May 3, 2022

ER 10.21, Midnight: Just Bad Luck

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , at 5:01 pm by Jenn

You will want tissues for this

Summary: Carter and Kem are at their brownstone, opening baby gifts. Elizabeth sent a book called The American Way of Birth. Heh. Carter tells Kem not to let her OB, Dr. Ford, see it; the author thinks American OBs are greedy. Kem has her own criticisms about America’s technology-reliant obstetric practices, which don’t seem to help anything, considering the country’s horrible infant mortality rate. Carter thinks it’s at least better than the Congo.

They’re trying to pick out a paint color for the nursery, as well as brainstorm baby names. Carter likes the name George. Pros: the first president and the quiet Beatle. Cons: the current (at the time) president. Carter asks the baby if he would rather be born on the floor of a mud hut in Africa (shut up, Carter) or in a modern hospital in America. The baby doesn’t express a preference.

Steve returns to Sam’s apartment after taking Alex to school, and she confronts him for giving Alex a condom. Steve doesn’t see the big deal. Also, I think he wants it back so he can sleep with Sam. He tries to butter her up but she’s not in the mood. She asks him to stay with Alex that night because she has something to do. He guesses she has a date.

It’s the day before Abby, Neela, and Lester graduate med school. Pratt isn’t especially congratulatory, since all that means is they’ll be more responsible for their patients. Morris is…also there. Neela’s going to the airport at midnight to pick up family members from London. She has around 18 coming. Lester’s family’s coming, too, but no one cares about Lester. Abby’s mother and brother aren’t coming. She says they’re not that close: “We’re more like survivors of a particularly brutal carjacking than family.” The med students seem like more of a family, considering the way they trade off coming up with insults for Pratt.

Sam does, indeed, have plans with Luka that night, and she’s so eager to spend time with him that she doesn’t care if they actually do anything. They greet an ambulance bringing in an elderly man named Mr. Ferguson who’s altered and thinks the paramedics stole his watch. Frank is back at work and people are surprisingly happy to see him. He claims that he and his wife were getting on each other’s nerves anyway, but from what we saw of her and their relationship after his heart attack, I feel like they never annoy each other.

Carter’s hovering over Kem a little, wondering if she’s been counting the baby’s kicks. She hasn’t, since he’s very active, but she tells him she will so he’ll leave her alone. Neela’s concerned about Elgin, since a test shows he has a heart issue but he hasn’t made an appointment to discuss it or get treatment. She’s worried that his condition is worse than it seems. Pratt brushes her off since Elgin is too young to have the problems she thinks he might have.

Abby presents Mr. Ferguson to Luka while Mr. Ferguson presents his bare butt to us. Thanks, show! Luka confirms that Abby’s graduating the next day and asks if she’s gotten the results of her retaken boards yet. She hasn’t, which means she can walk in the graduation ceremony but won’t get her diploma until she passes the boards. In case you were wondering, Morris: No, we don’t care what you think about that.

Rachel shows up at the admit desk, looking for Elizabeth. Jerry recognizes her but Frank doesn’t. Carter rushes Kem to County, parking his Jeep in the ambulance bay and giving the keys to a security guard to move it. Neela tries to call Elgin but can’t reach him. Abby, like Luka, doesn’t think he’s as sick as Neela believes. Mr. Ferguson wanders by, fully naked, and Abby calls him “Larry Godiva” and asks Malik to take him back to his room. Steve sends Sam a bunch of ice cream sundaes, which she hands out to her co-workers.

Once she’s seen Rachel (and her boyfriend, B.J.), Elizabeth calls Jen to let her know she’s in Chicago. Jen had no idea since Rachel doesn’t live with her anymore. She and a friend got a place together. Who’s renting an apartment to two teenagers?? Lawson interrupts to talk to Elizabeth about a patient, then a date. Elizabeth keeps the conversation professional, but Rachel guesses they’re seeing each other. She and B.J. want to stay with Elizabeth for a couple of days while Rachel looks at Chicago colleges. Elizabeth is fine with that as long as they sleep in separate bedrooms.

Sam explains the sundaes to Abby and Neela: She was working in an ice cream shop at the mall when she and Steve met. Abby chastises Frank for eating ice cream so soon after bypass surgery. Sam talks about how hot Steve was when they were younger. He’d come pick her up at school in his Mustang and they’d go to an arcade or park somewhere. Her parents protested but Sam ignored them. Then, of course, she got pregnant.

Dr. Ford examines Kem, but sadly, as the two of them and Carter all figure out on their own, the baby has no heartbeat. Dr. Ford can’t pinpoint the reason and says they might never know what happened. Kem will have to be induced and deliver the baby. Carter can’t wrap his head around how Kem could be completely healthy and still have a stillbirth.

Neela bugs Pratt about Elgin again; he called in sick to work and she’s really worried about him. She wants to go by his place and examine him there. Morris: Stupid comment. Pratt doesn’t want Neela going alone, since Elgin lives in a rough neighborhood, so he agrees to go with her after his shift. (She has to buy him dinner in exchange.)

Weaver tells Abby to get control of Mr. Ferguson so he doesn’t keep walking around the ER naked. This is a stupid plot. Frank gets a call from security and tells Luka that his car alarm is going off in the parking garage. Morris invites Neela to go to dinner with him to celebrate wherever her match letter says she’ll be working next year. He’s sure she’ll get a good placement. Abby, however, is going to disappoint wherever she matched because she hasn’t passed her boards yet.

Kem is taken to a private room, and though the nurses tending to her are kind, that doesn’t help her feel better. It also doesn’t help that they’re on the OB floor and can hear other people’s babies crying. Luka goes to the garage, where Steve is waiting for him at his car. He tries to make small talk, but Luka wants to cut to the chase. Steve says he’s screwed things up with his family, but this time he’s going to fix everything. He doesn’t see a place for Luka in Sam and Alex’s life.

Pratt and Neela go to Elgin’s apartment and leave him a note since no one’s home. As they’re leaving, they run into Elgin, who’s coming home and doesn’t feel well. He hasn’t taken any of the medical advice Neela gave him previously, and she wants to run some tests. Elgin has to take care of his younger siblings, though, so Pratt tells him to come in another time. Neela doesn’t feel right about letting his long-term needs slide while he takes care of his short-term needs.

Luka wants to go to Abby’s graduation, which she’s so uninterested in that she might not even go herself. She’s not sure she’ll even get to practice medicine, so why go to the ceremony, and why have anyone she cares about there? Weaver pulls her aside to ask if she’s gotten her match list. Off the record, County put Abby in their top 20, so if she put them on her list, she’ll probably get to work there.

Abby guesses that Weaver knows she failed her boards the first time. Weaver says that if she hypothetically fails again, the intern program expecting her might hypothetically delete her from their list. That would hypothetically give her the chance to match with her second choice. Abby says then she would hypothetically lodge a complaint with the national board about that program’s chief of staff discussing something she shouldn’t.

Sam meets up with Luka for their date, but he says he’s too tired for it. She easily guesses that Steve is somehow involved. Luka tries to use Alex as an excuse, thinking he’s confused about Sam dating Luka while Steve is around. Carter offers to call Kem’s family in the Congo, but she doesn’t want anyone to know yet that the baby died. At Elizabeth’s, Rachel tells her that Dave called. She’s figured out that Elizabeth is dating two guys at once. Elizabeth finally asks why she’s really in Chicago. Rachel admits that she needs plan B, the morning-after pill.

Kem’s labor is progressing but she still has hours to go. She tries to remain stoic when Carter leaves for a short break; she obviously doesn’t want him to go, but she also doesn’t want to ask him to stay. He chats with an expectant father whose wife is having their fourth girl. Carter acts like he’s any other father in the maternity ward, just waiting for his baby to arrive.

Steve tries to seduce Sam again at her place, and she’s still not interested. She asks if he said something to Luka at County. Steve says he wants another chance with her, but she just tells him not to approach Luka again. Steve continues his attempted seduction, progressing to kissing Sam and telling her he loves her. She manages to keep fighting temptation to do something she know she’ll regret.

Kem is finally in active labor, and she and Carter tearfully welcome their son. Dr. Ford determines that the baby was so active that he accidentally tied a knot in the umbilical cord, which led to his death. There’s nothing Kem could have done to prevent it: “It was just bad luck.” Kem refuses to look at the baby. As Carter takes a break, Jack finds him in the hallway. Carter goes to him like a child and cries as his father holds him.

A few hours later, Chen, Elizabeth, and Weaver discuss the news about the baby. Morris tries to be sympathetic but doesn’t sound like he actually cares. Neela takes her family on a tour of the hospital, keeping her cool when they come across a still-naked Mr. Ferguson. Abby! Do your job! I guarantee that the kids in the family will only remember this from their entire time in Chicago.

In Kem’s room, a nurse does the things normally done with a newborn – clipping a lock of hair, taking a footprint, etc. Kem still won’t look at the baby. Elizabeth asks Lawson to write Rachel a prescription for plan B and some other medications. Dr. Ford tells Carter that she wants Kem to stay in the hospital for the rest of the day as a precaution, but not in the maternity ward. She also wants Kem to hold the baby. If she doesn’t say goodbye, she’ll regret it for the rest of her life.

Elizabeth gives Rachel her prescriptions, as well as some birth-control pills. She explains that she got Lawson to write the prescriptions because Jen will inevitably find them, and Elizabeth doesn’t want to be connected to them. Smart! Rachel asks about Elizabeth’s two boyfriends, assuring her that Mark would be okay with her dating. He would want her to be happy. They both say they miss him.

Abby and Luka visit Carter, who appreciates their support but doesn’t want them to hang around too long. He also dismisses Jack, who won’t leave because he’s finally decided to be a good parent. Neela looks for Abby as their class gets ready to graduate, but she’s not there. Carter gently tells Kem that when they move her to another room, they’re going to take the baby away. He wants her to hold him. Kem doesn’t respond.

Luka is late to the graduation ceremony, which means he missed a speech from Molly Ivins, but he doesn’t know who that is, so whatever. Susan’s there, even though she’s a week overdue and is supposed to be on bed rest. Lester shows Neela the top of his cap, which has a greeting for his mom. Aw. Neela’s still looking for Abby.

Paramedics bring in Elgin, who has fluid in his lungs from congestive heart failure, one of the things Neela was worried about. Hmmm, maybe people should have listened to her. Abby arrives at graduation just seconds before her name is called. Trivia: Her middle name is Marjorie. Luka, Susan, and Sam give her a standing ovation. Neela gets her own from her family.

Jack finds Carter studying the lock of the baby’s hair. He says that when Carter’s brother Bobby died, he hated everyone’s platitudes (“there are no words,” etc.). He tries to remind Carter that the baby’s death was an accident. “The whole thing was an accident,” Carter replies. Jack reminds him that he and Kem love each other. Carter isn’t sure she’ll want to try for another child.

Luka and Susan congratulate Abby and invite her to get something to eat with them, but she turns them down. Luka spots Sam, who’s brought Steve and Alex with her, but keeps his distance. Abby calls Maggie and lets her know that she just graduated. If I were Maggie, I’d be mad that my daughter didn’t invite me to her big day, but whatever.

Carter goes back to Kem, telling her again that the baby is going to be taken away. They’ll never see him again. He admits that he doesn’t know what to say or do. The death was an accident; they didn’t do anything wrong. He loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Right now, though, they need to say goodbye to their son. Carter needs to figure out how to help Kem do that. He asks her to help him. Kem, who’s been silent every time Carter has tried to talk to her, finally sits up in bed and agrees to hold the baby. She cries over him as Carter just repeats that he loves them.

Thoughts: Dr. Ford is played by Blair Brown.

Thandie Newton and Noah Wyle are both excellent in this episode, dealing with really difficult material. It’s some of Wyle’s best acting on the show.

B.J. looks exactly like the kind of guy you’d expect Rachel to date, by which I mean the last guy you would want your daughter to be with.

When Sam and Steve met, she was 15 and he was 23. GROSS.

April 12, 2022

ER 10.18, Where There’s Smoke: I Wish I Hadn’t Already Used “Sandy, Can’t You See I’m in Misery?” as a Title

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 5:04 pm by Jenn

Sob!

Summary: Sandy and Weaver have gotten into the swing of this parenting thing and are preparing for their day. Both of them have to work, so Florina will be looking after Henry. Florina clearly loves her daughter and grandson but isn’t quite so affectionate with Weaver (I don’t think she’s a fan of Henry having two mommies). Weaver and Sandy are obviously very happy together. This means something bad is going to happen.

Luka shows up at Sam and Alex’s on his way home from a late shift. Alex jokes that he must have missed them. Sam sends him off to school, then suggests that she and Luka find a way to fill the couple of minutes before she has to leave for work. Luka’s tired but not too tired for sex. So to sum up, the two of them are together and Alex doesn’t seem to care.

At County, Abby and Neela are thinking about the results of their recent board exams, which they haven’t opened yet. Neela doesn’t think she has a future as a doctor, between her clashes with staff members and the fact that she accidentally killed someone. Chen tells her she’s not a good doctor until she’s killed someone. Neela thinks Chen isn’t in that club. If only she knew about Chen’s major screw-up when she was a med student.

Susan arrives in the ER in a wheelchair, accompanied by a guy named Levine (who made her use the wheelchair because she wasn’t walking fast enough for his liking). He’s from risk management and will be interviewing everyone involved in Luis’ case. Carter is the one being named in the family’s lawsuit because he was the attending in charge, but he’s conveniently in the Congo, visiting Kem. Neela gets to go first. Susan doesn’t think she has anything to worry about. Luis’ medical records slipped through the cracks; no one did anything wrong.

Pratt wants to fix Gallant up with a woman he knows, but Gallant isn’t interested. Elizabeth compliments Gallant on some procedure he did and suggests that he switch to surgery if he gets tired of emergency medicine. Chen tells Pratt to present a patient to her since Susan’s with risk management. She seems tired, but she says her father is doing better.

Pratt’s patient is a John Doe with hypothermia and high blood sugar. Pratt thinks he’s homeless, but Chen notes that his fingernails look well taken care of, so he might have wandered off from his home. Then he pees on her. Womp womp. Elizabeth complains to Weaver that the surgical department is in shambles and they need someone to represent them in bargaining for their salaries. Weaver informs Elizabeth that she was chosen as the new department head a couple months ago and no one bothered to tell her. So I guess Elizabeth gets to be that bargaining representative.

Abby examines a patient named Halpern who’s complaining of back pain and wants Vicodin. She and Gallant immediately clock him as a drug-seeker. Susan and Neela meet with Levine, and Neela sticks with Gallant’s story that he gave the order for Demerol. (She kind of has to, since telling the truth would put him on the hook for a crime.) Susan studies Neela really closely but doesn’t suspect that she’s lying. She tells Neela that a friend of hers is doing a study on stroke treatments and needs med students to help with research, if Neela’s interested.

Chen complains that Susan will be with Levine all day, leaving Chen as the only attending on the floor. Jerry tells Sam that Luka called and said something about coffee. Chen approves of the Sam/Luka pairing and confirms that she never hooked up with Luka. “I went in a completely different direction,” she says, waving to Pratt.

The John Doe is awake and identifies himself as Bob Jones. He says he’s homeless, but Chen is still skeptical. His diabetes was under control until recently. Bob won’t say what caused it to get out of control. Chen says she’ll called Social Services, an idea Bob approves of since he needs a place to live. She realizes that Pratt should be handling this and goes to question him. He’s been on the phone with her father’s nurse, who reported that her father set off a smoke alarm while trying to cook a steak. Pratt thinks he should be restrained when he’s in bed.

Sam announces that they’re about to receive a bunch of patients from a fire and building collapse. Chen will need Susan’s help now more than ever. She’s currently with Levine and Abby, the latter of whom thinks Neela made the right call with Luis. She doesn’t know if what Neela and Gallant say happened is really what happened, and she wonders if there’s a cover-up. Jerry comes to get the women to help with the new patients.

The rest of the staff jumps to action, helping two firefighters, Tommy and Andy. Susan tells Abby to take the lead tending to Andy. Susan immediately recognizes the next patient as Sandy. She’s awake and talking, and even remembers Neela from the NICU. But she breathed in some stuff she shouldn’t have, so Susan warns that they may need to intubate her. Sandy asks to talk to Weaver first, and though Susan doesn’t think they should wait, she agrees to hold off for a little bit.

Gallant joins Chen and Pratt to take care of Tommy, who looks really bad. Gallant catches a problem the other doctors didn’t. Chen sends Pratt to help Abby while letting Gallant stay with her, because why not bug your ex with a show of power in the middle of a mass trauma? Pratt fixes Andy’s dislocated knee, and it’s SUPER-GROSS. Thanks a lot, show.

Weaver finally gets to Sandy’s trauma room and learns that she needs surgery. She’s right on time because Sandy starts declining. Weaver takes over her partner’s care, and Susan, Neela, and Sam don’t have the heart to make her stop. Andy’s disappointed to learn that his knee injury might sideline him from the career he’s always wanted. Sorry, buddy, we don’t have time to care about you. Tommy’s doing poorly, so Pratt goes over to help. Chen still wants to let Gallant take the lead, and she’s in danger of driving a wedge between the guys.

As Weaver intubates Sandy, Andy suddenly has trouble breathing. Pratt’s still busy with Tommy, so Abby can’t get him to come back and help her and Malik. She keeps the door open between Andy’s exam room and Tommy’s trauma room, and Pratt and Chen yell instructions to her. Abby can’t intubate Andy because of swelling in his airway, so she decides to cut a hole in his throat. She also decides not to mention what she’s doing to Pratt and Chen. Oh, and she’s never done this before. When she’s done, she tells Pratt and Chen what she did. Chen’s pleased with her initiative.

Tommy’s dead, and Gallant feels especially bad about not being able to save him. Sandy’s about to go up to surgery, and Elizabeth doesn’t realize who she is until Susan tells her. She offers to let Weaver observe. Neela kindly tells Weaver she’ll say a prayer. Some of Sandy’s fellow firefighters walk alongside her gurney as she’s moved, soon joined by Sandy’s mother and brother, Eduardo. (The baby is with Eduardo’s wife.) Florina tells Weaver to take care of Sandy. Weaver spots a firefighter breaking down over the news of Tommy’s death.

Gallant has his turn with risk management. Levine asks why Carter didn’t write notes on the chart before he left the country. Did he need time to get his facts straight? Gallant just says they were busy that night. Levine asks if Gallant feels like Carter is a good attending. Gallant says yes, so Levine asks why he didn’t present to Carter. Susan has the same question, since Carter couldn’t have been far away.

Levine questions whether Carter knew the decisions Gallant was making. Gallant says no, and that he wanted to handle the case himself. Maybe he’s not as competent as he thought he was. Gallant agrees to include all this in his testimony if the case proceeds and he’s deposed, but he might not be able to be present. He’s being deployed to Iraq. STUPID SHOW!

Abby and Gallant return their attention to Halpern, whose records show that he’s asked for Vicodin at multiple hospitals but doesn’t currently have any in his system. Another of Sandy’s brothers, Carlos (a fellow firefighter), arrives and asks for an update on Sandy. She’s still in surgery, and Elizabeth chats with Weaver about her while she operates. Weaver notes that they met at County. Elizabeth says it’s the last place she expected to find a partner. Weaver replies that she misses Mark, too.

Abby asks Neela a question about medication and Neela answers like it’s something she’s known for decades. She finally opened her test results and found out she passed her boards, but she’s not as happy as she should be. She isn’t sure it means anything. She suggests that they go out and celebrate anyway, but Abby isn’t in the mood. She finds Susan giving herself some sort of exam because she’s having contractions.

Anspaugh joins Elizabeth in the OR as Sandy starts declining. He questions Weaver’s presence but Elizabeth says it’s fine. Sandy’s heart isn’t pumping blood, so Elizabeth tells Weaver they need to open her chest. Gallant asks Halpern about all the caffeine in his system. Halpern blames over-the-counter migraine medication, which doesn’t help his back pain. It turns out he’s a veteran and doesn’t have good enough insurance to cover what he needs. The VA won’t admit that his migraines are related to his service. Gallant guesses that he sells Vicodin to pay for his migraine medication.

Neela runs into Gallant and asks how his meeting with risk management went. He just says things will be fine. She apologizes for being distant, but she’s struggling to deal with all the lying and cover-ups. Gallant tells her about his deployment – he’s going to Texas tomorrow and will finish his residency there, then go to Iraq. Neela guesses that he’s lying about being deployed. He offered to go because he’s a coward. Now he’s going to leave Neela to deal with the fallout of their cover-up. “Go to bloody Iraq,” she says, “and tell yourself you’ve done something noble.”

Susan’s contractions have stopped, but she needs to go on bed rest for five weeks. She and Abby lament what a bad day they’ve had. On top of the risk management meetings and their patients, Abby failed her boards. Susan thinks it’s just because she has to work so much that she didn’t have time to study. Abby puts it in perspective, saying at least she didn’t have a burning building collapse on her. She can take them again.

Anspaugh and Elizabeth continue working on Sandy but don’t make any progress. Weaver realizes – has probably realized for a while – that they’re not going to save her. She sadly tells them they can stop trying. Sandy’s gone.

Weaver sits with Sandy’s body for a long time, then asks Elizabeth to remove her intubation, even though there’s a law that it has to stay in. She tells Elizabeth that even though she had to talk Sandy into getting pregnant, once Henry was born, Sandy wanted to have a bunch of kids. “What am I supposed to do now?” Weaver whispers. Elizabeth offers to tell Sandy’s family, but Weaver wants to do it.

Susan asks Gallant if people know he’s leaving. He says no, apparently not wanting anyone to make a big deal about it. She tells him that while he made a stupid mistake, there were a lot of factors that led to Luis’ death. Gallant says that if the case goes to court, the Army will let him come back and testify. Susan doesn’t think it’ll get that far. People don’t sue doctors they like, and Luis’ wife liked Gallant, so the case will probably go away. They wish each other well with his deployment and her baby.

Weaver goes to the waiting area to tell Sandy’s family and friends that she’s dead. Sam is leaving as Luka’s arriving early to spend time with her before his shift. She tells him that Sandy died, but he doesn’t recognize her name. Ouch. Gallant plays basketball with Pratt for the last time before leaving for his deployment, which will last at least a year. Pratt thinks he’s a little too casual about going into a war zone. He says he’ll miss Gallant, who’s honorable, a quality Pratt isn’t sure he’s ever encountered in someone before. He tells Gallant not to get himself killed.

Sam goes home, where Alex is listening to loud music and is in a good mood. It’s because his father, Steve, has come by. Sam’s bad day just got worse. Abby checks in on Weaver, who’s alone with just Sandy’s firefighter gear. She breaks down and Abby comforts her. I engrave Laura Innes’ name on an honorary Emmy.

The next day, Gallant is about to leave for the airport when Neela comes to see him. She gives him a rabbit’s foot for good luck and thanks him for putting himself on the line for her career. She kisses him and tells him he has to come back. He says he will, and she’d better be a great doctor when he returns. She sheds a couple of tears as he rides off on a cab.

Weaver goes to Eduardo’s house to pick up Henry, who spent the night. Eduardo tells her that Henry isn’t there. It’s nothing personal; he’s always liked Weaver. But the Lopezes are Henry’s blood relatives, and they’re keeping Sandy’s son. Weaver hears him crying and starts to fight her way past Eduardo into the house, but he pushes her away and slams the door on her. She bangs on the door, demanding her son back.

Thoughts: Levine is played by Armin Shimerman, AKA Snyder. Andy is played by Rob McElhenney.

All these years later, I’m still mad they killed off Sandy. I also resent having to watch this right after “Becoming, Part 2.”

I don’t get why the show suddenly backed off of Gallant and all but wrote him out after this, but made us put up with Morris for the rest of the series.

I’m not saying what Halpern’s been doing is right, but…I’m also not saying it’s a bad idea.

April 9, 2022

Buffy 2.22, Becoming, Part 2: What’s Left?

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:07 pm by Jenn

This is in the top 3 of Buffy’s most awesome moments

Summary: We pick up right where we left off, with a cop finding Buffy kneeling next to Kendra’s body. His partner confirms that Kendra’s dead, and the first cop sees Xander up in the stacks, unconscious. The first cop leads Buffy out of the library before she can find out if he’s okay. They run into Snyder, who tells the cop that Buffy’s most definitely behind whatever’s going on.

The cop starts to arrest Buffy, but as he’s reading her her rights, she knocks him out. Snyder just stands there, frozen, while she runs off. The second cop comes out into the hallway and tries to take a shot at Buffy, but Snyder’s in the way and she can’t aim well. She calls in an alert that they have a dangerous 16-year-old fugitive on the loose.

Buffy sneaks into the hospital to find out if the Scoobies are okay. Xander finds her and assures her that he’s fine other than his broken arm. He hugs her to keep her face turned away from some passing cops. He takes her to Willow’s room, where she’s being treated for a head injury and hasn’t woken up yet. Buffy laments letting her do the restoration spell. Angelus must have known somehow.

Willow’s parents are on their way back from an out-of-town trip, and Oz doesn’t know what happened yet, so Willow just has Buffy and Xander for now. Well, also Cordelia, who’s arrived after running as far as she could (solid response to the attack). The Scoobies realize that they don’t know where Giles is.

He’s with Angelus, who wants to use Giles to revisit one of his former favorite activities, torturing people. He’d like to find out what it’s like to use a chainsaw. Giles sees that the sword is still in Acathla, which means Angelus doesn’t know the ritual to wake him. That’s why Angelus brought him there – to fill in the blanks. But he also doesn’t want Giles to fill in the blanks, because torturing it out of him would be more fun.

A detective named Stein goes to the Summerses’ house and fills Joyce in on the attack on the Scoobies. Joyce thought Buffy was at Willow’s house. Stein asks her to call if Buffy comes home. Buffy goes to Giles’ instead, where she runs into Whistler. He expected her to show up. He jokes that he needs a prom date, but Buffy is really, REALLY not in a joking mood. She tells him to give her helpful information if he has any; if not, she’ll turn his ribcage into a hat. “Hello to the imagery!” Whistler replies.

He tells her things weren’t supposed to happen like this. No one saw her coming. Whistler thought Angel would be the big player here, but as the one who stopped Acathla, not the one who woke him. But thanks to sex with Buffy, Angelus is back. Whistler asks what Buffy’s prepared to do. She says she’ll do whatever she needs to. He clarifies that he wants to know what she’s prepared to give up.

Buffy dismisses him as a demon sent down to even the score between good and evil. “Good guess,” he says, impressed. She tells him that if he wants to be helpful, he should fight evil with her instead of just standing by. She’s tired of doing it by herself. “In the end, you’re always by yourself,” he tells her. “You’re all you’ve got. That’s the point.” As she leaves, he warns that the sword Kendra brought her isn’t enough. She needs to be ready and know how to use it.

As Buffy’s walking home, a cop spots her and tries to arrest her. She’s stunned when Spike comes to her rescue. (Most of that astonishment is just because it’s Spike, but I’m sure some is because he doesn’t need his wheelchair after all.) She starts to fight him, but he says he’s there to help her stop Angelus. More specifically, he wants to help her kill Angelus. Buffy thinks he’s tricking her, but he tells her that Angelus kidnapped Giles. Spike wants to help Buffy save the world.

Buffy doesn’t get the angle here. Spike explains that vampires like to talk big, but they’re just posturing. Spike likes the world. He likes dog racing and Manchester United and having his pick of people to feed on. Angelus wants to destroy all that, and Spike knows he could be successful. Buffy asks why Spike would ever want to team with her. He says he wants Drusilla back. He misses the way things were before Angelus resurfaced.

Buffy calls him pathetic. He punches her and she punches him back. She’s upset because she lost a friend (Spike tries to interrupt, saying he wasn’t in on the attack) and could lose more. She’s not going to help Spike get his girlfriend back when she’s facing the end of the world. He says neither of them can stop this on their own. She punches him again and says she hates him. “And I’m all you’ve got,” he replies. Buffy decides to listen to what he has to say, and she stops him from killing the cop he knocked out as they go somewhere to chat.

Cordelia leaves Xander alone with Willow while she gets him some coffee. Xander urges Willow to wake up because he needs her. She’s his best friend and…he loves her. She starts to wake up, but the person she asks for is Oz, not Xander. Oz arrives just then, and Xander’s the only one who knows that he just declared his true feelings for Willow.

Giles has survived some minor torture from Angelus, who’s impressed that he’s holding up so well. Buffy takes Spike to her house, arriving just as Joyce is getting home from searching for her. As mother and daughter are talking, Spike realizes that Joyce doesn’t know about Buffy’s secret identity. Buffy lies that she’s in a band with Spike. (She plays the drums and Spike sings.) They’re on their way inside when a vampire ambushes them. Buffy and Spike tag-team him and stake him. They figure he was one of Angelus’ spies. Joyce has some questions, and for the first time, Buffy reveals to her mother that she’s a Slayer.

Putting a pause on the conversation, Buffy calls Willow, who promises that she’s okay. She’s sorry she couldn’t finish the ritual and restore Angel’s soul. Buffy is starting to accept that she’ll never get him back. That will make it easier to get rid of him. She tells Willow she has a lead on Giles – a lead Willow wouldn’t believe if Buffy told her. That lead is in the living room with Joyce. Both of them are completely silent.

Buffy tells Xander where Angelus and his minions are hiding out. She’s going to go after them when the sun comes up. She thinks Giles is alive, and she wishes he were able to tell her what to do. Back in the living room, Joyce asks Spike if they’ve met before. He reminds her that she hit him with an axe once.

Before Joyce has to make any more small talk, Buffy comes in and tells Spike to outline the terms of their alliance. He wants free passage out of town with Drusilla after he helps Buffy kill Angelus. Buffy wants Drusilla punished for killing Kendra. Spike didn’t know about that and is kind of adorably proud of his girlfriend for killing a Slayer. Buffy regrets inviting him into her house.

Joyce is relieved to hear that Buffy didn’t kill Kendra. Buffy’s understandably offended that Joyce thought she did. Spike says there’s no other deal on the table. He and Drusilla will leave the country and Buffy will never see them again. They ignore Joyce as she asks questions about pretty much everything: Is Buffy sure she’s a Slayer? Has she tried not being a Slayer? Buffy accepts Spike’s deal and sends him home to act like everything’s normal. She warns that if Giles dies, she’ll kill Drusilla.

After Spike leaves, Joyce wonders if Buffy’s a Slayer because she didn’t have a strong father figure. Buffy tells her it’s fate and she needs to accept it. Joyce wants to call the police and tell them Buffy’s innocent (not that there’s any proof). Buffy warns that getting the police involved will get them killed. She’s the only one who can fight demons. Joyce still doesn’t get what’s happening, so Buffy tells her to have another drink.

Joyce throws her glass away and tells Buffy not to talk to her like that. She doesn’t appreciate Buffy dropping a bomb on her, then acting like it’s not a bomb. Buffy’s distracted by her responsibilities, but Joyce wants her to make time to explain herself. She can’t just accept that Buffy’s a Slayer. Buffy reminds her that she’s been involved in fights and weird occurrences for two years. Joyce should have known something was going on.

Joyce announces that it all stops now, but Buffy says it never stops. She didn’t choose this. She’s lonely and always in danger. She’d love to be a normal teenager, but right now, she has to save the world. Again. Joyce thinks Buffy’s talking crazy and needs help. Buffy says she has to go, and Joyce can’t stop her. When Joyce tries, Buffy shoves her aside and heads for the backdoor. Joyce tells her that if she walks out, she shouldn’t come back. Buffy pauses, then leaves.

At the hospital, Willow announces that she wants to try the restoration spell again. Xander doesn’t like the idea of her using powerful magic when she’s weak, but Willow thinks she can do it. Plus, she has her resolve face on, which means no one can stop her. She wants to try to turn Angelus back into Angel and stop him from waking Acathla. Oz realizes he’s missed a lot here because “this is all making the kind of sense that’s…not.” Willow sends him and Cordelia to the library to get her stuff. Then she tells Xander to let Buffy know what they’re doing in case she can stall Angelus.

Angelus offers to end Giles’ pain if Giles tells him what he wants to know. Giles begs for relief, then says that for Angelus to be “worthy” of waking Acathla, he has to perform the ritual in a tutu. “All right, someone get the chainsaw!” Angelus orders. Spike comes in (back in his wheelchair) and notes that killing Giles will lose Angelus his only shot at getting the answers he needs. Plus, Spike doesn’t want to have to clean up the mess. He has a better idea: Let Drusilla handle it.

Buffy goes to the library to get the sword. Snyder catches her and comments that it’s fitting for a criminal to be at a crime scene. She tells him the police will figure out that she didn’t kill Kendra. Snyder replies that Sunnydale’s police are “deeply stupid.” Buffy’s too much of a liability for the school, no matter how the criminal case turns out, so she’s expelled. Buffy pulls out the sword and guesses that Snyder never got a date when he was in high school. He lets her leave because…well, big sword. But after she’s gone, he calls the mayor to give him good news.

If Angelus was the bad cop, Drusilla’s the good cop, treating Giles gently as she figures out how best to manipulate him. She puts him in a trance, then makes herself look like Jenny. He’s confused about her being there but really believes it’s her. He confirms that he didn’t tell Angelus anything because he’s close to figuring out the ritual. “Jenny” asks what to do, promising that when this is over, she and Giles will be together. He tells her they need to get Angelus away from Acathla – his blood is key here.

“Jenny” kisses him, then turns back into Drusilla. Angelus figures out that he has to use his own blood in the ritual. He orders Giles killed, but Spike notes that he could be lying, so they should keep him alive. Angelus appreciates that Spike is looking out for him. They realize that Drusilla’s still kissing Giles and tell her she can wrap it up. “Sorry. I was in the moment,” she says.

Buffy goes back to Giles’ place and asks Whistler what he meant when he said the sword wasn’t enough. He tells her what Angelus just realized, that his blood will wake Acathla. His blood is also the only thing that will close the vortex after all non-demons are sucked into Hell. Once the portal to Hell is closed, Angelus will be sucked in there, too. Whistler advises Buffy to get there before the vortex opens – the faster she kills Angelus, the easier it’ll be on her. Buffy says she can handle whatever happens. She has nothing left to lose. After she leaves, Whistler says she has one more thing.

As the sun comes up, Buffy heads to the vampires’ lair. Xander catches up to her, but she’ll only let him rescue Giles, not join the fight. He admires the sword, which she says is a present for Angelus. Xander starts to tell her that Willow’s going to try the restoration spell again: “She told me to tell you…” “Tell me what?” Buffy prompts. “Kick his a%$,” he replies.

Angelus starts the ritual again as Willow, Oz, and Cordelia start the restoration spell. Angelus cuts his hand and is reaching for the sword when Buffy comes in and kills a minion. “Hello, lover,” she greets Angelus, just as he greeted her the last time they faced off. He says he doesn’t have time for this, and she replies that he doesn’t have a lot of time left. Angelus asks if she thinks she can take on all the vampires there alone. Buffy says she doesn’t, just as Spike rises from his wheelchair and hits Angelus with a tire iron.

Buffy fights minions while Spike uses the tire iron to take out all his anger on Angelus. Eventually, Drusilla tackles him. Xander briefly lends Buffy a hand when he comes in to find Giles. Spike tells Drusilla he doesn’t want to hurt her, then hits her and says that doesn’t mean he won’t hurt her. The restoration spell gets underway as Xander finds and frees Giles. Giles thinks Xander might be another hallucination, since the vampires can make him see things he wants. “Then why would they make you see me?” Xander asks. Giles realizes he’s right and the two of them sneak out.

While Spike is fighting Drusilla and Buffy’s distracted with a minion, Angelus sees his chance. He runs to Acathla and pulls out the sword. In the hospital, Willow’s weakening. Buffy picks up her sword, but Angelus says she’s too late to do anything. Acathla’s going to send her to Hell. “Save me a seat,” she replies. And then they use their swords to fence with each other, and it’s awesome.

Willow’s still weakening, and Oz and Cordelia start to worry. Suddenly she’s filled with power and begins reciting the spell in another language. Angelus gets the better of Buffy and makes her drop her sword. Spike apologetically strangles Drusilla until she’s unconscious, then starts to carry her out. He pauses when he sees that Angelus is closing in on Buffy. He realizes Angelus is going to kill her, then shrugs and keeps moving.

Angelus has Buffy backed up against a wall, still unarmed. “That’s everything, huh? No weapons, no friends, no hope,” he says. “Take all that away, and what’s left?” He thrusts his sword toward her face.

With her eyes closed, Buffy catches the blade between her hands. “Me,” she replies.

She shoves the sword backward and hits Angelus in the face with the hilt. Then she gets up and grabs her sword so they can keep fighting. Meanwhile, Spike speeds out of town with Drusilla in a car with blacked-out windows. Willow continues her spell and the Orb of Thesulah glows. Just as Buffy is about to strike Angelus with her sword, his eyes glow as well. He gasps and doubles over. When he recovers, he’s Angel again.

He doesn’t remember what’s going on and feels like he hasn’t seen Buffy in months. She hugs him with relief, but over his shoulder, she sees that Acathla’s mouth is opening. Angelus asks what’s happening. She shushes him and tells him not to worry. She kisses him and they say they love each other as the portal to Hell swirls behind his head. “Close your eyes,” Buffy says. He does. She fights back tears and kisses him again.

Then she shoves the sword into him and sends him into the vortex. He reaches for her, saying her name, but she can’t help him. This was the only way to save the world.

Buffy walks home and packs some of her things. Later, Joyce finds a goodbye note on her bed. The Scoobies gather at school and confirm that no one’s talked to Buffy. Oz notes that they world didn’t end, since…you know, it’s still there. Giles went back to the lair and found Acathla dormant. Willow thinks the spell worked; she felt something go through her. Xander wonders if it didn’t work in time and Buffy had to kill Angel. Willow suggests that everything turned out fine and Buffy and Angel are just taking some time together. Whatever happened, Buffy will turn up sooner or later.

But not for a while. Buffy watches her friends from a distance, then takes a bus out of Sunnydale.

Thoughts: This episode is so good from start to finish. It’s one of my favorites.

I obviously get Joyce thinking Buffy’s crazy to be talking about vampires and saving the world, but kicking her out makes no sense.

Drusilla’s disguise trick is really cool. I wish they’d had her use it more often.

I didn’t realize it until I rewatched “Becoming, Part 1” but Angel’s life from becoming a vampire until now is bookended by two blonde women telling him to close his eyes. Darla says it right before she turns him, and Buffy says it right before she kills him.

’90s music alert: Sarah McLachlan’s “Full of Grace”

Goodbye, season 2! Next: Faith, Anya, and the world’s scariest mayor.

April 2, 2022

Buffy 2.21, Becoming, Part 1: Someone Worthy

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

A rare glimpse of a pre-Slayer Buffy

Summary: Galway, Ireland, 1753. A guy named Whistler voices over that there are moments in our lives that determine who we’re going to be. Sometimes they’re small and subtle, and sometimes they aren’t. In this particular moment, Angel – still human and known as Liam – is leaving a pub after a night of drunken revelry.

He spots Darla and follows her into an alley. He flirts with her for a while, and she offers to show him things he’s never seen or even heard of. He thinks she means places in the world, but she means, you know, being a vampire. She tells him to close his eyes, then vamps out and bites him. She cuts a line in her chest and makes him drink her blood.

In the present, Angelus looks on as Buffy fights some vampires in a cemetery. She tells one to give Angelus a message: She’s done waiting and is taking the fight to him. But then she stakes the vampire, so he won’t be able to deliver the message. Xander’s also in the cemetery, but a vamp took him out of the fight early on, so Buffy had to handle them all herself. He notes that there have been a lot of vampires around recently. Buffy blames Angelus and says she’s ready to finish things with him. But they’ll have to tackle their finals first. At least it’ll be over soon. From nearby, Angelus agrees.

Giles goes to a Sunnydale history museum to see a man named Doug Perren who asked for an expert on relics. Some construction workers found a big slab of rock with ancient writing on it. Giles takes a sample and alerts Perren to the fact that there’s a seam in the rock, which indicates that it can be opened. He asks Perren to hold off on trying to open it until he’s translated the text on the rock, just to be sure they’re not unleashing something they shouldn’t be.

At lunch at Sunnydale High, Xander reenacts Buffy’s fight with the vamps last night using fishsticks and toothpicks. Oz enjoys it but admits he’s not clear on all the themes. Buffy says one is that Angelus is too much of a coward to face her himself. Xander says another is “buy American.” Willow asks if Buffy’s ready to fight Angelus. Buffy is, and thinks she’ll have more success there than with her finals. Willow is determined to help her pass all her tests (at least the academic kind). Cordelia praises her for testing her skills as a teacher before she goes into the real world. This way she has something to fall forward on instead of back on.

Snyder comes by to bug the Scoobies for showing each other too much affection. Buffy stands up to him, and he challenges her to just give him a reason to kick her out. Willow invites Buffy over that night for an extra study session, but Buffy plans to patrol again. She doesn’t expect Angelus to turn up, but the problem is that he often turns up when she doesn’t think he will.

London, 1860. A human Drusilla goes to confession, unaware that Angelus has just killed the priest on the other side of the confessional. She tells him she’s been having visions again, including one of some miners dying the day before a real cave-in. Her mother thinks she’s cursed and displaying an ability that offends God.

Drusilla desperately says she doesn’t mean to have the visions. She tries to be good; she doesn’t want to be “an evil thing.” Angelus tells her God has a plan for all people, including devil children like her. She’s going to be struck down, so she might as well give in and be evil. Drusilla begs for help, so he tells her to pray and commit an act of contrition. Drusilla’s appeased, but Angelus warns that God is watching her.

In the present, Drusilla tells Spike the moon whispered a bunch of horrible things to her while she was out killing people. Angelus joins them and asks if something is coming. Drusilla says it is – there’s a tomb at the museum with a surprise inside. Spike’s like, “Yeah, that’s not a vision; there’s an article about it in the paper.” Angelus reads about the “mysterious obelisk” Giles was examining earlier. He tells Drusilla the moon will stop whispering to her: “Soon it’ll scream.”

Willow tutors Buffy in Jenny’s classroom, though Buffy doesn’t think there’s a point to learning stuff like chemistry or math or English. When is she going to use any of it in the real world? Willow admonishes her for calling herself stupid. She just needs to spend more time on schoolwork. As they get back to work, Buffy’s pencil rolls off the desk and falls between it and a cabinet – right where Jenny’s computer disk fell. Buffy picks up the pencil, having a flash of déjà vu. She rolls the pencil again, then picks up both it and the disk. Willow puts the disk in the computer and Buffy quickly realizes what’s on it – a way to turn Angelus back into Angel.

Romanian woods, 1898. Angelus’ Romani victim is dead, and a woman is performing the ritual to give Angelus a soul. He runs through the woods as it takes hold. When it’s over, the girl’s father approaches and tells him he’s about to remember every bad thing he’s done over the past 100+ years. Angelus feels shame for the first time since becoming a vampire.

In the present, Buffy and Willow take Jenny’s translated spell to the other Scoobies and tell them that Jenny found a way to restore Angel’s soul. Cordelia’s on board with using it, but Giles says the ritual requires black arts, which he’s not really up on. Willow’s been researching for fun, and she thinks she can handle it. Giles doesn’t want her to channel such powerful magic in case she opens something she can’t close. Willow is aware of the risks but wants to do it anyway.

“Hi! For those of you who’ve just tuned in, everyone here is a crazy person,” Xander speaks up. He doesn’t see the point in giving Angel back his humanity. Why reward a killer and wipe his slate clean? Cordelia sides with him, which he didn’t see coming. Xander says Angelus needs to die. Giles notes that Jenny’s last wish seems to have been to cure him. Xander notes that she’s dead.

The two of them start fighting but Buffy shuts them down. Willow asks her what she wants to do. Buffy isn’t sure. What happened to Angelus wasn’t his fault. Xander replies that what happened to Jenny was. He thinks Buffy wants to forget that Angelus killed her so she can get her boyfriend back. Buffy leaves the library as Willow looks at Xander like she can’t believe who he’s become.

Perren hears whispers at the museum and realizes they’re coming from the obelisk. Drusilla grabs him and drinks from him as Angelus brings in some minions to get the big rock. Buffy stocks up to go out on patrol while talking to Willow on the phone. (Willow is angry with Xander and calls him something we don’t hear but that’s so un-Willow-like, it makes Buffy recoil.) She finds the claddagh ring Angel gave her.

Buffy goes to a cemetery, but instead of finding any vampires, she finds Kendra. Something dark is about to rise in Sunnydale, so Kendra’s Watcher sent her to lend a hand. Angelus and Drusilla take the obelisk home, but Spike isn’t impressed: “It’s a big rock. Can’t wait to tell my friends. They don’t have a rock this big.” Angelus tells him it contains a demon named Acathla. He was supposed to swallow the world, but a knight killed him and he turned to stone. Acathla has been buried ever since, and now they need someone worthy to pull out the sword to wake him up and send the world to Hell. “We’re about to make history…end,” Angelus announces.

In the library, Giles tells Buffy, Willow, and Kendra that Perren is dead and the obelisk is gone. He’s already done his research and knows it’s the tomb of Acathla (not Alfalfa, Buffy). If he’s awoken, Acathla will create a vortex that sucks all non-demon life inside for an eternity of torment. Not to be confused with an eternity of misery. Buffy decides that Willow should do the spell to restore Angel’s soul. Kendra’s on Team Xander here, and Buffy acknowledges that she might have to fight and kill Angelus, but if she can’t or she loses, she wants Willow as backup. As additional backup, Kendra has brought along a sword blessed by the knight who killed Acathla.

Willow needs a little more time to figure out the ritual to restore Angel’s soul. She also needs an Orb of Thesulah. Giles happens to have one; he’s been using it as a paperweight. Willow notes that if she’s working on the ritual, she won’t be able to help Buffy study for her finals. Buffy says she’ll wing it. And if the world goes to Hell, she won’t have to take them anyway. Or maybe her eternal punishment will be taking them forever. Giles says they have some time, since Angelus has to perform a ritual to remove the sword from Acathla.

Spike paces in his room, rushing back to his wheelchair when Drusilla comes to get him. Angelus has found a human he can use for a blood ritual that should make him worthy of pulling the sword out of Acathla. “Bear witness as I ascend…as I become,” Angelus says. He kills the guy and puts blood on his hand as he reaches for the sword, saying everything he’s become has led him here.

Manhattan, 1996. Angel isn’t doing so great. He doesn’t want to feed on humans, so he’s left with rats in an alley. Whistler finds him and tells him this isn’t a good look for him. He knows who Angel is and that he has a soul. He introduces himself and says he’s a demon, but not a bad one. He wants Angel to know that he can become someone. Angel wants to be left alone, but Whistler knows he’s been on his own for almost 100 years, and it’s not going well for him. He wants to show Angel something.

Well, really, he wants to show Angel someone. Whistler takes him to L.A., where Buffy is still an ordinary teenager unburdened by the knowledge that she’s the Slayer or that vampires exist. Merrick (not played by Donald Sutherland here) approaches her and tells her she needs to come with him to learn about her destiny. She’s the Chosen One, the only one who can stop the vampires. “Huh?” Buffy replies.

He takes her on patrol that night, but it doesn’t go well. He’s basically throwing her to the wolves, but the wolves are vampires. Angelus watches as she misses a vampire’s heart on her first try at staking him. But when she finally gets him, Merrick tells her that now she can see her power. Buffy goes home, where Joyce is curious about where she was. Buffy lies that she was with a guy. Joyce is disappointed that her daughter is so irresponsible. This leads to an argument with Hank, one of many Buffy’s parents have been having lately.

Angel watches from outside as Buffy cries alone in her bathroom. Whistler tells him that she has a rough road ahead of her. Angel announces that he wants to help her. He wants to become someone. Whistler comments that this Slayer must be prettier than the last one. He warns that it won’t be easy. Angel will see how separate he is from the world. And he’ll have to get himself together, because he won’t be any good to Buffy in the state he’s in. Angel says he’s ready to learn from Whistler, but he doesn’t want to dress like him. Heh.

In the present, Angelus continues his ritual to awaken Acathla. He grabs the hilt of the sword, but it doesn’t budge. “Someone wasn’t worthy,” Spike sing-songs. Drusilla is disappointed and distressed. Angelus tells her they’ll have to turn to an old friend like they always do when they need help. He promises they’ll still have their armageddon.

As Buffy takes an exam, a vampire comes to her classroom and gives her a verbal invitation (well, demand, really) to meet Angelus in the cemetery that night. If she doesn’t, more people will die. The vampire removes her cloak so the sunlight burns her. How do you think Snyder and Police Chief Bob will explain that to the people of Sunnydale?

In the library, Buffy tells the Scoobies she’s going to do what Angelus demanded. Kendra volunteers to tag along, but Buffy wants her to stay back just in case. She notes that if Angelus is fighting her, he can’t do anything with Acathla. It’s time to do the spell to restore his soul, whether Willow’s ready or not. Willow needs about half an hour for the spell, so Buffy will have to fight Angelus that long to stall him. Cordelia thinks she should stay in the library for a while and let Angelus find her, but Buffy doesn’t want him to hurt anyone else. As she leaves, Kendra hands over her lucky stake in case Buffy needs it. It’s called Mr. Pointy.

In the cemetery, Angelus greets Buffy with, “Hello, lover.” She comments that she thought he would be too busy to fight her, what with “pulling the sword out of Al Franken or whatever.” He says he wanted to see her one last time; she’s the only thing on Earth he’ll actually miss. “This is a beautiful moment we’re having. Can we please fight?” Buffy asks. Angelus jokes that he came to get back together. Never mind, they can fight.

The Scoobies start the restoration ritual as Buffy and Angelus fight. Vampires invade the library, and though Kendra takes care of herself fine, Willow ends up under a bookcase a vampire pushes over onto her, and Xander gets his arm broken. Cordelia’s frozen in fear until Xander tells her to run. In the cemetery, Angelus says Buffy’s heart doesn’t seem to be in this. Maybe he’ll just go destroy the world already. She tells him she’s ready to finish this. “This wasn’t about you,” he tells her. “This was never about you. And you fall for it every single time!” She realizes what’s happening and takes off running.

Drusilla enters the library and calls an end to the fighting. She faces off with Kendra, eventually overpowering her. She puts Kendra in a trance, then slashes her throat with her fingernail. Drusilla tells her minions to get what they came for: Giles.

Buffy’s race to the school goes slow-motion. Whistler voices over that even when you see big moments coming, you’re not ready for them. No one asks for their life to change, but it does. Buffy reaches the library and finds Kendra’s body. Whistler asks if we’re helpless or just puppets. No. We can’t control the big moments, but what’s important is what happens after them. That’s when we find out who we are. Behind Buffy, a police officer points his gun at her and yells for her to freeze. “You’ll see what I mean,” Whistler says.

Thoughts: Enough has already been said about David Boreanaz’s Irish accent so I won’t pile on.

Even now, years after first seeing this episode, Buffy finding the computer disk gives me a little thrill.

I accidentally typed 1989 instead of 1898 as the date of the Romanian flashback, and now I really want to see 1980s Angel.

More on Whistler here.

March 5, 2022

Buffy 2.17, Passion: Howl

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

If only this were a crystal ball and could tell Jenny her future

Summary: Angelus stalks Buffy at the Bronze, voicing over that passion lurks in everyone, and eventually “it will stir, open its jaws, and howl.” He hangs outside all night while Buffy has fun with the Scoobies, unaware that he’s there. He even follows her home and watches her while she sleeps. He comes into her room and touches her face. He voices over that “passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have?” In the morning, Buffy finds a sketch of herself on her pillow.

In the library, she tells Giles, Xander, and Cordelia that Angelus came into her room. Cordelia thought vampires always had to be invited in, but Giles clarifies that once you invite them in, they can come and go whenever they want. Xander notes that that’s a good reason for the girls not to invite strange men into their bedrooms. Cordelia worries because she let Angelus in her car once. (I’m not sure that counts.) Buffy asks if there’s a way to reverse the invitation or put up a barrier. Giles offers to check.

Jonathan and another student come in to get some books, and Xander tries to shoo them away, because he’s forgotten where he is. The Scoobies move their conversation to the hallway to continue talking about Angelus. Cordelia asks why he bothers to watch Buffy while she sleeps – why not just kill her? “I’m trying to help,” she insists.

Giles says this is a battle strategy to throw Buffy off her game and goad her into a fight. “The nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah approach to battle,” Xander clarifies. “Yes. Once more you’ve managed to boil a complex thought down to its simplest possible form,” Giles replies. Buffy remembers that Angelus killed Drusilla’s family when he was first obsessed with her. She may need to tell Joyce what’s going on.

Xander protests, since what fun is having a secret if everyone knows it? Buffy is willing to reveal hers if it means her mom is safe. Giles promises that they’ll find a spell to keep Angelus out of the Summerses’ home. Until then, Cordelia offers her chauffeur services. Thanks, Cordy! Giles tells Buffy to keep a level head: “As the Slayer, you don’t have the luxury of being a slave to your passions.” She can’t let Angelus get to her, no matter how far he goes. Buffy sums up that he wants her to ignore Angelus. Xander complains that the “Watcher’s pet” doesn’t get snark about simplifying something.

So where’s Willow during all this? In a class with Jenny, who asks her to cover the next day’s session for her because she might be a little late. Willow worries that the students will revolt or there will be an emergency. Then she wonders if she gets to give detention or punishments. Buffy and Giles come by, and Buffy ignores Jenny while leaving with Willow. Willow apologizes for talking to Buffy’s enemy, but she’d never disrespect a teacher.

Giles stays behind and lets Jenny know that Angelus is making things difficult for Buffy. She gives him a book that might help him find a spell to keep him out of the house. She’s been looking into Angelus on her own. Jenny asks how Giles has been, which he thinks is a ridiculous question. She starts to reply that she knows he feels betrayed. “Yes, well, that’s one of the unpleasant side effects of betrayal,” he says.

Jenny reminds him that she was raised by the people Angelus hurt the most. She just came to town to fulfill her duty; that’s the only reason she lied to Giles. She didn’t know what would happen, or that she would fall in love with him. Jenny regrets blurting that out, but she also doesn’t take it back. She just wants to make things up to Giles. He tells her he’s not the one she needs to make amends with.

At home that night, Buffy tells Joyce that she and Angel (whom Joyce just thinks was a college guy who was tutoring Buffy) dated for a while but ended things. Joyce guesses that he changed and isn’t the guy Buffy fell for anymore. Buffy says that he’s been stalking her, so if he shows up at the house, Joyce shouldn’t invite him in. She doesn’t mention that if Joyce sends him away, he won’t listen.

Later, Buffy talks to Willow on the phone about not letting Angelus get to her. Buffy’s eager for Giles to find a spell to keep Angelus out of her house. Willow feeds her fish, then finds an envelope on her bed. Inside are her fish, dead and strung together. She winds up camping out in Buffy’s room, armed with a stake and some garlic. She’s glad she didn’t have a puppy for Angelus to kill. Buffy admits that her first instinct is still to turn to Angel. She can’t believe how different he is now. Willow notes that one thing hasn’t changed: He still only thinks about Buffy.

Over at the factory, Drusilla brings Spike a puppy in an attempt to cheer him up. He hasn’t been eating, so she thought he might like a dog. Angelus joins them and mocks Spike a bunch for still using a wheelchair. He also wants to sleep with Drusilla, and he keeps bringing it up because he knows it makes Spike mad. Drusilla’s amused, but then she starts getting distressed: “An old enemy is seeking help – help to destroy our happy home.”

Jenny goes to a magic shop the next morning and asks for an Orb of Thesulah. The shopkeeper has heard about her via her uncle, who used to be one of his customers. He has an orb on hand but has never sold one to someone who wants to use it for its intended purpose. Usually people buy them as “New Age” paperweights. (New Agers make up the bulk of his clientele, and their sales helped send one of his kids to college.)

The shopkeeper warns that the text for the restoration spell that uses the orb are gone, which Jenny knows. Without the text, the orb is useless. But Jenny’s working on a translation program to get the spell. The shopkeeper asks what she plans to conjure up if she can translate the text. Jenny says she’s working on a present for a friend: “His soul.”

At school, Willow’s disappointed that Jenny’s on time, which means her five hours of lesson planning were for nothing. Buffy approaches Jenny and says she knows Jenny feels bad about what happened with Angelus. It looks like Buffy’s going to say something comforting or even forgive Jenny, but instead she tells Jenny to keep feeling bad. Then she confides that Giles misses Jenny, and Buffy doesn’t want him to be lonely. Jenny starts to say that she wants to make things up to her, but Buffy cuts her off.

She finds Giles, who found a spell to revoke Angelus’ invitation. Cordelia’s happy, since she had to trade cars with her grandmother to protect herself from a guy who has zero interest in her. That night, Buffy and Cordelia help Willow de-vampify her room, which includes hanging up a cross Willow hopes her Jewish father never sees. He’s so devoted to his religion that Willow has to go to Xander’s every year to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas (though it’s worth it because he does Snoopy’s dance).

Cordelia, observant as ever, notices that there are no fish in Willow’s aquarium. She also notices another envelope on Willow’s bed. It’s actually for Buffy – it’s a sketch of Joyce sleeping. Angelus is currently at Buffy’s house, ready to greet Joyce when she gets home. He wants her to convince Buffy to get back together with him. Joyce tells him to leave Buffy alone, but he speaks of her desperately, saying they’ll die without each other.

Joyce interprets that as a threat and says she’s calling the police. She rushes to get in the house but fumbles with her keys. Angelus tells her that he hasn’t been able to sleep since the night he and Buffy had sex. He needs her. Joyce finally gets the front door open, but when Angelus tries to follow her in, he finds out he can no longer enter. Buffy and Willow are already there and are finishing up the spell to revoke his invitation. They tell him they’ve “changed the locks.”

Jenny’s working late in the computer lab, and Giles comes in for a chat. She tells him what Buffy said about him missing her. Jenny asks to see Giles a little later, when she might have some news about what she’s working on. He invites her to come to his place when she’s done. Meanwhile, Drusilla goes to the magic shop (still toting the puppy around) and asks what the owner talked to Jenny about.

Jenny’s translation program works, and she saves the translation to a computer disk and prints out a copy. She suddenly realizes that Angelus is in her classroom. The sign in front of the school says, “Enter all ye who seek knowledge,” which counts as an invitation. (I don’t think vampires need an invitation into any building that isn’t a residence, but whatever.) Jenny tells him she has good news, but Angelus already knows what she’s been up to. He also knows why she has an Orb of Thesulah, a place to store a soul until it’s ready to be put into a body. He throws it at her and it smashes against the wall.

As Jenny inches toward the door, which is, unfortunately, locked, Angelus destroys her computer and burns the printout of the spell in the resulting fire. He doesn’t want his soul back. Jenny tries to make a break for it, but Angelus stops her. She makes it to a door and runs, which just makes Angelus happy, because he loves a good chase. Jenny runs through the school, but eventually he catches up to her. He snaps her neck and drops her body to the ground.

Giles goes to the Summerses’ to get the book with the deinvitation spell. Willow tells him about Angelus’ visit and what he told Joyce (though Willow isn’t sure Giles knew that Buffy and Angelus had sex, because librarians might not know about that stuff). Giles offers to help smooth things over between Buffy and Joyce, but when Willow asks what he would say, he can’t think of anything.

In Buffy’s room, she tells Joyce that she and Willow just chanted Latin to Angelus because he’s superstitious. Joyce is much more interested in the part of the evening where Angelus revealed that he and Buffy had sex. Yes, he was her first, and yes, he’s too old for her. Oh, and he’s pretty unstable. Joyce wishes Buffy had shown more judgment. Buffy says he wasn’t like this before.

Joyce asks if she loved him, and if they were careful. Buffy tries to end the conversation, but Joyce is upset that her daughter had sex with a guy she didn’t even mention she was dating. Buffy admits that she made a mistake. Joyce doesn’t like that Buffy keeps her out of her life sometimes, but she will never stop caring about her daughter. Most teenagers might roll their eyes at that, but Buffy appreciates it. Joyce notes that she made it through her first sex talk.

Giles goes home and finds a red rose waiting for him. Inside, opera is playing and there’s a bottle of champagne on ice. He thinks Jenny has snuck in to make things romantic. With the champagne is a note that just says, “Upstairs.” Giles goes up, passing little candles and roses on the staircase. They lead him to his bedroom, where Jenny is lying on the bed, dead.

Later, the coroner’s office takes the body away and the police ask Giles to come to the station to answer some questions. He asks to make a phone call first. Angelus voices over that passion can fuel our finest moments, both happy and horrible. He’s lurking outside the Summerses’ house and watches as Buffy answers Giles’ phone call. She sinks to the ground as Willow breaks down over the news of Jenny’s murder.

Xander and Cordelia come over and tell Buffy and Willow they got to the police station too late to catch Giles. Buffy asks Cordelia to drive them to Giles’ place. Willow thinks they should leave him alone, but Buffy’s worried that he’ll do something reckless. Indeed, Giles is gathering weapons. There’s no doubt in his mind who killed Jenny – Angelus left him a sketch of her body.

The Scoobies go to Giles’ place and see the staging Angelus set up. Willow notices that Giles’ weapons are all gone. Buffy guesses he’s on his way to the factory to kill Angelus. Xander’s on board with that idea, but Buffy knows Giles is going to get himself killed. At the factory, Spike chastises Angelus for killing Jenny instead of Buffy. He kind of misses Angel when he was “Buffy-whipped.” He’s just going to tick her off. Angelus says he has everything under control.

Just then, a Molotov cocktail flies through the window and sets the factory on fire. Giles comes in, lights a stick on fire, and starts beating Angelus with it. Drusilla wants to join the fight but Spike says Angelus has to tag her in first. Angelus grabs Giles by the throat and calls off the fight, but Buffy’s there now, ready to take over for Giles. Spike and Drusilla wisely leave while the Slayer and the vampire battle it out.

It goes on for a while, including a fight on a catwalk, but it ends when Angelus points out to Buffy that Giles will burn in the fire if she doesn’t get him out. That gives Angelus the chance to escape. Giles is upset that Buffy came to stop him from killing Angelus. She punches him and blasts him for going on a suicide mission. They cry and hug each other. She tells him he can’t leave her – she can’t get through this alone.

As Giles goes home, Angelus voices over that without passion, our lives would be hollow: “We’d be truly dead.” Sometime later, Giles and Buffy visit Jenny’s grave together. He says he’s buried a lot of people as a Watcher, but Jenny was the first he loved. Buffy apologizes for not being able to kill Angelus when she had the chance. She wasn’t ready then, but she is now.

Willow takes over Jenny’s class until a new teacher arrives. Buffy continues that she can’t hold on to the past – Angel is gone and there’s no way to bring him back. As Willow starts to sit at Jenny’s desk, she knocks over the computer disk holding the spell that will give Angel back his soul. It falls to the floor between the desk and a cabinet, unseen.

Thoughts: The preview for this episode hinted that someone would die, and I was so worried it would be Oz that it was almost anticlimactic that it was Jenny. Like, I was fine with losing Jenny if it meant Oz was okay.

The summer after this season aired, the Claire’s at my local mall sold neon-colored computer disks from a box labeled “as seen on Buffy.”

I love how casual Spike is when Giles attacks Angelus. I think part of it is that he wants Giles to kill Angelus and part is the amusement of a librarian fighting a vampire.

Who else needs a hug?

February 1, 2022

ER 10.8, Freefall: Helicopter 2: The Helicoptering

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 4:57 pm by Jenn

So long, farewell, don’t come back

Summary: Romano is overseeing a trauma case Abby, Sam, and Neela are working on together. It’s not going well. Abby made the wrong call with medications, and Romano gets Neela to tell him what she should have used instead. (He is, unsurprisingly, racist in the process.) The patient doesn’t make it, but it’s okay because it’s just a practice dummy.

It’s Thanksgiving, but Abby doesn’t have any family in town, so she doesn’t seem too disappointed to have to spend the holiday at work. The ER is busy, and Luka can’t find a room for his patient, Mr. Garland, who has pneumonia. He needs IV antibiotics and isn’t thrilled to be away from his family on Thanksgiving. Luka asks Abby about her training, and she laments that she looked dumb. He thinks she’ll catch on in time.

Frank is annoyed that no one on the night shift decorated the admit area for the holiday. He thought his only responsibility was organizing the staff potluck. Sam has left Alex home alone, which sounds like a disaster in the making. She’s happy to only be working until 3:00, when she’ll get to spend Thanksgiving with her son for the first time in years.

Neela goes to grab a coffee from the desk and learns that the nurses have a coffee club with monthly dues. Looks like Abby’s still in the club. Susan’s overseeing med-student assignments, so maybe she’s more involved with them than I previously thought. Pratt catches Morris picking through charts for a patient who doesn’t have something gross wrong with them. Frank snaps a picture of the two of them with an old camera he found. He wonders what else is on the film roll.

Abby tends to a woman named Loren who worries that she’s having a miscarriage. She’s also HIV-positive. Lily asks Abby to work a nursing shift that night, even though she usually only does them on weekends. Susan offers to let her off her med-student rotation at 5:00 so she can take a nap before clocking back in. Abby resists taking one for the team, but agrees to work if no one else can come in.

Morris examines a man who’s been treating his glaucoma with some special medication his nephew gave him. That “special medication” should stay in his pocket so any cops who happen to be in the ER don’t see it. (That’s my way of saying it’s pot.) Coop is taking care of a man named Fritz who accidentally cut himself with an electric carving knife.

Paramedics bring in a man named Mr. Westbrook who was in a car accident. Pratt and Elizabeth quiz Morris as they start to work, but Morris wants to go back to his glaucoma patient. Pratt chastises him for giving up a great learning opportunity. Abby asks for a second person to be in the room while she performs a pelvic exam, but when Neela offers, Abby turns her down. Luka’s having trouble getting Mr. Garland admitted, but Mr. Garland is very patient and is willing to wait. That makes a total of one patient in the hospital who understands that you can’t always get treated right away.

As Neela learns what a turducken is, Abby does Loren’s pelvic exam and confirms that she’s miscarrying. Loren suddenly passes out, so Abby calls the admit desk to get Frank to find someone who can help her save her patient. Westbrook doesn’t want to be treated at County, so he starts to call his lawyer. (No, I don’t know why he thinks he needs a lawyer.) Pratt tells him he can’t use his cell phone in the ER, but Westbrook ignores him.

Pratt takes the phone from him just as Romano arrives. Westbrook went to Wharton with County’s CEO, which makes him a VIP, so Romano’s there to suck up and berate Pratt for not giving him special treatment. Pratt says he treats all his patients the same. Romano regrets letting Pratt continue working at County after his previous missteps. Pratt refuses to sign any papers allowing Westbrook to be transferred to another hospital, even if tests show he’s stable enough to go. Romano says it doesn’t matter, because Pratt’s fired.

Loren’s stable, despite some blood loss, but she’ll need to have a procedure to complete her miscarriage. Abby acts like it’s not a big deal, but Luka pulls her out of the room to say that because of some fibroids, it won’t be that simple. Abby needs to be more careful about what she tells patients. Pratt has ignored Romano and is still seeing patients. He even tries to get back on Westbrook’s case. Romano tells him that they’ll be meeting with Weaver and Anspaugh at the end of Pratt’s shift. Pratt comments to himself that this is the only way Romano can avoid spending Thanksgiving alone.

Frank snaps another candid picture as various staff members do various medical things. Morris gives his patient a prescription and tells him to stop using pot. Gallant arrives as Luka and Sam tend to patients who have had to hang out in the hallway because the ER is too full for them. Mr. Garland is still being patient; it helps that he likes to people-watch. Luka tells Sam to get restraints for him, which confuses her, since Mr. Garland is totally calm.

Coburn comes to see Loren, who needs exploratory surgery and could need a hysterectomy if Coburn can’t control her bleeding. Loren refuses to consent to that. Abby pulls Coburn out of the room to ask her to consider other options. She thinks Coburn is jumping to the most damaging solution because Loren has HIV.

Romano intervenes and sides with Coburn. He doesn’t think a woman who has HIV should be having children. Abby notes that Loren’s viral load is low and her chances of transmitting HIV to a baby are less than 3%. Romano says Loren will die before her kid turns ten. Coburn agrees to try something less invasive, but she can’t promise not to have to perform a hysterectomy.

Chuck brings Susan some flowers that he says he took from a dead patient at another hospital (I can’t tell if he’s joking or not). He wants to get together that night, but Susan isn’t interested. Westbrook’s transfer has been approved, and Chuck will be one of his flight nurses. Romano declines to accompany his patient to the roof as he’s loaded in the helicopter. Fair.

Abby sends Loren to surgery, promising to scrub in on her procedure later. Coop discharges Fritz, who says he doesn’t need painkillers – he’s immune to pain after ten years of marriage to his wife, Berta. Neela gives a girl helium (apparently it’s used for asthma patients sometimes) and demonstrates some good bedside manner.

Frank tells Romano that Westbrook left his watch in his trauma room, so Romano tells Neela (“Indira”) to take it to the roof. Frank thinks Romano won’t take it himself because he’s scared. Romano takes the bait and says he’ll go with Neela. As they’re leaving, Morris’ patient returns and complains that Morris stole his medication. Morris is currently in an alley, about to smoke that medication.

Luka and Sam take Mr. Garland to the ICU, and Luka uses restraints to attach him to a pillar so the ICU staff can’t get rid of him. Luka lies that Mr. Garland is a troublemaker and might leave against medical advice. He doesn’t buy Kit’s excuse that they can’t take more patients, since the ER accepts more than they can accommodate all the time.

Romano and Neela are quiet as he tries to hide his anxiety in the elevator on the way to the roof. The muzak is Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.” When they reach the roof, Romano has a bit of a staredown with the helicopter. He stays in the elevator while Neela takes the watch to Westbrook. As Chuck is loading Westbrook on the helicopter, a flight nurse from the hospital where they’re taking Westbrook says that they’re at capacity and Chuck can’t come. Chuck says he has to, for insurance purposes, so the other nurse will have to leave.

Romano rushes back downstairs and outside to the ambulance bay, needing fresh air. He spots Morris smoking and sends him to the admit desk for a timeout. He’s not allowed to move until Romano comes to get him. On the roof, Neela and a nurse head back to the elevator after putting Westbrook on the helicopter. A strap on their gurney gets caught and they pause to free it. The helicopter suddenly comes back down, spinning on its side. Debris flies at Neela and the nurse, and a big chunk of metal hits the nurse in the back. The helicopter tips over and falls off the roof.

In the ICU, Luka and Sam are bickering over whether it’s okay to force the staff to admit Mr. Garland. Outside, the helicopter explodes, rocking the hospital. It falls out of the sky into the ambulance bay, landing right on top of Romano. No, really. No, REALLY. Romano is dead, and it’s because a helicopter fell on him. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

The ER staff starts preparing for mass traumas. Abby tells Susan that there was a helicopter crash, and Susan immediately worries that Chuck was involved. At this moment, she realizes she cares about him more than she thought. Abby gives Neela and Lester a crash course on triage and sends them to the ambulance bay to assess patients. Morris stays put at the admit desk, since Romano told him not to move.

Susan goes outside to see how bad the situation is. Uh, it’s bad. A bunch of people are hurt and a bunch of stuff is on fire. Susan is still worried about Chuck, but she has to set that aside to take care of a patient. Fritz is hurt but wants the staff to work on Berta first. Abby tells Susan she can go wait inside and let everyone else take care of the patients, but Susan isn’t going to sit out a mass trauma, even though she’s having trouble keeping her emotions under control.

The ICU is on fire and the phone lines are dead, so the staff can’t call for help from other departments. Luka has to undo Mr. Garland’s restraints to move him to safety, but he can’t find the key. Freaking A, Luka. Back outside, the staff is moving quickly to get patients into the ER. A firefighter tells Susan that so far, four people have been declared dead. Abby again gives Susan the chance to sit this out, but Susan won’t take it.

Luka tries to help a woman whose intubation melted because of the fire. ICK. He and Sam are both keeping their cool as they deal with critical patients in the middle of a smoky room. Weaver arrives outside, relieving Susan of her position as the current highest-ranking staff member. She’s not happy that Susan doesn’t know where Luka and Romano are, since she’s supposed to be the incident commander, but when Susan tells her that Chuck was on the helicopter, Weaver backs off.

Weaver joins Gallant to treat Fritz as Berta is taking up to surgery. Anspaugh has also arrived, having selflessly skipped out on Thanksgiving dinner to come lend a hand. Staff members transport patients around, including Dwight, who may have a concussion. Pratt praises Severa for continuing to work with an injured hand.

And then, like an angel from Heaven, Chuck steps off an elevator. He got taken off the flight at the last minute and has brought down another patient instead. Coop, who’s working with Susan, spots Chuck across the ER and comments that he thought Chuck was dead. Chuck gives Susan a wave through the window, having no clue that she thought the worst had happened. She runs to him and grabs him in a tight hug. He complains that the flight nurse who came with the helicopter wouldn’t let him fly with her. Susan points out that that woman saved his life. She has to go back to work, but she takes a moment to be relieved that he’s okay, with just a scrape on his back.

Luka’s having trouble with his patient in the ICU, and the department is short-staffed, so it’s basically just him, Sam, and Kit taking care of everyone. Luka finally stabilizes his patient, then goes to help Kit as Sam heads to the OR to get some more supplies. In the ER, Pratt is tending to a patient with a carotid injury that’s left him paralyzed. From the next trauma room, Weaver tells him to send the patient to surgery. Pratt doesn’t think he’ll live that long, so he preps for a procedure in the trauma room.

Coop’s asthma is acting up, so he takes some helium, which of course makes him sound funny. Suddenly Chuck collapses in an exam room. Abby realizes his back is bleeding. Neela goes looking for a doctor, but everyone’s busy. She goes back to Abby, who’s working with Lester to revive Chuck. He needs to be intubated, but none of the med students wants to take the lead. Abby steps up and gets it done, but Chuck has an injury to his spleen and needs a central line, something an attending usually handles.

Luka, Sam, and Kit are working on the last critical patient in the ICU. Trivia: Sam used to be a surgical tech. Somehow, there’s an OR available, and Anspaugh takes the patient right up, complaining that he has to miss Thanksgiving. Oh, wah. At least you don’t have metal in your spleen like poor Chuck does. Sam realizes she’s two hours past the time she was supposed to go home. Luka tells Mr. Garland that his burns aren’t too bad. “I liked it better downstairs,” Mr. Garland replies. “I only had pneumonia downstairs.”

Fritz doesn’t make it, and once Weaver declares him dead, she goes next door to check in with Pratt. He couldn’t get a surgeon to take his patient up, so he’s doing the procedure Weaver told him not to do. She’s surprised to see that the procedure worked and the patient is no longer paralyzed. I’m sure Pratt will get yelled at later, but for now, it’s hard to argue with his results.

Neela goes looking for an attending again, which is how Susan learns that Chuck is now a patient. Abby admits to doing procedures she wasn’t supposed to as a med student, but she gets Susan to sign the paperwork saying she did them. Elizabeth comes to get Chuck so he can go to surgery. Susan heads up with them, tearfully thanking Abby for saving his life. Abby and Neela have their first quiet moment in hours, wondering if the chaos is over.

Later, Coburn tells Abby that she tried to be conservative while treating Loren but she ultimately had to do a hysterectomy. I think Abby’s just grateful that she considered all her options before making the decision. Alex arrives, excited because there was a big disaster. He invites Luka to join him and Sam for dinner at a diner, since Sam didn’t have time to cook. Sam resists, but Alex talks her into letting him come.

Anspaugh goes to get Pratt so they can have their meeting with Romano, who’s MIA (of course). Weaver is still tending to a patient and tells them to fill her in later. Romano has sent Anspaugh a bunch of Pratt’s disciplinary letters, and it’s enough to merit a suspension, but Anspaugh doesn’t buy any of it. Since Romano’s the only one who’s complained, and he didn’t bother to show up to this meeting, Anspaugh won’t take him seriously. Plus, he saw Pratt in action today and knows he’s a great doctor.

Alex wants French toast for dinner. No one cares. He’s annoyed with Sam for ruining their Thanksgiving, and he starts to burn a little figurine in the candle on the table. Luka wisely excuses himself. Sam asks Alex why he invited Luka, and why he considers a man over the age of 30 his friend. She knows Alex is trying to fix them up. Alex says Luka’s his friend, not Sam’s.

Abby gave some orders for a patient hours ago, but because of all the chaos, none of the nurses completed them. Abby confuses the patient by saying she’ll do it, since she’s a nurse now. Lester and Neela ask Abby a couple of questions about treatments, and she demonstrates her medical knowledge. Someone took the time to develop the pictures Frank took earlier, and Lily and Chuny laugh over one of Pratt. Morris is still at the desk, since Romano hasn’t let him out of timeout. Pratt can’t believe he sat out the entire mass casualty.

The other pictures on the film roll are from a couple Christmases ago, and Chuny points out Mark to Neela. Lily gives Abby one of her with Romano in the background. There’s a staff photo that includes Mark and Carter, and Lily asks if anyone has heard from Carter recently. Frank says he sent a postcard a month ago. Chuny asks how he is, and Abby says she doesn’t know. Cut to Carter in the Congo, with a beard and a woman named Kem who wants him to come back to bed. So I’d say he’s doing pretty well.

Chuck is out of surgery, and Susan visits him with the flowers he gave her earlier. He jokes that he should fake his death more often. He knew the two of them would end up spending the evening together. Awww, you guys, she loves him! Outside, Abby returns from a coffee run and meets up with Neela, who’s impressed with how well they handled the day’s crisis. It was a roller-coaster. She usually hates them, but she liked this one. Abby offers her coffee, and Neela says she’s not in the club, but Abby bought an extra one. Meanwhile, a crew lifts up the helicopter and finds Romano’s body underneath.

Thoughts: Kem is played by the fantastic Thandie Newton, who is ten times more talented than she ever gets to show in this series.

I have to wonder what went through Paul McCrane’s (Romano) head when he found out how his character was going to die. “A helicopter? Again? …Seriously?”

Ugh, naming a German character Fritz is so lazy.

The scene where Susan and Chuck reunite gets me every time. Even if you don’t like or care about them together, you have to enjoy that moment.

November 16, 2021

ER 9.19, Things Change: Abby to the Rescue (Again)

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 4:54 pm by Jenn

Don’t get attached to the new med students. They won’t be staying

Summary: A man on a Chicago street is having a really bad night. He’s shaking, and when he tries to take some pills, he drops them. Plus, he’s hallucinating snakes and people with needles, and his senses seem amplified. He ends up in the ER, where Susan and Abby tend to him. Weaver is also in the ER for the day, doing damage control for the mess Romano made in just one day running the place.

Carter has received a package from the Alliance de French Whatever, even though he keeps claiming he’s not going overseas. Luka’s going to the Congo, though. Carter thinks Weaver’s just working a couple of shifts in the ER to keep up appearances. Romano brings him a group of med students, since Carter’s still chief resident and is supposed to teach them stuff. When paramedics bring in a patient who had a heart attack, Carter uses him as a teaching case.

Abby tells Susan that a medevac helicopter is bringing in a patient. Susan asks if it’s Chuck’s unit. She’s smitten by him, even though they’re supposed to be getting their marriage annulled. Abby finds medication in their patient’s jacket (the guy who was hallucinating before), which provides his name, James. He’s taking an anti-psychotic, and may have taken too many, which caused his heart to stop. He tells Susan that the pills keep “them” from finding him.

Jerry sticks his head into the exam room to tell Abby that Eric’s on the phone. She’s shocked by the news, since she hasn’t heard from him in two months. James is worried that “they” can scan him in the ER, but Abby assures him that, because radiology is above them, the floors and walls are lined with lead. This calms his down. Abby rushes to take Eric’s call, but he got impatient waiting and hung up. He told Jerry he’d call back in an hour. Abby asks if he sounded okay, but Jerry wasn’t paying attention. She calls Maggie to let her know that Eric contacted her.

Abby then goes to help Pratt with a patient named Andrew, whom Romano is annoyed hasn’t been seen and moved along yet, since he just has a sore throat. Abby says he has a fever, too, and Romano replies that he’s never asked for a nurse’s opinion. Okay, but he did ask Abby for information last week. I guess that’s okay with him since it didn’t involve her take on something. Anyway, Romano examines Andrew himself and tells Pratt to get rid of him.

Romano has more important things to do, like talk to a woman. That woman happens to be Gordana, Luka’s med-school friend who contacted him about a pro-bono operation. Everything has been approved, and Gordana has come to observe the procedure. Her presence in the ER makes Luka happier than he’s been all season. He invites her to shadow him as he helps Susan take care of the patient brought in by helicopter (and yes, it was Chuck’s unit – hi, Chuck!).

Abby and Weaver chat about a patient whose mother may be making him sick because of Munchausen by proxy. Romano and Weaver bicker a little before he goes to work with Luka and Susan. Susan checks the intubation Chuck performed, promising that it’s not personal; she always checks paramedics and flight nurses’ intubations.

Romano goes to get Elizabeth, who’s consulting on Chen and Gallant’s patient, Mona, who has stomach pain. Elizabeth says it’s gas, but Gallant thinks she has a mass. Romano suggests that they admit her and give her a full work-up. Elizabeth ignores him and leaves, not wanting to admit a patient she doesn’t think needs to be admitted. This isn’t the way to clear up beds in the ER.

Abby calls her in to examine Luka and Susan’s patient, and Romano and Elizabeth bicker through the process. Luka thinks the complication the patient is experiencing is from Chuck’s intubation. Susan defends him, since she checked his work and it was fine. Plus, if he did screw up, it was because it’s hard to hear in a helicopter, and he might not have realized he’d done something wrong.

Susan drops something and chastises Abby, who points out that Susan made the mistake. Susan lashes out by kicking Gordana out of the trauma room because there are too many people there. The patient’s lung isn’t inflating, so Luka brings up the intubation again. Elizabeth sarcastically says that Romano’s leadership skills sure are helping raise morale in the ER. Abby’s like, “The patient’s getting worse, in case anyone wants to focus on him.”

Carter finds a new teaching case for the med students, who all seem to know their stuff, though they ask a lot of questions. He sends them off to see other patients/stop bugging him. He delivers match letters to Gallant and Pratt, who are both happy with their results. Gallant will be staying at County for his residency, and Pratt will be transferring to Northwestern.

The med students try to ask Abby questions, but she’s focused on finding out if Eric has called back yet. Gordana asks her to tell Luka that she has to leave. They chat about Luka, whom Gordana says was the class clown back in Croatia. He was always happy and had a contagious laugh. Abby’s not familiar with that side of him. Gordana acknowledges that he’s changed. Yeah, maybe it was the whole thing where his wife and kids died. Gordana expected to find him married with a family by now. It’s what his late wife would have wanted.

Susan apologizes to Abby for being short with her in the trauma room, while Abby acknowledges that she wasn’t as focused as she should have been. Susan asks Frank if Chuck’s unit has left yet. He tells her to find out by going up to the roof. If there’s no helicopter there, they left. Susan asks Frank if he’s taking anything for his high cholesterol. When he says no, she replies, “Good.”

Abby has finally learned how to deal with the psych department: Tell them you’re bringing up a patient unless they come to the ER to do an assessment. She goes back to James, who’s anxious again. He fights her as she tries to help him, so she firmly but kindly reminds him that she’s trying to help him. Of course, this is when Eric calls back.

James seems to calm down, so Abby picks up the phone in the exam room. But James’ hallucinations are back, and this time he’s hearing things as well as seeing them. He thinks he’s in some lab, having been captured by people who want to hurt him. He attacks Abby, who manages to pull the fire alarm. She curls up on the floor until James lets her go and runs out of the room. In the hallway, he hallucinates people being experimented on. Abby runs after him, but he makes it outside and takes off.

The rest of the ER has to keep running while the fire alarm is blaring. It’s just another thing that makes Pratt happy he’ll soon be working at Northwestern. He suggests that Chen get a job there, too, but she keeps being drawn back to County. Pratt invites her to celebrate his match with him, but before they can make plans, Gallant interrupts to take Chen back to Mona. She’s septic now, and Romano blames Elizabeth, since she didn’t take Mona’s complaints seriously. Yet it’s Romano who gets punished by having Mona throw up on him. Ew, and it’s right over the ulcer he has on his reattached arm.

Carter consults with the med students, who are a big help in moving patients along. Jerry tells Carter he has a phone call, but Carter has to run to take care of a patient. Jerry passes the call on to Weaver, since the caller says it’s urgent. Moments later, she goes to Carter’s trauma room and tells him to let her take over his patient while he goes to the phone. The call is about Millicent. Carter isn’t really paying attention to Weaver, but he realizes from her face and tone of voice that Millicent has died.

Carter keeps working on his patient, even though it seems pointless. He’s able to stabilize the patient’s heart, but he was without oxygen for so long that he might never wake up. Carter leaves the trauma room and tries to collect himself. Meanwhile, Gordana is still at the hospital, and she’s learned that there’s a problem with her patient’s visa. No one will tell her the specifics because they’re not family.

Weaver chastises Abby for calling a social worker for their possible Munchausen case, since Adele called DCFS. Okay, then go yell at Adele. Leave Abby alone. She’s trying to find out where Eric is while dealing with the fact that she was attacked not that long ago. This patient isn’t even a real storyline! It’s filler! Susan finds Chuck, who’s upset that she questioned whether he intubated his patient correctly. She tells him that the patient’s lung wasn’t inflating. Chuck says the same thing she did earlier about how it’s hard to hear breath sounds on a helicopter.

She pulls him into a room to tell him he should have caught the problem before the patient got to the ER. She stood up for him, which offends him. He thinks she did it because she’s a doctor and he’s a nurse. Susan admits that might have been part of it. Doctors complain about EMTs all the time. Chuck starts laughing, since he and his fellow flight nurses complain about doctors all the time. He tries to kiss her, ignoring the fact that there’s a dead body in the room. Luka and Gordana find them before they can start making out. Luka tries very hard to hide a smile.

Romano asks Gordana to help him do a procedure on Mona that he doesn’t think she would survive in the ER. Carter tries to call his mother while keeping up with his patients. He finds Romano and Gordana doing Mona’s procedure together, which is probably not allowed because I doubt Gordana is licensed to practice in the U.S., but oh, well. She’s so good at what she’s doing that Romano is nice enough to let Carter leave his shift early.

Luka asks Carter if he knows anyone at the State Department. They need help getting Gordana’s patient into the U.S. Luka, my man, this is the worst possible time to ask Carter for a favor, and he already doesn’t like you. Carter asks Jerry to find Abby, then calls his father, who’s trying to make a flight to Chicago. Carter’s grief is starting to catch up to him, and he’s fighting to keep the emotion out of his voice.

Abby finds him, but before they can talk, Pratt needs Carter’s help with Andrew. He’s sicker than Romano thought, and he needs some sort of procedure. While they work, Carter asks Abby if she’s ready to leave when they’re done. She is, but there’s some confusion about where they’re going next. Abby thinks Carter is going with her to Des Moines to get Eric. Carter had no idea he’d gotten in touch, and that Abby is planning to go pick him up. In turn, Abby had no idea that Millicent died.

Once they’re done with Andrew, Carter tells Abby that his grandmother called just a few days ago about some charitable thing. He didn’t pick up the phone because it was something he wasn’t interested in. She called last night and he ignored the call again. Abby tries to reassure him that Millicent had a great life, and Carter was a big part of it. She died in her sleep, so she was peaceful and didn’t feel any pain.

Abby still plans to go to Des Moines, even though Carter wants her to stay and support him as he makes funeral arrangements. He doesn’t think it would do much harm for Eric to stay off his meds another day, since he’s been off them for weeks. Abby’s worried that Eric will disappear again if she doesn’t go to him immediately. She’ll be back in just a few hours. Annoyed, Carter tells her to go ahead; Millicent will still be dead when she gets back.

Romano has saved Mona, and now he’s left dealing with Carter’s med students. He hands them off to Pratt, who tells them that Romano’s failure to give Andrew thorough care led to a major complication. Pratt must feel emboldened by all these witnesses, because there’s no way he would call Romano out like this if it were just the two of them. Romano sends the students away, then tells Pratt he gets to work night shifts for the next month. That’s not the punishment he thinks it is, since Pratt doesn’t mind working nights.

Susan tries to convince Luka that she and Chuck were definitely not going to get naked in that exam room right before he and Gordana found them. Luka’s still amused. Susan argues that having sex with her husband (technically) in the hospital would have been better than Luka having sex with a patient’s mother. Luka notes that at least they did it in an empty room.

Carter’s still at the hospital, planning to pick up his father at the airport on the way home, so Weaver asks him a medical question. She then addresses the patient he worked so hard to save. She thinks Carter should take a few days off of work. Romano has the med students doing a procedure on Carter’s patient, since Romano doesn’t think the man will recover. Carter kicks all the students out and blasts Romano for using a man who’s still alive as a practice cadaver. He cleans up after them.

Abby meets up with Eric in a diner in Des Moines. He’s happy to see her, and though he looks pretty rough, he seems stable. She can’t help noting that he called her instead of Maggie. Okay, maybe Eric isn’t so stable after all, since he thinks people keep looking at him. But of the two mentally unstable people Abby has dealt with today, Eric’s the easy one.

Elizabeth finds Romano cleaning his ulcer and tells him that, while he saved Mona, she still needs surgery since Romano wasn’t able to do everything himself. She takes over treating the ulcer for him and says she would have diagnosed Mona properly if Romano hadn’t butted his way into the case. He caused more problems by trying to help. Romano admits that the ulcer doesn’t hurt, which is a bad sign. He’s running out of possibilities for regaining full use of his arm. Elizabeth hesitates to say that he might be better off having it amputated.

Luka and Gordana hang out at his place, still unable to get information on her patient. Luka thinks Anspaugh might be able to help. Gordana notes how far Luka’s come from when he was in med school, living in a tiny apartment with two roommates. Now he has a busy life, since everyone in America seems busy.

Abby and Eric missed their flight back to Chicago, so she calls Carter to let him know they’re spending the night in Des Moines. She gives Eric his medication, and he resigns himself to taking it for the rest of his life. She tells him they all thought he was dead, except Maggie. Eric wonders what happens next. He can’t keep disappearing like their mother, then waiting for Abby to save him. She suggests that he get into a treatment program, and he asks if she’ll help him.

Carter finally makes it to Millicent’s house, though without his father, who’s going to take a later flight. The funeral home hasn’t come yet to get Millicent’s body. One of her employees tells Carter that Millicent was a wonderful woman. He goes upstairs to his grandmother’s bedroom, where Frances Sternhagen has probably been paid more than I make in a year to lie very still and look dead. Carter pulls a chair up to her bed and finally lets himself cry.

Thoughts: Gordana should stay on the show if only because we might get to see Happy Luka all the time. I’m desperate for Happy Luka.

Abby handles her attack incredibly well. She immediately tells Frank to call security and cancel the fire alarm. Then she tries to catch James, when she would be justified in letting someone else deal with him. Abby’s awesome.

I’m not sure where I stand on Carter and Abby’s dueling emergencies. On one hand, Eric couldn’t wait, and Abby planned to be back to support Carter later. On the other hand, if your partner loses a loved one, you should be there for them. If the tables were turned and, say, Maggie died, Carter would be by Abby’s side the whole time. Then again, he was childish about her choosing Eric over him. Like, you can be upset, but…say that. Say, “I’m frustrated and disappointed that you’re prioritizing your family over mine.” This is why their relationship is bad. They’re horrible at communicating with each other.

November 6, 2021

Buffy 1.12, Prophecy Girl: As It Is Written

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:04 pm by Jenn

It’s time

Summary: The Scoobies are at the Bronze, and Xander is finally declaring his feelings for Buffy. No, wait, he’s declaring them for Willow. No, wait, he’s just practicing on Willow. He wants to take Buffy to the Spring Fling, AKA the prom. He’s not very good at the asking-out part. He decides to just go for it, but Buffy isn’t there.

That’s because she’s slaying. Cordelia happens to be nearby, making out with a guy named Kevin in a car. She hears the sounds of Buffy’s fight with a vampire, which turn into the sounds of the vampire dying. Buffy notes that she’s killed three vampires in one night. At the library, Giles is reading the Codex Angel brought him, which contains a prophecy he’s been looking for: “The Master shall rise, and the Slayer…” He doesn’t finish the sentence, but it’s something bad. Just then, there’s an earthquake felt all over Sunnydale. The Master is the only one happy about it – this means he’s nearing his time to rise.

The next day, the Scoobies leave a science class that was so boring, even Willow the science nerd hated it. Xander gets her to leave so he can ask Buffy to the dance. (He also makes some random guy sitting on a bench leave. Don’t be a bully, Xander.) He starts to launch into his awkward speech, then cuts to the chase and asks Buffy to the dance. He tells her he wants more than just a friendship with her.

Buffy gently says she doesn’t want to spoil that friendship. Xander thinks that you either feel something more or you don’t. Buffy says straight out that she doesn’t. She doesn’t think of him as a romantic prospect. Xander’s hurt, and he guesses that she would rather be with Angel. Buffy feels bad for turning him down, but he doesn’t want to hear her expressing any sympathy.

Jenny catches Giles making a call to someone he insists on seeing that night. She notes that he’s wearing the same clothes he had on the previous day. Something big must be happening. She did some sleuthing and found stories about weird things that have happened recently, like a cat giving birth to snakes and a boiling lake. She thinks the apocalypse is nearing.

Giles isn’t sure he can trust Jenny, but it turns out she has information that’s useful to him. A monk emailed her from Cortona about the Anointed One. Giles is surprised to hear anything about him, since the Anointed One is supposed to be dead. He tells Jenny to email the monk. Even though he’s impatient and short with her, she agrees to help.

Cordelia and Kevin flirt while discussing plans for the Spring Fling, which will be at the Bronze. She asks Willow to help them set up the sound system. She’ll even be nice to Willow and talk to her at the dance. Willow agrees, though she’s distracted by the sight of Xander moping over being rejected by Buffy. “On a scale from 1 to 10? It sucked,” he tells her. Willow says at least now he knows how Buffy feels. Xander suggests that the two of them go to the dance together instead. Willow says no, since he’ll spend the whole night pining for Buffy. Xander decides to spend the evening listening to country music, “the music of pain.”

That night, Buffy hangs around school before going out to patrol. She’s shocked to see the water in the bathroom sink turning to blood. She heads to the library, where she’s shocked again – Angel is there conferring with Giles. She eavesdrops as they talk about the prophecy from the Codex. Giles says everything prophesied in the book comes true, and no matter how much Angel insists he read this one wrong, it’ll happen: Tomorrow night, Buffy will fight the Master…and die.

The guys are alerted to Buffy’s presence when she starts laughing. She wonders who will take her place as the Slayer, since a new one gets called when the current one dies. Will Giles be her Watcher, too? She asks if the Codex says how she’ll die. Scared, she asks if it’ll hurt. Angel moves to comfort her, but she doesn’t want that from him since he and Giles kept this from her.

Giles says he was hoping he would never have to tell Buffy, that he would have found a way around it. Buffy has a solution: She’ll quit. Someone else can fight the Master. Giles starts to tell her that’s not possible, because of the signs. She throws books at him, yelling, “Read me the signs! Tell me my fortune!” He and his books aren’t as helpful as he’d always seemed to be.

Angel tries to express his sympathy, but Buffy notes that he’s never going to die, so there’s no way he could understand what she’s dealing with. Angel says he doesn’t want her to die – he wouldn’t be able to stand it. They need to find a way to get out of this. Buffy repeats that she’s quitting, and she doesn’t care what happens if the Master rises. “Giles, I’m 16 years old. I don’t wanna die,” she says sadly. She tears off the cross necklace Angel gave her and throws it on the ground.

Willow calls Xander, who hangs up the phone without answering it. He’s listening to Patsy Cline. Joyce finds Buffy looking through a photo album in her bedroom and asks what’s going on with her. Buffy tries to talk her into going on a trip, immediately. Forget about school and Joyce’s job. They’ll just get out of Sunnydale.

Joyce thinks she’s brooding because no one asked her to the Spring Fling. She bought Buffy a dress she liked and encourages her to go to the dance. Buffy says she can’t go alone. “Says who? Is it written somewhere?” Joyce asks. She went to Homecoming alone her freshman year of college, and that’s where she met Buffy’s father. It was a great night. Buffy notes that Joyce had her whole life ahead of her. “Must be nice,” she says softly.

Cordelia and Willow meet up at school the next morning to get the stuff Kevin was supposed to take to the Bronze for dance set-up. Cordelia’s surprised to find herself not being upset with him for not doing what he was supposed to do. She even thinks it’s cute. Also cute: Kevin and his friends are hanging out in a lounge, watching cartoons. Well, not really – they’re all dead. It’s not cute anymore.

Buffy’s getting ready for the dance when Willow calls, then comes over to tell her what happened. She’s really shaken by the sight of all those dead classmates. She can’t find the words to express how hard it was to see the bodies of people she knows. “It wasn’t our world anymore,” she says. “They made it theirs. And they had fun.” Buffy tells her they’ll do what they have to. As she heads off to take back her job as Slayer, Willow compliments her dress.

Underground, the Master tells Collin that it’s almost time. In the library, Giles has filled Jenny in on everything she needs to know about the Slayer and the Master. She’s surprised someone as little as Buffy has such an important role. Jenny hasn’t been able to get in touch with the monk who emailed her, but he sent out an email to his followers mentioning Isaiah 11:6. Giles knows it by heart – it’s about how normally combative animals will live in harmony, “and a little child shall lead them.” Add that to another prophecy Giles has read and it probably means the Anointed One is a child who will lead Buffy into Hell.

Giles has decided that he’ll face the Master in Buffy’s place. But Buffy’s there, wearing her nice dress and Angel’s jacket, and ready to fulfill her destiny. He tries to talk her out of it, since he’s the adult here and she’s supposed to follow his orders, but she refuses to listen. Knowing she can’t change his mind, she punches him unconscious. Buffy puts her cross necklace back on and says to Jenny, “When he wakes up, tell him…I don’t know. Think of something cool; tell him I said it.” Jenny reminds her that she’ll die if she fights the Master. Buffy replies that she might take him with her.

It doesn’t take Buffy long to come across Collin. He lets him take her hand and lead her away. The other Scoobies gather in the library, trying to figure out how to help Buffy. Jenny points out that they also have a pending apocalypse, but Xander doesn’t care about that. He thinks he can find out where Buffy is.

Collin takes Buffy to the Master’s lair as Xander shows up at Angel’s…well, lair. He tells Angel that Buffy went to kill the Master, and the two of them are going to save her. Angel refuses to take Xander to the Master, knowing there’s no way Xander would survive that confrontation. Xander holds up a cross and says he hates Angel, but Buffy doesn’t, so he needs to prove that she’s right to like him. “You’re in love with her,” Angel realizes. “Aren’t you?” Xander replies.

Back at the library, Jenny asks where the Hellmouth will open. She and Willow start researching. Underground, Buffy finally comes face to face with the Master. He welcomes her and she thanks him for having her over, then tells him to have a contractor look at the water damage in the lair. “Oh, good, the feeble banter portion of the fight,” he says. Buffy moves things along by firing a crossbow at him, but he’s fast enough to catch the bolt.

Xander and Angel are now underground as well, looking for the Master’s lair. Xander accuses Angel of eyeing his neck. “I told you to eat before we left,” Xander says. Buffy reloads as the Master vanishes from her sight. He tells her she doesn’t get that she’s not the hunter here – she’s the lamb. In the library, Giles, Jenny, and Willow figure out that Master has probably sent an army of vampires to the Bronze, where the prom is currently taking place.

As Willow and Jenny leave to go to the Bronze, Buffy goes looking for the Master, who wants to drag out their fight. Buffy would rather get it over with. He sneaks up behind her and grabs her neck. Willow and Jenny realize too late that the vampire army isn’t at the Bronze – they’re at the school, slowly approaching the two of them.

Back underground, the Master is able to mesmerize Buffy in some way, so there isn’t much of a fight. He praises her for trying to fight him – and the prophecy – but she’s there to fulfill her destiny. If she hadn’t come there, the Master wouldn’t be able to rise. He bites her, thrilled with the power it gives him. He drops Buffy face-down in a pool of water and compliments her dress.

The prophecy has been fulfilled, and the Master begins to ascend. Xander and Angel make it to his lair and realize they’re too late to stop him. They’re also too late to save Buffy…almost. Xander points out that if she drowned, they might be able to revive her with CPR. Xander administers it, since Angel, as a vampire, can’t do the rescue breathing part of it.

Willow and Jenny are seemingly hopeless until Cordelia drives up to rescue them. Back underground, Xander’s successful with CPR and Buffy wakes up. Willow and Jenny tell Cordelia to get them to the library, so she drives her car right into the school. “What’s happening?” Giles asks when they run in and start barricading the doors. “Guess!” Jenny yells. As they try to protect themselves from the vampire army, another threat lurks in the stacks: snakes.

The Master takes in the view of Sunnydale from the roof of the school as Xander and Angel tell Buffy he rose. They think she’s too weak to fight him, but Buffy says she feels different – stronger. Vampires start coming in through the library windows as Buffy, Angel, and Xander head toward the Master (Buffy somehow knows where he is). She easily takes out a vampire, then goes up to the roof by herself. She tells the guys that no matter what happens next, it won’t take long.

Giles realizes that Hellmouth creatures are starting to invade the library. The Master watches through a skylight, thrilled. He’s shocked to see Buffy behind him – her death was written in a prophecy. “What can I say? I flunked the written,” she replies. Giles hits some big, ugly thing with an axe while Buffy tries not to be killed by another ugly thing. The Master is no longer able to mesmerize her, which means this is more of a fair fight.

Angel and Xander join the fight in the library as the Master taunts Buffy for not making quips anymore. He says she’s been laughing while Hell has been unleashed on Earth. Through the skylight she spots a big, broken piece of wood in the library – basically a huge stake. She tells the Master that if he loves Hell so much, he can go there. Then she tosses him through the skylight and down onto the wood, killing him.

The Hellmouth creatures leave and the Scoobies gather at the Master’s bones in the library (since, for some reason, he didn’t turn to dust like vampires usually do). Giles is pleased that even death didn’t stop Buffy from defeating the Master. Everyone wants to do something fun to take their minds off of what just happened, so they decide to go to the prom. As they all head off together, Angel starts to tell Buffy he likes her dress. She says it was a hit with everyone. I guess they figure all the debris and the skeleton in the library are tomorrow’s problem. I hope no one from the janitorial staff comes in overnight.

Thoughts: Sarah Michelle Gellar is so good in the scene where she addresses the prophecy. It’s that scene that takes the show from “this is just a dumb teen show” to “this is actually a serious drama.”

I like how Xander asks Angel if he can come in, then just walks inside, with an unspoken, “Ha ha, I don’t have to be invited because I’m not a vampire.”

I also like how Cordelia has no questions about what’s going on. “Oh, we’re fighting snakes and vampires? Cool, no problem.”

Season 1 is short, so we’re already done with it. Next up: Spike, Drusilla, Oz…and Angelus.

October 15, 2021

Netflix’s BSC 2.7, Claudia and the Sad Goodbye: Tea and Sympathy

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 5:26 pm by Jenn

😦

Summary: Claudia has been learning how to make tea the traditional Japanese way. Mimi’s instructions are very specific, and she insists that Claudia get them right every time to honor the person the tea is for. Yes, even when that person is Janine. One night, Mimi comes by Claudia’s room while she’s painting, but she doesn’t want to interrupt Claudia’s time with her muse, so she only stays long enough to say goodbye. The next morning, Claudia is stunned to learn that Mimi died in her sleep.

Mr. and Mrs. Kishi try to be reassuring – Mimi had health issues, but her death was peaceful; she was old, and this was just her time; all that stuff people say when someone dies. Mimi had already made plans for her funeral, since she wanted things done traditionally. Part of that tradition is that no visitors are allowed in the house until the funeral. Claudia feels trapped, like she’ll spend the rest of her life in a house without Mimi.

Claudia decides to spend a few days at Stacey’s house so her life will feel normal. She’ll grieve later. Since the Kishis can’t have guests, Kristy hosts a BSC meeting (complete with candy), and Claudia even attends that. Mary Anne is grieving more than Claudia, who thinks Mimi would want them to carry on like usual. But people keep talking about Mimi, which makes Claudia feel like the center of attention, which she doesn’t want.

Claudia knows she’ll have to go home after the funeral, but she wants just one more night before she has to face reality. She only spends a few minutes at home before announcing that she wants to go back to Stacey’s. However, things aren’t great there, so Claudia heads back home…only to realize that while Mimi was clearly ready to die, since she knew when she said goodbye to Claud that it would be the last time, Claudia isn’t ready to go on without her.

She goes over to Mary Anne’s, where Mary Anne confronts her about not feeling her grief. Claudia sadly says that she can’t stop feeling it. It’s like she can’t breathe and everything’s over and no one understands. Mary Anne does – not because she lost her mother, but because she felt the effects of her father’s grief for years. When he finally let it out, he was able to move on. Grief hurts, but it has to. Then you can heal and become stronger.

Claudia makes herself go home, but her grief turns into anger when she catches Janine and Ashley going through Mimi’s jewelry. Claud accuses Janine of stealing from their grandmother and Ashley of acting like she’s at a garage sale. Janine gets upset that Claudia left her alone to try to comfort their parents, who are really struggling. Ashley’s been a great support, and not just as a friend – Janine and Ashley are dating. Mimi figured it out a few weeks ago and was happy when Janine confirmed it. She wanted to give Ashley one of her bracelets, but Janine says she won’t give it to her unless Claudia approves. Claudia does, since it’s a gift of love.

Claudia notes that Mimi always brought the family together, so with her gone, they’ll have to belong to each other instead of just Mimi. Claudia invites her family, the BSC girls, and Ashley to her room and serves them all tea. They reminisce about Mimi together, and it helps Claudia handle her grief. She knows she’ll always miss Mimi, but that means Mimi will always be with her.

The details:

  • All the younger girls’ acting has improved since season 1 (not that they were ever bad), but Momona Tamada, who plays Claudia, is exceptional in the scene where she talks to Mary Anne about her grief.
  • I really love how the episode includes little bits about Japanese traditions.
  • Karen’s allowed to sit in on the BSC meeting at Kristy’s house. Intruder! Intruder!
  • Also, she says Mimi visited her in a dream, wearing a white gown like she was getting married. She’s now in love with Ben Brewer, the ghost that haunts the Thomas/Brewers’ attic. When Mrs. Kishi hears about this later, she approves, since Mimi was a widow for a long time. However, they might be in a love triangle with Mimi’s late husband.
  • Looks like I was wrong – Stacey’s parents have been fighting and her dad has been working a lot. If there’s a third season, I’m sure we’ll see them split up.

The differences/changes:

  • I’m glad they don’t drag out Mimi’s death like they do in the book. That would have been traumatic.
  • Janine says she hasn’t told her parents about Ashley yet, but it’s not clear if she means she hasn’t told them they’re dating or that she likes girls. I don’t think we’d get a storyline about homophobia, though.

June 29, 2021

ER 8.21, On the Beach: I Will Try to Fix You

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

If you need to grab some tissues, I won’t make fun of you

Summary: We last saw Mark passing the torch to Carter, and we know he died sometime after that, but what happened in the time between? Let’s find out! We go with Mark as he leaves County for the last time and endures a crowded El ride home. He watches a father with his young daughter in his lap. At home, he checks in on Rachel, who’s already asleep.

He himself can’t sleep, and Elizabeth finds him in the kitchen in the middle of the night. He’s making a list of things he always wanted to do (sail around the world, play third base for the Cubs and win the World Series, start a rock band). The only thing on the list he could reasonably do right now is have noisy sex in a public place. (Elizabeth is willing to participate.)

Mark gets a little down as the list runs to things he’d like to do with his daughters as they grow up. He says he hasn’t been a very good father. When Rachel needed him growing up, he was hundreds of miles away. The last item on his bucket list is “fix Rachel.” Well, she’s probably halfway to fixed after what happened with Ella, but I don’t think he can finish the job now.

The next day, Mark picks Rachel up after school, offering her a mint since she was totally smoking a cigarette and NOT holding it for a friend. Rachel, no one in the history of parents has ever believed that lie. He tells her they’re going somewhere, but he doesn’t know where. They end up in Hawaii, where Mark sky-dives while Rachel watches from the ground. A local guy asks her if her father’s having a midlife crisis. “Something like that,” she replies.

Mark is up early the next morning for a swim. Then he wakes Rachel up for what he calls a history lesson – a lesson about his history. In their rental Jeep, she complains about the music he’s playing, and he seems surprised that she doesn’t like Todd Rundgren. She’s probably never even heard of him, Mark. He points out places he used to see all the time growing up, like the Arizona memorial. He loved living in Hawaii.

They visit the Naval base where Mark lived as he talks about what he and his friends did. The Greenes lived there for three years, the longest time they ever stayed in one place. His first job was at the pool, as a junior janitor. He only made $1.25 an hour, but it was enough to buy records and weed. Rachel’s surprised that her father smoked pot as a teenager.

Next they go see the Missouri and Mark talks about being allowed to visit his father’s warship sometimes. David would introduce Mark to all the other sailors and show him the helm. He was about Rachel’s age. She wonders why Mark didn’t join the Navy. Mark admits that he was mad at David for never being around. They fought a lot, about everything – Mark’s clothes and friends and haircut (yes, he had hair). David resented Mark’s politics, and Mark hated David’s, so he would provoke him. Mark didn’t like the idea of devoting his life to patriotism and honor, like David did. He wishes he could take it all back.

Mark thinks David was hard on him because he was worried. He thought Mark was making bad choices. Mark was more into girls and Bruce Lee movies and surfing than the things David thought were important. Rachel’s surprised again by one of her father’s childhood interests. They go to the beach so he can give her a surfing lesson. She does pretty well for a first-timer.

That night, the reality of the situation hits Rachel and she gets emotional. She goes to talk to Mark, who’s asleep outside their hotel room. (Is that a lanai? I think it’s called a lanai.) She sneaks a pill from one of his prescriptions and a mini-bottle of booze. Oh, Rachel. She doesn’t realize that Mark has woken up and sees her take a drink.

The next day, the two head to a rental house. Rachel’s annoyed with her father and refuses to listen to his music choice, “Imagine.” She’s also annoyed with the new accommodations, specifically the lack of TV in her room or a swimming pool. He tells her they had to move to a new place because the hotel was getting too expensive – especially the mini-bar charges. Busted! Rachel asks what they’re supposed to do in this new place without all the fancy hotel amenities. I don’t know, Rachel – what is there to do in Hawaii, a place many people would love to visit? Forget what I said about her being halfway fixed.

Rachel gives Mark the silent treatment at dinner that night, but the next day, she’s a little more reasonable. Mark had teaching her to drive on his bucket list, even though she’s too young, so he takes her out in the Jeep. She struggles with the stick shift and wants to try an automatic instead, but Mark thinks it’s better to start with the harder method. He won’t let her quit just because it’s hard.

That afternoon, Rachel invites Mark to go to the beach with her, but he’s taking a nap. When he wakes up, he keeps his face turned from her so she doesn’t see the patch he has to wear over one eye, since it won’t stay closed. It looks like one of his arms isn’t working as well as the other, too. He meets her on the beach and asks what kind of music she’s listening to through her headphones. She says he wouldn’t like it.

Mark turns off her music and asks her when she started getting high. Rachel lies that she doesn’t use drugs, but Mark, who was stoned for most of the eighth grade, knows the signs. He asks if she knows what happened to three of his Vicodin. She suggests that he forgot he took them. GIRL. NO. Mark asks what else she’s using. Rachel gets huffy because her father doesn’t believe that she doesn’t use drugs, even though she once brought ecstasy into his house. Take her home, Mark. She doesn’t deserve a Hawaiian vacation.

Rachel runs away, but Mark chases after her and admits that he doesn’t know what to do with her. He doesn’t have time to work out everything that’s gone wrong with them. He feels horrible that Rachel had to grow up without her father, who then got remarried and had a new baby. She was also stuck with Jen as a mom, which…enough said. It makes sense that Rachel would want to get high. But when Mark’s gone, what will she do? Who will keep her from killing herself? Mark admits that he’s scared about what will happen to Rachel after he dies. He gets that it sucks for her – it sucks for him, too. Rachel still won’t talk to him.

Walking home after some more surfing, Mark suddenly collapses and starts seizing. This is what sparks Rachel to call Elizabeth, as we saw in “Brothers and Sisters.” Elizabeth brings Ella to Hawaii, where Mark and Rachel have moved into a big rental house with a beautiful view of the beach. He spotted a rental sign while driving around and decided to shell out the money for it, since…you know, he’s going to die anyway. Might as well live it up first.

Elizabeth tells Mark that Rachel was terrified when she witnessed his seizure. He hasn’t seen a doctor; he just started taking more of his anti-seizure medication. Elizabeth thinks he should have a CAT scan and a full workup. Mark doesn’t see the point. She tries to talk him into going back to Chicago, but Mark says he doesn’t want to go home. He knows his time is limited, and he wants to die somewhere beautiful.

Mark agrees to buy Rachel a surfboard she’s never going to use since there’s no ocean in Missouri. Elizabeth asks if Rachel, who has her headphones on and is ignoring them, has been distant the whole trip. Yes, Elizabeth, she’s been her normal self. When they go into a surf shop to get a board, it becomes clear that that’s not really the purpose of the visit. Rachel has a crush on a guy who works there, Kai, and just wanted an excuse to see him.

Back at home, Rachel listens in as Mark sings Ella to sleep with “Over the Rainbow.” He needs Rachel’s help to get up from his rocking chair. He tells Rachel she made him sing that song to her for years when she was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz and The Little Mermaid. Rachel doesn’t remember that, or at least pretends not to. She doesn’t think it’s important anyway. Things from her childhood and Mark’s family are just boring and useless. She doesn’t care about them and doesn’t want to hear about them.

Rachel’s tantrum and slamming of the door on her way out of the house wake Ella, so Mark volunteers to put her back down for her nap. Meanwhile, Elizabeth follows Rachel to the beach and asks her how long she plans on acting like a brat. Mark isn’t perfect, but he’s trying to make things up to her. Rachel will have to grow up fast; she can’t act like a child anymore. If she keeps being a brat, she’ll miss the last little bit of time she has with her father. This is her last chance. If she blows it, she’ll hate herself for the rest of her life.

Mark takes a nap, and when he wakes up, he finds that the weakness in his limbs is getting worse. He’s barely able to stand up, and when he tries to take a step, he falls on the floor. He slams the ground and says a word that starts with S that isn’t usually allowed on network TV, which means the show either paid off Standards and Practices or paid a big FCC fine to let that get through. (It must be a lifetime allowance, because I watched this on Pop and they allow the word, too.)

Elizabeth helps Mark down to the beach, still bugging him about seeing a doctor. He still doesn’t see the point. Rachel’s off somewhere with Kai, and Mark is okay with it, since Kai’s a nice kid. Elizabeth is surprised he’s not worried about what the two might be doing together. Mark tells her he wants to write letters to Rachel and Ella. He tried to do it himself, but his handwriting has gotten bad because of his limb problems, so he needs Elizabeth’s help.

He’ll write letters the girls can open on special occasions, like graduations and wedding days. He wonders if it’ll be cruel to remind them of his death on what should be happy days, but Elizabeth is sure they’ll love the messages. She’s fighting back tears, but she wants to help him with the letters, no matter how hard they might be to write.

Rachel gets home after Mark’s asleep and addresses her father’s decline in health for the first time. Elizabeth tells her he doesn’t have much time left. Rachel goes up to Mark’s room, and he wakes up and tells her he was just dreaming about her. He remembers how she used to love balloons. When he bought them for her, she would let them go. He asks her to sit with him.

Mark says he was trying to figure out the things he should have told Rachel already – the things fathers should say to their daughters. He finally decided to tell her to be generous in everything. Her time, her love, her life. He asks her not to cry for him after he dies. Rachel says she won’t. Mark says again that she should always be generous. As he falls asleep, she tells him she remembers him singing “Over the Rainbow” to her. She puts her headphones on him and plays him Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s beautiful version of the song.

The next morning, Elizabeth is up early, playing on the beach with Ella. Mark is still listening to the song, imagining himself in the empty ER. Elizabeth watches Rachel and Kai in the water together. Mark imagines approaching them under a tree, then sees Elizabeth and Ella smiling together. When Elizabeth goes to check on him, he’s dead.

Mark’s family and friends hold his funeral back in Chicago. All his ER co-workers are in attendance, as well as some former colleagues like Benton, Cleo, and Swift. Jen’s there, too, but who cares about Jen? After the service, riding off in a limo, Rachel asks Elizabeth if she can visit Ella at Christmas and on summer break. Elizabeth tells her that of course she can. Rachel asks the driver to pull over at a house with balloons tied to a for-sale sign. She gets out of the limo, unties one of the balloons, and lets it go.

Thoughts: Ella is played (I think just in this episode) by Alex Kingston’s (Elizabeth) real daughter, Salome.

George Clooney declined to appear at the funeral because he didn’t want to distract from the point of the episode, which was Anthony Edwards’ farewell (the same reason he didn’t want his return in “Such Sweet Sorrow” to distract from Julianna Margulies’ goodbye episode). We’ll pretend Doug and Carol were there and we just didn’t see them.

Confession time: When I first watched this episode during the original run, I teared up a little at the end, when Rachel releases the balloon. When I’ve watched it since then, I’ve been fine. This time, for some reason, I started crying around when Mark asked Elizabeth to help him with the letters, and I didn’t stop until the end. So if you cried watching this episode, you’re not alone.

’00s music alert: “Crawling in the Dark” by Hoobastank

Goodbye, Anthony Edwards. You must have left a loooooot of money on the table by leaving.

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