April 16, 2022

Buffy 3.1, Anne: Buffy by Any Other Name Still Kicks Butt

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:06 pm by Jenn

The hammer and sickle are because it’s political, or something

Summary: Andrew Hoelich, recently deceased and recently turned into a vampire, is climbing out of his grave in a Sunnydale cemetery. Someone’s there to meet him, but it’s not our Slayer – it’s Willow (and her cute new haircut). Xander grabs Andy and yells for Oz to stake him. Oz fumbles his stake, allowing Andy to shove Xander at Willow and take off running. Oz attempts to throw his stake at Andy, but it doesn’t get anywhere near the vampire. Oz remembers that Andy was a gymnast, so the Scoobies were at a disadvantage as soon as he started putting those skills in action.

Xander has a problem with Willow’s trash talk. She was trying to come up with something clever like Buffy does, but she needs more practice. Xander wishes they hadn’t taken Buffy’s punning for granted when she was around. The Scoobies are trying to be optimistic that Buffy will come back soon. She’s been gone all summer, and school starts the next day. Oz reacts strangely to that reminder, and Willow thinks it’s because they won’t be able to spend much time together, since he graduated last spring.

Xander’s surprised to realize he can’t wait to see Cordelia. Excited to see your girlfriend? What’s wrong with you?? Willow hopes Buffy shows up at school the next day like nothing happened, but Xander reminds her that Buffy was expelled, so that’s not possible. Willow says she just wishes they knew where Buffy was.

Right now she’s on a beach. Angel joins her, even though the sun is out, and puts his arms around her. She asks how he found her there, and he tells her that he would see her even if he were blind. He promises to stay with her forever: “That’s the whole point. I’ll never leave. Not even if you kill me.” Buffy wakes from this dream in a crappy little apartment in L.A.

The next day, she goes to work as a waitress in a diner. She makes herself ignore a guy who flirts with her, as well as his friend, who slaps her butt. She could beat them up before they could blink, but she won’t. Next she waits on an affectionate young couple, Lily and Rickie. Buffy doesn’t realize that she’s met Lily before, but under a different name: Chanterelle.

The couple has very little money since they just got matching tattoos with each other’s names. They’re happy to have them forever. As Rickie says, “That’s the whole point.” Chanterelle recognizes Buffy, who won’t say where she’s from. The name tag on her uniform identifies her as Anne. She turns in their order, then tells a co-worker she’s going home sick.

It’s the first day of a new school year, so the library is busier than usual with students getting books. Willow tells Giles that the Scoobies aren’t quite as good at patrolling as Buffy is, but they’re getting better. He’s happy they’re stepping in but doesn’t want them to get hurt. Willow says part of their mission statement is “don’t get killed.” I’d love to hear the rest.

Cordelia arrives and complains to Willow that her summer sucked. Yeah, she got to go to a resort in Mexico, but it was a sucky resort. She casually asks about Xander, pretending she’s not super-eager to see him again. She’s very concerned about her hair looking good. Oz shows up next and reveals to Willow that he didn’t actually graduate. He had a bunch of incompletes he was supposed to make up in summer school, which he didn’t attend.

They pass a teacher who tells a kid to stop running down the hall; summer’s over, so it’s time to be somber again. (This is the same teacher who wrote James’ words on the board, and we see him again in a fun scene at the end of the season. He’s cool.) Oz says he’d hoped that Willow would find it cute that he has to repeat his senior year. She doesn’t, really, since Oz is really smart and there’s no excuse for him not getting good grades.

Xander comes by looking for Cordelia, just as eager to see her as she is to see him. He’s also concerned about how his hair looks. Larry’s excited to play football again. “If we can focus, keep disciplined, and not have quite as many mysterious deaths, Sunnydale is gonna RULE!” he tells a friend. Willow’s willing to call Oz’s failure to graduate “eccentric,” though she mostly finds it strange. He hopes she’ll eventually find it cool. Xander and Cordelia finally reunite, but they mask their happiness at seeing each other after a summer apart and only spend about ten seconds together.

Buffy gets distracted while opening a sad can of Spaghettios in her sad apartment. She goes back out, passing a homeless woman who’s repeating, “I’m no one” over and over. In the library, Giles tells Willow and Xander that a friend in Oakland heard about a girl fighting vampires there last week. He’s going to fly out and see if that was Buffy. Xander gently says that this keeps happening – Giles gets his hopes up that they’ll find her, the lead doesn’t pan out, and he and Xander both end up sad. Not that he and Willow want Giles to stop looking, though. Xander just doesn’t think Buffy will be found until she wants to be.

That night, though, Lily finds Buffy downtown. She uses Buffy’s real name and promises to keep her identity secret. She reveals that they met when she was Chanterelle. She’s grateful to Buffy for saving her and wanted to thank her. She thinks Buffy’s waiting tables in L.A. instead of at school in Sunnydale because, like Lily, she had to get lost. Lily asks how Buffy chose the name Anne. Buffy explains that it’s her middle name. Lily let Rickie choose her new name from a song. She changes it all the time when she goes through different phases. Buffy lets her know that her last name was a mushroom. (An exotic one, at least.)

Lily asks if Buffy has any money. She knows someone who’s hosting a rave, and they could go hang out there together. Buffy declines the invitation, wanting to be alone. She offers up some money, though, and says she could meet up with Lily and Rickie later. A man walks between them as they’re talking and Lily calls him out on his rudeness. “I’m no one,” he says before walking into the street and standing in front of a truck. Buffy pushes him out of the way and takes the impact of the truck herself.

A bunch of people run to check on Buffy, who’s fine thanks to the quick healing that comes with being a Slayer. She doesn’t want any attention, so she takes off. She runs into a guy named Ken who’s distributing fliers for a place called Family Home. He invites her to stop by sometime to get a meal for both her body and her mind. He’s worried about young people who come to L.A. and get old fast. Despair drains the life out of them. They have nothing to go home to, so this ends up being their last stop.

After a depressing montage of young homeless L.A. residents, we go back to Sunnydale, where Xander and Willow are hanging out at the Bronze. There’s live music, but it’s maudlin, so they’re kind of down. He can’t stop thinking about how Cordelia must have had a great summer without him and probably doesn’t want to be with him anymore. She can’t stop thinking about Buffy.

Oz joins them as they talk about how badly slaying has been going. He thinks they’re getting a rhythm down. Xander notes that they’re losing half the vampires. “Yeah, but rhythmically,” Oz replies. Willow thinks they need to work on their timing. Xander spots Cordelia arriving and decides they need bait instead.

The next day, Joyce hears a knock on her front door and rushes to answer it, obviously hoping Buffy’s on the other side. It’s Giles, though, bringing news that the lead in Oakland didn’t pan out. (The “vampires” were just goth teens.) Joyce admits that she’s having a hard time. She doesn’t like leaving the house because she’s afraid she’ll miss a call from her daughter.

Giles assures her that Buffy probably isn’t in danger. Joyce regrets her fight with Buffy, and he tells her not to blame herself. Joyce doesn’t – she blames Giles. He was a big influence on Buffy and had a whole relationship with her behind Joyce’s back. Joyce feels like Giles took her daughter away. He says he didn’t make Buffy who she is. Joyce asks who she is, exactly.

Lily returns to the diner and tells Buffy that Rickie’s missing. She can’t call the police because he skipped out on his parole. (Also, let’s be honest, how hard is the LAPD going to look for a homeless teen?) She asks Buffy to help her find him. Buffy says she can’t – she doesn’t help people anymore. Lily’s desperate and doesn’t know what to do, so Buffy gives in.

They go to a blood bank where Lily and Rickie sometimes donate to get some money (and free cookies). A doctor (no name; I’ll call her Dr. Green after the actress playing her) checks the sign-in log to see if he’s been there recently. Buffy suggests that she and Lily split up to check out other places Rickie might have gone. “Can I come with you?” Lily asks, failing to grasp what “split up” means. Dr. Green says Rickie hasn’t been in, but if he shows up, she’ll tell him they were looking for him. After the girls leave, her faces changes from “I am being pleasantly helpful” to “we have a problem.”

The girls split up and Buffy goes to an alley that’s a popular nighttime spot for homeless people. She finds the body of an older man who appears to have killed himself. She recognizes Rickie’s tattoo on his arm. She goes back to her apartment and tells Lily that she thinks Rickie’s dead. “But…he takes care of me,” Lily says, sounding like a child. They were so hopeful that they were going to turn their lives around.

Buffy tells her that the man she found was way older than Rickie. It was like something drained Rickie’s life out of him. It couldn’t have been a vampire, though; they can’t make people age faster. Buffy wonders if there was something in Rickie’s blood. Lily’s in denial that Rickie’s dead, since he didn’t do anything wrong. Buffy angrily tells her that bad things like this happen all the time. You can’t ignore them and wait for them to go away. Not that she’s speaking from experience or anything!

Lily thinks this could be related to Buffy. Maybe she brought something evil to L.A. with her. Buffy says she didn’t, and she also didn’t ask to get brought into this. If Lily can’t deal with her problems, she can’t just push them onto Buffy. Lily leaves, upset, and encounters Ken outside. He offers to try to help her with whatever’s making her sad. He wants her and people like her to remember to hope. When Lily mentions Rickie, Ken guesses who she is. “Rickie’s with us now,” he says. He’s definitely not dead, and Lily should come to Family Home with Ken.

Buffy breaks into the blood bank and looks through some files. She finds one on Rickie that labels him a “candidate.” Dr. Green catches her and asks what she’s doing. “Breaking into your office and going through your private files,” Buffy replies casually. Dr. Green threatens to call the police, so Buffy rips the phone out of the wall. She sees that other patients have been labeled the same as Rickie and guesses they’re missing, too.

Dr. Green warns that Buffy’s getting herself into a lot of trouble. Buffy replies that she doesn’t want that – she wants a quiet place with a fireplace and a chair and a tea cozy (and she doesn’t even know what a tea cozy is). But trouble keeps finding her, and she’s “more than willing to share.” She demands to know what’s happening to the “candidates.” Dr. Green admits that she gives the healthy ones’ names to someone. That someone is Ken, who’s preparing Lily for something called a cleansing. He promises that she’ll see Rickie afterward.

In Sunnydale, the Scoobies head to the cemetery to use Cordelia as vampire bait. She objects, trying to pass the task on to Willow, but since Andy has already seen her, they know he won’t approach her. The other Scoobies hide while Cordelia tells Xander that she’s only doing this for Buffy’s sake, not his. He tells her the plan is for Andy to attack her and kill her while the others rejoice. As they’re bickering about their relationship, Andy sneaks up on Willow.

Ken takes Lily to her cleansing, which is kind of like a baptism if your baptism was led by a creepy guy lying to you about your boyfriend still being alive, and if your baptismal was full of something that looked like tar. Buffy has arrived at Family Home, pretending she’s sick of sinning and wants to be cleansed. She realizes she’s not pulling this off and just asks for Ken. She finds him and Lily just as Lily is about to be cleansed. She asks how Ken makes young people old. Before he can tell her, Lily gets sucked into the tar.

Buffy tries to follow her but Ken holds her back. She decides to throw both him and herself into the tar. They land in a tunnel, totally fine except for some damage to Ken’s face. But it’s okay because it’s not real. He’s a demon who literally glues on a human face to look normal. Buffy and Lily try to make a break for it, but Ken calls for demon guards to chase them. Also, there’s no place for them to go. They’re on a catwalk overlooking a giant pit where humans are being forced to do manual labor. Ken knocks Buffy out and tells Lily that she’s never going to leave this place.

Xander and Cordelia are still bickering. Each thinks the other developed feelings for someone else over the summer and wants to break up. They finally realize that Willow’s in danger and hurry to help her and Oz take care of Andy. It’s not pretty, but they succeed. Also, Cordelia winds up lying on top of Xander after she pushes Andy into him and Xander’s stake goes into the vampire. That makes it easy for them to start making out.

Buffy regains consciousness and finds herself locked in a cage with Lily. Lily says she always felt she belonged where they are: Hell. Buffy doesn’t think that’s where they are, but Ken notes that Hell is the absence of hope, so Lily’s right. Rickie was there, too, and after a while, he forgot her. It took years; time moves much faster there than in the real world. 100 years there is just a day on Earth. Buffy realizes that the demons work humans until they’re too old, then return them to the real world.

Ken confirms that the girls will die of old age before anyone misses them. That’s why he chooses people who don’t have loved ones to look for them. Buffy notes that she wasn’t chosen (for once in her life, she’s not the Chosen One!). Ken knows that Buffy’s scared and determined to run away from whoever she used to be. She wanted to disappear, and now she’s going to get her wish.

All of Ken’s prisoners are sent to work. They’re not allowed to do anything other than work. Their pasts don’t matter. They’re no one now and mean nothing. A demon guard asks a teen who he is. The teen gives his name and gets smacked in response. Lily proves to be smarter than she’s let on before because when the guard asks her name, she says she’s no one. The guard continues with other prisoners until he gets to Buffy. She introduces herself by name and tells him she’s a Slayer.

She takes on the guards, then leads a mass escape with the prisoners. They hide under a stairwell to formulate a plan. Buffy assigns Lily to lead the others out of the pit, even though Lily doesn’t trust in her ability to take charge. Buffy says she can handle this. Lily starts to leave, then comes back to apologize for blaming Buffy for everything. She just wanted to get that out there in case they don’t survive.

The demon guards chase Buffy as the other prisoners head for freedom. Buffy fights the guards on a raised platform, displeasing Ken, who’s never had to handle a human fighting back before. Buffy steals a couple of the guards’ weapons and gives herself even more of an advantage. Ken catches up to the escapees and threatens to kill Lily for Buffy’s disobedience. While he’s making a big deal out of how he’s going to make Buffy pay, Lily just reaches out and shoves him into the pit.

Buffy climbs a chain to get back to the other prisoners, who are trapped from escaping by a big wooden gate. Buffy lifts it and is on her way out with them when Ken tackles her. She drops the gate on him and it stabs him through his calves, trapping him on the ground. He whines that Buffy ruined his plans. “Hey, Ken, wanna see my impression of Gandhi?” Buffy asks before killing him. Lily doesn’t get it. Buffy says that was Gandhi if he were really mad. The prisoners all make it back to the cleansing room, and the entrance to the pit bricks itself up. Sorry, everyone else trapped down there!

Buffy takes Lily back to her apartment, where Lily will now be living. She can also have Buffy’s job at the diner. Lily says she’s not good at taking care of herself, like, yeah, we’ve noticed. Buffy promises it’ll get easier. Lily asks if she can be Anne now.

Joyce is fixing her dishwasher when she hears a knock at the front door. She takes her time going to it, not wanting to get her hopes up again that Buffy’s there. But she is, and Joyce welcomes her home silently, with just a hug.

Thoughts: Lily later turns up on the spin-off Angel, using the name Anne.

Everything from Willow’s conversation with Giles about patrolling through Xander and Cordelia meeting up – over three minutes – is one take. Very impressive.

Buffy’s hair in this part of the season is…not my favorite.

No wonder Lily joined a vampire-worshipping cult. She has absolutely no ability to think for herself.

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