December 31, 2022

Buffy 4.16, Who Are You: Things Are No Longer Five by Five

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

Of course she went straight for the leather pants

Summary: The police have arrived at the Summerses’ house to handle Faith. A detective tells Joyce that after Faith is checked out by doctors, she’ll go to jail until her trial. Joyce just wants Faith to get help. The detective says their top priority is making sure she can’t hurt anyone else. As a semi-conscious Faith is wheeled off on a gurney, she sees Buffy taking Joyce’s hand. The detective appreciates the Summerses’ help in apprehending “the kid.” Buffy firmly says that she’s not a kid. She’s strong and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Inside the house, Buffy spins around, worried, when Joyce says Faith’s name. She just wants to know what makes her the way she is. Buffy says she’s crazy. Joyce doesn’t know what could drive a person to act the way Faith does. Buffy suggests that she’s always been that way. Joyce thinks that Faith is “horribly unhappy.” Buffy says the time in jail could rehabilitate her. Or maybe she’ll get abused. Buffy tells Joyce that the thought of Faith hurting her fills her with rage. Joyce hugs her and Buffy makes a face.

Joyce says she’s missed her daughter, and Buffy replies triumphantly that she knew it was because she hasn’t visited. Joyce understands that her life is busy now, but she’d like to spend time together. Buffy says they will. She goes upstairs to take a bath and examine her body. It’s become clear that this isn’t really Buffy – whatever device Faith had on her hand earlier caused them to swap bodies. This is Faith in Buffy’s body, or FIB.

After the bath, FIB makes faces at herself in the mirror and practices talking like Buffy. Mostly it’s telling people they can’t do things because they’re wrong. At the hospital, Buffy in Faith’s body – BIF – tries to fight off the medical staff keeping her there. She yells that she has to go home and protect her mother. They sedate her and think she’s talking crazy when she says that someone’s taken her body.

In Tara’s room, Willow wonders where Faith is. She wishes Faith would make a move already. She’s pretty sure Buffy can handle her, but that doesn’t mean Faith won’t hurt someone. Tara thinks Willow’s safe with her, since her friends don’t even know that Tara exists. Not that that’s a problem for Tara or anything! Willow promises that she’s not trying to hide Tara from her friends. She just likes having something that’s hers alone, not the Scoobies’. As Willow goes to check in with Giles, Tara tells her, “I am, you know.” Willow asks what she means. “Yours,” Tara replies.

FIB puts on some of Buffy’s clothes (gotta make the cleavage pop) and nabs her passport. She uses Joyce’s credit card to buy a plane ticket for the next morning and steals some of her cash. Joyce tells her that Giles called and wants her to meet up with the Scoobies. FIB decides she has time to kill and might as well show up. She takes one of Joyce’s lipsticks, which Joyce recognizes as Harlot, the same one Faith liked. In that case, FIB says she should burn it.

BIF wakes up from the sedative in the back of a police car. Moments later, the car crashes into an armored truck. The three guys from the helicopter pull her out of the car and tell her that she’s being taken into custody by the Watchers’ Council. BIF is too out of it from the sedative to fight them off.

FIB arrives at Giles’ and reports that she took care of Faith. She thinks it’s poetic justice that…well, Faith committed crimes and is going to be punished for them. Maybe that’s just regular justice. Giles tells her that Faith isn’t in police custody anymore – the Watchers’ Council had her captured by a special unit that handles tougher cases. She’ll be taken to England and won’t be their problem anymore. FIB is delighted.

Willow hopes they “throw the book” at Faith. Giles isn’t sure there’s a book that covers what she’s done. “They could throw other things,” Willow says. FIB is uncomfortable with Willow’s level of hatred for her and imagines herself stabbing Willow. Anya asks why Giles called them all over, since he could have just told them over the phone that everything’s fine. Willow notices that FIB has a weird look on her face and asks what’s up with her. “I’d never let her hurt you,” FIB promises.

Xander’s ready for the Scooby gathering to break up, since he and Anya had a romantic evening planned. Anya clarifies that they were going to light candles and have sex near them. “Well, we certainly don’t want to cut into that seven minutes,” FIB quips. She excuses her sarcasm by saying they’re out of danger and can lighten up. Giles mentions Adam, who of course FIB knows nothing about. They don’t have any new information on him, so there’s nothing to do on that front. FIB promises to patrol so the Scoobies can have the night off.

Instead, she goes to the Bronze and lives it up. She bumps into Spike, another person she’s unfamiliar with. He swears he’s only there to drink beer, not blood. He’s “as helpless as a kitten up a tree,” so she can leave him alone. But when she starts to walk away, he complains that she’s throwing it in his face that he can’t hurt people anymore.

FIB realizes who she’s talking to and is thrilled that Spike can’t hurt anyone. He asks if she knows why he really hates her. “‘Cause I’m a stuck-up tight-a%$ with no sense of fun?” she replies. “Well, yeah, that covers a lot of it,” he says. She adds that she can do anything she wants, but instead she chooses to “pout and whine and feel the burden of Slayerness.” She could be rich or famous and have anything or anyone, including him.

She cozies up to him and talks about how impressed he would be if she took him to bed. But she won’t do that, because it’s wrong. Spike warns that when he gets the chip removed, they’re going to “have a confrontation.” FIB replies that she’s counting on it. And then Spike probably has to go take a cold shower, because dang, that was hot.

Adam finds some vampires underground and asks what they’re afraid of. Their leader, Boone, tells a minion to kill Adam, who easily holds him off. He knows that vampires fear crosses, fire, the sun, and decapitation, which he demonstrates by pulling off the minion’s head. Boone quickly offers to let Adam take over their lair. Adam thinks that vampires fear death more than mortals do, even though it’s harder for them to die. They’re paradoxes – as demons in human bodies, they “walk in both worlds and belong to neither.” Adam can relate. He thinks he and the vampires have a lot to talk about.

BIF wakes up again and tries to convince the Council guys that she’s Buffy, and that Faith switched their bodies. Of course, they don’t believe her. She tells them to call Giles, but they remind her that Giles doesn’t work for the Council anymore. Actually, neither does Buffy. BIF is just a package they’re supposed to deliver. One of the guys is very loyal to the Council, and he thinks BIF is trash who “perverted it.” He spits on her and says they should have killed her in her sleep.

Willow takes Tara to the Bronze, where they find FIB cheering on a guy who’s chugging a beer. Willow decides to introduce Tara to her, but since this is Faith, she’s not very warm toward Willow’s friend. When Willow leaves them alone to get drinks, FIB reveals that she’s already guessed that they’re actually more than friends: “So Willow’s not driving stick anymore.” She didn’t expect that. “I guess you never really know someone until you’ve been inside their skin,” she says.

She clarifies that Oz is out of the picture, which surprises her, since he and Willow were so in love. Tara gets uncomfortable about that, which brings out a stutter. FIB taunts her for it, so Tara falls silent. Willow comes back and tells FIB that a guy across the room seems to be a vampire. FIB takes a few moments to realize that that means she needs to go do some slaying.

She goes outside with a pool cue and gets the vampire away from the girl he’s about to feed on. Once he’s dusted, she offers the girl some words of…whatever the opposite of comfort is: “You’ll live.” The girl is really grateful, something FIB isn’t used it. FIB goes back inside and tells Willow that she took care of things. Willow’s on her way out with Tara and asks if FIB will be home later or if she’s going to Riley’s. Suddenly FIB has a new plan for the night.

BIF’s causing trouble for the Council guys, so one of them grabs another sedative. When he gets close enough to inject her, she takes him hostage and forces the other guys to unchain her. The only problem is that these guys are fully willing to die on the job, so they’re not too eager to release someone they think is a psychotic killer in order to save a guy who went into this knowing he might not get back home. They’d rather focus on coming up with a new plan for getting BIF to the Council.

FIB shows up at Riley’s room in full-on seductive mode as Willow and Tara return to Tara’s room. Tara tells Willow that Buffy isn’t her friend. Somehow Tara, who’s never even met Buffy before, has figured out that she isn’t really Buffy. Her energy is “fragmented” and seems forced into a place where it doesn’t belong. Also, she was mean.

Willow wonders if Buffy’s been possessed. She hopes there aren’t any hyenas involved. Tara asks to use something of Buffy’s to figure things out. They can do a ritual to find Buffy in “the nether realm,” which is “beyond the physical world.” To access it, they’d have to do something similar to astral projection. Tara would serve as Willow’s anchor. Willow promises that she trusts Tara.

FIB tells Riley that Faith has been taken care of, so there’s nothing to worry about. Riley admits that he kind of wanted to meet Faith, but now he can’t think of anything but Buffy. FIB says he wouldn’t have liked Faith: “She’s not proper and joyless like a girl should be. She has a tendency to give in to her animal instincts.” Riley’s a little uncomfortable with his supposed girlfriend’s sudden assertiveness, but he just notes that his door is still open. She doesn’t care, but he doesn’t want the other commandos to get a free show.

He’s still in a little pain from his encounter with Adam, but FIB wants to take him “for a test drive.” She climbs onto his bed and asks what he wants to do with her body. Are there any desires he wants to act on? Is she a bad girl? Does he want to hurt her? Riley’s confused, since he’s not one for roleplay. He just wants regular intimacy with the woman he cares about.

Willow and Tara do their ritual, which might actually be more intimate than Riley and FIB’s romp in the sack is about to be. Let’s just say there’s touching and heavy breathing and some extended eye contact. Oh, and moaning. Back in Riley’s room, FIB gets agitated when he says he loves her. She orders him to get off of her, then asks who he is and what he wants from…well, Buffy. She tells him this is meaningless. Riley notices that she’s shaking and covers her up, trying to comfort her. It’s clearly the first time she’s been cared for like this, and she doesn’t know how to react.

Underground, Adam tells the vampires that, unlike other demons, he knows why he’s there: He was created to kill. He’s accepted that responsibility. The vampires have lived in fear because they don’t have that gift. It’s time for them to face their fear. Adam wants Boone to be his “first” and let “them” know he’s coming. He asks what Boone fears more than anything else.

FIB spent the night with Riley, but in the morning, she gets dressed to leave without waking him. Downstairs, she runs into Forrest, who chastises her for not letting Riley recover. He reminds her that they have a mission. FIB laughs at that, since she’s been fighting demons a lot longer than the commandos have. “Yeah, you’re a killer,” Forrest replies sarcastically. She takes offense to that, correcting that she’s the Slayer, and he doesn’t know anything about her. Forrest asks if she really cares what he thinks. FIB claims she doesn’t care at all.

The Council guys have heard that they won’t be able to get secure transport to England, now that BIF is so volatile, and they’ve been authorized to kill her. The guy she took hostage notes that she could have killed him but didn’t. BIF is ready and waiting when they come for her with a gun, and she knocks out one of the guys and grabs the weapon. She manages to get from the back of the armored truck to the front and drive off without them stopping her.

As FIB checks in for her flight at the airport, BIF shows up at Giles’. She tells him she’s Buffy, but since he obviously doesn’t believe her, he asks to tie her up until they find out the truth. She tells him she doesn’t have time “for bondage fun” while FIB is running around in her body. She suggests that he ask her something that will prove who she is. He asks who the president is, which she notes is a question better suited to someone who might have a concussion.

BIF thinks Giles should be able to tell who she is the way she knew who he was when he turned into a demon. He asks for details about that, which she gives. She also mentions Olivia and how he’s been unemployed since they blew up the school, “which is valid, lifestyle-wise.” Also, when she was psychic, she heard Joyce think that he was “like a stevedore during sex“. Giles has heard enough. “What’s a stevedore?” BIF wonders.

Giles is sold now, but BIF wants to hold off on explaining things until they’ve found FIB. Willow and Tara burst in just then, and BIF starts to tell them that she’s really Buffy. They already know, and they’ve even guessed the spell that was probably used. They’ve conjured a katra that will switch FIB and BIF back. Just then, Giles gets a call from Xander alerting him to a news report. Three men whose descriptions make them sound a lot like vampires have taken hostages at a church. FIB sees the same report at the airport.

The hostage-takers are Boone and two other minions, who are facing their fear of churches. Boone would like to know where God is. The vampires will just start killing people and see if He shows up. Outside, Riley pulls rank on the police, telling a cop that they’re not prepared to handle the hostage-takers. FIB arrives ready to go in and save the day. Riley advises her to wait for commandos to serve as backup. She asks how he responded so fast. He didn’t – he was just late for church.

FIB won’t wait for backup, and she won’t let Riley talk her out of going in alone: “I’m Buffy. I have to do this.” He wants to go with her, but he’s not fully recovered, so she tells him to stay outside and help any civilians who get out. She heads into the sanctuary, telling Boone that she’s just there to pray. She refuses to let the vampires kill their hostages, “because it’s wrong.” Boone realizes that he’s dealing with the Slayer. “The one and only,” FIB replies.

The Scoobies arrive (in the armored truck, because why not?) and Giles distracts a cop so BIF can slip away and get into the church. He rants that their mothers are inside, “and tiny, tiny babies!” Boone tells FIB that they’re not afraid of her, so she suggests that they let the hostages go and face her alone. She starts fighting the vampires, and the parishioners wisely head for the doors.

FIB stakes one vampire, and another heads outside, running into Riley, who tosses him into the sunlight and kills him. BIF has just found him, and she happily hugs her boyfriend, who thinks she’s just a grateful civilian. She asks how many vampires are inside. Confused, he asks who she is. Back inside, Boone smacks FIB around, saying that Adam has shown him the way. He suddenly turns to dust, thanks to a stake in the back courtesy of BIF.

The two Slayers fight each other, and during a brief pause, BIF says that FIB can’t win this. FIB yells that she’s not afraid of BIF. She gets BIF on the ground and pummels her, ranting that she’s nothing, just a “disgusting, murderous b%$@#.” BIF manages to grab FIB’s hand and activate the katra, returning them to their bodies. Buffy’s so shaken that she can’t chase after Faith, who gets away.

Later, in Riley’s room, Buffy tells Riley that there’s no trace of Faith. He thinks he should have been able to pick up on the fact that something was off. Buffy slowly realizes that he slept with Faith. Riley doesn’t see it that way, since he thought she was Buffy, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. They agree that Faith probably won’t be coming back – she’s had her fun. Faith definitely isn’t having fun now, though. She’s fleeing town in the back of a truck, thinking about all the damage she’s caused and the life she’s been leading up until now. What has it all been for?

Thoughts: It’s not surprising at all but Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eliza Dushku both do an excellent job of imitating each other’s characters, mostly in subtle ways. Gellar even throws in Dushku’s slight Boston accent.

Joyce’s credit card expires in May of 2001, for those of you collecting foreshadowing for “The Gift.”

Not only is FIB’s comment about Xander’s, uh, fast timing funny, but remember that Faith slept with him. It might be the truth.

Here’s the Spike/FIB scene, which I highly recommend watching.

I like that Tara caught on to Faith first, partly because she was mean. No doubt Willow has told her enough about Buffy for her to know that Buffy isn’t like that. Plus, I assume Tara knows that Willow wouldn’t be friends with a mean person.

December 24, 2022

Buffy 4.15, This Year’s Girl: Don’t You Forget About Me

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 1:02 pm by Jenn

It’s so weird seeing Faith in clothes like these

Summary: Buffy is making the bed in her old bedroom…with help from Faith. It’s obviously a dream, but whose? Buffy wishes she could stay, but Faith understands why she can’t: “Little sis coming. I know. So much to do before she gets here.” Blood starts dripping on the bed, and she asks Buffy, “Are you ever going to take this thing out?” Buffy’s gripping the knife she used to stab Faith, and she plunges it in further. In the hospital where she’s been comatose since graduation, Faith sleeps through what sounds like thunder and lightning.

The Scoobies are still using Xander’s basement as a hideout, this time to examine one of the Initiatives’ blasters. It’s broken, and Xander isn’t sure how to fix it. Willow suggests just pressing buttons to see what happens. No one seconds that, since something called a blaster probably isn’t a weapon you want to play around with. Xander says he’ll work on it anyway.

Buffy’s impatient and restless, knowing that Adam is out there possibly killing people. Giles suggests that she take a break and get some rest, but she’d rather have a working blaster. It’s the only thing she knows of that will give her a fighting chance against Adam. Willow asks if she’s gotten any updates on Riley. He’s still at an Initiative medical facility, and Buffy has no idea what they’re doing to him. As Xander’s experimentation with the blaster gets him shocked, Willow and Giles try to reassure Buffy that the Initiative won’t hurt Riley. Buffy worries that they’ll brainwash him.

Riley still has Buffy’s bandanna, so he hasn’t been completely turned against her, or at least not yet. He’s better physically, and he wants to go see her. Forrest tries to make him stay put, asking why he thinks leaving is a good idea. Riley says he doesn’t have to explain, since he outranks Forrest. Forrest tells him this is the time for them all to band together. Graham agrees. (Hi, Graham! Why are you here? I mean, like, in general – why are you on this show?) Forrest reminds Riley that when the Initiative has a problem, they deal with it. Right now, they need to keep that problem in the family. Riley scoffs at the idea that they’re a family. He orders Forrest to step aside and let him go.

The thunder and lightning are back, but they’re just in a dream Faith is having. She’s with Mayor Wilkins, having a picnic in a field. He assures her that there won’t be a storm, but she says it seems to always start raining about now. A snake slithers onto their blanket and the mayor says he doesn’t belong there and puts him on the grass. He promises Faith that nothing will spoil their time together. But suddenly Buffy’s there, and she stabs Wilkins and slashes his body. “I told you I had things to do,” she says to Faith. Faith tries to crawl away from her. In reality, her closed eyes are moving around a lot.

Buffy, Willow, and Xander go into the woods that night and find a demon strung up between some trees, opened up like it was autopsied. They return to Xander’s basement and discuss how Adam’s probably cutting demons and humans open to study their biology. Buffy vows to stop him. Xander asks if “hiding in a cabin with stockpiled chocolate goods” will be part of whatever plan she’s working on. Unfortunately, no. “Told you,” Xander says to Willow.

Buffy’s first priority is getting Riley away from the Initiative. She asks Willow to hack into the facility’s mainframe and shut down surveillance. If that doesn’t work, she should use magic. Xander is in charge of gear – equipment for force, not stealth, since that didn’t work last time. “Am I really worth all that?” Riley asks from behind Buffy. Well, that’s one plan the Scoobies can skip. He just walked out of the facility and came to see his girlfriend.

“You know, there’s no polite way to ask you this, but, uh…did they put a chip in your brain?” Xander asks. Uh, never mind. The Scoobies are happy to have Riley back, and they’re forgiving of his recent behavior. He’s up for joining in the mission to take down Adam, as difficult as it will be. Now that Riley’s back and safe, Buffy’s feeling more confident than ever that she can handle whatever Adam throws at them.

Faith is dreaming of Buffy again – she’s running through a cemetery as Buffy strides after her like a villain in a horror movie. Faith’s eyes are moving again, as if she’s on the verge of opening them. In the dream, she falls into an open grave. Buffy jumps in after her and it starts to rain. After a brief struggle, Faith climbs out of the grave and stands under the falling rain. In reality, she wakes up.

Despite being in a coma for months, Faith is able to get out of bed and walk down the hall without any help (probably thanks to her Slayer strength). She runs into a visitor who asks her for directions. Faith asks about graduation – she needs to get to Sunnydale High School right now. The visitor tells her the school isn’t there anymore. Also, it’s February. Faith demands to know what happened to the school. The visitor says it was a tragedy. A bunch of students died, as well as the principal and the mayor. Sometime later, Faith – now wearing the visitor’s clothes – walks out of the hospital.

Buffy and Riley get some alone time in her dorm room, and he tells her that having her bandanna helped him get through their separation. He appreciated knowing that she was out there and cared. He worries that they’re being watched. He doesn’t know what to do now that he’s not taking orders. He always gets the job done. Now, he’s not sure if it’s the right job. Buffy can relate, since she used to have to obey the Watchers’ Council. After she quit, she was scared, but now things are okay.

Riley isn’t used to operating in a gray area. Buffy tells him it’s a choice. He can go back in and make chances from the inside, or he can go off and fight demons in his own way. He’s not sure what his own way is, so Buffy says it’s a good time for him to find out. He wonders what’s left once you take away his identity as a soldier. “A good man,” Buffy replies. She starts kissing him, joking that she’s looking for chips in his head. She tells him he’s been strong long enough and now he’ll have her help. They’ll find Adam and kill him together. Until then, she orders him to stop torturing himself.

The hospital staff has discovered that Faith is missing. A detective chastises her doctor for not having security in the wing, since Faith is a murderer. The doctor insists that there was no possibility that Faith would wake up. An orderly comes in and tells the group that a woman was found unconscious, with her clothes gone. While the doctor and detective go with him, the nurse makes a phone call. “It’s happened,” she says. “Send the team.”

Faith goes to the school and sees for herself that it’s just ruins now. She goes downtown next, seeing a father and his daughter having fun together. She sneaks over to Giles’ place and listens at the door while the Scoobies talk about Adam. They think he’s off the grid because he’s powering up for a killing spree. Riley easily fixes the blaster, so at least the Scoobies will have that on their side.

They wonder if Walsh might have left anything helpful back at the Initiative – not that they would be able to get to it without a major attack on the facility. Riley notes that he can get in. He agrees to be an inside man; it’s the least he can do. Buffy gets a phone call just then from the hospital, letting her know that Faith has woken up and escaped. Great, now the Scoobies have two crises to handle at the same time!

Giles shifts everyone’s focus from Adam to Faith. “I’d hate to see the pursuit of a homicidal lunatic get in the way of pursuing a homicidal lunatic,” Xander quips. Buffy notes that Faith won’t keep a low profile, so she shouldn’t be hard to track. Willow suggests that when she finds Faith, she employs violence. Surprisingly, that’s not Buffy’s first instinct here.

They need to decide what to do when they capture Faith. The police wouldn’t know what to do with her, and the Council wasn’t successful at containing her last time. (To be fair, part of that was because of Wesley’s incompetence.) Giles notes that the Initiative would be able to hold her, though, of course, there’s that whole thing where they’re evil.

Buffy reluctantly accepts that Faith is her responsibility. “That was the funnest coma ever,” Willow says. Buffy notes that they don’t know where Faith is, or what she’s thinking or feeling. Or, as Xander adds, “who she’s doing.” Buffy thinks she could be scared or have no memory of what happened. Or maybe she’s sorry for everything she did. Giles says there could be a way to rehabilitate her. If not, Willow still suggests violence. Buffy won’t discount that, but first, she needs to find Faith. Riley speaks up for the first time since the phone call: “Who’s Faith?”

The next day, Buffy tells Willow that she explained to Riley that Faith is her identical cousin from England, and “wacky hijinks ensue” whenever she visits. No, not really – she told him the truth, mostly. She left out the parts about Angel, since they haven’t discussed him before and this isn’t a good time. I’m not sure there will ever be a good time for that whole story.

Buffy spent some time looking for Faith but didn’t find her. Willow guesses that the police are on the hunt, too. As they approach a campus notice board, Buffy says that if she were Faith, she’d get out of town ASAP. A woman at the board turns around – it’s Faith. “You’re not me,” she tells Buffy.

Buffy says that she’s been looking for Faith. Faith notes that she was in the same place for eight months, so Buffy must not have been looking very hard. Buffy asks if she’s okay. Faith’s five by five, as usual, and ready for revenge on the person who gutted her. Buffy thinks Faith would have done the same to her if she’d had the chance. Faith suggests that they fight again and see who wins this time.

They’re surrounded by people, so Buffy doesn’t want to fight there, but Faith doesn’t see an issue. She clearly hasn’t changed after her near-death experience. Faith notes that Buffy hasn’t changed, either – she still thinks she’s superior to Faith. She mentions the recurring dream she had about Buffy stabbing her. As Willow starts slowly moving to get behind Faith, Faith says it was because of a guy. Without turning around, she warns Willow not to try anything.

Faith continues that she woke up to discover that Buffy isn’t even with Angel anymore. She’s ditched the love of her life for the first college guy she could find and forgotten about the person she almost killed for him. She asks the “college girl” to interpret the dream for her. Buffy says it means that Faith is still talking about things she doesn’t understand.

They hear sirens in the distance and Buffy guesses that the police are coming for Faith. Faith decides this is a good time to start fighting. Willow gets in a smack with her bag, but she doesn’t do much damage. Faith warns that she’s going to pay Buffy back for taking her life. She fights off a couple of cops, then runs away. Buffy chases her but loses her.

Willow enlists Tara to help her search for Faith. It’s just recon, though. Tara’s kind of excited to be working with a “cool monster-fighter,” but she isn’t going to do anything violent, mostly because she’s not good at it. Willow says Buffy can handle Faith, and Tara will be safe with her.

That night, Xander and Giles do their own recon. Xander thinks Faith could come for him because of their “history.” They hear a noise in an alley downtown, but it’s just Spike. They tell him they’re looking for a rogue Slayer, whom Xander describes. Spike says he’ll help find her…then send her after the Scoobies and enjoy watching her kill them.

“Can’t any one of your damned little Scooby club at least try to remember that I hate you all?” he exclaims. He may not be able to hurt them himself anymore, but he can “aim a loose cannon” at them. His night is suddenly looking up! Xander notes that Spike doesn’t know what Faith looks like, having forgotten that he just described her. “We’re dumb,” Xander tells Giles. Hey, leave Giles out of it – that was all you.

The nurse who placed the phone call earlier goes out to greet a helicopter arriving in Sunnydale with three men wearing leather jackets and carrying briefcases. Faith is back downtown, checking out some knives in a store window (the same store she and Buffy once broke into). As a police car comes by, she hides in a group of college students and sneaks into an alley. There, a demon recognizes her and says a friend sent him with a remembrance. Faith kills the demon and takes his “remembrance,” a big envelope.

She evades the police again and goes to what I think is a TV studio to watch the tape she found in the envelope. It’s from the mayor, who recorded an “if you’re seeing this, it means I’m dead” video for her before the ascension. He acknowledges that they might have succeeded, and a bunch of kids are watching this message in a museum dedicated to him. (“Hi, kids.”) He doubts that, though.

Mayor Wilkins doesn’t believe the doctors’ claims that Faith might never wake up. He’s sure she will, but she’ll wake up in a changed world. He wishes he could make it better for her, but even his power to protect her has limits. Once he’s gone, Faith’s days will be numbered. The mayor knows she’s smart and capable, but there’s no place for her in the world anymore. Even if she feels alone, she isn’t. She’ll always have him. She’ll also have something inside a box that was in the envelope. It may be over for her, but she can still go out with a bang.

Buffy goes to Riley’s room to try to convince him that he’s not in good enough shape to help take down Faith. She doesn’t think he gets how dangerous Faith is. He wants to know more about what Faith did to Buffy, but she’s not ready to give him details. She’s eager to go back on the hunt. She makes it clear that this is a serious situation. Faith is basically a super-villain, and she thinks Buffy ruined her life. Faith is going to go after Buffy and her loved ones. And she’s starting right now, with Joyce.

Faith raids Joyce’s makeup, settling on a lipstick shade called Harlot. She kisses the mirror after she puts it on, then asks Joyce how she looks. “Psychotic,” Joyce replies. Faith guesses that Joyce is thinking that she’ll never get away with this. Joyce says she was actually thinking about how Buffy’s going to kill Faith. Faith has found a bunch of Buffy’s mail, which she hasn’t picked up from the house, and taunts that Buffy hasn’t come to visit her mother or called to warn her about Faith. She’s too into her new college life.

Joyce says that Faith doesn’t know anything about her or Buffy. Faith thinks she can relate to Joyce, since they both thought they were part of something, then got ditched. The rest of the world kept moving while they were stuck. Joyce is like, “Can you just kill me now so I don’t have to keep listening to you?” Faith tells her that she’s served her purpose – she raised her child, and now she might as well be dead. No one cares about or remembers her. “She was over us a long time ago, Joyce,” Faith insists. Buffy’s too busy with her new boyfriend to think about the people who matter.

Faith grabs a knife, ready to get violent, but Buffy bursts through a window right then. “Hi, Mom,” she greets Joyce casually. “Hi, honey,” Joyce replies, never having lost confidence that her daughter would come to her rescue. She calls 911 as the Slayers fight each other, ending up in the living room. Faith bets that Buffy expected her to go after Riley, who looks like he could use a trip to the bedroom with Faith. Buffy tells her she’s not his type: “He’s not big on sleaze.” Also, how “tired” of her to go after Buffy’s boyfriend again. Buffy says that everyone forgot about Faith because they wanted to.

Giles comes home to find the three guys from the helicopter in his apartment. Meanwhile, police are on their way to the Summerses’ house, so Faith tries to get in as many hits on Buffy as she can before they come in. Finally she puts on the device the mayor left her, a little contraption that fits on her hand. She grabs Buffy’s hand and something glows between them. They’re both a little stunned until Buffy punches Faith so hard she’s knocked out.

Joyce comes to check on things, and Buffy tells her that Faith’s weapon, whatever it was, didn’t work. She stomps on it and destroys it. The police pound on the door, and Buffy says Faith is their problem now. Joyce asks again if Buffy’s okay. “Five by five,” she replies. To be continued…

Thoughts: If I have to see Willow and Xander’s outfits from this episode, so do you.

Riley, re: the Council’s orders: “Ever obey them?” Buffy: “Sure. …The ones I was going to do anyway.” Heh. That’s our Buffy.

Speaking of the Council, I feel like they would have their own medical facilities to keep an eye on, say, injured potential Slayers and, in this case, killer ones.

Speaking of the Council again, wouldn’t it have been interesting if they’d been in on the Initiatives’ practices? Wouldn’t they want to monitor and experiment on demons, too?

Willow, imitating Faith: “Check me out. I’m wicked cool. I’m five by five.” Tara: “Five by five? Five what by five what?” Willow: “See, that’s the thing – no one knows.” Heh again.

September 10, 2022

Buffy 3.22, Graduation Day, Part 2: “Nothing Will Ever Be the Same”

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

I would have paid more attention at my graduations if this had been the speaker

Summary: Buffy has just watched Faith fall off her balcony, taking away Buffy’s only cure for Angel. She leave the dagger on the ledge and climbs down the fire escape just before the mayor arrives and sees the destruction the Slayers left behind. He guesses that Faith took their fight outside, since she doesn’t like to be cooped up. He orders a minion to find the Slayers. This is even more important than the ascension. He tries to convince himself that Faith can handle whatever happened and will be okay.

In the library, Xander brings Giles coffee while they wait for news from Buffy. Xander notes that Giles is more of a tea drinker, but Giles wants coffee instead of something soothing. “Okay, but you’re destroying a perfectly good cultural stereotype here,” Xander says. They go back to their books to find anything that will help them once the mayor turns into a demon.

Cordelia arrives, demanding to know why Wesley is suddenly unemployed. Giles tells her that Buffy quit the Watchers’ Council, so she doesn’t need a Watcher anymore. Cordelia doesn’t think that means Wesley should have to leave the country – after all, Giles got fired and he still hangs around “like a big loser.” Xander distracts her by asking her to help them stop a massacre. Cordelia agrees but complains that Buffy only thinks about herself.

Willow’s on Angel-care duty, but he’s so out of it that he thinks she’s Buffy. He tells her he was wrong to break up with her; he can’t leave her. After a moment, he realizes who he’s talking to. Willow tells Oz that she feels guilty because everything’s falling apart, but it’s still the best night of her life (Oz must be really good in bed). Buffy arrives and asks them to give her some privacy with Angel. Willow promises to try to find another way to cure him.

Buffy sits with Angel, who’s glad to see her since he doesn’t think he has much longer, and he didn’t want to die without seeing her again. She tells him she can cure him, but he’s ready to go. She won’t accept that, so she presents him with his only other option: Drink her blood. Angel refuses, knowing that he’d have to drink enough to kill her. She thinks he can take enough to cure himself without going that far.

He doesn’t want to even consider doing this, but Buffy won’t let him die. A Slayer’s blood is his only hope. She tells him she killed Faith, so there’s only one Slayer left. Angel continues refusing, even leaving the room to try to get away from her. Buffy won’t take no for an answer, so she punches him until he vamps out. She bares her neck and forces him to drink from her. They fall over as he does, and it becomes almost an intimate moment, like this is the closest they can come to having sex now. Eventually he stops himself, cured, and realizes too late that he’s bled her unconscious.

He rushes her to the hospital, telling a doctor that something bit her and demanding help. Angel can barely contain his desperation, which he takes out on a door handle, ripping it right off. The doctor asks if they’ve been using drugs. (Guess he’s heard about all those gangs on PCP who supposedly terrorize the town.) While Buffy’s tended to, Angel goes to a pay phone. In a room right next to him, a doctor is telling the mayor that Faith has lost a lot of blood and has severe head trauma. It’s a miracle that she’s still alive. There’s very little chance that she’ll ever wake up. The mayor is sad that she’ll have to miss the ascension.

A nurse who was working on Buffy comes to ask Faith’s doctor for assistance. The mayor figures out who her patient is and goes to her room. He tries to smother her with his bare hand, but the nurse catches him. Angel runs in and throws him off, but the mayor knows he’ll have a bigger, better chance to take them both out later. “Misery loves company” and he’s looking forward to sharing it with both of them. Angel throws him into a wall, and the mayor just brushes it off and tells the staff that everything’s okay. “The show’s not over, but there will be a short intermission,” he says. “Don’t want to miss the second act – all kinds of excitement.”

The Scoobies arrive later and Angel tells them that Buffy’s okay. Oz seems to be the only one to notice that Angel’s also okay. Angel tells them that Faith’s “out of the picture,” and that Buffy cured him. Giles guesses that Angel fed on her. Angel assures the Scoobies that he didn’t drink enough of her blood to cause permanent damage, and she won’t become a vampire. Xander snarks that it’s nice to know that when Angel’s backed into a corner, he’ll feed off someone who loves him to save himself. The sun will be rising soon, so Giles sends Angel away. “Gosh, I’m really gonna miss him when he leaves town,” Xander says.

Buffy dreams of going back to Faith’s apartment, where Faith is in the process of packing up to move out. Buffy spots a cat and asks who will look after him. Faith corrects that the cat is a girl and says cats can mostly take care of themselves. Buffy asks if she’s talking about a higher power. No, no really. Buffy can’t quite remember what she’s supposed to be doing. “Miles to go,” Faith replies. “Little Miss Muffet counting down from 730.”

As the cat turns into Faith in a hospital bed, then back again, Faith looks out the broken window leading to the balcony and wonders if it’s ever going to be fixed. Buffy asks about whether Faith will be fixed. “Scar tissue,” Faith says dismissively. “It fades, it all fades.” Her dagger appears in Buffy’s hand, then disappears. Faith tells her that human weakness never goes away, “even his.” Buffy wonders which of their minds this dream is taking place in. Faith isn’t sure. She says it’s almost time, and Buffy asks how she’s going to pack all of her stuff. Faith tells her it’s hers now. She can just take what she needs. “You ready?” Faith asks, reaching out to Buffy.

Buffy wakes up in the hospital, a little weak but mostly okay. She goes to Faith’s room and kisses her on the forehead. Then she gets dressed and joins the Scoobies so they can get to work. She tells them to get Angel and “everyone.” She’s ready for war.

While Snyder awaits the start of the graduation ceremony, Buffy presents her plan to the Scoobies in the library. She knows it sounds crazy, but Cordelia points out that it’s their only idea. And since Buffy’s the Slayer (“Little Miss Likes to Fight”), she should get to call the shots. Buffy needs everyone on board, especially Xander, who’s key to the plan. They’ll be relying on his military knowledge from that brief time he was a soldier. Sorry, no rocket launcher this time.

Giles notes that this is all dependent on their ability to control the mayor. Buffy says that Faith told her to play on his human weakness. Willow asks if that was before or after Buffy put Faith in a coma. “After,” Buffy replies. “Oh,” is all Willow says. The problem is that they don’t know the mayor’s weakness. Oz notes that Angel spent the most time with him. Angel says the mayor hates germs, so Cordelia suggests (totally serious) that they attack him with those. Buffy asks if she’s going to sneeze on him. Cordelia was thinking more along the lines of getting their hands on Ebola, or just pretending they have it.

Angel realizes that Faith is the mayor’s weakness. He’s grieving for her so much that it’s making him crazy. Buffy says she can work with that. Wesley arrives and says they don’t have much time. Buffy tells him that the Council isn’t welcome there, but Wesley wants to help on his own. Cordelia finds that very classy. Buffy accepts his offer, then starts to lay out her plan.

At City Hall, the mayor is doing the same with his minions. His demon transformation will start just as he’s finishing his commencement speech. He’s sad that the minions will have to miss it, since it speaks to everyone and he’s been working on it for 100 years. The minions point out that they won’t be able to do much, since it’ll be the middle of the afternoon and the sun will be out. Mayor Wilkins says that won’t be a problem.

Wesley has discovered the same thing – there will be an eclipse during the ascension. That means Angel can take part. Buffy tells him to work with Xander, who only agrees because he’s still “key guy.” The mayor tasks his minions with surrounding the graduation attendees and keeping them in one spot so he can feed on them. He’d better not see any blood on their lips; this isn’t their snack time.

Since the Scoobies don’t have a volcano to kill the mayor like the one that killed the demon Professor Worth found, they’ll have to make their own. Willow and Oz will set up what they need, and Xander will provide the last ingredient to make it go boom. Buffy asks Giles to be the one to set it off. He thinks it’s fitting, somehow. She tells him to gather weapons while she goes to get something. Mayor Wilkins sends the minions off to prepare, telling them to “watch the swearing.” The Scoobies start gathering their own version of minions, including Harmony and Percy.

Cordelia and Wesley pack up books in the library, still unsure how to talk to each other. He brings up the fact that he’ll be going back to England soon, since he doesn’t have a reason to stay in the States. They move closer to each other and eventually kiss. It’s…bad. The worst possible kiss two people could have. They try again, but it doesn’t get any better. And just like that, they’re no longer interested in each other.

Willow and Oz have bought up a bunch of fertilizer, which Jonathan and Larry help them deliver to the school. After that, they’re free to relax and enjoy themselves. You know, until the giant demon attack. Willow’s scared, but Oz thinks if he sounds confident that they’ll survive, they will. They have some time to kill before the ceremony, and they’re all alone in Oz’s van, so I think we all know what they’re going to do for a while.

Buffy checks in with Angel, who’s gathering stakes. She assures him that she’s pretty much recovered from his feeding. He tells her he’s not going to say goodbye. If they get through the ascension, he’s just going to leave. She’s hurt, but she understands that he doesn’t want to have to face her again before he walks out of her life. After he leaves, she unwraps the thing she went to get: Faith’s dagger.

The ceremony begins and the graduates file in. Snyder greets them with, “Congratulations to the class of 1999. You all proved more or less adequate. This is a time of celebration, so sit still and be quiet.” He also tells someone to spit out their gum. He introduces Mayor Wilkins, then calls someone out for making a rude gesture and tells them to see him after graduation. (Whoever that was, don’t worry about it.)

Willow and Oz arrive a little late, having lost track of time in the van. The mayor notes that today is the 100th anniversary of the town’s founding. He knows the graduates are only focused on what today means for them, not the 100 years of history that came before. Buffy and Willow realize that he’s going to give his whole speech. “Man, just ascend already,” Willow says. “Evil,” Buffy replies.

The mayor says that the graduates have had a long road up to this point. They’ve been through both good times and horrible ones. They’ve grieved and lost. “Some people who should be here today aren’t,” he says. He seems to be speaking directly to Buffy. The Mayor continues that this is their “journey’s end,” then starts waxing poetic about journeys. At the end of one, you’re different – it’s shaped you. “Today is about change,” he tells the crowd. “Graduation doesn’t just mean your circumstances change – it means you do. You ascend to a higher level. Nothing will ever be the same. Nothing.”

The eclipse begins, turning the courtyard dark. The mayor starts feeling the effects of his ascension, but he tries to continue his speech anyway. “Come on,” Buffy whispers, ready to fight. Mayor Wilkins announces that his destiny is getting underway, and though he would have liked to finish his speech, he’ll skip to the end. He then turns into a big snake-like thing, not unlike an evil Loch Ness Monster.

The graduates’ loved ones flee (way to leave your kids to fend for themselves, everyone) as the minions descend on the ceremony. The graduates themselves all stay put, and when Buffy gives them the signal, they take off their robes and grab the weapons under them. One group is equipped with flamethrowers, and they all fire at the mayor together. Xander alerts the next group, who have crossbows and other pointy things. Nothing affects the mayor very much, though.

Snyder is displeased with all of this and berates the crowd for their actions. Some graduates rush the vampire minions, and Oz tells Xander to signal his group, who are equipped with bows and arrows. They light their arrows on fire and shoot them at the minions. As the remaining minions try to run away, they’re met by Angel, Wesley, and some others, who engage in hand-to-hand combat.

Larry gets clipped by the mayor’s tail and is killed. Aww, Larry. Snyder’s still complaining about the students’ actions, and he’s not happy about the mayor’s, either. The mayor shuts him up by eating him. Snyder does NOT get an “aww” from me. Buffy continues calling out orders, and Xander and his group start fighting minions (though Angel’s doing pretty well on his own).

Willow joins a big wave of students who rush the vampires. Harmony gets bitten, but Jonathan gets in a good attack. Xander has to remind a couple of guys that they’re the right flank. (To be fair, they only put this plan together in a few hours.) Cordelia stakes a vampire as students and minions fight all around her. Wesley, who was knocked down about two seconds after he arrived, asks someone to help him up.

Buffy gets the mayor’s attention, showing him Faith’s dagger. She boasts that she stabbed Faith with it: “Just slid in her like she was butter. You wanna get it back from me, Dick?” She runs, knowing he’ll chase her. She leads him into the school, where he destroys everything in his path. She makes it to the library, which is full of the bags of fertilizer Willow and Oz delivered, and goes out the back. The mayor realizes that he’s been led into a trap. “Well, gosh,” he says. Outside, Giles detonates the “volcano,” blowing up both the mayor and the school.

Once the fire has been put out and everything has calmed down, Wesley gets loaded into an ambulance. Xander thinks things turned out pretty well, considering what they were all facing. Buffy’s looking around them, and he guesses she’s looking for Angel. He assures her that he survived. He must have already left.

Giles checks on Buffy, who’s so overwhelmed from the events of the past couple days that all her brain is capable of grasping is “fire bad, tree pretty.” He praises her for her successes, then gives her something he managed to pull out of the debris: her diploma. He thinks she earned it. He launches into a speech about the dramatic irony of the situation, and how it almost seems like they were destined to blow up the school. “Fire bad, tree pretty,” Buffy says.

She looks around again, this time spotting Angel watching her from a distance. They just exchange meaningful looks before he turns and walks away, keeping his word not to say goodbye. She meets up with the Scoobies, who are ready to go home. Buffy wants to sleep until it’s time for college. Oz tells them to take a moment to realize that they survived – “not the battle, high school.” Buffy and Willow finish that moment first, and the friends all go off together. They leave behind a scorched yearbook declaring, “The future is ours!”

Thoughts: When Willow tells Oz that Angel thought she was Buffy, Oz says, “You, too, huh?” That means we missed the chance to not only see Angel acting affectionate toward Oz but Oz trying to figure out how to respond.

I love this exchange:

Cordelia: “I personally don’t think it’s possible to come up with a crazier plan.”
Oz: “We attack the mayor with hummus.”
Cordelia: “I stand corrected.”
Oz: “Just keeping thing in perspective.”
Cordelia: “Thank you.”

And after Cordelia presents her plan to chase the mayor with a box labeled “Ebola”:

Xander: “I’m starting to lean towards the hummus offensive.”
Oz: “He’ll never see it coming.”

Though Buffy was right to send Joyce away, it would have been fun to see her taking part in the big battle.

That’s it for season 3! Next: Riley, Tara, and a whole lot more Spike.

September 3, 2022

Buffy 3.21, Graduation Day, Part 1: You Gotta Have Faith

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:11 pm by Jenn

LEATHER

Summary: Graduation is nearing and the seniors at Sunnydale High are picking up their caps and gowns. Cordelia complains about the color to Xander; she wanted teal, but no one listened to her because she’s a “lone fashionable wolf.” He likes the maroon, since it’s more dignified. Cordelia’s confused about him having dignity when it comes to clothes: “I’m awash in a sea of confusion.”

Xander says he’d like to look respectable in the outfit he’ll probably die in. He’s pretty sure he won’t be getting out of the school alive. Cordelia tells him he’s “mastered the power of positive giving up.” He just thinks he’s been lucky too many times and his time is almost up. She still doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Here’s the nutshell, Cordy: Ascensions do not have a high survival rate.

Willow’s happily signing yearbooks for people she’s not even friends with, like Harmony. Harmony wishes they’d gotten to know each other better. She admires how smart Willow is. They make those typical end-of-school promises to hang out sometime. Buffy joins Willow, surprised when she claims she’s going to miss Harmony, despite hating her “with a fiery vengeance.” She’s just missing everything she’s going to leave behind after graduation. Buffy can’t relate, since she doesn’t get the significance of graduation. She’s even thinking about skipping it. The ascension is much more important anyway.

Xander joins them and shares the news that their commencement speaker has been announced. Sorry, Willow, it’s not Siegfried, Roy, or one of their tigers. It’s the mayor. That means once the ascension turns him into a demon, he’ll have a bunch of graduates and family members right there to feed on.

Faith goes to see a professor named Worth, who’s already been contacted by the mayor about some research he’s done. Faith pulls out the knife she’s using instead of the dagger she had to leave behind and kills him, admitting that she doesn’t know why she was sent after him. She meets up with the mayor later at her apartment, which the mayor tidies up for her. He’s bought her a very un-Faith-like dress to wear to the ascension.

Mayor Wilkins tells her that no one knows what she is. The ascension will be her time to blossom and show everyone how powerful she is. He’s proud of what she’s done and what she’ll do after this – as proud as a father would be. Faith hopes she won’t let him down. He promises her that that’s impossible. Also, it’s time to go get an Icee.

At school, Willow is also proud, since Percy got a B- on his history final. He feels like a scholar. He thanks her for her help and patience, and for not getting physical again with him like that one time at the Bronze. Willow starts to tell him that wasn’t her, then changes her mind. Oz joins them as Percy says how happy he is to be graduating tomorrow. Now he can forget all the history crap he had to learn. That’s the spirit! Oz notes to Willow that he might not have a chance to forget anything. (He just wants to keep things light.) Willow’s determined to find a way to stop the ascension.

Xander slips into Mr. Miller’s class late and sits next to Anya. Mr. Miller doesn’t want class participation to slack just because finals are over and the seniors are about to graduate. They will play Hangman and they will enjoy themselves. While the rest of the class plays, Anya asks Xander out, apparently thinking he had a great time at the prom. She doesn’t know what he likes, but she guesses it’s sports, because he’s a guy. Xander tells her he’s not sure he’ll be alive for a date. He’ll let her know if he survives the ascension. The A word sets off an alarm in her head.

In the library, Giles and Wesley fence while discussing Worth’s murder, which Buffy is sure was Faith’s work. The Watchers agree, though they’re not sure what her motive would be. “Everyone does seem to be going a bit mad lately,” Wesley notes. “Faith has something of a head start.” Buffy thinks she was following the mayor’s orders, which means Worth knew or had something connected to the ascension. Wesley says that by trying to hide a big clue, the mayor may have actually led the Scoobies right to it. Buffy tells him to try to keep up.

Wesley instructs her to search Worth’s apartment that night. “I just love it when you take charge, you man, you,” Buffy says. Giles is worried that Faith will show up, but Buffy doubts she’ll return to the scene of the crime. And if she does, Buffy won’t kill her – she doesn’t have that in her. But she’ll do what she can to make Faith suffer in other ways. Wesley reminds her that stopping the ascension is their first priority.

Xander arrives with Anya and announces that they suddenly have an advantage. Anya’s the only living person who’s ever been to an ascension. She tells the group about a sorcerer who became a demon about 800 years ago. The demon destroyed the village within hours. It was the worst thing Anya’s ever seen, and that’s saying a lot, since she did a lot of horrible thing as a vengeance demon.

Wesley’s underwhelmed, since the demon the sorcerer turned into isn’t one of the vicious kinds. Anya replies that he’s never seen a demon. The ones in the world are human hybrids, like vampires. In an ascension, a human becomes pure demon, which is much different. For starters, they’re bigger.

Snyder walks Mayor Wilkins through how the graduation ceremony will go as people set up for the big day. The mayor’s pretty casual about it, and he tells Snyder he doesn’t need to worry about anything but making sure the graduates show up. Anyone who doesn’t will have to live without a diploma. The mayor appreciates how Snyder’s kept things under control at the school. “Sunnydale owes you a debt. It will be repaid,” he promises.

As Willow and Oz join the rest of the Scoobies in the library, Anya says that she doesn’t think the mayor is going to turn into the demon she saw 800 years ago. Willow doesn’t like that “evil girl” is there, but since Anya has firsthand knowledge of what they’re dealing with, Willow backs off. The mayor comes in next, having heard from Faith that the Scoobies consider the library their headquarters. He loves that there are still young people who like to read. And since they didn’t hide their books, he knows they’re reading about the ascension.

He reads a passage about darkness covering the Earth and all the races of humans being terrified. He thinks it’s sweet, all those different kinds of people coming together in a shared experience. “You never get even a little tired of hearing yourself speak, do you?” Buffy says. Mayor Wilkins tells Giles that he’s “raised” a spunky girl. “I’m gonna eat her,” he says. Giles immediately stabs him with his epee, but the mayor just pulls it out of himself and chastises Giles for being violent in front of the children. He knows the Scoobies are scared, and he tells them that if it helps, some of them will die quickly. He hopes they don’t miss his commencement speech.

Anya quickly tries to flee, wanting to get as far away from the ascension as possible. She tells Xander it can’t be stopped, and the only thing any sane person can do now is run. Cordelia (who missed the Scooby meeting) wonders what’s up with her, and Xander explains that the mayor is going to kill everyone at graduation. “Oh. Are you gonna go to fifth period?” Cordelia asks. He was thinking about skipping it.

Buffy packs a suitcase for Joyce so she can flee town, too. She doesn’t want her mother around for a pointless ceremony that’s going to end in mass murder. Joyce is like, “In hindsight, maybe you should have enrolled in a different school.” She doesn’t want to leave Buffy behind to face whatever’s coming – if Joyce is leaving town, Buffy needs to come with her. Of course, Buffy can’t do that.

She says she knows that Joyce wishes Buffy were different. Joyce denies that, but Buffy continues – she wishes she could be a great student or athlete or just normal. But slaying is something she does better than anyone else in the world, so she’s going to do it. She just needs Joyce far away and safe, so Buffy has one less thing to worry about.

Willow and Oz do ascension research in her bedroom, though they don’t have any luck finding a way to stop it. All Willow finds are tips for turning ferns invisible and communicating with shrimp. “Our lives are different than other people’s,” Oz notes. Willow doesn’t think she has enough witchy talent to do an ascension-stopping spell anyway; she can’t even turn Amy human again. Oz thinks Amy’s “in a good place emotionally,” though.

Willow wishes he would be a little more emotional about what’s happening, even if that means panicking. They would have something to share during this time of crisis. She’s overwhelmed with thoughts of what’s coming and how she might not get to do all the things she wanted to after high school. Oz calms her by kissing her, which he calls his version of panicking.

Angel shows up at Worth’s apartment while Buffy’s there; he checked in with Giles, who asked Angel to check in with her. Buffy knows it’s because Giles is worried about Faith turning up. She’s sure it’ll happen sooner or later. She hasn’t found anything helpful or even anything that ties the mayor to Worth, who studied volcanoes. She’s put together some stuff for Giles in case he can find anything, and Angel offers to carry the box for her (as if it’s too heavy for a Slayer).

Buffy declines Angel’s invitation to walk her to the library, since she feels like he’s crowding her. Plus, he’s been MIA since the prom, and she figured he’d already left town. He asks if she’s mad at him for being around too much or not enough. “Yes. Duh,” she replies. He asks if she’s making this harder to make it easier on herself. Buffy says she just wishes this were all over. But she knows the Scoobies need Angel’s help, and she’s willing to work with him. This will be her last “office romance,” though.

Frustrated, Angel drops the box at her feet and says he’s leaving. She asks if this isn’t even a little hard for him. He tells her of course it is; he just doesn’t have to act like a brat to get through it. Ooh, ouch. (She is being a brat, though.) Buffy gets upset, saying she can’t have him in her life when she’s trying to move on. Suddenly an arrow flies into Angel’s back and through his shoulder. Buffy grabs for him as he collapses. Faith has shot him from the roof of the nearby movie theater. “Missed the heart,” a vampire minion notes. “Meant to,” she replies.

Buffy takes Angel to the library, where she and Giles remove the arrow. Buffy’s sure Faith fired it: “I’ve narrowed down my list of one suspect.” Wesley, who’s been looking through Worth’s research instead of caring about Angel, reports that Worth did an excavation in Hawaii and found a huge carcass buried by a volcanic eruption. He thought it belonged to an undiscovered kind of dinosaur, but it was most likely a demon. Giles guesses that the mayor had him killed to keep that quiet. Since the demon was able to die, that means they can kill the mayor after he transforms.

With the arrow out of him, Angel seems okay, but he suddenly collapses again. His shoulder’s numb and he has a fever. He thinks the arrow was coated in poison. Giles decides to call the other Scoobies while Buffy takes Angel home before the sun comes up. Surprisingly, Wesley offers to contact the Watchers’ Council, since they have records of toxins and could help them identify what’s at play here.

Willow and Oz have ditched research and given themselves an early graduation present: sex. It was her first time, and she’s pleased that it went well. Unfortunately, they don’t get much time to enjoy the aftermath, since it’s time for the Scoobies to assemble. Meanwhile, Faith tells the mayor that she’s taken care of Angel. Now Buffy will be distracted, and the mayor can start eating all the spiders in the Box of Gavrok.

Faith wants another assignment, since she’s full of energy. Mayor Wilkins calls her a firecracker, something her mom used to call her because she was always running around. She asks if she’ll get to fight at the ascension. The mayor assures her that he’ll always need her. Faith tells him that when she was a kid, she was the only one brave enough to jump off a high rock into a quarry. She was never scared. The mayor tells her to rest up for their big day.

Xander, Willow, and Oz work together to figure out what’s making Angel sick. Anya shows up at the school to invite Xander to leave town with her. She tells him he’ll die if he stays, but Xander’s willing to risk that. Anya’s not used to worrying that something bad might happen to someone she cares about. Xander won’t even think about leaving, since he has friends to look out for. She tells him he won’t be able to help them, and he’ll probably just get in the way. “Your stock’s plummeting, sweetheart,” he replies. She snaps that she hopes he dies. As he walks away, she asks, “Aren’t we going to kiss?”

Buffy tends to Angel at the mansion, though there’s not much she can do for him. Wesley arrives and tells her and Giles that the Council refused to help. Why would they cure a vampire, even a good vampire? Buffy tells him to talk to them again. She doesn’t care about their ancient laws – this is about saving Angel. Wesley tells her that the Council’s orders are to focus on the ascension. “I don’t think I’m going to be taking any more orders,” she replies.

Wesley says she can’t turn her back on the Council. Buffy won’t budge, and Giles sides with her, so Wesley’s out of a job until the next Slayer comes along. He tells Buffy that Faith is obviously trying to distract her and keep her out of the mayor’s way. They need a strategy. Buffy says she has one, but Wesley’s not part of it. “This is mutiny,” he says. “I like to think of it as graduation,” she replies. She’s too restless to stay at the mansion, so she asks Giles to look after Angel while she meets up with the other Scoobies. Wesley protests that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. She just tells him to get a job.

Willow has determined that Angel was poisoned with something called “killer of the dead,” a toxin specifically for vampires. Only a couple of victims have been cured, but the details of those cases are pretty vague. Oz finds something new, but he’s hesitant to share it. The only cure for the poison is draining the blood of a Slayer. Buffy says the solution is simple: She’ll just kill Faith.

While Willow and Oz look through city records to find out where Faith’s been living, Buffy asks Xander to help Giles with Angel. Xander wants to make sure she understands what her plan means. She’s going to kill someone. He doesn’t want to lose her to the dark side. Buffy’s resigned to this, though, and she’s even going to bring Faith’s dagger along.

She gets ready for battle as Faith works out with a punching bag. As soon as Willow finds Faith’s address, Buffy goes to her apartment (in an amazing outfit that includes red leather pants) for a face-off. “Is he dead yet?” Faith asks brightly. Buffy tells her that Angel’s going to be okay because the cure is Faith’s blood. She thinks this is poetic justice. Faith warns that Buffy won’t be able to take her alive. “Not a problem,” Buffy replies.

“Look at you, all dressed up in big sister’s clothes,” Faith says. Buffy reminds Faith that she said Buffy was just like her but was holding back. Faith asks if she’s ready to cut loose. Buffy is. “Give us a kiss,” Faith says. Buffy throws the first punch, and they’re off. They fight viciously, knowing the only way this will end is with one of them dead. They end up crashing through a window onto Faith’s balcony. Buffy is able to slap a pair of handcuffs on Faith to ensure that she can’t get away.

Willow and Oz sit with Angel while they worry about Buffy. Giles finds a hint about the demon Worth may have found, which could help the Scoobies know what they’re in for with the mayor. He looks it up in a book and shows Xander a picture. The page folds out like a magazine centerfold. “We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” Xander says.

The mayor chows down on spiders, taking in their power. He tells a minion that his body is already starting to change. Plus, he appreciates all the fiber they contain. A minion comes in (“we don’t knock during dark rituals?” the mayor chastises) and announces that there’s a problem at Faith’s.

The two Slayers continue fighting on the balcony. Faith is able to break out of the handcuffs and grab a pipe from some construction supplies. Buffy pulls out her dagger, telling Faith she’s about to get it back. They both end up on the ledge of the balcony. Ready to throw Buffy over, Faith says she’ll miss this. But Buffy gets out of her grasp and stabs her in the stomach with the dagger.

“You did it,” Faith says. She punches Buffy and knocks her back onto the balcony. “You killed me,” she says. She gets back up on the ledge and sees a truck approaching. She tells Buffy that she still won’t be able to help Angel. “You should’ve been there, B,” Faith says. “Quite a ride.” She lets herself fall backwards off the balcony, into the bed of the truck. Buffy can only watch as her only hope for saving Angel is driven away. To be continued…

Thoughts: I can’t decide if Giles is able to fence with Wesley without looking because he’s just that good or because he knows all of Wesley’s moves. Either way, it’s really impressive.

I wish we’d gotten to see the mayor interact more with the Scoobies throughout the season. It’s kind of weird that the season’s Big Bad barely had any scenes with them.

Instead of making his usual stealthy, lurky entrance, Angel slips into the doorway of Worth’s apartment and tells Buffy he thinks someone just mopped the floor. I love it.

August 20, 2022

Buffy 3.19, Choices: Where There’s a Willow, There’s a Way

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

I’d be sobbing by now, so good for Willow

Summary: Mayor Wilkins has a surprise for Faith, which he hopes will get her to agree to do a favor for him at the airport. When she pushes back, he threatens to take back her gift, worried he’s spoiling her, so she gives in. He just needs her to pick up a package from Central America. It’s crucial to his ascension. Faith finally gets to open her present, a shiny new dagger. The mayor warns her not to put out anyone’s eye…until he tells her to.

Buffy has apparently taken back her decision to keep her distance from Angel for a while because he’s joined her on a cemetery patrol. I guess the couple that slays together stays together. After they kill a couple of vampires, Buffy complains that Angel never takes her anywhere nice. (The fire-demon lair they recently raided doesn’t count.) She worries that this will be how the rest of their lives go.

The next morning, Joyce finds an acceptance letter Buffy got from Northwestern University. She’s proud, so Buffy decides not to bring up the possibility that she won’t be able to leave Sunnydale for college. Joyce thinks it’s great that she has choices. At school, Snyder busts a guy for bringing a brown paper bag to another guy. He thinks he’s caught someone dealing drugs. Instead, he’s just caught someone bringing his friend lunch. Deflated, Snyder tells the lunch bringer to sit up straight.

Willow, Oz, and Buffy discuss Joyce, whom Willow thinks is in denial about Buffy’s future. (Willow might be in denial a little, too.) At least Buffy has the option of going to UC Sunnydale, so she won’t have to miss out on college altogether. As for Willow, she has the chance to go all the way to England, since she got into Oxford. “That’s where they make Gileses!” Buffy notes. Willow isn’t sure she wants to go that far away, though.

Xander speaks up from under a nearby tree that everywhere is a foreign country. He’s been reading Jack Kerouac because he thinks he’s “bohemian” and “anti-establishment.” Buffy teases him, and Xander says people like him have always been targeted. “Well, sure – you’re all so weird,” Oz says. Willow admires Xander for wanting to travel and see the world. Cordelia joins the group in time to add that she’s ready to see him go away.

She doesn’t have anything nice to say about any of the schools Willow got into, which include Harvard. She also won’t tell the Scoobies where she was accepted. Buffy tells her and Xander to remember to breathe between insults. Cordelia shoots back that their conversation is only for people who have a future. The other Scoobies try to cheer Buffy up after that hit, but it doesn’t work.

Buffy goes to Wesley to announce that she wants to leave Sunnydale after high school. “You can’t just define me by my slayerness,” she argues. “That’s…something-ism.” Giles joins the conversation, which he’s had with Buffy before, and is just as proud as Joyce when she tells him she got into Northwestern. Wesley declares that she can’t leave Sunnydale – he forbids it, by the power invested in him by the Watchers’ Council. “Oh, yes, that should settle it,” Giles says.

Wesley points out that they’re dealing with a lot right now, what with the ascension approaching and Faith working with the bad guys. Buffy’s fully aware that she might not live long enough to graduate. But if she stops the ascension and captures Faith, then Giles and Wesley just have to deal with regular old vampires while she’s at school. She’ll come back for every break and be a Slayer then.

Wesley still won’t budge, so Buffy decides they should be proactive – they’ll stop waiting for whatever the mayor is going to do next and go on the offensive. Giles likes that idea and asks her what her plan is. Buffy doesn’t have one, so he advises her to find out what the mayor is up to. She’s fine with that; she just thought he meant a plan involving things like maps.

That night, a guy arrives in Sunnydale via private plane, carrying a very fancy box. He objects to being met by one of the mayor’s vampire minions instead of the mayor himself. He threatens to raise his price for the box, but an arrow in his back, courtesy of Faith, knocks it down to $0. “You killed him!” the minion exclaims. “What are you, the narrator?” Faith replies. Heh. The guy with the box handcuffed it to himself, and the minion can’t find the key, so Faith uses her new dagger to cut off his hand.

The minion drives her to City Hall, where Buffy lurks outside and sees her taking the box in. The mayor is pleased that Faith both saved him money and showed initiative. She just needs to stop putting her feet up on his desk. He tells her that if Buffy walked in and asked to join their side, he would turn her down, since Faith is all the Slayer he needs. She doesn’t like the mention of Buffy, but she says it’s not because of Angel. She starts to open the box, and the mayor slams the lid back down, telling her not to touch it. Meanwhile, Buffy follows the minion and asks him what’s in the box.

The next morning, she takes the information she got from him to the library. The Box of Gavrok holds some kind of demonic energy that the mayor needs to consume for the ascension. The Scoobies plan to steal it, which will require a mini-heist. Yay, heists! I love heists! Wesley tries to give orders, but Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles, plow ahead without his input. Buffy and Angel will grab the box, and Willow will use magic to destroy it.

Wesley tells everyone to stop so they can come up with a better strategy. Buffy advises him to get on board or get out of their way. He points out that Mayor Wilkins will probably have something supernatural protecting the box, so it won’t be as easy to grab it as they think. Buffy says Willow can handle it. They all leave while Wesley pouts.

Xander heads downtown, possibly for a donut run, and spots Cordelia in a boutique. He goes in to pick a fight with her, guessing that she didn’t want to talk about college plans because she didn’t get into any. She gives him “the gold medal in the being-wrong event” by showing him a pile of acceptance letters from respectable schools including Columbia and Duke. Xander assumes her father paid her way in.

That night, Buffy, Angel, Willow, Giles, and Wesley head to City Hall. The Watchers will stay in their black we’re-doing-something-shady van while the other three get the box. Wesley wants everyone to synchronize their watches, but Buffy, Willow, and Angel don’t wear them. Also, I’m not sure why they would need to synchronize them if they’re not operating under any time constraints.

Oz and Xander are in the library, tasked with mixing up a potion that Willow will later use to destroy the box. They’re not sure which ingredients are which, but Willow has left them very detailed instructions. She even drew a diagram featuring Oz, Xander, and the pedestal that will hold the urn they’re using for the mixture. (Oz knows which stick figure is him because he’s holding a guitar.)

Buffy, Angel, and Willow go to the roof of City Hall, where they get a clear view of the box through a skylight. Willow does a spell to neutralize any supernatural safeguards on it, then heads back to the van. Buffy suits up in a harness and Angel lowers her through the skylight so she can grab the box. Unfortunately, there’s still an alarm attached to it, and when Angel tries to pull her back up, the mechanism jams. When a couple of vampire minions burst into the room, there’s not much Angel can do other than jump down and help Buffy fight them.

He grabs the box and uses it as a weapon while she gets herself out of the harness. There’s a bunch of fighting and some tossing around of the box, but eventually Buffy and Angel get away with it. Giles and Wesley pull up outside and make the vampires think Buffy and Angel jumped in and are driving away. This diversion allows them to escape undetected. So the whole evening was a success, right? Wrong. The Scoobies may have the box, but the bad guys have something they’ll want even more: Willow.

The Scoobies regroup in the library, where Buffy can barely contain her anger over the failure to protect Willow. She promises Oz that they’ll rescue her. Xander suggests that they just stage an assault on City Hall, but Giles thinks the bad guys will kill Willow. Wesley notes that they might have already. Buffy doubts that, since they’ll know how valuable she is for a trade. All they have to do is offer up the Box of Gavrok in exchange for Willow.

Wesley objects, because of course he does. They need to destroy the box. “I need a volunteer to hit Wesley,” Xander says. Wesley asks Giles to back him up, and Buffy advises Wesley to take cover before they all attack him. He snaps at her, reminding her that the box is key to the ascension, and they could save thousands of lives by destroying it. He wants to help Willow, but they’ll have to do it another way. Buffy tells him there is no other way.

Wesley notes that she wanted to take the fight to the mayor. She was right, and the way to do that is to protect the town by getting rid of the box. If Buffy wants to leave after graduation (Angel looks a little pained at that), this will clear the way for her. Buffy can’t believe that Wesley thinks that’s important to her right now.

Giles calls for a rational discussion, but that just sets everyone off and causes yelling. Wesley’s shocked that the Scoobies are willing to sacrifice thousands of lives, including their own families and friends, to save one person. Ooh, it’s like the trolley problem! In the background, Oz – who hasn’t said a word through the entire discussion – gets up and crosses the room.

Wesley tells the Scoobies that this can all end right now. They have all they need to get rid of the box. Behind him, Oz throws the pedestal across the room, smashing the urn and all the ingredients they were going to use to destroy the box. He gives Buffy a little nod that says, “You know what to do.” She tells Giles to call City Hall and arrange the trade.

Willow searches the office she’s been locked up in for a weapon. A vampire minion catches her and eyes her as a midnight snack. She warns him not to “eat the hostage,” but he just wants a taste. As he’s leaning over her, she uses her pencil-floating skills to levitate a pencil and plunge it into his back, dusting him. Excellent.

Willow makes a run for it, hiding when she hears Mayor Wilkins and Faith approaching. He compares Buffy to a dog, a loyal creature who values friendship more than reason or self-preservation. The mayor plans to kill her like a dog. Once they’ve passed, Willow runs in the opposite direction and comes across the mayor’s office. She takes a look around, finding his cabinet of occult items (and wet wipes). It’s where he’s stashed the Books of Ascension, which Willow gets a good peek at.

Faith catches her there sometime later and slams her for “Nancy Drewing” instead of running for her life when she had the chance. Now she knows too much, so they’ll have to kill her. Willow tries to delay that by saying she wants to talk. Faith doesn’t want to hear another lecture about how it’s not too late for her to go back to the good side. Willow says that, actually, it’s way too late. It didn’t have to be this way, but Faith made her choice.

Willow doesn’t have any sympathy for Faith – yeah, she had a bad life, but she had more than some people. She had friends like Buffy, and now she has no one. She went from being a Slayer to being nothing. She’s “a big, selfish, worthless waste.” Faith punches her for that, figuring that’s a more efficient way to hurt Willow than to insult her. Willow taunts that Faith just doesn’t have a good comeback.

Faith is ready to hurt Willow, who tries to be brave as she says she’s not afraid of Faith. That’s before she sees Faith’s new dagger, though. Mayor Wilkins finds them and tells Faith she’ll have to play with her new toy later. “I got someone,” Faith tells Willow – she has the mayor.

The Scoobies go to the school cafeteria, locking it down so there’s only one way in and out. This is where they’ll make the trade for Willow. The lights go out, leaving Angel the only person able to see clearly. The mayor, Faith, and Willow come in with a few minions, and Buffy and the mayor face off. He’s excited about the dramatic setting and thinks they should have worn trenchcoats.

Buffy tells him to let Willow go, but he refuses until he has the box. He comments that Buffy’s the “little girl” who’s been causing so much trouble. He tells Angel she’s pretty, but he wishes Angel and Faith could have made things work. Angel must just have weird taste in women. “Well, what can I say – I like ’em sane,” Angel replies. Faith doesn’t appreciate that, and Oz worries that she’ll take it out on Willow.

The mayor says he wishes Buffy and Angel the best, but he doesn’t think they’ll last (and not just because he plans to kill them both). Kids don’t like to make plans or think about the future. They need to respect their elders and listen to him right now. Angel notes that he’s older than the mayor. Mayor Wilkins says that’s one of the obstacles he and Buffy are facing: Angel’s immortal and Buffy isn’t.

The mayor married his wife in ’03 (no clarification if that’s 1903 or 1803) and stayed with her until she died. It wasn’t pleasant. Plus, Angel and Buffy have the added issue of not being able to have sex without him turning evil. He can’t offer her much of a life. They can’t even go out in the sun together. Angel’s selfish for keeping Buffy from the life she could have. “Is that what you came back from Hell for?” Mayor Wilkins asks. “Is that your greater purpose?”

Okay, enough talking – it’s time to trade. Faith and Angel exchange Willow and the box with no problems. But before the two groups can go their separate ways, Snyder bursts in with some security guards. The mayor steps back into the shadows as Snyder accuses the Scoobies of making a drug deal. Faith is ready to let her dagger take care of things when the mayor steps forward and announces his presence. Snyder’s scared of him, so he backs off.

But one of the security guards is curious about the contents of the box, and he starts to open it before the mayor can stop him. A giant spider jumps out and attacks the guard’s face. Once he’s dead, the spider scampers off. Snyder tells another guard to open one of the locked doors, but Giles warns him not to in case the spider escapes. Buffy quiets everyone so she can listen for it. It jumps down from the ceiling, right on the mayor’s face.

Faith goes to help him as another spider escapes the box. Faith throws the first one off, and the mayor’s face heals from the wounds the spider gave him. Buffy slams the box shut as another spider is trying to get out, but one jumps down from the ceiling onto her back. Faith spots one on a wall behind Wesley and whips her dagger at it.

The mayor decides this is a good time to leave, so he picks up the box. He tells the Scoobies that it contains billions more spiders and offers to show them. “Raise your hand if you’re invulnerable,” he teases. He summons Faith to leave with him, and she’s distressed to have to leave her dagger behind. Snyder takes everything in from behind a chair he’s picked up to use as a shield. He wishes the Scoobies would just deal drugs like normal people.

Once all the bad guys are gone, Buffy pulls Faith’s dagger out of the wall. “Well, that went swimmingly,” Wesley comments. “We did all right,” Buffy replies, looking at Willow. They head to the library, where Willow tells Buffy about her encounter with Faith. Giles interrupts to ask about her time with the Books of Ascension. She didn’t get much information out of what she read…but she stole a bunch of pages, which delights Giles. Wesley says they’re back where they started, having lost the box, so clearly he doesn’t care that they saved Willow, since they lost their one advantage in the process.

Sometime later, Buffy and Willow meet up on the quad for another conversation about Buffy’s future. She thinks she really won’t ever be able to leave Sunnydale. There will always be something that she has to take care of. Willow says she has the option to go pretty much anywhere she wants, but she’s chosen to attend UC Sunnydale with Buffy.

Buffy doesn’t want her to give up the great opportunities she could have, but being a hostage made Willow realize what she wants to do with her life: fight evil. It’s not always something you do because you have to. Plus, Sunnydale is a great place for her to develop her magic skills. Buffy comments that it’s nice how sometimes you see another side of something. At the boutique where Xander ran into Cordelia before, she’s admiring the same dress he saw her with. She’s not there to shop, though – she’s working there.

Buffy and Angel hang out in a cemetery that night, talking about her college plans. She tries to act like the mayor doesn’t know what he’s talking about. There’s no reason they can’t have a lasting relationship. “Probably the only lasting relationship he’s ever had is…with…evil,” Buffy says. “Big, stupid evil guy.” But she and Angel both clearly doubt that they’ll be able to prove the mayor wrong and be together forever.

Thoughts: I love the line “that’s where they make Gileses!”

The scene where Oz smashes the urn is perfect. Always keep an eye on the quiet ones. They’re doing the most thinking.

Snyder’s freakout over the lunch bag “drug deal” is even funnier later, when Xander brings a paper bag of spell ingredients into the school. Snyder has the right idea, I guess, but once again isn’t monitoring the right people.

August 6, 2022

Buffy 3.17, Enemies: Second Best

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

Heh, someone titled this “the happy couple”

Summary: Buffy and Angel are leaving a movie theater after seeing a French film they didn’t expect to be so…adult. They’re uncomfortable since it brought up feelings they can’t act on. She feels bad for accidentally tempting him to do something that would make him lose his soul. He tells her just being around her makes him feel “worked up,” but it’s a good thing, not a bad thing. He’s able to control himself when they’re close. He demonstrates by kissing her.

Faith interrupts the couple’s nice moment to whisk Buffy away for patrolling. The Watchers’ Council has finally cleared Faith for active duty. The two Slayers go to a cemetery, where Faith praises Buffy for enduring a relationship where she can only take things so far. She pauses the conversation so she can fight a demon.

He claims to have information about the Books of Ascension, which Buffy’s never heard of. The demon says they include some “dark stuff,” and the mayor would be ticked if someone else got their hands on them before… He won’t clarify, but he’ll sell the books to the Slayers for $5,000 if they meet up with him tomorrow. He wants to buy a plane ticket and get far away from the Hellmouth. Faith threatens him and he runs off. Buffy doesn’t think he can give them anything helpful, but she would like to get the books and find out what the mayor is up to.

Faith tells the mayor about the demon’s offer, but the mayor is less worried about the books falling into the wrong hands than about the fact that Faith always wears her hair down and doesn’t let people see her nice face. She reminds him that the demon could tell “Buffy and the Super Friends” something they shouldn’t know. Mayor Wilkins tells her she worries too much for someone her age and gives her a glass of milk. That will give her the calcium she needs to track down and kill the demon, then bring the books to the mayor.

Meanwhile, Buffy tells Wesley and the Scoobies about the books. Giles is annoyed that the demon wants to sell them: “Whatever happened to the still-beating heart of a virgin? No one has any standards anymore.” Xander asks what the ascension is, but Giles and Wesley aren’t familiar with the term. Willow, however, remembers reading about it in a book, in a section about genocide. Buffy and Xander smirk at the Watchers for not knowing something.

Giles finds the reference in a journal of a pastor from the 1700s. All it says is, “Tomorrow is the ascension. God help us all.” After that, there’s no record of the pastor or his town. Giles thinks Buffy should meet with the demon. Cordelia arrives just then to ask Wesley to help her with a paper on Friday night. (It’s an English paper and he’s English, so she figured she’d ask for “an insider’s perspective.”) She wants to “study” in a restaurant. Wesley can’t think of a response. “And on the day the words ‘flimsy excuse’ were redefined, we stood in awe and watched,” Xander quips.

Wesley refocuses the group, suggesting that they find the demon and get the books. Faith is already on that, breaking into the demon’s place to beat her way into achieving her goal. The demon still thinks she’s going to give him the money he asked for. Instead, he gets a knife in the gut. He fights back but Faith just keeps stabbing until he’s dead. Unlike when she killed Finch, this shakes her up.

She goes to Angel’s place, telling him she doesn’t have anywhere else to go. She’s in trouble and needs help. He’s been waiting for her to open up to him, so he’s ready to listen. Faith says she’s scaring herself – she gets now what he meant when he said that killing people would make her feel powerful. She still has the demon’s blood on her hands.

Angel tells her she can’t get through this alone. She agrees, worried she’s turning into a cold-blooded killer like Angel. He assures her that she can stop before things go too far. She’s scared that it might be too late for her. He hugs her, which she takes as an invitation to kiss him. He stops her, telling her he can be here for her, but not physically.

Faith backpedals, saying she won’t interfere with his and Buffy’s relationship. She thinks they’re lucky to have each other. She decides to go be alone for a while, but she appreciates knowing that Angel cares. She asks if they might be able to develop something if things were different. Angel isn’t sure, and he says they’ll never know. As they say goodbye and she kisses him on the cheek, Buffy arrives and sees them together.

This was all an act on Faith’s part, as she later tells the mayor that she tried her best to get Angel to sleep with her. She’s annoyed that he only has eyes for Buffy. Mayor Wilkins tries to cheer her up, reminding her that there’s more than one way to skin a cat: “And I happen to know that’s factually true.” They can find another way to take away Angel’s soul. It’ll just have to be more painful than the proven method.

Giles and Wesley haven’t had any luck finding out any more about the ascension in Giles’ books. Giles suggests contacting the Council, but Wesley tells him that they don’t know that Giles is working for him. Okay, with him. Really, I’d say Wesley’s lucky that the Scoobies even acknowledge his presence. He still thinks the best plan is to find the books themselves.

Buffy arrives, mopey about what she saw between Faith and Angel, and says she’ll go find the demon. Wesley wants her to wait for Faith, since the demon will probably be difficult to find. “Found your demon,” Xander announces as he joins the group. “Fashion tip, Wes – mouth looks better closed,” Buffy tells him. Xander got the address from Willy, via polite request and then with a bribe. He asks to get his $28 reimbursed, but he didn’t get a receipt. Giles complains that the demon lives in an actual building instead of “a pit of filth or a nice crypt.” Buffy says she’ll mention that to him.

Faith shows up and offers to tag along on Buffy’s field trip to see the demon. “Is it me or did it just get really cold in here?” Xander asks after seeing how unfriendly Buffy is to Faith. The Slayers go to the demon’s place, where Faith left his body on the floor. Buffy thinks whoever killed him had a little too much fun. Meanwhile, Mayor Wilkins meets with a guy in a shroud, whom he summoned for a special job. Mr. Shroud warns that taking Angel’s soul will require very dark magic. The mayor knows, and he’s very much unconcerned.

Buffy goes back to school, where Willow senses that she’s distracted and encourages her to open up. Buffy confides that she saw Faith and Angel together and thought they seemed “intimate.” Willow’s sure that they didn’t do anything. Yeah, Faith would totally make a move, but Angel wouldn’t give in to her. Buffy’s the only thing that matters to him. Buffy’s still worried, since Angel and Faith have more in common than she and Angel do. Willow advises – well orders, really – her to talk to Angel about her concerns.

Faith gets there first, wanting to apologize to Angel for making a move on him. He tells her it’s okay but keeps his distance from her. He says he wants to trust her, since she needs someone who understands what she’s going through. “Chump,” she spits out as she spins on him and splashes something on his chest. Mr. Shroud appears from the shadows and starts chanting. Faith tells Angel she wanted to “do this the old-fashioned way,” but it’s Angel’s loss. Angel says she doesn’t have to do this. “I know, but it’s fun,” she replies.

Mr. Shroud casts a spell and magic swirls around Angel. When the spell ends, he falls to the floor and Mr. Shroud disappears back into the shadows. Angel gets up and faces Faith, wearing his vamp face. He’s Angelus again.

He kisses her, then thanks her for turning him back into his true self (though he keeps pummeling her, so I guess he just shows his gratitude in strange ways). He’s happy to be back in Sunnydale without his humanity. He’s not sure why Faith had his soul taken away, but he’s glad she did.

He tells her she can’t just have him as a boy toy, and he won’t listen when she tries to explain things. Vampires and Slayers don’t chat. Faith points out that Buffy might disagree with that. She reminds him that last time he lost his soul, Buffy sent him to Hell. If he’ll calm down and play nice, Faith will connect him with the “real power” in Sunnydale. Angelus likes that idea. “Get ready to meet the new boss,” she tells him. Then they make out.

The Scoobies are all gathered in the library, including Cordelia for the first time since she and Xander split up. (It’s clearly just because of Wesley.) Wesley needs them to mobilize to get the Books of Ascension. He wants Angel to participate, too, but Buffy says she doesn’t know where he is. Faith is also MIA. Willow assures her that that doesn’t mean anything.

Giles tells Buffy to search the mayor’s office for the Books of Ascension. Willow hasn’t had any luck with the mayor’s files – she made it through the encryptions, but the files were empty. He must have known someone was digging around. Oz suggests that they go to the Hall of Records and look for information on the mayor there.

Giles sends Wesley and the Scoobies off to do that. Cordelia says she wants to be in Wesley’s group, and Giles points out that there’s only one group. Xander decides to go around town in hopes of overhearing anything that could be helpful (which will conveniently keep him away from Cordelia). Willow’s adorably happy that Oz’s plan was approved. Giles tells Buffy to be careful as everyone leaves.

Faith takes Angelus to the mayor’s office, asking, “Can I keep him?” Mayor Wilkins asks if he can call Angelus “Angel.” Angelus replies that he hoped the mayor would call him “master.” The mayor tells him that attitude might get him attention but he’ll get more respect if he’s polite. After all, the mayor is responsible for his “new attitude.” He tells Angelus that there might be a future for him in Sunnydale.

Angelus has been playing with a letter opener, which he freely admits he was thinking about stabbing the mayor with. The mayor invites him to try. Angelus chucks it at him but the mayor simply puts out his hand and lets the letter opener impale it. He pulls it out and the wound instantly heals. Mayor Wilkins explains that he’s impervious, as part of his plans for the town. Angelus notes that he can’t be killed but he still hates germs.

The mayor asks Angelus’ intentions with Faith, as if he’s her father and Angelus is Faith’s new boyfriend. Angelus plays along, then says he wants to find Buffy, torture her, and kill her. Mayor Wilkins approves. He’s pleased that Angelus isn’t a slacker like a lot of people nowadays. He’s fine with torture, but Buffy’s death needs to be slow. He doesn’t need another Slayer coming along to replace her. He’s sure the next one won’t be like Faith. He sends Angelus and Faith off to have fun, asking Angelus to have his Slayer home by 11:00. “She’s not a little girl anymore,” he comments as they leave.

“‘I love when you talk, Wesley. I love when you sing, Wesley,'” Xander says mockingly as he heads downtown. “Can you say the words ‘jail bait,’ Wesley? Limey bastard.” He comes across Angelus and Faith and starts to tell them to find Buffy. Without responding or even breaking his stride, Angelus punches him so hard he flops onto the sidewalk. “That guy just bugs me,” he grumbles to Faith.

The two of them to go Buffy’s house, where Angelus pretends he’s still Angel as he assures Joyce that they’re not there for anything related to vampires: “The only vampire here is me.” He even compliments her hair. Buffy’s stocking up on weapons before she goes to the mayor’s office, and Angelus says he’s glad they found her before she left. They have the books at his place and want her to come with them to deliver them to Giles. Angelus continues his charade by offering to carry Buffy’s weapons bag.

They go to the mansion, where Buffy gets her first hint that something’s off when Angelus calls her “Buff,” something he never calls her. She thinks something’s wrong but he tells her he hasn’t felt this good in a while. With his vamp face on, he says he never properly thanked her for sending him to Hell. Should he send her a card or a fruit basket? Maybe he’ll just eviscerate her.

Buffy starts crying as Angelus grasps her arms and says she shouldn’t bother thinking that there’s still good inside him that she can reach. “I will kill you before I let you touch me,” she says, fighting him off. She tells Faith they need to leave, but Faith says she likes it there. Angelus punches Buffy out, telling Faith that she’s cute when she’s asleep.

In the Hall of Records, Oz finds something super-helpful: Mayor Wilkins looks exactly like a previous Sunnydale mayor with the same name. Oz guesses they’re actually the same person. Wesley realizes this means the mayor is over 100 years old and can’t be human.

Xander joins the group and says they have another problem. “You know how some people hate to say, ‘I told you so’?” he asks. “Not me. I told you so.” Angel is Angelus again, as Xander suspected would eventually happen. Wesley wants to contact Giles, but Xander thinks their top priority is protecting Buffy. Cordelia tells him not to get mad at Wesley. Xander thinks he should, since he was responsible for Faith, “Angel’s new playmate.”

Buffy wakes up chained to a wall at the mansion. Angelus regrets that they never did anything with chains while they were dating. Buffy warns Faith that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. Faith, however, is enjoying herself. She always wanted a dog – something to love. Now she has Angelus. Buffy has to watch while they two of them kiss.

Faith uncovers a bunch of tools she plans to use to torture Buffy. Buffy tells her that Angelus is a killer, and once he’s done with her, he’ll turn on Faith. Angelus confirms this, but Faith says they can just drag things out to keep Buffy alive. She’s free to scream. Buffy asks why Faith is doing this. What’s in this for her? Faith says she hates how everyone loves Buffy so much, even when Faith does everything right. People say that Faith should be more like Buffy, but not vice versa.

Buffy gets everything – the Watcher, Joyce, the Scoobies. Faith gets nothing. This was supposed to be her town. Buffy must think she’s better than Faith. Buffy says she is and always has been. Faith reminds her that Angelus is with her now. Buffy points out that Faith probably had to use magic to get him. Without it, he would never touch her. Faith smacks Buffy, who notes, “You had to tie me up to beat me.” That makes her a loser.

Faith thinks Buffy’s trying to make her mad so she’ll kill her quickly. Faith wants her stick around instead. Buffy asks if she’s sticking around for the ascension. She’ll stop it. Faith tells her she can’t – no one can. The mayor built the town for demons to feed on, and on graduation day, he’ll get his payout. Faith will be right by his side, and the Scoobies will be eaten. Buffy should think about that when Angelus is cutting into her.

Buffy comments that she didn’t realize Faith was so full of rage. “What can I say? I’m the world’s best actor,” Faith replies. “Second best,” Angelus speaks up. He and Buffy confirm that they have all the information they wanted. “May I say something?” Buffy asks. She pulls her arms out of the chains that weren’t actually restraining her and announces, “Psych.” Faith realizes she was played – Angel was Angel the whole time.

The Scoobies run in, ready to take down Angel, and the Slayers start fighting each other. They end up on their knees, holding weapons to each other’s necks. “What’re you gonna do, B? Kill me?” Faith asks. “You become me. You’re not ready for that.” She kisses Buffy’s forehead and adds, “Yet,” before running off. Willow goes to Buffy, asking if she’s okay. Buffy glances up at Angel, not sure how to respond.

The Scoobies regroup in the library, along with a special guest: Mr. Shroud. Giles had him put on a “light show” to fool Faith into thinking he was taking Angel’s soul. Mr. Shroud tells Giles that he’s restored the balance between them and repaid his debt. After he vanishes, Willow asks what Giles did to earn a favor from Mr. Shroud. “I introduced him to his wife,” Giles replies.

Wesley’s upset that Giles pitted Faith against Buffy and could have gotten them both killed. Also, he didn’t tell Wesley. He’s tattling to the Council. Giles likes that idea – they have a rogue Slayer on their hands. Buffy’s glad that they’ve confirmed which side Faith is on. Plus, they know the mayor is planning something big for graduation day. Willow’s relieved that Angel is still good, though Xander wishes he could have proven that without violence. Buffy reminds him it was all an act, but she doesn’t sound that confident.

Faith tells the mayor everything that happened, and he tries to put a positive spin on it. Faith may have lost some friends but he still has her. And once the ascension starts, the Scoobies will probably all die, so who cares? Faith isn’t happy, so Mayor Wilkins tries to cheer her up by suggesting an outing: miniature golf.

Buffy goes to the mansion, where Angel praises her for putting on a show for Faith. She’s still struggling with what it did to her, even though it was her idea. Angel says that he never wanted things to go as far as they did. Buffy gets that, but she needs some space, a break. “You still my girl?” he asks as she leaves. “Always,” she promises.

Thoughts: When this episode first aired, I fully fell for Buffy and Angel’s scheme. I just figured they’d end it the same way they restored Angel’s soul the first time.

I wish they’d clarified how the Scoobies knew what Faith and the mayor were planning and got Mr. Shroud to help them. Did he just warn Giles when he was summoned? Does it all come down to luck that he was the guy the mayor called on? How did he know that Giles even knew Angel?

I love how the Scoobies openly mock Wesley. Like, they’ll respect that he’s “officially” in charge, but they refuse to like it. I also like that Giles has loosened up because he and the others have this common annoyance and he’s seen how being sarcastic makes it easier to deal with him.

July 30, 2022

Buffy 3.16, Doppelgangland: Old Reliable

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

Alyson Hannigan is excellent in this episode

Summary: Anya is begging her demon boss, D’Hoffryn, to restore her powers, which she lost when Giles destroyed her necklace. D’Hoffryn reminds her that her powers were a gift, and she’s shown that she’s unworthy of them, so she can’t have them back. Anya argues that she was robbed of them, but D’Hoffryn says she was careless.

She reminds him that she had her powers for 1,000 years, and she used them to punish misbehaving men and bring about chaos. She was worshipped and feared. Now she’s stuck in Sunnydale, a mortal teenager. Plus, she’s flunking math. D’Hoffryn isn’t sympathetic. He tells her she’ll live the life of a mortal now and die a mortal’s death. Anya asks for another chance – if D’Hoffryn sends her back in time, she can change what happened. He refuses, so she vows to get her powers back another way. If he won’t help her, she’ll find someone else.

Her best bet is Willow, who’s floating a pencil on the Sunnydale High quad. Buffy’s next to her, doing sit-ups in preparation for some Watchers’ Council testing. She admires Willow’s new skill, which Willow says is about emotional control (plus, of course, magic). She notices that Buffy’s working out more than usual and guesses that she wants to outperform Faith on the tests. Buffy thinks she’s being shallow, but Willow assures her that competition is healthy. At the very least, she’ll beat Faith on the psych tests, as long as she doesn’t “mark the box that says ‘I sometimes like to kill people.'”

Buffy’s still sympathetic toward Faith, even though Faith tried to frame her for Finch’s death. Faith has had it rough, and in different circumstances, Buffy could have wound up the same way. Willow doubts that, since not everyone has it in them to kill and then act like nothing happened. Buffy tries to back out of the conversation, since she knows Willow doesn’t like talking about Faith. Willow says it’s fine, but judging from the way her pencil is spinning a million miles an hour, her emotional control is a little compromised right now.

Willow goes to a meeting with Snyder and a student named Percy. Percy is a star basketball player with a failing grade in history and no motivation to improve it. He argues that he’s challenged. “You’re lazy, self-involved, and spoiled. That’s quite the challenge,” Snyder replies. He wants to ensure that the basketball team has a winning year – they need it after what happened with the swim team last year – so Willow is going to tutor Percy. She objects but Snyder tells her this is her chance to give back to the community. Also, she definitely doesn’t have a choice in the matter.

After the meeting, Willow catches up with Buffy and they go to the library together. Buffy offers to force Snyder to back off, but Willow doesn’t want her to make any trouble. She just hates how Snyder bullies people and assumes their time is his. Giles emerges from his office and tells Willow to try again to access the mayor’s files. She agrees, apparently not realizing that Snyder isn’t the only person who assumes other people’s time is his.

Faith comes in with Wesley after finishing some sort of obstacle course. Wesley says she was a little sloppy, but considering he’s gasping for breath and she looks like she didn’t even break a sweat, I don’t think he has any room to judge. Faith tells Buffy she’ll like the course: “It’s just like fun, only boring.” Giles tells her the evaluations are necessary, and she promises she’s on board. She wishes Buffy good luck and might even mean it.

Faith joins Willow as she’s trying to hack the mayor’s files. Willow says he has some barriers set up but she’s confident she’ll breach them eventually. That night, Faith warns the mayor, who’s just rented her a nice apartment. He doesn’t want her to continue to live in the motel, where there are “immoral liaisons” going on. “Yeah, plus all the screwing,” she replies. (They’ll keep the old motel room so the Scoobies don’t find out about the new place.)

She teases the mayor by calling him her sugar daddy, which he doesn’t appreciate. He’s a family man, after all. He quickly shifts gears, saying it’s time to kill Willow. He’s not going to have Faith do it, though. A vampire attack makes much more sense. Until then, Faith can enjoy the perks of this new arrangement. Her new dad even bought her a PlayStation!

At school the next day, Willow reunites with Oz, who took the previous day off because his band came back late from an out-of-town gig. She’s disappointed that he didn’t tell her about the gig. She might have wanted to go. Oz says he didn’t think she would have wanted to miss school. Willow translates that as him believing she’s boring. He tells her that’s “a radical interpretation of the text.” He invites her to come to their show at the Bronze that night, but she says she has too much homework.

Willow finds Percy to set up a time to discuss a paper he needs to write on one of the Roosevelts. He’s confused (okay, he’s always confused, but even more so this time) because he was under the impression that she was going to write it for him. Willow agrees to get him the books he needs, and then they can meet up at lunch. Percy vetoes that plan, since lunchtime is reserved for hanging out. He tells her to just type up the paper (but not “too good”) and put his name on it.

Willow grumpily sits down in the quad, pulling out a banana she’s decided to eat even though it’s not lunchtime yet. Buffy and Xander join her and ask if she remembered to tape an episode of Biography. She did, which doesn’t surprise Buffy; she calls Willow “Old Reliable.” Willow doesn’t appreciate being given such a boring nickname. Xander tries to spin it by saying she’s “a geyser of fun that goes off at regular intervals.” Willow tells him that’s Old Faithful. He thought that was the dog that was shot. She tells him that’s Old Yeller. “Xander, I beg you not to help me,” Buffy speaks up.

She reassures Willow that it’s good to be reliable. But Willow wants to be seen as someone who doesn’t just help whenever other people want her to. Maybe she’ll cut class or change her luck. “And I’m eating this banana – lunchtime be damned!” she declares. She tries to walk off but Buffy follows her. Willow tells her that she’s trying to storm off, and being followed ruins it.

Inside, Anya introduces herself to Willow and asks her to help with a project. Willow thinks it’s school-related and confirms that she’s the one to talk to: “Reliable dog geyser person.” She perks up when Anya tells her it’s a spell. She needs a secondary to create a temporal fold. Willow eagerly asks if it’s dangerous and is disappointed when Anya assures her it isn’t. “Can we pretend it is?” Willow replies.

They go to an empty classroom to do a spell to summon some spirit that will open a fold. Then they’ll pour some sand on a representation of Anya’s necklace (which she says was stolen from her mother’s apartment), and the spirit will bring it out of wherever it was lost. The spell goes fine until Willow gets a glimpse of where the necklace last existed. As she and Anya are pouring the sand, it falls on Willow’s hand. Instead of bringing forth the necklace, the spell brings forth Willow in her vampire form at the Bronze.

Willow is freaked out about the kind of dark magic Anya had her use and the world it showed her, which she thinks was a Hell dimension. Anya claims she’s just trying to find her necklace. “Well, did you try looking inside the sofa in Hell?” Willow asks. Anya wants to try again but Willow refuses to participate. She even takes back the chicken feet she contributed. She warns Anya not to toy with magic, then leaves to do Percy’s homework.

Vampire Willow (whom I will call Vamp Willow – inspired, right?) wanders around downtown, confused about the differences between her world and this one. There are humans walking around at night, not worried about being attacked by vampires. They’re also hanging out at the Bronze, blissfully unaware of a vampire in their midst.

Vamp Willow runs into Percy, who’s surprised to see her in very un-Willow-like clothes. He reminds her that she’s supposed to be writing his paper. He brags that until graduation, he owns her. “Bored now,” she says, shoving him over a pool table. She tells him she’s having a bad night and asks him to make it better. She chokes him as people around them point and laugh, because as popular as Percy would be as a star athlete, apparently no one cares that he’s having his butt handed to him by nerdy Willow Rosenberg.

Xander notices that people are interested in something and runs to Vamp Willow and Percy. He thinks Percy is messing with Willow, though, since that makes more sense. Percy scampers off, not wanting any more trouble with Vamp Willow. Xander takes in her new look, thinking she’s trying something out like she said she would. She’s happy to see that he’s alive (since Buffy had just killed him right before she was brought out of her world) and feels him up, which freaks him out. She’s disappointed to realize that he’s alive alive, as in human. She laments that everything’s different.

Buffy arrives and tries to be positive about Willow’s new look. Vamp Willow tells Buffy she doesn’t like her. Buffy thinks she’s upset about what happened at school and says Willow doesn’t need to prove anything. Vamp Willow turns to leave, and when Buffy tries to stop her, she vamps out and roars for Buffy to back off. Buffy and Xander are horrified to think that their best friend has been turned into a vampire.

Outside, a couple of the mayor’s minions find Willow and attack her, surprised when she fights back. She breaks one guy’s fingers until he tells her who he works for. When she keeps asking, he catches on and switches his allegiance to her. She tells him to gather his buddies so they can make the real world like the world she came from, starting with the Bronze.

Buffy and Xander go to the library, stunned by Willow’s apparent death. They fill Giles in and the three all sit together numbly. “She was truly the finest of all of us,” Giles says. “Way better than me,” Xander replies. “Much, much better,” Giles agrees. Buffy blames herself – Willow must have gone out and gotten attacked because she wanted to show that she wasn’t Old Reliable. Now Buffy’s best friend is…

Here in the library, actually. Willow comes in, sees three sad faces, and asks who died. Then she remembers she lives in Sunnydale and realizes someone might have actually died. Xander holds up a cross and tells her to get back. When that doesn’t do anything, he shakes the cross like it might be broken. Buffy and Xander happily hug their friend, relieved that she’s alive. Willow asks Giles why they’re acting weird, but she can’t get the question out before he hugs her, too.

Willow says it’s nice that everyone missed her. “Say, you all didn’t happen to do a bunch of drugs, did ya?” she asks brightly. Xander tells her they saw her at the Bronze, but she was a vampire. Willow seems offended. Buffy asks Giles for an explanation, but all he can manage is, “Something…something, um, very strange is happening.” “Can you believe the Watchers’ Council let this guy go?” Xander quips.

Back at the Bronze, Anya tries to order a beer but the bartender won’t serve her without an ID. “I’m 1,120 years old – just give me a fricking beer!” she yells. He still says no, so she sighs and asks for a Coke instead. Dingoes Ate My Baby are setting up to perform, and Devon tells Oz that they need a roadie, since other bands have them. Oz points out that other bands can also play more than three chords.

Angel shows up looking for Buffy, just in time for Vamp Willow’s new gang to walk in and take everyone hostage. Angel tells Oz he can escape through a skylight. Angel wants to stay, but Oz tells him it’ll be him against too many vampires to defeat. Just then, Vamp Willow strolls in, happy that everyone’s afraid, “just like old times.” Oz tells Angel to get Buffy ASAP. As Angel scales some ropes to get to the skylight, Devon admires Oz’s girlfriend’s new look.

Vamp Willow approaches a girl named Sandy and pulls her out of her seat. She tells Sandy she doesn’t have to be afraid just to please Vamp Willow. If everyone’s good, the vampires will make them all young and strong forever. If they’re not good…well, they’ll be bitten, like Vamp Willow bites Sandy. “Questions? Comments?” Vamp Willow says.

Oz tries to stop Vamp Willow, telling her she doesn’t want to do this. “But I’m so good at it,” she says. She recognizes him as a White Hat from her world and wonders why he’s acting like they’re friends. Anya explains that he thinks she’s the Willow from this reality. She confirms to Vamp Willow that she’s in the wrong world and tells her they have a common goal: They both want to get back there.

At the library, Willow’s freaked out by the thought of there being a vampire out there who looks just like her. Xander and Buffy tell her they’re exactly alike, except for Vamp Willow’s seeming dominatrix tendencies. Willow jokes that she and Oz do that stuff, too, which sends Xander and Buffy to “a scary visual place.”

Angel bursts in and, without seeing Willow behind him, tells the Scoobies that Willow’s dead. As she steps forward, he notices her and casually says hi to her. Wow, Angel might be as dumb as Percy. He tells the Scoobies that Vamp Willow is at the Bronze with a gang of vampires, wanting to cause trouble. They all head out to take care of that situation, but Willow wants to know what they’ll do with Vamp Willow. Buffy isn’t sure; their first priority is just protecting the humans. Willow thinks of something she can do and heads back to the library. That means she’s alone when Vamp Willow finds her.

The two Willows get their first look at each other. Vamp Willow is unimpressed, mostly because Willow’s wearing a fluffy pink sweater. “What do I want with you?” Willow asks. Vamp Willow tells her that Anya said Willow could get her back to her world. But now Vamp Willow likes the idea of teaming up with…well, herself. Willow would have to come around to her “way of thinking,” though.

Willow wonders if that includes snuggling. Vamp Willow licks her neck and asks if she wants to be bad. Willow’s understandably disturbed and just wants to get away, but all she has handy to protect herself is a cross. However, when Vamp Willow tosses her over the counter, she’s able to grab a dart gun and shoot her double with a tranquilizer.

The other Scoobies return and lock Vamp Willow in a book cage while she’s unconscious. Giles is intrigued by the doubles but Willow thinks it’s horrible: “That’s me as a vampire? I’m so evil and skanky. And I think I’m kind of gay.” Buffy tells her that a vampire’s personality has nothing to do with the human they were. Angel starts to contradict her, then changes his mind. The Scoobies still need to get to the Bronze, but they’re not sure how to save all the hostages without setting off a killing spree. “I have a really bad idea,” Buffy offers.

They all go back to the Bronze, where Angel peeks inside and reports that nothing’s happened yet. He guesses that the vampire minions are afraid of their new boss and won’t do anything without an order. Willow has changed into Vamp Willow’s outfit to take her place, and her job is to keep things calm and send out some vampires so the Scoobies can kill them. If she gets into any trouble, she just needs to scream and the Scoobies will come to her rescue. She promises Buffy that she won’t do “anything that can be interpreted as brave.”

Willow steels herself, then knocks to be let back into the Bronze. She says she killed the real Willow, which was, of course, the opposite of what Anya needed her to do. She sends a vampire minion outside to check on a noise, and he walks right into his death. Anya criticizes “Vamp Willow” for killing Willow, who tries to go dark by threatening to have her taken out by the minions. She pauses to give Oz a little wave, letting him know who she really is. For once in his life, he changes expressions (though only slightly), relieved that she’s alive.

Anya complains that vampires always think with their teeth. “Vamp Willow” says that Willow was too accommodating and let people walk all over her, then took it out on her friends. She sends a minion to check on the first minion she sent outside. Another one suggests that they start killing hostages, since they don’t have any reason to wait anymore.

Vamp Willow wakes up in the book cage wearing Willow’s clothes. Cordelia comes in wearing a sparkly dress; she claims she needs books but she’s obviously just hoping to run into Wesley. Vamp Willow pretends she got locked in the cage accidentally and asks Cordelia to let her out. Before Cordelia does, she decides this is a good time for a chat about Willow’s fling with Xander.

Willow tries to delay any killing at the Bronze. She attempts to run her fingers through a hostage’s hair but they get stuck. She thinks it would be too easy to kill the hostages – maybe they should let them go and hunt them. Anya catches on that this isn’t Vamp Willow.

Cordelia rants to the real Vamp Willow, who can’t keep her eyes off of Cordelia’s neck. Cordelia thinks it’s because she’s getting a pimple. Vamp Willow apologizes for stealing Xander and promises never to steal another boyfriend from her. Cordelia doubts that she could anyway. She finally unlocks the cage and is rewarded with a chase. She tries to appease Vamp Willow by blessing her relationship with Xander, but Vamp Willow says she’s over him. She wants fresh blood.

In the hallway, Wesley hears Cordelia screaming and runs toward the sound. Vamp Willow has cornered her in a bathroom but Wesley is able to get her to leave with the double threats of a cross and holy water. Cordelia tells him he saved her life and hugs him tightly. Only then do they acknowledge that Willow is a vampire. They’re sad for about three seconds, and then Cordelia asks Wesley if he has any plans.

Anya’s tired of all this and doesn’t even care about getting her powers back. She thinks the minions should eat Willow. Willow says Anya has psychiatric problems. “I’m a bloodsucking fiend! Look at my outfit!” she says. Plus, if she’s human, could she do this? By “this,” she means scream. Anya and a minion are like, “Yeah, of course.” But that was Willow’s signal for the Scoobies to come in, and when they do, the hostage crisis is all over.

The hostages run while the Scoobies take on the vampires. Willow does her part by punching Anya before running off with Oz. Vamp Willow stops them and shoves Oz aside. “No more snuggles?” Willow asks. Xander and Giles tag-team a minion while Vamp Willow chokes her doppelganger on the stage. It takes Buffy a while to notice, but when she does, she runs up to help. She’s about to stake Vamp Willow with a pool cue when Willow yells for her not to. Buffy immediately stops and restrains Vamp Willow instead. Willow compliments her reflexes. Vamp Willow complains that this world is no fun. “You noticed that, too?” Willow replies.

As Giles prepares to send Vamp Willow back to her world, Xander asks if he’s really a tough vampire over there. Vamp Willow just rolls her eyes at him. Buffy’s worried about sending her back, but Willow doesn’t want to kill her. She gets that they’re not the same person, but she knows she’s only a bite away from being in the same situation. If they send Vamp Willow back to her world, she has a chance.

Giles tells Anya they’re ready, and she’d better not pull any tricks. Anya says that when she gets her powers back, everyone will grovel before her. Both Willows scoff at that. Willow says goodbye to Vamp Willow, telling her not to kill anyone. They hug but it doesn’t last long since Vamp Willow can’t keep her hands to herself. Anya sends her back to her world, but two seconds later, Oz pushes her into a broken piece of wood and stakes her. Thus ends the story of Vamp Willow.

At school the next day, Buffy asks Willow if she wants to go out that night. Willow says she feels like being very, very good and doing things like flossing and never having sex. She has “double guilt coupons” thanks to all the bad things her doppelganger did. She never wants to be like that. Percy comes over and gives Willow an outline he wrote on Roosevelt. He didn’t know which one he was supposed to write about, so he did one for each. He even typed up a bibliography. He’s open to any notes and will do whatever Willow says. He gives her an apple before running off. Buffy asks Willow again if she wants to go out that night, and this time Willow agrees.

Thoughts: This is my favorite episode. I took forever to write this recap because there are so many great moments in the episode and I didn’t want to leave anything out.

Why does Anya go to school if she’s over 1,000 years old and hates it?

“I know Faith’s not going to be on the cover of Sanity Fair…” What an awesome line.

Oh, the ’90s, when you had to tape shows on a VCR and pass the tapes around if other people wanted to watch them.

When Anya introduces herself to Willow, she says she’s kind of friends with Cordelia. Willow replies with a sarcastic, “Oh, fun.” There’s a great little moment where Anya chirps,” Yeah,” in a way that says, “I know, I don’t like her, either.”

It cracks me up that the bartender doesn’t even blink when Anya says she’s 1,120. You know that guy’s heard it all.

There’s a deleted scene where Devon asks Angel if he wants to be the band’s roadie and Angel replies, “Less than you’d think.” And in another deleted scene, Xander blames himself for Willow’s death, and when Giles asks why, Xander says it’s a “statistical probability.”

July 23, 2022

Buffy 3.15, Consequences: Into the Darkness

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

Uh-oh, Father is disappointed

Summary: Buffy is underwater, struggling to reach the surface. Finch grabs her ankle and tries to pull her back down, but she’s able to fight him and come up for air. Faith is waiting for her there and pushes her back under.

Buffy wakes up from this nightmare and hears noise from a TV down the hall. Joyce is watching a news report about the discovery of Finch’s body. Mayor Wilkins makes a statement that Finch was both his deputy mayor and his friend. The mayor won’t rest until his killer is brought to justice. Joyce notices that Buffy is awake and comments that the death is horrible.

Later that morning, Wesley instructs Buffy and Faith to investigate Finch’s murder. Buffy notes that that’s not really their area, but Faith accepts the assignment. Giles sides with Buffy – the murder appears to be the act of a human, so the Slayers don’t need to get involved. Wesley overrules him.

Cordelia comes into the library to get some books, and Wesley is immediately smitten with her. She calls him “Giles, the next generation.” Wesley’s so attracted to her that he can’t get out a full sentence. Faith, amused, tells Cordelia that he’s the new Watcher. Wesley asks if everyone at school knows Buffy’s the Slayer. Buffy explains that Cordelia’s a friend, though Cordelia wouldn’t go that far. She finds Wesley cute, but he backs off when he learns that she’s a student, not a teacher. He admires her as she leaves, and Faith speaks up, “First word: jail, second word: bait.”

Buffy’s eager to leave, too, and Faith opts to go with her. Wesley tells them to report whatever they learn about Finch’s death, whether or not it’s supernatural-related. The Slayers go to an empty classroom, where Faith asks if Buffy is going to rat her out for killing Finch. Buffy says she can’t keep it a secret, especially while they’re supposed to investigate what happened.

Faith notes that she had no problem keeping Angel’s return a secret, since she wanted to protect him. Buffy argues that she’s trying to protect Faith, too. If they don’t come forward, things will get worse for Faith. Faith knows she’ll go to prison, and she’s not going to do anything to risk her freedom. She reminds Buffy that she was there, so she’s an accomplice. If Faith has to answer for anything, so does Buffy.

Buffy finds Willow in the student lounge, but Willow doesn’t have time to chat, since she and Michael are going to meet up and work on making Amy human again. Plus, she’s still hurt by all the time Buffy’s been spending with Faith, though she doesn’t mention that. That night, a detective named Stein questions a witness who heard Finch scream when he was killed. Angel watches a crime-scene tech collecting a blood sample and remembers seeing blood on Buffy’s hand the night before.

At City Hall, Mayor Wilkins tries to cheer himself up by shredding documents. (That usually works.) He’s annoyed that Finch left a paper trail about their “dealings.” He doesn’t want to think about the possibility that Finch was going to betray him. Plus, with Finch dead, the mayor will never get to scold him. Mr. Trick gives him a copy of a police report stating that Finch was staked. A Slayer must have killed him. Mayor Wilkins worries that Finch was talking to Buffy and/or Faith, and they killed him. That means one of them could go to prison. Unlike the shredder, this gives him the pick-me-up he was looking for.

Buffy and Faith break into Finch’s office, and though Faith claims not to care that she killed him, she can’t help giving a picture of him a sad look. She says he came out of nowhere. Buffy’s sympathetic, but Faith quickly snaps out of it, saying she’s “not looking to hug and cry and learn and grow.” She doesn’t see the point in looking into what Finch was up to or why he was in the alley where he died.

Buffy, however, thinks he was looking for them, and she wants to know why. Her first hint that something’s off is the discovery that his file folders are all empty, as if his paperwork has been taken. As the Slayers are about to leave, they spot Mr. Trick and Mayor Wilkins talking down the hall. They don’t get spotted, and now they have another hint that something strange is going on.

They head downtown, discussing the fact that the mayor is a “black hat,” as Faith says. Buffy admits to being surprised, since she never got a vibe from him that he was anything but the nice guy he presents himself to be. Faith tells her that nine times out of ten, the face a person shows you isn’t real. Buffy comments that Faith knows a lot about that. She’s acting like everything is fine less than 24 hours after she killed someone. This can’t be her real face. Buffy knows Faith must be feeling the same way she is.

Faith invites her to elaborate. Buffy says she feels dirty, like something is lurking inside her and she can’t get it out. She keeps hoping it’s a nightmare, but it’s not. Faith is done listening to her. Buffy begs Faith to let her tell Giles what happened. Faith refuses – no one else can know what happened. They just need to wait for everything to blow over. If it doesn’t, they can leave town. She already knows a freighter she can jump on.

Buffy asks how Faith will be able to live with herself, seeing Finch’s body in her head every day. Faith says she won’t see anything. Finch’s death was an accident, and she’s sorry he died, but these things happen. The number of people they’ve saved overshadows this one death. Buffy reminds her that helping people doesn’t give them the freedom to do whatever they want. Faith reminds her that Finch was mixed up in bad things, so who cares?

Buffy notes that he could have been coming to them for help. Faith doesn’t think it matters. They’re warriors – they’re different than other people. They’re built to kill. Buffy protests that they’re only supposed to kill demons. They don’t get to pass judgment like they’re better than other people. Faith insists that they are better. People need the Slayers to survive. Finch got caught in the crossfire, and no one’s going to cry over him. “I am,” Buffy replies. Faith tells her it’s her loss.

Stein is waiting for Buffy when she gets home, since he somehow knows that she was out late with Faith the night before. We go back and forth between him questioning Buffy and Faith separately. They alibi each other, saying they were hanging out at Faith’s place. Stein tells them that a couple of witnesses saw them near the alley. He mentions that Finch was killed with a wooden weapon, which Faith just brushes off. Stein urges both Slayers to come clean if they know anything or are covering for anyone. Both claim ignorance. Angel’s lurking outside Faith’s motel as Stein leaves.

Buffy goes to Willow’s and asks to talk. Willow’s glad she’s there because she wants to clear the air about Buffy and Faith’s friendship. She wants to be understanding, since the Slayers should bond, but she doesn’t like feeling excluded. Buffy usually talks to her about everything. Now it feels like Willow isn’t cool enough for Buffy because she can’t kill things with her bare hands.

That makes Buffy break down in tears, which Willow thinks is her fault. She apologizes for being too harsh. Buffy just tells her she’s in trouble. After spilling everything, Buffy worries that Stein knows she lied to him. Willow advises her to go to Giles – he’ll know what to do. So Buffy goes to the library, not even waiting until the morning, and is about to tell Giles everything when Faith emerges from his office. She already told him…except what she told him is that Buffy killed Finch.

Buffy protests that she didn’t do it but Giles won’t listen to her. He sends Faith away, snapping at Buffy to wait in his office. As soon as Faith’s gone, Giles assures Buffy that he knows Faith lied. He just wants her to believe he’s on her side since he’s not sure how far she’ll take this. He’s not happy that Buffy didn’t come to him immediately; this sort of thing has happened before, and they could have handled it. Normally they would need to speak to the Watchers’ Council but Giles doesn’t want to get them involved.

Faith is unstable and can’t accept responsibility for what she did. They can’t help her until she admits what happened. Buffy is willing to try to talk to her, but she decides she might be too close. Maybe “one of the guys” should do it instead. (Xander? Angel? Oz? Who knows?) She and Giles agree that until they decide on their next step, no one can know what’s going on. They don’t want to run the risk of scaring Faith off. Unfortunately, their library voices aren’t quiet enough and Wesley has heard everything.

As he calls the Council to speak to Travers (trivia: The code word is “monkey”), Buffy and Giles fill Willow and Xander in on what’s going on. So I guess when Giles said no one else could know, he just meant Wesley. He likes Buffy’s idea of having someone talk to her one-on-one, and Xander volunteers to do it, since they have a connection. That’s one word for it. Giles isn’t sure about that, since he thinks Faith and Xander have had the least contact of all the Scoobies. Xander dances around the fact that they’ve already hung out one-on-one, in a sense. Willow figures out what he means before Buffy and Giles do.

Buffy doesn’t think Faith will open up to Xander, since she doesn’t take the guys she’s slept with seriously. Xander pretends not to be offended. Giles puts him to work with research instead, since they need to know what the mayor and Mr. Trick are up to. Giles still isn’t sure what to do about Faith, but Buffy wants to get moving quickly. Faith needs help now, and Buffy owes it to her.

Willow takes a few moments to cry in a bathroom over the thought of Xander having sex for the first time with someone who isn’t her. Xander also takes some time to himself, probably thinking about how his first time was with someone who killed a human. He goes to Faith’s motel room and offers his friendship, since he believes Buffy’s story and knows Faith killed Finch. He also knows it was an accident, and he wants to support her no matter what happens.

Faith thinks he’d love to be called to testify at a murder trial so he could state for the record that he slept with her. She suspects that he’s really there so they can have another romp in the sack. Xander says he’d be up for it again in the future, but not now and not like this. Faith tries to seduce him but he’s miraculously able to not give in. He says he thought they had a connection.

She throws him on her bed, ready to make another “connection” with him. Similarly to what she taught Buffy in the last episode – “want, take, have” – she’s ready to put her philosophy to work: “I see, I want, I take.” Things start getting really disturbing, with Faith on top of Xander, moments away from committing rape. She tells him she can make him scream…or die. She chokes him, but before she can really hurt him, Angel comes in and knocks her out with a baseball bat.

She wakes up chained to a wall in the mansion and insists that she and Xander were just “playing.” Angel says he just wants to talk, which Faith has heard from guys before. They say that, then talk their way into spending the night, promising not to try anything. Angel’s willing to wait her out, since he’s “not getting any older.” He goes outside, where Buffy’s waiting, and assures her that he’ll keep trying with Faith. But if she doesn’t want help, they might not be able to do anything. Faith has killed someone, and that’s changed her. Now she has a taste for it.

Mayor Wilkins and Mr. Trick watch surveillance footage from City Hall that shows Buffy and Faith snooping around. The mayor isn’t happy that thanks to lax security, they saw him and Mr. Trick together. Mr. Trick isn’t worried, since he thinks the Slayers will end up in jail, but Mayor Wilkins knows there isn’t enough evidence to convict them. Mr. Trick will have to come up with a way to handle them, and quickly.

Back at the mansion, Angel empathizes with Faith over killing a human. It’s a powerful feeling, one he thought of like a drug. When he got his soul back, things changed. Faith has a choice now. She probably felt like a god when she killed Finch, but if she continues killing, it’ll ruined her. “You can’t imagine the price for true evil,” Angel says. “Yeah? I hope evil takes MasterCard,” Faith replies. (Ugh, who wrote that line? Bad! Bad writer!)

Angel says he and Faith are alike. He used to believe that humans only existed to hurt each other. Then he came to Sunnydale and met different types of people. Some of them really want to do the right thing. They make mistakes, but they keep caring and trying. If Faith trusts the Scoobies, they can keep her from disappearing into the darkness.

Just then Wesley and a few other guys burst in. They overpower Angel and beat him up while Wesley frees Faith, though it’s only to take her into custody on behalf of the Watchers’ Council. He’s going to take her to England so she can face a disciplinary committee. But on the way to the airport, Faith gets Wesley to free her again by threatening to kill one of his co-workers. She jumps out the back of the truck they’re in and takes off.

Buffy returns to the mansion with some of Faith’s things and founds Angel tied up. They head to the library and tell the other Scoobies that Wesley took Faith. Giles says she’ll probably end up imprisoned. Buffy wants to get her back, but Willow thinks she deserves punishment. Buffy wants Angel to keep trying to get through to Faith. She thinks he was getting somewhere. Wesley arrives and reports that Faith escaped. He insists that he was trying to save her, but Buffy says he just made things worse. The Scoobies split up to find Faith, and when Wesley offers his help, Buffy tells him to use his ticket back to England.

She finds Faith on the docks, waiting for that freighter she’d considered taking out of town. Faith rejects her offer to change, since she doesn’t want to be like Buffy. Buffy says she doesn’t have to be, but she can’t go on the way she is. Faith guesses that Buffy’s scared because she knows Faith is right: “We don’t need the law. We are the law.”

She taunts that Buffy has it in her to be exactly how Faith is. She has the same lust in her, and not just for Angel. She knows Buffy gets a thrill out of the danger of dating a vampire. She might have felt it even after he lost his soul. Faith thinks Buffy wants her to behave because seeing her go wild tempts Buffy to do the same. Buffy punches her, which just pleases Faith because she’s letting her dark side out.

Buffy tries to leave but Faith wants her to admit that misbehaving is fun. Buffy spots a crate dangling over them and shoves Faith out of the way before it can fall on her. Some vampires are around, and while Buffy’s in a daze on the ground, Faith takes them all on by herself. By the time Buffy recovers enough to get up, Mr. Trick is waiting for her. They fight, but he gets the upper hand.

Faith is done with her vampires, and she has a choice: Help Buffy or leave her to fend for herself. At the last minute, she chooses to help. She sneaks up behind Mr. Trick and stakes him. “Oh, no. No, this is no good at all,” he says before turning to dust.

Buffy goes back to the library and tells Giles that Faith could have left her to die, but she didn’t. Buffy won’t give up on her while there’s still hope that she can be saved. Giles says that in that case, Faith stands a chance. But maybe not yet: Faith goes to the mayor’s office to report that she killed Mr. Trick. She wants to take his place as the mayor’s partner in crime.

Thoughts: In some nice continuity, Stein also appeared in “Ted” and “Becoming, Part 2.”

Buffy is less upset about Finch’s death or being framed for it than she is about the thought that Giles might not believe she’s innocent. It’s actually heartbreaking to see her believe, even for a few seconds, that Giles would listen to Faith over her, or that someone who always has her back might not have it this time.

I’d think the Watchers’ Council would have some way to cover up an accidental human death, since, as Giles mentions, it’s happened before. Blame it on a serial killer or something. Giles only mentions them in relation to appropriate punishments, though. And why didn’t we hear about this in “Ted”?

Fun fact: The song that plays while Willow’s crying is sung by Kathleen Wilhoite, AKA Chloe Lewis.

For more K. Todd Freeman (Mr. Trick), watch Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events or the first episode of HBO’s new show The Rehearsal, which I coincidentally watched just after this episode.

July 16, 2022

Buffy 3.14, Bad Girls: Unacceptable

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

This is before they get surrounded by horny guys

Summary: Buffy and Faith are fighting vampires together while discussing Buffy’s insistence that she and Xander have never hooked up. She says she loves him, but not in that way. Besides, sleeping with him could ruin their friendship. Faith doesn’t mention that her interest in this topic stems from what she recently did with Xander. Once the vampires are dead, the Slayers go looking for one who got away. Buffy counts to three before they ambush him but Faith jumps the gun. This leaves Faith on the ground while Buffy tries to fight the guy herself. It’s especially bad because he has swords. Faith comes to her rescue just in time.

The Slayers bicker over whether it was okay for Faith to divert from the plan. Faith doesn’t put much…well, faith in plans. And since the vampire’s dead, what does it matter? Buffy decides that they should grab the swords and take them to Giles so he can find out who the vampire was. But when she looks back at where the third vampire was killed, his swords are gone.

Mr. Trick has them, and he delivers them to Mayor Wilkins. Mr. Trick doesn’t recognize the “breed” of vampire who uses them, and he asks if the mayor was expecting any visitors in town. Mayor Wilkins is still thinking about the comics he was just reading – he likes Family Circus while Mr. Trick likes Marmaduke. Mayor Wilkins isn’t a Marmaduke fan since the dog is always on the furniture, which is unsanitary. Mr. Trick likes him because no one can tell him what to do. “I like to read Cathy,” Finch speaks up, because of course he does.

Mayor Wilkins tells the men to keep an eye out. He doesn’t want anything to interfere with an upcoming dedication. Finch suggests postponing it, an idea Mayor Wilkins immediately dismisses. He reminds Finch that the dedication is the final step before his ascension, which he’s been waiting for a long time. He opens a cabinet full of skulls and other occult items, because it’s also where he keeps his wet wipes. A hundred days after the dedication, the mayor will be “on a higher plane” with no more concerns for “the little things.” He hopes any vampires coming to town meet up with the Slayers and they all kill each other.

Willow has started her college search and has already received a bunch of offers for early admission. She’s looking at major schools, including Harvard and Yale. Xander’s intimidated; he figures his rejections will come in the form of slips of paper with “no way” written on them in crayon. (“They’re typing those now,” Oz tells him.) Willow’s excited because colleges are actively trying to “woo” her. Xander says he’s trying to decide between appliance repair and hotel management.

Cordelia approaches the Scoobies in the school lounge so she can insult Xander. Cue their annoying bickering. He vows to come up with the perfect comeback for her last slam later. Buffy has to study for a chemistry test, and Willow offers to help, since chemistry has a lot in common with witchcraft (except for the parts that involve newts). They make plans to meet up that night.

Buffy goes to the library to see Giles, who already has a visitor, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. He’s Buffy’s new, young, by-the-book Watcher, who thinks he’s special because he’s faced two vampires (“under controlled circumstances”). When Giles introduces him to Buffy, Buffy’s first question is, “Is he evil?” To be fair, the last Watcher was. Wesley says Giles has checked his credentials, but he’s glad Buffy is being cautious. That makes her a good Slayer. Buffy repeats her question about whether he’s evil. “Not in the strictest sense,” Giles replies.

Wesley asks about Buffy and Faith’s experiences on patrol the night before. Buffy’s like, “We saw vampires and killed them. It was great.” She tells him about the swords, which Wesley connects to a group called El Eliminati. They were a cult five centuries ago who became acolytes of a demon named Balthazar. Giles is surprised that Wesley knows so much about them. “I didn’t get this job because of my looks,” Wesley says. “I really, really believe that,” Buffy replies.

Wesley says El Eliminati were driven out of the country a long time ago and Balthazar was killed. So the question is, why are they back? Balthazar supposedly got his strength from an amulet that was stolen by a guy named Gleaves. The amulet was buried with Gleaves, and El Eliminati are probably in town to find it “for sentimental value.” Wesley’s sure the amulet isn’t anything to worry about, but they might as well keep El Eliminati from getting it. He instructs Buffy to get it that night. She taunts Wesley by saying that when Giles give her an assignment, he says “please” and gives her a cookie afterwards.

Faith comes in, confirms that Wesley is her and Buffy’s new Watcher, says, “Screw that,” and walks back out. Buffy wishes she’d done the same thing. Giles sends her to bring Faith back. He and Wesley both pull out handkerchiefs to wipe their glasses at the same time. Out on the quad, Faith urges Buffy not to do what Wesley tells her to. They’re the Chosen Ones; they can do whatever they want. She wants Buffy to admit that slaying excites her. It’s what they were built for, and if Buffy isn’t enjoying it, she’s doing it wrong.

That night, Buffy goes to get the amulet from Gleaves’ crypt, but as she’s about to take it, she hears people approaching. She rushes to hide in a tomb. Ick. Some Eliminati vampires come in and grab the amulet. Faith shows up after they leave and tries to convince Buffy to go after them as they head into the sewers. Buffy wants to think this through, especially since they’re greatly outnumbered, but Faith again just wants to act without a plan. She jumps down after the vampires, basically forcing Buffy to follow her so she doesn’t have to face them alone.

Wesley looks through Watchers’ diaries, reading in the very first entry in Giles’ that Buffy is “willful and insolent.” Giles is worried because Buffy hasn’t come back from her trip to the cemetery yet. Wesley says his “mission scenario” has her coming back in one minute. I think it’s going to take her a little longer, since she and Faith are surrounded by vampires.

One of them tries to kill Buffy by drowning her, but she plays dead to fool him and is able to get the upper hand. “I hate it when they drown me,” she says. Faith decides they can’t defeat all the vampires, so they should run. Buffy snags the amulet first, since that’s what they came for. Faith gets her to admit that she didn’t have a completely horrible time tonight.

The next morning, Buffy gives the amulet to Wesley and lets him know that El Eliminati aren’t as close to extinction as he thought. Giles asks if she’s okay, while Wesley doesn’t care. He knows a good Slayer needs to be ready for anything. The three key words of slaying are “preparation, preparation, preparation.” Buffy points out that that’s just the same word three times. She tells Giles they need to talk, but Wesley reminds her that he’s her Watcher now, so she should only discuss slaying with him. Buffy ignores him, and Giles confirms that they’ll talk later. Wesley complains that Giles isn’t helping. “I know. I feel just sick about it,” Giles replies.

Buffy heads to chemistry to take her test, though all she can think about is how exciting it was to face all those vampires with Faith. Even Xander wants her to shut up about it so he can concentrate. Buffy notices that his eye twitches every time she says Faith’s name. As Buffy finally starts to take the test, Faith shows up at a window. She breathes on the glass and draws a heart. Buffy can’t resist the thought of having more fun with her, so she leaves.

Faith found a nest of vampires, and this is the perfect time to attack – the vampires are asleep and the Slayers have the advantage of sunlight. After killing all the vampires, they go to the Bronze to dance off their excess energy. They catch the attention of some very interested guys. Angel shows up and Buffy literally jumps into his arms. She promises that she’s not interested in the guys. She’s acting flirty and Faith-like, and she doesn’t snap out of it even when Angel tells her that Balthazar isn’t dead after all. Buffy isn’t worried, since they already have his amulet.

Wesley joins them and complains that Buffy didn’t give him a way to contact her while she’s out slaying. He’s taken aback when he learns that Angel knows what’s going on with Balthazar and the amulet. Wesley says the amulet is someplace safe. Buffy easily guesses that he’s keeping it in his suit jacket. She gives it to Angel, who tells Wesley that carrying it around with him makes him a target. Angel will put the amulet in an actual safe place while Buffy does recon on Balthazar. Wesley still thinks Balthazar is dead because he’s out of the loop.

Buffy drags Faith out of the club while El Eliminati tend to Balthazar. He resembles a big blob of dough, and he sits in a tub where his minions have to keep pouring water on him so his skin doesn’t dry out. He’s angry that the Slayers got his amulet. Balthazar doesn’t look intimidating at first glance, but he has telekinetic powers that allow him to draw minions to him so he can kill them. Probably not a guy to mess with.

The Slayers check out his lair, and even though there are about a dozen Eliminati there, Faith wants to run in and fight. Buffy suggests going to the library and getting some weapons. Faith concedes, since “Jacuzzi Boy” isn’t going anywhere, but she doesn’t want to go all the way to the library. She takes Buffy with her to break into a sporting-goods store and steal some weapons. She teaches Buffy the three words she lives by, which are very different from Wesley’s three words: “Want, take, have.” Caught up in the moment, Buffy does some stealing of her own.

A couple of cops catch them before they can leave, and the Slayers drop their weapons. Faith makes jokes as they get arrested. On the way to the police station, one of the cops asks if Buffy and Faith are in a gang. Faith tells him they’re the Slayers. She convinces Buffy to kick in the divider between them and the cops so they can escape the car. The car crashes and Buffy worries about the officers, but Faith wants to focus on escaping.

The next morning, Buffy scours the newspaper for any mentions of her and Faith’s crime wave. There’s nothing. Joyce asks what they did last night, not because she wants to meddle but because she wants to make sure they’re being careful. She remains completely clueless, as usual. Thanks for popping in, Joyce! The mayor wants an update on El Eliminati in between photo ops. One of the members attacks him but Mr. Trick knocks him out. (He also chastises the minion for using a sword instead of, say, an Uzi.) Mayor Wilkins wonders how the minion got into his cabinet. Finch needs to do a better job of ensuring his boss’ security.

Balthazar hears of the minion’s capture and tells his other follows that he had courage and honor. “And I have jack to show for it!” he yells. He’s been powerless for a hundred years and he’s tired of being patient. His minions are to bring the Watchers to him and kill the Slayers and anyone who gets in their way. Balthazar’s only goal is getting the amulet.

Willow brings Buffy a little sachet she put herbs in for protection. She’s ready to go slaying with Buffy that night, but Buffy doesn’t want her to come along, since it’ll be dangerous. Willow clearly feels hurt that Buffy’s been spending time with Faith instead of her. The Slayers go back to Balthazar’s lair with the weapons they were caught stealing (which Faith went back for). She’s already thinking about what to eat after they’re done.

In the library, Wesley criticizes Giles for getting too emotionally attached to Buffy. He embarrassed the Council. Giles doesn’t like having his methods critiqued. Wesley reminds him that he’s no longer qualified to be a Watcher, so he’s been replaced. Hopefully Wesley knows how to fight the way Giles does, because they’re suddenly surrounded by Eliminati.

Buffy and Faith only have to deal with two minions, who attack one at a time, so they figure they can get to Balthazar’s lair without too much trouble. But when they come across a third and Faith instinctively goes to stake him, Buffy realizes he’s not a minion – he’s Finch. Faith doesn’t react to her warning fast enough, and she stakes him in the chest. Buffy tells her to call an ambulance and help her stop Finch’s bleeding. Faith doesn’t move, and Buffy can’t do anything other than watch Finch die.

Again, Faith gets Buffy to flee instead of staying back to get caught or face any consequences. They split up and Buffy runs into Angel. He sees blood on her hand but she says she’s okay. He tells her he went to Balthazar’s lair and saw that the minions had kidnapped Giles. (And Wesley, but Angel doesn’t mention that, which is funny when you think about it.) Faith goes back to Finch’s body and slowly reaches out to touch him, as if she needs to feel for herself that he didn’t turn to dust like a vampire would.

Wesley’s scared about his and Giles’ situation, and he tells a fairly sedate Giles to stay calm. “Thank God you’re here; I was planning to panic,” Giles replies. He gets snarky with Balthazar, which Wesley thinks is a bad idea. Giles points out that they’re going to be killed anyway, so why not have some fun first? Wesley offers to trade the amulet for their freedom but Balthazar isn’t interested. Wesley then says he’ll point the minions in Angel’s direction so they can get the amulet from him. Giles tells Wesley to shut up for what definitely won’t be the last time.

Balthazar is willing to accept Wesley’s offer, but the problem is that Wesley doesn’t know Angel’s name, let alone where to find him. Giles says he’ll tell Balthazar whatever he wants to know if he lets “Captain Courageous” go. Balthazar says there’s only one deal: The Watchers will die quickly or they’ll die slowly. My man, that’s not a deal. As he demands Angel’s name, Angel himself arrives with Buffy and they get to fighting.

Giles tackles Wesley out of the way as Buffy and Angel take on the minions. Balthazar flails his arms and yells, “Unacceptable!” Giles grabs a sword and takes care of a couple of minions on his own. Buffy and Angel do a good job with the others, but then Balthazar uses his telekinesis to draw Angel to him to kill him. Buffy thinks fast, pulling down an electrical wire so it falls into Balthazar’s tub and electrocutes him. Just when she thinks he’s dead, he opens his eyes and warns, “When he rises…you’ll wish I’d killed you all.” Then he dies for real.

In his office, the mayor chants something in a pentagram made of salt. The building shakes for a few moments. Mayor Wilkins wonders where Finch is, since he’s not usually late. Mr. Trick asks if whatever Mayor Wilkins did worked. Mayor Wilkins tells him to open the cage where they’re keeping the last of Balthazar’s minions. (First he gives the minion a sword.) The minion runs at the mayor, bringing the sword down on his head and splitting it in half. Moments later, Mayor Wilkins’ head repairs itself. Mr. Trick kills the minion and the mayor checks “become invincible” off his to-do list. Ha! Now the hundred days begin, and the mayor is invincible until his ascension.

The next day, Buffy goes to Faith’s motel room, where she’s washing blood out of her clothes. Buffy wants to talk about what they should do. Faith says they did their job. Buffy reminds her that being the Slayer isn’t the same as being a killer. She doesn’t want Faith to shut her out when they’ve both gone through something traumatic. Faith insists that she doesn’t need any help.

Buffy warns that someone will find Finch’s body and investigate his death. Faith tells her she got rid of the body, so that won’t be an issue. Buffy argues that getting rid of the evidence doesn’t erase what happened. “Faith, you don’t get it: You killed a man,” she says. “No, you don’t get it,” Faith replies. “I don’t care.”

Thoughts: I think most people know this but just in case: Alyson Hannigan (Willow) and Alexis Denisof (Wesley) started dating not long after this season and have been married since 2003.

Balthazar is the most unintentionally hilarious villain in the series. He’s just a big, loud pile of goo. Him waving his arms and yelling, “Unacceptable!” always cracks me up.

I can’t believe Snyder doesn’t have someone constantly watching the Scoobies to tell him that Faith, a non-student, keeps showing up on campus. Actually, he would be smart to hide surveillance cameras in the library so he can always know what they’re up to.

How hard would it be to give Angel something to do this season? David Boreanaz is lucky they gave him a spin-off. Without it, he’d have maybe two scenes an episode, doing nothing more than encouraging Buffy, telling her to be safe, and occasionally fighting vampires.

July 9, 2022

Buffy 3.13, The Zeppo: Xander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

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

Everyone say hi to Katie

Summary: The Scoobies have found some demon lair, and with an assist from a spell from Willow, the two Slayers and Giles take out three demons. Giles apologizes for walking in less prepared than he would have liked. The Scoobies realize that Xander is MIA, having been buried by some debris during the fight. The Slayers worry that he’ll get himself hurt or killed one of these days. Maybe he shouldn’t be jumping into fights with them. Xander argues that he played a pivotal role by serving as a distraction and letting the lead demon beat him up.

Buffy asks what they should do with the bodies of the three demons they’ve killed – burn them? Willow announces that she brought marshmallows: “Occasionally I’m callous and strange.” Giles says to leave them and find out what they are instead, as well as whether more of them will be coming. He advises Xander to stay behind everyone next time they head into battle. “But gee, Mr. White, if Clark and Lois get all the good stories, I’ll never be a good reporter,” Xander says sarcastically. Giles doesn’t get his Superman/Jimmy Olsen reference.

At school the next day, Xander tries to get one of the football players tossing a ball around on the quad to include him in their game. When one finally does, he doesn’t catch the ball. Instead, it hits a guy named Jack, and he’s not very happy about it. Cordelia watches from nearby as Jack threatens to hurt Xander for the sin of not catching a ball that knocked his lunch to the ground. He warns that when he gets his friends together, they’ll beat Xander up.

Cordelia adds insult to injury by mocking Xander: “Of all the humiliations you’ve had that I’ve witnessed, that was the latest.” He says he could have taken Jack, but Cordelia knows that’s not true – Jack is a psycho (which is still better than being a wuss like Xander). Xander wonders why he’s afraid of a bully like Jack after coming face to face with multiple demons and vampires. Cordelia says that unlike those monsters, Jack noticed Xander.

She notes that it must be hard to be the “little nothing” in a group of supernaturals. He must feel like Jimmy Olsen. Xander insists that he’s an integral part of the Scoobies with a lot to offer. Cordelia disagrees – he’s useless. He’s the Zeppo. Even Jack is cooler than Xander is. She turns to leave, pleased with how much fun she had ripping her ex-boyfriend to shreds.

At lunch, Xander asks Oz about the “essence of cool.” Who doesn’t have it, who decides who doesn’t have it, and how do you get it? Oz is considered cool, but why? Because he doesn’t talk much? “Could be,” Oz replies. Xander decides it’s because Oz is in a band. Maybe Xander should join one. He asks Oz if it’s hard to play the guitar. “Not the way I play it,” Oz says. Xander realizes that’s a bust since he played the flugelhorn in middle school and wasn’t cool then, either.

He needs something that no one else has. What could that be? “An exciting new obsession, which I think makes you very special,” Oz replies. Xander catches on that Oz is mocking him but says he can handle it because he knows he’s right. He just needs to find his thing. Oz says he’s overthinking this. Xander has identity issues, but it’s not…

“The end of the world,” Giles tells Buffy in the library. The demons they killed were from an apocalyptic cult called the Sisterhood of Jhe. More will be coming to Sunnydale to try to end the world. On top of that, there’s a full moon coming, so Oz will be spending the next three nights in the book cage with Scoobies babysitting him. Buffy asks Giles if he knows why the Jhe are there. He says they want to open the Hellmouth in the library.

The next day, Buffy tells Willow that if the Hellmouth opens, they’ll have to face demons like the one that almost got out the night she died. Willow’s had tons of nightmares about that demon, when she’s not having them about public nudity or academic failures. Actually, once she dreamed that the demon attacked her while she was naked and late for a test. Giles is working on figuring out when the Jhe plan to open the Hellmouth. Willow agrees to help with research, which makes Buffy feel better.

Xander pulls up in front of them in a vintage convertible. He’s decided it’s his thing that makes him cool and unique. (It’s his uncle’s; Roary can’t drive it because of multiple DUIs.) He’s not satisfied by the low level of enthusiasm the girls have, since they’re distracted by the impending end of the world. Xander offers to do whatever they need to help.

For starters, that help is in the form of a donut run. Cordelia comes across him and taunts that something big must be coming if the Scoobies have entrusted him with such a “daredevil mission.” She calls him expendable. His car isn’t going to make him cool; no one cares about it. Just then, a girl named Lysette comes up to Xander to talk about the car. He invites her to go for a drive with him, rubbing it in to Cordelia that he’s getting attention from a pretty girl.

Xander and Lysette end up at the Bronze, where he quickly learns that she only cares about cars and the guys she’s dated. He’s thrilled when Angel arrives and invites him to join them. Angel’s looking for Buffy, though, since he’s heard about an impending apocalypse. Xander assures him that the Scoobies are on top of it. Angel doesn’t think they get how major this is. When Xander offers to help, Angel tells him to stay out of it so he’s safe.

Lysette wants to go for another drive, so she and Xander leave. He’s so busy complaining about being excluded from the Scoobies that he accidentally rear-ends the car in front of him. He tries to convince himself that it’s nothing too bad, and definitely not the end of the world. Maybe not, but it could be the end of his world, since the driver who exits the car is Jack.

In the library, Buffy and Willow try to do research while Oz growls softly in the book cage. Willow wonders if he’s cranky because he senses something coming, like dogs can with earthquakes. Buffy reads that the Jhe like to celebrate their victories by eating their opponents. Giles complains that the Watchers’ Council won’t take his calls, now that they’ve booted him.

Buffy’s getting restless and says she’ll go out on patrol if they don’t learn anything soon. She might talk to Willy the Snitch, too. Giles is on his way to confer with some spirit guides who exist out of time and can see the future. This is really, really important – the fate of the world is at stake here. But the situation isn’t so important that Giles can’t take a moment to complain that there are no jelly donuts left. He wants one if Xander makes another donut run, but Buffy says they’re leaving him out of this. The battle will be easier if they know he’s safe.

Cut to Xander not really being safe, thanks to Jack’s temper. Also, his knife. Lysette thinks it’s cool. Sorry, she’s cool – her name is Katie. Jack mocks Xander for not standing up to him while Lysette is watching. The difference between the guys is fear: Jack has less than Xander. He hands Katie to Xander and eggs him on to attack him.

Lysette announces that she’s bored and wants to go on another drive. Not now, Lysette! Jack grabs Xander and throws him on the hood of his car. Just then a cop comes by. He’s familiar with Jack and guesses that he attacked Xander. Xander pretends they were just messing around. This makes Jack like Xander, so he invites Xander and Lysette to come have some fun with him. He’s going to gather his friends and go for a drive. But they should take Xander’s car, since the other car isn’t actually Jack’s.

It turns out that gathering Jack’s friends isn’t as simple as just going to their houses. No, they have to go to the cemetery so Jack can perform a ritual to raise them from the dead. Just seeing the first, Bob, sends Lysette screaming off into the night. Xander tries to duck out, too, but Jack wants him as their wheel man. Xander will be spending the night as a chauffeur for zombies.

Bob learns that he’s been dead for eight months. Jack had to wait for the stars to align to resurrect him. He confirms that he’s taped all the episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger that Bob missed. Aw, what a good friend. They head to another cemetery and raise another zombie, who’s in the mood for beer. I wonder if his zombie face matches the one on his fake ID.

Giles is in a third cemetery, talking to the spirit guides. They won’t tell him anything about the future, since that will cause chaos. Xander arrives with his new friends and tries to get Giles to let him help with what the Scoobies are doing. Giles declines, saying there’s something different about this apocalyptic threat. It’s like he can smell death in the air. “I think it’s Bob,” Xander tells him. Giles warns that they all might have to fight. He thinks they can prepare well enough over the next few weeks.

No such luck – Willy tells Buffy that it’s going down tonight. He’s been beaten up by some demons who were looking for Angel, knowing Angel could lead them to Buffy. They want her out of the way so they can open the Hellmouth. Buffy promises to stop the demons, but Willy says they’ll be the least of her troubles if the Hellmouth opens. He thinks she and Angel should go somewhere quiet together and decide what to do on their last night on Earth.

Bob has already figured that out for himself: He just wants beer. He, Jack, and their zombie buddies, Parker and Dickie, are having a great time. Bob decides that they should go beat up the liquor-store owner who killed him. Xander offers to drop the guys off somewhere, but Jack isn’t ready to let him go. He chooses Dickie’s idea for what to do tonight, baking a cake. That’s code for something that involves breaking into a hardware store. Xander panics a little as he realizes that he’s now an accessory to a crime.

He spots Willow nearby, leaving a magic shop with supplies for a protection spell. She tells Xander that “it’s” happening tonight, though she doesn’t tell him what that means. She hugs him and tells him she loves him. Xander decides to just leave his new buddies and go help the Scoobies, but Jack isn’t going to let him. He tells his friends that Xander doesn’t feel like part of their gang. The others decide to initiate him. Xander’s up for that until he learns that it means he has to die.

He tries to back out, but Bob accuses him of thinking he’s too good to be dead. Xander points out that Jack isn’t dead. But he is – he was shot in a drive-by three weeks ago. His grandfather resurrected him. The gang wants to make Xander an official member, and they urge him to join them in their supernatural shenanigans. Xander says they’ve forgotten about one thing. Then he takes off running. He makes it to his car and speeds off, stranding the zombies. Plus, they left all their “baking” ingredients in the car, so they have to go back to the hardware store for more.

Xander decides to call it a night and go home, but on the way, he comes across Faith fighting one of the Jhe. He hits the demon with his car and gives Faith a getaway ride. As far as cool goes, I’d say that ranks pretty high. They end up at Faith’s motel room, where she asks him to help her fix her dislocated shoulder. As we know, slaying makes Faith hungry and horny, so she asks Xander if he’s up for…well, let’s just say it’s not satisfying her hunger. Well, not that kind of hunger.

He mentions that he’s a virgin, so she tells him to relax and take his pants off. “Those two concepts are antithetical,” he replies. They make out, their clothes coming off, and she promises to guide him through his first time. “Did I mention I’m having a very strange night?” he asks. And now he’ll remember it forever, because it’s the night he had sex for the first time. Faith will probably find it less memorable later, since she just kicks him out almost immediately afterward, indicating that this isn’t as special for her as it is for him.

In the library, Oz is going wild in the book cage. Giles thinks it means the Hellmouth is about to open. He opens the cage so Willow can shoot Oz with a tranquilizer dart. She hopes he isn’t mad at her in the morning. Xander leaves Faith’s and takes a look at the gang’s “baking” ingredients for the first time. They wouldn’t make a very good cake, but they’d make an excellent bomb. He goes looking for the gang, trying to focus on stopping the zombies instead of the fact that he had sex. He decides to go find Buffy, since she’ll know what to do.

Wrong – Buffy is currently telling Angel that she doesn’t know what to do. He urges her to let him decide for her. He can buy her enough time for Willow’s spell to bind…whatever. This is worse than anything they’ve ever faced, and his solution is the only way. Buffy tells him she doesn’t want to watch him die again. They declare their love for each other, and Angel says not even death could change how he feels. Buffy says he may be ready to go but she’s not ready to lose him. This is her fight and they’re doing this her way.

Xander interrupts and starts to tell them about his problem, but he realizes it’s a bad time. He offers to help them but they don’t take him up on that. Xander decides that he can handle this on his own – he just has to figure out what the gang might want to blow up. Back at the library, Willow has moved Oz somewhere else so she and Giles can do their binding spell and deal with whatever might come up from beneath them. It might not just be demons, though – the gang is hooking up their bomb in the school’s boiler room, just under the library.

Xander’s arriving outside as the gang is leaving, and they try to jump back in the car. Dickie grabs onto a door and Xander drags him for a few blocks while asking him about the bomb. Dickie is only able to tell him where it is before he gets slammed into a mailbox and his head is knocked off. Xander wishes he’d asked his questions faster. He runs to the school with the gang chasing him.

The other Scoobies are in the library, facing off with the Hellmouth demon, which has grown since they last saw it. The zombies chase Xander down the hall, one of them stopping to peek into the library. They split up and Bob finds Xander first. He goes after Xander with a fire axe, but Xander gets it from him and tips a soda machine over onto him. Nice. He comes across Parker, who runs before Xander can finish his cool-guy-action-hero quip.

As the Scoobies battle the Hellmouth demon, Xander chases Parker with the axe. Both of them turn around and run in the other direction when they come across some of the Jhe. Parker ends up getting eaten. Xander heads to the boiler room alone with less than two minutes left on the bomb’s countdown clock. Jack finds him there and attacks him, not wanting Xander to disarm the bomb (not that Xander knows how to).

The guys fight, and eventually Jack realizes that if he doesn’t run right now, he’s not going to be out by the time the bomb detonates. Xander is willing to stay and die if it means stopping Jack. Once again, it comes down to who has less fear. Jack says he’s not afraid to die – he’s already dead, after all – but Xander notes that he’s not going to be able to come back this time. He doesn’t think Jack is ready for real death. Jack asks if Xander is. “I like the quiet,” Xander replies with a little smile.

Upstairs, the Scoobies are in an all-out battle with the Jhe and the Hellmouth demon. In the boiler room, there’s just the ticking of the countdown clock. With only two seconds left, Jack disarms the bomb. “Good boy,” is all Xander can get out. He tells Jack not to come back to Sunnydale High, then leaves. Jack says to himself that he’s not going anywhere, but as he’s leaving through a different door, he’s taken out by a surprise foe: werewolf Oz.

The next day, the Scoobies, who have some minor injuries, are subdued by the battle. They saw some horrible things, but they won. Buffy’s proud of Giles for doing something really brave. Willow says no one will ever know how close the world came to ending and what they did to stop it. Xander joins them and pretends he had a boring, quiet night without them. He heads off to get a snack (Oz declines to join him since he’s “oddly full today”) and runs into Cordelia. She picks up where she left off mocking him about being a loser. This time he just smiles and walks away without responding.

Thoughts: Bob is played by Michael Cudlitz.

I like the structure of this episode, with the end-of-the-world stuff happening in the background. The Scoobies do a better job than you’d expect keeping things under wraps.

In some nice continuity, Lysette is the friend Cordelia mentions in “Killed by Death” who got her nose done at the hospital where the episode takes place.

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