December 10, 2022

Buffy 4.13, The I in Team: Madam, I’m Adam

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

Look alive, Graham

Summary: Willow is imploring a goddess to send her the heart she desires. It’s not a love spell, though – she’s playing poker with Xander and Anya. Xander thinks using magic to get the card she wants is cheating. Anya asks for five cards, but she can’t produce an ace, so she only gets three. She doesn’t see the point of the game anyway, since there’s no money involved (they don’t have any). Xander says he’ll soon have money to gamble, since he’s getting into the exciting world of sales. Specifically, he’s selling Boost bars. If this turns out to be an MLM, I won’t be surprised.

Xander wishes Buffy could have made it to the game. Willow says she’s with Riley; they’re spending all their time together, as one does with a “spanking new boyfriend.” “Yes, we’ve enjoyed the spanking,” Anya says. Xander fumbles the deck of cards and they fly everywhere. He thinks Riley’s fine, if “oafish,” but he’s not sold on the Initiative. Willow’s optimistic about them, since they’re anti-demon. She assures Anya that they probably won’t have a problem with her, now that she’s not a demon anymore. “Maybe. I choose to feel threatened,” Anya replies. Xander wonders what the commandos are really up to.

Right now they’re fighting Buffy. Walsh wanted to see what she’s made of, and Buffy has shown that she’s made of pretty tough stuff. It took Riley’s patrol team 42 minutes to track her, and it took Buffy just 28 seconds to neutralize them. Buffy modestly says she was just lucky. Riley’s super-proud, and Walsh and Graham are impressed. Forrest is mad, because we’ve reached the part of the season where he turns into a jerk. Riley tells Buffy that everyone loves her, though Walsh’s face tells a different story.

At lunch the next day, Buffy tells Willow about the exercise. She got to taze a guy! Willow hopes that night isn’t a letdown after all the excitement – the Scoobies are going to hang out at the Bronze. Buffy’s looking forward to it. She spots Riley and just watches him while Willow tells her about the poker game. Buffy gets distracted when she sees that Riley’s only getting a Twinkie for lunch. She vows to punish him. “Everyone’s getting spanked but me,” Willow laments.

Giles goes to Spike’s new home, a crypt that Spike calls a “fixer-upper.” Giles is there to thank Spike and pay him for his help when Giles was a demon. Now that they know Spike can hurt demons, Giles thinks he might have a “higher purpose.” Spike ignores him and tells him he wants nothing to do with the “Slayerettes” from now on. Giles notes that since they live in the same town, it’s going to be tough for them to stay away from each other. Spike tells him not to come calling when “Teen Witch’s magic goes wonky or little Xander cuts a new tooth.”

Buffy and Riley are discussing something they’re about to do that he doesn’t want to pressure her into. It’s not sex – it’s her first trip to the Initiative. She’s impressed by how big it is, since Riley never gave her an idea of the full scope. “Don’t like to brag,” he says. As they’re about to start kissing, Walsh interrupts. She gives Buffy some classified reading material and jokes that she’ll have to eat the pages after she reads them (except Walsh has a pretty flimsy grasp on what humor is, so it doesn’t sound like a joke).

She gives Buffy a tour, showing her the pit where the hostiles undergo experiments. The science team is led by a doctor named Angelman, who’s an expert in behavior modification. They’ve had huge success in conditioning demons so they’re no longer a threat. Buffy’s familiar, thanks to Spike, but pretends she saw something about that on the Discovery Channel.

Next they go to the armory, though Buffy will have to wait until she’s cleared to use weapons. She spots a prototype for a combo camera and communications system (a com-cam, which is fun) that they hope to start using soon. It not only lets teams communicate while they’re in the field but also monitors their heart rates. The prototype costs $20,000, and Buffy learns a lesson about not just touching anything she wants in the building. The tour ends outside the research area, which is restricted and has to be accessed by a swipe card. Walsh gives Buffy a card and pager, warning her not to lose them. Buffy’s officially a commando.

Tara offers Willow a crystal she found that belonged to her grandmother. Willow’s been looking for one for months, but she doesn’t want to accept this one if it’s a family heirloom. She’ll use it for spells with Tara, though. Tara invites her to do so tonight, but Willow already has those plans with the Scoobies. Tara tries not to be too disappointed. Willow decides not to invite her along so Tara won’t feel out of place.

Walsh enters the restricted area and goes into room 314. Angelman warns her that Buffy is an “unnecessary risk.” Their subject in the room is doing well, and Walsh tells him it’s almost time for him to wake up. His name is Adam, and he looks part human, part demon, and part metal. “I know you’re gonna make me proud,” Walsh says.

At the Bronze that night, Willow is once again the fifth wheel to Xander and Anya. Anya’s upset that Xander hasn’t been paying her enough attention, since he’s been selling Boost bars. He points out that the more he sells, the more money he’ll have to take her on dates. And that’s how Anya learned to love capitalism. Buffy hasn’t shown up yet, but Willow’s sure she’ll be there soon. When she does arrive, she’s with Riley, Forrest, Graham, and some other commandos. Willow’s disappointed that it’s not an all-Scooby gathering.

Anya takes Xander away to dance, not wanting to be around the commandos. Buffy senses that Willow’s not thrilled that she brought the commandos, but the guys wanted to throw her a little celebration, so she felt obligated to invite them. Willow says she might have invited someone, too, if she’d known they were going outside the core Scoobies. Just hypothetically, of course. She didn’t have anyone specific in mind.

Buffy gushes about the Initiative to Willow, telling her that when she patrols, she’ll now have a lot of backup. Plus, she’ll get to work with Riley. Willow worries that she’s rushing things with the organization. The Scoobies still don’t know a lot about them. For example, what’s their goal with the demons they supposedly rehabilitate? And what about 314? Buffy doubts that’s important, since Ethan’s the one who brought it up. Willow just thinks Buffy should ask more questions.

Buffy and the commandos’ pagers suddenly go off, so they have to go meet up with Walsh. She sends them after a polgara demon, which can eject bone skewers from its arms. Angelman tells the commandos not to damage its arms when they capture it. Buffy asks why, and he explains that they want to study it. Next Buffy asks why the demon’s in the area. She can anticipate demons’ moves better if she knows their motives. Angelman says polgaras are just destructive.

Walsh tells Buffy that polgaras have great eyesight, so she should probably put on the tactical gear the other commandos are wearing. Buffy doesn’t want to “look all Private Benjamin,” and she’s patrolled before in the halter top she’s wearing. She has more questions but Walsh cuts her off. Riley gives orders, and Walsh reminds the commandos that they’re just capturing the polgara, not killing it. Any questions? Yes, Buffy has more.

Willow goes to Tara’s room while Buffy, Riley, and their team head out on patrol. Buffy worries that Walsh hates her, but Riley says she’s just not used to Buffy asking so many questions, since she never did in class. He’s sure that Walsh likes her. She liked Buffy before Riley did. Buffy considers getting her a present. Riley reminds her that they’re patrolling, and without Slayer instincts and reflexes, he needs to concentrate. Buffy quiets, then asks what Riley meant about Walsh liking her before he did.

On another team, Forrest complains to Graham that Riley chose Buffy as his second in command (even though Riley made Forrest leader of his team). He’s not thinking with his brain. Graham suggests that Riley’s giving Forrest a chance to get out of his shadow. Forrest denies that he’s in anyone’s shadow. Graham spots Spike, whom Forrest recognizes as hostile 17. The commandos rush him, but Spike’s able to throw his bag of groceries at them and escape. Graham shoots him with a tracer so they can track him.

He contacts Riley via walkie-talkie to tell him that his team is going after Spike. This distracts Riley, who doesn’t see the polgara heading toward him. Buffy does, and she and Riley take it on together. We go back and forth between their fight and what they do together afterward to celebrate their victory. Hint: It involves taking their clothes off, and it’s one of the things Faith liked to do after slaying. And EW, Walsh has surveillance cameras in Riley’s room and sees the whole thing! EW EW EW EW EW EW EWWWWWWWW!

Xander tries to sell Giles Boost bars the next day, but Giles only agrees to buy one. He immediately hates it and kicks Xander out of his apartment. Spike shows up under a tarp protecting him from the sun and tells the Scoobies that he spent the night running from commandos. Giles asks how that’s the Scoobies’ problem. Xander pretends to be hurt by the news that Spike said he didn’t want to have anything to do with them anymore.

Spike reluctantly asks for help, reminding the Scoobies that they’re good guys. Giles would like to know why, specifically, he should help. Spike points out that he helped Giles, but that’s not good enough – he did that for money. He gives back the money he hasn’t already spent on blood and cigarettes, and tells Xander and Anya to get to work helping him.

Buffy and Riley wake up together, and the first thing he does (other than kiss her) is take his vitamins. He says he’s how “they” trained him, “they” meaning the government. He was pulled out of special-ops training for the Initiative. Buffy wonders what they told him the Initiative was. He says they didn’t explain. In the military, you follow orders and don’t ask questions. Buffy can’t believe he isn’t curious about what the organization does. Riley says he knows everything he needs to. They’re on the right side and are protecting people.

Buffy asks what 314 is, but before Riley can answer (if he even has any answers), Walsh calls and tells him he’s needed for “a situation.” Of course, he jumps to it without asking questions, though he does peek into the restricted area on his way to see Walsh. She tells him to meet up with a team to go after Spike. “Make me proud,” she says.

She goes to room 314 and tells Angelman that the Slayer may be a liability. Walsh thinks she has too much influence over Riley. They need to employ their contingency scenario. Angelman’s disappointed, since Buffy could have been a powerful ally, and Riley won’t like this outcome. Walsh says the sooner they do this, the better. While they’ve been talking, Angelman has been cutting off one of the polgara’s arms.

Giles digs into Spike’s back to remove the tracer, which is blinking. Xander IDs it (he still has military memories from his brief time as a soldier) and warns that the commandos are probably on their way. Giles says they need to buy some time, since the tracer is in pretty deep and he doesn’t exactly have medical training.

Buffy goes to her room and sees that her bed wasn’t the only one that wasn’t slept in the night before. Willow arrives moments later but neither of them asks about the other’s activities. Buffy apologizes for ditching the Scoobies, but Willow tells her it’s okay. Buffy gets an Initiative page and heads back out. Willow then gets a call from Giles asking for her help.

Walsh assigns Buffy to do some recon on a low-level threat in the tunnels under the town. It might be a raccoon, not a demon, but they can’t take any risks. Buffy just needs to use the com-cam to show Walsh what the threat is, and Walsh will tell her how to handle it. Buffy says she has some more questions, and Walsh tells her they can talk when she gets back.

Spike has been drinking so he won’t feel the surgery Giles is performing, and he’s pretty out of it. Willow helps with a spell that should disrupt the tracer’s signal. It works, but it also makes the Scoobies’ hair stand up. While the commandos decide to change into civilian clothes and keep searching for Spike, Buffy goes into the tunnels. She comes across a couple of demons with scythes and recognizes one from the Initiative’s pit. She fires a blaster at them but it shocks her and she drops it. A grate falls, trapping her with the two demons.

Buffy switches to hand-to-hand combat as Walsh watches through the com-cam. After a while, Buffy falls to the ground and her heart monitor flatlines. Walsh looks unconcerned. Riley, Forrest, Graham, and their team pick up the tracer’s signal just as Giles removes it. He gives it to Xander, who runs off with it. The commandos are confused that their technology says the signal is heading straight toward them, since they don’t see anything. Riley notices a nearby sewer grate and realizes the tracer was flushed. Nice job, Scoobies!

In the tunnels, Buffy’s still fighting the demons – her com-cam only flatlined because it fell off. One of the demons accidentally hits the other with his scythe, which takes care of one of Buffy’s problems for her. She realizes she can use her malfunctioning blaster to her advantage, and she tosses it into the water the other demon is standing in, electrocuting him. Now that’s initiative!

Riley returns to Walsh to tell her that they couldn’t capture Spike. Walsh puts on a fake sad demeanor to tell him that two hostiles escaped, and Buffy went after them on her own and was killed. Walsh claims she did everything she could to stop Buffy. As Riley tries to process the lie, he sees on the monitors behind Walsh that Buffy is picking up her com-cam, alive and well. She knows that Walsh set her up, and she says that if Walsh thinks her scheme was enough to kill a Slayer, she doesn’t know what a Slayer is. Buffy vows to show her.

Riley storms off, ignoring Walsh when she orders him to stop, probably the first time in his career that he’s disobeyed orders. Giles advises Spike to leave town, but he’s not going anywhere until the Initiative fixes him. Giles tells him that as long as they know about him, it’s not safe for him to be there. Buffy arrives and says it’s not safe for any of them.

Walsh visits Adam, saying they’ll give Buffy a fight if that’s what she wants. Walsh has worked too long to let the Slayer threaten her or her project. She doesn’t know who she’s dealing with. Once Buffy’s gone, Walsh is sure that Riley will come around and understand that Walsh had to get rid of her for the greater good. Her first goal is to “remove the complication.” Then, when Buffy least expects it…Walsh doesn’t get to finish. Adam is awake, and he uses the polgara skewer in his new arm to kill Walsh. “Mommy,” he says.

Thoughts: Ugh, Adam. Easily the worst villain in the whole series. And like I said in the last episode, waiting until halfway through the season to introduce what’s supposed to be the Big Bad was a huge misstep.

For someone who might have to start kicking at any moment, Buffy sure wears a lot of long skirts.

I’m impressed that Forrest not only recognized Spike after not seeing him for months but also remembered his hostile number.

December 3, 2022

Buffy 4.12, A New Man: Out of the Loop

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

Careful there, Hulk

Summary: Buffy and Riley are making out on her bed, anticipating a night alone, since Willow’s out. Unfortunately, they’re wrong – Willow bursts in and reports that a fire-breathing creature came in through the rec-room window. Riley wants to call for backup but Buffy says they don’t have time to wait. She heads into the rec room, stake in hand, and is met not with a demon but a surprise birthday party. (Someone probably should have warned Riley so he didn’t sneak in with a weapon.)

Giles is the oldest person at the party by a mile, and Anya has no interest in hearing his stories of his own time at school. Buffy brings Riley over to introduce him to Giles, who didn’t know they were dating. She mentions that he was the librarian at her high school. “I’ve seen the library. It’s gone downhill since you left,” Riley says. He asks if Giles is retired now that there’s no library. Giles says he’s “between projects.”

Buffy’s happy to have everyone together for her birthday, though Giles isn’t sure a surprise party was the best idea, considering Buffy spends enough time having things jump out at her in the dark. Buffy quotes Walsh, who’s said before that adrenaline is like exercise without the gym fees. She thinks Giles should meet Walsh, the smartest person she’s ever met. Giles sarcastically comments that they should have invited her. Buffy replies that she’s old (“like 40”) and has better things to do than hang out with kids.

The next day, Xander oversees Spike as he packs up his things to move out. Spike steals Xander’s radio and wonders why he’s so surprised – Spike’s evil, after all. He’s thinking of moving into a crypt, which would be dark and dank, but not as dark and dank as Xander’s room. Xander hurries him along, and Anya gives Spike a housewarming gift for his new place. It’s Xander’s lamp, so he objects.

Spike notes that he won’t have electricity anyway. He also won’t have running water or a fridge for his blood. Anya thinks he should get a hotel room. Spike has no money and Xander refuses to give him any. Spike wonders why Buffy didn’t show up to say goodbye. Xander tells him that she had an appointment with someone who’s still scary.

That someone is Walsh, who now knows that Buffy is the Slayer. “We thought you were a myth,” she tells Buffy. “Well, you were myth-taken,” Buffy replies. Walsh says this explains why Buffy only got a B-minus in her class – she didn’t have the time to put in extra work. She and the Initiative have the same mission, just with different methods. The Initiative uses state-of-the-art technology and weapons against demons while Buffy pokes them with a stick. Yeah, but it gets the job done!

Walsh thinks they can learn a lot from each other. She’s trying to get Buffy clearance to visit the Initiative and see how they operate. She’s proud that Finn has killed or captured 17 vampires and demons. Buffy, who kills that many in a week, is reluctant to announce her own number.

While dusting, because he has nothing more interesting or important to do, Giles finds a book he forgot about and sees something inside that concerns him. He tries to call Buffy but instead leaves a message with Willow that a demon prince is going to rise that night. Buffy is still with Riley, who’s a little shocked about how many vampires and demons she’s taken out. She tries to downplay it, but Riley notes that when he saw her stop the world from ending, he thought that was a big week for her. Now he feels like he needs to know the plural of “apocalypse.”

Buffy points out that she’s been slaying since she was 15, so of course she’s going to have a lot of marks in her kill column. That just impresses Riley more. Her point is that they just have different amounts of experience. Plus, she has Slayer strength on her side. Riley doesn’t think he could take her on. Buffy flirtatiously says that depends on what he means by that.

Giles goes to Walsh’s office looking for Buffy. He tells her that Buffy has gotten a lot out of Walsh’s class. Walsh says she’s bright and just needs encouragement about her schoolwork. Giles prefers to let students find their own strengths. Plus, Buffy isn’t a typical student. He hopes Walsh won’t push her. Walsh says Buffy’s independent and self-reliant, but not necessarily in a good way. It’s not always healthy for children to take on adult responsibilities too young. Walsh thinks Buffy is suffering from the absence of a male role model. Giles is stunned into silence by that.

That night, he, Xander, and Willow go to a cemetery to try to take out this demon prince who’s supposed to rise in a crypt. They lost some time because Giles was looking for Buffy and then got lost on campus. The good news is that there’s no sign that the demon has risen. Willow and Xander guess that the Initiative already took him out. They’ve probably known about his rising for days. Giles has no idea what they’re talking about – Buffy didn’t tell him who the commandos were or that Riley’s one of them.

Giles is annoyed that he’s spent all this time looking into the commandos, and not only do the Scoobies know about them but Buffy’s dating one. Xander and Willow admit that Anya and Spike also know. Giles is even more irritated by that, and it only gets worse when he finds out that Walsh is the head of the Initiative. He tells Willow and Xander they can leave. He plans to stay for a while to make sure the demon doesn’t rise, but he quickly realizes nothing’s going to happen.

After he leaves the crypt, Ethan emerges from the shadows and monologues to himself that something very interesting is about to happen. Hearing his voice, Giles pokes his head back into the crypt. “Oh, bugger, I thought you’d gone!” Ethan exclaims.

The chance to beat up Ethan makes Giles feel better about his difficult day. Ethan claims to have information about something that’s going to be bad for both of them. Giles will need time to prepare. Ethan decides he should do that at a bar. “Now isn’t this more fun than kicking my a$#?” he asks. Giles says no. “Oh. It’s more fun for me,” Ethan replies. He chalks up Giles’ hatred toward him after a long friendship as “religious intolerance,” since Giles didn’t like that Ethan started to worship chaos.

Ethan says that there are stories circulating in the “dark world” that something other than the Slayer is hurting demons. They’re scared, especially of something called 314. Even though the guys aren’t friends anymore, Ethan wanted Giles to know that whatever’s developing is throwing things out of balance, which is worse than the chaos he loves. They’re in for a literal “hell of a fight.”

Buffy and Riley are spending their evening sparring in a workout room, though let’s be honest, it’s all foreplay. Well, maybe not after Buffy kicks Riley across the room. Back at the bar, the guys are a few drinks in, and Giles is complaining that demons seem to be terrified of Walsh, while they never even notice Giles. Oh, that’s not true, Giles! The ones who knocked you unconscious had to have noticed you! He’s also mad about what Walsh said about him not being a male role model for Buffy. “I’m twice the man she is,” he says.

Ethan hits on their waitress and gives her his phone number. She’s not interested. Giles says they’ve changed. Well, not completely, since Ethan is still self-centered and sadistic. But the world has passed them by and they’ve been replaced by has-beens. The Initiatives aren’t perfect but they’re accomplishing their goals. Giles is just an unemployed librarian who keeps getting knocked out.

Ethan tells him he won’t have to worry about that anymore: “When you went to the loo, I slipped a small pellet of poison in your drink. You’ll be dead in an hour.” After a dramatic pause, Ethan cracks up and admits that he was kidding. Giles predicts that he’ll feel horrible in the morning, but Ethan encourages him to keep enjoying himself for now. They’re sorcerers, and the night is still their time. It’s a time of magic.

Willow goes to Tara’s room so they can do a spell together. They’ll test their synchronicity by levitating a rose and plucking off its petals. They’ll have to be completely in tune with each other. They are, and the levitation part of the spell goes great. But instead of losing its petals one by one, the rose zooms around the room and lands between them.

Giles wakes up the next morning and is shocked to see a horned demon in his mirror. He’s turned into one overnight, and he has all the strength that comes with the transformation. He immediately guesses that Ethan is to blame, so he tries to get dressed to go confront him. His clothes are too small for his demon body, though, so he has to go out in just pants and a blanket.

Buffy’s in a great mood at breakfast with Willow, which Willow thinks is because of her new relationship. Willow lies that she was in the chem lab all night, by herself. She mentions her failed spell and says she thinks something’s out there. She felt the presence of some dark-magic energy. If someone else is doing magic, they’re powerful.

Buffy says she’ll tell Giles about it, or maybe Walsh. Willow advises her to talk to Giles, since he’s feeling hurt about being out of the loop. Buffy didn’t realize she hadn’t told him about the Initiative and Riley. She says she’ll talk to Giles tomorrow, since she already has plans to spend the day with Riley. She thinks things are going really well, though kicking him across the room might have ruined that. Willow’s sure that he’ll get over it, since he told Buffy not to hold back. She’s right not to pretend she’s less than she is. Buffy admits that she still held back a little.

Giles goes to Xander’s, annoyed that he’s still asleep at 10:30. Xander doesn’t respond well to being woken up by a big demon, even though Giles tries to warn him ahead of time. He doesn’t realize that when he speaks, people only hear a demon language in a voice that doesn’t sound like Giles’. Xander throws things at him until he runs away. He takes off down the street, apologizing for stomping through someone’s yard. “Bloody humans,” he complains.

That night, the Scoobies go to Giles’ to get his help identifying the demon Xander saw. He’s not home, and they find what they think are signs of an invasion, which are really just the aftermath of a clumsy demon trying to get through the morning. Buffy tries to stay optimistic that the demon just kidnapped him.

Giles ends up in a cemetery, where Spike is thrilled to see a creature he now knows he can hurt and kill. But when Giles grumbles at him, Spike understands him. He explains that Giles is speaking Fyarl, which Spike also happens to speak. Giles asks for his help finding Ethan so they can make him undo whatever he did, and then Giles can kill him. Spike asks what’s in it for him. Well, Giles will let him live. Spike isn’t motivated, so Giles offers him money. Fortunately, Spike’s price is low, only $200. He suggests going to get Buffy, but Giles would rather hunt down Ethan on his own and keep Buffy out of the loop.

The Scoobies look through Giles’ books to find the demon Xander saw. They’ll then have to figure out how to track it down. They hear a noise outside, and as Buffy goes to check it out, Riley lets himself in. The Initiative monitors 911 calls for possible non-human activity, and there were a bunch in the area. Yeah, in the morning! It’s night now! The Initiative is so slow!

The reports from Giles’ neighbors make the Scoobies think he was attacked. Riley promises that the Initiative will help the Scoobies find him. Buffy’s really worried and can’t stop thinking that they should ask Giles for help, then realizing that they can’t. “He’d find himself in a second,” Xander says. He can’t think of anyone who’s cooler in a crisis.

Cut to Giles snapping at Spike, who’s driving Giles’ car, that if he can’t find third gear, he shouldn’t try for it. Spike mentions that Fyarl demons are mostly killing machines, but they’re also good at opening jars. Giles asks if he has special powers now. Maybe he can set things on fire with his eye beams? No, but he can shoot paralyzing mucus out of his nose. That’s…helpful, I guess.

Giles feels like he’s changing, and he doesn’t like it. All he feels is anger and a need to destroy. “Good times,” Spike says. “Go with it.” He thinks Giles should get to do the destructive things Spike no longer can. Giles doesn’t want to become a monster just because he looks like one. He still has a soul and a conscience. He’s a human. He suddenly tells Spike to stop the car. He’s spotted Walsh downtown, and he gets out of the car to growl at her and chase her, just for fun.

Xander finally finds the demon he saw in a book. Buffy doesn’t look forward to battling something that can spray her with mucus. Willow reads that it can be killed by a weapon made of silver. Riley reports that Walsh was attacked by the demon, which got out of a gray Citroën. The Scoobies know that’s Giles’ car. “Why would a demon steal a car?” Xander wonders. “Why would a demon steal that car?” Anya adds.

Buffy thinks that means this demon has a purpose, which doesn’t fit what they’ve read about Fyarls. Maybe it’s doing someone’s bidding – the same someone who used the magic that disrupted Willow’s spell. Buffy tells Willow and Xander to stay at Giles’ in case the person controlling the demon calls for a ransom. She and Riley will go to the magic shop to see if anyone bought supplies. She grabs a silver letter opener in case they encounter the demon along the way.

Spike and Giles go to the bar where Giles and Ethan drank the night before. Spike questions their waitress, who knows the motel where Ethan was staying. Meanwhile, Buffy and Riley break into the magic shop (which was unnecessary, since he has a master key that opens every shop on Main Street) to look for sales receipts. Buffy quickly finds one for Ethan, so Riley calls in a search for motel registrations with his name.

He tells Buffy that Walsh gave him orders not to bring Buffy along when he finds the demon. Buffy refuses to sit out: “You’re not taking me with you. I am going and I am letting you come along.” Riley says it’s not her call, since this is now a military operation. She invites him to call in some troops to try to stop her. She’s not letting anyone else kill the demon that hurt Giles.

Giles is getting more and more Fyarl-like, and all he feels like doing is killing people. “Good for you,” Spike says. He notes that they’ve picked up a tail. “Yes, just a little one. Hurts when I sit,” Giles replies. He means you’re being followed, buddy. The Initiative has tracked them down, and the Citroën isn’t going to be able to stay out ahead of them for long. Giles suggests that he jump out so the commandos follow Spike, but Spike doesn’t like that idea. He gives in when Giles offers him another $100.

Ethan is packing to leave town when Giles bursts into his motel room. Ethan tries to get him to calm down, since he can’t undo what he did if Giles kills him. When Buffy and Riley arrive, Ethan tells them that the demon killed Giles. Buffy puts Riley on Ethan-watching duty while she fights the demon. Meanwhile, Spike leads the Initiative’s vehicles on a car chase, but he’s so proud of himself for losing them that he isn’t paying attention, and he crashes Giles’ car.

Buffy fights Giles while Riley fights Ethan. Giles is clearly so caught up in his new demon nature that he forgets that he’s beating up someone who’s like a daughter to him. She eventually gets him on his back on the ground, and she raises the letter opener to stab him in the chest. “This is for Giles,” she says. “For me?” he replies, confused. She plunges the letter opener into his chest, realizing just moments too late that she stabbed Giles. Fortunately, the letter opener doesn’t kill him. Buffy decides it must not be real silver.

Ethan laments sticking around town instead of just leaving after he’s done his damage: “It’s the stay-and-gloat that gets me every time.” He’s made Giles human again, and since Giles didn’t have a shirt with him, he’s had to put on one of Ethan’s, which is definitely not Giles’ style. He asks Buffy how she knew it was him. She says it was his eyes – he’s the only person who can look that annoyed with her.

Ethan thinks Buffy will let him go, since he’s human and a Slayer can’t do anything to him. No, but the Initiative can take him to a secret detention facility in the Nevada desert and try to rehabilitate him. Giles excitedly goes outside to watch him get shoved into a Humvee. Buffy appreciates Riley and the Initiative’s help, and Riley admires her strength and how she takes charge. Sounds like he doesn’t like having to take Walsh’s orders all the time. He thinks that with another week of training, he’ll be able to take Buffy on.

Giles gets himself a new phone, since he smashed his while he was a demon, and implies to Buffy that she needs to call him more often and tell him important things. She apologizes for not telling him about Riley and the Initiative and promises to keep him more informed in the future. Giles makes it clear that he doesn’t want her to spill any secrets, but he’s concerned about the Initiative after what Ethan said.

Buffy notes that she’s just dating Riley, not the whole organization, and he’s a good guy. Giles gets that, but he’s part of something they don’t understand. Buffy suspects that Giles sees the organization negatively because he doesn’t like Walsh. He advises her to keep her eyes open and be aware of what she’s getting into.

Walsh is annoyed that Riley broke protocol for Buffy. She warns him to be careful with his new girlfriend – she acts on instinct and her loyalties aren’t clear. Riley promises that Walsh won’t be disappointed in her. Buffy’s good at what she does and is the “truest soul” he’s ever met. “Lord, spare me college boys in love,” Walsh teases. She thinks he’s probably right and she’ll end up being impressed. After Riley leaves, she lets herself into a restricted area of the Initiative and opens a door marked 314.

Thoughts: I wish we’d gotten more Ethan episodes. His and Giles’ dynamic is so fun to watch. I would have loved to see him pretend to be rehabilitated, then go back to his evil ways.

“You were myth-taken” is brilliant.

I like this season for the most part but the fact that we’re halfway in and there’s no Big Bad is poor planning.

November 19, 2022

Buffy 4.10, Hush: You’re Gonna Die Screaming But You Won’t Be Heard

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

If I’m going to have nightmares about these guys, I’m taking you all with me

Summary: Buffy’s in Professor Walsh’s class, where the topic of the day is communication. She talks about thoughts and experiences, then calls on Buffy and Riley to assist in a demonstration. She has Buffy lie down on her desk and tells Riley to be a good boy. “Don’t worry – if I kiss you, it’ll make the sun go down,” Riley tells Buffy. They kiss as if no one’s watching them, even though everyone is.

The sun does, indeed, go down, and suddenly the room is empty. “Fortune favors the brave,” Buffy says. She hears singing and follows the sound to the hallway. A blond girl is there, holding a box in her hands. She sings:

“Can’t even shout, can’t even cry
The Gentlemen are coming by
Looking in windows, knocking on doors
They need to take seven and they might take yours
Can’t call to Mom, can’t say a word
You’re gonna die screaming but you won’t be heard.”

Riley joins Buffy and puts his hand on her shoulder. When she turns around, he’s turned into a demonic-looking man. Buffy wakes up from her dream to find that she’s missed the rest of the class. Willow teases that they covered everything they’ll need to know for the final. Riley joins them and says that Buffy looked peaceful. Willow heads off alone so they can talk in private, then sneaks around to eavesdrop on them. She’s happy to hear that Riley made an appearance in Buffy’s dream, though Buffy won’t tell him what happened.

He asks what she’s doing that night and she blurts out, “Patrolling” without thinking. She changes that to “petroleum,” which, of course, makes a lot more sense. He can’t tell her about his plans for the evening, either, so this relationship is really starting out great, huh? When they say goodbye, they clearly want to kiss each other, but Buffy gets distracted by the thought of the papers Riley said he had to grade, since they haven’t submitted any. This ruins the moment, and she chastises herself with, “Fortune favors the brave” as they split up without kissing.

She calls Giles to tell him about her dream and the girl’s song. He’s not sure if this is a prophetic dream or just “the eternal mystery” of Buffy’s brain. He asks Spike if he’s heard of the Gentlemen. No, and he wants more Wheetabix, which he likes to mix with blood. Giles is suitably grossed out.

Xander and Anya come over, bickering about whether he actually cares about her. She accuses him of just wanting her around for “lots of orgasms.” Spike is hilariously interested in seeing where this conversation goes. Xander reminds Anya that they discussed how private conversations aren’t private when they’re in front of his friends. “Oh, we’re not your friends. Go on,” Spike says.

Giles asked Xander to come over so he could take Spike home with him for a few days. Giles has a friend coming to town and wants them to have some time alone. Anya guesses that he means “an orgasm friend.” “Yes, that’s exactly the most appalling thing you could have said,” he replies. Xander will only let Spike stay with him if he gets tied up again (Giles is letting him have free reign of the apartment, I guess since he can’t hurt anyone). Spike refuses to stay in a basement where Xander and Anya are just going to have sex near him.

Willow attends a meeting of the campus Wicca group, which doesn’t include as much magic as she’d like. More specifically, it doesn’t include magic at all. They don’t want to play into stereotypes about witches. One attendee, Tara, is interested in Willow’s suggestion that they do actual spells, but she’s shy and stammers, so she doesn’t feel comfortable supporting her in public.

Willow meets up with Buffy later and complains that the group is full of “wanna-blessed-bes.” She’s stuck at the level of floating pencils. She asks how Buffy and Riley’s conversation went, but the fact that it was only a conversation bugs Buffy. She, like Willow, would like to move to the next level. She doesn’t like having to keep secrets from Riley about being the Slayer.

Riley is in a similar boat, not being able to tell Buffy about the Initiative. Forrest can empathize – they have a job that would make any woman fall at their feet, but they have to “Clark Kent” their way through dating, never being able to tell anyone. “Thank God we’re pretty,” he says. Riley thinks Buffy’s special (he’s said this a bunch, according to Forrest), and he wants to be able to talk to her about his life.

Xander ties Spike to a chair before going to bed. Spike doesn’t see the point, since he has no desire to bite Xander. Xander argues that he’s totally biteable. Spike uses falsetto to imitate Anya and complain about their relationship issues. Giles is still focused on the song from Buffy’s dream, but he’s stalled on figuring out what “they need to take seven” refers to. Olivia arrives and they quickly get to kissing. Giles is getting more action than Buffy is!

That night, the demonic-looking man from Buffy’s dream – one of the Gentlemen from the song – opens the box the girl was holding in a clock tower. While everyone’s asleep, their voices are drawn to the box and sealed inside. From this point until almost the end of the episode, there’s no dialogue outside of a TV report and computers.

In the morning, Buffy goes down the hall to use the dorm bathroom. On her way back to her room, she passes someone who’s crying. Willow wakes up as she returns and they try to greet each other but find that they can’t speak. Buffy sticks her head out of the room and sees that no one else in the dorm can speak, either. Xander and Spike are both afflicted as well, and Xander blames the vampire. Spike gives him the British version of the finger. Xander calls Buffy, but when she answers the phone, they both realize that was a stupid idea, since neither of them can talk. Too bad texting won’t be popular for a few more years.

Riley and Forrest head to the Initiative’s underground headquarters, having heard that the sudden loss of speech is a town-wide problem. Another problem: Without their voices, they can’t use the elevator’s vocal identification security procedure. Since their identities can’t be verified, they’ll be treated like hostiles. Riley opens a panel to try to override the system but can’t remember the access code. Just as gas starts to fill the elevator, it arrives in the lab. Amused, Walsh points to sign on the wall telling people to use the stairs when there’s an emergency.

The lobby of Tara’s dorm is as quiet as anywhere else on campus. A guy drops a bottle and the sound of it smashing makes everyone jump. Downtown, businesses are closed (except the liquor store) and people are distraught. A priest who must think the end is near tries to lead a Bible study, but all the attendees can do is read Scripture.

Buffy and Willow spot a guy selling dry-erase boards and take a couple to Giles’, where Xander and Anya are already hanging out. Buffy thinks the song from her dream could be connected to this. A new report states that the town has been quarantined because of a supposed laryngitis epidemic. Officials are saying it’s a bad side effect of recent flu vaccinations, and some people are calling it a hoax. A mass illness being considered a hoax? Who would ever think that?? Buffy writes on her board for Giles to keep researching. She wants to be in town tonight.

Walsh wants the same from the commandos. She uses a text-to-speech feature on a computer to tell them to dress in street clothes and keep the peace. The Initiative is as in the dark about what’s happening as everyone else is. That night, Buffy walks around town, where things are slowly spiraling into post-apocalyptic conditions. She spots Riley breaking up a fight between two men. One of the guys picks up a pipe to hit him, but Buffy casually breaks his arm to stop him before Riley even sees him. Buffy and Riley hug and silently confirm that they’re both doing okay. As they split up to continue their versions of patrolling, they pause long enough to kiss.

In the middle of the night, the Gentlemen float around town, accompanied by demonic-looking guys in straightjackets. Olivia wakes up and sees a couple of Gentlemen floating by the apartment. Two of them go to Buffy and Willow’s dorm, passing their room on their way to knock on someone else’s door. When he answers it, the straightjacketed minions grab him and hold him down.

He screams silently as a Gentleman opens a medical bag, pulls on a scalpel, and starts cutting him up. He takes the student’s heart to the clock tower, placing it next to some other hearts. The other Gentlemen give him golf claps, but he gestures modestly that it was nothing.

In the morning, Buffy sneaks into the student’s room and sees his body. Olivia sketches one of the Gentlemen as Giles sees that the lead story in the newspaper is about various murders around town. He starts putting the pieces together and goes to find a book of fairy tales.

He gathers the Scoobies in a classroom on campus and relays what he’s figured out via an overhead projector. (He adds his own soundtrack, “Danse Macabre” by Camille Saint-Saëns.) He informs the Scoobies that the Gentlemen are fairy-tale monsters. Willow points to her chest, trying to indicate that they want hearts. Xander thinks she means breasts. Anya, who’s eating popcorn, is enjoying herself.

Giles gives an overview of the Gentlemen’s story illustrated with his own drawings: They go to a town, take everyone’s voices so they can’t scream, and start cutting out hearts. Giles may have gone overboard with the red marker to show all the blood. He says the Gentlemen need seven hearts and have at least two already. Xander asks how to kill them. Buffy gestures that she can stake them, but without an actual stake in her hand, the movement looks…suggestive.

Giles doesn’t think it’ll work, since in the story, no swords could kill the Gentlemen. Instead, they were taken out by a princess’ scream. Willow suggests music, but it has to be a real, human voice. Buffy asks how she gets her voice back (because of course she’s the princess here). Giles doesn’t know. He puts up a slide saying she needs to patrol that night. She objects to the size of her hips in his drawing. Priorities, Buffy!

The Initiative has moved on from keeping the peace as civilians to suiting up in case they have to go to battle. Riley ends up alone near the clock tower, where he sees shadows moving behind the blinds. Tara has been reading up on spells that involve speech and silence, and she looks up Willow’s dorm so she can pay her a visit. On her way across campus, she trips and drops her books. Two Gentlemen and some minions silently move toward her without her noticing. As soon as she sees them, she runs. Buffy also spots a Gentleman in a neighborhood and gets ambushed by a minion.

Tara bangs on doors in Buffy and Willow’s dorm, hoping someone will let her hide in their room. No luck, so she has to keep running. Buffy kills a minion and chases after another as Riley goes into the clock tower and gets attacked by more. Tara finally makes it to Buffy and Willow’s hall, but Willow’s hesitant to respond to someone banging on a door. It turns out Tara’s at the wrong room, and she’s just moments too late to stop a Gentleman from cutting out another heart.

Some Gentlemen and minions chase her again as Willow comes out of her room to see what’s going on. Tara plows into her and Willow falls, hurting her ankle. They head to the stairs to keep escaping. In the clock tower, Riley tries to reach his gun and take out the minions. Buffy bursts in and starts fighting them. Riley gets up with his gun, pointing it straight at Buffy, who’s pointing a crossbow straight at him.

Though they both obviously want to know why the other is there, the two go right back to fighting the minions. Buffy takes out one by swinging into him on a rope. Back at Giles’, Spike gets a snack from the fridge (still using Giles’ “kiss the librarian” mug and starts picking up books while Anya naps on the couch. Xander comes in and sees Spike vamped out with blood on his lips next to a sleeping Anya. He gets the wrong idea and attacks Spike. Anya assures him that she’s okay, and Xander kisses her happily. She ruins the moment by making a gesture to invite him to go have sex.

Willow and Tara hide in the dorm’s laundry room, trying to move a soda machine to block the door. They’re not strong enough and Willow’s injury keeps her from accomplishing much. As she tries to use magic to move the machine with her mind, Tara realizes what she’s doing. She takes Willow’s hand and together they’re able to magically move the machine in front of the door.

Buffy and Riley are outnumbered by minions in the clock tower. She spots all the hearts as the Gentlemen arrive and one picks up a scalpel. Riley blasts him with a stun gun, and he and Buffy fight some more. The Gentleman with the scalpel is able to cut Buffy, and a minion grabs her from behind.

She spots the box from her dream and bangs on something to get Riley’s attention. She gestures for him to smash the box, but he doesn’t catch on to what she’s looking at and he smashes something else instead. Buffy makes an open-and-close motion that gets through to him, and he destroys the box. Everyone’s voices swoosh out and go back to the people they belong to. With one loud, long scream, Buffy makes the Gentlemen’s heads explode in goo.

Once everything’s back to normal, Tara tells Willow that she went looking for her so they could try a spell to restore everyone’s voices. She got a sense at the Wicca group that Willow, unlike the others, has actual powers. Tara’s been practicing magic since she was a kid; her mother had a lot of power like Willow does. Willow’s modest about her abilities and says she’s not anything special. “No, you are,” Tara says.

Olivia’s still at Giles’, trying to wrap her head around the fact that all his previous talk about witchcraft and the supernatural was real. He says everything he’s told her is true, except for his claim that he was one of the original members of Pink Floyd. Olivia finds it scary – maybe too scary to continue a relationship with him. And since we never see her again…yeah, I don’t think she’s ready for the supernatural world.

Riley goes to Buffy and Willow’s room so he and Buffy can finally talk about everything they’ve been keeping from each other. But after days of not being able to speak, having their voices back doesn’t mean they know what to say. They just sit there in silence.

Thoughts: One of the Gentlemen is played by Doug Jones. The late Andy Hallett, who later played Lorne on Angel, has an uncredited appearance as a student in the first scenes.

The Gentlemen are easily the creepiest villains in the whole series. I’ve seen less creepy monsters in horror movies.

We’ve seen it a little before and I notice here, too, that Buffy and Willow say hi or wave to people around campus. It’s a nice little indication that, unlike in high school, they have friends outside the Scoobies.

I think my favorite visual joke in this episode is Forrest writing, “Come on” on his notepad while Riley’s trying to trigger the vocal verification in the elevator, even though Riley’s facing away from him and can’t see it.

The priest’s study is on Revelation 15:1, which is a nice red herring since it mentions seven angels and seven plagues.

Shout-out to the guy who realized he could make a killing on dry-erase boards during a “laryngitis epidemic.”

October 29, 2022

Buffy 4.7, The Initiative: Peculiar

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

I would go insane in a space like this within two hours

Summary: Riley is in the cafeteria with his friend Forrest, who’s talking about how great it is to be surrounded by so many pretty women. He hopes a lot of them show up to the party they’re throwing. Riley’s not listening, since he’s trying to grade papers. “How you gonna learn anything if you keep doing schoolwork?” Forrest asks.

Someone new catches his attention and he tells Riley to check her out. It’s Buffy, and Forrest is impressed that Riley already knows her. Riley says he hasn’t thought much about her. There’s something about her that seems peculiar. As the guys talk about her, she first has trouble filling a soda cup without spilling, then getting some ice cream without the cup overflowing (maybe her Slayer strength broke the machine?).

The guys’ friend Graham joins them and Forrest asks for his opinion on Buffy. (He asks if she’s “mattressable.” Shut up, Forrest.) Riley says it feels like she’s never completely present when he talks to her. He prefers women he can “get a grip on.” There’s something off about Buffy. “Maybe she’s Canadian,” Graham offers up.

Forrest knows that Buffy was involved with Parker for a little while, which just makes Riley think she has bad taste. He can’t deny that she’s pretty, but he doesn’t see himself dating her. And that’s even before she trips and drops her soda and ice cream (the machine is still malfunctioning in the background). Forrest would clearly nail anything that moves, so he’s not turned off. He thinks a lot of guys would like to get their hands on Buffy.

That includes Spike, who’s talking in his sleep about how he wants to kill the Slayer. He’s not in any shape to do anything to her, though, as he’s locked up in a cell, having been captured by commandos. The cell’s glass door is electrified, so he can’t even touch it. He’s just one of at least a dozen prisoners in a hallway full of identical bare cells.

Giles is working on finding out more about the commandos, but all he has to go on is Buffy’s description of their uniforms, which Xander calls “the latest in fall fascism.” Giles thinks they’re human, so there’s no point in researching. Xander’s pleased by that. He’s less pleased that Giles doesn’t think they’re needed for this particular mystery at all. He suggests using a Ouija board to summon some evil and fight it themselves. It might be unethical but at least they’ll have fun!

Buffy comes by Giles’ place and tells him she’s taking the night off from patrolling so she can go to a party with her dormmates. She’s trying to cheer up Willow, who’s been struggling since Oz left. Giles and Xander will need to fill in for her on patrol. Hopefully Xander leaves the Ouija board at home.

Spike paces in his cell, frustrated that he can’t find a way out. A bag of blood drops from a little opening in the ceiling, but when Spike starts to open it, the prisoner in the next cell warns him that it’s drugged. The prisoner, Tom, was Sunday’s minion and he tells Spike they’re all lab rats. They’re going to be starved, drugged, and experimented on. He doesn’t know how he got there; the last thing he was doing was running from Buffy. Spike thinks she’s responsible for their imprisonment. “I always worried what would happen when that b%$@# got some funding,” he grumbles. He plans to kill her no matter how smart she is.

Exactly how smart is Buffy? Not smart enough not to get ink all over her class notes. I think Spike might still stand a chance against her. At the end of a psych class, Willow approaches Riley and notes that he left Oz’s name off of role call. For the very first time, we learn that Oz’s real name is Daniel Osborne. Riley says he heard that Oz dropped out. Willow says he only left temporarily.

Walsh butts in and says he won’t be allowed back into her class. She lectures Willow about exceptions and feeling like her “exception is exceptional.” Walsh isn’t a freshman or a narcissist, so she has to think about the whole class. If Oz can’t respect her schedule, he shouldn’t come back. Willow walks away sadly, and Buffy confronts Walsh for not having any sympathy. After she leaves as well, Walsh tells Riley that she likes Buffy. “You don’t think she’s a little peculiar?” he asks.

Xander has a bunch of military gear left over from his brief time as a soldier, so he and Giles have a lot of options for equipment in case they come up against the commandos. Not that Xander necessarily knows how to use it. Giles thinks he’ll be ready if there’s a face-off. Xander promises that he’s great at hand-to-hand combat. Just then, his mother calls down to his basement room to offer him and Giles some fruit punch. Xander’s not thrilled by the interruption, which doesn’t make him look very tough, but Giles wouldn’t say no if the punch is raspberry-flavored.

Riley tells Forrest and Graham about Walsh and Buffy’s exchange, which just makes Buffy more appealing to Forrest. Riley thinks she’s nuts for talking to Walsh the way she did. Parker passes by and Forrest asks for info on Buffy. Parker says she’s whiny and clingy. They had sex once and then she was all over him like they were engaged. Parker raves about her skills in bed, then compares her to a toilet seat. Riley punches him.

Forrest worries that Parker will report Riley and get him in trouble, but Graham thinks he’s too embarrassed to say anything. Riley’s shocked that he reacted the way he did. Forrest notes that Riley has heard him say a lot grosser things than what Parker said. “And most of those are about your own mother,” Riley replies. He just didn’t like hearing Parker say those things about Buffy. Maybe he kind of likes her. “You’re kind of like a moron,” Forrest tells him. Graham adds that everyone has already figured it out. “I guess I’m gonna go see a girl,” Riley says, heading off alone.

Two men in lab coats go to Spike’s cell, where he’s unconscious on the floor. They pull him out and strap him to a gurney. That’s when Spike reveals that he’s not really unconscious. “Sorry, can’t stay,” he announces, grabbing one of the men by the throat. “Got to go see a girl.”

He tries to fight his way out as an alarm blares. Tom asks Spike to free him, saying he knows how to get out. Spike gets one of the men to accidentally sedate the other, then knocks out the second. He frees Tom from his cell and the two of them run for the exit, sliding under a door just as it’s closing. Some men in gas masks find them and Spike shoves Tom at them so he can escape.

Willow’s moping in her room when Riley shows up looking for Buffy. He wants to ask Buffy out but doesn’t know a lot about her. Willow notices that a bag of weapons is poking out from under Buffy’s bed, and she slowly goes over to nudge it back under without Riley seeing. He’s such a gentleman that he leans over and helps her move it without noticing what’s in it.

He asks for advice on what to talk about with Buffy. Willow isn’t sure why he would bother, since any relationship they have will eventually end horribly when one of them leaves and the other is reduced to “a broken, hollow mockery of the human condition.” “Yep, that’s the plan!” Riley replies. He gets that Willow isn’t in the mood to discuss this sort of thing, but he doesn’t know how to approach someone like Buffy.

Willow asks why she should trust him as someone who would be good for Buffy. Riley says he hoped she’d think he has an honest face. “I’ve seen honest faces before. They usually come attached to liars,” she replies. He decides to give up on this angle, though he admires how protective Willow is. He thinks Buffy brings that out in people.

As he’s leaving, Willow offers up a few conversation topics: cheese, Mr. Gordo, and the Ice Capades. Also, they’re going to a party that night. It happens to be the one Riley and his friends are throwing. Willow warns him not to get “fresh” with Buffy. He asks if she ever talks about him. Nope, sorry. But he thinks that Willow’s been helpful. She just wants it clear that she’s not his accomplice.

Spike makes his way to his old lair, where Harmony is still living. She’s not happy to see him, which is reasonable, since he dumped her, staked her, and abandoned her. He says he also missed her, and she immediately takes him back. He’s just there for weapons so he can take on Buffy. Harmony seduces him to distract him from returning to his Slayer obsession. Giles and Xander are on patrol, though they’re just observing right now. Xander tries to make it more dramatic by saying how they’re waiting for an enemy without a face and any thought they have could be their last. Giles tells him to shut up.

Buffy and Willow arrive at the party, and though Willow isn’t really up for it, she gives Riley some guidance so Buffy might have a good time. She tells him to have a light conversation with her, then warns that if he hurts Buffy, Willow will kill him with a shovel. “A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend,” she says. “Have fun!” Riley approaches Buffy awkwardly, and everything Willow said flies out of his head. He asks her a school-related question, then offers him some cheese.

Giles and Xander split up and Xander comes across the first interesting thing he’s seen all night: Harmony is about to burn a bunch of Spike’s stuff. Each thinks the other can win in a fight, which Harmony starts with a slap. Xander kicks her, and then it’s on. And by “it,” I mean a slow-motion slap fight that ends in a draw. They agree to go their separate ways, but when she mentions that Spike’s back, Xander realizes there’s a problem.

Having struck out with Buffy, Riley goes to mope with Willow. He’s shaken because he’s usually good at everything. “Well, you failed extremely well,” she says encouragingly. He needs to relax. His goal right now is to get a reaction – any reaction. A Dingoes Ate My Baby song suddenly comes on and Willow’s mood drops. Without even knowing why, beyond Willow having a bad association with the song, Riley tells a friend to skip it. That definitely wins him some points with her, and she tells him to go give chatting with Buffy another try. Willow’s going to head home.

Riley approaches Buffy again, but before he can try to make less awkward conversation than before, Xander runs in. He tells Buffy they have “unfinished business” to deal with. She leaves with him, and Forrest and Graham pop up, both to tease Riley for getting rejected in favor of Xander and to take him downstairs for something. Forrest says it might be better this way, since now Riley won’t spend the next few months pining for a freshman.

The guys stand in front of a mirror, where green beams suddenly appear and a computerized voice accepts their retinal scan. Graham says he likes Buffy as the mirror slides aside, revealing an elevator. As it takes the guys underground, Forrest says he’s better at dating than Riley is because he knows girls. Riley replies that he’s just talking about one girl here. He repeats, “One girl,” into a panel, and a computerized voice says his vocal match is complete. He’s been confirmed to be Special Agent Riley Rinn.

The guys emerge in a basement facility as Riley wonders what kind of woman would want to date a guy who acts normal by day but is secretly a demon hunter at night. “Maybe a peculiar one,” Graham says. The facility is the one where Spike and Tom were prisoners, and Tom was right about the captives there undergoing experiments. The guys are there to respond to a code-red situation. “Hostile 17 has escaped,” according to their boss, Professor Walsh.

As the guys put on their commando uniforms, Walsh tells them that Hostile 17 escaped that afternoon, which means “it” has a big head start. It was captured locally, so they can assume that it knows the area, which gives it a big advantage. If they can’t recapture it, everything they’ve worked for – “the Initiative itself” – will be at risk. Riley promises that no one will fail on his watch. The guys grab weapons and meet up with some other commandos. Walsh announces that Finn is in charge. He gives orders and everyone heads above-ground to catch the escapee.

At Giles’, Buffy complains that not only is Spike back but he’s interrupting her night off. Xander snarks that he probably would have waited if he’d known that Buffy was “busy with Teutonic boy-toy.” She says Riley’s a doof, not Teutonic. She plans to kill Spike, and she’s going after him alone. Xander offers her a flare gun so she can signal for help if she needs it.

Spike breaks into an admin office and uses a computer to find Buffy’s dorm room. Riley, Graham, and Forrest search campus for him, coming across Buffy, who’s sitting out in the open, waiting for Spike to find her. Forrest notes that at least she’s not having sex with Xander. He contemplates using her as bait for Spike, but Riley shuts him down, pulling rank.

He decides to take off his commando uniform and find a way to talk Buffy into leaving. She wants the same from him, and neither will budge. Riley is in protective mode again, and when Buffy gets him to admit that he thinks guys need to take care of women, she calls him Teutonic. He tells her that as long as she’s out there, he’s staying. She says the same about him. But when they hear a scream, they head off in different directions.

Riley, Graham, and Forrest use a tracker implanted in Spike to find out that he’s at Buffy and Willow’s dorm. When he knocks on their door, Willow invites him in without realizing who she’s talking to. She thinks he’s there to make her do a spell, so she agrees to help, then tries to make a run for it. He stops her and tells her she has a choice: Die for good or die temporarily and come back as a vampire. She threatens to scream, which doesn’t deter him. He just turns up her music and wrestles her onto her bed.

Willow survives the encounter, thanks to some problem on Spike’s end. It’s something that’s never happened to him before. She suggests that he was nervous. He tries to bite her again but a sudden pain in his head makes him back off. She thinks this is something that happens to every vampire. Nope, not Spike. Willow worries that she’s the problem – Spike settled for her since Buffy wasn’t there. He didn’t really want to bite Willow.

Spike scoffs at that, but Willow knows she’s not the person vampires usually go for. They see her more as a friend or sister. He assures her that he’d bite her in a second if he could. He thought about it the last time they saw each other. Willow’s surprised, since he didn’t show any signs of having bloodlust for her. “I hate being obvious. All fangy and ‘rrrr.’ Takes the mystery out,” Spike replies. Willow promises that his failure here doesn’t make him any less scary. “Don’t patronize me!” he says.

The commandos lock in on Spike’s location, using a thermal scanner to pinpoint where he is, since he’s the only being in the building who’s at room temperature. Riley calls in a lockdown. Back in the room, Spike beats himself up for his failure to perform at such a young age (he’s only 126). Willow says he’s being too hard on himself. They can wait a while and try again. Then she realizes what she’s saying and smashes a lamp over his head.

She runs for the door but it’s locked and she can’t get it open before the lights in the dorm go out. The commandos storm the building wearing night-vision goggles. They break down Buffy and Willow’s door, finally letting Willow escape. One of the commandos mistakes her for their target, but Riley recognizes her and yells for him not to shoot her. Spike tries to attack a commando, but the pain returns and he gets recaptured.

Forrest doesn’t want to leave without Willow – she needs to be quarantined in case Spike turned her. Riley tells him to ignore that protocol. Spike is able to break free and grab a fire extinguisher, which he uses to hit a commando in the face. The spray clouds the hallway, making it even harder to see. As Forrest grabs Willow before she can crawl away, Buffy arrives and starts fighting the guys. They don’t recognize her because of the darkness and spray. They also don’t see Spike escaping until he’s already on his way into the woods. Buffy fights Riley, neither of them recognizing each other. He calls for a retreat and the commandos all leave.

Walsh isn’t happy with the way things turned out. The commandos think that Buffy helped Spike escape, and that she’ll be hard to capture or take down. On the plus side, the implant they put in Spike works – there’s something in his head that keeps him from hurting anyone without intense pain. Riley promises that they’ll recapture him.

The next day, Riley runs into Buffy and they make up, both playing innocent about why they insisted on being alone on campus. The official story about the commandos’ raid is that it was a frat prank. Riley mentions that he asked Willow to help him with a “project.” He’s not sure yet how it worked out. Buffy asks what he wanted to tell her at the party. Riley’s still awkward, so all he comes up with to say is, “Did Willow tell you I like cheese?” “You’re a little peculiar,” Buffy replies. He decides he can live with that.

Thoughts: The good news: This is the only episode where Forrest is this obnoxious. The bad news: After this, he’s just annoying in a regular way.

Apparently “maybe she’s Canadian” was an inside joke about someone who worked on the show. Shouldn’t inside jokes be funny?

I love, love, love Buffy standing up for Willow with Walsh. We all need a friend like that.

Riley uses the word “courted” when talking about trying to date Buffy. You know, like any normal 1990s college student.

Spike’s off-the-cuff pet names for Harmony: “my little foam latte,” “mon petite crème brûlée” (which she thinks is Italian), “my little mentholated pack of smokes.”

“Riley’s a doof” is 100 percent correct. Thank you for the perfect description, Buffy.

October 22, 2022

Buffy 4.6, Wild at Heart: The Animal Inside

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

Get out of here, annoying chick

Summary: Buffy’s running across campus, being chased by a vampire, in an effort to get him away from any other students who might see them. She taunts him for trying to grab an easy meal and accidentally targeting the Slayer. She makes a quip about a late meal and heartburn before staking him, disappointed that he didn’t appreciate it. Well, to be fair, she didn’t give him a chance to respond. Spike watches from nearby, eager to become her worst enemy again. But before he can do a real villain monologue, he’s tazed and captured by commandos.

The next night, the Scoobies hang out at the Bronze, wanting a little familiarity now that their lives have changed. Giles pops up, making Buffy think he’s come to report some trouble. No, he just wanted to join the fun. He claims he’s “down with the new music.” Veruca’s band is performing again, and just like last time, she and Oz lock eyes while she’s singing. Buffy senses Willow’s discomfort and tries to distract Oz, but it doesn’t work. They downplay how talented Veruca is, but Giles doesn’t take the hint.

Willow spends the night at Oz’s and he wakes up to her talking in her sleep (something about a sandblaster, then “all Geminis to the raspberry hats,” though that’s just her teasing him). She has to get to class, so they can’t lounge around. She tries to make plans for that night, but it’s the first of three full moon nights, so Oz will be a little busy. Willow decides to check out a campus Wicca group instead.

Buffy got an A on a paper for Walsh’s class, and Walsh is so impressed that she asks her to lead a class discussion on the topic she wrote about. Willow’s proud of her, but also jealous since her grade wasn’t as good. That just makes Willow even prouder. Buffy wishes Walsh’s reward system was better than assigning her more work.

Oz runs into Veruca on campus and they talk about music. Willow spots them together and manages to play it cool, though her version of cool is still awkward. Oz has to leave, which just makes things even more awkward. Fortunately, Veruca leaves as well, and Buffy joins Willow, who’s all self-conscious now. Buffy doesn’t think it’s a big deal if Oz is checking out someone else – he loves Willow. Willow doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it, either. She just feels guilty when she checks out other guys, so maybe Oz should do the same. Buffy is sure that he’ll get past this soon.

Oz no longer has access to the book cage at the school (since the school no longer has a book cage…or a library…or anything else), so he locks himself up in an underground crypt where he’s installed a cage door. But it isn’t very strong and he easily breaks through it. He goes after Walsh on campus, and though she’s able to get away from him, she runs into…another werewolf. She jumps out of the way and the two wolves attack each other instead of her. Soon their fighting turns to something a bit friendlier. When the sun comes up in the morning, Oz wakes up next to his new werewolf buddy: Veruca.

He doesn’t remember what happened, which she says is normal; he’ll start remembering things soon. She jokes that she’s a “werewolf groupie,” then confirms that she’s actually a werewolf. She thinks Oz figured it out the moment he first saw her. They raid a dorm laundry room for clothes as he wonders how he got out of his cage. Veruca is a free-range werewolf, and she thinks Oz cages himself because he wants to deny who he is.

He says he’s only a wolf three nights a month. Veruca corrects that he’s a wolf all the time, and his human form is just a disguise. Oz leaves to check the newspaper and see if they did any damage. “Oh, we did, but only to each other,” she replies. “I know some part of you remembers that.” She suggests that they go for another round of sex. Oz tells her last night was it and this ends now.

Veruca wants to help him accept that he’s a powerful creature. She feels sorry for humans, who don’t get what it’s like to feel as alive and free as they do. Oz doesn’t want that freedom if it leads to killing. She’s sure that he’ll eventually understand and agree that they belong together. “I know where I belong,” he tells her. But she thinks they’ll see each other again that night.

Walsh tells Riley about her near-attack the night before, then warns Buffy to be careful on campus, since there appear to be huge wild dogs around. Willow goes to Oz’s dressed in a Veruca-type outfit and apologizes for any weirdness she exhibited the day before around him and Veruca. Oz is too distracted to even think about that. She wants sex, but Oz is scraped up from his night with Veruca and also definitely not in the mood. She leaves, disappointed.

Buffy goes to Giles’ to tell him about the “wild dogs” Walsh saw. He says he’ll look for any news reports about attacks while Buffy talks to Oz. Willow visits Xander, who’s on a rent strike since his mom won’t let him put a lock on his door. Apparently she’s afraid he’ll start having sex down in the basement. (Oh, Mrs. Harris, he already has.) Willow confides in him about Oz and his disinterest in sex, and asks if that’s a bad sign. Xander thinks he’s just preoccupied, but she thinks it has to do with Veruca. Xander advises her to talk to him about it.

Oz does some soldering on his cage door in hopes that he won’t get out again that night. Buffy comes by and assures him that there haven’t been any reported attacks. She mentions Walsh’s encounter with two werewolves and he lies that he doesn’t know anything about a second one. Buffy says that if she finds one on patrol tonight, Oz will have some company in his cage. She notes that he’s “more monosyllabic than usual,” but he claims he’s fine.

While Veruca’s band practices, Oz frets by himself and Willow has trouble concentrating on the discussion at the Wicca group. When the sun starts setting, Veruca shows up at Oz’s “Habitrail” – he called here there because he wants her in a cage tonight. He warns that people will be out hunting for her. He’s willing to be in close proximity with her all night if it means they and the innocent people of Sunnydale are safe. Veruca talks about the shift to werewolf form like it’s sex. She’s wanted Oz since before she ever saw him. She asks if he sensed her like she sensed him. Unable to fight his instincts, Oz grabs her and they make out.

The next morning, Willow comes by with breakfast and finds Oz and Veruca asleep together, naked. Oz tries to explain why they’re both in the cage, but it’s no excuse for what they did. Willow notes that he could have told someone instead of just locking himself up with Veruca. Veruca says she has a point, like, hon, this is not the time to get involved. Oz barks at her to leave, the loudest he’s ever been in three seasons on the show.

Willow cries and says she knew something was going on. She’s upset that Oz told her everything was fine. “I know how it feels. I remember,” he replies. Ooooh, wrong thing to say! Willow doesn’t think there’s any comparison here, considering what she and Oz had. Oz admits that he’s not sure what he and Veruca did. When he changes, it’s like he disappears and the wolf part of him takes over.

Willow points out that something was going on between him and Veruca before the full moon. It’s like he wanted her “in an animal way.” Maybe more than he wanted Willow. Oz doesn’t respond, which is enough of an answer for her. She runs off and goes for a walk downtown. She’s so distracted that she walks into traffic. Buffy’s nearby and spots her, calling out her name. But it’s Riley who comes to Willow’s rescue, pulling her to safety.

Buffy takes Willow to their room, and after hearing what happened, she announces that she needs to find Veruca before the sun goes down. She’s reluctant to leave Willow alone, and she encourages Willow to blame the responsible parties here, not hurt herself. Willow says she’s fine, then raids Buffy’s weapons chest.

Buffy goes to Oz’s and asks where Veruca is. Oz hasn’t had any luck tracking her down but offers to take Buffy to the places she might go. He tries to explain himself to Buffy, who tells him this would be a good time for his “trademark stoicism.” Back on campus, Willow does a spell to end Oz and Veruca’s feelings for each other. Her beakers and book start levitating.

Oz tracks Veruca’s scent, but only to the clothes Buffy thinks she’s discarded to fool him. Oz quickly guesses that Veruca is going after Willow. He and Buffy race back to the dorm, but on the way, Buffy runs into a commando. Willow can’t bring herself to finish her spell. When Veruca finds her, she says she actually believed for a minute that Willow might “play rough.” She locks the door to the lab they’re in and says sometimes you have to fight dirty “to keep what’s yours.” Sometimes you even have to kill. She notes that the sun is almost down.

Buffy and the commando tussle for a moment, then go their separate ways. Veruca taunts that Willow couldn’t do her spell because she doesn’t have the teeth for it. She gets under Willow’s skin by saying she has Oz’s scent on her. Oz shows up as Veruca’s about to attack and tells her to hurt him instead. Veruca thinks Willow’s the reason Oz has domesticated himself. When she’s gone, he’ll be able to admit who he is.

“You don’t want to find out what I am,” he replies as he starts to shift. “You’re an animal. Animals kill,” Veruca says. “You’re right. We kill,” he agrees before attacking her. The two fight as they continue changing into their wolf forms. It’s vicious, and it ends with Oz biting Veruca’s throat. He turns on Willow, but Buffy arrives in time to pull him away from her and tranq him. She rushes to Willow, who starts sobbing.

The next day, Buffy fills Giles in on the commando and the ones she saw on Halloween. Because of the one she saw last night, she almost didn’t catch up with Oz in time to save Willow. Giles thinks she should focus on her rescue instead of the fact that she couldn’t stop Oz from killing Veruca. Buffy says that Willow wishes she hadn’t been saved. She’s devastated. Giles knows that Buffy got through her own pain when Angel died, but Buffy notes that that involved running away and going to Hell first. She hopes Willow doesn’t try that. She doesn’t know how the Scoobies will deal with this.

Well, Oz is dealing the same way Buffy did after Angel’s death: He’s leaving town. Willow would like a vote on his decision, but he needs to find a way to separate himself from the wolf inside him. Until he does, he shouldn’t be around her or anyone else. He doesn’t know how long he’ll be gone. “Oz, don’t you love me?” Willow asks emotionally. “My whole life, I’ve never loved anything else,” he replies. They embrace and he kisses her forehead, then leaves. He pauses before he drives off, as if he’s changed his mind, but he remembers why he’s doing this and keeps going.

Thoughts: It’s fitting that this episode’s initials are WAH because it makes me go, “WAAAAAAH!”

Willow: “How come you didn’t tell me I look like a crazy birthday cake in this shirt?” Buffy: “I thought that was the point.” Heh. Also, don’t open a can of worms about your wardrobe, Willow. (That said, I really like the shirt she wears when she finds Oz and Veruca together.)

The Oz/Veruca tease was originally intended to go on longer, but Seth Green decided to leave the show. In that way, it’s good that he did because any more than a couple episodes of that would have been torture.

October 15, 2022

Buffy 4.5, Beer Bad: The Pleasure Principle Gone Wild

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

Art bad

Summary: Buffy’s on patrol and things are going the way they normally do…until she realizes that Parker is nearby. She tells him to stay down while she fights a vampire. Some other vampires grab Parker, but Buffy’s able to kill all of them and save him. He’s super-grateful, especially considering the way he treated her. He plans to do whatever it takes to make it up to her. Maybe someday she’ll forgive him?

“No,” says a classmate Parker’s flirting with during one of Professor Walsh’s classes. Buffy comes out of her daydream and tries to ignore them. Walsh talks to the class about the basic needs people want all the time (shelter, food, comfort) because of the id. It doesn’t learn or grow up. The ego and superego try to keep it in line, but the id just wants stuff, no matter how much people have evolved. It’s all about the pleasure principle. So when we can’t have what we want…well, if we’re Buffy, we go back to our daydream, which now features Parker with his shirt unbuttoned, asking for forgiveness while offering flowers and ice cream.

Xander has gotten a job as a bartender at a local pub, and he wants to practice his skills on Buffy and Willow – not skills related to serving drinks but to lighting people’s cigarettes and listening to sad drunks share their sad tales. Willow notes that he’s too young to be a bartender. Xander shows her his fake ID, which includes a picture of him with a really bad mustache. “I don’t believe this is entirely on the up-and-up,” Willow says. “What gives it away?” Xander asks. “Looking at it,” she replies.

Buffy would be happy to play along with Xander’s practice run and tell him her pretend problems, but she’s having enough trouble with her real ones. He wants to practice on those, but it’s clear that she doesn’t want to talk about them. Willow jumps in, making up a scenario where she’s pregnant with her stepbrother’s baby, but he’d rather be with her best friend.

On the way to class, Buffy shifts to her real problems, wondering if Parker put her in a fantasy bubble and will eventually want to be with the real her. Willow gently tells her that she needs to think about something other than Parker. There are better men out there who know that “the mind is stronger than the penis.” Xander scoffs and exclaims, “Nothing can defeat the penis!” He realizes he said that way too loudly. Buffy tries to defend Parker, thinking he has intimacy problems because of his father’s death. Willow’s done with that and tells her to share her problems with the bartender.

That night, Xander works his first shift at the pub and is quickly overwhelmed by all the orders. Buffy comes in, spots Parker with a date, and accidentally bumps into Riley. He, like Willow, is anti-Parker, but Buffy’s too laser-focused on Parker to listen. I need someone to shake her really, really hard until she comes to her senses and realizes that she can do so much better than Parker.

At the bar, Xander chats with a student with horrible bangs, but a guy named Colm (I think – two of the guys look a lot alike and the IMDb is no help) interrupts and makes Xander look dumb for not being an intellectual. He tells Xander that while the students are the future of the country, Xander just fills the bowls of peanuts. “We are what these girls want,” Colm says. Xander tries to one-up him by asking for ID before giving him a pitcher of beer, but his boss, Jack, walks by and tells Xander to serve him.

Xander finally gets the chance to put his empathetic-listening skills to use when he notices how down Buffy looks. She tells him that Parker’s only intimacy problem is not being able to get enough of it. She admits that she knew what he was. Would it be murder if she left him tied up in a cave and let vampires attack him? She calls herself a slut and an idiot. Xander tries to comfort her but he gets called back to work.

Buffy starts to leave but bumps into a guy who’s friends with Colm. He invites her to stay, and Colm and a third guy join in to flirt with her and ask her to hang out with them. Buffy spots Parker leaving with his date and decides this is the better place to be right now. Yeah, surrounded by snobby college guys – that sounds like an awesome night!

Oz and Willow are at the Bronze, where he gets a weird feeling as a band takes the stage. The lead singer is Veruca, and she locks eyes with him while she sings. Now Willow has a weird feeling, too. Back at the pub, Buffy drinks with a table of guys. She was brought up to believe that beer was bad (thanks, Joyce), but since she’s chugging it, she must not think that way anymore. Colm says that if philosophers had developed theories of morality while drinking, there would be no good or evil, just “‘kind of nice’ and ‘pretty cool.'”

The next day, Willow complains to herself about Oz and Veruca’s connection. She asks if Buffy has heard of Veruca: “Dresses like Faith, voice like an albatross.” Buffy’s too busy watching TV to listen to her. All her brain can handle right now is the tiny people and bright colors. “I’m suffering the afterness of a bad night of…badness,” she explains. Willow thinks she hooked up with Parker again. Buffy says she was with four smart guys, which disturbs Willow a little, though she just asks if Buffy’s okay.

Buffy explains that she went to see Xander, then saw Parker, then drank beer. There was no sex, just lots of drinking. Willow rants about Parker frying Buffy’s brain. He deserves a slow, torturous death by spider bites. Until they can set that up, they’ll throw spitballs at him in class. Buffy agrees and starts to leave, still wearing her pajamas.

In Walsh’s class, Buffy continues acting weird. She grabs a sandwich from a classmate, apparently not seeing anything strange about that. In a lab somewhere, someone combines a bunch of chemicals that ultimately drip into a keg labeled Black Frost, the same kind of beer Buffy was drinking with the guys at the pub.

Buffy goes back to the pub that night and drinks with the guys again. Their conversation style has changed from intellectual to barely able to string five words together. Xander’s so concerned that he doesn’t take pick up on the perfect opportunity to put his empathetic-listening skills to use with a student.

Oz catches Willow as she’s leaving her dorm, and she notes that he skipped class. He invites her to go see Veruca’s band with him; they asked him to sit in. Willow doesn’t want to be a groupie, so she tells him she’s just going to study. Even without werewolf instincts or enhanced senses, Oz would be able to tell that something’s going on with her.

Buffy and her drinking buddies’ conversation has devolved into them just calling each other stupid. Xander puts a song on the jukebox and Buffy runs over to see where the music’s coming from. He tells her it’s time to go home, but she just wants more music and beer. He informs her that he’s cut her off. “Did it hurt?” she asks. He has to hold her back from going back to the table and drinking more. “Beer good,” she insists. “Beer bad,” he corrects, then wonders what he’s saying. He sends her home to bed.

Willow goes to a coffeehouse, where runs into Parker. She glares at him until he asks if she wants something. She slams him for hurting Buffy, but he claims not to understand that he did anything wrong. Parker says some relationships are intimate, but most are just a couple of people encountering each other briefly. Can’t two people feel attraction and “create something wonderful” one night, then go back to their lives the next day without making more out of the encounter than it was?

Willow explains that some people, like her and Buffy, equate intimacy with respect and friendship. People shouldn’t have to ask ahead of time if the other person is going to move on the next day. Parker argues that they also shouldn’t have to go into casual sex with the disclaimer that they won’t stay together. That removes the fire from it. Willow concedes that he might be right. Parker says he doesn’t regret what happened with Buffy, but he’s sorry for hurting and misleading her. He’s impressed that Willow cares about her so much.

The guys at the pub have now devolved so much that they’re basically monkeys. Xander’s closing things down, and he takes advantage of their poor mental state to get a bigger tip. He hears crashing noises from the restroom, and Colm bursts out, now fully a caveman. He knocks Xander out, then yells him awake. The other guys have suddenly sobered and smartened up a little, and they realize they should leave, but before they can, they also go full caveman.

Xander yells for help, then realizes he might be able to save himself: The lighter he’s been carrying around with him spooks them. “Fire bad. Fire pretty,” Colm says. “Fire angry!” Xander exclaims, chasing the guys off. He runs to the backroom to get Jack, calmly telling him that some of the patrons have turned into cavemen. “They had it coming,” Jack says.

The cavemen run around campus, generally acting like…you know, cavemen. One trips and another laughs at him, so the first one hits him with a branch. Jack tells Xander that he’s been dealing with – and annoyed by – snooty college kids for decades. Beer makes everyone equal. Xander puts together that the beer is responsible for the guys’ devolution. Jack is proud of himself; his warlock brother-in-law showed him what to do. Xander realizes that Buffy could be suffering the same fate. Jack tells him the effects will wear off in a day or so, but Xander knows someone could get killed before then.

The cavemen make a mess on campus as one of them gets really interested in cars. He gets hit by one, and the other three guys chase off the driver, then smash his car. They spot a couple of women running away in fear and go after them. What kind of alert do you put out on campus to let people know there are cavemen running around? Is there a code for that? Code Neanderthal?

Xander does the smartest thing anyone can do in this situation: He gets Giles. They go to Buffy’s dorm, bickering over whether it was okay for Xander to give her beer, evil or not. “Well, excuse me, Mr. I Spent the ’60s in an Electric Kool-Aid Funky Satan Groove,” Xander snarks. “It was the early ’70s and you should know better,” Giles replies. Xander notes that he’s not Buffy’s father; she’s an adult. Not that she’s acting like one, since she’s drawing on her wall and looks kind of feral. “Parker bad,” she says.

Parker really bad, since he’s now trying to charm Willow the same way he charmed Buffy. Just when it looks like she’s falling for it, she calls him out. He’s just operating on the pleasure principle, not sharing or connecting. “That’s right, I got your number, Id Boy,” she says. She rants about how men only want sex – they “haven’t changed since the dawn of time.” Just then, the cavemen burst in. “See?” Willow says.

Xander and Giles watch as Buffy spins herself around in a desk chair until she falls off. She tries to turn on the TV, saying she wants the people and doesn’t know where they went. Giles tells her slowly and loudly, like he thinks she’s deaf, that the TV is off. She hits it and says she wants the people. Giles thinks Xander should stay with her, but when Buffy gets up close to Xander and starts sniffing him, Giles decides they should leave her alone.

Xander wants to find the cavemen before they cause any trouble. Buffy asks for beer, and when Giles says she can’t have any, she demands it. “Giles, don’t make cave-Slayer unhappy,” Xander cautions. “Buffy strong,” Buffy says. “Buffy get beer.” She throws Giles across the room and runs out.

At the coffeehouse, the cavemen have knocked out Willow and started a fire. They’re confused about their inability to reach donuts in a glass case. The fire quickly gets out of control, so the guys flee. Xander manages to find Buffy on the quad and uses cave-talk to communicate with her. He hopes there’s still a bit of the Slayer left in her. She smells smoke from the coffeehouse and the two of them head over there.

The cavemen are rounding up the women in the coffeehouse when Buffy arrives. Something breaks through her cave-brain and she grabs a fire extinguisher, though she doesn’t know how to use it. Sorry, Buffy, throwing it at the fire won’t do anything. But her protective instincts are still there, and she jumps over the flames to get to Willow. Meanwhile, Giles questions Buffy’s dormmates, hoping someone’s seen her. He describes her hair color, her height, and her newly acquired sideways limp.

Trapped by the fire, Buffy spots a window up high on a wall and does some gymnastics moves to reach it and kick it open. The cavemen and their would-be conquests get out as Buffy picks up Willow and rescues her. She goes back in and finds Parker, who was knocked out and is just now coming to. She knocks him back out with one of the cavemen’s branches, then rescues him, too.

Once everyone’s safe and the fire’s out, Xander asks Buffy if she’s learned a lesson about beer. “Foamy,” she says. “Good. Just as long as that’s clear,” he replies. She goes to the van the cavemen have been placed in and shares a last moment with them. Parker approaches her and says almost the same things he said her in daydream. Cave-Buffy responds by hitting him with the branch again. The Scoobies give him a satisfied glance, then head off.

Thoughts: One of the cavemen is played by Kal Penn.

Did anyone ever fact-check Parker’s story? I’m inclined to believe that his father isn’t really dead. He seems like the type to lie about that.

Oz continues to get the best lines:

Oz: “You got a table.”
Willow: “I had to kill a man.”
Oz: “Well, it’s a really good table.”

Buffy may have caveman brain for half the episode but it doesn’t affect her hairstyling skills (until the end) – her hair looks great here.

October 8, 2022

Buffy 4.4, Fear, Itself: A House Divided

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:10 pm by Jenn

If you want insurance in case you turn into your costume, you can’t go wrong with a superhero

Summary: The Scoobies are carving jack o’lanterns in Xander’s basement room, though Buffy’s kind of ruining the mood by moping about Parker. The friends were going to spend Halloween (which is the next day) watching a horror movie but Xander accidentally rented Fantasia instead of Phantasm. “Maybe it’s because of all the horrific things we’ve seen but hippos wearing tutus just don’t unnerve me the way they used to,” Oz says. Willow would rather go to a haunted house/party at a frat house. Xander’s upset about not being invited, but Willow tells him he can come, too.

Buffy decides to head home without even carving her pumpkin. Oz notes that she’s “still suffering a little post-Parker depression.” The Scoobies want to smack Parker for the way he treated her. (So does the audience.) On her way home, Buffy encounters a demon and punches him. It’s actually a guy in a Halloween mask. He’s mad that he got hit, but I say that if you jump out to scare a woman walking alone at night, you deserve whatever she does to you.

The next day, Willow tells Buffy that she feels like she’s plateaued in terms of learning magic. She’s gotten the basics down, but the next step is stuff like conjuring and transmutation, which is close to scary forces. Buffy advises her not to push too hard if she doesn’t feel ready. Willow was looking for encouragement instead of caution. She figures that since she’s in college, she might as well experiment. She’ll know when she’s reached her limit.

Oz joins the conversation, which he thinks is about alcohol. He’s on Buffy’s side, thinking that Willow shouldn’t take any big risks. As a werewolf, he knows what it’s like to have power he can’t control. But whatever Willow wants to do, he’ll support her. She admits that she kind of likes it when he worries. Buffy spots Parker nearby and takes off, not wanting to be around him. Willow doesn’t want her to let him chase her off, but Buffy would like a break from dealing with her feelings about him. Willow hopes she’ll meet someone at the party that night. Buffy’s not interested, and she’s decided to go patrolling instead of celebrate Halloween.

She heads to Giles’ place, where the normally anti-Halloween former Watcher has gone all out with candy, decorations, and a (culturally insensitive) Mexican costume. He claims he never hated Halloween; he just hasn’t appreciated it before, since he was always busy with Watcher duties. Buffy tells him she wants to patrol tonight, since they could end up dealing with something they don’t see coming, like when Ethan wreaked havoc in town. Giles reminds her that supernatural creatures tend to stay hidden on Halloween, finding the day “crass.” He doubts that anything supernatural will happen that night.

The frat hosting the haunted house/party is working on their decorations and scares. They’re worried the sound system is too weak, but one of them knows Oz and thinks he’d loan them something better. They need to go all out so they can scare chicks enough to make them fall into the guys’ arms. As one guy claims, Halloween isn’t about anything spooky – it’s about getting laid. “Is there any holiday that’s not about getting laid?” another guy asks. “Arbor Day,” the first guy replies. Well, of course. The second guy gives the first a symbol he found in a book that they can paint upstairs.

Anya goes to Xander’s to complain that he never called her after they slept together. He reminds her that she said she was over him. Well, she lied, and he should have gotten that. He’s not exactly unhappy to see her, so she suggests that they celebrate the one-week anniversary of their night together by going out. Xander tells her he has plans with the Scoobies.

Anya wonders why he keeps hanging out with them now that they have nothing in common. He tells her their friendship goes beyond that. He invites her to the party, which she interprets as a date, though he won’t fully admit that. He tells her she’ll need to get a costume, preferably something scary. Anya can’t think of anything, but Xander figures that after centuries of terrorizing people as a demon, she’ll be able to come up with something.

Buffy goes to see Professor Walsh after skipping her class “for personal reasons.” Walsh is unsympathetic and tells her to deal with her problems on her own time. If she misses another class, she’s out. Riley hears the whole conversation and tells Buffy that Walsh means her threat. Buffy needs to get herself together and make the class a bigger priority. She says she’ll do the work she missed that night, but Riley thinks she should enjoy herself on Halloween. It’s a time to put aside your responsibilities. Buffy appreciates the encouragement (and the fact that he actually listened to her, unlike Walsh).

A frat guy is painting the symbol on the attic floor when Oz and Xander bring over Oz’s sound system. Xander asks what the symbol means, but the guy doesn’t know. Xander isn’t really that interested anyway, and he quickly gets distracted by a bowl of peeled grapes (to serve as eyeballs for blindfolded women who will hopefully be scared enough to, well, fall into the guys’ arms).

One of the guys encourages Xander to pledge their frat, but Oz says he’s a “civilian.” Xander doesn’t appreciate being outed like that. Oz uses a pocketknife to fix a problem with a wire, accidentally cutting himself. He shakes off the injury, dripping blood on the painted symbol, which shimmers. A fake spider turns into a tarantula and crawls away without any of the guys noticing.

Joyce modifies an old Little Red Riding Hood costume for Buffy so she can wear it to the party. Joyce gets nostalgic about past Halloweens, when Hank used to take Buffy trick-or-treating. Buffy was always annoyed by him – not because he was protective like Joyce thinks, but because he wanted to steal her candy. Joyce admits that he stole the candy for her. Hank really did want to spend time with Buffy, unlike now.

Joyce reassures Buffy that their divorce had nothing to do with her. Buffy, however, can’t help feeling like there’s a pattern of opening her heart to someone and getting abandoned. Maybe it would be better if she kept herself closed off. Joyce can relate, since she didn’t want to make any connections when they first moved to Sunnydale. She was afraid that she couldn’t trust anyone. But now she has a good group of friends. It took work, though, and it didn’t help that the first guy she dated after her divorce was a killer robot. She reminds Buffy that she has her friends and mother for support. She has nothing to be afraid of.

That night, while college students throw around toilet paper and shoot each other with silly string, Willow (dressed in chain mail) arranges to meet Oz before the party. She wants to make sure Buffy has fun. If Parker shows up, they’ll kill him, which is appropriate for Halloween. She chats with a dormmate, then passes a guy dressed as a lobster who’s trying to convince his girlfriend that he’s not interested in anyone else. The frat house is now a mixture of haunted-house spooky and college-party fun. I’m not sure which category the grape eyeballs fall into when they turn into real eyeballs.

Xander, who’s wearing a tux, meets up with Little Red Riding Hood Buffy and asks what’s in her basket. It’s weapons. Xander’s dressed as James Bond in case they turn into their costumes again and he needs to be cool. Buffy warns that he could turn into a waiter instead. “As long as I’m cool and wield some kind of power,” he says.

Willow and Oz join them and explain their costumes. Willow’s Joan of Arc, since she relates to her – Willow was almost burned at the stake and has a close relationship with God. Oz is simply wearing a name tag that says he’s God. Xander wishes he’d thought of being God. “Blasphemer,” Oz says. On their way to the party, they pass some commandos and wonder who they’re supposed to be. Oz guesses NATO. Xander tells the others that he invited Anya, but since she’s having trouble finding a costume, she’ll meet them there.

Buffy’s bummed that she’ll be the only one in the group without a date. Willow assures her that they’ll have a great time. Probably a better time than the people already at the party, who are running around, screaming in fear. One guy falls down the stairs. “Release me!” a voice growls. But when the Scoobies enter the house, they don’t hear anything, and they’re the only people downstairs.

The haunted house isn’t that impressive in terms of scares, though I have to give the frat guys credit for doing a lot of decorating. Of course, as Oz notes, the cobwebs might be real, considering frat guys don’t do a lot of cleaning. Xander gets spooked by a fake skeleton that springs out of a closet with a knife. He says he wasn’t scared, just in the spirit. Willow’s next for a scare when the tarantula from the attic appears on her shoulder.

The Scoobies are ready to get through the haunted house to the party. Oz is confused when the path he thought led to the attic doesn’t take them there. Buffy finds real blood on the floor, then hears a squeaking noise. The Scoobies look up and see a huge swarm of bats above them. They all fly away, and when Oz picks up one left behind, he sees that it’s just rubber. Xander guesses that they’re just dealing with normal Halloween frights. But the voice growls, “Release me!” again, indicating that something else is going on.

Outside, Anya arrives in a costume most people wouldn’t find scary: She’s a bunny. The door has disappeared, so she can’t get in. She goes around the house, looking for someone to let her in, and sees one of the party guests banging on a window and screaming for help. The bricks surrounding the window move together and cover it up.

Inside, the Scoobies can’t find stairs or a door, and they can’t figure out where they are. Oz shuts off the soundtrack of screams and spooky sounds, prompting Buffy to say, “Thank the Lord” without even thinking about Oz’s costume. Willow thinks they should get out of there, since they don’t know what’s going on. Xander hears a hissing noise, frustrated when Buffy repeats what he’s saying without seeming to hear him. The sound leads her to a closet where a frat guy is freaking out. “It’s alive,” he tells the Scoobies. Nearby, the skeleton that scared Xander turns into a real skeleton and starts moving on its own.

Buffy tries to get the frat guy to tell the Scoobies what’s going on. He spots the skeleton over her shoulder and cries out. Buffy fights the skeleton, which turns back into plastic. The fight was real, though, and Buffy has a cut on her shoulder to prove it. The frat guy wisely goes back into the closet to hide, and the closet disappears.

Buffy tells the Scoobies to find a way out of the house and leave while she goes upstairs to see if anyone needs help. Willow doesn’t want to leave her behind, but Buffy needs the Scoobies to get the only person who can figure out what’s happening. That would be Giles, who’s alone at home, waiting for trick-or-treaters. Anya comes over and tells him they need to save Xander. Okay, and the others, too. She tells him what she saw at the frat house and he starts gathering supplies. He doesn’t think she should worry about Xander, who’s at least with friends.

Willow and Buffy bicker about whether the Scoobies should leave and whether Buffy has the right to boss them around. Willow wants to do a guiding spell that will conjure an “emissary” to help them get out. Buffy notes that Willow doesn’t have a great track record with even basic spells, so moving ahead to conjuring might be a bad idea. Willow protests that she’s not Buffy’s sidekick.

As Oz goes off with Willow to calm her down, Xander tries to tell Buffy that this isn’t a good time for in-group arguments. But Buffy somehow can’t see or hear him, and she’s annoyed that he’s seemingly wandered off. She goes off looking for him as he calls after her, wondering what’s going on. He ends up alone in a hallway.

Willow complains to Oz about Buffy’s skepticism that she can handle dark magic. They’ve found the stairs, and as they go up, Oz realizes that he’s starting to change into his wolf form, even though there’s no full moon. Willow suggests that they find a way to restrain him, but he says there’s no time. She tells him she can try the guiding spell instead. Oz accidentally scratches her with his claws, then runs off to keep from hurting her further. She calls after him not to leave her, and her voice echoes throughout the house.

Xander finds a mirror and is relieved to see that he’s not invisible. A bleeding, decapitated head behind him says he can see Xander, too. Oz sits in an empty bathtub, whispering to himself over and over, “You’re not gonna change. You’re not gonna change.” As Buffy searches the house, crossbow in hand, Willow does her conjuring spell. She creates a little green light and tells it to take her to Oz. As she’s thinking about all the things she needs to do, the light multiplies and she gets swarmed.

Buffy hears Willow yelling for help but can’t get to her. She breaks down a door and finds herself falling into a basement. The guy who fell down the stairs appears and tells her that everyone she opens her heart to will run away from her. But she’s not alone anymore. Hands reach up from underground and grab at her.

Outside, Giles and Anya have arrived, and he determines that they’ll have to create a door. Good thing he brought a chainsaw! Buffy fights off the zombies the arms are attached to, but the dead partygoer tells her that no matter how hard she fights, she’ll end up in the same place. Why does she even bother? Buffy makes her way to a little door, which is normal-sized when she emerges on the other side. She realizes she’s made it upstairs to the party.

Everyone up there is quiet, too scared from whatever they’ve seen to do anything but cower. As Buffy spots Oz, Willow runs in, swatting at the lights that are no longer surrounding her. Xander’s also there, and the others can see and hear him again. Oz realizes that the house separated them to scare them. Buffy thinks it also brought them together again for some reason.

Xander sees the symbol on the floor and finds the book it came from. Willow identifies the symbol as the Mark of Gachnar, which is used to summon…well, Gachnar. The spell must have been triggered somehow, and now Gachnar is feeding on fear to manifest himself. As the demon growls to be released, the Scoobies decide to get everyone out of the frat house so their fears will stop feeding him.

Giles arrives just then with his chainsaw (and Anya). He tells the Scoobies that the walls have been closing up behind them. He’s familiar with Gachnar and says his presence is changing the reality of the house. They can’t let him fully manifest. Buffy thinks she could fight him, but Giles shows her a picture of the demon and she realizes she doesn’t want to have to face him. They’ll need to break the spell instead.

Giles starts reading from the book how to shut down the spell. “Destroying the Mark of Gachnar…,” he begins. Buffy punches a hole through the symbol without letting him finish: “Is not one of them and will, in fact, immediately bring forth the fear demon itself.” Oops! A light shines out of the broken symbol and Gachnar rises up from the floorboards. He looks scary…but it’s just a trick of the camera. He’s actually just a few inches tall. “Big overture, little show,” Xander comments.

Gachnar tries to convince the Scoobies that he’s “the dark lord of nightmares” and they should tremble before him. Willow says he’s cute. “Who’s a little fear demon?” Xander coos, like Gachnar’s a baby or a cute animal. Giles tells him not to taunt Gachnar – not because Gachnar can hurt him but because “it’s just tacky.” Buffy decides that “size doesn’t matter” and slaying is slaying. Gachnar tells her that everyone’s going to abandon her. “Yeah, yeah,” she replies dismissively before stomping on him with her foot.

The Scoobies head to Giles’ house to eat his leftover candy. Buffy declares that there’s no problem that can’t be solved with chocolate. Willow comes up with one: feeling sick from eating too much candy. Xander questions Anya’s costume, which she explains by revealing that she’s scared of bunnies. Giles realizes that he overlooked something in the book and they were never in danger. The caption under the picture of Gachnar reads, “Actual size.”

Thoughts: When Oz delivers his sound system to the frat house, he says, “Mi Casio es su Casio.” Oz, I love you.

I doubt he was thinking that way but if the Scoobies had turned into their costumes again, Oz would have been able to save the day.

Buffy: “Your basic spells are usually only about 50-50.” Willow: “Oh, yeah? Well…so’s your face!” I love a good “so’s your face,” even when it doesn’t make sense.

I want to give Oz a big hug after the “you’re not gonna change” scene. How horrible to have no control over yourself like that.

September 17, 2022

Buffy 4.1, The Freshman: Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:09 pm by Jenn

Sunday and her minions make fun of people’s clothes but Buffy doesn’t make even ONE comment about this ridiculous hairstyle? Tragic

Summary: Buffy and Willow are in a cemetery, combining patrol with the selection of Buffy’s first-semester college courses. Willow insists that they both take a psychology course, since the professor is supposed to be great. She’s world-renowned. Buffy wonders if you can be renowned without having to be nowned first. I think you can in Europe. Willow finds her a class about pop culture, then knocks her for waiting until the last minute to set her schedule.

They chat about the transition from high school to college as the vampire they’ve been waiting for climbs out of his grave. Buffy knows she’ll have to keep her Slayer identity a secret again, which might be difficult with a roommate. But she’s excited for this new chapter in her life. As the vampire creeps up behind them, he sees Buffy’s crossbow and realizes he’s walking into certain death. Buffy tells Willow she needs to stay sharp as she completely fails to notice the vampire approaching, then leaving.

In her first minutes on the campus of UC Sunnydale, Buffy immediately feels overwhelmed. There’s all sorts of stuff going on around her, involving people she doesn’t know and places she’s unfamiliar with. She’s relieved to run into Willow, who seems very comfortable in their new surroundings. She’s happy to be in a place where she can soak up knowledge everywhere. Except she phrases it in a way that sounds a little R-rated.

Oz joins them, and since he acknowledges how crazy things are around them, Buffy thinks he’s Team This Is Overwhelming. Instead, Oz is practically an alum, since he already knows people on campus and has played at parties there before. Willow and Buffy go to the library, wishing Giles could work there. Apparently he’s a “gentleman of leisure” now, which Buffy translates as “British for ‘unemployed.'” They haven’t heard from Xander, who’s been on a road trip all summer. Buffy hopes the whole gang can reunite soon and hang out in the library. Maybe not this one, though – it’s huge and full of people who are using it for its intended purposes.

Next they go to the bookstore, where Buffy accidentally knocks some books onto a guy’s head. He’s Riley Finn, and he’s the TA in the psych course they’re taking. Buffy quickly gets awkward and struggles to get out a coherent sentence. She goes back to her new dorm room, which is bigger than any two-person dorm room has ever been in the history of colleges, and I’m including Felicity and Meghan’s room in that. She meets her roommate, Kathy, who’s friendly and bubbly, and also has a Celine Dion poster. Also, she snores. Sorry college sucks so far, Buffy.

Buffy’s first class is the pop culture course Willow found for her, but she only spends about two minutes in it. The professor busts her for asking a classmate a question while he’s talking, and he makes her stand up and address the whole class. He tells her she’s sucking energy from everyone in the room, and since she hasn’t signed up for the course yet, she has to leave.

On her way to psychology, she runs into Riley, who only remembers her as Willow’s friend. She asks if the psych professor will yell at her and kick her out. He assures her that that’s not in Professor Walsh’s lesson plan. Buffy sits with Willow, telling her that she’s not going to take the pop culture class after all, since it seemed boring. Professor Walsh starts the class, warning that the course is difficult and she expects a lot from her students. Buffy’s college experience just keeps getting more and more intimidating.

That night, Buffy gets lost on campus and runs into another freshman, Eddie. They use his map to figure out where they need to go. Buffy’s finally found someone who’s as overwhelmed as she is. Eddie tells her he always keeps a copy of Of Human Bondage by his bed as a kind of security blanket (and no, Buffy, it’s not what you think it is based on the title). She decides Mr. Pointy (Kendra’s stake) is her security blanket, though she can’t explain what it is to Eddie. They agree to help each other navigate their new lives, then split up. Seconds later, Eddie is grabbed by a group of vampires.

They steal all his stuff from his dorm room and leave a note behind on his bare mattress. The next morning, Buffy’s disappointed not to see Eddie in psych class. She goes to his room, where his RA says he left. He’s one of the handful of freshman who can’t handle the transition to college and just take off. But Buffy finds Eddie’s copy of Of Human Bondage in his dresser, a clue that he didn’t leave voluntarily.

The vampires who grabbed him have taken him to an abandoned house and are helping themselves to his stuff. Their leader, Sunday, doesn’t find anything interesting in his belongings and tells her crew that they need to kill some cooler people. Another vampire reminds her that they’re only targeting weak victims. A third vampire adds a Klimt poster to their collection; they’re keeping score between Klimts and Monets, two of the most popular posters college students hang up. Sunday has a strong hold on her crew, but she’s sick of them. She’s going to let Eddie, now a vampire, get dinner for them.

Buffy goes to Giles’ place, where she’s surprised by a few things: Giles is lounging around in a bathrobe, he hasn’t cleaned in a while, and a woman named Olivia is hanging out pantless, wearing one of Giles’ shirts. Buffy came to get her Watcher’s help, but she doesn’t want to interrupt anything. She thinks Giles is taking his sudden unemployment a little too well. He asks if he’s not allowed to have free time. “No, because you’re very, very old, and it’s gross,” she replies.

She tells him that Eddie has gone missing. She went back to the spot where she last saw him and noticed signs of a struggle. Since Eddie’s RA says students disappear a lot, Buffy thinks there could be a gang of vampires kidnapping them. They need to do research and make charts and all that stuff. Giles doesn’t know why she needs his help for that. He’s not her Watcher anymore. It’s time for her to take care of herself.

That night, Buffy tries to patrol on campus, but it’s hard when there are a lot of people around. She spots Eddie and follows him, quickly discovering that he’s a vampire now. She easily dusts him, feeling horrible for killing the first friend she made in college. Sunday’s there to see it all, and she’s pretty sure she can take on the Slayer. Buffy’s not worried, even when she sees that Sunday has minions. Sunday wants the Slayer all to herself, and she puts up a good fight. In fact, she’s so good that Buffy ends up with an injured arm and the sense that she’s not going to be able to win this one. She runs.

The next day, she avoids Oz and Willow on campus. Sunday’s crew laughs over Buffy’s clothes and how weak she is. Sunday tells her minions to go after her. Buffy goes home and discovers that Joyce has already turned her room into a storage space for the gallery. Joyce didn’t expect her to come back so soon. Buffy didn’t expect it, either. She answers the phone when it rings, but the caller doesn’t say anything. (In the first episode of the Angel spin-off, we find out it was Angel.)

Buffy goes back to her dorm and finds all of her things gone, just like what happened with Eddie. Sunday’s minions even left a similar note saying college was too much for her and she had to leave. She goes to the Bronze, where she thinks she sees Angel. She happily reunites with Xander, who decided not to call her and Willow when he got back to town because he wanted to let them enjoy their “college adventure” (and because he didn’t want to help them move).

He admits that his road trip didn’t go as planned. His car engine fell out, and he had to wash dishes at a strip club to make money for the repairs. He mostly stayed in the shadows until one night when a male stripper called in sick, and…Xander refuses to finish that story. He came home and moved back in with his parents, who now charge him rent to live in their basement.

Buffy tells him that college is great, at least for Oz and Willow. Her biggest problem right now is Sunday. Xander says they should assemble the Scoobies to go after her, but Buffy doesn’t want to disrupt Oz and Willow’s new lives. She admits that she’s worried that she can’t handle things now. Xander tells her that she’s just afraid, and she can’t let that fear control her. She’s Buffy.

She doesn’t feel like that means anything in this new atmosphere, but Xander does. Whenever it’s dark and he’s alone and scared, he thinks, “What would Buffy do?” She’s his hero. Also, sometimes when it’s dark and he’s alone, he asks, “What is Buffy wearing?” Buffy suggests that he add that to the end of his strip club story in his collection of things he never tells her. She’s grateful for the pep talk. “And nothing says ‘thank you’ like dollars in the waistband,” he replies.

They look into the other student disappearances, which started in 1982. Xander finds an article about a frat house that lost its charter then and has been empty since, due to zoning issues. They figure that’s where Sunday’s crew is hiding all the stuff they steal. Xander suggests they do some reconnaissance, then has to explain that he doesn’t mean the Renaissance.

They spy on Sunday and her crew through a skylight, and Buffy objects to them taking her clothes and messing around with Mr. Gordo. Now she’s really ready to fight. She sends Xander to find her weapons chest, since she doesn’t see it in the lair. They did take her diary, though, so now Buffy’s even madder. As she waits to channel that anger into violence, the skylight she’s leaning on breaks and she falls into the lair.

Sunday taunts Buffy for her “diabolical plan” to come in with an injured arm and no weapons. Buffy tells her she made one mistake. Not that she knows what that mistake is. She just figures it’s a statistical probability. As they start fighting, Oz and Willow find the note in Buffy’s room and tell Kathy that she wouldn’t just run away. At least not after that one time she just ran away. Kathy’s worried that she’s been housed with someone who’s unstable.

Willow thinks she’s a bad friend for not noticing that Buffy was going through something. Oz says it’s also possible that she was robbed. Xander arrives and announces that it was a prank. He hugs Willow, then Kathy, before realizing he doesn’t know her. (Oz and Xander decide they’re “too manly” to hug.) Xander tells the group that some friends of Buffy’s took her stuff, and she needs help getting it back. Those friends “sleep all day and have no tans.” Kathy remains clueless as the others head off to find weapons.

Buffy spots her weapons chest in the vampires’ lair, but before she can get to it, Sunday steps in front of her. She’s holding the class protector award, and she stomps on it and snaps the umbrella’s handle. She grabs Buffy’s injured arm, but Buffy says she only needs one. She starts fighting harder, taking on Sunday and the minions with only one good arm. The Scoobies arrive shortly after and jump right in. Two vamps get away, but the Scoobies fight the other minions and Buffy knocks out Sunday. She twirls Mr. Pointy in her hand before throwing it (him?) across the room to stake Sunday.

As the Scoobies leave the lair with Buffy’s stuff (discussing whether it would be okay to take the other things left behind in the lair), Giles arrives. He feels bad for sending Buffy off to slay on her own, even in the name of self-reliance. He’s ready to back her up. She’s grateful, but there’s no evil to fight right now. He can help carry boxes, though.

Xander gets Buffy to admit that college isn’t so tough after all. She says it’s more like high school than she thought. At least she knows what to expect. Unlike one of Sunday’s escaped minions, who finds himself surrounded by commandos in the woods. They point big guns at him as they tase and capture him.

Thoughts: Eddie is played by an almost unrecognizable Pedro Pascal. Lindsay Crouse, who plays Walsh, has connections to three Buffy actors: She was in an after-school special called I Want to Go Home with Seth Green (Oz), and she was in Bye Bye Love with Eliza Dushku (Faith) and Amber Benson (Tara).

Riley’s a pretty polarizing character, but I don’t have a problem with him. I even kind of like him, at least in the beginning. But y’all can speak freely about him; I’m not that committed to defending him.

Xander’s summer plans:

Willow: “He said he wasn’t coming back until he’d driven to all 50 states.”
Buffy: “Did you explain about Hawaii?”
Willow: “Well, he seemed so determined.”

Buffy: “Can’t wait till Mom gets the bill for these books. I hope it’s a funny aneurysm.” People who have seen season 5: (x)

I’m disappointed that this is Sunday’s only episode. I would have liked to see more of her.