October 23, 2021

Buffy 1.10, Nightmares: Fear Factor

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:13 pm by Jenn

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Summary: Buffy creeps into the Master’s lair, where he’s ready for another face-off. She’s not. She’s so nervous that she drops her stake and doesn’t fight him when he backs her up against a wall. He puts his hand around her neck and leans in for the kill. Fortunately, it’s just a dream. Buffy’s so happy to be awake and not in danger that she almost gets excited about going to school. Joyce confirms that her father, Hank, will be visiting that weekend.

At school, Willow asks Buffy a little about her dad and his divorce from Joyce. Willow’s not familiar with parents who can’t stand each other. Hers only bicker, and sometimes they glare, but other than that, they’re fine. Buffy thinks the trouble she was getting into at the time of the divorce didn’t help anything.

In a classroom, Cordelia complains that a guy named Wendell is standing between her and the sunlight she’s using to check herself out in a mirror. Xander comes to his rescue. He asks if they had any homework, and his friends remind him that they’ve been studying active listening. As class begins, Buffy notices a young boy standing in the doorway. Suddenly, Wendell starts yelling – his textbook is full of tarantulas. “Sorry about that,” the boy in the doorway says as the whole class panics.

Underground, the Master tells Collin that fear is the most powerful force in the world, stronger than love or hate. When Collin was mortal, before he became the Anointed One, he feared monsters. The Master admits to being scared of crosses, but “fear is in the mind,” and he can control it. That means his fear can’t control him. He knows there’s some new powerful force above-ground, and change is coming – bad change.

Buffy had more nightmares the previous night, and she’s distracted when Joyce drops her off at school. She realizes she forgot her overnight bag, so she and Hank will have to go by the house before he takes her to L.A. for the weekend. Joyce is a little surprised that she’s nervous. She reminds Buffy that Hank loves her.

Willow has been obsessing about the tarantulas, since spiders freak her out. “What do they need all those legs for anyway?” she asks Buffy and Xander. “I’ll tell you: For crawling across your face in the middle of the night.” Xander doesn’t think things like spiders are that scary now that he’s faced so much supernatural stuff. Plus, if there’s something Hellmouth-y going on, Buffy will take care of it.

The Scoobies go to the library, where Giles is a little off, having gotten lost in the stacks. He also hasn’t found anything helpful on what happened with the spiders, so he suggests that the Scoobies talk to Wendell. When they do, he’s still pretty shaken. He admits that this has happened to him before. He loves spiders, but they hate him. Cordelia walks by and comments that she hopes Buffy studied for the test they have in fourth period. Buffy knew nothing about it, so she runs off to cram.

Wendell tells Xander and Willow that he used to have a huge collection of spiders. His brother didn’t tend to them properly while Wendell was away at camp, and they all died. Since then, Wendell has had a recurring nightmare about spiders crawling out of his textbook in class. He figures his spiders are mad because he didn’t take care of them. When it happened again yesterday, he thought he’d fallen asleep in class, until everyone else started screaming.

Buffy has trouble finding the class where she’s supposed to take that test she didn’t know about. Cordelia notes that she keeps cutting class, so of course she’s not prepared. Buffy struggles with the test, as well as with time management, since the whole class period flies by before she can even write her name. No one else seems to have the same problem. Also, the boy from the day before is in the doorway again.

He heads into the hallway, spotting a girl named Laura who’s sneaking into the basement to smoke. A demonic-looking guy is lurking down there and greets her with, “Lucky 19.” He beats her (ironically, right near a poster that says, “Smoking kills”). Later, Giles and Buffy go to the hospital where Laura’s been admitted. She’s too traumatized to tell them any details about what happened to her, but she tells them that her attacker said, “Lucky 19.”

Giles and Buffy talk to Laura’s doctor, who says she came out of her assault pretty well, considering. Another patient was attacked in the exact same way recently, but he’s in much worse shape, and he’s still in a coma. The doctor says someone needs to find the guy who attacked both of his patients. Buffy assures him that someone will.

Back at school, a guy who thinks a leather jacket makes you tough tells his friends he’s willing to fight a guy who wants to fight him. Willow and Xander discuss whether what happened to Wendell is connected to Laura’s attack. Way Cool Guy (as he’s officially credited – love it) gets a surprise when his mom shows up to coo over him. Who’s the tough guy now, Way Cool Guy? When Willow and Xander get to class, Xander’s confused to hear everyone laughing at him. He’s walked into the room wearing just his boxers. He thinks he’s in a dream, but when he pinches himself and doesn’t wake up, he realizes he’s not.

In the library, Giles has trouble doing any further research because he suddenly can’t read. Buffy picks up the newspaper article he was trying to read and realizes that Laura’s doctor’s other patient is the boy she keeps seeing around school. His name is Billy, and he was beaten after a baseball game last week. In other words, he’s in a coma and shouldn’t be at Sunnydale High. Giles suggests that this is a case of astral projection; Billy’s able to move around in the world even though he’s physically in another place. Buffy sees that Billy’s number is 19, as in lucky 19.

Just then, Hank arrives, hours early to pick up Buffy. He takes Buffy for a walk so he can tell her that she’s the reason he and Joyce split up. Raising her and seeing her every day was too much for him. He’s not surprised she didn’t figure it out herself; she’s pretty selfish, after all. Buffy wasn’t the child he wanted, so he just left her. Hank doesn’t appreciate her crying about this when he’s just trying to be honest. Also, he doesn’t get anything out of their weekends together, so he’s done with those. As he leaves, Billy appears again.

Xander and Willow head to the library to tell Giles about the latest weird occurrence. Willow pretends she didn’t enjoy seeing Xander in his boxers, though she acknowledges that having everyone stare at her would be awful. When Xander says it was a “total nightmare,” Willow realizes that something is going on with people’s dreams. Wendell has a recurring dream about spiders, and it happened in real life. Giles agrees – he dreamed about getting lost in the stacks, and then it happened. He tells them about Billy and how he might be influencing events in the real world while comatose.

The longer this goes on, the more Sunnydale citizens will face their worst nightmares, like Cordelia having a horrible hair day. Poor baby. Buffy has real problems to deal with! She spots Billy going into the school gym and follows him in. She tries to talk to him about his attack, but he doesn’t remember what happened after the game. He confirms that “the ugly man,” Laura’s attacker, calls him lucky 19. Before Buffy can get any more information, the ugly man attacks. Buffy’s able to fight back, unlike in her nightmare about the Master, but it’s a tough fight and she ends up running away.

The other Scoobies split up to find Buffy, though Willow doesn’t think that’s the safest option. Buffy traps the ugly man in the gym, and Billy tells her they need to hide, even though the ugly man will find them. After spotting Cordelia – now wearing clothes she would never willingly wear – getting dragged to a chess club meeting, Willow hears Buffy calling to her from the basement. She gathers her courage to go down there, where someone grabs her. Xander finds himself in an abandoned wing of the school, which has been trashed and graffitied with swastikas. He finds a trail of candy bars on the ground and follows them, because Xander is a child.

Meanwhile, Buffy gets turned around on the way to the library, and she and Billy end up by the school’s baseball field. He comments that losing a baseball game is bad. His team lost their game last week, and Billy blames himself because he missed a catch. Buffy points out that there are other players on the team, so he can’t blame the loss on one player. Billy tells her that someone else blamed him for the loss. Buffy guesses that’s the man who hurt him. They spot the ugly man and go back inside, but somehow find themselves in a cemetery instead.

Willow, now dressed in a kimono, is backstage in the auditorium, about to take the stage with an opera singer. Willow is supposedly “the world’s finest soprano.” Willow doesn’t know the words to the duet she’s supposed to sing with the other singer, and he’s not happy about it. Xander follows the candy-bar trail to his own worst nightmare, a clown from his sixth birthday party. To be fair, the clown has a knife, which is pretty scary.

In the cemetery, Billy points Buffy’s attention to an empty grave. The Master appears and taunts that he’s free because that’s what Buffy fears. People’s nightmares are coming true, and the world is now crumbling. He grabs Buffy, telling her this is real, not a dream. Then he drops her into the grave, where she falls into an open casket. The lid closes and the Master starts to bury her alive.

Xander finds Willow, who run into Giles while trying to escape the killer clown. But instead of running, Xander stops and attacks the clown. “You were a lousy clown!” he shouts. “Your balloon animals were pathetic! Anyone can make a giraffe!” The three Scoobies head outside, where things are chaotic. Giles warns that if they don’t end this nightmare stuff soon, the dream world will envelop the real world. They need to find Buffy. Hey, maybe the cemetery that’s suddenly appeared across the street will provide them with some answers!

As the three head over, Giles realizes that they’re in his nightmare. He finds Buffy’s headstone, which means he failed in his duty to train and protect the Slayer. Fortunately, she’s not dead, as she demonstrates by reaching out of her grave and pulling herself out. Unfortunately, she’s a vampire. Now the Scoobies are in one of Buffy’s nightmares. Giles tells Buffy that if they can wake Billy up, they may be able to return the world to normal. Buffy will just need to keep it together long enough to do that. She says they should hurry, since she’s getting hungry. Willow worries that they won’t be able to wake Billy. “Willow, do shut up,” Giles tells her.

At the hospital, the Scoobies encounter both the real Billy and his dream self. The ugly man is on his way, and dream Billy says he needs to stay asleep so he can hide. Buffy isn’t scared, though. She faces the ugly man, knowing he’s not the scariest enemy she’ll ever face. “There are a lot scarier things than you – and I’m one of them,” she says. They fight, and this time she’s stronger than he is. Buffy tells Billy to finish him off so he can stop hiding.

Once Billy pulls off the ugly man’s face, a bright light shines out. The world returns to normal and Billy wakes up. Moments later, his baseball coach arrives and tells the Scoobies that he comes to visit Billy every day – he just has to see his lucky 19. Buffy realizes the coach beat Billy because he blamed Billy for losing the game. But Billy no longer blames himself, and Buffy’s proud to hear him repeat what she said about one player not being responsible for a team’s loss.

The Scoobies head back to school after making sure the coach has been arrested. Hank arrives to pick up Buffy for the weekend, both of them happy to see each other. Willow asks Xander if he was still attracted to Buffy while she was a vampire. He pretends that’s a horrible question, then admits that the answer is yes.

Thoughts: Jeremy Foley, who plays Billy, looks amazingly like Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Wendell: “They’re arachnids.” Xander: “They’re from the Middle East?” Stay in school, buddy.

I wish Cordelia’s nightmares had been less shallow. I think it would be realistic for her to worry that her friends don’t really like her, or that her money and popularity won’t mean anything when she’s out of school and in the real world, or that her shallowness means she’s not prepared for life beyond high school.

October 16, 2021

Buffy 1.9, The Puppet Show: Slaying for Dummies

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:19 pm by Jenn

Sid also gives me the wig

Summary: “I will be whole. I will be new,” vows a deep voice. We’re backstage in Sunnydale High’s auditorium, where rehearsals for a talent show are underway. Cordelia sings “The Greatest Love of All” and makes babies cry across the five nearest counties. The Scoobies arrive to tease Giles for having to run the show. It’s on the orders of the new principal, Snyder, who wants Giles to have more contact with the students instead of hiding in the library. Buffy teases that he can’t escape his destiny. She’s going to watch, like he usually does.

The Scoobies leave, running into Snyder on their way out. He doesn’t appreciate that they’re not taking this seriously. He also knows that they all left campus the previous afternoon. Buffy starts to tell him that they were fighting a demon. Buffy, come on. Xander corrects that they left to avoid fighting. Snyder tells the Scoobies they’re too antisocial and need to be more involved in school activities. He orders them to participate in the talent show. The Scoobies would rather face a vampire than do that, but Snyder isn’t like Flutie. There will be no touchy-feely principaling here.

Up next on stage is a guy named Morgan who does a ventriloquist act. Buffy tells Willow that dummies have given her “the wig” since she was a kid. When Willow asks for details, Buffy says, “I saw a dummy; it gave me the wig.” Morgan isn’t very good, either at the jokes in his “humorous” act or the ventriloquism part. No one’s impressed until the dummy, Sid, starts mocking him.

A girl named Emily is alone in the locker room when she hears someone else in the room. There’s heavy breathing coming from a low height. Whatever’s there attacks her, declaring, “I will be flesh.” The next day, the Scoobies try to rehearse their “talent,” a scene from a play. Xander doesn’t want to do it. He points out that Willow plays the piano, so Buffy suggests that she play while they sing. Willow backs out, since she’s terrified of singing in front of an audience.

From nearby, Sid ogles the girls. Buffy and Willow are impressed with how well Morgan is doing as a ventriloquist. Sid keeps hitting on the girls, asking them out. “You know what they say: Once you go wood, nothing’s as good,” he says. Buffy tells Morgan it’s time to put an end to the sexually harassing part of his routine, or she’ll burn the dummy.

Snyder tells Giles that kids need more discipline than Flutie was willing to give them. Flutie’s belief that kids are humans and need understanding was “the kind of woolly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.” Snyder knows all about the strange things that have gone on at the school, and he wants to put a stop to them. He’s going to keep an eye on the Scoobies and turn things around.

Too late! Emily’s dead in the locker room. Giles tells the Scoobies that Emily’s heart was removed with a knife. That means the killer is probably a human. Buffy disagrees, since they’re on the Hellmouth and all. Willow’s freaked out because the killer could be anyone, even her. Okay, not her. Giles tells the Scoobies to question the other talent show participants in case they know something.

Buffy questions a tuba player named Lisa, Giles talks to a magician named Marc, Willow chats with a guy named Elliot, and Xander’s stuck with Cordelia. All of them say they didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary with Emily, but that Morgan was acting weird the other day. Elliot thinks he was arguing with Sid. Cordelia’s freaked out about “Emma”‘s death and says she could have been the one who died. “We can dream,” Xander quips.

Buffy goes to see Morgan, who’s talking to Sid in the auditorium. He says he was working on throwing his voice. She asks him if Emily said anything to him yesterday, or if he saw her fighting with someone. Morgan says no, then pauses when his head starts to hurt. Sid tells Buffy to leave him alone. Buffy doesn’t appreciate that, so Morgan puts Sid in his carrying case. He starts to tell Buffy something about the dummy, then leaves.

The Scoobies meet up in the library, agreeing that Morgan is a person of interest here. Buffy cautions them not to jump from “Morgan is weird” straight to “Morgan killed Emily.” There could still be a demon element here. Giles hasn’t had time to look into that, thanks to his responsibilities with the talent show. The Scoobies think the investigation should be a priority, but Giles warns that Snyder is keeping a close eye on them, so “the show must go on.” He sends Buffy to check out Morgan’s locker for anything suspicious.

Buffy breaks into Morgan’s locker, but Snyder catches her before she can do much looking around. He tells her there are some things he won’t tolerate on school grounds: “Students loitering on campus after school. Horrible murders with hearts being removed. And also smoking.” He knows there’s something going on with her, and sooner or later, he’ll figure it out.

Buffy says she’s just there to get Sid, but he’s not in his case. That’s because he’s with Morgan, watching Buffy and Snyder talk. They return to the auditorium, where Sid tries to convince Morgan that Buffy is “the one.” Morgan declines to do whatever Sid wants him to do. Sid says she’s the last; after this one, he’ll be free.

Over at Buffy’s house, Joyce is eager to see whatever the Scoobies decide to do in the talent show. She wants to be supportive. Buffy would like her to show her support by staying away. Joyce asks if something’s bothering her, but Buffy just says there’s a lot going on in her life. She goes to bed, not noticing that Sid is lurking outside her window. Sometime later that night, Sid opens the window and jumps onto Buffy’s bed. Joyce hears her scream and comes in, but there’s nothing there. She guesses that Buffy had a nightmare. Buffy agrees, though she notices that the window that was closed when she went to bed is now open.

At school the next day, Marc practices his magic routine. He’s not very good. Cordelia complains about her slot in the show, not wanting to follow a rock band since no one will be in a sappy mood for her sappy song. Giles gets rid of her by making a vague comment about her hair that makes her run off to find a mirror. (He credits Xander with that tip.)

Buffy tells the Scoobies that she thinks Sid came into her room last night – alone and alive. Xander thinks it was a cat, and Giles thinks it was a nightmare. Willow allows that Morgan could have been involved. Buffy wishes she could separate him from Sid and have a real conversation with him. Giles has made some progress with his research, finding information on a brotherhood of seven demons that steal human organs every seven years so they can maintain their human forms. Maybe Morgan is one of those demons. The only thing is that those demons are really strong, while Morgan seems to be getting weaker every day.

In history class, Buffy stares at Morgan instead of listening to a lecture on the Monroe Doctrine. Sid turns his head around to look at her. It’s pretty creepy. Cordelia teases that someone has a crush on Buffy. Sid whispers something to Morgan, so the teacher confiscates him and puts him in a cupboard. Sid says he’s still watching. Buffy is, too.

After school, Morgan goes to get his dummy back, but first the teacher wants to talk about how he’s seemed off lately. Morgan is completely focused on getting Sid. Too bad he’s not there. Morgan is distressed – Sid knew to wait for him. Xander has nabbed Sid so Buffy can have a conversation with Morgan alone. He creeps Buffy out with the dummy, then bangs its head on a table to remind Buffy that it’s not real.

Buffy goes to the auditorium to find Morgan but instead encounters Snyder. He tells her that with everything going on, a girl might not be safe there alone. Buffy says she knows how to take care of herself. Back in the library, Willow finds something that says dolls and mannequins with consciousness have been known to harvest organs in an attempt to become human. Maybe Sid had something to do with Emily’s murder. While Xander’s back is turned, Sid disappears.

Buffy finally finds Morgan backstage, but he’s not going to be any help: His brain has been removed. A chandelier falls on Buffy, knocking her out, and even her Slayer strength won’t help her lift it. Sid ambushes her and tries to stab her, but her Slayer strength finally kicks in and gives her an advantage (as do her opposable thumbs). He admits defeat and tells her to go ahead and move on with Emily’s heart and Morgan’s brain. Buffy tells him he lost and will never be human. He says she won’t, either. They’re both confused.

The story comes out in the library: Sid is a demon hunter. Well, he was before he was cursed and turned into a dummy. Morgan wanted Sid to team up with Buffy, but Sid thought she was the demon who killed Emily. He hits on her again, like, she’s 16, dude. Gross. Anyway, the demon has a heart and brain now, which means he gets to keep his human form for seven more years. Giles remarks that it’s nice to have someone else do all this explaining for once.

Sid has killed seven of the brotherhood of the demons. Once he kills the seventh, he’ll be free of his dummy form. He’s sure the seventh is involved in the talent show, so they’ll just need to see who’s missing that night to figure out who the demon is. Giles suddenly remembers that the show is supposed to be starting…well, now. Sid tells him to gather all the participants for a power circle so they can see who’s missing. Giles has no idea what a power circle is. I guess Sunnydale High School has no drama department. Just put everyone in a circle and tell them to have a good show.

Cordelia has state fright, which is probably good, because no one’s going to want to hear her sing. Giles advises her to picture the audience in their underwear. She thinks that’s a horrible idea. Up on a catwalk, Buffy tells Sid she’s the Slayer. He knew one in the ’30s, a hot Korean woman. It sounds like they hooked up. Buffy confirms that when Sid is released from his dummy form, he won’t return to his body. But Sid’s lived a full life, and he’s ready to die.

The power circle gathers, but Giles doesn’t provide them much motivation. Once they all leave to get ready for the show, Buffy jumps down to tell Giles that everyone was present and accounted for. Sid disappears from the catwalk as Giles runs into Snyder, who’s lurking backstage. While looking for Sid, Buffy feels something dripping down on her. It’s some sort of grossness coming off of a brain.

In the library, Xander suggests that Sid lied to them. Buffy thinks the demon just rejected Morgan’s brain, though she can’t figure out why, since Morgan’s super-smart. Willow finds the answer in his school file: He’s missed a bunch of school and his emergency contact is an oncologist. Morgan must have had a tumor that made his brain unusable. Buffy says the demon will now go looking for the smartest person around.

While Marc asks Giles to help him with something backstage, Buffy and Xander worry that Willow is the demon’s next target. Buffy promises to protect her. Yeah, that won’t be a problem. Marc needs Giles to help him with a trick involving a guillotine that will most definitely cut off Giles’ head. The Scoobies realize that the demon was there for the power circle, and that Giles is the next target.

They run to the auditorium, where Marc is locking Giles in for his skull to be cut open. As he chops at the rope keeping the blade up, Buffy tackles him. The rope snaps and the blade falls, but Xander grabs the rope before it can hit Giles. Willow then chops the lock off to free Giles. Buffy tries to trap Marc inside the box attached, but he almost overpowers her. Fortunately, Sid’s there with a knife to help her out.

They get Marc under the blade and use it to kill him. Sid says he’ll come back unless they stab him in the heart. Once Sid does, he dies, finally free. Buffy cradles him in her arms and says it’s over. Just then, the curtains open and everyone there for the talent show gets a good look at the aftermath of the demon fight. “I don’t get it,” Snyder says. “What is it, avant-garde?”

Over the credits, Buffy, Xander, and Willow do a scene from Oedipus Rex. Willow and Xander are nervous, while Buffy can’t hide that she’d rather be anywhere else. Willow runs off, leaving Buffy and Xander alone on the stage. Still, it’s better than Cordelia’s singing.

Thoughts: Snyder is a great “love to hate him” villain, and Armin Shimerman plays him perfectly.

I can’t tell if it’s because of Snyder’s leadership style or because there are so many deaths in Sunnydale, but after Emily dies, there’s no offer of grief counseling and really, no one seems to care that one of their classmates was murdered. The school would be a great place for a psychologist to do a study on the effects of multiple traumas. Okay, that’s enough nerdery from me.

It would have been funny if, after Buffy said to “watch the dummy” while she talked to Morgan, Willow had said, “Okay, I’ll keep an eye on Xander.”

I love that when Xander realizes that Sid is gone, he jumps up on a table like Sid’s a snake he doesn’t want near his feet.

October 9, 2021

Buffy 1.8, I, Robot…You, Jane: Reading Is Fundamental (to Releasing Demons)

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

The first of many, many, OH SO MANY horrible Willow outfits

Summary: Cortona, Italy, 1418. (Yes, I originally typed “Corona.” Sigh.) A demon asks a guy named Carlo to love him, in exchange for anything Carlo could ever want. Carlo submits, and the demon kills him. Elsewhere, a monk tells a group of monks with pitchforks that the demon’s name is Moloch the Corrupter, and he keeps mesmerizing people to follow him. The monks need to bind him and send him away. They do a ritual that puts him into a book, then hide the book so it can never be read, which would release Moloch.

Almost 580 years later, Giles receives that book in a shipment of new arrivals. A few students, including one named Dave, are helping him scan books into the computer system. They’re accompanied by Jenny Calendar, Sunnydale High’s computer science teacher. Giles isn’t thrilled with this project, since he thinks people are too reliant on modern technology. A guy named Fritz rants that information is an entity and “the only reality is virtual. If you’re not jacked in, you’re not alive.”

Jenny tells Giles that people are sending email more than mail now, and using phone lines for digitized information instead of just phone calls. Giles doesn’t care. Willow’s working on the scanning project, too, and she invites Xander to hang out with her. He goes off with Buffy instead. Giles heads to the stacks to hang out with the actual books, telling Jenny and Willow he’ll be in the Middle Ages. “Did you ever leave?” Jenny teases. Later that night, Willow scans Moloch’s book. She doesn’t notice when the text from the book then disappears. “Where am I?” appears on her computer screen.

A few days later, Willow tells Buffy that she spent the previous night on the phone with a guy. His name is Malcolm, and he’s smart and romantic, and they agree about everything. Buffy’s excited for her, then confused when Willow says she doesn’t know what he looks like. In the computer lab, Dave says, “Yes, I will. I promise,” to his computer screen. Totally normal. Willow clarifies to Buffy that she met Malcolm online. She gets an email from him that just says he’s thinking about her.

Buffy thinks they’re rushing things, especially since they haven’t met in person. What does Willow actually know about Malcolm? As they’re talking, a surprisingly modern web cam scans Buffy and looks her up on a computer somewhere else. It brings up her academic file, which Fritz takes a good look at. “Watch her,” the computer screen tells him.

Willow tells Buffy the few things she knows about Malcolm, but Buffy doesn’t think it’s enough to build a meaningful relationship. Not that she’s shallow or anything, but she doesn’t want Willow dating an ugly, hairy guy. She tries to be supportive. Jenny mentions to Fritz that he and Dave have been using the computer lab a lot. He says they’re working on a big project. She’ll definitely be impressed by it – in fact, she’ll die.

Some random student on campus is unhappy with what he sees on his delightfully chunky mid-’90s laptop: His paper about Nazi Germany has been altered and now says it was “a model of a well-ordered society.” Yikes. Good thing he reread it before submitting it. Xander asks Willow if they’re going to the Bronze that night. Willow claims she wants to go to bed early, but he guesses she really wants to talk to Malcolm.

He complains to Buffy, whom he figures will have to slay that night, that everyone deserts him. Buffy teases him for being jealous of Malcolm. They agree that he might not be who he says he is. Willow could end up axe-murdered by a circus freak! Buffy decides Xander is overreacting, and in turn making her overreact.

“I’m jacked in,” Fritz says over and over as he does something computer-y. He’s also carving a letter M in his arm. Willow is late to school the next day, having overslept after a late-night chat with Malcolm. Buffy tries to be gentle as she comments that this isn’t like Willow. Willow accuses Buffy of not wanting her to be happy. Buffy says she just wants Willow to be sure that Malcolm is really Malcolm. Willow thinks her new relationship is more important than school. Malcolm told her that Buffy wouldn’t understand.

Buffy goes to the computer lab to ask Dave if it’s possible to trace an email to its sender. He tells her she can look into someone’s online profile, but since the user writes that profile, that wouldn’t be helpful. Buffy asks if there’s a way to find out where an email came from. When she mentions Willow and Malcolm, he orders her to leave Willow alone. Buffy guesses that he’s Malcolm, but he denies it. As Buffy leaves the lab, Fritz glares.

In the library, Buffy tells Giles that something weird is going on. Not that he can really help, since he knows nothing about computers. He suggests that Buffy tail Dave and see if he’s up to anything funny. Buffy scoffs at that idea, but after school, that’s exactly what she does. She follows him to a company called CRD, where he talks to a guy in a white lab coat before going inside. A security camera spots her and sends her image to Fritz in the computer lab. He says she’s too close and asks what to do. “Kill her,” his screen tells him.

Back at school, Buffy tells Xander and Giles that she was only able to follow Dave for a little while. Xander ID’s CRD as a computer research firm. It was the third largest employer in town until it closed down last year. Buffy finds that interesting, since it didn’t look closed. Giles notes that whatever’s going on might be legitimate, but Xander says that if the company had reopened, it would have been on the news. Plus, Buffy’s spider sense is tingling. (Not that Giles gets that pop culture reference.)

Buffy and Xander decide to break into CRD that night. Before Giles can caution them not to break the law, Jenny enters the library. They bicker a little, in that way where you just know they have the hots for each other. Jenny notes that Buffy and Xander spend a lot of time in the library. “To read makes our speaking English good,” Xander says.

Willow chats with Malcolm in the lab (his voice is computerized), and she asks if he thinks they should meet. Awww, it’s just like You’ve Got Mail! Willow says that Buffy doesn’t understand how comfortable and happy Malcolm makes her feel. Malcolm mentions that Buffy was kicked out of her previous school. Willow is surprised that he knows that. Malcolm says she must have brought it up, but Willow disagrees and logs off.

Back in the library, Giles and Jenny are bickering again. She’s trying to convince him that modern technology isn’t a fad. Giles doesn’t like that people can be manipulated by it so easily. Jenny opens Moloch’s book and sees that the pages are blank. Giles is surprised, then concerned when he realizes what the book is.

More computer wackiness on campus: A student’s file in the nurse’s office no longer mentions that he’s allergic to penicillin. Buffy runs into Dave, who apologizes for being weird with her the day before. He tells her Willow’s looking for her and said she’d be in the girls’ locker room. She’s not there, but Fritz is, and he turns on a shower so Buffy will step into the water to turn it off and get electrocuted by some wires on the floor. Dave warns her just in time, and she’s able to leap out of the shower before any harm is done.

Dave goes back to the computer lab and tells a screen that he’s not going to do this anymore. Moloch’s voice tells him the project is almost complete, so he won’t have to hurt Buffy again. Moloch has shown Dave a new world full of power and knowledge. He just wants Dave’s love. When Dave won’t submit to him, Moloch writes a suicide note for him. Fritz is lurking in the shadows, ready to do Moloch’s bidding.

Xander is furious with Dave for trying to hurt Buffy, who’s more concerned with her post-shock hair than with the fact that a classmate almost killed her. Giles shows them Moloch’s book and tells them that in the Dark Ages, demons’ souls were sometimes trapped in books to render them harmless, as long as the books weren’t read. Moloch must be out, trying to gain followers again.

Buffy wonders how no one’s noticed a big, horned demon walking around Sunnydale. Xander doesn’t get why the demon used Dave to attack Buffy instead of doing it himself. Giles doesn’t know, and he also doesn’t know who would have read the book, which wasn’t in English. Buffy and Xander realize that it was scanned, which put Moloch’s soul in the Internet. Giles suggests that they delete the file Willow scanned, in case that does anything. Buffy tries that, but that brings up Moloch’s face. He tells her to stay away from Willow.

Xander doesn’t think Moloch can do much harm inside a computer. Buffy and Giles list the possibilities: screwing up medical files and traffic signals, and launching nuclear missiles. They need to find Willow. Buffy heads to the computer lab, where all the screens turn on at once. That’s disturbing, but not as disturbing as Buffy finding Dave’s body hanging from the ceiling, “his” suicide note pinned to his shirt.

Buffy returns to the library to share the news with Giles and Xander. They guess that Fritz or someone from CRD killed Dave. Buffy tells Giles to figure out how to get Moloch out of the Internet while she and Xander go looking for Willow. Giles may have to ask Jenny for help, though he’s not sure how to do that without telling her that they’re dealing with a demon.

Willow goes home, where she gets an email from “Malcolm” saying he wants to see her. She ignores it, but she gets another email right afterward. Just then, Fritz shows up and chloroforms her. As a newscaster talks about various computer-related disasters around the world, Jenny arrives to help Giles. He can’t figure out how to explain what’s going on without saying it straight out: There’s a demon in the computer system. “I know,” she replies.

Buffy and Xander get to Willow’s house and are concerned when they find the front door open. They see Malcolm’s message on the computer and guess that Moloch wants to meet Willow at CRD. Back in the library, Jenny tells Giles that there have been portents about something bad for days. She guesses they’re dealing with a mischief demon. He tells her it’s Moloch, whom she’s familiar with. Jenny calls herself a technopagan and tells Giles there are more of them than he’d think. Whatever Jenny is (basically a witch who doesn’t actually practice magic), she may be able to help.

Buffy calls from CRD and Giles tells her that he and Jenny are trying to get Moloch “off-line.” Inside the lab, Willow’s surrounded by computers, plus Fritz, the guy in the white coat…and Moloch. He’s now less demon, more Iron Man. He’s thrilled to have so much knowledge, but it’s not nearly as thrilling as having physical form again. It allows him to touch things and walk around. Oh, and also to kill people. ‘Bye, Fritz!

Xander and Buffy climb the fence around CRD and break into the building. Moloch knows they’re coming. In the library, Jenny sends a message to her fellow technopagans so they can do a ritual together as a kind of cyber-coven. At CRD, Moloch tells Willow he wants to give her the world. She gave him life by freeing him from the book. Willow doesn’t appreciate how he lied and pretended he loved her, though Moloch claims he does love her.

While Buffy and Xander spot Willow on a surveillance feed, Moloch tries to convince Willow to take him up on his offer of knowledge of everything going on in the world. For example, a guy in Beijing is putting out a hit on his mother. “Good for him,” Moloch says. A security alarm starts going off, so Buffy and Xander know they’ve been busted. Gas starts spraying into the hallway.

Jenny and her cyber-coven form a circle of sorts so they can perform the binding ritual to put Moloch back in the book. Buffy tries to break down the door to the lab where Willow’s resisting Moloch. She tells him she’ll never submit to him or be his. Xander falls unconscious from the gas, and Buffy’s losing the fight to stay conscious. Moloch tells Willow he’ll miss her, then starts to kill her. Fortunately, Jenny’s cyber-coven comes through, and as Malcolm feels the effects of the ritual, Buffy overcomes the gas in time to save Willow. Also, Xander punches out the guy in the white coat. He’s very excited that he got to hit someone.

Jenny confirms to Giles that Moloch is out of the Internet, but the book is still blank, so he’s not there, either. He’s still running around CRD, and Buffy isn’t much of a match for him. Moloch complains that he’s now trapped in his metal body. Willow hits him a few times with a fire extinguisher, sarcastically saying that maybe they can still be friends. This gives Buffy the chance to get up and take on Moloch again. She gets him to take a swing at her, then moves out of the way so he punches an electrical panel instead, shorting himself out. Success!

At school the next day, Giles overcomes his hatred of technology long enough to visit Jenny in the computer lab and return an earring she lost in the library. He tells her he’s less interested in being around computers now than he used to be. Jenny notes that a book caused all this trouble, not a computer. Yeah, but the computer read the book and released the demon, so…

Giles tells her he likes the smell of books – smell brings up memories and reminds us of wonderful experiences. Knowledge in computers has no texture; it’s not tangible. Jenny teases him for being old-fashioned. Giles says he doesn’t dangle a corkscrew from his earlobe like she does. “That’s not where I dangle it,” she replies. Guys, guys – just kiss already!

Buffy and Xander try to convince Willow to go to the Bronze that night. She’s feeling down from learning that her first relationship was all a lie. They remind her that they haven’t had much luck in the relationship department, either – Buffy fell for a vampire and Xander fell for a giant praying mantis. They laugh over the fact that none of them will ever have a healthy relationship. “We’re doomed!” Xander exclaims. The three realize it’s not that funny after all.

Thoughts: Dave is played by Chad Lindberg.

The monk’s name is Thelonius. Clever.

Sunnydale High may have a computer lab and a computer science teacher, but its Internet technology seems lacking even for 1997.

Murderous demon or not, Moloch is still less scary than some people I’ve encountered online.

Ah, the ’90s-ness of this episode. Someone says “the net,” and Xander notes that Willow can’t be online at home because the phone line isn’t busy.

October 2, 2021

Buffy 1.7, Angel: Kill or Be Killed

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

I, too, like to make out with mysterious guys I know nothing about

Summary: Collin and the Master are hanging out underground, still waiting for their minions to do their jobs so the Master can ascend. The Master complains to Darla that Buffy killed another one of his minions. He’s tired of the Slayer taking out all his guys. Collin suggests that the Master kill her, so Darla volunteers to do the job. The Master decides to send the Three instead.

The Bronze is about to close for a few days for fumigation, which means it’s time for their annual fumigation party. Catch a roach, get a free drink! Willow thinks it’s fun, but Buffy’s distracted. She laments that she’s single. Willow suggests that she date Angel, but since he’s not around much, that doesn’t appeal to Buffy. Still, she does like when he is around.

Xander is dancing dorkily, trying to find someone to dance dorkily with him. Cordelia taunts him and he taunts her back. So…same as usual. Xander joins Buffy and Willow, but Buffy thinks she’s bringing down everyone’s mood, so she leaves. On her way out, she passes a lurking Angel, but when she turns to double-check that he was really there, he disappears.

On her way home, Buffy senses a vampire and prepares to stake him and be on her way. Unfortunately, it’s not one vampire, it’s three. Specifically, it’s the Three. They’re all really strong, and she’s more outnumbered than she would be with just three regular vampires. Fortunately, Angel comes to her rescue and makes it a more even fight. But they don’t finish any of the vampires off, and Angel takes a metal post to the stomach. The two run to Buffy’s house, which the Three can’t enter without an invitation.

Buffy goes to get some bandages for Angel’s wound, telling him to take off his jacket and shirt. That’s a little treat for the audience. Buffy asks how he happened to be in the right place at the right time. Angel pretends he wasn’t stalking her and was just out for a walk. Buffy says it’s not a huge problem if he’s been hanging around her, but she’d like to know why. “Maybe I like you,” he says.

Buffy hears Joyce come home and runs to the front door to make sure the Three aren’t still outside the house. She rushes Joyce upstairs before she can realize that there’s someone else there. But Angel makes himself seen, so Buffy has to introduce him to her mother. She lies that he’s a college student who’s been tutoring her in history.

After Joyce goes upstairs, Buffy pretends to see Angel off, then sneaks him up to her room so he won’t have to face the Three. She offers to let him sleep in her bed while she sleeps on the floor. He’s too chivalrous for that, and also too chivalrous not to look away while she’s changing clothes. They chat while he looks out the window to see if the Three are still there.

Buffy asks why Angel has taken on the tasks she’s destined for as the Chosen One. He says someone has to protect humanity. His family’s dead, and Buffy guesses vampires are to blame. They are, but Angel says it was a long time ago. He changes the subject, telling Buffy how pretty she is. As they get in bed/floor, she asks if he snores. He doesn’t know, since it’s been a long time since he’s slept close enough to someone who might hear.

Xander’s upset to hear the next day that Angel spent the night in Buffy’s room. Willow thinks it’s romantic and wonders if anything happened. Buffy happily says that Angel was a gentleman. Xander thinks Angel set this all up to impress her. Giles asks about the Three, who he’s identified as warrior vampires. Willow wonders how Giles always knows what’s going on. She never knows what’s going on. Giles tells Buffy they need to step up her training. Xander suggests that Buffy stay with him for a while. Willow can tell Angel to leave town. Xander, stop talking. Giles says Buffy and Angel aren’t in immediate danger. The Three won’t be a problem again.

Indeed, the Three admit to the Master that they failed to kill the Slayer, which means the Master is allowed/expected to kill them. The Master tells Collin that this is part of the responsibility that comes with their power. He doesn’t see the point in killing the Three, but he lets Darla kill them anyway, because why not find joy wherever you can?

Buffy raids the book cage, where Giles keeps the weapons they haven’t gotten to use yet. She’s especially interested in using a crossbow. He wants her to start with a quarterstaff instead. They spar, and she quickly disarms him and flips him onto his back. That’s enough for Giles to allow her to try the crossbow instead.

Angel’s been hanging out in Buffy’s room all day, so she brings him dinner. In a bag. I guess it’s the thought that counts. She gets upset when she thinks he read her diary, since she’s written a bunch of stuff about someone named A. Not that A is Angel! He’s Achmed, a charming exchange student! Buffy loves Achmed! You heard it here first! Angel tells her that Joyce moved the diary when she came in to straighten up the room. Angel hid in the closet and didn’t read it.

He’s decided he can’t hang out with Buffy because when they’re around each other, all he can think about is how much he wants to kiss her. Since he’s older, this can’t happen. Buffy isn’t deterred by that, so they kiss. But he pulls away, and when he turns back to her, his face has changed – he’s vamped out. Buffy screams and Angel jumps out the window. When Joyce runs into find out what happened, Buffy says she just got spooked by a shadow.

The next day, Buffy shares the news with the other Scoobies. She wonders if a vampire can ever be a good person. Giles says no – even with his memories from his human life, he’s been taken over by a demon. Buffy wonders why Angel was so nice to her, then. Is this something the Master cooked up? Xander doesn’t care – Angel’s a vampire, so Buffy has to slay him.

That won’t be so easy, since Buffy has developed feelings for Angel. You might even say she’s in love with him. Xander exclaims that she’s out of her mind for falling for a vampire. Cordelia overhears, so Xander corrects himself: Buffy’s in love with an umpire. Cordelia quickly moves on to confront a girl who’s wearing the same dress she is. “You think we have problems,” Buffy quips.

Angel goes home to what can only be described as a lair. Darla’s waiting for him there, and this isn’t their first encounter. In fact, they’ve known each other for decades. They used to wreak havoc together, but now Angel’s hanging out with a Slayer and acting like a human. Angel acknowledges that he’s not human, but he’s also not like other vampires. Darla points out that he still needs blood to survive. (Unlike other vampires, he drinks from blood bags.)

Darla tries to entice Angel to let his real nature come out. She knows it’s brewing inside him, and she hopes she’s around when it finally explodes out of him. She taunts that Buffy’s probably afraid of him. Or maybe not. Maybe if Angel tells her about the curse, she’ll change her mind. But if she still doesn’t trust him, Angel knows where he can find Darla.

The Scoobies do some research in the library, but they have trouble finding any information on Angel. Giles comes across something about Angelus, so named because of his angelic face. That means Angel’s about 240, which isn’t as old as many vampires, but is still pretty old. Angelus came from Ireland, caused trouble in Europe for decades, and then came to the U.S. about 80 years ago and basically became a hermit. Willow thinks that means he’s a good vampire after all. Buffy agrees, since Angel never fed on her.

Underground, Darla presents a plan to the Master: Have Angel kill Buffy, then return to their fold. The Master is a big fan of Angel’s, or at least the evil version of him, Angelus. Darla plans to force Angel to kill Buffy to keep her from killing him. The Master is pleased that his “family” is looking out for each other.

Buffy and Willow try to study in the library, but Buffy’s understandably distracted. Willow gets that Buffy’s still hung up on Angel. She herself can’t help fantasizing about Xander just grabbing her and kissing her. Buffy encourages her to speak up if she wants to be with Xander. Willow knows that’ll end badly, so she’s not going there.

Darla lurks in the shelves upstairs as Buffy and Willow talk about Buffy’s kiss with Angel. Willow thinks it’s nice that Angel will always be young and handsome, though it’s not quite as nice when she thinks about how Buffy will grow old and die. Plus, what if they have kids? Buffy wants to get all this out of her system and come to terms with the fact that Angel’s a vampire, so nothing can happen between them.

At home, Joyce hears creaking noises outside and checks to make sure she’s alone. She’s not – Darla’s outside. She introduces herself as a friend of Buffy’s who’s there to study. Joyce naïvely invites her in and offers her a snack. Angel’s lurking outside as well, and he almost knocks on the door to see if Buffy will talk to him. That means he’s close enough to hear Joyce when she screams.

Angel bursts into the house (thanks to Buffy’s earlier invitation) and tells Darla to let Joyce go. Darla tries to tempt him into drinking some of her blood. He vamps out but struggles to stop himself. Of course, that’s when Buffy comes home and catches him in vamp face, bent over her unconscious mother. She throws him out a window and tells him that if he comes back, she’ll kill him.

Buffy calls an ambulance, telling the 911 operator that Joyce cut herself. The Scoobies reconvene at the hospital, where Joyce is told that she slipped and cut herself on something resembling a barbecue fork (which the Summerses don’t have). She meets Giles for the first time and is impressed by how caring the teachers are in Sunnydale.

Buffy thinks she was stupid to trust Angel and not kill him after she found out that he’s a vampire. Willow thinks it’s reasonable that she couldn’t bring herself to kill someone she cares about. But now Buffy is ready to make sure Angel never hurts anyone else she cares about. Giles reminds her that Angel knows she’s a Slayer and has taken on the Three. This isn’t going to be an easy kill.

Darla goes back to Angel’s lair to tell him that Buffy’s looking for him. She taunts him for letting himself believe that Buffy might accept him. As Buffy gets in some crossbow practice, Darla urges Angel to kill Buffy before she can kill him: “Kill. Feed. Live.” Angel tells her he wants this over, which Darla is happy to hear.

Since Buffy knows Angel lives near the Bronze, she goes there to try to figure out where he might be. Back at the hospital, Giles chats with Joyce about Buffy’s trouble with history. Since Buffy “lives very much in the now,” she has a hard time learning about things that have already happened. Joyce says she’s trying, since she’s studying with both Willow and Darla. Giles isn’t familiar with Darla, whom Joyce notes was still in the house when she had her “accident.” Giles figures out that Darla, not Angel, attacked Joyce.

Buffy follows some noises into the closed Bronze, hunting Angel. He appears to her with his vamp face on, ready to fight. But when she has her chance to send an arrow into his heart, she hesitates. He morphs out of his vamp face and encourages her to go ahead and stake him. Buffy asks why he’s acted the way he has. He was nice to her, and now he’s her enemy. Why go after her family? Angel says he killed his own family, so why not?

For 100 years, Angel killed everyone he met, and he did it happily. Then one day he killed a Romani girl about Buffy’s age. Her elders came up with a creative punishment: They restored his soul. When you become a vampire, your soul disappears, leaving you without a conscience or guilt. That makes it easier to kill innocent people. “You have no idea what it’s like to have done the things I’ve done…and to care,” Angel says. He hasn’t fed on a human since that day.

Buffy wonders why Angel suddenly chose to attack Joyce. He says he didn’t, but he knew Buffy wouldn’t believe him if he said so. Plus, his demon side took over and he truly wanted to kill her. Buffy puts down her crossbow and walks up to him, offering him the chance to do it. When he doesn’t move, she says it must not be as easy as it seems. Darla, who’s just arrived, disagrees.

As the other Scoobies search for Buffy, Darla lets Buffy know that she and Angel were involved for a long time. Buffy just insults Darla’s outfit, hair, and wrinkles. Darla reminds Angel that he threw away his shot at ruling with her in the Master’s court because he wanted to get to know Buffy. He’ll always be sick, and he’ll spend the rest of his eternal life remembering what it was like to watch Buffy die.

Buffy picks up her crossbow again, but Darla isn’t scared, since she has two guns. She shoots Angel, though a bullet won’t kill a vampire. She continues firing at Buffy, who’s able to hide from her. The Scoobies are outside and hear the shots. Buffy’s a better shot with her crossbow than Darla is with her guns, though she doesn’t get an arrow in Darla’s heart.

Xander suggests that the Scoobies distract Darla, so Willow yells out that Darla was the one who attacked Joyce. Darla starts shooting at them but keeps missing. Still, the distraction works, and Buffy is almost able to get the upper hand. While Darla’s focused on her, Angel comes up behind Darla and jams an arrow through her back, into her heart. Darla says his name, surprised, then turns to dust. Angel leaves without saying anything to Buffy.

Underground, the Master is distraught to lose his favorite vampire. Collin says Darla was weak and they don’t need her. He’ll kill the Slayer. The Master is also sad that Angel won’t be returning to the fold to sit at his right hand. Collin says everyone’s against the Master, but he’ll rise soon and they’ll kill everyone.

The Scoobies (minus Giles) go back to the Bronze for the post-fumigation party. Angel’s been radio-silent, but Buffy feels like he’s still watching her. Willow notices that he’s lurking in the shadows once again. Xander decides not to watch, which means his full attention is on Willow.

Angel approaches Buffy, saying he just wanted to make sure she and Joyce were both okay. He knows he and Buffy can never have any kind of relationship. She understands, and she agrees that they both need to walk away. But neither of them does. Instead, they kiss again. Willow decides not to tell Xander about that. This time, Angel doesn’t vamp out, though he says it hurts. When Buffy leaves, saying she’ll see him around, we see what Angel meant: Her cross necklace burned his chest.

Thoughts: The show uses the word “gypsy,” but that’s considered a slur, so I’ll be using “Romani.”

For the record, Buffy telling Angel, “Get in” when they get to her house counts as an invitation.

I’d forgotten how little Willow gets to do this early in the season. It’s too bad, especially since Alyson Hannigan is so funny. But at least she gets more to do than Charisma Carpenter.

September 25, 2021

Buffy 1.6, The Pack: Who Knew Xander Was the Alpha Anything?

Posted in TV tagged at 1:08 pm by Jenn

This is basically the official photo for this episode and I bet Eion Bailey hates it

Summary: Buffy, her classmates, and her ugly orange coat are on a field trip at the zoo. The popular kids (Kyle, Rhonda, Tor, and Heidi) mock her, but she pretends not to care. Xander and Willow find her, excited because they just saw zebras mating. They think she should be happier about being on a field trip. After all, they get to miss class and look at animals.

The popular kids move on to a nerd named Lance, who’s sketching some monkeys. The theme of their teasing is that he’s also a monkey. Clever. Mr. Flutie catches them and asks Lance to rat out the kids if they were bothering him. Lance, no idiot, says they were just playing around. Mr. Flutie warns that he’s keeping an eye on the group.

The kids are happy that Lance didn’t betray them, so as a reward they take Lance to the hyena house, which is supposed to be closed. The Scoobies see them and complain about how annoying Kyle and his friends are. Buffy wants to go after the group and make sure Lance is okay, but Xander says he’ll go alone. Willow tells Buffy that the kids are jerks, but they won’t actually hurt Lance. Probably.

The girls decide to tag along, too, but a zoologist named Dr. Weirick stops them. He tells them hyenas will prey on the weak. Plus, the animals are in quarantine, having just arrived from Africa. The girls need to stay out of their enclosure even if the hyenas call their name. According to a Masai tribesman Weirick once spoke to, hyenas can understand human speech. They’ll learn humans’ names, then call out to them at night to separate them from the people they’re with. Then the pack devours them.

The other kids go to the exhibit, and once they’ve seen one hyena, Lance suggests they leave. Instead, the other kids playfully threaten to throw him in with the animals. Xander steps in and tells them to pick on someone their own species. The hyena growls and its eyes flash yellow-green. All the kids’ eyes do the same. They’re also standing inside some big symbol painted on the floor. When Lance trips behind them, they all laugh at him, except Xander, who just smiles evilly.

At the Bronze that night, Willow wonders if Xander’s okay, since he was quiet on the bus back from the zoo. Buffy teases her for being so hyper-aware of everything Xander-related. Willow says he makes her head tingle. Buffy laments that she hasn’t had a crush like that in a while. Willow thinks she likes Angel; after all, she’s still wearing his jacket. Buffy has to admit that he’s attractive. The problem is that he’s never around, and when he is, he just wants to talk about vampires. That doesn’t sound like the basis for a good relationship.

Xander arrives, making eyes at a girl before joining Buffy and Willow. He helps himself to some of Buffy’s food and drink, then says he needs something more substantial. The girls are confused about his behavior. He says he’s just restless. He also sniffs Buffy’s hair, which is when I would have called it a night if I were her. Kyle and his friends come in, and they have a stare-off with Xander before walking away. They make an overweight kid leave the table she wants to sit at, and Xander laughs along with him.

Buffy trains with Giles in the library the next day, which seems like a strange arrangement because she’s obviously much stronger than he is and could probably knock him over with one kick. There’s a little chaos in the hallway, as the school’s new mascot, Herbert the pig, has gotten loose. (The mascot is supposed to be a Razorback, but this is just a regular pig with some foam spikes and tusks. No one’s impressed.) Mr. Flutie comes to collect him.

Willow helps Xander study for math, but he’s frustrated because he doesn’t see the point in learning it. Same, buddy. Same. He throws out his book and snaps at Willow, then leaves. Buffy and Mr. Flutie take Herbert back to his cage as Mr. Flutie complains that kids nowadays have no school spirit. Of course, back in his day, teachers also told the kids that things were better back in their day. As Xander walks by, Herbert starts squealing and trying to get away.

It’s raining during gym class, which means everyone has to play dodgeball. Here are the rules: dodge. Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Kyle and his group are all in the same class, with Buffy and Willow on one team and the popular kids and Xander on the other. Xander hits Willow harder than necessary with a ball, and she doesn’t appreciate it. Eventually, Buffy’s the only one left on her team, but instead of easily taking her out, the popular kids turn on Lance, their own teammate. Buffy stares Xander down for participating in their meanness. The coach just marvels at the brutality of the game.

After class, Willow goes to confront Xander for his recent behavior. He tells her his feelings for her have been changing. Buffy arrives as Xander tells Willow that he won’t need her help with math anymore, which is great because he won’t have to every look at her pasty face again. The popular kids laugh like this is the funniest thing anyone has ever said. Willow runs off, humiliated. Buffy asks if Xander has anything to say to her, but he just goes off with his new friends.

At lunch, Xander sniffs out some hot dogs, and he and his new friends (hereafter known as the pack, because obviously that’s what the episode title is referencing) help themselves to some other kids’ lunches. This is despite one of the kids being friendly to Xander and asking his opinion about a band. The pack isn’t satisfied with the hot dogs, so they move on to a meal with a little more substance: Herbert.

Post-lunch, the pack does a slow-motion walk across campus, which kills a couple minutes. They come across Buffy and Willow, and even though the girls are up on a balcony while Xander’s on the ground, he’s able to hear their conversation. Willow thinks Xander’s singling her out because he wants to hang out with just Buffy. Buffy thinks his behavior is due to something else – something weird.

She goes to Giles, who diagnoses Xander with the devastating condition of being a normal 16-year-old boy. His testosterone is making him act like an idiot, but he’ll get over it. “I can’t believe that you of all people are trying to Scully me,” Buffy complains. She’s sure something supernatural is going on. Giles doesn’t know how to look into that, since Xander being a jerk and scaring a pig don’t exactly point to a specific supernatural thing. But when Giles notes that teenagers often prey on the weak, a lightbulb goes on in Buffy’s head: Xander’s acting like a hyena.

Willow comes in to announce that Herbert has been found dead/eaten. Buffy thinks this is another check in the “something strange is going on” column. Giles has to agree. Meanwhile, Mr. Flutie approaches the pack (minus Xander) and accuses them of harming Herbert. He sentences them to a ton of detention. Back in the library, Buffy and Willow research hyenas, “the schmoes of the animal kingdom.” Willow wishes Xander had been possessed by a kinder, cuter animal.

Giles reports that the Masai of the Serengeti have spoken of animal possession for centuries. There’s a sect of animal worshipers called primals who believe that humanity and the soul are a dilution of spirit. The animal state is holy, and they’re able to draw the spirit of animals into themselves – but just predatory animals. If a person who’s been possessed doesn’t get control of that spirit, there are fatal consequences.

Buffy checks out Herbert’s cage, seeing how strong the pack is. As she’s snooping around, Xander sneaks up behind her and won’t let her leave the room. She takes him down, but that just excites him, since now he’s on the floor and she’s on top of him. Mr. Flutie is still with the rest of the pack, who surround him like…well, like a pack of animals. Xander flips Buffy over so she’s on the ground instead. He thinks she likes her men dangerous and mean, so she’s enjoying this. “Well, guess who just got mean,” he says.

The pack continues closing in on Mr. Flutie, then starts growling at him. Buffy throws Xander off as he talks about how Willow needs to stop kidding herself – he’ll never want anyone but Buffy. She tells him she doesn’t want to hurt him, but when he throws her up against a vending machine, he expects her to fight back. He likes it when she’s scared. He starts to kiss her, and it’s really disturbing. Also disturbing: The pack mauls Mr. Flutie. It’s just like the pack of hyenas Willow is watching in a documentary in the library.

Buffy drags an unconscious Xander into the library (she hit him with a desk), and she and Willow lock him up in a book cage that’s going to get a lot of use over the next two-and-a-half seasons. Giles tells them that the pack was sent to Mr. Flutie’s office for what they did to Herbert, and Mr. Flutie became their next meal. The cover story is that a pack of wild dogs got into his office. Willow confirms that Xander wasn’t a part of that.

Now the Scoobies need to figure out how to end the pack’s possession. Giles knows there’s some sort of ritual, but he doesn’t know the details. He uses an old book of witchy stuff, the Malleus Maleficarum, to piece together something that might work. Buffy says they need to get the hyena’s spirit out of the pack and back into the hyena. They decide to talk to Weirick, who might have had a reason to quarantine the hyenas other than just standard protocol. Willow offers to stay back and keep an eye on Xander.

That night, a woman with a baby finds the pack napping together in a park. They all wake up and snarl at her. Fortunately, they don’t attack her. Xander also wakes up, unhappy to be locked up. He tells Willow that Buffy is the problem – their lives were a lot better before she came to town. He knows something’s wrong with him, but he can’t just wait for Buffy to act. He needs Willow to help him. She promises that Buffy’s trying to help, even if he doesn’t appreciate it.

Xander wonders why Buffy left him and Willow alone together. Willow says she wanted to be the one to stay behind – she knows Xander well, and she wanted to see if he’s still him. He says he is, but when she gets too close to him, he tries to attack her. Willow says now she knows he’s still under the influence of his possession and is still dangerous.

At the zoo, Weirick tells Buffy and Giles that the hyenas are a rare breed that used to be worshiped by the primals. He doesn’t know how one could have possessed the pack. Giles knows the possession ritual involves a predatory act and a symbol. Weirick thinks they can undo the possession; they just need to bring the pack to the hyena enclosure. After a meal and some rest, packs that have been separated go looking for their missing members. That means the rest of the pack will soon be on its way to retrieve Xander. And that means Willow’s in danger.

Indeed, the pack is at the library, calling Willow’s name before bursting through the windows from outside. Willow makes a run for it, and the pack tears into Xander’s cage to free him. They go after Willow, who hides in a classroom. They find her and Xander tries to attack her, but Buffy and Giles get to her in time to save her. The three Scoobies hide in another room until the pack heads off to find a weaker meal. Buffy plans to lead the pack to the zoo for the ritual.

The pack finds their weaker meal in the Andersons, a family getting in their car after having dinner at a friend’s house. Buffy saves them as well and gets the pack to follow her to the zoo. Giles leaves Willow outside the hyena house and goes inside to meet up with Weirick. But Weirick isn’t planning on helping the Scoobies. Giles figures out that he was planning to perform the first possession for himself, and a bunch of teenagers got there first and did it accidentally. No hyena powers for Dr. Weirick!

As he knocks out Giles, Buffy and the pack approach the enclosure. Willow goes in to let Giles and Weirick know they’re almost there. Weirick tells her that Giles is lying in wait, then ties her up and puts a knife to her throat. He tells her this is for the part of the ritual that requires a predatory act. She thinks he’s just going to pretend to kill her. But this is Willow, and she’s really smart, so when Buffy arrives, Willow warns her that Weirick has laid a trap.

When the pack comes in, Weirick says some magic words and undoes their possession. He takes the hyena’s spirit into himself, then starts to attack Willow. Xander tackles him and Buffy finishes him off, throwing him into the hyenas’ den. The pack has already run off, those cowards. Giles stumbles in moments later and asks if he missed anything.

At school the next day, Xander wants reassurance that he had nothing to do with Mr. Flutie’s death. He doesn’t seem to remember anything he did while he was possessed. He’s disturbed enough knowing that he ate a pig. Willow’s grateful because he saved her life, and Buffy’s pleased that the regular Xander is back. She doesn’t tell him about how he almost raped her. As the girls head to class, Giles approaches Xander and says he couldn’t find anything in his research about people not being able to remember what they did while possessed by animals. He promises never to tell anyone Xander’s secret.

Thoughts: Kyle is played by Eion Bailey. Mr. Anderson is played by David Brisbin, AKA Babcock on ER.

God help me but when Buffy stares Xander down after dodgeball, he looks hot.

We never see Xander hanging out with people other than the Scoobies, and I was always under the impression that the Scoobies are seen as losers and outcasts at school. But this episode shows that Xander, at least, isn’t completely invisible or unpopular. The guy who asks him about a band seems nice; he really wants Xander’s opinion and isn’t trying to make fun of him. So it’s good to know that the Scoobies aren’t complete rejects.

Talk of alphas always makes me think of this.

September 18, 2021

Buffy 1.5, Never Kill a Boy on the First Date: “If the Apocalypse Comes, Beep Me”

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

Sorry, Owen. You’re not broody enough for Buffy

Summary: Buffy’s fighting some truly ugly vampire in a cemetery, and though she kills him, Giles has some notes about her performance. She’s spending too much time doing fancy moves. She needs to just stake vampires and move on. Giles notices a ring the vampire dropped and thinks it’s significant. He’ll have to consult his books.

Also consulting a book: the Master. There’s some kind of vampire scripture, I guess, that contains a prophecy about an Anointed One. He’ll have a ton of power and the Slayer won’t be able to defeat him. In fact, “he will lead her into Hell.” The Anointed One will rise from the ashes of five dead people, then be led to his “immortal destiny” by the Brotherhood of Aurelius. One of those brethren was the vampire Buffy just killed. The Master isn’t happy, and he wants to make it clear to the other members of the Brotherhood that there’s no room for any more mistakes.

Giles tries to look up the ring in the library the next day but doesn’t have much luck. Buffy notices a sun and three stars on the inside and easily connects them to the Order of Aurelius. A guy named Owen arrives and Giles asks what he wants. I don’t know, maybe a book? From the library? Where the books are kept? Owen lost the copy of Emily Dickinson poems he usually carries around, and he wants to check out another one. He likes to carry it around as a security blanket. Buffy babbles about her actual security blanket.

Owen notes that Buffy doesn’t seem like the type of hang out in the library. He worries that he’s offended her, but she’s just surprised that he’s given thought to what she might like. She promises she loves books. Buffy obviously has a crush on Owen, and it seems like he likes her, too. She decides to read some Emily Dickinson to have something to talk to Owen about. Giles would love to celebrate the fact that she wants to read, but vampires should take precedence. Giles, what kind of a librarian are you??

At lunch, Willow’s thrilled for Buffy that she got to talk to Owen. He’s usually silent and broody. Well, Buffy likes ’em that way. Xander loudly asks her how slaying went the night before. When she chastises him for saying it in a cafeteria full of people, he corrects himself: “How’d the laying go? No, I don’t mean that, either.” Buffy tells him and Willow that there’s a new vampire sect in town.

They notice that Owen’s sitting by himself, so Buffy goes over to eat with him. Xander’s confused. Cordelia gets to Owen first, bumping into Buffy and making her spill her tray. Buffy makes a fat joke, because ha ha, that’s always funny. Cordelia invites Owen to the Bronze that night, but he needs more incentive to go than just hanging out with her. He’d much rather hang out with Buffy. After lunch, she tells Willow that Owen asked her out, though she tries to downplay the evening as less of a date and more of a group hang-out.

Giles has other plans for Buffy, though: The Brotherhood of Aurelius is about to fulfill a prophecy. Buffy protests, thinking her date is more important than some ancient prophecy. Giles says he’ll just get in his time machine, go back to the 12th century, and ask the vampires to postpone things for a few days so Buffy can go out with Owen. “Okay, at this point you’re abusing sarcasm,” she admonishes. Giles warns that the Anointed One is no ordinary vampire, and she has to stop him before he reaches the Master. Yes, yes, her date with Owen is very important, but this is a chance to get ahead of the forces of darkness. Tonight, they go into battle.

Cut to: that night, when there’s definitely no battle. Giles admits that his supposedly precise calculations might not have been that precise after all. After hanging out in the cemetery for a while, he decides they can call it a night. Buffy points out that there are no fresh graves, so there are no dead bodies for the Anointed One to rise from. Giles gives her permission to go to the Bronze and find Owen. He reminds her to keep her secret identity hidden so no one is put in danger.

As Slayer and Watcher split up, a bus arrives in town. One of the passengers is mumbling about a pale horse being ridden by Death. A kid on the bus, Collin, is just excited because he got to fly on an airplane. At the Bronze, Buffy’s too late to spend time with Owen – he’s already dancing with Cordelia.

Back on the van, the mumbling guy starts prosthelytizing to the rest of the passengers. When the driver tells him to sit down, the guy asks if he’s ready to stand with the righteous. Before the driver can tell him to shut up, he has to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a vampire standing in the road. The bus swerves and crashes, but no one seems injured. The driver goes to check on the vampire from the road, who kills him. More vampires board the bus and kill the other passengers.

At school the next day, Buffy tells Xander she went home without talking to Owen. She feels like a freak for not having a social life. Xander thinks she’s overreacting; she could get any guy in school. Owen approaches and Buffy lies that she missed their date because her watch broke and there are no clocks in the house. Owen brushes off this horrible excuse and asks her out again for that night. He even loans her his pocket watch. Xander is embarrassed that his own watch has Tweety Bird on it.

Buffy says she heard that Owen and Cordelia were together the night before. He makes it clear that he wasn’t completely comfortable with that. Buffy eagerly accepts his invitation, which makes Xander mope. She rushes to the library to confirm with Giles that without a sure date for the prophecy to be fulfilled, she has the night off.

Underground, the Master praises the Brotherhood for doing their job. He’s one step closer to being able to ascend. If Buffy comes after the brethren, they should be willing to die to stop her from interfering. Their only goal right now is bringing the Anointed One to him. The Master reaches out to one of the vampires, making him flinch, but the Master just wanted to pluck a bug off of the vampire’s shoulder.

Willow and Xander help Buffy get ready for her date. I don’t know why Xander agreed to this. He suggests that Buffy wear a parka to cover up. Also, if she wears lipstick, she’ll just kiss Owen, and then he’ll lose respect for her and then tell everyone at school how “easy” she is. Go home, Xander. Buffy doesn’t know where Owen’s taking her, and isn’t even sure what teenagers do on dates. Willow says she knows from movies and TV that some teens like things called movies and parties.

Giles arrives with a newspaper reporting that five people died on the bus. One of the dead people was a man named Andrew Borba who’s wanted for questioning about a murder. (It’s the mumbling guy.) Giles thinks he could be the Anointed One. He wants to go check out the bodies at the local funeral home. Just then, Owen shows up, and Buffy pretends Giles is there to collect some overdue books.

Xander and Willow take Owen into another room so Buffy can convince Giles that she’s going on this date no matter what. Xander tells Owen that Buffy doesn’t like to dance or kiss. He shouldn’t touch her or even look at her. XANDER, GO HOME. Buffy keeps working on Giles, arguing that she has room in her life for both her slaying responsibilities and fun. After all, Clark Kent has a job. This is just a date. Giles admits that he’s not even sure the bus deaths have anything to do with the prophecy, so Buffy might as well go. She promises to be on call: “If the apocalypse comes, beep me.”

As Buffy and Owen leave, Giles heads off for the funeral home. Willow suggests that she and Xander go, too. He thinks she means follow Buffy and Owen to make sure nothing happens there. Owen takes Buffy to the Bronze, where they talk about Emily Dickinson. He can relate to her, since he also has a sequestered, uneventful life. He finds most girls “frivolous.” There are more important things than dating. Buffy gets that.

She takes him to the dance floor, and he comments that it’s like she’s two people. She asks which he likes better. He says he’ll let her know. Cordelia arrives and makes a beeline for the couple. If Owen thinks most girls are frivolous, he can’t be into her at all. But Cordelia is either in denial or is completely clueless about the fact that Owen would rather be with Buffy.

Two vampires are waiting for Giles at the funeral home. He uses a cross to make them back off and tries to find an office to hide in. While Buffy enjoys her time as a normal girl, Giles barricades himself in the morgue, which is where Xander and Willow find him. They decide it’s time to contact Buffy.

Cordelia sneers at Buffy and Owen until a better prospect enters: Angel. “Hello, salty goodness,” Cordelia comments. No, I don’t know what that means. No one does. When Angel goes straight to Buffy, Cordelia wonders what she’s done to deserve all this. Angel tells Buffy that she needs to be out slaying, not here on a date. Owen joins them and asks Buffy and Angel how they know each other. Angel just says, “Work.”

Xander and Willow arrive next, pretending they wanted to join Buffy and Owen for a double date. Owen’s very confused. But when Xander and Willow suggest that they move the evening’s activities to the funeral home, Owen’s all for it. I guess a guy who broods and reads Emily Dickinson would be pretty interested in death. “Bite me,” Buffy says under her breath. Angel gives her a look that says, “I’d rather not.”

Buffy tells Owen she needs to leave for a while, but she’ll come back. She promises she doesn’t want to leave. This is just part of being two different people. One of them has to go, but the other is having a great time and will be back. She starts to leave, then comes back and kisses him. Owen comments to Angel that she’s a strange girl.

The Scoobies go to the funeral home…followed by Owen. He’s very excited to see a dead body. Buffy goes off alone to make sure it’s safe; Willow tells Owen she’s on the lookout for security guards. Buffy finds the morgue, where Giles has hidden in one of the drawers (and not one of the empty ones). Buffy says she’ll have to get rid of Owen before they continue trying to figure out what the Brotherhood is up to. “Buffy, when I said you could slay vampires and have a social life, I didn’t mean at the same time,” Giles says.

Since they don’t know where the brethren are, Giles is worried about Owen leaving alone. Buffy doesn’t want Owen to know that Giles is there, since that’ll just lead to more questions. She returns to Owen, Willow, and Xander, and they find a safe office to hang out in so Buffy can go do her job. She goes back to the morgue and searches the drawers with Giles, hoping to find the Anointed One before the brethren do.

Xander and Willow barricade the office while Owen snoops around. He finds something disturbing. The morgue drawers are mostly empty, so Giles and Buffy guess they’re too late to get to the Anointed. Meanwhile, Owen has found a window looking into a prep room, which holds Borba’s body. Only he’s not dead, since he’s a vampire. “I have been judged,” Borba says, pleased.

He breaks the window with his head, and down the hall, Buffy hears the glass break. Willow, Xander, and Owen undo their barricade while Borba babbles about stuff, happy to have a meal right nearby. The Scoobies meet up, and Buffy sends her friends away while she handles Borba. Owen’s starting to regret this field trip.

Buffy goes back to Giles, who gives her a stake. Borba finds them and starts fighting Buffy. Xander, Willow, and Owen haven’t been able to find an exit, and Owen decides to go make sure Buffy’s okay. Giles holds Borba off with his cross as Borba says “they” told him about Buffy while he was asleep. He knocks the cross away and throws Giles across the room. Giles slams into a button that turns on the cremation furnace.

A Borba goes after Buffy again, Owen arrives and tries to fight him. Despite Borba being a muscular vampire, Owen does pretty well taking care of himself. Borba eventually knocks him out, but Buffy gets back to the fight. She uses his treatment of Owen as motivation, thinking Borba killed him. Xander and Willow arrive as Owen regains consciousness, but Willow decides they shouldn’t tell Buffy that Owen’s okay, since her anger is making her fight better. She’s able to slide Borba across an exam table and into the furnace.

Owen was unconscious for most of the fight, so Buffy easily convinces him that they just scared Borba away. Understandably, Owen’s not really up to continue their date. Xander and Willow take him home as Giles tries to offer Buffy some words of comfort. She doesn’t want to hear them. She gets now that slaying and socializing don’t mix.

At school the next day, Buffy asks Xander and Willow if Owen said anything about her on the way home. Sadly, no. Xander thinks Buffy should date someone who already knows her secrets and likes her anyway. Oh, Xander. Buffy tries to start a conversation with Owen, guessing he’s too freaked out about the night before to want to spend time with her again. Amazingly, she’s wrong. He thinks she’s cool, and he enjoyed the rush of his near-death experience. He wants to do something else dangerous. Buffy realizes she can’t date a danger junkie who might wind up in too much danger.

Resigned to just be friends, Owen leaves, and we never see him again. Oh, well. This time, when Giles offers Buffy some words of comfort, she listens. When he was a kid, he wanted to be either a fighter pilot or a grocer. His father gave him a lecture about sacrifice, knowing Giles was going to grow up to be a Watcher. Buffy doesn’t want to put Owen in danger, so she knows she has to let him go.

She also feels bad that she wasn’t there to help Giles when he went to the funeral home. He takes full responsibility for going there on his own and letting her have the night off. Slayers don’t really come with an instruction manual, so they have to feel their way through this on their own. (We find out later that there is a kind of instruction manual, but considering how different Buffy is from other Slayers, my guess is Giles knows it won’t help.) He thinks she’s doing pretty well. Plus, they stopped the prophecy and got rid of the Anointed One, so it’s all good.

…Except it’s not. The prophecy is still in play because Borba wasn’t the Anointed One. It’s Collin, and he’s already with the Master.

Thoughts: Who cast the guy playing Owen? He looks 30. (The actor was 27 at the time, so I’m not exaggerating that much.)

I don’t get why Cordelia would be into Owen. He’s not the type of guy she would even want to be seen with in public.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve watched this season (it’s not one of my favorites), and I’d forgotten how good Mark Metcalf is as the Master. He brings a great balance of menacing and entertaining.

I kind of want a Tweety Bird watch now.

September 11, 2021

Buffy 1.4, Teacher’s Pet: Natural Selection

Posted in TV tagged at 1:03 pm by Jenn

How did Xander think this was a totally normal situation?

Summary: There’s a vampire in the Bronze! That’s not good! Fortunately, Buffy’s there. Unfortunately, the vampire overpowers her and lays her down on the pool table, ready to take a bite out of her neck. Xander comes to the rescue, and Buffy is extremely grateful. He heads to the stage to finish his guitar solo, after which he’ll kiss Buffy passionately. As he’s leaving, the vampire revives. Xander finishes him off, then takes his place on stage as a guitar master.

Yes, obviously, it’s a dream. Xander has fallen asleep during a class lecture on ants. The teacher, Dr. Gregory, asks Buffy the two ways ants communicate. She doesn’t know, so Willow acts them out behind Dr. Gregory’s back. Buffy still only gets one of them, and Dr. Gregory knows exactly what’s going on. He asks Buffy to stay after class.

Dr. Gregory knows that Buffy had “problems” at her last school – he even knows she burned down the gym. But instead of expecting her to screw up again, he thinks Buffy has the potential to accomplish a lot. She’s smart and is good at thinking on her feet. Dr. Gregory’s expectations for her are high because he knows she can do well in his class. He doesn’t want her to listen to anything negative that Mr. Flutie or any other teacher might say about her. After Buffy leaves, Dr. Gregory starts going through the slides from his lecture. Something with a huge, scaly arm sneaks up behind him and attacks him.

At the Bronze that night, Xander overhears a couple of classmates talking about scoring with chicks. One of them, Blayne, practically yells out for everyone to hear that Xander’s a virgin. At least Xander has two female friends to hang out with. Angel shows up, and Xander and Willow get to see him for the first time after hearing stories about him from Buffy. Xander notes that he’s buff and attractive. He’s obviously feeling threatened, though the way he mentions Angel’s attractiveness makes it sound more like he’s turned on.

Buffy goes over to talk to Angel, who notes that she’s cold and gives her his leather jacket. That exposes a wound on his arm from what looks like a big fork. Angel warns Buffy that “he’s coming” and Buffy needs to be on her A game. Buffy remarks that as far as Angel’s cryptic warnings go, this is at least interesting. He leaves without giving her any more information.

Buffy passes along Angel’s message to Giles the next day, though she can’t really tell him much. Giles complains that the weather in Sunnydale is the same every day. Sorry you had to leave all the rain and clouds back in England, Giles. Xander tells Buffy and Willow that Dr. Gregory has apparently gone missing. Buffy knows that can’t be good, and not just because he actually likes her.

Xander’s about to offer his sympathies when he gets distracted by a pretty woman approaching. She asks Xander for help, and his brain suddenly flies out of his head. Blayne takes over and offers to show the woman to the science classroom. “It’s funny how the Earth never opens up and swallows you when you want it to,” Xander says to an amused Buffy and Willow.

Buffy finds Dr. Gregory’s glasses on the floor as she and Willow enter his classroom. She wonders why he didn’t pick them up. They’re greeted by the woman, Ms. French, who is Dr. Gregory’s replacement. Blayne makes a gross comment because Blayne is gross. Ms. French starts teaching the class about praying mantises, which are noble creatures despite being cannibals. Also, the females are larger and more aggressive than the males. “Nothing wrong with an aggressive female,” Blayne says to Buffy, who can show him some real aggression any time she wants to.

Ms. French tells the class that the California mantis lays eggs, then finds a mate to fertilize them. Once that mate has done his job, the female covers the eggs with a protective sac and puts them away for safekeeping. A few months later, she’ll have several hundred babies. Ms. French suggests that the class make model egg sacs for the science fair. A bunch of guys in the class volunteer to help after school.

At lunch, Xander can’t stop talking about Ms. French. He thinks she’s into him. Buffy and Willow tease him about being so young and innocent that he doesn’t see that he’d just be a boy toy for an older woman. Blayne brags that he gets to have a one-on-one with Ms. French before anyone else in the class. Xander’s second, which Blayne calls natural selection. Xander says it’s rehearsal, which is pretty good as far as his comebacks go.

Buffy and Willow are enjoying themselves at Xander’s expense, but that ends abruptly when Cordelia starts screaming. She’s found Dr. Gregory in a fridge in the cafeteria kitchen. Well, not all of Dr. Gregory – his head is missing. They can only identify him by his lab coat, which has his name on it.

The Scoobies try to calm down in the library, where Giles says Dr. Gregory was well-liked, so he doesn’t know who would kill him. Buffy, who’s especially upset because Dr. Gregory was so kind to her, says that he must have been killed on campus, since his body was found in the same clothes he was wearing when she last saw him. Xander would like to know where the man’s head is.

Buffy remembers Angel’s warning about something bad coming – maybe this is it. Giles has found information on a vampire who ticked off the Master and had his hand cut off and replaced with something (possibly a big fork). Xander wonders why that vampire would go after a teacher. Giles says that a homeless man was also attacked a couple nights ago, his body shredded. That doesn’t sound like something a vampire would do. Xander says they’re on Monster Island now. Nope, just the Hellmouth.

Giles thinks Fork Guy is the most likely suspect, so Buffy asks for more information on the attack on the homeless man. Giles tells her it’s too dangerous for her to do any investigating. Buffy promises not to, but of course, she goes to the site of the attack that night. It’s a park that looks to be a popular sleeping spot for the homeless of Sunnydale. There, Buffy encounters Fork Guy, who is just as advertised – he’s a vampire with a big fork for a hand. Really, it’s a claw, but I think Fork Guy is more fun than Claw Guy.

She fights him for a minute before the police arrive. Buffy and Fork Guy run off before they can approach. Fork Guy hops a fence to leave the park and starts following a woman walking home with groceries. It’s Ms. French. She calmly turns to Fork Guy and hisses at him. He immediately runs off and goes underground. Neither of them sees Buffy watching them.

At school the next day, Buffy has to confess to Giles that she went hunting last night after saying she wouldn’t. Get used to it, Giles. She tells him she saw Fork Guy, but she also saw Ms. French scare him off. Why would a vampire with a big claw be scared of a seemingly ordinary substitute teacher? Giles agrees with Buffy that they should keep an eye on Ms. French.

As Buffy heads off to class, Mr. Flutie stops her, announcing that everyone who saw Dr. Gregory’s body has to meet with a crisis counselor. He doesn’t want the students to bottle up their feelings. Buffy should remember that Mr. Flutie is always there if she needs him. He’ll even give her a hug (but not a real hug, because that’s inappropriate). Buffy insists on going to science class, probably the first time she’s ever done that, but Mr. Flutie sends her to the counselor.

She listens in as Cordelia talks to the counselor about how seeing a dead body has traumatized her. It’s not all bad, though – she’s not eating, so she’s already lost some weight. Good job finding the silver lining, Cordy. In Ms. French’s class, everyone’s taking a pop quiz, and Ms. French seems very invested in Xander getting a good grade, because she corrects one of his answers while he’s working. She reminds him that they have their one-on-one that day. As Buffy arrives and peeks in the window, Ms. French turns her head to look at her. By which I mean she turns her head all the way around.

Buffy tells Willow about this as they head to the library. She wonders why Blayne isn’t at school, bragging about his one-on-one with Ms. French. While discussing the weirdness with Giles, Buffy realizes that they might be dealing with an insect. To discover how to handle this, Buffy will need to read up on bugs. So while she might have to fight a giant bug, she’s at least learning stuff. Hey, maybe Cordelia has the right idea and it’s easier to find the silver lining than I thought.

Xander goes to his one-on-one with Ms. French, who’s having an after-school snack. He admires the model sac she and Blayne made, which is so big that if it were real, the bugs inside it would be as big as Xander. Ms. French say she has a teacher’s conference in a little while and left the sac-making materials at home. Xander will have to meet her there that night to work on the project. Xander flashes back to his dream, playing a guitar riff. As he heads off, Ms. French finishes her snack – live crickets.

Buffy’s research has taught her that praying mantises can rotate their heads like Ms. French did. Willow notes that Ms. French is a little bigger than the average praying mantis. Buffy thinks all the pieces fit, including Ms. French’s wardrobe, which “screams predator.” Willow agrees: “It’s the shoulder pads.” Giles says Ms. French would have to be a shapeshifter, but he knew someone who might have had a theory about that sort of thing.

Willow gets an alert that Blayne is missing; he didn’t come home last night after meeting up with Ms. French. The girls remember that Xander’s supposed to be with her right now. Buffy says she’ll warn him while Willow hacks into the local coroner’s computer system to find out more about Dr. Gregory’s death. Buffy thinks the marks she saw on his body are consistent with praying mantis mandibles. Giles goes to make a call about his colleague’s theory, pretending he believes that Willow’s hacking is totally legal and that he couldn’t have stopped her from doing it.

Buffy finds Xander and tells him that his new crush is a giant bug. He thinks Buffy’s just jealous. He says there’s nothing to be done; it’s a chemical attraction. Buffy tells him that’s the pheromones. Xander doesn’t believe her, and he’s a little offended that Buffy doesn’t think someone would be interested in him, even if he’s not hot and broody and always wearing a leather jacket like Angel. Buffy asks what Angel has to do with this. Xander says the guy just bugs him. Heh, nice word choice.

Ms. French prepares for Xander’s visit, wearing a cleavage-baring dress and pouring drinks that wouldn’t be appropriate for this situation even if she weren’t a giant praying mantis. She tells him she’s nervous around him, but nowhere near as nervous as Xander is. He just babbles a bunch. Ms. French gets really close to him and asks if he’s ever been with a woman before. Xander says he’s had lots of sex, then admits that he’s lying. Ms. French knows he’s a virgin, which appears to be her preference.

Xander thinks he hears someone yelling, but Ms. French says it’s nothing. She admires his hand, which makes him remember his dream, when Buffy noted that he hurt his hand. The alcohol is getting to Xander (or whatever else might be in the drink). As he looks at Ms. French’s hands, they turn into…whatever praying mantises have instead of arms. Xander passes out and she drags him off. He wakes up in a cage in what looks like a cave.

While Giles tries to get in touch with his colleague (who probably can’t help him much, since he’s not psychologically stable), Buffy and Willow look at pictures of Dr. Gregory’s autopsy. Buffy confirms her theory that he was killed by a praying mantis. Willow worries that Xander’s going to end up headless, too. Buffy doesn’t think he’s in any immediate danger.

Wrong! Xander and Blayne are in adjoining cages, about to be made to do something that scares Blayne. He warns Xander that Ms. French is going to lay a bunch of eggs, then mate with the guys. Xander promises that they’ll be okay. He has a plan. Sort of. Maybe. Okay, they might be in trouble.

Back at the library, Giles finally gets through to his colleague, Carlyle, who it turns out was right about everything. Well, except for his theory that his mother would be reincarnated as a dog. He tells Buffy and Willow that Carlyle dealt with this giant mantis, which makes herself look like a human woman, then lures male virgins to her nest to fertilize her eggs. Buffy figures Xander’s safe, since he’s probably not a virgin. Willow tells her she’s wrong.

Carlyle told Giles that they can take care of the she-mantis by cutting it up, but Buffy will have to work quickly so Ms. French can’t cut her first. Buffy thinks everything will be fine, since Carlyle faced her and won. Yeah, he’s in a psychiatric facility now, but other than that, he’s great! Willow learns that Xander went to Ms. French’s house, so she gets to work finding the teacher’s address. Buffy tells Giles to record some bat sonar. Since bats prey on mantises, the sound of them will make Ms. French’s nervous system shut down.

Xander manages to remove a bar from his cage so he’ll have a weapon against the giant praying mantis he might have to fight. Giles gives Buffy the sonar recording and Willow provides Ms. French’s address, so the Scoobies are ready to roll. Willow notes that Ms. French’s records say she was born in 1907.

As Blayne encourages Ms. French to take Xander, not him, the Scoobies arrive at Ms. French’s house. They’re shocked to discover that Ms. French isn’t the woman who’s been posing as a teacher all this time. The she-mantis used another woman’s records to get access to the school. The real Ms. French had no idea.

The fake Ms. French chooses Xander as her mate, and he reluctantly agrees to fulfill his duties. As soon as he’s out of the cage, he hits the she-mantis with the bar from the cage. That’s not enough, and she knocks him out. Buffy takes Giles and Willow to the neighborhood where she saw Ms. French the other night, then goes into the sewer she saw Fork Guy disappear into.

The she-mantis starts laying eggs as Buffy tracks down Fork Guy. She uses his fear of the she-mantis as a kind of radar to figure out which house she’s in. Unfortunately, this means getting close to Fork Guy. Buffy uses a fence post to stake him and still has time to get into the she-mantis’ house before Xander has to do any egg fertilizing. She fights the mantis with bug spray (well, why not?) while the Scoobies and Blayne make their escape. Then she presses play on her recorder…but instead of bat sonar, she just hears some instructional tape Giles made. (The sonar is on the other side.)

Buffy fights the giant bug off until Giles is able to flip the tape and play the sonar recording. This incapacitates the she-mantis enough for Buffy to be able to hack her to pieces. Xander and Blayne are extremely grateful. They would also like everyone to keep it quiet that they’re virgins. Willow finds that virginity sweet, but she’ll keep it to herself since Xander’s holding Buffy’s machete. He uses it to chop up all the eggs.

The teens wrap up this week’s adventure with another night at the Bronze. Angel stops by again to congratulate Buffy on taking out Fork Guy. She thanks him for his help and suggests that he give her a way to get in touch with him. He just says he’ll be around. He also wants her to keep his jacket, since it looks better on her.

Dr. Gregory’s real replacement isn’t as likable as his predecessor, but at least he doesn’t appear to be any kind of insect. Dr. Gregory’s glasses are still in the classroom, and Buffy tucks them into his coat pocket, which is still hanging on the closet door. Also in the closet: praying mantis eggs, which are starting to hatch. Ahhhhhhhhhh!

Thoughts: No wonder Buffy never gets enough encouragement. The people who support her just end up dead.

Angel would really be a lot more helpful if he would just tell Buffy what’s going on and what monster she’s going to have to face. Why does he think being cryptic is the best way to go about this? I think he does it on purpose to remain mysterious.

In addition to a lax attitude toward occult books, Sunnydale High appears to have a very casual dress code, judging by Buffy’s see-through, belly-bearing shirt. I’m surprised Joyce let her leave the house in that.

September 4, 2021

Buffy 1.3, Witch: I’ve Heard of Living Vicariously Through Your Child, But This Is Too Much

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:14 pm by Jenn

Amy will be back

Summary: Giles is upset with Buffy for putting aside her Slayer responsibilities for something else. That something else is the cheerleading squad. He doesn’t want her to set aside her “sacred birthright” to try out for the squad. As her Watcher, he forbids it. Buffy promises that she’ll have time to cheer and slay vampires. She just wants to do something normal and safe. Elsewhere, someone’s doing something witchy with a cauldron and a doll.

Buffy heads to tryouts with Willow and Xander, noting that she hasn’t seen a vampire in a week, so this isn’t as irresponsible as Giles thinks it is. Xander appreciates the cheerleaders’ commitment to school spirit. Keep your eyes in your head, buddy. He gives Buffy a bracelet as a good-luck present. It’s engraved “yours, always,” which Xander claims is standard for all bracelets of that design.

Cordelia complains to Willow (probably not realizing that’s who she’s talking to, since she wouldn’t normally talk to Willow voluntarily) about a girl named Amber who seems to be taking this too seriously. Willow catches up with a friend named Amy, who’s also trying out. Willow notes that Amy recently lost a lot of weight. Amy says she had to. Amber does the first tryout, and Buffy’s intimidated. Amy tells her that Amber trains with a coach named Benson, one of the best. Amy herself trains with her mom for hours every day.

As Amber finishes her routine, smoke starts coming out of her pompoms. Willow yells out that she’s on fire. “Enough with the hyperbole,” says Cordelia, who’s turned away and doesn’t realize that Amber is literally going up in flames. As Amber’s hands light up, Buffy grabs a banner to smother the flames. Looks like even with vampires on temporary hiatus, Buffy can’t escape the supernatural in her everyday life.

The teens go to the library to fill Giles in. He says spontaneous human combustion is rare, but it’s been documented for centuries. He’s a little too happy that there’s so much supernatural stuff to learn about so close to the Hellmouth. In most cases of human combustion, the victim was feeling rage. Xander says that means Amber has a superpower: “It’s like the Human Torch, only it hurts.”

Buffy wants to find out if Amber has had any experiences like this before. Willow and Xander immediately offer to help. They’re a team now. Willow says Buffy’s the Slayer and they’re the Slayerettes. I prefer “Scoobies,” but thanks anyway. Buffy’s worried that her new friends will put themselves in danger. “I laugh in the face of danger,” Xander replies. “Then I hide till it goes away.” Buffy notes that Amber might not have been the cause of what happened.

At home, Joyce is opening a shipment of tribal art for her gallery. Buffy tells her there was an accident at tryouts, so she didn’t get to have a turn yet. Joyce gives her some vague encouragement, though Buffy can tell she doesn’t know what Buffy was trying out for. Still, Joyce was supportive, so that’s nice. She’s struggling to open a crate, but thanks to her Slayer strength, Buffy easily gets the lid off. Joyce is happy that Buffy wants to be a cheerleader again, since it’ll keep her out of trouble. Buffy brings up Amy and how she trains with her mother, angling for Joyce to offer to work with her. Joyce is too busy, though.

The next day, the tryouts continue, because they can’t let a little fire ruin things for the other girls. This time the girls do a group routine. Amy falls over at the end, bumping into Cordelia, who desperately hopes that doesn’t count against her. Afterward, Buffy finds Amy looking at a cheerleading trophy in a case. Her mother, Catherine, was a Sunnydale cheerleader and led the squad to a championship. Amy’s father left a few years ago, and Catherine did an amazing job of raising Amy on her own while going to cosmetology school.

Buffy tells Amy that she doesn’t have to be as devoted to cheerleading as her mother was. Amy says that Catherine was the best, but Amy can’t get herself to the same level. She runs off to change clothes as Willow approaches. She tells Buffy that Catherine is really strict about her weight, which explains why Amy “had to” lose her extra pounds. In middle school, when Catherine got serious about dieting, Willow would bring Amy to her house and they would eat brownies together,

Willow doesn’t have much of an update on Amber – she’s a regular student who’s only been in trouble once, when she got detention for smoking (cigarette smoking, not being on fire). Buffy says they’ll have to wait and see if something else happens. Maybe nothing will. In the locker room, Cordelia corners Amy to make it clear that she’s not going to let Amy’s clumsiness keep Cordelia from making the squad. If Amy messes things up for Cordelia again, she’ll be sorry.

Xander asks Willow if Buffy’s wearing the bracelet he gave her. He thinks they’re basically going out. You know, without all the stuff that comes with going out, or Buffy’s knowledge that they’re going out. Xander says Willow’s a great friend – like a guy who knows about girl stuff. Yay? The list is up announcing who made the squad, and Amy’s lucky because Cordelia’s on it. Buffy is the first alternate, and Amy is third.

Amy runs off, upset. Buffy follows her, noting that on the bright side, tryouts are over. She invites Amy over to hang out after school and eat brownies. Amy says she can’t do any more than she’s already done to make the squad. This would never happen to Catherine. Someone uses the cauldron and dolls again, this time naming a doll Cordelia, wrapping a band around the doll’s eyes, and asking something or another to “feed on her.”

The next day, Joyce shows Buffy her high school yearbook and suggests that she join the yearbook staff. Joyce was photo editor of hers and got to be on every page. Buffy tells her that’s for nerds. Joyce enjoyed it, but Buffy says she’s into other things. Joyce notes that those things got her kicked out of her old school. They had to move all the way to Sunnydale to find a decent school that would let her attend. That’s too far, and Buffy has hurt feelings now. Joyce beats herself up for that.

At school, Xander and Willow notice Cordelia wandering down the hall, not stopping to insult them. It’s like they’re invisible – kind of how Xander is to Buffy. He blends into the scenery when they’re together. He decides to stop being subtle and just ask her out. As Buffy approaches and Xander psychs himself up, Buffy sees that Cordelia is acting weird. She ditches her friends to follow Cordelia.

It’s Cordelia’s turn to drive in driver’s ed, though she doesn’t want to. The teacher makes her, and she takes the car on a bit of a joyride before crashing. Cordelia gets out of the car and ends up in the middle of the road. Buffy runs over to push her out of the way just before a truck runs her over. Cordelia’s eyes have turned white, and she can’t see anything.

In the library, Giles says this is classic witchcraft. He just doesn’t know why someone would want to hurt Cordelia. “Maybe because they met her?” Willow quips. Since this is the second cheerleader who’s been harmed, they’re probably dealing with someone who doesn’t like cheerleading…or someone who likes it too much. Willow and Buffy both suggest Amy. Maybe she’s turned to witchcraft to get a spot on the squad.

Giles thinks that’s crazy, but Buffy gets it – if you’re not a “picture-perfect carbon copy” of a parent, that parent might not be happy. Xander thinks they should just grab Amy and get to the bottom of things. Giles notes that if they’re right about her being a witch, that’s too dangerous. Willow checks the computer to see if Amy’s checked out books on witchcraft, as Xander protests. That’s just because he’s checked out books on witchcraft. (He just likes to look at the semi-nude engravings.)

Giles says they need to do a test involving Amy’s hair and a couple other ingredients available in the science lab. If Amy’s skin turns blue when it comes in contact with the ingredients, they’ll know that she’s cast a spell in the past 48 hours. They’ll also need some eye of newt, though the closest the teens can get is the eye of a dissected frog. Buffy is able to pull some of Amy’s hair out of her hairbrush without Amy noticing.

She slips it to Willow, who mixes everything up instead of doing whatever experiment their chemistry class is supposed to be doing. Buffy then spills the concoction on Amy, and her skin immediately turns blue. Amy’s confused, of course, but luckily, there’s a distraction. Unfortunately, that distraction is a cheerleader named Lishanne whose mouth has suddenly disappeared. Amy looks as surprised as Buffy does.

After class, Buffy tells Amy and Willow that the test was positive, so maybe Amy doesn’t realize she’s been doing witchcraft. She thinks they should talk to Catherine. Maybe she’s created a monster. Meanwhile, Amy goes home to the house where the cauldron and dolls are being used. Catherine is there, and she’s clearly nervous around Amy. Amy complains that she’s not on the squad yet, and that Buffy and her friends are doing weird things. She shows Catherine that she’s snagged Buffy’s bracelet.

The next morning, Buffy is in a great mood. She’s excited to take Lishanne’s place on the cheerleading squad. Joyce apologizes for what she said the day before, but Buffy says it’s fine. After all, she did get kicked out of school. Joyce doesn’t get it and wouldn’t want to. Buffy mentions that she’s a Slayer, so Joyce asks if she’s okay. Buffy says everything’s great! She’s going to school and cheer practice, and she’s going to sing “Macho Man” the whole time.

At practice, Buffy is a little too energetic. Willow and Xander notice but are unable to get her out of there before she accidentally flips a girl across the room. This gets her removed from the squad, with Amy taking her spot. (No, I don’t know who the second alternate was. Don’t worry about it!) Xander and Willow rush Buffy out of the gym before she can announce that Amy’s a witch.

Buffy gushes over Xander in the hallway, like she’s had too much to drink and wants her friend to know how good a friend he is. She says he’s not like other boys. He’s one of the girls. Suddenly, whatever’s happening to her starts wearing off, and she passes out. Willow and Xander take her to the library, where Giles recognizes that Buffy’s the victim of a vengeance spell. Amy is obviously on to them. They’ll need to reverse the spell in the next few hours to save Buffy.

This will require either getting Amy’s spell book or cutting off her head. Xander’s fine with that second option, but Buffy has sympathy for Amy. She only became a witch to survive her mother. Buffy says she and Giles will go to Amy’s house and get her book while Xander and Willow stay at school and keep an eye on Amy.

At Amy’s, Buffy and Giles meet Catherine, who tries to resist talking to them about Amy. Giles gets stern, telling Catherine that Amy is accessing some very powerful magic and using it to hurt people. Catherine’s obsession with cheerleading is to blame. Catherine says she doesn’t care about cheerleading, and it’s not her fault that Amy is using witchcraft. As they bicker, Buffy notices the plate of brownies Catherine was eating. That plus Catherine’s fear of Amy and her reference to “Dad” instead of “Amy’s dad” makes Buffy realize that Catherine and Amy switched bodies.

Catherine – really Amy – confirms this. Her mother said she was wasting her youth, so she took it. Amy didn’t know that Catherine was a witch. She wanted to go with her father when he left, but Catherine kept them separated. She would rant about how easy Amy had it and how she didn’t know how hard it was to be Catherine. Buffy promises that things will be okay. Amy says she woke up in her mother’s bed a few months ago and didn’t know what had happened.

She shows Giles to the attic, where Catherine does her spells. He finds all the dolls Catherine has used as voodoo dolls to harm the cheerleaders. He’s pretty sure they can reverse her spells if they can find her spell book. He finds it in a chest, being guarded by a black cat. They head back to school as the first basketball game of the season starts, attended by all the cheerleaders.

Giles puts Buffy down on a table in the science lab and promises that he’ll fix this. They only have a few minutes left before the vengeance spell kills Buffy. As Catherine cheers at the game, happy to be back to her teenage self, Amy helps Giles reverse her mother’s spells. Catherine and Amy both feel the effects. Catherine screws up a stunt, then glares at all the other cheerleaders before running out of the gym. Amy warns Giles that she’s coming.

Willow tries to delay Catherine, offering to help her. She knows of a really great cauldron. Also, does Catherine ride a broom? Xander tries to sneak up behind Catherine, but she magically chokes him into unconsciousness, then knocks Willow out with a punch. Giles continues the spell-reversal as Catherine grabs an axe, chops down the door to the lab, and goes after Buffy. The spell finishes just before she can swing the axe, so instead of a vengeful witch, Buffy just has a confused teenager standing over her.

Catherine tackles Buffy, then faces her daughter. She magically makes the axe fly into her own hand and rants about how ungrateful Amy is. Buffy has recovered, so she’s able to fight Catherine and keep her from hurting Amy. Catherine tries a spell that will send Buffy to a dark place, but Buffy kicks down the mirrored cover of a lab table so the witchcraft reflects off of it. It goes into Catherine, making her disappear.

Giles, who’s been knocked unconscious for the first of many times in this series, wakes up hoping everything worked. Buffy assures him that he reversed the spell and saved her. Xander runs in and grabs Amy to save Buffy. Buffy and Giles tell him Amy wasn’t the bad one here, and also, they fixed everything. Willow runs in next, ready to hurt anyone who wants to hurt her friends. Xander tells her he already took care of things.

At home, Joyce tells Buffy she’s been trying to figure out how to relate to her. Maybe there’s a biological imperative that says a parent can’t understand a teen because the parent isn’t a teen anymore. Buffy asks if Joyce ever wishes she could be 16 again. Joyce says she wouldn’t go through all that angst again even if it made her understand Buffy. (People who have seen season 3’s “Band Candy” start giggling.)

At school the next day (I guess), Amy tells Buffy how protective her dad is being now that she’s living with him. He feels guilty for all the time they spent apart, and how horrible her mother was. Of course, Amy secretly loves it. Cordelia taunts the girls for being knocked back to their alternate slots, so everything’s back to normal there, too. Amy doesn’t actually want to be a cheerleader, and Buffy has decided to leave that behind, too. Amy hasn’t heard from her mother and doesn’t think she’ll cause any more trouble. They don’t realize that the eyes of Catherine’s cheerleading trophy are now human, and there’s a muffled scream coming from inside it.

Thoughts: An okay show would have had the twist be that Amy was the witch. A good show would have had it be that Catherine was the witch. Buffy is a great show because it had the double twist of Catherine being the witch and switching bodies with Amy.

I giggled at the discussion about Amber training with a coach named Benson because later in the series, actress Amber Benson joins the cast.

I like how friendly Buffy is to Amy. She could have made an excuse that she’s too busy with slaying and cheering to care about someone else, but she really wants to cheer Amy up.

We couldn’t put on Grease at my high school but Sunnydale’s library is allowed to have books on witchcraft? Even more ridiculous, no one complains about that until season 3.

August 28, 2021

Buffy 1.2, The Harvest: The Fun Is Just Beginning

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:23 pm by Jenn

Don’t mess with this girl

Summary: Luke is just about to bite Buffy when he gets a shock. Well, a burn. She’s wearing the cross necklace Angel gave her, and it burns his hand. Buffy takes the opportunity to escape into the cemetery. She saves Willow from a vampire, then goes after one trying to take Xander away. He tells Buffy that Darla ran off with Jesse.

In the library the next day, Giles tells the three teens that demons walked the Earth for ages and made it their own version of Hell. Over time, mortals took over, and there are only a few versions left of the “old ones.” Xander is having a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that vampires are real. Buffy tells him she was in denial when she first saw vampires. Well, after she stopped screaming. Willow says she needs to sit down, but she already is.

Giles tells the teens that before the last demon left reality, he mixed his blood with a human, creating the first vampire. That vampire passed along his kind of demon possession to others by biting people. Now, vampires wait for humans to die out so the old ones can come back.

Underground, Darla and Luke take Jesse to the Master. They think he’s a “good one,” since he has pure blood. The Master isn’t happy that Darla has already had a taste and is now bringing him her leftovers. The Master has waited underground for decades until he can ascend and live in the world again. Darla should show more respect. She and Luke tell the Master that they ran into trouble in the form of a teen girl. The Master guesses that she’s a Slayer.

Giles explains that to Xander and Willow: The Slayer has existed as long as vampires has; she’s the one girl in the whole world with the power to kill vampires. They need to keep Buffy’s secret identity…well, secret. Xander wants to help save Jesse, but Buffy says that’s her job. She feels like she failed in her responsibility to keep Jesse safe. Willow notes that Buffy saved her and Xander, so she hasn’t failed as much as she might feel she has.

Buffy tells Giles that Luke mentioned the Master. Jesse might still be alive, if the Master hasn’t fed on him yet. Willow suggests that they call the police, but Buffy tells her they wouldn’t be able to help. Their guns won’t take down a vampire. The group decides the vampires must be underground, since they disappeared from the cemetery and didn’t seem to have transportation. Buffy notes that vampires use sewer systems to travel during the day. Xander tells her there are tunnels that run under the whole town. They don’t have time to get blueprints, but Willow has an idea.

The Master asks for confirmation that Buffy is a Slayer. Luke’s only proof is that she fought him and he didn’t kill her, which doesn’t happen often. The Master insists that Buffy can’t interfere with the harvest. He hopes Jesse will work well as bait to draw Buffy to them. At least that means they won’t eat him yet.

Willow is a tech whiz, and she’s able to hack into the city council’s security system and find city plans. Buffy’s impatient and frustrated because she wasn’t able to stay a step ahead of Luke. But as she remembers what happened, she realizes that he came up behind her. The entrance to the tunnels must be in the crypt where they fought.

Xander still wants to tag along to save Jesse, but Buffy says it’s too dangerous. The Slayer has to work alone. Xander takes it personally, as if she’s saying he’s incompetent. Willow also wants to help, though she’s not as eager to ride into battle. Giles asks her to use the computer to find out more details on the harvest (since Giles is technologically challenged). Buffy promises to bring Jesse back if he’s still alive. And no, Giles doesn’t need to tell her to be careful.

As Buffy heads off to find Jesse, Mr. Flutie catches her trying to leave school grounds. That certainly wouldn’t be a good idea on her second day at a new school, especially since she was kicked out of her last school for delinquency. Buffy lies that Giles asked her to get a book for him from the store. She has a free period and is a big reader. Mr. Flutie doesn’t buy that excuse and closes a tall gate to keep her from leaving. He’s happy that she’s a “sensible girl with her feet on the ground.” As soon as he’s gone, she jumps the gate.

Willow and Xander make a list of natural disasters that could lead them to vampires. Xander still feels useless, even though staying out of things means he won’t get hurt. Yesterday, Xander’s biggest problem was the possibility of a pop quiz. Today, he could be facing death and destruction. It’s hard to have this big secret that no one else knows. Willow promises that Buffy will be okay. She seems like she’s able to handle anything.

Buffy returns to the crypt, where Angel has been waiting for her. He expected her to find the entrance to the tunnels a little sooner. Buffy asks his name, since she suspects that he’ll be showing up again. He warns her not to go into the tunnels right before the harvest. If she can’t prevent it, the Master will ascend. Buffy asks why Angel doesn’t stop it, then. He admits that he’s afraid. Buffy isn’t, so she makes it clear she’s going into the tunnels. She has a potential friend to save. Accepting that Buffy’s really going to do this, Angel tells her to head toward the school when she gets underground.

Buffy sneaks around for a little while until she gets surprised by Xander. Of course he didn’t listen when Buffy and Willow told him not to get involved. He’s determined to save his best friend. As they look for the vampires, Xander admits that he doesn’t have much in the way of weapons. He just brought a big cross with him. Buffy tells him stakes, fire, beheading, sunlight, and holy water will all do the trick. She knows beheading works because she killed a football player-turned-vampire with an X-acto knife.

In the library, Giles reads up on the harvest and realizes it’s happening tonight. Meanwhile, Cordelia and Willow are both in the computer lab. Cordelia tells her friend Harmony about her run-in with Buffy at the Bronze the night before and how weird Buffy is. They can’t figure out the computer program they’re working on, so Cordelia tells Harmony to look at Willow’s work, but Willow’s looking up natural disasters.

Cordelia lies that Buffy waved a stake around the night before and threatened to kill her. Willow eavesdrops while Harmony tells Cordelia and another student that Buffy was kicked out of her last school. Willow defends Buffy, saying she’s not a psycho like Cordelia says she is. Cordelia tears into Willow, calling her boring. As revenge, Willow tells her to save her computer program by hitting “DEL” for deliver. Instead, Cordelia deletes all her work.

In the tunnels, Buffy and Xander find Jesse, who’s alive but chained up. Fortunately, Buffy has super-strength and is easily able to free him. Jesse tells her that the vampires knew she was going to come. Indeed, they’re waiting for her, and they’re going to make it hard for the teens to escape the tunnels. Jesse thinks he knows the way out, but he instead leads Xander and Buffy to a dead end. It might be a literal dead end – Jesse is a vampire and he wants to kill them.

He tells Xander that things are awesome now. He’s strong and he feels connected to everything. He knows what the Master wants and is ready to serve his purpose. That means killing and feeding on Xander. Buffy reminds Xander that he has a cross, though it’s not much help when the person you’re facing off with is really strong. Also, more just like Jesse are coming, and Buffy and Xander are outnumbered. They manage to close a door to keep out more vampires, but they’ll still have to find a way out of the tunnels.

They find a hatch in the ceiling and are able to climb up before the vampires can get to where they are. They crawl through some ducts and surface through a manhole. Since it’s still light out, the vampires can’t follow them. The Master is unhappy to learn that the Slayer escaped, even though the vampires laid a trap for her. Still, he doesn’t think Buffy will stop the harvest. He’ll just get to eat her once he goes above ground. The Master makes the vampire who failed at trapping Buffy apologize for screwing up. Then the Master gouges out his eye.

Willow has been looking into a big earthquake back in 1937 and discovered that there were a bunch of murders right before it. Giles says things are coming together, though he wishes they weren’t. Back underground, the harvest is also coming together. Luke drinks some of the Master’s blood in a ritual that binds them together. Luke is the vessel, and whenever he eats someone, their soul and strength will go into the Master. After receiving enough souls, the Master will be able to ascend.

Buffy and Xander join Willow in the library and give her the bad news that they couldn’t save Jesse. Giles has even more bad news: They could be facing the end of the world. In 1937, the Master came to Sunnydale because it’s on top of a Hellmouth. It’s like a portal between Earth and Hell, and the Master wanted to open it. The earthquake buried him underground. Now the Master is trying again. Once Luke has fed him enough power, the Master will be able to open the Hellmouth.

Buffy thinks this will be easy to stop: The vessel sports a unique symbol, so Buffy just has to kill anyone with that symbol. Xander guesses the vampires will go to the Bronze, where everyone young and healthy will be hanging out. The four of them head off to stop the harvest, though Buffy says she needs to make a stop first so she can get some supplies.

Buffy changes clothes at home, where Joyce worries that she’s getting in trouble again. She seems to have been out all night, and Mr. Flutie called to tell Joyce that she skipped some classes. Buffy promises that things are different now, but she has to go out. Joyce thinks she places too much importance on her personal life. The world won’t end if Buffy stays home tonight. After Joyce leaves her room, Buffy digs out a trunk in her closet where she’s hidden her vampire-fighting supplies, then sneaks out her bedroom window.

The sun is down, so the vampires are free to go wherever they want. At the Bronze, Cordelia gushes to her friends about how she wants a senior boyfriend, not a child like Jesse. Speaking of Jesse, guess who’s at the Bronze? He watches Cordelia dance for a while, then confidently gets her to dance with him.

Outside, Darla arrives with a group of vampires. They block the exit and shut off the lights. In his vamp face, Luke addresses the crowd from the stage, telling them there’s no reason to be afraid. Well, there is, but it won’t help. Cordelia is shocked to see that Jesse has the same vamp face as Luke. Luke requests his first course, the bouncer, and drinks his blood in front of everyone. Underground, the Master can feel his strength growing already.

Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Giles (hereafter collectively known as the Scoobies) arrive but can’t get through the front door. Buffy tells the others to find a way in and get all the humans out; they shouldn’t try to fight any vampires. As they head off, Giles tells Xander and Willow that they need to remember that Jesse is dead. When they see him, they’ll be looking at the demon that killed him.

Luke continues feeding, and the Master continues to grow more powerful. He’s almost free. Jesse wants to eat Cordelia himself, but Darla tells him everyone there is for the Master. Buffy finds a way into the club and easily figures out that Luke is the vessel. Darla takes Cordelia to Luke, but before he can bite her, Buffy makes her presence known by throwing a vampire off the balcony. She does some gymnastics to jump down and land on a pool table. Then she uses a cue to stake a vampire.

Luke is more than willing to trade Cordelia for Buffy, even if it gets him kicked in the face. He fights the Slayer again, making her drop her stake. Elsewhere in the club, the other Scoobies find a way in and start sneaking people out. A vampire grabs Xander, but Buffy yanks a cymbal off of a nearby drum, throws it like a Frisbee, and decapitates the vampire. “Heads up,” Xander quips. Buffy’s amused. That doesn’t last, since her distraction allows Luke to grab her from behind again.

Jesse goes after Cordelia, so Xander threatens to stake him. As Luke revels in the chance to kill a Slayer, Darla tackles Giles. Jesse tells Xander that when he was human, he was a loser. Now he’s a new man. Luke guesses that Buffy is the last meal the Master needs, and then the Master will be free. Buffy isn’t about to let that happen.

Willow is armed with holy water, which she uses on Darla, getting her to leave Giles alone. Xander still has his stake, and he’s still ready to use it on Jesse. It turns out he doesn’t have to. As someone is running out of the club, she accidentally knocks Jesse forward, right into Xander’s stake. He’s dusted.

Buffy grabs a microphone stand as a weapon, though Luke says she forgot something: Metal won’t hurt him. She tells him he also forgot about something: Sunrise. She throws the stand like a javelin, breaking the window behind him…but there’s no sunlight. Sunrise isn’t for hours. Still, she’s able to get the better of Luke and stake him in the back. As he dies, his connection to the Master is cut.

Some vampires are ready to kill Xander, but when they see Buffy standing on the stage, having just killed a powerful vampire who’s never lost a fight, they decide they’d be smart to just leave. Angel has been watching, and he’s pleased that Buffy stopped the harvest. Buffy confirms to the Scoobies that they averted the apocalypse. Xander notes that nothing will be the same from now on.

At school the next day, Cordelia tells one of her friends about the craziness at the Bronze. The cover story everyone’s been fed is about a fight between rival gangs. Xander’s underwhelmed by how everyone’s carrying on like things are normal. People rose from the dead – they should at least have an assembly. Giles says that people try to rationalize anything they can’t understand.

Willow says she’ll never forget what they did and saw. Giles tells her that’s good – next time, they’ll all be prepared. The Master isn’t going to stop trying to free himself just because he failed this time. “I’d say the fun is just beginning,” Giles announces. Next time they could face something different. They might be what stands between Earth and its complete destruction. Buffy looks on the bright side: She could still be kicked out of school. Willow suggest that she blow something up, since the school wouldn’t appreciate that. “The Earth is doomed,” Giles says to himself as the teens head to class like today is just another day.

Thoughts: Season 1 Angel is so different from how he is in later episodes. He’s like a completely different character.

I wish Jesse had been mentioned more throughout the series. He’s obviously the reason Xander wants to take out vampires, but it seems strange for a teen to lose his best friend and barely talk about him ever again.

I’ve been immersed in the Vampire Diaries universe for a while, and sometimes it’s hard to keep the different vampire rules straight. For example, a cross won’t do anything to a vampire in The Vampire Diaries except make them laugh at you for trying to use it as a weapon.

 

August 21, 2021

Buffy 1.1, Welcome to the Hellmouth: The Chosen One

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 12:57 pm by Jenn

I would finish that book in a week

Summary: “In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.” Thanks, overly dramatic WB voiceover guy!

Sunnydale High School is dark and quiet when two people break in through a classroom window. The woman, Darla, is hesitant to go to the top of the gym with her male companion, who says the view from there is great. Darla’s worried about getting in trouble. They kiss, but she gets spooked when she thinks she hears something. The guy assures her that there’s no one there. Darla’s convinced…and then she shows him her vampire face and bites him.

Buffy Summers is in bed, trying to sleep, but her dreams are pretty creepy. They involve things like books (ooh, scary!), cemeteries, and various supernatural creatures. Her mother, Joyce, makes sure she gets up in time for her first day at her new school. When she drops Buffy off at Sunnydale High, she urges Buffy to think positive about making friends, and also try not to get in trouble.

Xander Harris skateboards through a crowd of students, gets distracted at the sight of his attractive new classmate, and falls. His friend Willow Rosenberg joins him and agrees to help him study for trigonometry. She suggests that he check a math book out of the library. Another of Xander’s friends, Jesse, tells them there’s a new girl at school, though he doesn’t know anything about her.

Buffy meets with the principal, Mr. Flutie, who tears up her record from her past high school and tells her she gets a clean slate here. He regrets that pretty quickly, since Buffy’s past is pretty “colorful,” as she admits. After all, she burned down her school’s gym. Buffy defends her action, since the gym was full of vamp– er, asbestos. Mr. Flutie tells her that the school is there to serve her needs, and vice versa. She’ll just need to make sure her needs mesh with the school’s.

Xander makes a fool of himself with Buffy as he helps her clean up her bag when the contents spill in the hallway. As she leaves, he realizes she left behind a wooden stake. You know, like every 16-year-old girl carries around in her school bag. In history class, Buffy shares a book with Cordelia Chase, who points her toward the library so she can get her own textbook. She invites Buffy to hang out with her and her friends, which is the fast track to popularity. Buffy already has points in Cordelia’s book, since she’s from L.A. But Cordelia loses points with Buffy when she makes fun of Willow for her outfit.

Cordelia tells Buffy that she should go to the Bronze that night; it’s the coolest place to hang out in Sunnydale. (The bar is low.) Buffy heads to the library, where she spots a newspaper at the front desk with an article circled about boys being missing. She meets the librarian, Rupert Giles, who already knows her name and has a book in mind for her. But it’s not for history – it’s a thick book with “VAMPYR” on the cover, which appeared in Buffy’s dream. Buffy says that’s not what she wants and runs off.

Rumors are spreading about Buffy and what brought her to L.A. One girl makes fun of her name, then gets IDed as being named Aphrodisia, so…let’s keep our stones inside our glass houses, okay, hon? Her friend Aura (no one in this town has a normal name, huh?) gets a huge scare when a dead body falls out of her gym locker.

Buffy introduces herself to Willow, who expects to be made fun of or bossed around. She’s surprised that Buffy wants to hang out with her. Buffy heard that Willow can help her with her classwork, and she’s more interested in improving her grades than in being popular or spending any more time with Cordelia. Willow’s happy to help and suggests that they get together in the library. Buffy asks to meet “someplace quieter…louder.” Willow gushes over the library’s collection, which Giles, who’s new, brought with him.

Xander and Jesse join the girls, and Xander tries (but mostly fails) to make up for his poor first impression with Buffy. He returns her stake, which she says she carries around for self-defense. It’s an L.A. thing. Cordelia offers to free Buffy from the burden of hanging out with losers, but Buffy’s fine. Cordelia tells her that gym class was canceled “due to the extreme dead guy in the locker.” Buffy asks questions about the guy’s body and cause of death, which is a totally normal thing that a normal 16-year-old would ask.

She heads to the gym, yanking open a locked door along the way, because she’s stronger than the average teen. After she gets a look at the body, she goes to the library and tells Giles that it looks like they’re dealing with a vampire. Buffy was hoping to get through her first day of school without something like this happening. Also, she doesn’t care. She’s just there to tell him that.

Giles asks if the dead boy will rise again. Buffy says no – becoming a vampire requires a vampire sucking a human’s blood and vice versa. Most of the time, the vampire just kills the human. Giles realizes that Buffy has no idea what’s going on here. Buffy’s arrival in town just before the discovery of this boy’s body isn’t a coincidence. And the boy is just the beginning.

Buffy would really like to end the conversation, but Giles needs her to know what’s happening here: She’s the Slayer. “To each generation, a Slayer is born – one girl in all the world, a chosen one, one born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires…” Buffy’s heard this before and can recite it by heart, but she doesn’t want to deal with it.

Giles tells Buffy that Sunnydale is a “center of mystical energy.” Things gravitate there that aren’t found in other parts of the country or world. Vampires, zombies, demons, every monster you can think of – they’re all real. Buffy asks if he sent away for the Time-Life series about the town. (Kids, ask your parents.) Giles did, and he got a free calendar!

Buffy announces that she’s retired from being the Slayer, so Giles will have to kill vampires by himself. He tells her he’s a Watcher, not a Slayer. His job is training and preparing Buffy. She doesn’t want to be prepared for this kind of life, though; being the Slayer cost her all her friends and a normal life in L.A. She can’t tell anyone that she kills vampires because she might put them in danger. So what does Giles want to prepare her for? She storms out and Giles follows her…as Xander emerges from the stacks, having heard the whole conversation.

Giles tells Buffy that over the years, supernatural occurrences have been building in Sunnydale, and now things are getting worse. There’s a reason Buffy’s here now, and it’s not just because Joyce decided to move there. Giles insists that something is going to happen soon. Buffy doubts that there’s a big, bad evil in a boring, sleepy little town like Sunnydale. She’s wrong. On the surface, Sunnydale might look like any other normal suburb, but underground, something definitely abnormal is happening. A vampire named Luke is waiting for a sleeper to awake so the world will bleed.

That night, Buffy gets ready to go to the Bronze while chatting with Joyce. Joyce thinks they’ll do really well in Sunnydale. She knows it’s hard for Buffy to build a life in a new town, but she’s sure Buffy can turn things around and stay out of the trouble she got into in L.A. Buffy promises that she’ll only hang out with the living from now on.

A guy follows Buffy as she heads out to the Bronze, and she goes into an alley to try to lose him. She hides by doing a handstand on top of a pipe a few feet in the air. Then she swings around to kick him to the ground and confront him. The guy (y’all know I don’t do the nameless thing; this is Angel) promises that he doesn’t bite and comments that he thought she would be taller. He tells her he wants the same thing she does: “To kill ’em. To kill ’em all.”

Buffy says she just wants to be left alone. Angel tells her that’s not possible anymore. She’s “standing at the mouth of Hell,” and it’s about to open. He gives her a box and tells her to be ready for the harvest. Buffy asks who he is, but Angel just says he’s a friend. Buffy tells him she doesn’t want a friend. He replies that he didn’t say he was her friend. After he leaves, Buffy opens the box, which contains a silver cross necklace.

At the Bronze, which is kind of a combination bar/coffeehouse with live music, Buffy meets up with Willow. Willow was hoping Xander would show up, too. They’re just friends, though they used to go out (when they were five). Willow doesn’t date much, since she finds it hard to talk when she’s around a guy she likes. She figures Buffy has a lot more luck; she’s much more outgoing. Buffy shares her philosophy: “Life is short.” Don’t worry about what other people think of you. After all, you could be dead tomorrow.

Buffy spots Giles up in a balcony and tells Willow she’ll be back in a minute. Willow says she doesn’t have to come back, but Buffy makes it clear that she’s not chatting with Willow just to be polite; she really wants to hang out with her. She joins Giles on the balcony, where he tells her this is the perfect place for a vampire to make an appearance.

Buffy says his friend told her about the harvest, but Giles doesn’t know who she’s talking about. He comments that the teens there are partying without any idea that there’s something dangerous lurking around. Buffy doesn’t think there’s anything to worry about. Giles concedes that she might be right. After all, she’s not having nightmares.

Downstairs, Jesse hits on Cordelia and asks her to dance. That’s a big no. He decides to go on the prowl for another prospect. Back up on the balcony, Buffy tells Giles that, okay, maybe she’s not completely retired from slaying. If she happens to run into a vampire, she’ll kill it. Giles tells her there’s a lot she doesn’t know about vampires and her own powers. Vampires look like everyone else until they transform and start feeding. Buffy says he’s “like a textbook with arms” – she knows this.

Giles continues that a Slayer should be able to sense a vampire without even looking or thinking. Can Buffy tell him if there’s a vampire in the club? Even in the crowd, she should be able to sense one. Buffy picks one out easily – the guy is wearing outdated clothes that only someone who’d been underground for ten years would think are in style. Giles complains that she didn’t hone her senses. Buffy has no time for honing, as she’s realized the girl that vampire is talking to is Willow. She seized the moment, but it was the wrong moment.

Buffy follows Willow and breaks a chair leg to make a stake as the vampire leads Willow into a quiet part of the building. Unfortunately, Cordelia and some of her friends show up, and Buffy almost stakes her. Suddenly Buffy is no longer on the possible-future-popular-girl list. Cordelia pulls out a very ’90s cell phone to call everyone she’s ever met and tell them about the new girl’s freaky after-hours activities.

Buffy returns to Giles, worried because she couldn’t find Willow and the vampire. He thinks he should come with her, but she insists that she can handle one vampire. Except that guy is no longer the only vampire in the club: Darla’s there, and she’s flirting with Jesse. Meanwhile, underground, someone rises out of a pit of blood. This is the Master, and he’s going to make things very difficult for Buffy. Luke tells him the harvest is approaching, and then the Master will be free. Also, it’s almost dinnertime. The Master wants something young.

Looks like that’ll be Willow, who’s walking through town with the vampire, supposedly on the way to get ice cream. Instead, he takes her to a cemetery. Buffy is still looking for Willow around the Bronze when Xander arrives. He remarks that he hopes the guy Willow left with isn’t a vampire Buffy will have to slay. Buffy asks if there was an announcement in the school paper letting everyone know that she’s the Slayer. Really, she doesn’t have time to deal with that – she needs to save Willow. Xander realizes this is a serious situation.

The vampire tries to talk Willow into going into a crypt with him, but she’s a very smart girl and her instincts are telling her that she’s in a bad situation. He shoves her in the crypt, and when she tries to leave, Darla blocks the exit. She’s brought Jesse with her and has snuck a little before-dinner snack from his neck. She puts on her vamp face and tells Willow that no one’s leaving until the vampires have fed.

Just then, Buffy and Xander arrive, and despite the fact that she’s now facing double the vampires she expected, Buffy shows no fear. Darla has no idea who she is. Buffy ignores her and criticizes the other vampire’s outfit; he looks like DeBarge. She faces Darla for a fight, warning that there will be “violence, strong language, adult content…” But it’s over pretty quickly, because it just takes a stake to the chest to get rid of the male vampire.

Xander gets Willow and Jesse out of the crypt while Buffy battles Darla. Buffy really wishes she could have gotten a fresh start in her life instead of killing vampires again. Darla asks who she is. Before she can answer, Luke grabs Buffy and throws her across the crypt. Darla warns Luke that Buffy is strong and has already killed a vampire. He sends Darla away so he can take care of the “little girl” on his own. She may be strong, but Luke is stronger.

Xander, Willow, and Jesse don’t get far before they’re cornered by more vampires. Buffy’s still fighting Luke, so she can’t help them. Luke tells her that she can’t stop all of them. She has no idea what she’s dealing with. As he talks about the harvest, “when the blood of men will flow as wine,” Giles reads up on it in the library. Basically, the vampires will kill a bunch of people, the Master will be able to walk in the world again, and humans will face Hell on Earth. Getting rid of the Slayer would be a good start, so Luke corners Buffy and prepares to finish her off. To be continued…

Thoughts: I’ve watched this show countless times and didn’t expect to ever recap it here. But I recently decided to revisit it (for the first time in over a decade) and see how my memory holds up. I want to see if I have different opinions now that I’m older and more removed from the days when I was so into it.

As much as I can possibly avoid it, I will not be discussing Joss Whedon. That man can choke.

Brian Thompson, who plays Luke (and later plays the Judge), also played the Bounty Hunter on The X-Files.

Apparently Katie Homes auditioned to be Buffy, which I really can’t see. And in the original, unaired pilot, Mr. Flutie was played by Stephen Tobolowsky, which I really can.

Way to leave a dead body alone in a locker room without any crime-scene tape or anything, police. (To quote a future character, the Sunnydale police are “deeply stupid.”)