February 11, 2023

Buffy 4.22, Restless: Dream a Little Dream of Me

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

I love Buffy’s dress. I have much less positive feelings about the Primitive’s clothes

Summary: Buffy is seeing Riley off to a military debriefing so the Initiative can wrap up its business (beyond what the government has already wrapped up). He thinks that with the testimonies of Graham and some other commandos, he’ll be cleared as a traitor and will get an honorable discharge in exchange for his silence. “Having the inside scoop on the administration’s own Bay of Mutated Pigs is definitely an advantage,” he says. “It’s like you’re blackmailing the government,” Willow replies brightly. “…In a patriotic way.”

They’re at the Summers’ house, where Riley has finally met Joyce. She’s not pleased that it took so long for Buffy to bring over her boyfriend, but Buffy’s going to ignore that. She and the Scoobies are going to have a movie night. Joyce can’t believe that they’re not exhausted after their big showdown with Adam. They say they’re still wired to sleep.

Xander wants to start with Apocalypse Now, though Willow would prefer something “less Heart of Darkness-y.” Buffy also vetoes it, but Xander has brought over a ton of movies that will appeal to the women and to Giles. They have enough for an all-night marathon. But before the FBI warning (kids, ask your parents) has even finished displaying, Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Giles are all asleep. What follows are four very bizarre dreams.

Willow’s dream: She’s in Tara’s dorm, discussing Miss Kitty Fantastico’s name. Tara thinks it’s weird that she hasn’t let them know her real name. Willow says she’s not grown yet and they shouldn’t worry. In fact, she never worries when she’s with Tara. Tara warns that Willow doesn’t know everything about her, but since Willow knows her real name, she’s not concerned.

“They will find out, you know,” Tara says. “About you.” Willow doesn’t have time to think about that. She’s busy with homework, by which she means whatever she’s writing on Tara’s back in another language. Tara doesn’t want her to be late to class, since she’s taking drama for the first time. Willow doesn’t want to leave, though. She opens a curtain and says it’s bright outside, and something’s out there. There’s a desert outside the window, and something’s moving around in it. Inside, Miss Kitty Fantastico is walking in slow motion.

On her way to class, which is at Sunnydale High instead of UC Sunnydale, Willow passes Xander and Oz. (Hi, Oz!) He warns that drama is a tough course. Willow asks if he took it. “Oh, I’ve been here forever,” he says. Xander asks if she and Tara were doing spells together. The bell rings and Willow heads off to class. Xander makes an obligatory “by spells I meant sex” joke.

Willow winds up backstage in a theater, where everyone’s in wildly different costumes for the first performance of their first big production. Harmony is there, dressed like a milkmaid, and is excited to get to act with Willow (as long as Willow doesn’t step on her cues). Buffy, who looks like she’s going to be playing Roxie or Velma in Chicago, tells Willow that the theater is packed. Her family is in the front row and they look angry. Willow’s confused about them performing, since this is supposed to be the first class.

Riley comes over, dressed as a cowboy, and he tells Willow she should have shown up earlier to get a better role. He’s Cowboy Guy. Buffy tells Willow that her costume (which is just her regular clothes) is perfect and no one will know the truth about her. Willow notes that they haven’t rehearsed. Harmony says the rest of them have. “I showed up on time, so I get to be Cowboy Guy,” Riley brags. Willow says it’s too early to put on a play. She really hopes it’s not Madame Butterfly, since she has “a whole problem with opera.”

Giles, who’s the director, gathers everyone before the curtain goes up. Everyone Willow’s ever met is in the audience, including the cast, so they need to be perfect. Willow sees someone crawling around on the floor and asks if anyone saw them. No one responds. As Harmony vamps out and sneaks up behind Giles to bite him, he tells everyone that the audience wants to find them, strip them naked, and eat them, so they need to hide. “Stop that,” he tells Harmony.

Giles rallies everyone to have their costumes and sets ready, as well as…uh…the things you touch and hold. “Props?” Harmony offers. “No,” Giles says. “Props?” Riley repeats. “Yes,” Giles replies. Good job, Cowboy Guy! Giles tells the cast that “it’s all about subterfuge.” He admonishes Harmony for being annoying. Then he sends the cast out to lie and have a great time. If they can stay focused and Willow can stop stepping on people’s cues, this will be the best performance of Death of a Salesman ever!

Everything starts chatting with each other, but their voices suddenly drop out. Willow turns and sees a man in the shadows. “I’ve made a little space for the cheese slices,” he tells her, showing off a row of them. Hmm, okay. She wanders around until she comes across Tara. Willow complains that people aren’t doing things the right way, and her family is there, and also, why is there a cowboy in Death of a Salesman? Tara realizes that she doesn’t understand yet.

Willow asks if something is following her. Tara says yes. Willow’s worried because the play’s about to start and she doesn’t know her lines. Tara tells her that the play has already started, but that’s not important. On stage, Cowboy Guy greets the milkmaid as Velma/Roxie lounges nearby. The milkmaid asks why Cowboy Guy has come to their small town with no post office and few exports. He’s there looking for a man – a salesman.

“Everyone’s starting to wonder about you – the real you,” Tara tells Willow. “If they find out, they’ll punish you. I can’t help you with that.” Willow asks what’s after her – something she’s supposed to do? Tara hushes her, and Willow hears a buzzing sound. On stage, someone (the salesman, I assume) is dead, and the milkmaid is crying over him. Velma/Roxie rants at Cowboy Guy that all men are hoodlums: “Men…with your sales.”

Tara has disappeared backstage. A blade suddenly slices through the curtain Willow is standing next to. She runs but gets stopped by an arm reaching out for her. The blade slices through curtains on both sides, striking Willow’s hand. Buffy finds her and takes her into an empty classroom as they look for whoever’s after Willow. Buffy says that Willow must have done something. Willow denies that, since she always behaves. She just went to class and found the play starting.

Buffy tells her that the play has been over for a long time – why is she still in character? Everyone already knows, so she can take off her costume. Willow says she needs it. Annoyed, Buffy rips off her clothes, then sits at a desk in what’s now a classroom full of students, including Xander, Anya, and Harmony. Harmony asks if everyone’s clear on things now.

Willow’s dressed the way she used to dress at the beginning of the series, and her hair is long like it was then. Anya laughs that it’s like a tragedy. Oz and Tara are there, and he tells her he tried to warn her. “It’s exactly like a Greek tragedy,” Anya says. “There should only be Greeks.” Willow’s supposed to present a book report on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Xander exclaims that no one cares. Oz and Tara are giggling and flirting.

As Willow tries to start her presentation, someone tackles her, growling. Bored, Buffy just puts her head on her desk. Everyone in the classroom stays at their desks, ignoring the girl getting attacked right in front of them. The attacker is a woman with long, dark hair, who’s commonly referred to as the Primitive. She growls in Willow’s ear, and Willow looks like she’s having the life sucked out of her. In the Summers’ living room, the real Willow writhes in her sleep.

Xander’s dream: Xander has just woken up after dozing off. Buffy and Giles are also awake, watching Apocalypse Now (but not the real version; it’s just a guy walking around in the jungle, wondering where his men are). Giles thinks it’s overrated, but Xander promises that it gets better. Willow’s gasping for breath in her sleep, and Buffy accuses her of faking. Giles says he’s starting to understand the movie – it’s about the journey.

Xander leaves to use the bathroom, running into Joyce upstairs. She tells him everyone else left, and he says he should go catch up. He’s pretty fast. Men are always after – “conquest?” Joyce supplies. Xander calls himself a conquistador. She asks if he doesn’t really want comfort. “I’m a comfortador also,” he replies. She says she knows the difference; she’s learned about boys. She’s wearing a nightgown and definitely flirting even before she invites him to rest in her bed. “Yeah, I’d like you,” he Freudian-slips, adding that he’s going to use the bathroom first. She tells him not to get lost.

He heads into the bathroom, where he realizes that a bunch of Initiative commandos and scientists are observing him as if he’s one of their hostiles. He leaves to find another bathroom but instead ends up in his basement room. Upstairs, someone is trying to open his locked door. He thinks it’s a vampire. “That’s not the way out,” he says as he looks at the door.

He goes to a playground, where Giles and Spike are swinging while Buffy plays in the sandbox. Spike is dressed exactly like Giles. Xander’s happy to see the three of them (well, probably not Spike), but Buffy asks if they’re really the people he was looking for. Spike says that Giles is going to teach him to be a Watcher. Giles adds that Spike is like a son to him. Xander says that he was into that for a while, but now he has other things going on. His ice cream truck is parked nearby, and another Xander is inside, serving customers.

The Xander at the playground says that you have to have something so you’re always moving forward. “Like a shark,” Buffy says. Xander agrees, though he’s a shark with feet and no fins. “And on land,” Spike adds. Giles is proud of him for that. Xander asks if Buffy is sure she wants to play in the sandbox, since it’s pretty big. It’s turned into the desert. She says she’s fine – it’s not coming for her yet. Xander warns that there are some things she can’t protect herself from. “I’m way ahead of you, big brother,” she replies.

Spike and Giles swing higher (“a Watcher scoffs at gravity”) as Buffy and Xander stare at each other. The Xander in the truck watches them all, then goes up to the front to drive, even though the truck is already moving. Anya’s there, and she asks if he knows where he’s going. She’s thinking about going back to her old vengeful ways: “I think this is going to be a very big year for vengeance.” Xander doesn’t like that idea, since they live in a society with “rules and borders and an end zone.”

He gets distracted by some laughter in the back of the truck. Willow and Tara are there, looking glam. “Do you mind? I’m talking to my demon,” Xander says. Tara tells him that they find him really interesting. He replies that he’s going places. Willow says she’s way ahead of him. She tells him to watch as she and Tara embrace and kiss. We only see Xander’s reaction, which is to stare. Tara invites him to join them, and Anya gives him permission. She’ll take over driving: “I think I’ve figured out how to steer by gesturing emphatically.”

Xander goes to the back of the truck, crawling through a storage area…and into his basement room. Willow and Tara are gone, and the doorknob is still rattling. The rattler starts pounding on the door. Xander calls out that he knows what’s up there, then heads away from the door. “These will not protect you,” the cheese man from Willow’s dream says, holding up a plate of his carefully arranged slices. The pounding on the door gets louder and Xander starts running as something enters the basement, growling.

He ends up in a hallway at Sunnydale High, where he asks Giles what’s after him. “It’s because of what we did, I know that,” Giles replies. The others have already gone ahead. Xander needs to listen very carefully because his life depends on what Giles is about to tell him. Too bad it’s in French, and Xander barely understands it. Anya joins them, also speaking French, and she, Giles, and some other people take Xander down a hallway. They pick him up and turn him upside-down.

Now Xander’s in his own version of Apocalypse Now, where he’s Willard and he’s just found Kurtz, AKA Snyder. Snyder asks where he’s from (“the basement, mostly”) and whether he was born there. He walked by Xander’s guidance counselor’s office once and saw the students there as sheep. “The hope of our nation’s future is a bunch of mulch,” he says. “You know, I never got the chance to tell you how glad I was you were eaten by a snake,” Xander replies.

Snyder asks where he’s heading. Xander says he’s supposed to meet Tara and Willow (and possibly Joyce). Snyder tells him that his time is running out. Xander says he’s just trying to get away. There’s something he can’t fight. Snyder asks if he’s a soldier. “I’m a comfortador,” Xander replies. Snyder tells him he’s neither: “You’re a whipping boy raised by mongrels and set on a sacrificial stone.” All Xander can think about his leg cramping.

When he gets up, he’s outside Giles’ apartment, and the Primitive is lurking around. He goes inside and finds Buffy, Giles, and Anya trying to figure out how to help Willow, who’s still writhing and gasping in her sleep. Xander goes back outside but ends up in a hallway in Buffy and Willow’s dorm. He wanders around until he eventually returns to his basement room. Someone is still pounding on the door. “That’s not the way out,” he repeats.

The door flies open and Xander immediately cowers. His father berates him for not coming upstairs. Is he ashamed of his family? His mother’s crying. Xander says his father doesn’t understand. Mr. Harris tells him the line ends here, and Xander can’t change that – he doesn’t have the heart. He reaches into Xander’s chest, turning into the Primitive as he pulls out that heart.

Giles’ dream: He’s using a pocket watch to try to train Buffy for something. She thinks it’s old-fashioned, but he tells her this is how people have behaved “since the beginning, before time.” She just laughs. Later, he and Olivia take Buffy to a cemetery, where she’s eager to train. She’s dressed and acting like a kid. Olivia is pregnant and rolling around an empty stroller.

A sort of carnival has been set up in the cemetery, and instead of slaying vampires, Buffy throws a ball at one. She misses it completely. “Buffy, you have a sacred birthright to protect mankind,” Giles admonishes her. “Don’t stick out your elbow.” Her next throw “stakes” the vampire, and she turns to Giles, grinning. He tells her he doesn’t have any treats for her. Olivia chastises him for being too harsh. He says this is his business.

Buffy gets a stick of cotton candy, and Giles complains that she’ll get it all over her face. Instead, her face is covered in mud. “I know you,” Giles says. Spike calls to him from a crypt across the cemetery, telling him to come in before he misses everything. Inside, Olivia is crying next to the overturned stroller. Things go black and white as Spike says that he’s become an attraction. He lets people take pictures of him in his crypt.

“What am I supposed to do with all of this?” Giles wonders, taking in the photographers and Olivia and the empty stroller. Spike tells him he needs to make up his mind. He’s wasting time. Hasn’t he figured it all out yet? “I still think Buffy should have killed you,” Giles says. The cheese man approaches with slices on his head and stuck to his suit. “I wear the cheese – it does not wear me,” he tells Giles.

Giles leaves, winding up at the Bronze. Xander and Willow are doing research, and they tell Giles they’re dying. Xander even has a bloody wound from his heart extraction. But he’s not going to let that keep him from being there for Anya’s big night – she’s doing stand-up comedy. She’s not very good at it. “Do you know this is your fault?” Willow asks Giles. He says they have to think about the facts. He’s busy; he has his own gig.

Willow tells him that something’s after them. It’s like a primal animal force. “That used to be us,” Giles replies. Anya finally gets through her first joke, and the audience laughs and applauds. Willow tells Giles to focus. He must have an explanation for what’s happening. They need to know what they’re fighting or they won’t stand a chance.

Giles suddenly starts singing his thought process. The band onstage accompanies him and he goes up to sing into the microphone. The audience is very excited to hear him. Giles realizes that the spell they did in “Primeval” released some kind of “primal evil.” He tells Willow to look for a reference to a warrior beast. He needs to warn Buffy, since she’s probably next. The audience holds up lighters, including Willow and Xander, who are looking at their books instead of Giles. P.S. Giles would like Xander to try not to bleed on the couch, since he just had it cleaned.

The song ends suddenly when Giles thinks of something else. He follows the microphone cord backstage but loses it in a pile of other cords. He finds his pocket watch there and thinks the discovery is obvious. The Primitive is suddenly above him. Giles says he knows who she is, and he can defeat her with his mind. She grabs his hair and begins to slice into his skull with a big knife as he says, “Of course, you underestimate me. You couldn’t know – you never had a Watcher.”

Buffy’s dream: Buffy’s in her bed in her and Willow’s dorm room, only Anya, not Willow, is in the other bed. She begs Buffy to wake up, but Buffy wants to go back to sleep. As she turns over, she looks up to see the Primitive above her. Next Buffy wakes up in her bed at home. Another Buffy is across the room, and she says that she and Faith just made the bed. Tara is also there, and she asks who they made the bed for. Buffy figured Tara would tell her.

She asks if the other Scoobies are there. Tara tells her she lost them. Buffy thinks they need her to find them. She sees on her clock that it’s 7:30 and comments that it’s late. Tara tells her the clock is wrong. She hands Buffy one of the tarot cards from the Scoobies’ spell, the hands card that represented Buffy. Buffy says she’ll never use them. “You think you know…what’s to come…what you are. You haven’t even begun,” Tara tells her. The Buffy in the bed is gone, and the one with Tara says she’s going to find the others. “Be back before dawn,” Tara replies.

Buffy heads to Sunnydale High and asks around about her friends. She finds Joyce, who’s trapped behind a wall but insists she’s fine. Buffy doesn’t need to worry about her – she should go find her friends. Buffy says Joyce shouldn’t live in the walls. As Joyce is replying that Buffy could probably break through and get her out, Buffy spots Xander and follows him.

She comes across Riley and another man at a desk in what looks like a room in the Initiative. Riley, who’s wearing a suit, calls her “killer” and says the debriefing went great – he’s Surgeon General now. Now the government is working on a plan for world domination. (“The key element? Coffeemakers that think.”) Buffy asks if world domination is a good move. Riley replies that they’re the government, and it’s what they do.

The other man notes that Buffy is uncomfortable with some ideas. Aggression is normal for humans, though he and Buffy “come by it another way.” The Primitive is behind her now, but Buffy doesn’t notice her. She insists that they’re not demons. “Is that a fact?” the man asks. Riley tells his girlfriend that they have a lot of important work to do, like filing and naming things. “What was yours?” Buffy asks the other man. “Before Adam?” he says. “Not a man among us can remember.”

An announcement comes over the PA system telling everyone to run for their lives because the demons have escaped. Riley suggests that he and Adam make a fort. Buffy sees a bag of weapons on the ground, but when she tries to call out to the guys that she can help, she can only whisper. She opens the bag and finds mud inside. She smears it on her face and stares at her muddy hands.

Riley returns, now in his regular clothes, and says he thought Buffy was looking for her friends. If that’s the way “killer” wants it, she’s on her own. She heads off in the opposite direction, eventually coming to a desert. Her face is clean again. The desert is so vast that she doubts she’ll find the Scoobies. “Of course not. That’s the reason you came,” Tara says as she approaches.

Buffy says that Tara isn’t in her dream. “I was borrowed,” Tara explains. “Someone has to speak for her.” Buffy wants “her” – the Primitive – to speak for herself, since that’s what polite people do. The Primitive circles her, and Buffy asks why she’s following her. The Primitive, speaking through Tara, says she’s not. Buffy asks about the Scoobies, and the Primitive says she’s asking the wrong questions.

Buffy insists that Tara make the Primitive speak. The Primitive can’t, as she doesn’t have speech or a name. “I live in the action of death,” Tara says for her. “The blood cry, the penetrating wound. I am destruction – absolute, alone.” Buffy realizes that the Primitive is a Slayer. Tara clarifies that she was the first.

Buffy looks down at a stack of cards in her hands, the first of which shows her that the Scoobies are in her living room. “I am not alone,” she announces. The Primitive says that the Slayer doesn’t walk in the regular world. “I walk,” Buffy replies. “I talk. I shop I sneeze. I’m gonna be a fireman when the floods roll back. There’s trees in the desert since you moved out, and I don’t sleep on a bed of bones. Now give me back my friends.”

The Primitive is finally able to speak, rasping out, “No friends! Just the kill. We are alone.” The cheese man pops up and wiggles some cheese at Buffy. She decides she’s done with this and that she’s going to wake up. The Primitive tackles her and they start fighting. But Buffy declares the battle over and says, “We don’t do this anymore.” The Primitive grabs her again and they both roll down a dune. “Enough!” Buffy exclaims.

She wakes up on the floor in her living room, her friends still asleep around her. The Primitive jumps on her, stabbing at her with her blade but missing and only hitting the floor. “Are you quite finished?” Buffy asks. She’s done with the fight and is going to ignore the Primitive until she goes away. The Primitive needs to get over “the whole primal power thing” because she’s not the source of Buffy. Buffy gets on the couch to go back to sleep. She adds that the Primitive should consider doing something different with her hair, because in the workplace –

Buffy and the Scoobies all wake up for real at the same time. They discuss their shared dream visitor, which Giles thinks was the result of invoking the first Slayer in their spell. Apparently she didn’t appreciate that. Buffy wishes that Giles had mentioned before the spell that that could happen. “I did – I said there could be dire circumstances,” he says. “Yes, but you say that about chewing too fast,” Buffy notes.

Joyce comes in and asks what fun she missed. Willow replies that the spirit of the first Slayer tried to kill them in their dreams. Joyce is like, “That’s a bummer. Who wants hot chocolate?” She asks Xander to help her, which makes him uncomfortable. Buffy says she’s never thought about the first Slayer before. The Scoobies would prefer to never dream about her again. “Well, at least you all didn’t dream about that guy with the cheese,” Buffy says as she heads upstairs to take a shower. “I don’t know where the hell that came from.” The other three look at each other.

Upstairs, Buffy pauses outside her bedroom and remembers what Tara said: “You think you know…what’s to come…what you are. You haven’t even begun.”

Thoughts: I love this episode but it was, fittingly, a nightmare to recap. So much bizarre dialogue and little details I didn’t want to miss.

This is, unfortunately, the last time we see Oz. It’s okay to cry.

Xander never talks about his father, but judging by Xander’s demeanor and body language in his dream, Mr. Harris is abusive. The second he appears, Xander ducks his head and tries to avoid eye contact. It’s a great detail from Nicholas Brendon.

Here’s the “Exposition Song,” one of the most memorable moments in an episode full of them.

Season 4 is no more. Up next: Dawn, Glory, and a lot of tears.


September 10, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love this exchange:

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

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

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

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

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

September 3, 2022

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 20, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 30, 2022

Buffy 3.16, Doppelgangland: Old Reliable

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

Alyson Hannigan is excellent in this episode

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 25, 2022

Buffy 3.11, Gingerbread: Never Again

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

Who had Joyce pegged as a community activist?

Summary: Buffy’s out on patrol when she comes across something surprising: Joyce. She’s brought her daughter a snack and hopes to stick around to see what Buffy’s slaying life is like. Well, Joyce, it’s violent and scary. She gets to see that herself when a vampire attacks. Buffy fights him while Joyce tries to call out helpful information. She’s disturbed to recognize the vampire as someone from her bank. As Buffy chases the vampire, Joyce wanders over to a nearby playground and finds the bodies of two children. They have a symbol drawn on their hands.

The police arrive and begin an investigation. They tell Joyce and Buffy they can go home, but Joyce isn’t going to forget about this any time soon. Buffy promises to find whatever killed the kids. Joyce probably won’t get any consolation from that, since finding whatever was responsible won’t bring the kids back or let Joyce unsee what she saw.

The next day, Buffy tells Giles how horrible it was to see the kids and have her mother so shaken. She draws the symbol from the kids’ hands (it looks like…I’m going to say a triangle with a mustache), which makes Giles think they’re looking at a sacrifice by an occult group. In other words, the killer might be a human, not a monster. That’s even more disturbing to Buffy. She asks if Giles can find her a loophole in the rule against Slayers killing people. Giles thinks she’s making this personal because Joyce is involved. Buffy is fine admitting that she is.

At lunch, Xander and Oz interact for what I’m guessing is the first time since the whole Oz-and-Cordelia-caught-Xander-and-Willow-together thing and since Willow and Oz got back together. The two of them sit with Willow, which would be an awkward grouping if Amy wasn’t also there. They start to discuss Buffy’s upcoming birthday but stop when she arrives. She tells them about the kids and how Joyce joined her on patrol. Willow’s more surprised about Joyce wanting to hang out with Buffy than she is about the murders.

Joyce arrives and Buffy assures her that Giles is looking into things and she’s going to step up patrolling. Joyce interprets the news about a possible occult sacrifice as an accusation against witches. Willow almost chokes. Joyce wants the teens to know that witchcraft like this isn’t cool – anyone who would kill two children like this is a monster.

As Buffy takes Joyce away from the group, Xander laments that they ran into this setback just when Joyce was starting to come around on Buffy being the Slayer. Willow says she’s glad her mother doesn’t care about her extracurricular activities…or her curricular activities, for that matter. Buffy tries to get Joyce to postpone a supernatural-related conversation until later, since she likes to keep her slaying life separate from her school life. Joyce just wants to do something helpful. She’s called everyone she knows in town, and they’re going to have a vigil that night and try to get some action. The mayor will even be there!

Buffy gently tells Joyce that the Scoobies like to keep the number of people aware of weird stuff pretty small. Joyce says there probably won’t be that big of a turnout. Cut to that night and the quite big turnout. Willow’s surprised to see her mother, Sheila, there. She’s so clueless about Willow’s life that she thinks Buffy’s name is Bunny, and she’s just now noticing Willow’s haircut, which she’s had all season. Giles joins the two pairs of mothers and daughters, a little awkward with Joyce, whom he last saw in “Band Candy.”

Sheila addresses the rumor circulating that witches killed the kids. “How strange,” Giles says casually. Willow acts like it’s a completely ridiculous idea. Sheila’s an academic who wrote a paper about the rise of mysticism among teens, and she says it’s pretty common. Mayor Wilkins addresses the crowd, saying he appreciates how many townspeople are disturbed by the kids’ murders. He’s pledging to end whatever horror has visited Sunnydale: “Never again.”

Joyce speaks next, telling Mayor Wilkins that there have been too many disappearances and strange deaths in Sunnydale to call it a good town. They can’t keep looking the other way. They’ve been “plagued by unnatural evils” for too long. The town now belongs to “the monsters and the witches and the Slayers.” It’s time for the townspeople to take back Sunnydale, starting by finding whoever killed the kids and making them pay. Buffy’s face: “Oh, crap.”

That night, three witches perform a ritual together with a skull and something that bubbles. One is a Sunnydale student named Michael. The other two are Amy and Willow. They’re seated around the same symbol as the one found on the kids’ hands.

At school the next day, some jerk bullies Michael for being goth and a known witch. He’s with a group of similarly thinking guys, and a crowd is watching, including Cordelia. Amy stands up for Michael, but it’s Buffy who scares the guy off simply by showing up. Cordelia tells Buffy she’s going to be busy if she keeps babysitting Michael and Amy. Everyone knows witches killed the kids, and Buffy’s only going to get “badness” if she hangs out with witches, because that’s what you get when you hang out with losers and freaks. You know, like Cordelia did with the Scoobies.

Buffy yells after her that witches aren’t responsible, but Giles tells her they might be. His research about the symbol keeps directing him to European covens. He asks her to get a book that Willow borrowed on the subject. She heads to the lounge, where Willow left her bag with Xander when she went to use the bathroom. Xander tries desperately to convince Buffy that they’re just hanging out as friends, and there’s nothing going on between them. He’s tired of everyone judging him – isn’t he innocent until proven guilty? Buffy reminds him that he is guilty. He “got illicit smoochies.”

Xander laments that everyone expects him to mess up again. Oz is always so quiet around him. Buffy’s like, “That’s…Oz.” Xander thinks he’s being more “verbal nonverbal.” Buffy goes into Willow’s bag and is stunned to find a drawing of the symbol. Willow arrives and dismisses it as a doodle: “I do doodle. You, too. You do doodle, too.” She acknowledges that it’s a witch symbol, and Buffy tells her it was on the kids’ hands.

Before Willow can react, there’s a commotion near the lockers. Some cops have arrived to conduct a search. “Aw, man, it’s Nazi Germany and I’ve got Playboys in my locker!” Xander exclaims. Snyder revels in being allowed to violate his students’ privacy like this. Oz and Amy tell Buffy and Willow that three kids have already been taken away. The cops are looking for witch-related things, and Amy’s been busted. Willow worries because she also has stuff in her locker.

As Cordelia objects over the cops touching her $45 imported hairspray, Willow promises Buffy that the symbol is harmless. She used it for a protection spell for Buffy for her birthday. But she has bigger problems now, as the cops have reached her locker and found things she’ll need to explain. Buffy takes her notebook with the symbol in it so the cops don’t see that, too.

She heads to the library, which the cops are raiding for occult material. Giles can’t do anything to stop them. Buffy tells him the symbol is for protection, so it doesn’t make sense that it would be used in a ritual sacrifice. Giles can’t explain it without doing more research, which Buffy notes will be difficult, since all they have left is “a dictionary and My Friend Flicka.”

Giles complains about Snyder overstepping, calling him “a twisted little homunculus” just as Snyder comes in. “I love the smell of desperate librarian in the morning,” Snyder says. Giles orders him and the cops out, but Snyder isn’t intimidated. He’d like to know how Giles’ occult collection is appropriate for a library in a public school. He welcomes Giles to fight the confiscation of his books, but he’ll have to answer to MOO. That would be the new group Mothers Opposed to the Occult, founded by Joyce.

Things just get worse for Willow when she gets home – Sheila has found her Wicca stuff and wants to have a chat. She knows it’s typical of Willow’s age group to be interested in this stuff, so she’s not concerned about it. Willow tells Sheila that she can actually do stuff, but Sheila thinks she’s delusional. Willow notes that her mother doesn’t spend enough time with her to know what her life is really like. The last time they had a meaningful conversation, it was about Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and its slant toward the patriarchy. “Well, with King Friday lording it over all the lesser puppets…” Sheila says.

She thinks Willow’s crying out for attention and discipline, so she’s grounded. Willow can’t believe this is her mother’s reaction to Willow’s first ever act of rebellion. She announces that she’s an actual witch – she can make pencils float and summon two of the four elements. Also, she’s dating a musician. To Sheila, that’s the most objectionable.

“I worship Beelzebub!” Willow continues. “I do his biddings! Do you see any goats around? No, because I sacrificed them.” Sheila doesn’t want to listen to more of this but Willow isn’t done: “All bow before Satan. Prince of Night, I summon you. Come fill me with your black, naughty evil!” Sheila snaps at her to be quiet and sends her to her room. From now on, Willow’s done with the Scoobies, who are obviously a bad influence. She’s not allowed to speak to Bunny Summers again.

At MOO headquarters, AKA the Summerses’ house, Joyce tells Buffy the same thing about Willow. Buffy realizes that Joyce ordered the locker search and the raid on the library. Joyce promises that after the “offensive material” has been removed, Giles will get his stuff back. Buffy tells her they need that “offensive material” to figure out who or what killed the kids. Joyce doesn’t like the idea of those books being in a place where anyone can walk in, read them, and get bad ideas.

Buffy begs Joyce to let her handle this, since it’s what she does. Joyce isn’t sure she’s good at it, since Sunnydale is still a hotbed of supernatural evil. Buffy doesn’t have a plan; she just reacts to things. Of course her slaying is fruitless. Buffy says she may not have a plan or lapel buttons like MOO, but now she doesn’t have the books she needs to at least try to protect people. She heads out on a “pointless” patrol to “react” to vampires. As a parting shot, she criticizes the MOO acronym.

After she leaves, Joyce says she’s just trying to make things better. The two dead kids are suddenly in the room with her. They assure her that she’s doing a good thing. There are bad people out there, and the kids won’t be able to sleep until the humans hurt them the way they hurt the kids.

Buffy heads to the playground where the kids were found. People have set up a little memorial with candles and pictures. Angel joins her there, having heard about the murders since everyone in town is talking about them, even to him. People in Sunnydale don’t usually react to deaths like this – and there are a lot of deaths to react to – but are probably worked up because the victims were kids.

Buffy confides that she’s not sure Joyce is wrong about how successful she is as a Slayer. Badness keeps coming back and getting stronger, “like the boy that stuck his finger in the duck.” (Angel corrects that it’s dike, AKA a dam, which makes a lot more sense to Buffy.) He urges her to keep fighting, just as she told him on Christmas. They don’t fight to win – they do it because there are things worth fighting for, like the kids and their parents. That makes a lightbulb go off in Buffy’s head.

Giles is really struggling without his books, since his only other option for research is the computer and he’s not good at using that “stupid, useless fad.” Xander and Oz arrive with the news that they found his books, but they’re locked up in City Hall, so they can’t actually get to them. Xander teases that Giles is in a “frisky Watchers’ chat room.”

Buffy arrives and asks what they know about the kids. What school did they go to? Who were their parents? What are their names? No one can answer those questions – people have only been talking about their deaths. How did anyone even get pictures of the kids if no one knows who they are or where they came from? Oz takes over computer navigation for Giles, since Willow’s on house arrest and isn’t even allowed to come to the phone. Oz sends her a message so she can do a search from home.

That search turns up a story about two children who were found dead in Omaha in 1949. The Scoobies are stunned to see that they’re the same kids as the ones in the park. They were also found in Utah in 1899. No articles mention their names or any details about them. Willow finds the same stories every 50 years going all the way back to 1649. The original kids were named Greta and Hans.

Sheila catches Willow on her computer and takes it from her so she can’t chat with her “cyber-coven.” Joyce and MOO have convinced Sheila that Willow isn’t delusional after all. Now Sheila is going to let Willow go with love. She locks Willow in her room with no way of communicating with the Scoobies.

Giles tells the others that there’s a fringe theory that some regional stories have roots in real occurrences. Oz translates: “Fairy tales are real.” Buffy realizes that Hans and Greta are most likely Hansel and Gretel. Giles explains that some demons like to sow chaos in communities. They show people their darkest fears and let them turn on each other. For example, Hansel and Gretel go home and tell everyone about the witch who tried to kill them in her gingerbread house. Then vigilantes go after the witch and anyone else like her. That’s basically what happened during the Salem witch trials.

Buffy wants to go talk to Joyce so she can defuse everything. But Michael runs in just then, reporting that he was attacked by his father and some of his friends. Suspected witches are being dragged out of their homes and put on trial at City Hall. Buffy tells Michael to hide in the library while she and Giles go find Joyce, and Oz and Xander go get Willow. It’s too late, though – Sheila and some MOO members are ready to take Willow to City Hall. And when Giles and Buffy arrive at her house, Joyce and some MOO members chloroform them. As she passes out, Buffy sees the kids telling Joyce to stop the bad people and make them go away forever.

Xander and Oz get to Willow’s house as the “trial” starts at City Hall. It’s not so much a trial as it is a combination book-burning/witch-burning. Buffy (who’s still unconscious), Willow, and Amy have been tied to stakes so they can receive the “cure” for their occult leanings.

Back at the Summerses’, Cordelia slaps Giles awake and tells him that people are going overboard with the witch hunt. Her mom took all her black clothes and scented candles. She came over to talk to Buffy but found Giles unconscious yet again. She wonders how many times he’s been knocked out: “I swear, one of these times, you’re gonna wake up in a coma.” Giles tells her they need to save Buffy from Hansel and Gretel. “Now, let’s be clear – the brain damage happened before I hit you,” Cordelia says.

Xander and Oz race to City Hall and pretend they want to join up with the MOO vigilantes. The man they encounter don’t believe them. “Just so we’re clear, you guys know you’re nuts, right?” Oz asks before he and Xander run away. Buffy wakes up and tries to talk Joyce out of, you know, setting her daughter on fire. Sheila hands Joyce a torch and they agree to keep in touch once this is over.

Joyce lights the books on fire. Amy decides that since the crowd wants to burn a witch, she’ll give them one to burn. She does a spell to turn herself into a rat and escapes. “She couldn’t do us first?” Buffy asks. Willow tells the crowd that she’ll use her powers next if they don’t back off. Not that she has the power to do anything except float pencils. Buffy plays along, warning that Willow will turn people into either rats or fish. One of the vigilantes decides they should go. The kids appear and remind the adults that they promised to kill the bad girls.

Giles heads for City Hall, trying to remember an incantation that will make the demons appearing as Hansel and Gretel take their true form. He hopes that’ll take away their influence over everyone. He has Cordelia mix up the ingredients he needs, including a toad stone, which, much to her dismay, doesn’t get its name because it looks like a toad but because it used to be inside one.

Xander and Oz hear Willow calling for help and climb into a ventilation shaft so they can get to the room she and Buffy are in. Buffy tells Joyce that since dead people are talking to her, she should realize that something’s wrong here. She begs her mother not to do this. Joyce tells her that she “toyed with unnatural forces” and needs to be punished.

Giles and Cordelia arrive and he uses one of her hair pins to pick the lock on the door to the room where the burning is happening. “You really were the little youthful offender, weren’t you?” she comments. “You must just look back on that and cringe.” The fire has spread and Buffy and Willow are running out of time. Fortunately, Giles is in time to save the day.

He sends Cordelia to grab a fire hose while he does the spell to make the demons unveil themselves. Hilariously, Cordelia gets a little too into spraying people with the hose and forgets that she’s supposed to put out the fire. As Xander and Oz crawl through the vent shaft in the ceiling, Giles finishes his incantation and throws Cordelia’s mixture at the kids’ feet. They hug each other, then meld together to form one giant demon. “I think I liked the two little ones more than the one big one,” Cordelia says.

Most of the crowd runs away as the demon tries to convince them that they still need to kill Buffy and Willow. Buffy notes that he doesn’t have as much influence when he doesn’t look like a cute little kid. She leans over, breaking the post she’s tied to, and stakes the demon through the neck as he rushes her. She can’t see what happened, so she asks if she got it. Just then, Xander and Oz fall through the ceiling. “We’re here to save you,” Oz says.

Things return to normal and Sheila starts ignoring Willow again, to the point where Willow feels comfortable doing a spell with Buffy in her room. Sheila is basically pretending nothing ever happened, though she does remember that Willow’s dating a musician. The girls make another attempt at their so-far-unsuccessful spell, but this try doesn’t work, either. Poor Amy will remain a rat for the foreseeable future.

Thoughts: This seems to be a polarizing episode but I like it. The last act (starting with the “trial”) is some of my favorite stuff in the series. That said, it’s disturbing how timely this episode is in 2022, with parents falling all over themselves to shield their kids from anything they consider offensive, and calls for “inappropriate” books to be banned.

I love how Buffy just has to show her face to chase off Michael’s bully. Finally, people know who she is!

It’s kind of an easy laugh but still funny that Sheila’s more okay with Willow practicing witchcraft than she is with her dating a musician.

I wish we knew what the aftermath of all this was like for Joyce. She tried to kill her daughter! I assume she tries to block everything out like Sheila does.

May 21, 2022

Buffy 3.6, Band Candy: 17 Again

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

I didn’t think Giles would own a shirt with a hole in it, but then I decided he poked the hole himself to make it look cool

Summary: Giles has joined Buffy on patrol in the cemetery, and he’s reading something about a tragic ending. It turns out he’s helping her study for the SAT. He doesn’t approve of her strategy of picking a multiple-choice answer just because she hasn’t chosen it in a while. He wants her to understand how important the SAT is. It’s a rite of passage. They take a study break so Buffy can kill a vampire with her pencil. (Giles has a backup.) She comments that they and the undead have to be the only people in Sunnydale still working at this time of night.

Well, the two of them, the undead, and the evil, at least. Mayor Wilkins is meeting with Mr. Trick to discuss an urgent, delicate matter. It’s something Mr. Trick has never handled before, but he can get Wilkins what he wants: “I know a beast who knows a guy.” Wilkins isn’t sold on using a subcontractor, but Mr. Trick says the guy is familiar with Sunnydale, and if he’s as good as his reputation says he is, chaos will reign. Wilkins is offering a tribute to a demon, which he says is what makes him different from other politicians – he keeps his campaign promises. Also, he has a bunch of creepy items in a cabinet. Actually, that might not set him apart from other politicians.

At school the next day, Buffy tells Willow and Oz about a nightmare she had where she was chased by an unproperly filled-in answer bubble that was screaming, “None of the above!” Willow hopes that wasn’t one of her prophetic dreams. Oz offers to help Buffy study; he has a trick to antonyms but doesn’t want to discuss it in public. Willow gushes that he’s the highest-scoring SAT taker to fail to graduate.

They meet up with Xander and Cordelia, who have very different opinions of the SAT. Xander thinks it’s fascist while Cordelia’s looking forward to it. She reveals that she does well on standardized tests. “What? I can’t have layers?” she asks when the others are surprised. Willow offers to study with Buffy that night, but Buffy has agreed to hang out with Joyce. She and Giles have been keeping a close eye on Buffy since she got back from L.A., which makes Buffy feel like she’s “in the Real World house, only real.”

In the cafeteria, Snyder is handing out candy bars – not for the students to eat, but for them to sell to raise money for the marching band. Yes, he’s aware that the Scoobies aren’t in the band. He doesn’t care. At home, Buffy tries to sell them to Joyce, who nicely agrees to buy half of them (possibly to hand out at her gallery). Buffy then asks when she’s allowed to take her driving test. Last year she failed the written test and wasn’t even allowed to take the road test. She thinks she’ll do better now. Joyce isn’t ready to give her a means of leaving town again, though.

Buffy has to go study and train with Giles again, and Joyce complains that he’s taking up a lot of her time. To be fair, he’s helping her with school stuff, so Joyce can’t really object. Buffy manages to get Giles to buy the rest of her candy bars before he blindfolds her and gives her a rubber ball. He wants to test her ability to track an opponent she can’t see. He has her wait five seconds, then throw the ball at him. She turns away from him, which makes him smile, but she throws the ball at a wall and it bounces off and hits him right in the forehead. And that’s a wrap on training. She has to go home to hang out with Joyce.

Buffy has actually done the classic “I’m with Mom/I’m with Dad” trick with Joyce and Giles so she can go see Angel. He’s doing shirtless tai chi, because why not? They’re slowly getting back to their old dynamic, but they’re still awkward with each other. She decides not to tell him that she and Scott split up. She’s brought him blood from a butcher shop, but he doesn’t want to eat in front of her. He makes sure she’s being careful with patrolling – he worries about her. She tells him she worries about him, too. They both pretend they’re looking forward to him fully regaining his strength and not needing her anymore.

When Buffy gets home, she learns that her lies have been discovered. Giles is there, and he’s not happy that Buffy deceived him, Joyce, and Willow. Buffy doesn’t want to tell them about Angel. The adults stress-eat candy bars while calling her immature. Buffy allows that she may be acting like a child, but it’s because they’ve been treating her like one. They’re scheduling all her time and won’t let her make any decisions on her own. Joyce points out that the last time they let her do that, she left town.

Buffy argues that she took care of herself while she was gone. She doesn’t need her mother and Watcher looking over her shoulder 24/7. Giles calls a ceasefire, telling Buffy and Joyce not to “freak out.” Buffy’s like, “Since when do you use young-people slang?” After she goes upstairs, Joyce tells Giles that she just wants to protect her daughter. Giles understands and says they should be especially careful since Buffy has a more dangerous life than most teens. While Giles opens another candy bar, a worker in the factor that packages them tries to sneak one of his own. Ethan Rayne stops him and cautions him not to eat it.

The next day, the Scoobies are all in study hall together, but the teacher hasn’t arrived. Cordelia thinks they should be allowed to leave, but Buffy knows Giles is on study-hall duty, so he’ll definitely be there soon. Cordelia thinks he needs to chill – he made her pay a huge late fine on a philosophy book. She wishes she still had it, since it was a great conversation-starter with college guys B.X. (before Xander).

At the table behind them, Xander eats a candy bar that Willow’s surprised he still has. She was easily able to sell all of hers in what she dubs “trick-or-treating in reverse.” Under the table, they’re playing footsie. They quickly separate when they think Cordelia’s caught them. She’s just annoyed that Giles hasn’t shown up: “I’m bored and he’s not here to give me credit for it.”

In the hallways, Snyder tells an older teacher named Ms. Barton that since Giles is MIA and he doesn’t want to run study hall, she has to do it. Snyder eats a candy bar and grumbles that he’s expected to do everything because he’s the principal. It’s not fair. Ms. Barton tells the students to sit quietly until they’re sure Snyder’s gone, and then they can all leave. Everyone’s thrilled except Buffy, who’s surprised that Giles didn’t show up.

She goes to his place and finds him hanging out with Joyce. They’ve agreed that they’re overscheduling Buffy, so they’re going to work out a better schedule. Joyce tells Buffy that she can drive home, so Buffy leaves as fast as she can. The second she’s gone, Giles lights a cigarette and Joyce opens a bottle of wine.

Buffy picks up Willow, who’s not a big fan of Buffy’s driving skills. Willow isn’t sure they should go to the Bronze, since the SAT is tomorrow. Buffy thinks they can balance dancing and studying. Back at Giles’, he and Joyce listen to Cream’s “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and smoke. She asks why his nickname is Ripper. He shushes her so he can hear the music. Joyce offers to order something on pay-per-view, but Giles, whose accent is slipping from upper-class to working-class, wants to go out and “tear things up.” Not at the Bronze, though – they won’t have fun there.

Other people are, and Dingoes Ate My Baby is playing for a big crowd. It’s not their usual kind of audience, though – it’s mostly adults. Even Ms. Barton is there. She assures Willow that she’s okay (“cool,” actually), then comments that Willow has the same name as a tree. “Are there any nachos in here, little tree?” she asks. The girls are a little disturbed, even more so when Snyder tries to chat with them.

Willow’s worried that one of the adults will have a heart attack. Buffy says there might be a doctor there. In fact, there is – he’s Willow’s doctor, and he’s stage-diving. “He’s usually less topless,” Willow says. Snyder tells the girls that he got a commendation from Wilkins, who shook his hand twice. He goes looking for “foxy ladies” as the girls wonder what’s making all the adults act like teenagers. At the factory, Mr. Trick checks in with Ethan, killing an employee he thinks was going to eat a candy bar. Whether or not he was, Mr. Trick tells Ethan that now no one else will try it.

Buffy, Willow, and Oz continue being disturbed at the Bronze as Snyder admires Oz’s hair. Willow’s doctor and some other guys have taken over the stage to sing “Louie, Louie.” Buffy spots a couple of adults making out and grimaces: “No vampire has ever been that scary.” A fight breaks out in the crowd and Buffy decides they need to figure out what’s going on. It has to be related to the Hellmouth. The Scoobies leave with their new BFF, Snyder, so they can confer with Giles. They realize he could be reverting to his teen personality, too.

Two candy-eating adults have a drag race as others play in a park. A mailman amuses himself by reading other people’s mail. Willow tries to convince herself that things will be okay once they get Giles involved. Oz says that even if he’s a teen again, he’ll probably be pretty together, since he’d still be Giles. Buffy tells him that teen Giles was “less ‘together guy,’ more ‘bad magic, hates the world, ticking time bomb’ guy.” Oz notes that Joyce might be in trouble.

Giles and Joyce are walking downtown, his arm around her like they’re a couple. She’s wearing a very un-Joyce-like jacket and he’s wearing an even more un-Giles-like white T-shirt and jeans. She says this feels like waking up from a dream. Things are like they’re supposed to be now. She spots a coat she likes (“very Juice Newton”) in a store window, so he breaks the window and steals it for her. She thinks he’s brave. Just then, a cop busts them.

Snyder wants to go to the school and do donuts in the football field. Buffy, bad driver that she is, doesn’t see a car driving straight at them. Giles taunts the cop, then beats him up and takes his gun. Now Joyce thinks he’s even cooler, “like Burt Reynolds.” They make out on the hood of the cop’s car. Meanwhile, the driver who hit the Scoobies runs off, and Buffy and Willow realize that all the adults in town are clueless and defenseless. Why aren’t vampires taking advantage of that? Oz guesses that something is happening somewhere else.

Snyder complains about someone stealing his candy, and Buffy finally figures out that the candy is key here. She tries to get Snyder to tell her where it came from, but he doesn’t know much. She sends Willow and Oz to get Xander and Cordelia and look into curses that might be at play here. She’ll take “rat boy” Snyder to the source.

They go to the factory, where everyone’s running wild outside. Buffy gets an eyeful of Joyce and Giles making out and breaks them up. She tells her mother to stop eating candy and go home. Joyce gives a typical stubborn teen response: “Screw you.” She’s not allowed to say anything about Buffy slaying, so Buffy doesn’t get to say anything about what Joyce wants to do. Buffy tries to snap her mother back to reality by showing her the huge dent in her car. Joyce is just distressed that she drives a “geek machine.”

Giles is amused, and he thinks he still has control over Buffy because he’s her Watcher. She rips his cigarette out of his mouth and stomps it out, then orders him to take Joyce home. Instead, the two of them and Snyder follow Buffy into the factory. It’s empty now, except for Ethan. He’s on the phone, telling Mr. Trick that he’s free to make his move now. When Ethan sees Buffy, he tells Mr. Trick to hurry. Giles and Ethan greet each other before Ethan takes off running.

In the library, Cordelia tells Willow that she enjoyed how the candy affected her parents until her mom started borrowing her clothes. Xander’s confused since he ate a ton of candy and doesn’t feel less mature. He realizes that’s because he’s already immature. He and Willow touch hands while passing off a book, but Cordelia doesn’t notice.

Buffy and Giles chase Ethan through walls of stacked candy boxes. Giles has trouble keeping up since he’s been smoking. Buffy finds Ethan by using Giles’ training about tracking an opponent you can’t see. Joyce and Snyder stay back, and he tries to flirt with her. She just rolls her eyes and walks away from him.

Buffy orders Ethan to spill what he knows, choosing to let him talk on his own before resorting to violence, even though Giles is pressuring her to hit him. Ethan says this wasn’t his idea, and Buffy needs to focus on Mr. Trick. Ethan’s just helping him gather a tribute for a demon. Giles urges Buffy to hit Ethan, thinking that since she’s his Slayer, she’ll follow his orders. When Ethan says he doesn’t remember the name of the demon, Buffy punches him. Giles jumps in the air in victory.

Ethan finally says the demon is Lurconis, and this was all just a distraction so no one would stop the gathering of the tribute. As a bonus, they’ll blame themselves when the candy wears off and they realize what happened. Buffy asks where she can find Mr. Trick, and when Ethan says he doesn’t know, Giles tells Buffy to hit him again. He grins as Buffy threatens more violence if Ethan doesn’t answer one last question: What’s the tribute? That would be newborn babies, who are currently being kidnapped from the hospital.

Buffy calls Willow so the Scoobies can look up Lurconis and whatever he might want as a tribute (Ethan claims not to know). Snyder taunts Ethan for being beaten up by Buffy and says he took tae kwon do at the Y. Joyce still isn’t impressed. Ethan grabs a crow bar and sneaks up behind Buffy, but Giles still has the cop’s gun, and just pointing it at Ethan gets him to freeze. Buffy takes it from him as Willow relays information Oz found in a book about Lurconis’ preferred offering.

Buffy tells Giles and Joyce to find something to use to tie up Ethan. Joyce sheepishly produces a pair of handcuffs. “Never tell me,” Buffy says. Good call. They head to the hospital and discover that they’re too late to prevent the kidnappings. Giles remembers something he once read about Lurconis and says they’ll find him in the sewers. Snyder decides to ditch this adventure, which makes Giles call him a coward. Buffy asks the adults to act like adults and help her stop the tribute.

She sends Snyder home and takes Giles and Joyce with her to the sewers. She also requests that they stop making out. Mr. Trick is at the tribute, where demons are chanting and waiting for Lurconis to come get the babies. Wilkins is also there, making a call about having repairs done to the sewers. Buffy, Giles, and Joyce arrive, and Buffy fights the demons while the other two save the babies.

Lurconis (basically a big snake) arrives, sees no babies, and eats a minion instead. Mr. Trick is about to go up against Buffy when Giles steps in for her. Before he can get eaten by Lurconis, Buffy breaks a gas pipe, sets the gas on fire with a torch from the ritual, and kills Lurconis with her homemade blow torch. Mr. Trick escapes, telling Buffy they’ll face off again later. She grumbles that vampires always have to say something instead of just leaving.

Joyce tells Buffy she’ll write a note to get her out of having to take the SAT the next day. Buffy decides to be responsible and take it anyway. Mr. Trick meets with Wilkins, trying to spin the tribute failure as a positive, since Lurconis is dead and Wilkins doesn’t owe him anything now. Mr. Trick did Wilkins a favor. Wilkins warns him to be careful about the amount of favors he does.

At school on Monday, Xander tries to tease Snyder about his adventures on Friday. The candy’s worn off, so Snyder no longer has anything resembling a sense of humor. He tells the Scoobies to clean up some vandalism from Friday night. Someone spray-painted “Kiss rocks” on some lockers, which makes Willow wonder who would want to kiss rocks.

Buffy tells Giles how difficult things were for her – everything she thought she understood was gone, and she felt alone. He asks if she’s talking about the math or verbal portion of the SAT. He reminds her that she can retake it if she doesn’t get a good score. Buffy notes that she could die before she can even apply to college, so what’s the point? Joyce arrives to pick Buffy up, and she and Giles are awkward with each other. He mentions the damage to Joyce’s car, and Buffy says things could have been worse. At least she got to them before they went too far. Joyce and Giles are all, “Yes, definitely,” and walk away quickly.

Thoughts: The Angel spinoff tries this same reverting-to-adolescence plot (and Angel and Cordelia get to participate in that one), and it’s fun, but not as much fun as it is here.

Clearly the show wanted us to be grateful for getting to see Angel doing shirtless tai chi, but strangely, I’m more grateful for Giles in a white T-shirt.

Giles grinning and jumping because Buffy hit Ethan is definitely a series high point.

I love that while everyone’s waiting for Lurconis, Wilkins is like, “These sewers aren’t up to code. We need to do something about this. I owe it to my constituents.”

April 30, 2022

Buffy 3.3, Faith, Hope and Trick: The Third Slayer

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

She’s five by five

Summary: The Scoobies are about to take advantage of one of the perks of being a senior at Sunnydale High: off-campus lunch. Willow wants to savor the moment, but Xander and Oz want to eat, so they drag her across the street. She worries that she’ll get in trouble for some change to the rule she didn’t know about, and her so-far unblemished record will be tarnished. Once she breathes, though, she enjoys the freedom.

They’re about to meet up with Buffy, and they decide that the two couples shouldn’t be too couply around her since, as Cordelia notes, her last boyfriend turned into a killer and had to be killed himself. “Can she cram complex issues into a nutshell or what?” Xander says. Buffy has brought a picnic for everyone, prompting Cordelia to compare her to Martha Stewart. Buffy thinks she’s better than Ms. Stewart. Xander says Martha probably doesn’t slay, but Oz says he heard she can and just doesn’t like to.

Buffy has a lot of free time on her hands since she hasn’t been allowed back into school yet, despite Giles’ intimidation methods. But there’s nothing keeping her from having lunch with her friends right off of school property. Willow spots a classmate named Scott Hope and says he likes Buffy. She encourages Buffy to go for him. When he walks by the Scoobies, he says hi to her and she says hi back. Willow declares that a successful interaction. Cordelia’s just happy that he didn’t try to kill them. Buffy isn’t interested in dating (yet); she just wants her normal life back.

That night, a limo pulls into a fast-food restaurant. A vampire named Mr. Trick orders a soda and tells his companion, a vampire named Kakistos, that Sunnydale seems like a nice place. True, it’s not very diverse (“strictly the Caucasian persuasion here in the ‘Dale”), so Mr. Trick may stand out as a Black man, but he loves the death rate there. “It makes D.C. look like Mayberry,” he says. They’re going to fit in and have fun. Kakistos reminds him that they’re there for one reason: to kill the Slayer. Mr. Trick decides to have an appetizer by killing the guy who gives him his soda.

It’s a live-music night at the Bronze…at least in Buffy’s dream. She’s dancing with Angel as the other Scoobies watch silently from a nearby table. She reaches for Angel’s hand and her claddagh ring falls off. He picks it up and she remembers killing him. “I had to,” she says. He squeezes the ring in his fist and blood oozes out. It appears on his chest as well. “Go to Hell!” he yells. His face suddenly looks decayed and he chuckles: “I did.” When Buffy wakes up, she gets her ring out of a drawer and just looks at it.

Next she faces a waking nightmare: a meeting with Snyder. He’ll let her back into school if she a) passes makeup tests for every class she missed last year, b) gets a letter of recommendation from any faculty member other than Giles, and c) gets confirmation from the school psychologist that she’s not a threat to anyone.

Joyce doesn’t like all this, since she spoke to the school board and they said Snyder has to let Buffy back in. Buffy gloats that the school board overruled Snyder, which means they probably don’t trust him to do his job. “I think what my daughter’s trying to say is, ‘Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah,'” Joyce summarizes. After they leave, Snyder faces his own waking nightmare: a call from the mayor.

Buffy goes straight to the library to meet with Giles. Willow goes with her and gets caught making fun of the sound Giles makes when he’s mad. He wants to ensure that Acathla stays dormant, so he’s going to do a binding spell. Willow offers to help, but Giles says it’s complicated. He’ll need details about how Buffy defeated Acathla (and Angel). Buffy steels herself to answer some questions, but she doesn’t give any details about exactly how Angel died and the portal to Hell closed.

After she leaves, Giles tries to get Willow to assure him that she hasn’t been messing with any dangerous magic. She says she’s just been doing small things. The biggest spell she did was the one to restore Angel’s soul. As far as the Scoobies know, it didn’t work, or at least not before Buffy had to kill him to close the portal to Hell.

That night, the Scoobies go to the Bronze for real. Buffy’s in a good mood and feels like she’s really getting her life back. Scott comes by, having been invited by Willow, and he asks Buffy to dance. She turns him down, too nervous to get into something with a new guy, but he tells her he’ll be by the dance floor if she changes her mind.

Cordelia tells the Scoobies that there’s someone out on the floor who’s drawing a lot of attention to herself. (Really, Cordelia says she’s being slutty, but dancing while wearing leather pants doesn’t make you a slut, so shut up, writers.) Buffy’s attention goes to her dance partner, who’s dressed like it’s still the ’70s. That’s a classic sign that someone’s a vampire, and when he and the girl head for the door, she decides to follow them. Scott thinks she’s coming to see him, and she feels bad about having to blow him off.

The Scoobies go out to the alley and hear sounds of a struggle. But their ’70s vampire’s victim doesn’t need any help. She casually tells Buffy she can take care of this while she fights the vampire. She even knows who Buffy is. She’s Faith, and as Oz correctly guesses, she’s a Slayer. She borrows Buffy’s stake to finish off the vampire and thanks her for her contribution.

The group goes back inside and Faith tells them a story about a time she had to fight three vampires while naked. “They should film that story and show it every Christmas,” Xander says. Faith is hungry; slaying makes her crave both food and sex. Buffy can’t relate. Cordelia finally puts together that Faith was called as a Slayer after Kendra died. Faith clarifies that she came to meet Buffy while her Watcher’s away at a retreat. She wants to know if Buffy really killed a demon with a rocket launcher.

Xander asks for more Faith stories, especially if they also include her being naked. Faith turns the spotlight back to Buffy, asking about her toughest kill. Buffy remembers killing Angel again but doesn’t say anything about him. Oz asks Faith about her position on killing werewolves. Willow clarifies that he’s a werewolf, and Buffy says it’s a long story. “I got bit,” Oz explains. “Apparently not that long,” Buffy replies. Faith says that as long as Oz doesn’t try anything on her, they’re five by five. Vampires, however, need to watch out because Faith plans to have a good time slaying with Buffy, especially since their Watchers are both away.

That’s news to Buffy, who asks Giles about that the next day. He tells the Scoobies that there’s a Watchers’ retreat in the Cotswolds every year, but he’s never been invited. Faith thinks it’s too stuffy for someone like Giles, who’s so cute and young. “Raise your hand if ew,” Buffy replies. Giles is flattered. Anyway, he says it’s good that Faith is there because there have been a couple of disappearances recently, so something big might be coming.

Buffy says she’ll patrol after dinner with her mother. Xander and Willow give her pointed looks, so she invites Faith to come to dinner. Then they can patrol together. Buffy has a makeup test to take, so Xander and Willow happily offer to hang out with Faith. After they leave, Giles comments that Faith has a lot of “zest.” He asks Buffy for more details about her defeat of Acathla, but she still gives the bare minimum, acting like it wasn’t a big deal.

Willow and Xander give Faith a tour of Sunnydale High, pointing out spots where their lives were put in danger. Xander quips that some people say kids don’t learn anything in school nowadays, but he’s learned to be afraid. Faith loves the Scoobies and says if she’d had friends like them in high school, she probably still would have dropped out, but she might have been sad to do it.

She asks what’s up with “B,” who seems tightly wound and “needs to find the fun a little.” Cordelia joins the group and asks why Xander always falls for Slayers. Faith runs into Scott and they start chatting as Buffy catches up with the Scoobies. Willow notes how happy Faith and Scott seem together; maybe the two of them should go out instead of Scott and Buffy. Buffy’s a little jealous, but she doesn’t want to rush into a relationship. “You really do need to find the fun, B…uffy,” Willow says.

Mr. Trick and Kakistos have connected with some minions and found a lair. Their plan is to start an evil empire. Well, at least that’s Mr. Trick’s plan. Kakistos just wants the Slayer. It turns out the Slayer he wants is Faith; he didn’t realize Buffy lived in Sunnydale. But now that he knows, he’ll just add her to his list of victims. He wants Faith to pay for attacking him and giving him a huge scar on his face. Mr. Trick promises that as soon as the sun goes down, they’ll go hunting.

Joyce hits it off with Faith, happy to chat with someone who actually opens up to her and enjoys her role as a Slayer. When they’re alone, Buffy complains to Joyce that Faith is inserting herself in Buffy’s life. Buffy, however, is the only one bothered. Joyce comments that it’s probably good that Buffy’s an only child. Cough.

Buffy’s understandably bugged that she’s getting her life back just as someone is swooping in to disrupt it. Joyce points out that if Faith stays, Buffy will be able to share her slaying responsibilities, which would be safer. Or maybe Buffy could retire and let Faith take over. Then she could go off to college and a normal life. Buffy tells Joyce that a new Slayer only takes over when the old one dies. This is the first Joyce is hearing that Buffy died, even though it was just for a few minutes.

Joyce is upset about this new wrinkle in her daughter’s life. She’s tried to be supportive and “march in the Slayer pride parade,” but it’s hitting her now how dangerous Buffy’s responsibilities are. Buffy promises that she knows how to do her job. Plus, now she has help, whether she wants it or not.

When the Slayers go out patrolling together, tensions rise. Buffy thinks Faith is implying that she’s been the Slayer too long. Faith thinks Buffy has an attitude and is keeping something bottled up. She figures it has to do with Angel. Buffy tells her to shut up about Angel and everything else in Buffy’s life. “What are you getting so strung out for, B?” Faith asks. “Why are your lips still moving, F?” Buffy shoots back. Just as things are about to turn physical, Buffy spots vampires.

The Slayers fight together, but Faith takes longer with one of the vampires than Buffy would like. She pounds on him, leaving Buffy to face multiple vampires on her own, almost unable to save herself. One of them says they’re killing in Kakistos’ name. Eventually Buffy takes out her vampires and finishes off the one Faith was pounding on instead of killing. She thinks Faith enjoys the fighting part of slaying more than she should. The point is to kill vampires. Faith says she thought Buffy could handle herself.

At school the next day, Buffy tells Giles that Faith has some major issues: “The girl’s not playing with a full deck, Giles. She has almost no deck. She has a 3.” Giles says she probably just got carried away. She focuses on slaying because she doesn’t have the kind of life Buffy does. Buffy complains that Faith is trying to take over that life. She acknowledges that she’s cranky, but still, something’s not right with Faith. Giles says he’ll call her Watcher. Then he gets lost in thoughts of his exclusion from the retreat.

He asks about the vampires so he can figure out who they were. Buffy remembers one of them mentioning “kissing toast.” Giles translates that as Kakistos. He’s a vampire so old that he has cloven hands and feet. Buffy doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that Kakistos showed up in town at the same time as her “bestest new little sister.” (Buffy doesn’t believe in coincidences. Leprechauns, either.) She decides to ask Faith if “khaki trousers” rings a bell for her.

Buffy runs into Scott, who says he’s going to make one last effort to ask her out. He wants to take her to a Buster Keaton film festival. Buffy decides it’s a good time to give him a chance, so she accepts the invitation. Scott got her a gift from a retro shop, one the clerk said was a symbol of friendship. It’s a claddagh ring. Buffy freaks out at the sight of it as Giles approaches. But there’s no time for Buffy to become emotional. Giles has news: Faith’s Watcher is dead.

Buffy tracks Faith down in the motel where she’s staying and asks her what she knows about Kakistos. Faith immediately starts packing her things. Buffy knows she came to town for a reason and offers to help. Faith says she can handle this on her own. Buffy reminds her that she said Buffy should deal with her problem and move on. Faith doesn’t seem to be dealing with her own problem. Is she going to leave Buffy to handle it?

As Faith is about to leave, Buffy stops her by asking about her Watcher. She’s figured out that Kakistos killed her. There’s a knock on the door and Faith looks through the peephole to see the motel manager. Buffy tells her that if she runs, Kakistos will just follow her. But he’s already there – he killed the manager and used him to trick Faith into opening the door.

The Slayers manage to escape as Mr. Trick and some minions chase them. Once they’re in a safe spot, Faith tells Buffy that she was there when Kakistos killed her Watcher. She couldn’t fight him, so she ran. She feels guilty, but Buffy thinks she did the right thing. The first rule of slaying is to stay alive. She thinks they can take him on together, but they quickly realize that they’re not in a space spot after all. The minions drove them to their lair.

Buffy fights the minions while Faith faces Kakistos. Buffy reminds her not to die. Mr. Trick watches as Kakistos grabs Faith and beats her the way she beat the vampire she couldn’t stop fighting. Buffy takes on Kakistos as Mr. Trick comments to a minion that if they don’t help, Kakistos will get killed. After a pause, Mr. Trick says, “Well, our prayers are with him,” then heads out. He tells the minion that Kakistos’ style of crusading for vengeance is outdated. As a modern vampire, Mr. Trick sees the big picture. Buffy keeps trying to stake Kakistos, but apparently it’s not enough to kill him. Faith grabs a ceiling beam, which does the trick. Buffy realizes she’s hungry and they go off to get something to eat.

The next day, Giles tells Buffy and Willow that Faith will be allowed to stay in Sunnydale until she gets a new Watcher. Buffy’s pleased with that, since Faith turned out to be a great ally in the end, once she got past her trauma. And now Buffy wants to get past her own. She announces that Willow’s restoration spell worked, and Angel became himself again. But it was too late, and she had to send him to Hell: “So I told him that I loved him, and I kissed him…and I killed him,” she says.

Giles tells her that he thinks that will help with his spell. Willow’s sorry for what Buffy went through, but Buffy is relieved to finally share what happened to her. After she leaves the library, Willow again offers to help Giles with the spell to keep Acathla dormant. He admits that there isn’t a spell.

Buffy finds Scott and babbles about the ring and Buster Keaton and friendship for a while until she finally says she wants to go out with him. He tells her he’ll have to think about it, starts to walk away, then immediately returns and says he wants to go. She has one thing to do that night, but then they can meet up.

That night she goes to the mansion where Angelus, Spike, and Drusilla were staying when they were in town. She puts her claddagh ring on the ground and leaves without a word. The mansion goes dark, but then a light shines down on the ring and it begins to shake. The room grows bright and someone falls from the sky onto the ring. It’s Angel.

Thoughts: K. Todd Freeman is so good as Mr. Trick. I love when the villains aren’t the way you would expect them to be. And it goes without saying that Eliza Dushku is perfectly cast as Faith.

After all these years and all my rewatches, it’s still fun to hear Faith say “five by five.”

Scott doesn’t seem like Buffy’s type. Yeah, he’s cute and nice, but he’s just…bland.

Why doesn’t the Watchers’ Council send a bunch of potential Slayers to Hellmouths and demon hotspots? Why make Buffy fight alone? Yeah, yeah, Chosen One, she’s supposed to work alone, but come on. Do they WANT her to die?

April 23, 2022

Buffy 3.2, Dead Man’s Party: Mask Casualties

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

So much for trying to appreciate art from another culture

Summary: After unpacking in her room upon her return to Sunnydale, Buffy goes to Joyce’s room and accidentally scares her. Joyce is hanging up a mask that was part of a shipment her gallery got from Nigeria. She wants to brighten the room, but Buffy thinks the mask is actually “angry at the room” and “wants the room to suffer.” Joyce asks if she’s going out, and Buffy asks permission to go find Xander and Willow. Joyce wants to know if she’ll be slaying anything. “Only if they give me lip,” Buffy replies. Joyce wants to be supportive, but she also wants to be protective. She eventually lets Buffy go.

Buffy heads to the Bronze, where she comes across a guy in an alley and suspects that he’s shady. It’s actually Xander, and he’s patrolling. She jokes that he shouldn’t play with pointy things: “It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.” Everyone who’s seen season 7 cringes. He’s shocked to see her, but he doesn’t get much time to react because suddenly a vampire is attacking them.

The Scoobies are now using walkie-talkies to communicate, and Buffy has some questions when Cordelia contacts Xander using the code name Nighthawk. She, Willow, and Oz come running, but even all four Scoobies combined can’t take out the vampire. Buffy winds up doing it herself. She greets her friends awkwardly, knowing her time away is going to cause some issues.

The Scoobies all go to Giles’ place so Buffy can reunite with him as well. She’s hesitant, worrying that he’ll be mad that she disappeared without a word. When Giles opens the door, Xander fills the shocked silence by telling him he’s back on the clock as a Watcher. Giles just welcomes Buffy home and invites the Scoobies in.

Oz notes that Buffy isn’t wanted for murder anymore. Yay! Xander asks if she went to Belgium. Buffy asks why she would go there. Xander thinks the better question is why wouldn’t she? Giles makes tea and listens from the kitchen as the Scoobies get back into their groove like no time has passed. He’s pleased to have Buffy home but doesn’t want to show his emotions.

The Scoobies want to know what Buffy was up to while she was gone, but Giles tells them to go easy on her. Xander suggests that she take her time getting back into slaying, since the Scoobies have things covered. Buffy thinks the walkie-talkies are a smart addition. Cordelia has some critiques about their outfits, since they’re not sporty enough. Willow proudly says they’ve been killing nine out of ten vampires. Oz corrects her that it’s really six out of ten.

Buffy says she wants to get back to her normal routine of school, slaying, and socializing. She wants to hang out with her friends the next day, though they already have plans. Giles tells Buffy she’ll need to talk to Snyder before she can be readmitted to Sunnydale High. Joyce has already made an appointment, and Buffy’s sure she’ll be able to break Snyder.

“Absolutely not,” is his response to Joyce’s request to unexpel Buffy. He claims to have the right to make that decision. Plus, it makes him happy. Joyce points out that Buffy was cleared of the murder charges. Snyder notes that she’s still a horrible student and a troublemaker. He’s sure she’ll find a way to fill her time, such as working in fast food. Joyce threatens to keep pressing the issue, even if she has to take her fight all the way up to the mayor. Snyder thinks that would be interesting.

Joyce tells Buffy that they might be able to get her into a private school instead. Buffy suggests homeschooling instead. Joyce drops her off to meet Willow, who doesn’t show. When Buffy gets home, she meets Joyce’s friend Pat. She’s an incredibly cheery woman who has been looking after Joyce during Buffy’s absence. Joyce tells Buffy that Willow called and made an excuse about being held up somewhere.

Joyce wants to have all the Scoobies and Giles over for dinner the next night, an idea Buffy isn’t too thrilled about. Joyce sends her to the basement to get their nice plates, even though Buffy thinks her friends would be fine with normal ones. While looking for the plates, Buffy finds a picture of herself with Willow and Xander in happier times. Then she finds a dead cat from what I don’t think were happier times.

They bury the cat in the backyard but Buffy isn’t sure how to eulogize it: “Thanks for stopping by and dying?” Joyce says she hopes the cat who lost its way eventually finds it. That night, the eyes of the mask on Joyce’s wall glow red. The cat emerges from its grave, very unhappy about being buried.

Buffy dreams about going to an empty Sunnydale High and running into Angel. He tells her that her friends are waiting for her and she needs to go. She says she’s afraid, and he replies that she should be. When the bell rings, Buffy wakes up. She barely listens as Joyce talks to her in the kitchen about meeting with the superintendent about letting her back into school. If that doesn’t work, she has a chance at going to a girls’ school.

Buffy thinks she’s being punished, but Joyce points out that she made bad choices and might have to face some consequences. She softens and says that nothing’s settled yet. She thinks people should make allowances for Buffy and her unusual circumstances. Buffy says she’s a Slayer, not someone with special needs. Joyce suggests that she tell people like Snyder and the police that she’s a Slayer. She opens the door to take out the trash and the not-so-dead cat runs into the house.

Giles comes over with a cage so he can retrieve and study the cat. He admires Joyce’s mask, but Buffy calls off their attempt at small talk by saying they should get to work learning more about the cat. Giles reminds her that she’s not allowed on school property, so she can’t help him. Plus, he thinks she should stay with Joyce.

The other Scoobies get to study the cat instead. Oz likes it and suggests calling it Patches. Willow brings up dinner at the Summerses’ house that night and says she told Joyce they would bring stuff. “I’m the dip,” Cordelia announces. Oz wonders if they’re going to a gathering, a shindig, or a hootenanny. The first features brie and mellow music. The second features dip and less mellow music, and maybe beer. The third is “chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny.”

Xander asks what they’re supposed to talk about during the dinner party – Buffy’s secret vacation and how upset they are with her for abandoning them? Willow says Buffy wanted to loosen up, so maybe Dingoes Ate My Baby can change their scheduled rehearsal to a performance at the Summerses’. Giles doesn’t think a shindig is the best idea (Oz says this would qualify as a hootnanny). He doesn’t want Buffy to feel overwhelmed. But the other Scoobies want to turn the small dinner party into a big welcome-home party. Distracted, Giles misses a page in his demon reference book that’s illustrated with a picture of Joyce’s mask.

That night, Pat is the first guest to arrive for the party. Buffy has no idea how to talk to her. The band is next, followed by dozens of people who definitely want to welcome Buffy home and don’t just want to party. Buffy tries to talk to Willow but the music’s too loud for conversation. Buffy’s disappointed that she doesn’t get to spend quality time with her friends and get back to her normal life.

She takes Willow upstairs so they can talk. Buffy asks if Willow’s avoiding her, and Willow promises that everything’s great. The Scoobies just wanted to throw Buffy a party to show how happy they are that she’s back. Down the hall, the mask’s eyes glow again. Somewhere in town, a man who appears to have died after being hit by a car wakes up.

Xander takes a break from making out with Cordelia to chat with Buffy. Everything’s great! Everyone’s happy to see Buffy! Cordelia lures back to the makeout session by calling Xander “Nighthawk.” Buffy leaves before she gets sick. The mask keeps glowing and a man who’s just been pronounced dead from massive burns gets out of his hospital bed and attacks the staff.

Buffy hits her breaking point when she hears some guy at the party asks the occasion and his friend replies that he heard it was for a girl who just got back from rehab. In the kitchen, Joyce and Pat are either clueless about or ignoring everything happening at the party. Joyce admits that Buffy’s return isn’t as happy as she’d hoped. It’s actually made things worse in some ways. Buffy overhears this and goes to her room to repack her things. Meanwhile, a bunch of recently risen dead people head for the Summerses’ house.

At the library, the cat is restless. Giles finally sees the page he missed in his book and realizes what’s happening. He tries to call Buffy but no one hears the phone over the loud music. When someone finally answers, he doesn’t know who Buffy is. He asks around for someone named Buddy and calls Giles “Mr. Belvedere,” which is awesome.

Willow catches Buffy packing and blasts her for running away again. Buffy says no one will mind. She claims she tried to readjust to her normal life, but Willow disagrees. Her leaving won’t make things easier. Buffy says the Scoobies did fine without her, but Willow says they didn’t have a choice. Buffy tells her that she didn’t know what Buffy was going through and wouldn’t have understood it. Willow replies that she might not need to understand. She just wants Buffy to open up to her.

Buffy points out that Willow’s been avoiding her, so how could she open up? Willow says they’ve both been going through difficult things. Her life has completely changed – she’s dating a werewolf and studying witchcraft and taking on slaying responsibilities. She didn’t have anyone to talk to about scary things. Her best friend just walked away.

Giles speeds toward the Summerses’ house, annoyed that Joyce’s mask has caused trouble: “‘Do you like my mask? Isn’t it pretty? It raises the dead.’ Americans!” He accidentally hits someone with his car, but it’s okay – he didn’t hurt the person. It’s hard to hurt someone who’s already dead. The problem is that the zombie has some friends, and Giles is now out of his car and about to be outnumbered.

Buffy tells Willow that she missed all the Scoobies and wanted to call every day. Willow doesn’t think that matters, since she didn’t contact them. Joyce finds them and Willow tells her that Buffy is trying to run away again. Buffy says she’s not, then admits that she’s not sure. Joyce chastises her for thinking she can run away whenever she feels like it. Buffy repeats that she doesn’t know. She doesn’t know what she’s doing.

She runs downstairs, looking for an exit that isn’t blocked by partygoers. As Joyce starts berating her, driven by anger and schnapps, the music stops and all the guests hear the fight. Joyce rants at Buffy for leaving her behind for months of worrying about where she was. Buffy reminds Joyce that she told her not to come back if she left. She found out who her daughter really was and couldn’t deal.

A few partygoers leave, probably thinking Buffy’s a lesbian. Joyce is upset that Buffy punished her for not handling the news well. Buffy says she wasn’t punishing Joyce. Xander jumps into the fight, saying that’s what happened. Buffy asks if anyone else wants to join in on piling on her. Maybe Jonathan? “No, thanks,” he says meekly.

Xander thinks Buffy needs to hear how selfish and stupid her decision was. She can accept that, but no one has any idea what she went through or what she was feeling. He asks if she ever tried talking to anyone about it. She says no one could have done anything anyway. She had to deal with it on her own. Xander tells her that she can’t bury stuff – it’ll come right back up to get her. Cut to the zombies Giles is facing off with. He manages to get in his car, but he left his keys on the ground. He hotwires the engine (“like riding a bloody bicycle”) and makes his escape.

Buffy turns on Xander, saying she couldn’t have gone to him since he didn’t want her to be with Angel. He replies that he’s sorry her boyfriend was a demon, but most girls don’t run away over “boy troubles.” Cordelia steps in, advising Xander to put himself in Buffy’s shoes: “I’m Buffy, freak of nature, right? Naturally I pick a freak for a boyfriend. And then he turns into Mr. Killing Spree, which is pretty much my fault–.” Buffy interrupts: “Cordy, get out of my shoes.”

Willow tries to address Buffy, who’s too upset to listen to more from her. Xander thinks Buffy owes it to Willow to let her finish. He says Buffy’s been acting like an idiot, but she thinks his use of the code name “Nighthawk” makes this a pot-calling-the-kettle-idiot situation. Oz tries to end the fight, but Willow says they should stop trying to talk things out and turn to violence. Zombies burst into the house and Willow clarifies that she was being sarcastic.

The Scoobies put aside their problems to mobilize against the zombies. Joyce even gets into the fight, knocking one out with a vase. Since they’re not dealing with vampires, traditional staking won’t work here, and the Scoobies have trouble taking the zombies down. Pat gets grabbed and Jonathan risks Oz’s wrath (not that Oz ever feels wrath) by threatening a zombie with his guitar.

The partygoers start shoving zombies outside and trying to barricade the doors. That doesn’t do much since the zombies can break through the doors and grab them. Joyce finds Pat, and Buffy, Xander, and Willow take the two of them into Joyce’s bedroom for safety. Joyce determines that Pat’s dead, but thanks to the mask, that doesn’t mean anything.

Everything’s quiet downstairs, so Oz and Cordelia, who were hiding in a closet, creep out to check out the situation. They run into Giles, but Cordelia isn’t sure it’s really him and not a zombie version of him. “Cordelia, do stop being tiresome,” he says. That’s all it takes to convince her that he’s the real deal. Oz says the “dead man’s party” has moved upstairs. Giles guesses it’s because that’s where the mask is. It holds the power of a zombie demon called the Evil Eye. If a zombie puts the mask on, they’ll become the demon incarnate.

As the Scoobies in Joyce’s room fight a zombie, Joyce realizes that Pat’s alive. She shoves Joyce aside and puts on the mask. The zombie gets scared of Pat, which Xander says can’t be good. Her eyes flash at Buffy, stunning her and allowing Zombie Pat to throw her aside. Pat gets Willow in her sights and Buffy warns her not to look into Pat’s eyes. Willow doesn’t listen and the flash stuns her. Buffy tackles Pat and they fly through a window, landing on the back lawn.

Giles, Oz, and Cordelia hear the crash and rush to help as Buffy runs from Pat, repeating, “Not looking! Not looking!” Joyce smacks a zombie with a bat. Giles, Oz, and Cordelia get stalled on the stairs by a zombie, so Giles sends Oz to the backyard with instructions on how to take out Pat: Go for the eyes. By the time Oz arrives, though, Buffy has already figured it out. She rams a shovel into the mask’s eyes. Pat and all the zombies vanish. Aw, man, now the humans have to clean up the house! Joyce asks if this is a typical day in a Slayer’s life. Buffy says it was nothing. Now everyone really is happy to have her back.

The next day, Giles goes to Snyder’s office and calmly says he has no grounds to expel Buffy. As a minor, she’s entitled to a public education whether Snyder likes her or not. If Snyder fights that, Giles will go to the state Supreme Court. He’ll make life for Snyder very, very difficult. Snyder refuses to cooperate, saying he’s not convinced. Giles grabs him by the collar and pushes him up against a cabinet. “Would you like me to convince you?” he asks with a “just try me” smile.

Buffy and Willow meet up at a coffee place and talk about Willow’s dabbles in witchcraft. She admits to doing some scary things, and Buffy wishes she could have been there for her. But Willow understands why she left and forgives her. Buffy thinks she’s just being morally superior. She’s willing to take some slack for a while. Willow says she’ll back off, then teases that Buffy’s a runaway and a quitter. Buffy calls her a whiner and the two trade some good-natured barbs like “harpy,” “delinquent,” and “bad seed.”

Thoughts: How is it that no one asks Buffy about Angel? We find out later that she told the Scoobies that she killed him, but that happens off-screen. We should have seen someone asking and Buffy having to figure out what to say without retraumatizing herself.

“Thanks for stopping by and dying” and Giles mocking Joyce crack me up every time.

Dingoes Ate My Baby’s drummer is at least 30 years old. I hope we’re not supposed to believe he’s one of the Scoobies’ classmates.

As fun as it is to see Giles stand up to Snyder, it would have been really satisfying if Joyce had been the one to break him.

April 9, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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