April 1, 2023

Buffy 5.7, Fool for Love: “What Can I Tell You, Baby? I’ve Always Been Bad”

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 1:16 pm by Jenn

I could watch these scenes all day

Summary: Buffy’s fighting a punk-ish vampire in a cemetery, and everything’s going like it should until he somehow gets the better of her and stabs her in the stomach with her own stake. She tries to run away but he catches up to her and prepares to stab her again. At the last moment, Riley tackles him and tries to taze him, but the vampire runs off.

Buffy passes out, and Riley takes her home and patches her up. He thinks she should see a doctor, but she doesn’t want Joyce to find out that she got hurt. Plus, there’s no point when she has her Slayer super-healing (and a boyfriend with combat medical training). Riley asks how many vampires attacked her. Buffy’s embarrassed to admit that it was just one. She’s in the best physical shape of her life, so she doesn’t know how he got the better of her.

Dawn runs into Buffy’s bedroom to let her know that Joyce is on her way in. Riley hides anything that might make her suspicious. Dawn even pretends that the rubbing alcohol he was using is hers, from a nail polish experiment. As a reward, Buffy tells her she got hurt. Mostly that’s because she needs Dawn to help out more around the house while Buffy’s healing. Riley offers to patrol that night, and Buffy asks him to take the Scoobies with him. Sorry, Dawn, you’re not invited.

Riley puts on some of his old camo for the patrol, while Willow, Xander, and Anya don’t bother. They try to interpret his hand signals, and when they can’t, Xander yells to him to ask what they mean. Riley tells them to go check out the Bronze instead of continuing to be unstealthy in the cemetery. They promise to be quieter, which means getting rid of the chips they’re snacking on.

At the Magic Box, Buffy and Giles read up on past Slayers. Buffy wants to know about their last battles and why they lost. She doesn’t get why, after training harder than ever, she almost got killed. If she can understand what went wrong, maybe she can keep it from happening again. Giles notes that after a Slayer dies, it’s pretty hard to find out why. Buffy asks about Watchers’ journals, but Giles thinks that after losing a Slayer, the Watchers can’t bring themselves to write about them.

Buffy realizes that there’s someone she can ask in person about Slayers’ final battles. Spike killed two Slayers, and she tells him that he’s going to show her how. They go to the Bronze so Spike can have a beer while he tells his story. He doesn’t think there’s much to tell, though – he fought the Slayers and they died. The end. Spike realizes that Buffy’s hurt and taunts her about it. She asks if he was born this annoying. “What can I tell you, baby?” he replies. “I’ve always been bad.”

London, 1880: Spike, then known as William, is writing a poem but can’t find a good word that rhymes with “gleaming.” As a human, his speech and clothing aren’t too different from Giles’. He sees a woman he’s interested in, Cecily, and gets some inspiration. They’re at a party where some people are discussing recent disappearances in town. When someone asks his opinion, William says he would rather think about things of beauty than dark stuff like death. The police can deal with that.

Someone swipes his poem and reads it out loud:

“My heart expands
‘Tis grown a bulge in’t
Inspired by
Your beauty effulgent.”

Everyone laughs except Cecily. A woman jokes that he’s called William the Bloody “because of his bloody awful poetry.” The man who read the poem says he’d rather have a railroad spike driven through his head than listen to any more. William leaves the room and finds Cecily, who asks if his poems are about her. He admits that they are and professes his love. She isn’t interested. He tells her that he may be a bad poet, but he’s a good man. Cecily tells him that he’s nothing to her: “You’re beneath me.”

William tears up his poem as he leaves the party. He ends up in a barn, which is where he meets his future girlfriend for the first time. Drusilla says that he’s surrounded by fools who “can’t see his strength, his vision, his glory.” Also, he has burning baby fish swimming around his head. William thinks that Drusilla is a pickpocket, but she says his real wealth is in his heart and mind, his spirit and imagination. He walks in worlds that other people can’t grasp.

William tries to leave, saying his mother is expecting him. Drusilla can see that he wants “something glowing and glistening. Something effulgent.” She asks if he wants it and he says yes. She vamps out and bites him. He yells in pain, then finds the experience pleasurable.

Present: The Scoobies spot the vampire who injured Buffy and track him to a crypt, where he’s telling some buddies about stabbing the Slayer. Riley decides there are too many of them, so they’ll come back in the morning to take them out.

Spike and Buffy play pool as he tells her about becoming a vampire. He says that dying made him feel alive for the first time. He was done with following the rules and decided to make his own. But first he had to get a gang.

Yorkshire, 1880: Drusilla has introduced William – now Spike – to Angelus and Darla, but Angelus isn’t interested in bringing him into their little group. Spike has gone from the quiet guy in the corner of the party to an attention-seeking trouble-maker. They had to flee London, and now they’re hiding in a mine shaft. Angelus complains that every time Spike makes a scene, they become targets.

Darla hopes the guys fight. Spike thinks Angelus should, since he needs to unleash and get out some aggression. Angelus would rather stay civilized, the only thing that makes them different from animals. Spike eggs him on until Angelus attacks, which is just what Spike wanted. Angelus warns that Spike can’t act like this forever. Maybe one day, an angry mob will teach Spike a lesson. Or maybe the Slayer will. This is the first time Spike has heard of one of those.

Present: Spike tells Buffy that he became obsessed with the Slayer. Unlike other vampires, he wasn’t afraid of her. He went looking for her. Buffy asks how he killed the first one. Spike grabs her from behind and tells her that a Slayer should always reach for her weapon. He shows his vamp face and says he already has his. When you become a vampire, there’s nothing to be afraid of except the Slayer..

China, 1900: Spike faces off with the Slayer, who’s Chinese, in a temple as a village burns during the Boxer Rebellion. Spike’s having a great time. The Slayer does some swordplay, slicing Spike’s brow and giving him his iconic scar. He breaks the weapon and she has to switch to hand-to-hand combat. She’s about to stake him when a fire flares nearby and she gets distracted. Eventually Spike is able to grab her from behind and sink his teeth into her neck. As she dies, she asks him to tell her mother that she’s sorry. “Sorry, love, I don’t speak Chinese,” he replies. He’s exhilarated by the kill and says he could get used to this.

Drusilla finds him a little while later, happy about his accomplishment. Spike is turned on, and he has Drusilla lick some of the Slayer’s blood from his finger. They start making out, ignoring the fire around them. Later, they meet up with Darla and Angelus, who was actually Angel again by then, having gotten his soul back two years earlier, and who says that killing the Slayer makes Spike one of them. Spike notes that when the next Slayer is called, Angel can have the first shot at killing her.

Present: Spike says that was the best night of his life. Buffy’s disgusted that he was so turned on by what he did. He thinks she must feel the same about killing vampires. She can stake all the vampires in the world, but they just need one good day to take out the Slayer. She’s so good at what she does that she thinks she’s immortal now. Buffy tells him she just knows how to handle herself. Spike punches her wound, which causes them both pain. She asks if this is the end of the lesson. He says they’re not even close. They’re just changing locations.

Instead of waiting for the morning, Riley goes back to the crypt by himself. He does a pretty cool move where he gets the vampire who stabbed Buffy to drop her stake right into his hand. After he’s staked that guy, Riley leaves the others with a parting gift in the form of a grenade.

In the alley behind the Bronze, Spike continues his story. The second lesson is that Buffy’s asking the wrong question. It’s not about how Spike won the battles with the Slayers; it’s about why the Slayers lost. Buffy doesn’t see a difference. He says it’s a big one. He starts sparring with her, which doesn’t hurt him because he knows he can’t touch her. If he doesn’t intend to hurt someone, he doesn’t feel any pain. Buffy punches him a couple of times and asks again how he killed the Slayers. Spike says she’s not ready to know.

New York City, 1977: Spike, who now has his signature bleached hair and is dressed like a Billy Idol groupie, fights the Slayer (who we’ll later learn is named Nikki) on a moving subway. He tells Buffy in the present that she and Nikki had similar styles. “I could have danced all night with that one,” he says as he and Buffy spar, recreating his fight with Nikki. “You think we’re dancing?” Buffy asks. “That’s all we’ve ever done,” he replies. The dance never stops.

Spike says that every day, you wake up wondering if it’s the day you’ll die. “Death is on your heels, baby, and sooner or later, it’s gonna catch you,” he tells Buffy. In 1977, he’s dislodged a subway pole, which he uses to try to hit Nikki. He thinks that part of Buffy wants to die, not just because it’ll end her uncertainty and fear but because she’s a little in love with it.

Nikki gets Spike on the ground and punches him a few times. The train goes through a tunnel, making everything dark, and when it’s light again, Spike is on top of Nikki. He looks up and says what he’s telling Buffy in the present: “Death is your art. You make it with your hands day after day. That final gasp, that look of peace. Part of you is desperate to know, what’s it like? Where does it lead you?”

That’s the real secret. It’s not about the moves Buffy screwed up during a fight. Nikki wanted death. Every Slayer has a death wish. Spike snaps Nikki’s neck in 1977, telling Buffy in the present that that includes her. He pulls the cord to stop the subway, then goes back to take Nikki’s jacket, the leather one he now wears all the time.

He tells Buffy that she’s only survived as long as she has because she has ties to the world, like her family and friends. But they just make Buffy put off the inevitable: “Sooner or later, you’re gonna want it. And the second – the second that happens, you know I’ll be there. I’ll slip in, have myself a real good day.” Buffy looks a tiny bit shaken. “Here endeth the lesson,” Spike says. He wonders if Buffy will enjoy death as much as Nikki did.

Buffy orders Spike to leave, and he taunts that he got to her. He eggs her on to fight him. When she won’t, he leans in like he’s going to kiss her. She’s disgusted, but he says he knows she wants to “dance.” Buffy shoves him to the ground and tells him that even if she wanted to, she wouldn’t do it with him. She tosses the money she offered him for his help all around him and tells him, “You’re beneath me.”

Spike cries a little as he picks up the money. Then he gets mad. He goes home to grab a gun, telling Harmony that if Buffy thinks he’s beneath her, he’ll put her beneath him – specifically, six feet beneath him. She doesn’t need a death wish. Harmony tries to talk Spike out of going after someone who will beat the crap out of him and then stake him. He thinks he can kill Buffy before she can hurt him. As he storms out, Harmony calls after him that he couldn’t kill Buffy before the chip, and he had plenty of chances.

South America, 1998: “Why can’t you kill her?” Drusilla asks Spike. They’ve fled Sunnydale, and Drusilla knows that Spike is still obsessed with Buffy. He says he tried to push her away for Drusilla, but Drusilla keeps cheating on him. In fact, the chaos demon he caught her making out with is standing right there. Drusilla says that Spike tastes like ashes. The chaos demon decides he shouldn’t be a part of this and leaves. Wait, shouldn’t he enjoy chaos? Drusilla says that Spike is “covered with her.” When she looks at him, all she sees is Buffy.

Present: Buffy goes home and finds Joyce packing a suitcase. Her recent health issues have led to the need for a CAT scan, which requires an overnight stay at the hospital. The doctors are optimistic, thinking that if there’s anything wrong, they caught it early. Joyce assures Buffy that she’ll be fine.

Buffy goes out to the backyard to be alone. Spike finds her there, crying. It would be the perfect moment to kill her – she’s vulnerable and unarmed, and she doesn’t even notice him for a few moments. But when he sees how upset she is, he just asks what’s wrong. Buffy says she doesn’t want to talk about it. Spike gently asks if there’s anything he can do. She doesn’t respond, so he sits down next to her and pats her back a little. She still doesn’t say anything, but she doesn’t send him away, either, so they sit there in silence.

Thoughts: I’d forgotten that this was a companion episode to the Angel episode “Darla.” (Spoiler alert: Darla was resurrected.) In that, we learn that the disappearances people were discussing at the party in London were the work of Angelus, Darla, and Drusilla. Also, Darla tried to help Angel get his groove back in China by urging him to eat a baby.

If I were a Scooby and I found out about Spike’s poem, I would work the word “effulgent” into every conversation I had with him.

How many Slayers have been American? Buffy, Nikki, and Faith all were, and they were all called within a 20-year time frame. There are almost 200 countries in the world and three Slayers in 20 years came from just one of them?

The scene where Spike tells Buffy about killing Nikki is really well done with the way it goes back and forth between eras, as if it’s all happening at once. It starts to feel like a dance.

March 28, 2023

ER 13.2, Graduation Day: The Kitchen Sink

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 5:06 pm by Jenn

Everyone should have a Maggie to sit with them when things get hard

Summary: Sam has been driving her and Alex’s getaway car all night, and she’s so out of it that she’s barely able to swerve out of the way of an oncoming truck. She stops at a diner to call someone for a ride, knowing it’s not safe for her to keep going on her own.

At County, Joe is under the care of Dr. Rabb, who tells Abby and Luka that they’ll need to trust her to do what’s best for their baby. Abby knows a little of what to expect, since she did a rotation there, but she’s never seen it from this side before. She wants to know what color her son’s eyes are. Luka tells her they’re blue. Neela had asked Luka if she could come visit, but Abby isn’t ready to see anyone yet. Too bad, because Maggie’s here!

Sam called Elliot, who comes to meet her at the diner. She’s worried that she’s going to be arrested for killing Steve. Elliot points out that she was justified, but she tells him that she was free and clear. She could have gotten away, but she went back specifically to kill Steve. Elliot tells her not to repeat that to anyone – they’ll be the only people who know. She can get away with a self-defense claim.

It’s business as usual at County, with Weaver still in charge while Luka’s with his family. Neela took a nap during her impromptu night shift, and Pratt tells her to go home and rest. He expects that Gallant’s parents will want to see her. In the NICU, Maggie’s the only person who doesn’t understand all the medical jargon being tossed around about Joe. Rabb tells her that Abby was a star student during her rotation there. Maggie guesses that she never let herself be proud of that.

As Maggie marvels over the baby’s heartbeat, Luka quietly tells Abby that he didn’t ask her to come to Chicago. Abby isn’t too upset about her presence, though, especially since she seems stable. Neela brings the new parents coffee and meets Maggie for the first time. There might be a problem with Joe’s heart, and Abby has to tell Maggie that they can’t just fix it right away. This is going to be a long journey.

Gates, who we last saw getting surgery from Neela in the field, brings in a guy who covered himself in tinfoil and tried to climb some tower. Gates says hi to Neela (who he calls Mayday) as she’s leaving and says he’s glad she’s okay after the big shootout the day before. He’s disappointed when she doesn’t banter with him. Pratt tells him that her husband just died. As the two of them and Weaver are trying to subdue Tin Foil Guy, Pratt spots Sam arriving in the ER. She tells Weaver that a friend dropped her off and that she needs a rape exam. Weaver gives her a hug.

Maggie takes notes on Joe’s treatment and disapproves of a student doing a procedure on him. He’s actually a resident, but even Abby isn’t convinced that he knows what he’s doing. Rabb gently tells her that he’s doing a good job. Maggie is writing everything down so she can look it up later. She brings up the connection between smoking and premature labor, and Abby says she quit two years ago. Maggie notes that stress could have caused the early delivery. Luka defuses the tension by telling her about the shooting and Abby’s fall. Rabb says the cause of the early delivery doesn’t really matter.

A nurse invites Abby to come to a lactation seminar, and Maggie goes with her. Luka stays behind with Joe and talks to him in Croatian. Abby wants privacy while she pumps breast milk, which Maggie finds ridiculous. Maggie, you’re going to want to pick your battles here. Abby’s doing an amazing job keeping it together, but we all know she could snap at any minute.

Weaver and Haleh tell Sam about Joe and Jerry’s condition as they do her rape exam. Sam says she knew that Steve was a thief, but she never thought he was capable of what he did yesterday. She feels responsible. Weaver asks what happened to the fugitives, and Sam says they’re all dead.

One week later: Gates and Zadro go out in the pouring rain to tend to a guy who Gates thinks OD’d. Gates gives him Narcan, injecting it in a way Zadro says they’re not supposed to. Gates radios county to try to get permission to do something else, but Pratt shuts him down. Gates lies to Zadro that he gave approval. Zadro warns that if he’s lying, Zadro won’t back him up.

Luka takes a break from an ER shift to check on Joe. They’ve been trying to wean him off his ventilator, but he’s had a bit of a setback. Rabb asks if Abby and Luka have made a decision about a trial involving a hypertension drug. Abby thinks the risks are too high; they still have other options they haven’t tried. Maggie attempts to weigh in, but Abby doesn’t appreciate that. Rabb wisely dismisses herself from the conversation.

Abby complains that Rabb has been pushing them to do the trial for a week. Luka accuses her of always seeing the worst in people. Abby disagrees, and besides, this is their child they’re talking about. Luka also dismisses himself from the conversation. Maggie gently tells Abby that he could be right. The new drug might turn everything around for Joe. They should follow their instincts. Abby snaps at her mother to shut up. She didn’t ask Maggie to come or be involved, so maybe she should leave.

Morris comes by County to visit his former colleagues and brag that his new job with the pharmaceutical company is sending him on a trip to Vegas. Then he admits that he hates the job and wants to come back to County. Gates and Zadro arrive with their patient, and Zadro learns that Gates lied to him. Pratt threatens to report him.

Weaver attends a meeting about Clemente, where Anspaugh announces that he’s firing Luka. Amazingly, Weaver takes responsibility, but Anspaugh points out that she’s not the one who kept Clemente on after he proved to be trouble. Apparently Weaver said previously that she told Luka to get rid of Clemente and that he ignored her. She admits that that’s not true. As she leaves the meeting, Morris begs her to get his job back. Like literally begs on his hands and knees. She tells him she can’t help him – she’s no longer the chief of staff.

Luka determines that Gates’ patient didn’t actually overdose. He doesn’t know what’s actually wrong with him, though, so he just keeps trying different things to see if something works. Pratt says they’re throwing the kitchen sink at him. Gates is still there, and he suggests a condition that’s pretty rare. He knows about it because he got a question about it wrong on his boards and had to look it up later. Luka lets him administer a treatment, since they have nothing to lose. It does the trick.

Morris tries to bug Luka about getting his job back, but Luka doesn’t have time for him. Maggie sneaks Abby some coffee, which they aren’t supposed to have in the NICU, and tells her about a time when Eric was hospitalized as a baby. He almost died, and Abby’s father thought they should just say goodbye to him. Maggie ignored what the doctors said and refused to give up on her son. Abby says she’s not like Maggie, but Maggie thinks she is. She needs to find the strength to get through this. Abby isn’t sure she can. “You’ve spent your whole life getting strong enough to do this,” Maggie replies.

Luka returns to the NICU to try to talk to Abby again about the drug trial. Maybe the kitchen sink method will work for Joe. Abby’s worried that something will go wrong; they won’t be able to undo it. But Luka seems confident enough that it could work, so Abby agrees.

One week later: The drug trial was successful and Joe has made huge improvements. Luka and Maggie are able to convince Abby to leave the NICU for a little while. The nurses aren’t thrilled that Maggie will be staying behind. Elliot goes with Sam to talk to a detective or ADA or someone (it’s never specified) about what she claims happened to Steve. Elliot throws his weight around and pressures the guy to stop pursuing murder charges.

Neela runs into Abby and Luka as they’re taking their break outside. They only chat for a little while, and Luka says Neela’s doing fine at work, but it’s clear she’s struggling. She’s been staying at Abby’s, and Abby figures that she might as well give up her apartment since she’s always at Luka’s. Luka wants to revisit his sort-of marriage proposal right before everything went haywire. He’s not going to pressure Abby, and she doesn’t see the point in publicly proving her love for him. Luka agrees that marriage can wait until later.

One of Joe’s monitors starts beeping, and though Maggie’s concerned, a nurse just turns off the alarm and says it happens all the time. Then something else beeps, followed by another alarm. Maggie wants Rabb to come see Joe, but the nurse says she’s overreacting. Maggie thinks Joe’s breathing too fast, and she demands that the staff get Rabb there now.

It turns out she was right to worry, since Joe needs to be intubated. Rabb even says that it’s a good thing Maggie was watching him. Joe needs surgery, and Maggie tells Albright not to let any residents operate. Abby wants to call a chaplain and have Joe baptized just in case he doesn’t get better.

Neela gets drunk with a couple of strangers at a bar who walk her out, giving off vibes that she shouldn’t be alone with them. Fortunately, Gates and Zadro arrive just then and Gates gets her away from them. One of the guys gets rude, so Gates beats them both up. Zadro, request a new partner. You deserve better than this guy.

Anspaugh is operating on Joe, so Maggie should be happy. A chaplain performs the baptism and Luka watches from the OR while Abby observes from the gallery. Gates takes Neela home (well, to Abby’s) and she puts on music and drunkenly dances. She wants Gates to stay, and when he says he’s going to leave after he gets her settled, she grabs him and kisses him. To his credit, he stops it and asks if she can call someone to come stay with her. She says she doesn’t have anyone.

Maggie joins Abby in the gallery, where Abby’s starting to simmer with fear. She says she can’t keep pretending everything’s going to be okay. Maggie urges to her to let all the bad things go. Admittedly, she didn’t have a lot of reasons to be optimistic while she was growing up, but she’s not a child anymore. She needs to believe that Joe will be okay. He starts declining, and Abby turns off the intercom so she doesn’t have to hear bad news. She tells Maggie she’s trying to stay positive.

Two weeks later: Word has spread that Weaver’s taking the heat for what happened with Clemente, and that she’s been demoted. Ray asks Neela (who’s wearing sunglasses indoors, so I assume she’s hungover) if she’s talked to Abby recently. She thinks Abby and Luka want privacy for a while. Gates and Neela run into each other for the first time since her drunken antics and she starts to apologize. He says he’s glad he was the one who took her home. Pratt hands out white coats to the interns who are about to start working in the ER. One of them is Gates. Now he and Neela will see each other all the time! Oh, boy!

Sam asks if anyone’s heard from Jerry, who was supposed to be released from the hospital the day before. Frank says they just talked. Because they’re secretly best friends! Morris is still at the pharmaceutical company, unable to enjoy any of the perks that come with the job. Saving Jerry was difficult but possibly the best moment of Morris’ life. He feels silly working a fancy job now. He’s figured out what’s important and wants to practice medicine again. He just needs Luka to get back to him about getting his job back.

Elliot comes in to tell Sam that the DA has finally declared Steve’s death justifiable homicide, so the whole ordeal is over. You know, except for the part where Sam and Alex were taken hostage and she was raped and then killed her son’s father. At least she can stop worrying about going to jail. Elliot asks if she’s talked to Alex about what happened. Sam says he just knows that Steve is dead, but not the details. Elliot offers to help her with anything else she might need.

Morris gives a presentation to some doctors, trying to get them on board to prescribe a drug from his company. Pratt pulls him out to tell him that Luka is going to offer him his job back. Morris ducks back into the meeting to tell the doctors that his drug is a scam. Neela gets drunk again at the hospital’s graduation party for the interns, but this time she keeps her lips to herself. She introduces Ray to Gates, setting up the new love triangle for the season.

Morris wants to be allowed to call Weaver “Kerry” now that their colleagues. That’s a no, Archie. Luka comes by, saying that Abby wanted to tag along but decided this wasn’t the night for it. Weaver asks how she’s holding up, and Luka says she’s okay. With all that, it would be understandable if viewers assumed that Joe died…but he didn’t! He’s home with his mom, who’s been so grateful for Maggie’s visit that she wants her to come back sometime. She couldn’t have gotten through the NICU experience without Maggie.

Maggie laughs because Abby’s been defiant ever since she was a child. She teases that she hopes Joe causes Abby as much pain and agony as she caused Maggie. Abby tells Maggie that she doesn’t have to leave just yet, but Maggie assures her that she can handle parenting on her own. Back at the party, Luka shows his colleagues pictures of his son and passes out cigars.

Thoughts: Yes, Maggie is overbearing in this episode and Abby is justified in being annoyed with her, but think about what it means that she dropped everything to come help out and provide support. The Maggie from Abby’s childhood would never have done that. Look how far she’s come. And I love how she takes notes and tries to remember everything that’s important. That’s someone you want in your corner.

Weaver is so maternal toward Sam when she shows up in the ER. It’s really sweet.

Frank to Morris, who’s wearing a purple shirt: “What’d you do, mug a pimp?” Morris: “Yeah, your dad says hi.” Pratt: (cracking up)

How mean that they made us think Joe died. Don’t be so mean, show!

March 25, 2023

Buffy 5.6, Family: A Place in the World

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:15 pm by Jenn


Summary: While Miss Kitty Fantastico plays with yarn, Willow asks Tara to tell her a story. Tara makes one up about a kitty who was all alone and was taken to the pound, which was full of different animals, including dolphins and half of a camel. Then the kitty was chosen by nice people and taken home and got a happy ending.

Willow’s ready for bed but Tara wants to read up on some spells. She’s been working hard on magic recently so she can feel more useful to the Scoobies. Willow promises her that she’s essential to the group. They wonder if Buffy found out anything during her return trip to the factory. Willow guesses that if she did, she would have called.

Buffy only called Giles, who has no idea how to respond to the news that Dawn is a key. Buffy doesn’t want to tell her, since she would freak out. They need to keep Dawn safe. Giles suggests sending her away, since Glory must know that Buffy knows what’s going on. They could send Dawn to Hank. Apparently Hank ran off to Spain with his secretary, and he didn’t even get in touch after Buffy let him know that Joyce was sick. JERK.

Buffy says that Dawn cried for a week when their father left. Now she knows that wasn’t real, but she still feels it. The monks sent Dawn to Buffy, and she feels responsible for her not-really sister. She wants to take care of Dawn. Buffy doesn’t think they should let the other Scoobies in on the secret, since they would act weird around Dawn. It’s safer if they don’t know. Giles says they need to find out more about Glory, in case she comes after Buffy. Buffy’s sure she will. Back at the factory, Glory emerges from the rubble of the collapse she caused and says, “Okay. Now I’m upset.”

The next day, the Scoobies help Buffy move out of her gigantic single dorm room. She notices that Giles isn’t exactly contributing. He says he saw himself in more of a “patriarchal role,” pointing and scowling. He demonstrates by snapping at Xander and Riley to stop wrestling with each other. Xander says that Riley called him a bad name, or possibly just something in Latin.

Buffy’s moving back to the Summerses’ house since she’s always there anyway. She notices that Dawn hs disappeared, but it’s just because she’s been removing things from the room like she was supposed to. Buffy’s sore from her fight with Glory, and the Scoobies promise that they’ll provide backup the next time she comes around. Tara says that if Buffy learns Glory’s source, they can introduce her to her insect reflection. Apparently that’s a good joke “if you studied Taglarin mythic rites and are a complete dork.” “Then how come Xander didn’t laugh?” Riley quips. Heh.

When Tara leaves the room, Willow reminds everyone else to be at the Bronze by 8:00 the next night. They completely forgot about Tara’s surprise birthday party. Buffy’s looking forward to a break from the current craziness. Speaking of crazy, Ben notices the admittance of another patient with the symptoms the security guard from the factory had. It seems to be a spreading epidemic. As Ben is changing in the hospital locker room after a shift, a gross-looking demon with a snake-like tongue creeps toward him. Glory holds it back and tells it she needs a favor.

Anya’s already improved her customer-relations skills, thanking a Magic Box customer for shopping there and saying they value her patronage: “Please come again for more purchases!” Giles thinks she’s a little too enthusiastic, but how can she not be? The customers give them money in exchange for items, Giles gives Anya money for working for him, and Anya feels like she has a place in the world. She’s part of the system, a working gal. But she only wants to be part of the system when it involves interesting tasks.

Buffy and Xander come in talking about Tara’s party, which neither of them is really that thrilled to attend. Giles has been looking into Glory, but Buffy didn’t give him much to go on. He asks for more info on what she’s like. “She was kind of like Cordelia, actually,” Buffy tells him. “I’m pretty sure she dyes her hair.” Giles sarcastically replies that that should help him narrow it down.

Xander joins Buffy to do research, and also to talk about presents for Tara. They don’t know her well enough to know what to get her. She’s nice and all, but they don’t really click with her. They anticipate a lot of Wiccans at the party and worry that they won’t fit in. Xander notes that Willow has something new in her life, but she’s still the old Willow, so they get her. All they know about Tara is that she likes Willow, and, as Xander notes, “she already has one of those.” Buffy complains that Tara’s birthday is one too many things for her to worry about. Xander suggests that she train or do something to work off the tension.

Buffy takes his advice that night when she fights Spike in his crypt. He tells her that if she wants him, she can come and get him. She replies that she’s coming right now. Cut to Spike having sex with Harmony while daydreaming about Buffy. Harmony is, as usual, completely clueless.

Giles checks in with Buffy and Xander, asking if they’ve made any progress. They think he’s talking about brainstorming presents for Tara rather than figuring out what Glory is. He reminds them that they’re in a magic shop, so if they can’t figure out what to get a witch while sitting in a room full of things witches like, they’re both idiots. Xander asks what they’re supposed to get Tara, a crystal ball? Giles says no, since he’s already wrapped one.

A customer notices the pile of books Buffy and Xander are looking through, and Giles tells him they’re part of a private collection. The guy asks if the books are full of spells that do things like turn people into frogs. Xander quips that, yes, they’re “building a race of frog people.” The guy asks if everyone there is a witch and jokes that they shouldn’t do a spell on him. Tara and Willow arrive just then (Willow didn’t hear the “insect reflection” joke earlier, and she’s laughing at it now) and Tara is surprised to see the customer. He’s her older brother, Donny.

Tara’s stutter, which had mostly disappeared, returns when she talks to her brother. He tells her they came down to surprise her and have been looking for her all over campus. “They” refers to their father and cousin Beth, who come in next. Willow looks a little disappointed when Tara introduces the Scoobies as her friends but doesn’t single her out as someone more significant. Tara’s relationship with her family isn’t warm at all, but she agrees to have dinner with them.

After the research session, Buffy goes home, where Riley’s been unpacking her stuff for her. Dawn’s about to head out to have dinner at a friend’s house, but Buffy won’t let her go. She says it’s not safe, which makes no sense to Dawn, since the friend lives just across the street. Buffy declares this family night. Plus, she doesn’t think Melinda’s a good influence: “I don’t like you hanging out with someone that…short.” Dawn’s not looking forward to having her controlling big sister living in the house again.

Riley agrees with Dawn that Buffy is being too strict. He senses that something’s going on, but Buffy won’t tell him anything. He offers to contact Graham about helping them figure out what Glory is, but Buffy firmly says no. She thinks it’ll be safer for them the fewer people they get involved. Riley’s annoyed that she seems to be pushing him away. She promises that she wants him to help, but she’s not exactly showing him that.

Tara’s father is waiting for her when she gets home (she and Willoa aren’t in an apartment as I first thought; they have a dorm room in the same dorm Buffy and Willow lived in last season). He thinks she left out all her witchy stuff so he would see it. He snipes that she doesn’t even try to hide it anymore. He’d hoped she’d gotten past “the whole witchcraft thing.”

Tara says that she didn’t know her family was coming. Mr. Maclay thinks she should have. They haven’t heard from her in months, and her birthday is almost here. She knows what that means. Tara starts to say that she doesn’t think it will mean anything. Mr. Maclay reminds her that she’s turning 20, the same age her mother was when she…something. He asks if Tara’s friends know. She says yes, but he can tell she’s lying.

He announces that she’s coming home with her family. “You can’t control what’s going to happen,” he tells her. “You have evil inside of you, and it will come out. And letting yourself work all this magic is only going to make it worse. Where do you think that power comes from?” Tara timidly says that it doesn’t feel evil. “Evil never does,” he replies. He gives her the night to say goodbye; they’re leaving in the morning. He says her family loves her no matter what. Her friends might not feel the same when they see her “true face.”

Glory has chained up the demon in her huge closet full of nice clothes. She’s very unhappy about Buffy’s interference with her plans. The demon IDs Buffy as a Slayer, which makes Glory feel worse. She can’t believe she was bested by someone that common. She tells the demon to gather its friends and kill Buffy.

Willow comes home and tells Tara that Giles has called a Scooby meeting about Glory. Willow wants to try the demon-locating spell they didn’t have luck with last time (because Tara purposely botched it). Tara says her family’s there, so she can’t drop everything to go be a Scooby. Not everything is about them. She backs off and says she’s just tired and has a lot going on. She’ll see Willow in the morning. After Willow leaves, Tara looks up a spell. She sneaks into the Magic Box and performs it without the Scoobies noticing.

Willy’s bar is still in business, though Willy himself isn’t working tonight. Apparently Riley has been coming in a lot. Sandy, who is somehow not dead, joins him at the bar and flirts with him. She invites him to go somewhere private with him, but he says he’s seeing someone. Also, he doesn’t date vampires.

Spike is admiring the head of his Buffy-substitute mannequin when Harmony comes home after a shopping spree. Well, I don’t know if it qualifies as a shopping spree when she stole everything. She ran into another vampire who told her that a demon is recruiting people to help kill Buffy. Spike says he’s happy to hear it. Harmony suggests getting the killers a gift basket if they pull it off. Ha! Spike heads out, saying he wants a front-row seat if they’re successful.

Tara runs into Beth back on campus and tells her she’s not going home with their family. Beth, who’s been very pleasant this whole time, calls her a selfish b^%#$ who doesn’t care about how worried her father has been since she left. Donny and Mr. Maclay have had to take care of themselves (the horror!) while Tara has been in Sunnydale, “living God knows what kind of lifestyle.” Beth is looking forward to the Scoobies finding out the truth about Tara. No matter how innocent she acts, they’ll see the real her. That is, unless Tara did a spell on them. Beth realizes she did and threatens to tell Mr. Maclay.

Tara says she only did a spell so the Scoobies wouldn’t see the demon part of her. She bets Beth not to tell her father. It was a harmless spell. Maybe it was in terms of Tara’s true nature, but it’s blinded the Scoobies to all demons. That means that when a couple of them show up at the Magic Box to kill Buffy, Willow doesn’t see them.

Beth tells Tara that she’s out of control – she’s been lying to her friends for a year, and now she’s done a spell on them. “Is that right? Is that a human thing to do?” she asks. She’s going to tell Mr. Maclay, and she expects that if he doesn’t force Tara to come home with them, he’ll spill everything to the Scoobies. Tara should tell them first, then say goodbye.

Three demons enter the Magic Box and walk around completely unnoticed. Buffy seems to sense them, but she doesn’t get confirmation that they’re there until one growls a little. She starts fighting them and yells for Giles. One of the demons stops Xander from running in to help her, which just confuses Willow, who sees him fighting nothing. They quickly realize they’re dealing with invisible enemies and do the best they can.

Spike arrives, eager to watch Buffy get killed, but it doesn’t take long for him to decide to lend the Scoobies a hand instead. Buffy’s able to get out of the training room and join her friends in the main shop. She tells them to be quiet so she can hear where the demons are. Tara arrives just then and warns her that one is behind her. She realizes that her spell has put the Scoobies in danger, so she quickly ends it.

Tara’s family shows up as Buffy is finishing off the last demon. Spike, who killed one in the training room, comes in and IDs them. Tara apologetically says that she was trying to hide so Willow wouldn’t see what she is. Mr. Maclay announces that the women in the family “have demon in them.” Tara’s mother did. It was the source of her magic. They came to get Tara before this sort of thing started happening.

Giles realizes that Tara did a spell to keep them from seeing demons. The Scoobies aren’t happy about that, but Willow doesn’t want them to write Tara off for doing a spell that went wrong. Mr. Maclay says that Tara isn’t Willow’s concern. She belongs with her family, since they know how to “control her problem.” Willow says that she trusted Tara more than anyone in her life. Was it all a lie? Tara promises it wasn’t.

Willow asks if Tara wants to leave. Mr. Maclay says it’s not her decision. Willow snaps that she knows, then asks Tara again. Tara doesn’t want to go, but Mr. Maclay says it’s what’s right. It should be clear that Tara belongs with her family. Buffy says it is, and if Mr. Maclay wants Tara, he can take her. Tara’s sad to hear that until Buffy adds, “You just gotta go through me.”

Dawn joins her and Mr. Maclay scoffs at the idea of “two little girls” standing in his way. Dawn tells him he doesn’t want to mess with them. Buffy confirms that Dawn fights dirty: “She’s a hair-puller.” Giles stands behind the sisters, saying they’re not the only people the Maclays will have to go through. Xander agrees – the Maclays are dealing with all of them. “‘Cept me,” Spike speaks up. “‘Cept Spike,” Xander confirms. “I don’t care what happens,” Spike says. Mr. Maclay tells the Scoobies that they have no right to get involved here. The Maclays are Tara’s blood kin. Who are the Scoobies? “We’re family,” Buffy says.

Donny threatens to beat his sister if she doesn’t get in the car. Xander threatens him right back. Beth says she hopes the Scoobies will be happy hanging out with a “disgusting demon.” Anya raises her hand to ask what kind of demon Tara is. After all, not all demons are evil; some are “useful members of society.” The Maclays don’t think it matters, since evil is evil. Anya asks them to narrow it down.

Spike decides to lend a hand to answer the question. Literally, he lends a hand by punching Tara in the nose. Willow’s upset on her behalf until she realizes that the action hurt Spike’s head. That means Tara’s human. Spike guesses that the family tells their women that they have demons in them in order to keep them under the men’s control. He’s kind of impressed. Tara’s relieved to realize that she’s not a demon.

Mr. Maclay reminds Tara that her family has cared for her and supported her for her entire life. She just tells him to leave. Beth is angry at her for disturbing the family dynamic, but Tara’s thrilled to be able to live her life the way she wants. It’s the perfect time for a celebration, which the Scoobies have at the Bronze in honor of Tara’s birthday. Even the ones who weren’t excited for the party a couple days ago have a good time.

As Buffy and Riley make up, Tara tries to explain the “insect reflection” joke to Anya. She still doesn’t think it’s funny. Willow comes to get Tara so they can slow dance together. She’s a little bummed that Tara didn’t tell her about her family, but Tara says she was afraid that Willow wouldn’t want to be with her. Instead, Willow’s proud to see how well Tara has come out of what she grew up with. It makes her love Tara more. Tara says that even when she’s at her worst, Willow makes her feel special. How does she do that? Willow smiles and says it’s magic. They embrace as they dance, eventually levitating off the floor.

Thoughts: Beth is played by Amy Adams.

I like the little throwaway moment where Buffy and Xander worry about not fitting in with Tara’s friends, having no idea that she has the same concerns about their group. Everyone feels awkward sometimes! We’re all dorks! Isn’t it great?

In another instance of what I think qualifies as irony, Glory calls Buffy short not long after Buffy says the same thing to Dawn about her friend.

So now we have an answer for why Tara blew the spell in “Goodbye, Iowa” – she thought it would identify her as a demon.

Beth’s criticism of Tara’s use of magic is even more significant if you’ve seen season 6. Tara gets concerned that Willow’s using it too much, and may be thinking of what Beth says here about it not being “a human thing to do.”

March 21, 2023

ER 13.1, Bloodline: Who Had the Worst Day?

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 5:06 pm by Jenn

These two…

Summary: Police are securing the scene at County after Steve and Rafe shot up the ER. Weaver’s in the ambulance bay, looking shaken. She asks an employee who saw the fugitives leave if Sam was with them. He confirms that they dragged a woman out of the hospital. Weaver tells a cop Sam’s name and insists that he find her. Then she instructs Lily to have the ER shut down to incoming traumas and page Luka.

Frank heard about the shootings and came in to lend a hand. He’s a little shaken when he sees Jerry, who’s still being worked on in a trauma room. Aw, they fight a lot but they’re buddies! Weaver assures him that Jerry will be okay. She and Chuny find Timmy, who’s alone and scared. Weaver advises a cop to get a cut on his leg checked out, but he’s just going to bandage himself up and get back to work.

In the getaway van, Rafe and Steve change clothes and complain about how things went wrong. Sam tells Steve that Alex’s insulin level is peaking and he needs to eat something. It sounds like Steve doesn’t know much about his son’s diabetes. Back at County, Weaver checks in on Jerry and his team, who are waiting for the equipment Abby was supposed to get. Weaver says she’ll go find it. Instead, she finds Abby unconscious and bleeding outside the suture room. Then she hears Luka thrashing around and sees what the fugitives did to him.

Pratt and Neela are still at the cemetery, but when they hear about the shootings and what happened to Abby, they head to the hospital. Weaver and Chuny take care of Luka, who’s mostly fine and just wants to be with Abby. She’s awake now but dazed. A quick exam reveals that the baby is okay. It also reveals that it’s a boy. Weaver thinks there could be a problem with the placenta, which means Abby could need a C-section. Abby doesn’t agree, but she tells Weaver to send her to OB for an exam. She asks Luka to stay back and take care of Jerry.

Weaver continues running the ER, letting Pratt and Neela know when they arrive that Jerry’s heading to surgery and Abby’s okay. Neela goes straight to Abby, who insists that there’s nothing to worry about. Neela wants to go to OB with her anyway: “For fun, we can play Who Had the Worst Day?” The fugitives ditch the van for another vehicle in a convenience store parking lot, and Sam convinces Steve to get Alex something to eat. He and Mary stay back with Alex while Rafe goes in with Sam. Steve tells Alex to stand up straight and be a man; he’s not a little kid anymore. Yeah, I guess being kidnapped by your own father makes you grow up pretty fast.

Morris and Ray are having trouble stabilizing Jerry, so Luka takes over. They don’t think he’s well enough to work, so once he’s helped out a little, they make him sit down. Sam wisely keeps her eye on the convenience-store cashier and a security camera, making sure she’s caught on film stealing food. Rafe catches her, too, and averts her plan to get busted by someone who can help her.

Luka talks Morris through Jerry’s tough intubation, which is finally successful. They quickly send him up to surgery with Dubenko, who tells Luka that everyone from his floor is doing what they can to help out the ER doctors. Coburn examines Abby and tells her that while the baby is okay, she’s in preterm labor. She’s at risk for a placental abruption, which means she needs a C-section, just as Weaver guessed. Abby clearly doesn’t what that, but she doesn’t object.

On the way out of the store, Sam asks to use the restroom. This finally gives her a moment away from Rafe, and she writes a note on a paper towel saying she’s been kidnapped. She leaves her hospital badge with it. Again, Rafe catches her and ruins her plans. When she starts to leave, he grabs her by the hair and threatens to hurt Alex if she tries anything clever again.

Abby’s in pain now but doesn’t think she’s having contractions. Her placenta seemingly hasn’t abrupted, either, but Coburn wants to run tests. She knows Abby knows the risks and the steps they need to take in case the baby is born prematurely. Abby refuses to accept that she might deliver two-and-a-half months early. In two weeks, the risks will go way down; she’ll stay on bed rest until then. She wants Coburn to stop thinking about the worst-case scenario. Frustrated, Luka notes that that’s Coburn’s job. Abby finally agrees to the recommended treatment.

Things have calmed down a little in the ER, at least in terms of patients, so Weaver says they can reopen for traumas. Her leadership is definitely what’s gotten everything under control (plus, I assume, everyone’s willingness to work a little harder to make up for the colleagues who are currently unable to do their jobs). The fugitives get stuck at a railroad crossing, and Rafe impatiently drives around the gates. A cop starts following them and eventually pulls them over, so Steve loads his gun and tells everyone to be cool. As the cop is either running their plates or calling for backup, Rafe takes off again.

Jerry’s mother has arrived at County, and Morris tells her about his condition, optimistic about his prognosis. Mrs. Markovic has nothing nice to say about County. She claims that Jerry could have gone to Harvard and then law school. You know, if Harvard hadn’t rejected him four times. She asks how much Jerry’s treatment will cost. Morris is impressively patient with her but flees as soon as he can.

He joins Neela, who’s observing Jerry’s surgery. Dubenko is his typical calm self even through complications. Neela has a hunch about what’s causing a problem with Jerry’s heart, and Dubenko follows through and stabilizes him. He asks Neela to scrub in. I guess Neela’s rough day isn’t so bad anymore.

The fugitives end up in a police chase, and Sam begs Steve to let her and Alex out, since he doesn’t need hostages anymore. Instead, they continue the chase, and the cop ends up in a truly scary crash that’s really impressive by stunt standards. When Sam asks again to be released, Steve yells that she’s not leaving.

Abby and Luka worry about her as they wait to see what happens with the baby. Abby says they’re not ready, but Luka thinks they are. He asks if they can name the baby after his father, Mongo. Abby tries to stay diplomatic, but Luka admits that he’s kidding. His father’s name is actually Josef. Abby suddenly doubles over in pain and says she thinks her water broke. She’s actually bleeding again, and the baby’s heart rate starts dropping. Coburn guesses it’s an abruption, so Abby needs to go to the OR.

The fugitives stop at a junkyard and fight about what they should do next. Alex asks Sam if Steve is going to hurt them. She promises him that everything will be okay. When the fugitives go into some old building, Sam and Alex start searching their things for weapons or car keys. Sam promises that she won’t let anyone hurt Alex. They hear gunshots from the building and rush back to the car. Steve emerges and just asks if they’re hungry. I think it’s safe to say that Rafe and Mary are no longer part of this.

Pratt checks on Frank, who says that he always believed that nothing ever really changes – there’s always war and there are always bad guys. Today, he feels like the world is getting worse. Pratt disagrees. Today was a just a rough one for them. As Neela scrubs in to help Dubenko, Abby anxiously awaits her C-section. Morris and Pratt watch together as Neela joins Dubenko. Luka monitors Abby’s blood loss as Coburn does the C-section. The baby isn’t in great shape, and Abby and Luka wait to hear him cry as Neela and Dubenko wrap up Jerry’s surgery.

The baby isn’t breathing, and the NICU doctors need to move him out of Abby’s OR. Abby’s bleeding and isn’t clotting, making her worry that she’s going to bleed out. She tells Luka to go to the NICU with the baby, yelling at him when he says he wants to stay with her. She doesn’t want the baby to be alone. Luka reluctantly leaves as Coburn tries to stop Abby’s bleeding.

After Alex falls asleep in the backseat of the getaway vehicle, Steve sits with Sam and talks about the stars as if this is just a normal family road trip. She tells him that she was going to ask him what happened to turn him into this person, but she thinks he was always on this path. Steve says he loves Alex, no matter what Sam thinks. Sam’s like, “Yeah, you really did a great job showing that today.”

Steve says that Sam is right to be mad. It’s his fault that their family split up. Now the three of them need to stay together. He’d rather all of them die than be separated again. He starts kissing Sam, telling her he doesn’t want her to be afraid of him. She doesn’t need to be. He lowers her to the ground and starts removing her clothes. She’s too tired to fight, and Alex is asleep just a few yards away, so she stays quiet and still while Steve rapes her.

Coburn has tried multiple ways to stop Abby’s bleeding but nothing has been successful. Her last option is a hysterectomy. Weaver goes to the NICU to let Luka know that Jerry’s in recovery. Unfortunately, there’s no news on Sam. Weaver can empathize with Luka, since Henry spent some time in the NICU. She tries to keep him optimistic. Luka’s exhausted and overwhelmed, and he can barely keep his emotions inside. Weaver tells him to go be with Abby, implying that she’ll stay with the baby so he won’t be alone.

Neela, Pratt, and Morris tell Jerry how they saved him. Mrs. Markovic comes in and complains about how she’s had to sit in the waiting room for hours and missed water aerobics. She’s annoying, yes, but she was also clearly scared, and she’s relieved that Jerry’s going to be okay. Morris tries to get in good with her with some Yiddish, since she’s a stereotypical Jewish mom, but she’s not impressed.

Luka goes back to Abby, who’s relieved to hear that other than being premature, the baby is doing pretty well. She asks if one child will be enough for Luka. She wound up having to have a hysterectomy. Luka assures her that one is all they need. Abby’s disappointed not to be able to go to the NICU for at least 24 hours, but Luka has connected some sort of monitoring system to his phone, and they’re able to watch the baby like he’s on a video monitor. Abby wants to name him Joe. She doesn’t remember much about her father, but he liked Joe Frazier because he was a “pure fighter.”

Luka goes to the restroom to wash up a little. He breaks down, finally allowing himself to cry. He’s already lost a wife and two children, and he almost lost his partner and his third child today, but he knows he needs to stay strong. He picks up a trash can and throws it at a mirror.

Steve falls asleep after he’s done with Sam, and she finally gets her moment to run away. Alex is already in the getaway car, so she just has to get the keys and drive. She pauses instead and goes back to Steve, taking his gun. She aims it at him, checking to make sure he’s still asleep, then fires it three times.

Thoughts: Mrs. Markovic is played by the late Estelle Harris.

Frank’s concern over Jerry in no way makes up for his general horribleness, but it’s very sweet. It’s nice to see how much everyone likes Jerry.

I hate how TV shows always fall back on pregnant women having to have emergency hysterectomies. Leave women alone!

March 18, 2023

Buffy 5.5, No Place Like Home: Pull the Curtain Back

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:08 pm by Jenn

Glory may hate a lot of things about the world, but she certainly doesn’t hate fashion

Summary: Two months ago: Some monks are running around a very old church, racing to do a ritual to protect something they call a key. As they’re chanting, someone or something pounds on a door, trying to break it down. Just as they finish their ritual, the door is busted down.

Now: Buffy’s fighting a vampire outside an abandoned factory. After she slays him, she runs into a security guard who tells her that if she’s looking for a rave, she’s in the wrong place. He finds a glowing orb on the ground and thinks it belongs to her. It didn’t before, but it does now.

The next morning, Buffy makes breakfast for Joyce, wanting to keep taking care of her after her health scare. Dawn takes credit for the gesture. Joyce is still having headaches, even though the doctors told her they would go away. She’ll have to go back for more tests. Buffy is eager to figure out what’s going on, but Joyce doesn’t seem worried. She thinks her daughters should relax and let her be the mom.

Joyce brings back one of Dawn’s old nicknames, “my little pumpkin belly,” and Buffy asks if she ever got any weird nicknames. “I got some names for ya,” Dawn says. Heh. Joyce sends Buffy to the Magic Box for Giles’ grand reopening. She and Dawn will be having a meeting of their book club tonight. Buffy tries but fails to hide her jealousy that her sister and mother have such a close relationship.

The sisters head to the Magic Box, where Giles has dressed up as a wizard for the grand reopening. Buffy doesn’t approve. The place looks great but no customers have come in. He thinks business will eventually be good, though. Buffy tells him that Joyce is still sick and the doctors haven’t figured anything out. Giles is optimistic about that, too.

Willow and Riley come in next, and Buffy shows them the glowing orb. Giles think it’s paranormal based solely on its shininess. Riley offers to go patrolling with Buffy that night, but Dawn blurts out that Buffy said it would be easier if she didn’t have to look out for him. Dawn can relate, since Buffy never lets her go on patrol, either.

As Buffy’s about to leave with Dawn, Willow asks her to go easy on her sister. Buffy complains that Dawn is even more annoying than usual. Buffy has to be the adult and take care of both Dawn and Joyce instead of being her mother’s little pumpkin belly. Willow reminds her that Dawn is the youngest and the baby; maybe Joyce needs that right now. Buffy admits that she wishes she were an only child.

The sisters go home and find Joyce lying down with another headache. Buffy immediately wants to take her back to the doctor. Joyce asks her to fill a prescription instead. Buffy does, and as she’s leaving the hospital with it, she runs into Ben, Joyce’s doctor. He’s with a patient who’s agitated and doesn’t seem mentally stable. Buffy uses her Slayer strength to help restrain him. Ben jokes that her strength must come from a radioactive spider bite.

The patient grabs the hand Buffy’s holding Joyce’s pills in and says that they won’t make any difference. Buffy recognizes him as the security guard who found her outside the factory. She tells Ben that he’s not crazy, despite how he’s acting right now. “They’re coming at you,” the guard warns her. “Don’t think you’re above it, missy. They come through the family. They get to your family.” She’d like more information on that, but Ben sends him off for treatment. Buffy tells him that Joyce will be better soon – she’s starting to figure out what’s wrong.

In the factory where Buffy fought the vampire, one of the monks from the opening is looking at a map. Someone or something pounds on the door, and the monk calls it the beast. This beast is more of a beauty, though – when the door comes down, a blond woman in a red dress walks through. She’s happy to have found the monk, as she’s been looking all over for him.

Giles makes his first sale at the Magic Box and adorably expresses his excitement to Willow. There are other customers looking around, so chances are that won’t be the only sale of the day. Well, if Anya keeps her mouth shut – when she comes in, she announces that Giles’ conjuring powder is really overpriced. She apologizes, saying she’s bitter because she’s running out of money. (As a vengeance demon, she never had to buy things, so she’s not used to budgeting.) She tells Giles he’s getting ripped off and she can connect him with the troll who sheds the powder.

Buffy comes in to tell Giles that she thinks she knows why Joyce is sick. It’s supernatural. The guard who found the glowing orb went crazy overnight. Giles, Anya, and Willow all hilariously back away from it at the same time. Buffy doesn’t think it’ll hurt them, though, since she had it with her all night and is fine. She thinks the guard can see things that no one else can. Someone’s hurting Joyce to get to Buffy. Giles isn’t sure they should go off of what a crazy guy said, but Buffy figures it’s a good place to start.

The blond woman, who we’ll later learn is named Glory, has tied up the monk at the factory. She doesn’t want to be there – “there” as in “the whole mortal coil” – and everything disgusts her. She thinks the monk has been selfish. She just wants the key, and all he has to do is tell her where it is. Glory is going a little crazy trying to get answers. Instead of telling her anything, the monk invites her to kill him.

Glory wishes that the monk could feel what she’s feeling right now. She’s captured another guard, and he thinks she’s on drugs. He asks to be spared because he has a wife and two kids. Glory ignores him and begs the monk again to tell her where the key is. She feels like he’s torturing her. She starts ranting, as if she’s crazier than the guard at the hospital. Then she sticks her fingers in this guard’s head until she feels better.

Willow and Anya are helping Giles at the Magic Box, which is now full of customers. When Xander comes in, Giles whimpers that there are too many people and they all want stuff. “I hear ya. Stay British,” Xander replies. He goes to the cash register, where Anya needs some work on her customer-relations skills, as she sends someone off after a sale with, “Please go.” When Xander advises her to say, “Have a nice day” instead, she doesn’t get why: “I have their money. Who cares what kind of day they have?” He tells her it’s “a long cultural tradition of raging insincerity. Embrace it.”

As Willow struggles to wrap something pretty unwrappable, Buffy tells Xander that someone put a spell on Joyce to make her sick. She hasn’t made any progress figuring out who it was. Anya and Giles know of a French sorcerer who could do a spell that translates to “pull the curtain back.” It was basically a trance that let people see spells. Spells leave traces, so this “pull the curtain back” spell could let Buffy see what’s affecting Joyce. Willow and Giles don’t think Buffy could handle what it requires, but she says she’ll do whatever it takes.

She enlists Riley to help her, which gives him something to do while he’s not allowed to patrol. He claims he’s fine being normal again. He suggests that instead of Buffy taking care of him, they can take care of each other. Then he ditches her to do the trance on her own. Okay, that seems like a bad idea. Never go hiking alone, and never go into a magical trance alone, especially when you’ve never done it before.

Buffy can’t get the trance started because Dawn won’t leave her alone. She guesses that Buffy’s doing magic and begs to be allowed to watch. When she gets rejected, she threatens to tell Joyce. Oh, is there a rule about magic not being allowed in the house? Doubtful. Buffy finally gets rid of Dawn, and after a while, she gets her trance going. She goes looking for spell traces in the house but doesn’t see anything.

There’s nothing around Joyce, either. In fact, Joyce is feeling a lot better. But while Buffy’s talking to her, she notices something strange about a photo behind her: It’s of Joyce, Dawn, and Buffy, but Dawn keeps flickering in and out. The same thing happens in another photo of the three of them. Buffy goes to Dawn’s room, seeing it both as her sister’s bedroom and as a room for Joyce’s art storage. When Dawn finds her there, she flickers in and out as well. “You’re not my sister,” Buffy says.

As the trance ends, Buffy grabs Dawn and demands to know what she is. She orders Dawn to stay away from Joyce. Giles calls to tell Buffy that the Scoobies have finally discovered something about the orb. It’s called a Dagon Sphere, and it’s a protective device used to ward off ancient evil. There’s no info on what that evil looks like, and accounts are pretty vague. The Dagon Sphere was made to “repel that which cannot be named.”

Buffy decides to go back to the factory. Giles warns her to be very careful – anything that isn’t named is usually the subject of worship or fear, sometimes both. He asks about the trance and Buffy starts to tell him about Dawn. But Dawn’s in the room, so she says that the trance didn’t work. Buffy heads out on Slayer business (I guess Dawn’s allowed to stay home alone now), saying she’ll be home before Joyce gets back.

On her way out, Buffy senses someone around and yanks Spike out of the shadows. She punches him and demands to know what he’s doing there in five words or less. “Out for a walk,” he replies, counting his words. When he realizes he has one left, he adds, “B&^$%.” Buffy calls him William and says she doesn’t have time for him. He claims he’s just passing by on his way somewhere else. Also, he never really liked her, and she has stupid hair. Ohhh, someone’s still feeling the effects of his make-out dream! Dawn watches from a window as Buffy sees a bunch of cigarette butts on the ground, indicting that Spike was there for a while.

Buffy returns to the factory and sees the door Glory broke down. Joyce gets home, where Dawn greets her with some tea. She says Joyce doesn’t need to worry about Buffy. Buffy finds the monk and guesses that he’s the one who planted the Dagon Sphere. Glory sneaks up on her, but Buffy can sense her coming. She thinks she’s pretty capable of defeating Glory, but when Glory throws her into a wall and breaks it, Buffy realizes she’ll need to reconsider that.

The workday is done and the Scoobies are exhausted from serving customers all day. Well, except for Anya, who’s invigorated and has lots of ideas for how Giles can make even more money. He offers her a job and she happily accepts. Glory keeps throwing Buffy around at the factory, planning to beat her to death, even though it’s going to take up a lot of her precious time. She wonders if ripping Buffy in half will give her two Buffys.

Buffy fights back and Glory objects. She realizes that Buffy has superpowers and wonders if she can fly. If sliding across the floor after being thrown counts as flying, then yes. Buffy gets that she’s not going to win this one, so she grabs the monk and jumps out a window with him. Glory’s less upset about that than she is about one of her shoes breaking. She stomps on the ground, which shakes the building so much that it collapses.

Outside, the monk thinks he’s dying, so he tells Buffy that she needs to protect the key. If she doesn’t, a lot of people will die. He explains that the key is energy – a portal. Like a typical key, it opens a door. Buffy thinks he means the Dagon Sphere. The monk says that the key had no form for centuries. The monks protected it until “the abomination” found them and they had to hide it. They made it human and sent it to Buffy. Buffy realizes that Dawn is the key.

She’s upset that the monks put something in her house and messed with her and Joyce’s memories. She demands that he reverse everything. The monk tells her she can’t get out of this. Buffy asks what Dawn is, exactly. The monk says she’s human now. She’s helpless and is an innocent. Buffy needs to protect her. She may know that Dawn isn’t her sister, but Dawn is clueless about that. The monk dies, leaving Buffy with a million unanswered questions

She goes home and finds Joyce and Dawn cuddling on the couch. Dawn leaves the room, anticipating that Buffy will accuse her of bothering Joyce. Buffy tells Joyce they’re just dealing with “sister stuff.” She apologizes to Dawn for their fight, and Dawn shares her theory that Buffy isn’t really her sister – Joyce adopted her from a shoebox full of howler monkeys. Buffy complains that Dawn can’t take an apology. She’s never been able to. Dawn’s still a little mad, but she’s also scared for Joyce. Buffy has to admit that she doesn’t know what’s wrong with their mother.

Thoughts: I wonder if the first part of the season would have been better if we hadn’t been told right away that Dawn was the key. They could have let us be detectives for a little while.

“No Place Like Home” seems like a weak title until you realize that it and “pull the curtain back” are both Wizard of Oz references. Oh, and Giles dressed up as a wizard! It’s like a whole theme!

Speaking of which, here’s the Buffy/Wizard Giles scene, which is too good not to share.

Dawn, knocking on Buffy’s door: “What are you doing?” Buffy: “My boyfriend.” Ha!

March 14, 2023

ER 12.22, 21 Guns: A Bad Day to Die

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 5:05 pm by Jenn

These are their “everything is completely fine” faces

Summary: Pratt is heading off to a graveside service for Gallant, which only he, Gallant’s parents, and Neela will be attending. There will be another memorial later that the County staff can go to. They tell Pratt to give Neela their good thoughts. Haleh introduces Weaver and Sam to a woman named Mary who’s an EMT trainee and is going to spend the day shadowing in the ER. Then she drops Mary in Sam’s lap.

Ray asks Pratt how Neela’s doing, since she hasn’t returned his calls. Pratt says she’s better than expected, but she probably needs some space from her ex-roommate. He might complicate things. They learn that Neela’s skipping the funeral, having said that she’s not up to it. So I guess she’s not doing as well as Pratt has led on.

Abby wakes up to the sounds of Luka talking to himself in Croatian while trying to put together a crib. He’s had insomnia because of Gallant’s death and the mess with Clemente, and he’s using his extra waking hours to prepare the nursery. He talks to the baby in Croatian, and Abby tells him how much she appreciates all he’s doing. Also, maybe they should talk about where their relationship stands. “You’re right – let’s get married,” Luka says.

Weaver meets with Anspaugh before they go before a committee to discuss the Clemente situation. A patient who had a toe amputated after being treated by Clemente is going to sue. Weaver says that Clemente was cleared by the Impaired Physicians Committee and never tested positive for drugs on the job. She doesn’t believe he ever compromised patient care. Anspaugh doesn’t think that matters. Clemente’s on a list of bad doctors posted by the state board. Weaver should have checked it.

The board is upset with Weaver’s hiring practices, but she argues that she hired the best attending she could find. Anspaugh notes that she knew Clemente’s history, including the unspecified Newark incident we keep hearing about. Weaver says that was complicated, and it wasn’t clear what really happened. Anspaugh chastises her for not keeping a better eye on Clemente. She notes that she’s not in the ER much anymore; she doesn’t know what goes on down there. That’s another problem: The board isn’t sure that Luka is capable of running the ER. Weaver thinks that’s ridiculous; he’s doing well enough with what he has.

Luka’s a little cool toward Abby as they work on a patient together, so it’s not surprising to learn that she didn’t answer his sort-of proposal the way he’d hoped she would. It’s not that she doesn’t love him or want to be with him – she doesn’t think they should get married just because they’re having a baby. Plus, their lives are about to change completely, and she’d like to get through becoming a parent before she adds another major change.

Weaver calls Luka away to tell him that she’ll be out of the ER for a while for a meeting about Clemente. She makes it seem like Luka’s to blame for Clemente getting out of control, since he saw all the warning signs but didn’t fire Clemente. Luka worries that he’s going to get fired next. Weaver says that if she weren’t chief of staff, Luka might not be in charge of the ER.

Pratt goes to Neela’s place to try to talk her into going to the funeral. She’s not ready to say goodbye, since she thinks that means she’s going to forget Gallant. She’s already started to. She’s obsessed with trying to figure out why Gallant went back to Iraq. Pratt says he did what he felt was right. He wanted to be part of something bigger than himself. Pratt gets that now that he’s been to Darfur. Sometimes trying to make a difference means taking risks. He assures Neela that no one wants to forget Gallant. The funeral is part of that.

This is Morris’ last day at County, since he’s taken that pharmaceutical job, so he’s making a video of all his colleagues saying nice things about him. Abby reluctantly participates, saying she feels like a hostage, since he told her what to say. A kid named Timmy comes in with a stomachache, and Morris punishes Abby by assigning her to his case. Abby has to tend to an elderly man named Mitch first, so Jerry hangs out with Timmy.

Two of Mitch’s friends tell Abby that when he didn’t show up for a trip with their church group, they started praying. They had visions that led them to Mitch, who was half a mile from the church. Sam is next for Morris’ video, which she thinks is for his parents. She tells him to go see a patient who needs a rectal exam, but Morris refuses. He’s not treating any patients today who are old, young, or need rectal exams. Only hot women for Morris!

Mary’s not a very fast learner, so Sam takes her for more observation. She tries to get information on Mitch out of his friends, but they don’t know much about his condition or medications. Ray examines Timmy as Jerry chats with him about the school play he was in. Timmy wanted to play a bunny but got stuck as a strawberry instead. Jerry feels his pain – he wanted to be the Cowardly Lion in a production of The Wizard of Oz, but he was cast as a Munchkin instead. (Clearly this was before Jerry got really tall.)

Paramedics bring in a prison inmate named Rafe who was injured in a fight. His sparring partner was Steve, and the fight ripped open his stitches from his appendectomy. Sam hears him yelling in the hallway. Luka has no patience for Mary’s lack of medical skills or what he sees as Sam’s failure to properly train her. Mary may be the one woman in history to not be attracted to Luka.

Pratt and Neela ride to the funeral with the casualty officer who told Neela about Gallant’s death. He lets them know that Gallant’s parents requested a military honor for the service. Neela clearly just wants everything to be over. Once Mitch is stable, Abby tells his friends that it looks like he took too many pills by accident. One of the women says she can feel something bad there. She asks if everything’s okay with Abby’s baby. Abby says things are fine, but she doesn’t seem confident. The women hope that she believes in God, because they couldn’t have brought children into the world without faith in a higher power.

Sam apologizes to Luka for being a little off her game in the ER. Mary’s dragging her down. Mary tells Sam that Luka needs to lighten up a little. Sam just says that it’s his department. She obviously wants to check on Steve, whom Ray says is going to be fine. He won’t make her treat her ex. They go tend to Rafe, who’s having breathing problems and needs to be intubated. Sam tells Mary that they’re using something called vec (vecuronium), which will sedate him for the procedure. Ray decides that he doesn’t need intubation yet.

A prison guard asks how long Rafe will be there. Rafe snaps at him and the guard taunts him. Sam tells the guard that as long as inmates are at County, they’re patients, not prisoners. Rafe appreciates her compassion. At the cemetery, Neela numbly sits through the funeral. Everyone flinches at the 21-gun salute. Neela remembers her last in-person fight with Gallant, when she tried to talk him out of not going back to Iraq. She also remembers the first time they expressed interest in each other and how happy she was to see him when he got back to Chicago.

Rafe will have to spend the night at County, but his injuries aren’t too serious. He tells Sam that Steve started the fight and is “a wrong number.” Sam should stay away from him. She leaves Mary to keep an eye on Rafe while she goes to see Steve in the suture room. Her back is turned to the window into the trauma room next door, but Steve has an eye on it. He watches as Mary suddenly puts a cloth over Rafe’s guard’s mouth, then uncuffs Rafe. She comes into the suture room with a gun. As Rafe drags his unconscious guard into the room, Mary orders Sam to close the blinds.

Morris gets a patient to say a bunch of nice things about him. I don’t think she knows English well enough to get what she’s saying. Morris, this is really sad. Jerry and Timmy play a computer game at the admit desk as Luka reviews a chart and sees that Mary screwed up some vitals again. Ray tells him that Steve is back after a jail brawl.

Rafe puts on a guard’s jacket and tells Sam that she’s going to wheel Steve out like he’s going back to prison. Sam warns Steve that once he crosses this line, he won’t be able to cross back over. He tells her that he’s been busted for a bunch of stuff and will be in prison for a long time. She yells that that’s what he deserves. Rafe breaks up the argument and tells Sam that if there’s anything they haven’t anticipated, she needs to mention it now.

Luka’s on his way to check on Rafe, who he sees isn’t in his trauma room. He goes next door to the suture room, and Mary moves the blinds away a little to say she needs a second. Sam shakes her head, trying to tell Rafe not to get him involved. But Mary opens the door and suddenly Luka is in the middle of the prison break. He tries to overpower Steve, and Sam yells for Rafe not to shoot him. Instead, Mary injects Luka with a syringe full of vec. Steve beats him up and knocks him out.

Sam checks on Luka, telling Mary that the vec paralyzed his muscles and made him stop breathing. She uses a bag to give him oxygen and begs Rafe and Steve to let her intubate him. If she doesn’t, he’ll die. Steve doesn’t want a murder on his hands, so he sends Mary (who is clearly Rafe’s girlfriend) to get their getaway van while Sam takes care of Luka. Mary runs into Abby, who’s looking for an ultrasound machine. Mary keeps her out of the suture room, telling her that Luka went somewhere else. Abby starts to open the door, her eyes still on Mary, and Rafe points his gun at her. She figures out where Luka went and cluelessly walks away.

At the funeral reception, Colonel Gallant tells Pratt and the casualty officer how Sitting Bull told his warriors, “This is a good day to die.” That’s how soldiers should think, and it’s how Colonel Gallant raised his son to think. Neela gives him Gallant’s medals, since to her, they only mean that her husband is dead. Colonel Gallant comments that this is a hard time for all of them. Neela is furious that he seems to think Gallant had a noble death. He could have convinced his son to stay in the U.S. Instead, he made Gallant want to go back. It would have been easier to convince him to stay for a better reason: Because they loved him.

Sam shakily tries to intubate Luka, apologizing to him, since he can hear and feel what’s going on. She asks Steve why he got her involved in this. Steve says this was all Rafe’s idea. Rafe’s eager to leave, and he’ll go with or without Steve. Sam asks for one last try, enlisting Steve to help her with the intubation. She’s successful, and she refuses to leave with the guys until she’s sure Luka’s stable. She’s relieved to see him open his eyes.

Rafe turns out the lights, leaving Luka alone in the dark as he, Steve, and Sam leave together. Morris and a couple of cops stop them to ask Sam about Mitch, who’s been declared a missing person. She tells them to check in sutures. Morris doesn’t catch on (no surprise there), and he doesn’t recognize that the guard with Sam and Steve is actually Rafe.

Steve wants to take a different exit, since there are cops around now, but they’re close to the front door, so Rafe insists that they keep going. Jerry asks Sam for paperwork, which she claims is in sutures. As she walks by the admit desk, she turns around and pulls a Donna, calling Abby “Abigail” to let her know that something’s wrong. Abby immediately catches on.

The cops who were with Morris ask Rafe to come back. He, Steve, and Sam make it out the first set of doors and into the waiting area. It’s quiet in there, except for the noise of the coin a girl has just put in a vending machine. Steve gets up from his wheelchair, and he and Rafe start shooting into the ER. Jerry shields Timmy while Abby dives for cover, falling over a cart full of charts. The cops fire back, but they’re not very good shots, which is actually a good thing, because Steve has Sam pressed up against him.

As the guys reload, two more cops step off an elevator. Rafe shoots them and the guys run out to the ambulance bay. Mary is just pulling up in their getaway van, and Sam struggles against Steve when he tries to get her inside. She tells him to stop shooting and go. He should think about Alex. “I already did,” Steve replies. He opens the door to reveal that Alex is in the back of the van with duct tape on his mouth and wrists. As soon as Sam registers what’s happening, she jumps in the van. Cops make it outside and shoot at the getaway van, which makes a clean escape.

Abby’s ears are ringing as she gets up. Police start taking care of the crime part of the shooting while Zadro calls out for people to indicate if they need medical attention. Haleh checks on Abby, who has a cut on her head but seems fine otherwise. As the staff assesses the scene, Abby discovers that Jerry was shot. He would not recommend the experience. But he saved Timmy, so at least he got to be a hero.

Mary speeds down the highway as the escapees try to figure out what to do next. Steve says that he prayed for God to make him a better man, and after a while, God finally started talking back. He told Steve that losing Sam was where his life fell apart, so he could fix everything by getting her back. I assume God wasn’t the one who came up with the escape plan or the idea to kidnap Alex.

Abby, Morris, and Haleh work on Jerry, though Abby has trouble with a procedure and Morris hands it off to Ray. Abby says she’s a little dizzy from hitting her head, but she can still work. She asks Ray if Luka took a patient to the OR. Ray says he hasn’t seen Luka. He’s tied to a gurney in the suture room, and though he manages to thrash around enough to move it across the room, he can’t accomplish much on his back, with a tube down his throat.

Pratt and Neela have gone back to the grave site. She asks if this is something she’ll never get over. He thinks it’ll make it stronger, and she’ll move on with her life, because that’s all she can do and it’s what Gallant would want. He keeps getting calls from the hospital and says he thinks something’s happening over there.

Jerry’s declining, and Morris tells him they would really appreciate if he would crack a joke right now. He thinks Jerry’s bleeding somewhere they haven’t noticed yet. Weaver comes in and is shocked to see Jerry injured. Morris keeps insisting that he’s bleeding internally. The team finally figures out that it’s his chest, so Abby goes to get some kind of machinery.

She ends up in the trauma room where Rafe was treated, and Luka can see her through the window in the suture room. He watches as she doubles over in pain, then looks down to see blood on her hand from between her legs. She puts her hand on the window between them, then slides down the wall, passing out. Luka thrashes desperately on the gurney, unable to do anything as Abby bleeds out just a few feet away.

Thoughts: Linda Cardellini (Sam) and Parminder Nagra (Neela) are both really good in this episode. Then again, I’ve never seen them in anything where they weren’t really good.

It’s so completely (and frustratingly) in character for Weaver to try to pin the Clemente stuff on Luka when she’s the one who hired him, and Luka handled things the best he could. Bad Kerry! Bad!

Obviously I would never encourage anyone to do what Steve, Rafe, and Mary do here, but using Mary as a kind of inside woman is pretty brilliant.

That’s it for season 12. Up next: Forest Whitaker and more John Stamos.

March 11, 2023

Buffy 5.4, Out of My Mind: Power Surge

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 1:03 pm by Jenn

Spike’s insurance provider is I Punch You in the Face and You Do What I Tell You

Summary: Buffy’s in a cemetery, watching for vampires from the top of a mausoleum. She takes off running, stops, then bends down to stake a vampire just as he’s coming out of his grave. Another vampire rises and she fights with him until Riley runs in and takes him down. He thought she was in another section of the cemetery and just wanted to help.

Another vampire emerges from a grave, and this time Spike jumps into the action. Buffy wonders why she even patrols anymore. She shoves Spike out of the way just as a fourth vampire starts to attack him. She tells him to stop getting in her way, and Riley backs her up. Spike notices that Buffy doesn’t seem excited to have Riley there, either.

Buffy and Riley leave together, and she tries to get through to him that she doesn’t like it when he patrols alone. He just doesn’t appreciate being left out. He wants to do more slaying, but it doesn’t look like there’s anything left to slay (other than Spike). As they head out, Spike vows to kill Buffy. Then he falls into an open grave. Womp womp.

The next day, I guess, Buffy and Willow have a debate about the French revolution. Willow’s thrilled that they’re having a school-related conversation, something she’s wanted with her best friend forever. Buffy’s trying harder in school, but she’s also doing more training and studying with Giles. She expected a movie-like montage, but instead she’s just working a lot and getting headaches.

Giles is also working hard, trying to spiff up the Magic Box with help from Xander, Anya, and Tara. Willow’s excited to get her witch supplies there. Tara thinks they should have a psychic read fortunes in the shop. Willow suggests that Tara do it, though Tara doesn’t think she’s good enough. Willow offers up her hand for some palm-reading, and the two of them flirt a little. Buffy, Giles, and Xander head into the new training area, where Riley tackles Buffy. She loves the room, which includes a punching bag, a pommel horse, and a dummy/scarecrow.

That night, Spike is watching Dawson’s Creek in his crypt when Harmony shows up. She thinks Buffy’s looking for her on patrol. Harmony had to go on the lam, since she’s Buffy’s new arch-nemesis. She begs to hide out with Spike, who’s clearly willing to take her in if it means their clothes will come off. She has no problem with that.

She steals one of his cigarettes, having taken up smoking since that’s what villains do and she sees herself as a villain now. Spike tells her that Buffy will hunt her down until she’s dead. Harmony should kill her first. “I tried! It was all hard and stuff!” Harmony whines. She thinks Spike should do it instead. He’d love to, but he can’t while he has the chip in his head. Harmony gives in and says she’ll do it, as long as Spike helps “with the thinking.” Elsewhere, Buffy has followed patrolling with sex, and Riley’s eager for another round.

Dawn nabs the prize from a cereal box the next morning, then requests eggs for breakfast. As Joyce is serving them, she suddenly stops in her tracks and asks, “Who are you?” before collapsing. Dawn quickly calls 911, and Buffy and Riley meet her at the hospital. Joyce’s doctor, Ben, tells them that Joyce is doing better, but they’re not sure why she collapsed. Dawn plays with his stethoscope, which lets her hear that Buffy and Ben’s heart rates are normal, but Riley’s is super-fast.

Riley gets examined but doesn’t listen to his doctor’s recommendation that he stay for observation. Buffy remains quiet, knowing she won’t be able to talk him out of leaving against medical advice. He thinks his heart just works differently now, after all the stuff the Initiative did to him. Joyce is also leaving, after undergoing a bunch of tests.

Buffy, Dawn, and Willow tend to her when she gets home, then discuss Riley’s situation. Buffy wants to do something, but she’s not sure what. Dawn just offers up facts about the CIA and Fidel Castro. Shh, Dawn. Willow suggests that Buffy call the Initiative – if they know what’s wrong with Riley, they’ll have to help.

Buffy notes that all traces of the group have been erased, so she doesn’t know how to reach them. She’s annoyed that, like Big Brother, the government can spy on you all the time, then ignore you when you actually have something to say. “Sounds more like big sister,” Dawn grumbles. She thinks that if the government really is spying on Buffy, all she has to do is say something they can hear. Riley isn’t at his place (wherever that is now) when Buffy goes looking for him there, so she picks up the phone and says, “Riley’s in trouble. He needs help.”

He doesn’t need help on the basketball court, though, as he’s single-handedly beating everyone he’s playing in a pickup game. Graham shows up with a couple of agents and tells him he needs medical treatment immediately. Riley has no interest in going anywhere the government can take advantage of him again.

Graham, who’s still working for them, promises that he wouldn’t let anything happen to his friend, but Riley can’t trust the orders Graham is following. Graham acknowledges that Walsh messed with them, Riley the worst. He needs to get fixed up ASAP, and Graham won’t give him a choice. Riley seems like he’s going to give in, but instead, he punches Graham out. He fights off the other agents and takes off.

Buffy’s understandably upset when she meets up with Graham to discuss Riley. He tells her that Riley has “hyper-adrenal overload,” which makes him stronger than he should be. His heart won’t be able to take it much longer. There’s a specialist waiting at the hospital. Buffy promises to get Riley there, threatening to beat Graham up if he tells her to hurry.

The Scoobies gather at the Magic Box to discuss how Riley’s gone AWOL. Xander thinks he just needs time alone. He had a friend once who liked a girl and was worried that she didn’t like him back, so it made him act like a jerk. Confused, Willow asks what he’s talking about. Xander replies that maybe Riley just wants attention. Anya assures him that she cares about him, and he shouldn’t be insecure. She has a friend who likes his friend, and…okay, that’s not important right now.

Buffy sends the Scoobies off to search places where Riley might be hanging out. Willow suggests the school ruins, since he stayed there for a while and might find them “homey.” That makes Buffy think that he went back to the Initiative’s caves. She just doesn’t know them well enough to search them. “We do have an associate who knows those caves like the back of his melanin-deprived hand,” Giles notes. Buffy doesn’t want to deal with Spike right now; he’s been making her want to kill him even more than usual. She’s sure he’s up to something nasty, hanging out in his crypt all day.

Not right now, he’s not – he and Harmony are playing 20 Questions. The thing she’s thinking of isn’t bigger or smaller than a breadbox; it’s an actual breadbox. She hides when they hear banging on the door just before Buffy bursts in. She offers him money to find Riley and take him to the hospital. “Oh, dear, is the enormous hall monitor sick?” Spike snarks. Buffy slaps him and tells him Riley isn’t the only person who can die. Spike asks for half his money up front, so Buffy rips the bills in half and throws them at him. After she leaves, Harmony emerges from her hiding place and asks what Buffy said about her.

Graham checks in with the doctor, Overheiser, who warns that it might already be too late for Riley. Spike and Harmony come in, knock out Graham, and tell Overheiser that he has a new patient. They take him to an operating room at UC Sunnydale’s med school and order him to remove the chip from Spike’s head. Overheiser says he can’t. It’s deeply embedded and removing it could cause permanent damage. Spike thinks that the crossbow Harmony is pointing at Overheiser is enough motivation for him to operate successfully.

Willow and Tara check out the school ruins, which are dark. Willow does a lighting spell she tweaked to be brighter. Buffy’s in the caves, where she finds Riley punching a wall. His hand is bleeding but he doesn’t feel any pain. She insists on taking him to Overheiser, but Riley doesn’t want treatment from a government doctor when the government made him the way he is. Buffy says that Overheiser is the only one who understands what’s wrong with him. Riley, however, doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with him. He’s more powerful than most people could even dream of being.

Buffy tells him that his body isn’t equipped to handle the stress this new power is putting on it. He thinks he can handle it, and he tells her to back off. She doesn’t understand why he’s acting the way he is. Riley admits that he’s afraid of going back to being normal. He doesn’t think he’d be enough for her. After all, her last boyfriend wasn’t a “civilian.”

Buffy is frustrated that Riley’s willing to endanger his life because he’s feeling competitive about Angel. Riley says it’s about them – Buffy’s getting stronger and more powerful every day, which puts her further and further from his reach. She tells him she’s not the one running away. She can’t believe that he thinks she’ll dump him because he’s “not in the super-club.” He says it’s human nature.

She tells him that no one has ever known her the way he does. He must not think much of her if he believes she’s only with him because he’s strong. If Buffy wanted someone with super-powers, she’d date Spike. She needs Riley, and that means he needs to be healthy. If he wants to throw it all away because he doesn’t trust her, fine, but she’ll still make him go to see Overheiser. Riley gives in, then tells her that loving her is the scariest thing he’s ever done. She replies that she doesn’t know why.

Overheiser digs around in Spike’s brain while Harmony observes. She’s intrigued by the fact that he’s still awake, since he was only given local anesthesia. She claims that since the chip keeps him from hurting living things, he can’t even pick flowers. Overheiser begs her to shut up. Buffy and Riley find Graham, who tells them that Spike and a blonde knocked him out. Buffy guesses the blonde is Harmony, and that they took Overheiser to make him remove Spike’s chip. Riley’s starting to power down, so they need to find Overheiser quickly.

Graham heads off to send people to check local clinics and animal hospitals. Riley wants to make up with him, but Graham says that can wait until later, assuming Riley survives all this. Buffy insists that he will. She starts brainstorming how she’ll kill Spike when this is over. Coincidentally, he’s brainstorming what he’ll do to her. Harmony, who’s smoking again, excitedly spots the chip in his brain. Overheiser declares the operation over, and Spike eagerly anticipates being stitched up so he can go kill Buffy.

Once Overheiser is done, Spike declares his intent to make him an appetizer. Buffy and Riley arrive just then and face off with the vampires. Spike announces that his “bug-zapper” is gone, which Buffy thinks makes him fair game for slaying now. Harmony accidentally shoots Riley with the crossbow, and he fights her while Buffy and Spike fight each other. Spike gets Buffy on the ground and moves to bite her, but pain in his head keeps him from doing it. Riley is similarly incapacitated and goes down.

As Buffy checks on him, Spike looks in the dish where Overheiser supposedly put the chip after he removed it. It contains a penny. Harmony’s back was turned when he pulled out the “chip,” so she and Spike only heard something hit the bottom of the dish and assumed it was the chip. Overheiser reminds Spike that he said he couldn’t remove it. Spike and Harmony flee as Overheiser goes over to help Riley. Spike complains that Buffy is everywhere he turns. She’s made it her personal project to torture him. He can’t get rid of her; she’s haunting him. He declares that it has to end.

Riley’s surgery was much more successful, and he tells Buffy he’s back to normal, whatever that is now. She makes it clear that she’s not going anywhere. Well, not long-term. Right now, she wants to go check on Joyce. Graham tells Riley that it’s a good thing Buffy found him when she did. She’s always impressed him. But he doesn’t think Riley belongs in Sunnydale: “You’re nothing here.” He used to have a mission, but now he’s just the Slayer’s boyfriend. He belongs in the military.

Buffy bursts into Spike’s crypt and complains about the mess he made. She’s done with him, and she should have killed him years ago. He tells her to do it already – it’ll end his torment. He’s sick of seeing her everywhere he goes. “Take me out of a world that has you in it,” he says. Buffy moves to stake him, but she stops. He grabs her and kisses her. She jumps back after a moment, then approaches him and kisses him some more. She whispers that she wants him, and he replies that he loves her.

Spike wakes from this dream with a gasp. Harmony’s the only blonde in his crypt. “Please, no,” he says.

Thoughts: This episode really overestimates how much the viewers care about Riley.

Giles suggesting that Buffy team up with Spike feels out of character.

There’s a funny moment when Overheiser tells Harmony to put out her cigarette, since smoking isn’t allowed. She resists until he points out a no-smoking sign. Then she gets really apologetic. And that’s why Harmony isn’t the new Big Bad.

March 7, 2023

ER 12.21, The Gallant Hero and the Tragic Victor: Do No Harm

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 5:08 pm by Jenn

Don’t make me say goodbye to him!

Summary: 25 kilometers southwest of Mosul, Gallant is dozing in a convoy when his fellow soldiers start shooting. The convoy stops and everyone runs out to fire on the enemy. A soldier tells Gallant that a driver was hit, so Gallant goes to tend to him. He decides they can’t wait for a helicopter to come get the corporal; they need to put him in a truck and drive him to an aid station.

The corporal dies along the way, but one of the other soldiers thanks Gallant for trying to save him. Someone notes that the corporal just got engaged. The other soldier asks if Gallant has a “girl” back home. No, but he has a woman. As Gallant starts talking about his wife, something explodes and the truck goes up in flames.

Clemente is still struggling with sleeping at night and overcoming his paranoia that Bobby is going to come after him again. He grabs a baseball bat when he hears noises in the apartment above his, then peeks out his peephole. Elsewhere in Chicago, Morris wakes up in bed with Albright. He’s thrilled to have finally scored with her and snaps a picture of her asleep. Ugh.

At County, Jane is having a deep conversation with Abby about how animals in the wild often eat their young, but when human women kill their children, we call them crazy. Does that means lions are also crazy? Abby’s like, “I’ve never been so happy to have paramedics bring me an assault victim.” The victim is a man named Dennis, who was injured in a home invasion. His kids, who are coming in another ambulance, were also hurt.

Ray doesn’t believe Morris’ claim that he went to Albright’s place for a drink and she basically tore his clothes off. He shows Ray the photo he took, but it’s not very clear. As Abby, Neela, Ray, and Morris start tending to Dennis, that jerk cop Hollis tells them that they don’t have any leads on his attacker because there were no witnesses. Albright comes in and treats Morris like she always does, except for the fact that she calls him Mo. “That little vixen’s getting punished tonight,” he tells Abby and Ray. Excuse me while I throw up.

Pratt is back from Darfur and admits that his experiences there were overwhelming. He downplays his heroics, though. Dennis’ kids arrive, a three-year-old named Eddie and a ten-year-old named Sean. Sean has minor injuries but Eddie lost consciousness on the way to the hospital. Sean wants to stay with his brother, since Eddie will get scared without him.

Clemente joins Luka and Sam to take care of Eddie as they wonder what happened. Clemente guesses that the people who attacked the family were high on meth. As usual, he and Luka butt heads about treatment options. Clemente’s shaky and repeats himself, making it clear to Luka that something’s wrong with him. Clemente blames lack of sleep.

Luka pulls him out of the trauma room once Eddie’s stable and asks if he’s on drugs. Clemente swears he hasn’t taken anything and offers to take a drug test right there. Luka reminds him that he’s an attending and needs to be on top of things. Clemente gets defensive and goes back to Eddie. Luka tries to talk to him more, but Frank has something more important for him to deal with: Two soldiers are there looking for Neela. One of them is a military casualty officer.

Abby and Clemente move on to help Ray and Chuny with Dennis. Luka comes in looking for Neela, who’s in surgery. He tells the staff that officers are looking for Neela, and they immediately guess what’s going on. Clemente’s nose starts bleeding, and it’s a good thing Luka has already left the room because he would be even more convinced that Clemente’s on drugs.

After surgery, Neela gets a page to go to the ER, but Shirley (hi, Shirley!) tells her that Dubenko is eager to talk to her right now. Chuny tends to Clemente’s nose while he talks Abby through Dennis’ difficult intubation. Once they’re done, Ray double-checks that Abby’s okay staying with Clemente while he goes to find Neela. Clemente takes offense.

Dubenko tells Neela that the hospital is funding an additional slot for a surgical residency, and if she wants it, it’s hers. Her elective got her really interested in surgery, and she’s happy to make the switch. She gets another page from the ER, so Dubenko sends her down with plans to celebrate later. Albright informs Neela that she’ll be her attending. Neela pretends she’s looking forward to that.

In the ER, Sam and Chuny point Neela toward Luka, unable to hide that she’s in for bad news. Neela’s too excited about her residency to catch on. Ray finds her next, and she’s disappointed that he’s not as happy about her news as she is. He tries to prepare her for what she’s about to hear. She finally gets that something’s happening when she runs into Abby, who solemnly tells her that there are two men from the Army there to see her.

She approaches them in the waiting room and asks them to give her the news right there rather than wait until they go somewhere more private. The casualty officer breaks the news that Gallant was killed in action. Neela protests that Gallant is a medic, not a soldier. The officer tells her that he was killed by a roadside bomb. Neela fights back tears and says she can’t do this right now – she’s working. She grabs a chart from the admit desk and goes back to seeing patients.

The casualty officer asks Abby to tell Neela that he and his colleague, a chaplain, are there to help in any way they can. Abby asks if Gallant’s parents have been notified. They haven’t, but if Neela would like, the casualty officer and chaplain can take care of that. The officer gives Abby a packet of information on handling Gallant’s remains and other administrative responsibilities.

Clemente comes up to ask if Gallant was killed by friendly fire. He starts blathering about “right-wing cronyism” and the deficit and other stuff, until Sam pulls him away. He apologizes to her and Abby for his rant. Abby suggests that he go lie down for a little while, since his nose is still bleeding. He insists that he’s fine. I think any patient he tries to treat right now would disagree.

Abby checks on Pratt, who had hoped to ride the high of his happiness at being back in a first-world country all day. Hollis tells them that Sean won’t tell the police anything, so they still have no leads. Dennis is unconscious, Eddie’s in a coma, and the kids’ mother is in rehab. He asks Pratt to try talking to Sean. Pratt attempts to impress Sean with an x-ray, on which Jane sees old rib fractures.

Pratt gently gets Sean to open up to him. Sean admits that when he took a toy away from Eddie (not to be mean; sounds like it was something Eddie shouldn’t have been playing with), Eddie started crying, and Dennis shook him to make him stop. Then he punched Sean and threw him into a chair. Dennis went back to hurting Eddie, so Sean hit him with a baseball bat until he stopped.

Ray finds Neela on the roof and listens quietly as she talks about how quickly everything has changed. She still wants to keep working, but he tells her to go home and take care of herself. Neela cries and says that she doesn’t have a home. She also doesn’t have a husband anymore. All she has is the hospital.

Abby takes a moment to herself in the drug lock-up, trying to wrap her head around the fact that Gallant is dead. Luka says she can go home, but she doesn’t want to leave him and Clemente alone to handle traumas. Luka says that Weaver knew that Clemente had problems before she hired him, and now she’s paying for it. Abby points out that Luka’s in charge of the ER. She suggests that they take a quick vacation somewhere warm before the baby comes.

Just as they’re cheering up, Neela comes in to get something. They encourage her to go home, but she says she has things to do. She hasn’t even called Gallant’s parents yet. She insists on telling them instead of letting the casualty officer and chaplain do it. Luka tells her that they left a packet for her at the admit desk. Neela says that if everyone wants her to go home, she’ll go.

Dennis is declining, and Clemente tells Sam to give him chest compressions. He disapproves of her technique and takes over. He wants a medication they don’t have, something he read about in a journal. Sam glances at Abby, who gives her a look like, “This is all for nothing; let him do what he wants to do.” Clemente won’t declare Dennis dead when Abby says they should, but he eventually stops trying to revive Dennis. He complains that they should have used a different treatment.

Luka runs into Clemente as he’s babbling about coffee on his way outside. Frank offers to go after him, but Luka says to let him go and tell Luka when he comes back. He hears Pratt venting to Jane about what Dennis did to his sons. He’s upset that despite all their technology and first-world treatments, they couldn’t protect the kids. Sean had to kill his father because no one was there to help him. Meanwhile, the U.S. spends billions of dollars on a war that’s killing teenagers. Luka asks if Pratt called the police. Pratt spits out that arresting people is the only thing the U.S. is good at.

Clemente talks to himself as he brings coffee back to the hospital. A homeless man says he knows Clemente – he’s a killer. Clemente realizes that his bloody nose made a mess on his shirt. The homeless man starts yelling about doctors killing people. Clemente says he got bloody saving someone’s life. He walks into the street and almost gets hit by a cab.

He fights with the driver, breaking a headlight and jumping up on the hood of the cab. He takes off his shirt, egging the driver on to fight with him. The driver calls him a psycho, and Clemente says he’ll show the guy psychosis, then smashes the windshield. The driver asks if he’s on drugs. Again, Clemente’s ready for a drug test, only this time he just pees right there on the cab.

Abby leaves Neela a message offering to pick up anything she might want to eat before she comes to visit. Ray tells her that Neela seems to just want to be alone. Sam thinks it would be better for her to be around people right now. Police come in with Zadro as he wheels in Clemente, who tells Sam that he got jumped. He objects to Zadro saying that he’s altered. He’s in restraints because he was combative and handcuffs because he assaulted some people.

Clemente thinks he’s the victim of xenophobia. He tells Sam to let the police know that he’s an attending. Sam and Abby try to convince him to let them look at a cut on his leg, but he gets agitated about being restrained. He asks Abby not to give him Haldol, since he’s not crazy. She tells Ray to get Luka, and Clemente mocks Ray for running to “Daddy.” He tells Sam not to give him Haldol, but she ignores him. Clemente reminds Abby that he’s her attending, and her Hippocratic Oath says to “do no harm.” The Haldol starts working and he passes out.

Pratt goes to see Sean, who Jane let stay with Eddie. Pratt lets Sean know that he’ll have to live with a foster family until his mom gets back. Eddie will have to stay in the hospital for a while, but he’s showing signs of improvement, and Sean will be able to visit him. Pratt gently tells Sean that the doctors couldn’t save Dennis. The poor ten-year-old is distraught that he’s going to go to Hell for killing his father. Pratt thinks God will make an exception since Sean was trying to save Eddie.

Abby leaves Clemente with Nelson the psychiatrist so she can go see Neela. Clemente’s tox screens are clean, but Morris isn’t sure that’s a good thing, since it means there must be something psychological going on. Luka checks with Pratt to make sure he’s doing okay transitioning back from Darfur. Pratt says he was just rattled earlier because of Gallant. Luka tells him it’s good to have him back. Pratt thanks Luka for making him go, and Luka invites him to tell him about his experiences sometime.

Abby goes to Neela’s with dinner and groceries. Neela called Gallant’s parents, and it looks like the reality of the situation is catching up with her. Abby offers to spend the night, not just to be with Neela but because it would be a nice break from Luka’s snoring. Neela says that Gallant used to snore when he was drunk. She had to come home and find a photo of him because she couldn’t picture him. She thinks that one day she won’t remember what he looks like. Abby doubts that.

Nelson tells Luka that he’s putting Clemente on a 72-hour hold. With no drugs in his system and no history of major psychological disorders, he thinks Clemente’s claim of sleep deprivation is to blame, along with PTSD from what happened to him and Jodie. Clemente feels bad for the way he acted in front of “the kids” (the residents, I assume). He says he’s passionate and can’t keep his pace “without spinning off the road at some point.” He wishes it hadn’t happened on Luka’s watch. Luka assures him that it’s okay. Clemente expresses his appreciation for Luka’s kindness.

Neela opens the packet from the military, which contains a videotape with her name on it. Gallant made it for her in case something happened to him. She cries as he tells her that he loves her and their wedding day was the happiest of his life. She makes him strong. He knows she didn’t want him to go back to Iraq, but he did what he had to do. She’s the kindest and most beautiful person he knows, and he wants her to be happy. He’ll always be with her. She should find someone else (even though that person won’t be as fine as Gallant is) and start a family. He’ll love her forever.

Thoughts: Boooooo to Gallant dying. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

I can’t imagine being a military casualty officer for more than, like, a week. Having to deal with that much death would wreck me.

I’m impressed with Sam and Abby for maintaining their professionalism while treating their boss. That couldn’t have been easy.

March 4, 2023

Buffy 5.3, The Replacement: Xander 2.0

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:17 pm by Jenn

I can’t believe no one was suspicious when Xander dressed like an adult

Summary: Xander, Anya, Buffy, and Riley are watching a kung-fu movie in Xander’s basement room, which isn’t exactly a great place for entertaining guests. There aren’t a lot of places to sit, he doesn’t have snacks, and when his parents get home, they immediately start yelling at each other. Everyone’s uncomfortable except Buffy, who’s studying. Xander says it’s time to find a nicer place to live. He notes that Buffy’s been to Hell and asks if they had one-bedroom apartments.

Riley tries to get his girlfriend to stop studying, something she’s come to enjoy. She takes a break, trading the violence of the Crusades for the violence of the movie. Riley rubs her shoulders, which inspires Xander to do the same to Anya. Unfortunately, she doesn’t want that, since her run-in with Harmony’s minions left her with a dislocated shoulder.

Buffy critiques a fight scene in the movie, and Riley advises her to leave her work at work. She notes that he would have the same reaction to a poorly researched military movie. As the fighting upstairs continues, Buffy tries to distract everyone by saying that Willow critiques movies they watch that feature witches. Xander agrees, saying that she comments that no one uses cauldrons anymore. Cut to a demon using a cauldron for a ritual he hopes will help him kill Buffy.

The next day, The Scoobies go with Xander to check out an apartment. He doesn’t want them to get their hopes up, since the rent is high and his only reference is himself doing a British accent. The apartment is big and nice, and Anya immediately loves it. The woman showing the apartment thinks Riley is Xander. She’s kind of disappointed that the person who would be renting the place is a little schlubbier than that.

Buffy and Riley slip into the bedroom as the others admire all the features of the apartment. Xander will have to pay a bunch of money up front and have a credit check, and he tries to explain to Anya that this isn’t a good time. His construction job is about to end, and he doesn’t have anything else lined up. Also, Anya has her own place. They’ll need to wait a little while.

Anya objects to having to wait for her boyfriend to have a quiet, private home. She’s cranky because her arm hurts and she’s tired and she doesn’t appreciate visiting a nice place she can’t have. As she storms off, Xander decides to fill out the application for the place he just explained is unaffordable and he probably doesn’t think he’ll be qualified to rent anyway.

Giles is organizing things at the Magic Box when the cauldron demon lets himself in. Giles searches for something he can use to repel the demon, but all he can come up with is a statue of a fertility god. At least it packs a bit of a punch. The demon doesn’t sustain any injuries, but he also doesn’t inflict any, since he’s only after Buffy.

Later, Giles shows the Scoobies how he fought off the demon. “So a mythic triumph over a completely indifferent foe,” Buffy summarizes. “Well, I’m not dead or unconscious, so I say bravo for me,” Giles replies. Willow gives him a book to look through to see if he can ID the demon. Xander comments that Giles bought the magic shop and was attacked before it even opened. He should’ve seen that coming.

Riley agrees that Giles’ new job doesn’t seem safe. “Toth,” Giles replies. Buffy thinks he’s using British slang to call Riley an idiot. Nope, it’s the name of the demon. He’s the last member of his clan and is, for a demon, very sophisticated. Buffy asks if that means she should discuss fashion with him before she kills him. Giles clarifies that he uses tools and devices to fight. He’s also focused, and from his mention of Buffy, it’s easy to guess what he’s focused on.

Giles thinks he knows where Toth has been hanging out, since he had a distinct smell. That smell was garbage, unfortunately, so the Scoobies take a field trip to the city dump. Willow says she found a spell that will keep them from smelling anything, but it involves removing their noses, so they should probably just suck it up. They don’t find Toth, but they do find Spike, who’s scavenging decorations for his crypt. Giles asks if he’s seen a tall demon in a robe. Spike says he’s right behind them.

Toth fires some kind of weapon at Buffy, who dodges it. Spike cheers him on, them complains when the next blast from the weapon breaks a lamp he just scavenged. Toth aims at Buffy again, and Xander shoves her out of the way and takes the hit himself. Toth disappears as the Scoobies go to Xander, who seems okay. But as they leave, they don’t realize that there’s still a Xander lying unconscious in a pile of trash.

In the morning, that Xander wakes up and goes home but can’t get into the locked basement. He looks through the window, hoping Anya’s there, and is shocked to see…well, himself. A second version of him – we’ll call him X2 – is in Xander’s room, putting on his clothes. Xander rushes to find a pay phone so he can call Buffy. X2, who looks very put-together and confident, walks by, distracting Xander. He hangs up just as Buffy answers her phone.

She’s gathering weapons for an inevitable second showdown with Toth, which she can tell Riley is worried about. Dawn pretends to gag when she sees them making out. Buffy tells her to go away, but Dawn argues that since she’s in the hallway instead of Buffy’s room, she doesn’t have to leave. Joyce appears and Dawn tries to confirm that she can stand in the hallway. Joyce tells her daughters that their fighting is giving her a headache. (Everyone who’s seen the rest of the season whimpers.) They bicker over which of them is more responsible for it. “It’s so nice you’ve learned to share,” Joyce comments. Buffy finally just slams the door in Dawn’s face.

Spike dresses up a mannequin he got from the dump, putting a blond wig on it. It’s not for companionship, though – it’s his stand-in for Buffy, so he can beat up on it and imagine it’s her. X2 goes to Xander’s job on a construction site, though he’s dressed a lot nicer than most construction workers are. The foreman asks to talk to him in a trailer, since the job is ending. Xander spies on him, excited that his replacement will be the one who gets fired instead of him.

X2 plays around with a small, shiny disk as the foreman gives him news that surprises Xander: He’s done great work on the site, and they’d like to hire him full-time. In fact, they want him to head up a crew, which would give him both more responsibility and more money. Xander thinks the disk X2 is playing with has influenced the foreman to make this decision.

That night, X2 goes back to the apartment he was interested in and learns that his credit check came back fine. He’s been approved for the apartment. He plays with the disk again as the woman who showed the apartment tells him he can call her anytime for anything he needs. She’s even going to give him her home number. Xander grumbles about her being interested in the fake him, who’s too clean and whose socks are too matchy.

X2 leaves Anya a message (though she’s listening as he leaves it) to meet him at the apartment later. As he leaves, Xander jumps on him. X2 seems surprised to have a double, and he punches Xander and runs off. Xander yells after him that he won’t let X2 do this to him. He runs to Giles’ to get some help, but X2 beats him there. He tells the Scoobies that they have to find and kill the double. Xander prays that Buffy realizes she’s talking to an imposter. No such luck, and Xander is about to have the Slayer on his trail.

He turns to Willow next, ambushing her at her and Tara’s place. She wasn’t at Giles’, so she doesn’t get why he wants to prove that he’s himself. He starts by saying that he was disappointed not to get a toy firetruck for his seventh birthday, and she was really nice about it. Then there was a fire at the house next door and Xander got to see real firetrucks. For years, he thought Willow set the fire for him. Also, Xander thought he was lactose intolerant last year, but it was just bad brie. Also also, every year they watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and he does Snoopy’s dance, which he demonstrates for her.

Willow assures Xander that she knows who he is. He explains that he woke up in the dump after the previous night’s encounter with Toth. Confused, Willow says they walked him home last night. He asks if he did anything weird or waved around anything shiny. He explains that he has a double who’s pretending to be him and is hypnotizing people. Buffy, Giles, and Riley have no idea.

The Scoobies aren’t sure what they’re dealing with, but X2 and Riley don’t think it matters – they just need to kill it. Buffy realizes that Toth must be responsible. Xander thinks they’re dealing with an evil robot version of him that was made from evil parts and was designed to do evil. “Uh-huh. Or it’s Toth,” Willow says. “Or…it’s Toth,” Xander agrees.

Buffy was going to go after Toth anyway, so now she’s just going to look for Xander. She tells X2 that he’s free to go meet up with Anya. It’s probably better if he’s not around when she finds the double, in case she gets them mixed up and kills the wrong one. Xander complains that a demon has taken his life and is living it better than Xander does. Willow promises to find a spell to unhypnotize Buffy and get her on their side.

Xander’s not really enthusiastic about this, since he doesn’t think he can help. Normally, he gets in trouble and Buffy saves him. “That’s not true!” Willow protests. “Sometimes we all help to save you.” Also, sometimes he’s not in trouble. Xander calls this “another great humiliation.” X2 took his life and everyone’s treating him like an adult. Xander’s feeling inferior to the imposter and thinks maybe he should let the imposter have his life for good.

Willow encourages him not to give up, but Xander doesn’t feel like he’s been doing anything worth fighting for. Then he realizes that he has someone he doesn’t want to lose: Anya. He refuses to let X2 take the one thing Xander needs. He tells Willow to find a spell to reveal X2’s real nature while he goes to make sure Anya’s okay. Willow notes that Xander is just now thinking about Anya after spending the whole day knowing that someone was taking his place. “Hey, wait till you have an evil twin. See how you handle it,” he says as he leaves. “I handled it fine,” Willow replies to herself.

Xander goes to Anya’s place and hears the message X2 left her about meeting at the apartment. As he searches Anya’s dresser for something, X2 tells Anya that he got the apartment because he knew she wanted it. He asks if she saw him or talked to him today. She has no idea what he’s talking about. She asks what happens next for them – a car? A puppy? A child? She has a list of things she wants. They need to get moving, since she doesn’t have time to just let life happen.

X2 doesn’t think they’re in any hurry, but Anya disagrees: She’s dying. She might have as few as 50 years left! He realizes she’s having an existential crisis because her injuries have made her realize how vulnerable she is now that she’s human. She was going to live for thousands of years, and now she’s going to age and die like everyone else. She must be scared. He promises that they’ll get through it together.

Anya’s real worry is that Xander might not want to be with her when she’s old and wrinkly. X2 admits that he can’t promise they’ll always be together, but aging with her doesn’t sound horrible. And pretty soon, she won’t be thinking about getting older. They start making out, but they’re interrupted by Xander. Yep, I don’t think Anya’s thinking about aging or dying anymore. X2 tells Xander to get out – he doesn’t belong there. Xander tries to convince Anya that X2 is a demon who stole his face and is trying to trick her. Anya, however, thinks X2 is the real Xander.

Willow goes to Giles’ to tell the Scoobies that Toth is impersonating Xander. They already know, but they think they’ve been dealing with the real Xander. Giles finds something enlightening in a book and announces that neither Xander is a demon. And no, Willow, neither of them is a robot, either. The device Toth used splits people in half, separating their personality traits. Toth was probably trying to split Buffy into two people so he could kill her non-Slayer half. Instead, he separated Xander into a strong version and a weak version. They’re both the real Xander.

Riley doesn’t get the plan – why make a super-strong, Slayer-only Buffy? Giles notes that the two halves can’t exist without each other. If Toth killed the weaker Buffy, the Slayer half would die, too. That means they need to find and protect both Xanders or they’ll risk losing both of them.

Xander continues trying to convince Anya that he’s the real deal. She isn’t sure. X2 is ready to fight…uh, himself, but Xander has something he doesn’t: Anya’s gun. They fight over it as Buffy and Riley speed to the apartment. She starts to ask if he wishes that she were two different people so he could be with just her non-Slayer self. He says no before she can finish. Being the Slayer is part of who she is. Buffy acknowledges that it’s hard to date her, but Riley likes her the way she is. “There’s no part of you I’m not in love with,” he tells her.

X2 ends up with the gun as Buffy and Riley arrive at the apartment. Buffy asks for the gun, and X2 removes the bullets before giving it to her. Buffy explains that both Xanders are real and they can’t kill each other. They don’t believe her, so Riley says they can prove it. He’s not sure how, though. Buffy asks them what number she’s thinking of. They both answer 11 and a half. They’re wrong, but Buffy has proven that they think the same.

Riley explains that different properties went into each Xander. Buffy tries to clarify without insulting the one who got all the less desirable qualities. Xander brings up the disk X2 has been playing with, but it’s just a nickel that got flattened on a railroad track. X2 found it at the construction site and thought it was cool. There’s nothing magical about it. Xander agrees that it’s cool.

The group is about to go back to Giles’ when Toth bursts through the door. Aw, man, Xander just put down a security deposit! He’s never going to get that back now! Xander and Anya both hide behind X2. Toth fires his blaster thing, making a hole in the carpet that X2 complains about, since he made a cleaning deposit. Eh, my joke was better. Riley fights Toth until Buffy takes over and stabs him with a sword. X2 says the cleaning deposit is definitely gone. Xander gasps that he was thinking the same thing. “Hey, do you suppose we’re both Xander?” he asks.

Everyone gathers at the Magic Box, intrigued by how identical the two Xanders are. Riley kind of wants to do psych experiments on them. Anya’s interested in doing something a little more intimate with them. Xander only says that it would be “very confusing.” He asks X2 how he landed the promotion if he wasn’t hypnotizing people. X2 just says he’s good at that stuff.

Willow’s ready to do some spell to unite the two Xanders. Anya asks what they should do if it doesn’t work. “Kill us both, Spock,” the Xanders say, laughing in unison. Buffy notes that they’re pretty much the same now. “Yes, he’s clearly a bad influence on himself,” Giles says. Willow tells the guys that their natural state is to be together, so she just has to break Toth’s spell to unite them. It’s pretty simple – all she has to do is say, “Let the spell be ended.” Anya objects, wanting two Xanders again.

The Scoobies help Xander pack up the basement so he can move to his new apartment. He gets a little nostalgic, remembering the spot where Spike slept and the spot where Xander and Anya drowned a demon and the spot where he got his heart ripped out. “I really hate this place,” he says.

Anya’s doing better, both physically and emotionally, and is looking forward to many years of life, assuming she doesn’t die in a car accident. Xander asks her to carry a box or two, but she notes that Buffy has super-strength and should do more of the work. Xander comments to Riley that Anya has a way of making him feel like his suave self has gone away.

Riley knows that despite their struggles, they’re a good match. Xander admits to envying Riley sometimes, though not because he’s in love with Buffy. Riley says that when he’s with her, he feels like he’s split in two. Half of him is on fire and half is content. He knows she’s the one. “But she doesn’t love me,” he says. Xander’s stunned, and when Buffy comes in to get more of his stuff, he doesn’t know what to say.

Thoughts: Nicholas Brendon’s (Xander) stand-in/body double for this episode was his twin brother Kelly.

I spent a lot of this episode thinking about how bad Xander must smell, since he never changes clothes after the dump.

Where did Anya get money to pay for her own place?

Riley at the dump: “People say they’re recycling. They’re not recycling.” You can practically hear him shaking his head in disappointment.

Xander’s Snoopy dance is a must-watch.

February 28, 2023

ER 12.20, There Are No Angels Here: At Least We Tried

Posted in TV tagged , at 5:02 pm by Jenn

I bet the actors hated the Africa episodes. They had to be hot and sweaty the whole time

Summary: I regret to inform you that we are still in Darfur. Pratt and Stephen are working at the clinic, comparing their countries’ problems. Pratt thinks Hurricane Katrina is comparable to the millions of dollars in aid the U.S. promised Sudan, then didn’t give. Stephen says that without international intervention, nothing in Darfur will change. Pratt says that the rest of the world will just continue telling the U.S. to get out of Sudan.

Stephen thinks Pratt is smart enough to believe differently. Pratt notes that the U.S. gets involved in other countries’ fights too quickly. Stephen replies that when “the solution” comes to Darfur, it won’t be quick. Pratt tells him that gangs fight all the time in the U.S., and sometimes the police just have to wait until the dust settles. “Step back and wait – that sounds like an excellent foreign policy while people are suffering,” Stephen says. Pratt argues that plenty of Americans come to Darfur to help out. Stephen is still curious about why Pratt is really there.

The two of them keep bickering (but not in a mean way) as they go to help a baby in the camps. Stephen teases that sometimes he feels like Carter is more African than Pratt is. Pratt wants to take the baby to the hospital, but the mother is hesitant to agree. Stephen starts coughing up blood because of the issues he’s been having stemming from his childhood illness. Pratt wants him admitted to the clinic.

The next day, Zahra tells Carter about a pregnant woman who has hepatitis E. Carter thinks Zahra is overreacting about how sick the woman, Rashida, is. Hepatitis E is easily treatable. Zahra tells him that in Sudan, a lot of people get it from contaminated water, and more than 30 percent of them die. Rashida is in bad shape, and her mother is fully aware that she’s going to die. She asks if they need the bed. Carter says Rashida can stay.

As Pratt comes to get Carter to look at the baby, Stephen tries to convince his colleagues that he can go back to work. Debbie ignores him, and Carter says that Stephen can’t leave until Carter signs off on his chart. “This is why people hate doctors,” Stephen quips. Carter is starting to examine the baby when he gets called away to take care of Ishaak, who’s been shot. Stephen wants to help, but Carter refuses to let him out of bed.

Ishaak tells Carter and Pratt that Janjaweed fighters shot him. Pratt notes that Ishaak has a hard time staying out of trouble. Carter and Zahra explain that Ishaak is a sheik, a leader the other people at the camp look up to. Pratt thinks he should stop trying to unite people, since it just makes him a target. Pratt, shut up. Just…freaking A, why would you say that to someone? Carter tells Ishaak that he needs to be taken into town so he can be treated in a hospital.

Some military officials arrive and ask Debbie if Ishaak is being treated there. She won’t tell them, and she reminds them that they can’t just walk into the camp. One of the officials, Sadig, says that if there are no violations, they’ll leave. Stephen stands up to him as well, but the officials go into the clinic. When they find Ishaak, Sadig tells Carter and Pratt that Ishaak has to fill out a form and file a report about the shooting before he can receive medical attention. The officials restrain Carter and Pratt, then take Ishaak away, knocking Stephen down and smacking Pratt in the head with a rifle on the way.

Stephen gives Pratt stitches and tells him that the officials will probably bring Ishaak back after they’ve interrogated him. Pratt doesn’t think he’ll survive that long. Stephen says that’s probably intentional. Carter’s taking care of the baby, and Pratt joins him, wanting to finish out the workday even with his injury. Carter has determined that there’s nothing more they can do for the baby, but Pratt insists on giving him chest compressions. Carter puts his hand over the baby so Pratt can’t do them.

Pratt asks if they’re just going to watch the baby die. Carter says his mother will, but they have to move on to other patients. He asks Zahra to tell the baby’s mother how sorry they are for her loss. He knows what it’s like to lose a child. The mother is surprised that babies die in Western hospitals.

Ishaak’s wife, Sittina, comes to chastise Debbie and Pratt for letting the officials take Ishaak. She thinks they targeted him because he tells people that it’s not safe to go back to their villages, unlike what they’ve been told. Sittina is pregnant and has been having contractions. Things progress quickly and Carter determines that she’ll be having the baby tonight. Sittina insists on going to the police station to see her husband, but the staff will only take her to the residential compound where the doctors live.

When they arrive, Zahra tells the doctors that they’re late for movie night. Some guy wants to watch Deuce Bigalow again. Carter needs to ask his colleagues at County to send them some better movies. He tells Pratt that the generators are turned off at night for everything except cold storage, but if people are hanging out there, the electricity will be kept on.

Debbie’s annoyed that Stephen keeps downplaying his condition and refusing treatment. He promises that he’ll do less if he starts to get worse. Debbie insists that he have the shunt inserted that Carter recommended. That would require a trip to Khartoum or Nairobi, though, as well as a long recovery, and Stephen doesn’t want to be away from the clinic for that long. Debbie notes that he’ll be away from them permanently if he dies.

She goes outside, where it’s started raining, and Carter joins her to invite her to talk. She says crying every once in a while is her way of dealing with all the difficulties of being there. She’s not crying because of Stephen; he only makes her angry, not sad. She asks what will happen if Stephen doesn’t get treatment. Carter says he’ll get worse. Debbie replies that he’s already at that point.

Stephen sees some police arriving outside and tells the others to hide Sittina. The police are the same officials who took Ishaak from the camp. They think the doctors brought Sittina to the compound, but Carter lies that there are no patients there. He refuses to let them search the compound. They go in anyway, and Debbie tries to keep Sittina quiet. Pratt puts some music on and pretends that the room Sittina is in is an occupied bathroom. Sadig pulls a gun on him and breaks down the door. All he finds is Debbie, who’s taking a shower. She hid Sittina behind some shelves.

Sittina thinks something’s wrong with the baby, and the doctors confirm that the baby’s in distress. They’ll have to perform a C-section. Fortunately, they have the right medication to make it painless, and the baby is okay. Pratt has trouble getting Sittina to stop bleeding after the delivery, though. She tells the doctors that if the police find out who she and Ishaak are, they’ll kill Ishaak. The two of them helped form the HRD, a human-rights group.

As Sittina passes out, Pratt announces that she needs a hysterectomy. They won’t be able to take her to a hospital until the next day. Carter thinks he can operate well enough to buy her some time, but not much. Pratt’s upset that travel takes so long in Darfur. He acknowledges that at least he didn’t convince the others to keep Sittina at the clinic, which would have been worse for her. He wants to try to make the trip to the hospital. “If she dies making the journey, well, at least we tried,” he says.

Carter offers to go with them, but Stephen thinks he should go to the police with Debbie and try to get Ishaak released. At the police station, Carter and Debbie again come up against Sadig. They politely ask to see Ishaak so they can treat his injuries, but Sadig refuses. Meanwhile, Pratt and Stephen come across some Janjaweed on their way to the hospital. Knowing that stopping puts them at risk of having Sittina and the truck taken, Pratt drives straight through their roadblock.

Sadig speaks to a superior and reports that he won’t let them see Ishaak, either. Carter thinks this could be solved with money. When Sadig still won’t budge, Carter threatens to tell the superior that he walked in on Debbie while she was showering. Or maybe he’ll tell the consulate that Sadig violated an American woman’s privacy. “How much money?” Sadig asks. But by the time he finally lets Carter and Debbie into the cell where a bunch of people have been detained, Ishaak is dead.

The Janjaweed’s bullets caused some problems for Pratt and Stephen’s van, including a flat tire, so Pratt pulls over at a village to see if someone can change it. Yeah, I don’t think people living in burned-out villages in Darfur would know more about car maintenance than you do, Pratt. The people who weren’t burned out of the village died there, so there’s no one around.

Carter and Debbie take Ishaak’s body with them when they leave the police station and deliver him to the camp. It turns out he’s not dead after all – Carter lied to get him past the police. Nice job, Carter! Ishaak needs a chest tube, but the clinic doesn’t have the supplies for that, so Carter has to improvise. He tells Debbie to try to get Stephen on the radio. She thinks he and Pratt are probably at the hospital by now.

They’re not, since the van is in worse shape than Pratt thought. They don’t have any water, so he uses a bag of saline to cool down the overheated engine. A Janjaweed fighter finds them, and he doesn’t listen when Stephen explains that they’re taking a woman to the hospital. He hits Stephen, so Pratt tackles him. He gets his hands on the fighter’s gun and shoots him, though it’s not clear if it was intentional or if the gun accidentally went off.

Pratt wants to try to save the fighter, but Stephen tells him they have to get out of there before more fighters come. There’s nothing they can do for the fighter. Pratt and Stephen rush to drive off, but the engine has seized. Stephen doesn’t think he can make the trip on foot. He suggests that Pratt leave him with a gun in case more fighters come. Sittina says something in Arabic and Stephen replies. He translates for Pratt that she called them angels, and he said there are no angels here. “Speak for yourself,” Pratt replies.

He pulls Sittina through the desert on a makeshift wheeled gurney. He asks if she’s ever been to Mozambique. He’d much rather be there, since they have nice beaches. He spots a truck in the distance and, knowing they’re either about to be saved by good guys or killed by bad ones, decides he’s done walking.

Good news: The truck carries a man and his son, and they agree to take Pratt and Sittina to the hospital. The son, who speaks English, asks Pratt if he’s from England like James Bond or America like “Rambro.” Pratt says yes to that, mostly to shut the kid up. “Good stuff,” the boy says, giving him a thumbs up. They get to the hospital without any trouble and Pratt hands Sittina off to the staff there. He’s exhausted but clearly would have kept moving if he’d had to. “Good stuff,” the boy says again, giving him another thumbs up. He imitates Pratt as he leans back on a bench to rest.

Ishaak has improved and is asking for Sittina, but Carter and Debbie haven’t heard any news from Stephen or Pratt. Instead of letting Debbie sit around and worry, Carter takes her with him to introduce Ishaak to his daughter. The father and son drive Pratt back to where he left Stephen, but he’s not in the now-burned-out van. All Pratt finds is the container he keeps his medicine in.

Ishaak holds his daughter as he tells Carter and Debbie that he and Sittina had hoped to be back in their village before the baby came. They didn’t want her to be born in the camp. He hopes that they’ll be able to go home before she grows up. Carter tells him that they haven’t been able to find out anything about Sittina yet. Ishaak is confident that she got to the hospital.

Pratt arrives and reports that Sittina is, in fact, at the hospital and will be okay. When Debbie asks about Stephen, Pratt has to admit to leaving him on the road. He gives Debbie the medicine container. She wants to go out and look for Stephen, but Carter notes that it’ll be dark soon. They can go first thing in the morning. Pratt tells him that Stephen made him keep going. Carter acknowledges that they both did what they had to do. He gives Pratt a minute to clean up and collect himself before he gets back to work. Pratt asks Ishaak if he’s picked out a name for the baby. It’s Amala, which means hope.

The doctors keep treating patients as the people around them try to make the best of a horrible situation. Some kids are running around the camp, and Pratt notices when they suddenly start yelling and gathering around someone. It’s Stephen! He somehow managed to walk back to camp (which he jokes was safer than Pratt’s driving). Pratt is thrilled to see him, but not as thrilled as Debbie. She and Carter figure this is a good time to start his treatment.

As Stephen and Debbie head to the clinic, Pratt tells Carter that while he has his own way of being, he does see and feel what’s going on around him. He never wanted to witness this kind of suffering (no one would), but he’s glad he came there. Carter is, too, joking that he’s going to let Pratt take the blame for the destruction of the van. He adds that they’ll take the cost out of his paycheck. “What do you mean? We actually get paid for this?” Pratt says. Heh. A boy runs up, takes Pratt’s hand, and leads him off to whatever adventure Pratt’s going to have next.

Thoughts: Okay, I’ll admit, this was one of the better Africa episodes. Maybe it’s because I was more invested in the characters than in previous episodes. I wasn’t expecting a happy ending, and it felt really satisfying. (Especially considering the next three episodes are sad and intense.)

Can we make Pratt stay in Darfur and have Stephen take his place at County? Debbie can come, too.

I hadn’t see this episode before, so I fell for Carter’s lie about Ishaak being dead, and I was legitimately mad that his story ended that way. Nice fooling, Carter.

I’m sorry but I just find it so cheesy when movie and TV characters name babies Hope. I like the name; it’s just so overused in that “it’s because we have to keep having hope” way. That said, Amala is a pretty name.

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