is. Nice one Agent Finn.

Action/stunts: There are quite a few good fight sequences here and I especially liked the dam rappelling stunt. Kinda reminded me of the opening of Goldeneye, though not a bungee but rather Riley and Buffy doing a line drop down the face of a rather high dam. Cool.

Willow: Willow is almost back to her old self in this episode. She is chirpy and gets positively giddy in places chatting to Sam. Loved how she wanted to hate her being Riley's new love but just couldn't.

Buffy sees the light: finally, seeing what a good and healthy relationship looks like (Riley and Sam) Buffy forgives herself and decides to move on by ending it properly with Spike, leaving his dark crypt at episodes end and literally walking out in to the light. It's a beautifully written and played scene between Buffy and Spike with Buffy calling Spike by his real name, William, with the look on his face showing that he knows she means it this time.


Dawn: Again, Dawn manages to make everything about her...even Riley's leaving Sunnydale in season 5. Arghh!

Questionable parenting: Buffy lets Dawn go out with Willow to the Bronze until 11pm on a school night? Really? Good parenting Buff. Plus earlier Dawn reminds Buffy it is trash day. Cue we see Buff chasing after and missing the trash collection. In a previous episode we've seen Dawn swanning off to school leaving a sink full of dishes for Buffy to clean after working a double shift. Um, does Dawn actually do anything at home? Does she have any chores at all? Sheesh! And for that matter what about Willow? She still lives there too. If I was Buff I'd kick em all out.

Wedding plans: is it just me or is the whole Anya/Xander wedding planning thing getting to be really tiresome? I have a low threshold for wedding fluff anyway (giant waste of money I say) so it just makes me roll my eyes and groan.


Buffy's dazed reaction to seeing Riley back. “My hat has a cow!”


Riley: “I want to explain, I just don't have time. I've been up for 48 hours straight tracking something bad, and now it's come to Sunnydale.”
Buffy (dazed): “My hat has a cow.”

Sam: “We better regroup. Buffy, I hate to impose further, but... you got a safe house?”
Buffy: “I, I have a house. I-I think it's safe. Sometimes you can't even leave.”

Willow: “Just so you know? I'm prepared to hate this woman any way you want.”
Buffy: “Thanks, but no. I don't wanna seem all petty.”
Willow: “Well, that's the beauty! You can't, but I can. Please. Let me carry the hate for the both of us.”
Buffy: “Go nuts.”

Sam: “I gotta tell you, Buffy, I'm a little bit intimidated. I mean, patrolling with the real live Slayer, you're like... Santa Claus, or Buddha, or something.”
Buffy: “Fat and jolly?”
Sam: “Legendary. And it's not just slayer status I'm talking about. It's you.”

Riley: “Wheel never stops turning, Buffy. You're up, you're down... it doesn't change what you are. And you are a hell of a woman.”

Buffy: “I'm using you. I can't love you. I'm just... being weak, and selfish...”
Spike: “Really not complaining here.”
Buffy: “...and it's killing me. I have to be strong about this. I'm sorry... William.”


Spike's record collection can be seen in the moment before Buffy shoots it - "The Keller Family Sings" plus the soundtrack album to "The Wiz" are visible.

On Buffy's rejection letter for readmission to UC Sunnydale, her address is printed as 1630 Crestview instead of 1630 Revello. Oops!

Ivana Milicevic who plays Riley's wife Sam played the small villainous role of Valenka in Bond film Casino Royale (2006)


It's a Finn old time for sure. 3 (out of 5)

Sunday, 17 August 2014


Spike's muscle his pants.

WRITER: Drew Z. Greenberg
DIRECTOR: Michael Gershman


It's Buffy's birthday and the gang are throwing her a party at her house. They will all be there, including Tara. Buff is bringing a female friend from work while Xander is bringing a male friend from work in an attempt to match him up with Buffy. Meanwhile Dawn is feeling ignored and lonely seeing as how all the adults are always busy with their own life stuff, often leaving the teen all alone and mopey. Called out of class, Dawn goes to see the new guidance counselor who she tells her troubles to, wishing that people would stop leaving her. Unbeknownst to Dawn the guidance counselor is in fact Hallie, Anya's Vengeance Demon friend. Hallie grants Dawn's wish without the teen knowing. And come the night of the party everyone who turns up to celebrate at 1630 Revello finds that they are unable to leave once the party is over. Add in to the mix a jealous Spike and a demon who keeps popping up trying to maim and kill and the gang are in for one wild night. And following day. And following night...


Teen angst – abandonment, loneliness, anger, whole-world-revolving-around-me-ness


Hallie the Vengeance Demon, a nasty demon with a big sword, but most of all Dawnie.


Jealous Spike: Spike acting up when he sees the guy Xander brought to hopefully pair up with Buff. James Marsters does snide and childish rather well.

Clem: Spike brings his loose-skinned demon pal Clem to the party who we last saw playing kitten poker with the vamp. Clem is a nice, easygoing, friendly sort who enjoys watching cartoons and just generally being a nice bloke. Actor James C. Leary helps makes him such a likeable and loyal sort that Clem very quickly became (and remains) a firm fan favourite.

Tara: Amber Benson is great here, especially when she defends Willow by facing down Anya who wants the red headed Wiccan to do some magic to get them out of the house, thus putting addicted Willow in danger of falling of the magic wagon.


Dawn: Now, this is nothing against Michelle Trachtenberg who is a fine actress and who does her best here. No, it is the writers who are to blame. Dawn is unbearable and insufferable. She is in full-on whiny tantrum throwing brat mode. Her histrionics are teeth grinding and whatever sympathy we may have had for her quickly evaporates. Plus she is a total klepto now too. Sigh.

Birthday hell. It's Buffy's birthday, which never EVER goes well. You'd think Buff's friends would have learned by now to keep it low key and just avoid any fuss. Dear oh dear.

Dull. Quite frankly this is a rather tedious and dull 'bottle' episode being mostly shot on Buffy's house set. Conceptually it's all about Dawn's issues which I'm afraid by this point have gotten beyond annoying. The demon that turns up now and then to flail his sword at the gang is not scary at all and is merely a clunky plot device to try and add some kind of action to a story about inaction. Oh, and the less said about the sap Xander brings for Buffy the better.


Tara's “Hey! You're gonna back off,” to Anya. Go girl!


Buffy: “How are you doing?”
Tara: “The word "gulp" comes to mind.”

Spike: “I had ... a ... muscle cramp. Buffy was, uh, helping.”
Tara: “A muscle cramp? In your ... pants?”

Spike: “So, you ever think about *not* celebrating a birthday? Just to try it, I mean.”

Tara: “She said no, and that's it. You're not gonna make her do something that she doesn't want to. And if you try...You're gonna have to go through me first. Understood?”

Richard: “You have some weird friends.”
Xander: “News from the file marked 'duh.'”


Dawn shouts "Get out, Get out, Get out, Get out" at Buffy and the gang. She did the same thing to Buffy and Joyce in season five's birthday episode, Blood Ties.

The episode title is a quotation from J.G. Ballard's autobiographical novel, Empire of the Sun. The book was made into a movie by Steven Spielberg in 1987.

Hallie and Spike's odd surprise at seeing each other is cute seeing as how actress Kali Rocha also played Spike's love interest Cecily in season Five's Fool for Love. Maybe Cecily went on to become a Vengeance Demon?

When Spike opens the front door at the end of the episode his reflection can be seen in the frosted glass next to the door. Oops.


Please, let me out of this episode. 2 (out of 5)


Interesting video about the Trio and their misogynist psychology and how it relates to geek culture in general.

WRITER: Steven S. DeKnight
DIRECTOR: James A Contner


The Trio (Warren, Jonathan, Andrew) test out their new gadget – a cerebral dampener which they intend to use on beautiful women to turn in to their mindless sex slaves. Warren uses it first on his ex Katrina, taking her back to the Trio's lair dressed as a French maid with the intention of having sex with her before letting the other two nerds have their go with her. But before Warren can have his way with Katrina the dampening effect wears off and she tries to escape...only to be hit over the head by Warren and killed. Scared that Buffy will find out what he did Warren gets Andrew and Jonathan to help him pin Katrina's death on the Slayer with the use of some perception bending magic. Wracked with guilt by a death she wasn't actually responsible for Buffy decides to turn herself in to the police...much to the fury of Spike and to the delight of a secretly observing Warren.


Casual and not-so-casual misogyny. The objectification of women. When love isn't really love but is something dark, cruel and destructive.


The Trio but chiefly Warren, a selfish and cruel misogynist.


The subject matter: This episode is partly about when love isn't really love but is instead something dark, cruel, selfish and destructive. For as well as The Trio and their heinous plan we also have Buffy trying to discover why she lets Spike do the things he does to her.

Katrina: The episode is also about men objectifying women, seeking power over them and seeing them as nothing but objects to be used for pleasure. At first the story is played rather light and semi-jokey. But once the Trio's scuzzy plan starts being put in to action, when we see poor Katrina blank eyed and dressed like a cheap sex doll about to be used and abused it becomes anything but. It becomes truly uncomfortable viewing. Just as it should. What is also great is Katrina, the spell wearing off, telling the Trio the hard brutal truth of what they were about to do to her: rape. This shocks Andrew and Jonathan. They hadn't even considered what they had planned as rape. Warren though? He doesn't care. Also, it's great that Katrina doesn't react as a victim. Despite knowing what the Trio had planned for her she isn't a screaming helpless wreck. She is mad as hell at them. She is furious and offended and tells them exactly what she thinks of them. Unfortunately though Warren makes sure she doesn't get away.

SMG brings the pain: The episode ends with Buffy, having secretly asked Tara to check out the spell that brought her back to life to see if anything went wrong, breaking down in front of the Wiccan when Tara tells her the spell worked fine and nothing is wrong. Buffy hates herself for what she does with Spike, for allowing it to happen. And the last we see of her in this episode is crying her eyes out in Tara's lap confessing all. SMG is fabulous here. She pours her heart out to Tara and begs Tara not to forgive her for what she has been doing. It can break your heart to watch it.


Dawn: Unlike many I've never been a Dawn hater...BUT... really Dawn? You're gonna make everything about YOU? Even Buffy's (misplaced) guilt over Katrina's death? Littlest Summers sure does get the bratty thing going on in this part of the season. And it only gets worse next episode.

Bad joke: The 'joke' about Spike telling Buffy he's got rid of Katrina's body and it will never be found...only to then overhear a policeman say they found a girls body in the river. Okay, first, its not funny. The subject of the joke just isn't funny. At all. Also, how bloody inept does this make Spike? He can be a bit reckless, sure, impulsive even. But he isn't a totally useless idiot.

Humour: Apart from the completely misjudged joke above this is a laugh free zone. Even the bungling Trio antics are tinged with so much darkness that no smiles can be cracked. This is something that doesn't happen very often on this show. And it feels weird.

From behind: Okay, I'm no prude but do we really have to see Spike taking Buffy from behind while they are alone together on the balcony of the Bronze watching the Scoobies below having a good time? This is about as low and as grim as you can take poor Buff. We are losing her, the hero. She is heading for rock bottom, if not already there.


Buffy breaking down to Tara at the end. Powerful and emotional stuff. Hats off to SMG.


Buffy: “I've been thinking about doing something to my room.”
Spike: “Yeah?”
Buffy: “Yeah, I think the New Kids On The Block posters are starting to date me.”

Katrina: “You bunch of little boys, playing at being men. Well, this is not some fantasy, it's not a game, you freaks! It's rape!”

Buffy (repeatedly punching Spike in the face): “I am not your girl! You don't... have a soul! There is nothing good or clean in you. You are dead inside! You can't feel anything real! I could never... be your girl!”
Spike (taking the punches): “You always hurt... the one you love, pet.”

Buffy: “He's everything I hate. He's everything that... I'm supposed to be against. But the only time that I ever feel anything is when... Don't tell anyone, please.”
Tara: “I won't.”
Buffy: “The way they would look at me... I just couldn't...”
Tara: “I won't tell anyone. I wouldn't do that.”
Buffy: “Why can't I stop? Why do I keep letting him in?”
Tara: “Do you love him? I-It's okay if you do. He's done a lot of good, and, and he does love you. A-and Buffy, it's okay if you don't. You're going through a really hard time, and you're...”
Buffy: “What? Using him? What's okay about that?”
Tara: “It's not that simple.”
Buffy (crying uncontrollably): “It is! It's wrong. I'm wrong. Tell me that I'm wrong, please... Please don't forgive me, please... Please don't... Please don't forgive me... “


The song playing as Buffy stands outside Spike’s crypt trying to decide whether to enter is ‘Out Of This World’ by Bush.


Things are getting darker. 4 (out of 5)

Saturday, 16 August 2014


WRITER: Jane Espenson

DIRECTOR: Nick Marck


Needing money to pay the bills and generally help get herself back in the black, Buffy takes a job at The Doublemeat Palace, a local franchised fast food joint where she is forced to wear an embarrassing uniform (complete with cow/chicken hat) and flip burgers and serve customers for minimum wage. Of course, being Buffy The Vampire Slayer, it's soon obvious that something strange is afoot at The Doublemeat Palace with staff members disappearing and strange secrecy around the food's apparent secret ingredient. What's more Spike continually hanging around trying to tempt Buff away from her new life on the bottom rung of the service industry ladder doesn't make things any easier for our girl. Poor Buff. And did I mention that hat? Hoo boy!


Real life. Paying the bills. The soul crushing monotonous drudgery of going through the motions of daily life, just trying to keep ones head above water. Oh, and poking fun at the fast food industry.


The monster with the phallic worm thing that extends out the top of its head to eat people with. Yeah, it's as weird and as gross as it sounds. Yuck! Oh, and working at a fast food joint.


Funny. This ain't the greatest of episodes but being a Jane Espenson script it does bring the funny in a few key places, mostly at the expense of poor Buff and in poking fun at life working at a fast food restaurant.

SMG. Put this girl in the worst most embarrassing uniform ever with that god-awful hat...and she still looks as cute as a button. Plus she also provides another excellent comedy performance. Buffy's reaction watching the Doublemeat Palace training video showing how cow and chicken are brought together in to one swirly meat-like substance is priceless.

The penis worm monster. It is quite frankly weird and yucky. A pretty good physical and make-up effect though that is just the right side of silly while keeping one foot firmly planted in the gross camp.


The 'lets poke fun at fast food joints' is amusing at first but I'm not sure it warrants a whole episode. It isn't that subtle either portraying the staff as dull, greasy, zombiefied stiffs who are like that due to the soul crushing nature of their job rather than anything supernatural. It's just all a bit obvious.

Also, mixed in with the fun and silliness are moments of darkness with Spike showing up to taunt/tempt Buff and her then sneaking away for (literally) soulless sex with him up against a burger bar wall. This feels grim and rather jarring in tone. Also seeing Buff apparently helpless against the vampire, unable to enforce her own will, is kinda distrubing too. But hey, that's season six for you.


Our first sight of Buff in THAT hat.


Anya (to Xander & Willow): “But super-villains... want reward without labor, to make things come easy. It's wrong. Without labor there can be no payment, and vice versa. The country cannot progress. The workers are the tools that shape America.”
Buffy walks in wearing her new fast food uniform complete with silly cow/chicken hat
Buffy: “Good to know. I was kinda feelin' like a tool.”

Buffy (watching Doublemeat Palace's graphic meat production video): “Holy crap!”

Manny (about the Doublemeat video): “Interesting, isn't it?”
Buffy: “Oh yes! Like how the cow and the chicken come together even though they've never met. It's like Sleepless in Seattle if, if Meg and Tom were, like, minced.”

Buffy: “I'm working. Go away.”
Spike: “Yeah, and you chose to be in the consumer service profession, and I'm a consumer. Service me.”

Buffy (manic): “Stop! Stop! Everyone, you have to stop! Stop eating! No, you can't have this! It's not beef! It's people! The DoubleMeat Medley is people! The meat layer is definitely people! It's people! It's people! Probably not the chickeny part. But who knows? Who! Knows!”


The whole idea of Buffy's that people are the main ingredient of the burgers was the theme of 1973 sci-fi flick Soylent Green.

Doublemeat Palace was first heard (but not seen) in a TV commercial Amy watched in ep. 6.9 'Smashed'.

SMG's first acting gig was a Burger King ad at the age of four. And it got her sued. She was named in a lawsuit filed by McDonald's because in the ad Sarah said, "Do I look 20 per cent smaller to you? I must have at McDonald's because their hamburgers are 20 per cent smaller than Burger King's." McDonald's sued Burger King, the advertising agency, and Sarah herself.

Believe it or not Doublemeat Palace is the Buffy episode that got Joss and co. in to the most potential trouble with the network. Forget sex scenes, gay relationships, horror, violence.. Making fun of fast food was then a cardinal sin in US broadcasting. The ep proved extremely unpopular with sponsors with some even pulling out of the show because of the episode.


It's not a Whopper at 2.5 (out of 5)

Friday, 14 March 2014


Ghostbusters quotes

The other week Drew McWeeny over at Hit Fix asked the following question:

“Do you really want to see Ghostbusters 3?"

In the article that followed he tried to convince us that before we said an automatic geek fueled 'Hell yes!' we should take a moment, weigh up the real, actual Hollywood business model pros and cons before then coming to the eventual answer of 'No.' His argument was predicated on the idea that in order to make the film, to satisfy the many differing requirements (four quadrant movie making – selling toys, fast food/sponsorships, paying talent/back end deals) what we'd end up with would be some ghastly bastardization of a much loved classic. A pale and unfunny imitation. You know, kinda like R.I.P.D.

Drew is right. I don't wanna see that. At all. Who would?

But I like to keep a glimmer of hope alive in my heart. Just a small spark of light fighting the good fight against cynicism and low expectations.

Maybe, just maybe we could get a new Ghostbusters movie done right.

Of course 'done right' depends very much on your own personal take. Many would argue that you simply can't do another GB movie without the original line up, especially Bill Murray. Twenty years ago I would have shared that same view. But not now. Not after all this time has passed. Don't get me wrong. I adore Murray, Ramis, Aykroyd et al but the world they created is so darn good, has so much potential that it can and should live beyond them. And anyway, Murray has shown epic disinterest in the project for decades now meaning it just ain't gonna happen with him. End of. Plus the recent sad passing of Harold Ramis has now made the 'getting the old gang back together' approach a non-starter anyway. So it's a no then to that approach.

But I don't want a remake either. Or a reboot or whatever you wanna call it.

No, what I want is a continuation, only with new characters and a wider universe to explore. That's not to say the old crew can't also appear in some shape or form. Of course they can. And they should if they want to. Personally I love the franchise idea Drew posits in his article. One that builds off of the first two films. I mean, the guys float the idea themselves in the original movie saying that the franchise rights alone could make them rich. So lets see it. Lets see other teams of Ghostbusters around the US, around the world. Some good, some bad, some screw ups, some amazing. Mix it up. Expand the universe. Go play. Go crazy. Franchise doesn't have to be a dirty word. Not here. When done right it can be the best thing ever. When done wrong it can be Transformers.

Opening the Ghostbusters concept up to go international and inter-dimensional is the way to go I say. I've always thought the concept was so awesome and so potentially huge that it could live well beyond the original movie if handled right. I mean, you could create a truly weird and funny Marvel-ous kinda universe full of monsters, ghosts, inter-dimensional worlds and beings and different groups of Earth-based Ghostbusters who work on their own or team up for various crazy missions. And with the right actors, writers, directors it could be really fun, funny and spectacular.

Okay, glimmer of hope starting to fade. Cynical hat coming back on.

Sadly I fully expect that when a new Ghostbusters does get made - and rest assured folks, we WILL get one at some point - it'll probably be a remake/reboot, a bland corporate ghost of its former self and a complete waste of potential. But we'll see. I'll still hope for the best and will keep everything crossed...except for the streams of course. Never cross the streams. Because crossing the streams is bad.

Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

RIP Harold Ramis