January 14, 2023

Buffy 4.18, Where the Wild Things Are: Ghosts of Repression Past

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

These two save the episode

Summary: Buffy’s on patrol in some fun pants, getting assistance from Riley. They make a good team, and it doesn’t take them long to take out their attackers. They think it’s interesting that vampires and demons teamed up, and it’s something Giles should know. But they’ll wait until the morning to talk to him, since they want to have sex first. They fall asleep in Riley’s bed afterward, and when Riley slips out a little later, he hears some rustling and splashing noises. He follows them to the bathroom, but all he finds is a dripping faucet.

The next morning, Xander tries to convince Anya to go to a party at Riley’s frat house. He’s at his new job as an ice cream truck driver. Anya doesn’t feel comfortable hanging out with the commandos, since she’s a former demon. Xander doesn’t think they would care if they found out, which they won’t. Plus, there will be so many people there that they probably won’t even notice her. Anya interprets that as him saying she’s not “desirable” enough for college guys to flirt with her. He realizes he’s not going to win this argument.

He assures her that he still finds her beautiful. Anya asks why they didn’t have sex last night. This must mean that they’re breaking up. Xander tells her that there’s a lot more to their relationship than sex (or at least there should be). She asks why he won’t “take advantage” of her. Is there something wrong with his body? Does he need Viagra? Xander tells her that if she wants sex, they’ll have it right then and there. He realizes just then that a bunch of kids and their parents are outside the truck and heard everything said.

Buffy and Riley share the news about the vampire/demon partnership with Giles, Willow, and Tara. Giles finds it very strange. Riley thinks they’re all teaming up to work with Adam. Tara quips that he’s “bridging the gap between the races.” Willow compares him to Martin Luther King, Jr., then realizes that’s not appropriate.

Giles advises Buffy and Riley to keep patrolling in the same area for a few nights in case there’s more weirdness. Riley says he’ll tell the commandos, and a reserve unit will patrol during the party. Giles doesn’t appreciate the timing of the party, but Riley wants his guys to have the chance to relax. He invites Giles, who says he has other plans at the local coffee shop (the Espresso Pump). He won’t elaborate, just saying it’s “a meeting of grown-ups.” Riley and Buffy have some time before she has to go to class, so they run off to have sex.

That night, Forrest and Graham notice that the temperature in the commandos’ frat house has dropped. They also notice that Buffy and Riley are going at it again. (Don’t worry, they’re using protection.) A commando named Mason has been tending a fire in the fireplace, but it’s not helping heat the building. Graham jokes that they have two “heat generators” upstairs. As they continue…uh…generating heat, the fire flares out of the fireplace and toward Mason.

Anya is on her way to the Bronze when Spike jumps out and spooks her. He’s disappointed to see that it’s her, then cheers up when he realizes that he scared her. He demands money, which she thinks is ridiculous, because she’s not paying him for making her yell. He clarifies that he’s robbing her. She finds that even more ridiculous, since he can’t hurt her.

He tries to scare her again, but she notes that he’s not in vamp face anymore, so there’s nothing intimidating about him. Spike asks for a second chance, since this is a good way for him to make some quick cash from frightened humans. Anya comments that it’s easy to see why he doesn’t have any friends. He doesn’t think she has any, either, and he hits a nerve when he asks if Xander had better things to do tonight.

He did, actually, since he’s at the commandos’ party. Buffy and Riley are across the room from each other and can’t stop making eyes at each other. Forrest and Graham exposit that Mason wasn’t hurt and even asked to go on patrol tonight. Xander tells Buffy, Willow, and Tara about what happened in the ice cream truck and how upset Anya is. Willow notices that Buffy’s mind is on something (someone) else, and she decides it’s a good time to confess that she spilled something on a shirt she borrowed without asking.

At the Bronze, Anya laments to Spike that she’s lost her powers and can’t use them to hurt Xander. Spike can sympathize. He wishes he’d appreciated his ability to commit violence more when he had it. He can also relate to how complicated Anya thinks her life has become now that she’s in love. She’s seen a thousand relationships and knows they all end badly. Spike suggests that they team up to take out Xander and Drusilla. Anya declines, but she encourages Spike to go after Drusilla alone.

Some frat guy at the commandos’ party is trying to impress a woman (who’s very much not impressed) when he leans his hand against a wall. His reaction is…honestly, the only word I can think of is “orgasmic,” a word I have never used before and plan to never use again. Xander flirts with a woman named Julie who finds him funny and appealing. Buffy makes a dumb excuse for Riley to leave the party with her, and they head up to his room. Forrest and Graham aren’t fooled.

The frat guy by the wall tells another guy to put his hand on it. What a fun party this is! Willow and Tara talk about horseback riding, and things seem to be going well between them, but when Willow puts her hand on Tara’s knee, Tara jumps away and tells Willow she’s disgusting. When the moment passes, she’s not sure what happened.

Spike and Anya arrive, and he quickly realizes that all the guys at the party are familiar. She didn’t tell him that they were going to an Initiative party. He’s upset that she brought him there. Coincidentally, Xander is also upset that she brought him there, just for different reasons. He tells Anya that just because they had a fight doesn’t mean she needs to “rebound with the evil undead.” Spike’s amused by how possessive Xander’s become. Xander loudly greets him as hostile 17, but none of the commandos hear him.

Anya tells Xander that she and Spike didn’t have sex. Basically all she does now is not have sex. Xander says that they had one fight and it’s not the end of the world. It’s normal for a relationship. She thinks it’s normal for the end of a relationship. Vengeance usually follows next. They don’t have anything in common other than sex, so she gets to say when they’re done. Xander thinks he puts up with too much from her to not get to end things himself. Anya decides she’s staying and will show him how unbothered she is by him having fun.

Xander comes across a group of partygoers, including Julie, playing spin the bottle. He joins the game as a commando comments that Spike looks familiar. Spike says he gets that a lot. Xander spins the bottle and it lands on Julie. She’s looking forward to a kiss, but he chickens out and just pecks her on the cheek. She responds by grabbing him and kissing him passionately. When he puts a stop to it, she gets embarrassed and runs off.

He goes looking for her and sees the people at the wall, which has become a popular hang-out spot. He hears Julie crying in a locked room, cutting off her hair and repeating over and over, “I’m bad.” While looking for Tara, Willow ends up in the bathroom. She hears the same noises Riley heard there and finds a boy thrashing around in the bathtub, unable to surface. When she grabs at him, he disappears, then reappears behind her. Buffy and Riley hear her scream, but they’re not concerned enough to go check on her.

Xander returns to the spin the bottlers to try to find someone who can tend to Julie. They’re all too caught up in the game to listen. Willow tells him about the boy in the tub, guessing that he’s a ghost. Xander asks if every frat on campus is haunted, and why people keep coming to parties if that’s the case. It can’t be because of the snacks.

Tara joins them and says something’s off about the house. Just then, the bottle the spinners are using spins around really fast and explodes. Willow, Tara, and Xander rush off to find Buffy, but she and Riley don’t respond to them calling their names and pounding on the door. Vines suddenly shoot out from under the door. Buffy and Riley are in their own little world, oblivious to anything happening around them.

As the vines keep growing, Tara realizes that something’s going on downstairs at the party. The building starts shaking and everyone starts running for the door. Spike’s amused, since at least things are getting interesting, but straps shoot out of the chair he’s sitting in and restrain him. Forrest finds Graham standing in a hallway, practically frozen while people scream and run around him. He says something scripture-y. Forrest drags him to the elevator that will take them to the Initiative.

The shaking stops as everyone exits the house. Well, almost everyone – there’s a screaming woman running toward Anya. The woman passes right through her and disappears. The shaking starts again as Anya catches up to the other Scoobies. Spike manages to free himself from his restraints and run out with them. Julie comes out of the bathroom, almost completely bald.

The Initiative is scrambling to keep things under control. A scientist sends Forrest and Graham (who’s recovered from whatever was going on with him) to handle things. Everyone’s out of the frat house now, but Willow and Xander want to go back in for Buffy and Riley. Anya thinks they can take care of themselves. Xander points out that “there’s ghosts and shaking and people are going all Felicity with their hair.” Ha! They’re “fresh out of superpeople,” so they need Riley and the Slayer. Who’s in?

Surprisingly, Spike is. “I know I’m not the first choice for heroics,” he says. “And Buffy’s tried to kill me more than once. And I don’t fancy a single one of you at all. But…” He pauses. “Actually, all that sounds pretty convincing.” He heads off. Hee hee hee. Anya wants to leave, too, but Xander refuses to go without Buffy. (And Riley, too, I guess.) He starts to go back inside but something blows him back out. He and Willow decide it’s time to get Giles.

Tara remembers that he’s at the Espresso Pump, so the Scoobies go over there. They’re shocked to see him playing guitar and singing “Behind Blue Eyes.” Xander would like to go back to the frat house, since that was less scary. Giles notices that the Scoobies are there but keeps performing. Willow remembers why she used to have a crush on him. Anya and Tara are impressed, and Willow even says that Giles is kind of sexy. Xander asks her not to add any more fuel to the total mental breakdown he’s trying to fight off.

Buffy and Riley are supposedly the only people back at the frat house, but ghostly giggling and screams can be heard. The vines are taking over the door. Buffy’s worried that Riley is too far away and tells him to keep touching her. The Scoobies go to a library to figure out why everything at the party got so sexual. Willow discovers that before the frat house was a frat house, it was a home for troubled kids. If any of them died there, they could be haunting it.

Genevieve Holt, the woman who ran the home, is still alive, so Giles, Xander, and Anya go see her. She’s very religious and is proud of all she did to bring up the kids in a Christian way. Giles asks if she ever noticed disturbances in the house. Mrs. Holt says that sounds crazy. No one died in her care, since she was so good to them. She treated them like she would have treated her own children, praising them when they were good and punishing them when they were “dirty.” And she doesn’t mean literal dirt.

She knew when they were doing things that would have kept them from getting into Heaven. If the girls were being vain, she would “remove the temptation to admire themselves.” Xander connects that to Julie cutting off her hair. Mrs. Holt baptized the “most unclean” in the bathtub, holding them under so they could be reborn.

Giles blasts her for the abuse and trauma she inflicted on the children. He tells her that not only did she ruin their lives, but her actions led to the presence taking over the frat house. Mrs. Holt doesn’t want to listen since she can smell sin on all three of her visitors. “Let me tell you something, lady – she who smelt it dealt it,” Xander says. To Giles, he explains, “It’s like what you said but faster.”

On the way out, Anya wonders where the ghosts came from, since none of the kids died. Giles doesn’t think they’re ghosts after all. They’re dealing with poltergeists, apparitions borne out of the kids’ intense emotions and sexual energy. Xander determines that Buffy and Riley set something free. Giles says the poltergeists are now feeding off their energy. Xander asks what happens when their “battery” fueling the poltergeists is drained. “They die,” Giles replies.

Buffy and Riley are practically unstoppable sex machines now, which means the battery is just getting more and more drained. The Scoobies gather in Buffy and Willow’s dorm room, where Willow, Tara, and Giles will do a spell to bind the spirits so Xander and Anya can get Buffy and Riley out of the house. They have to go in the room where they’re having sex?? Xander and Anya grab weapons, even though Anya doesn’t think they’ll do much good.

They go back to the frat house, where Xander asks Anya how she feels. She says she’s sad, scared, and a little hungry. He meant what does she feel from the house. Oh. Still haunted. Tara, Willow, and Giles start their spell, which makes the kids’ spirits appear in the room. The door to the frat house opens on its own, and Xander can tell that it’s not haunted anymore. However, the vines have grown so much that he and Anya will have to hack their way through them to get upstairs. Turns out Xander’s decision to bring a big blade was a good one.

Tara, Giles, and Willow ask the kids’ spirits to release Buffy and Riley, leave their past behind, and, in Willow’s words, “get over it.” Xander and Anya reach Riley’s room, but the spirits must sense that they’re there, because a big wind kicks up both in the hallway and in Buffy and Willow’s dorm room. The spirits disappear from there, and Willow realizes they went back to the frat house.

The spirits lock Xander up in the bathroom and throw Anya off the second-floor balcony. Xander ends up being held underwater in the bathtub. It’s up to Anya to get to Buffy and Riley. She goes back upstairs, yelling, “Shut up, repressed crybabies!” She saves Xander from drowning and the two of them go back to what’s become a jungle of vines. The vines lash at them but they’re able to get to Riley’s door and shove it open. The energy fueling everything is released, and Buffy and Riley immediately snap out of it. “Don’t you knock?” Buffy exclaims, annoyed. He and Anya just look at each other and leave.

The next day, the Scoobies debrief, and Buffy and Riley are creeped out about what happened. Not about the marathon sex and weird haunting – about Giles singing. On the plus side, Xander and Anya have made up. Buffy and Riley feel bad about their part in what happened, but Willow notes that they were under the influence of powerful magic. Buffy says they were like zombies. She had no control over herself. Willow thinks it must have been horrible. Buffy and Riley lie unconvincingly that it was.

Thoughts: Mrs. Holt is played by the late Kathryn Joosten.

I would have loved to be in the writers’ room when this episode was pitched. “Everyone’s haunted by traumatized kids and Buffy and Riley keep doing what?”

No one should be buying that the commandos are just some normal frat. Their house is waaaaaay too clean.

Spike and Anya need more scenes together.

December 10, 2022

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

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

Look alive, Graham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 22, 2022

Buffy 4.6, Wild at Heart: The Animal Inside

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

Get out of here, annoying chick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 1, 2022

Buffy 4.3, The Harsh Light of Day: Meet Sunnydale’s New Super-Couple!

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

Does this count as getting take-out?

Summary: Dingoes Ate My Baby are performing at the Bronze, and Buffy and Willow are in the audience. Willow notices that Parker’s also there, and she’s surprised that Buffy’s being nonchalant about it. It’s just because she’s watching his reflection in a nearby mirror. Willow notes that since they spent all week together, Buffy doesn’t have to be so casual. Buffy says she doesn’t want to crowd him.

When the band’s done, Oz is ready to leave, but Willow wants to let Buffy take her time watching Parker. She notes that, unlike Buffy’s last love interest, this one has a reflection. Willow teases Buffy for having “lusty, wrong feelings,” then realizes there’s nothing wrong with her liking Parker. Parker approaches and offers to walk Buffy home. You know, because it’s not safe for her to go alone. Oh, Parker, if only you knew.

Willow helps Oz and Devon pack up their stuff as they look forward to an upcoming gig in L.A. Harmony approaches Willow and the two of them note that they haven’t seen each other since graduation (Harmony: “Big snake, huh?”). Harmony’s pretty much the same, except for one big difference: She’s a vampire now. She bites Willow but Oz is able to jump in with a microphone stand and a cross. Harmony taunts Willow for hiding behind her boyfriend, then says she has a boyfriend, too, and he’s going to be mad that Willow was mean to her.

On their walk back to campus, Buffy tries to have a normal chat with Parker that doesn’t include anything about vampires or slaying. He notices the scar on her neck from when Angel fed on her. She says it’s from an “angry puppy.” Parker claims all his scars are psychological; for example, his father died last year. He’s not trying to get sympathy, though. He figures Buffy hates guys who brood. “I don’t think I’ve ever met that type,” she lies.

Parker says the saddest part of his father’s death was knowing all the stuff he didn’t get to do. Now Parker thinks about living in the now. Buffy can relate, since she technically died. He thinks most people who talk about living in the moment just want an excuse to goof off. He appreciates finding someone who understands him. Buffy asks what he’ll regret not doing today when he goes to bed tonight. Parker says he’ll regret not asking her to a frat party. So he asks her and she accepts.

While his friends had a fun night out, Xander somehow got stuck shelving books with Giles. Sad. Anya lets herself into Giles’ place and asks to talk to Xander. Giles doesn’t budge, even when Anya tells him straight out to go away, so she pulls Xander outside. She asks where their relationship is going. “Our what? Our who?” he replies. They went on one date, and Anya used to be a demon, so he didn’t exactly expect anything long-term. But Anya can’t stop thinking about him, and she’s even had naked dreams about him. She’s looking for weekly dates. Xander says a relationship has to develop on its own.

Parker delivers Buffy to her room, and as they’re awkwardly about to kiss good night, Willow and Oz run up. They try to relay to Buffy that Harmony’s a vampire now without saying it straight out. Buffy’s like, “Oh, the angry puppy is on the loose again. You’d better go home and lock all your doors and not invite any puppies in, Parker.”

Once he’s gone and Oz is tending to Willow’s neck wound, Buffy notes that Harmony must be freaking out about not having a reflection anymore. Willow’s annoyed that she brought up a boyfriend. She thinks Harmony lied, since she’s always been one of those “you wouldn’t know him; he goes to another school” people. Oz says she dated Devon once but she was too flaky for him, “which, stop and marvel and the concept.” Buffy comments that whoever’s dating a dead Harmony must be incredibly tolerant. He’s also someone she knows: It’s Spike.

He’s up to something underground, having assembled a crew to tunnel into a crypt. Harmony calls him her “little blondie bear” and asks him to kill Willow for messing with her. Spike doesn’t want anyone to know he’s in Sunnydale, and killing the Slayer’s best friend would probably set off some alarms. Plus, he’s close to his goal and doesn’t want anything to interfere.

Harmony whines, but Spike snaps at her to go eat something. She demands to be taken out to eat since the guy they have chained up for on-demand feedings isn’t satisfying her. She wants to go to a party. Spike grabs her, growling, and she tries to seduce him, even though there are people around. He gives in and tells her he’ll take her somewhere nice that night.

They wind up at the frat party Parker invited Buffy to. The two pairs run into each other as Spike and Harmony are dragging out a guy they fed on. Spike calls it a double date. He and Buffy banter until Spike decides to just make a run for it. Buffy loses track of him outside and he’s able to ambush her.

She taunts that Drusilla must have dumped him again. He claims he dumped her, but Harmony pops up and says Drusilla left him for a fungus demon. Spike announces that they’re leaving, since “it isn’t time yet.” Harmony warns that when they have the Gem of Amara, Buffy will be sorry. Spike’s furious that she told the Slayer what they’re after.

Xander’s now living in his parents’ basement, and Anya shows up while he’s hanging up a disco ball. She wants to continue their conversation. Nope, strike that – she wants to take off all her clothes and just have sex. Buffy calls Giles to tell him about her run-in with Spike and Harmony, and their search for the Gem of Amara. He says it’s not real. In the tenth century, a bunch of vampires looked for it, thinking it held some kind of power. No one ever found it, so people concluded that it didn’t exist.

Wherever Spike and Harmony are crashing, she definitely decorated it, unless Spike secretly has a love of pink headboards. She asks if Antonio Banderas is a vampire. When Spike says no, she asks if she can turn him. He says no again, then changes his mind, telling her to take her time and turn Melanie Griffith and their kids, too. Harmony realizes she doesn’t have a pulse, which she thinks is cool. She asks if they can eat a doctor so she can get a stethoscope and hear her heart not beating.

Spike yells at her to shut up, but his anger is a turn-on for her. She draws his attention to all the veins on her chest. He joins her on the bed, then suggests that they do something with chains. Harmony isn’t interested, and she thinks that’s the sort of thing he did with Drusilla, whom she calls Dorkus. Again, his anger makes her happy. This is the most dysfunctional couple to appear on the show since…well, since Spike and Drusilla.

As they move toward nudity, Anya remains unclothed in Xander’s room. She’s detailed everything she wants to do with him, and I don’t think he’s moved a centimeter since she started talking. She thinks having sex will help her put him out of her mind. Xander’s hesitant, since they barely know each other, and he doesn’t want to have meaningless sex. Anya manages to talk him into it by saying nice things and simply telling him to take off his clothes. “And the amazing thing? Still more romantic than Faith,” he comments.

Buffy returns to the party and finds Parker. She tells him Spike is an old friend who’s not supposed to drink; she just wanted to help him. Parker asks if they used to date. Buffy laughs really hard at that and promises they didn’t. They dance to a slow song, then talk a little more. He likes history because it’s all about regular people making choices. Everyone always has a choice in every situation. He kisses her, then gives her the choice of stopping. She doesn’t want to. Giles finds something about the Gem of Amara in a book and leaves Buffy a message to call him ASAP. She misses the call because she’s having sex with Parker.

In the morning, Buffy wakes up alone in Parker’s bed. He returns with coffee and the news that his mother’s coming to visit, which Buffy takes as her cue to leave. They agree to catch up later. Xander and Anya also spent the night together, and she unconvincingly says that she’s over him now that she’s slept with him. She’s upset when he accepts that without any conversation.

Spike wakes up to Harmony writing on his back with lipstick. He tells her he has to get back to work. “You love that tunnel more than me,” she whines. “I love syphilis more than you,” he mutters. Giles is in Buffy and Willow’s room when Buffy gets home. She lies that she was studying in the library all (Saturday) night. Giles doesn’t really care where she was, since she’s an adult, and because he probably doesn’t want to think about it. He’s there because the Gem of Amara might be in Sunnydale after all, sealed in an underground crypt.

As soon as Giles leaves, Willow excitedly asks Buffy about her night. Buffy says it was really nice and she can’t wait for Parker to call. Willow’s happy that she’s in the really fun part of a new relationship, where “everything’s a discovery.” Speaking of discoveries, Spike’s crew has reached the crypt and is closing in on the Gem of Amara. He tells everyone they have to stay inside from now on so Buffy doesn’t track anyone to their lair. That means Harmony is “an indoor kitty now.”

Harmony complains because Spike told her he would take her places, like France. He sharply tells her that the gem is the reason he came back to Sunnydale, a place he never wanted to return to, what with all the beatings he’s taken there. When he has the gem, he’s going to kill everyone they both want dead. Until then, Harmony needs to stay inside and shut up about France. For once, Harmony isn’t turned on by Spike’s anger, and she wonders why she lets him treat her the way he does. “Love hurts, baby,” he replies.

Buffy asks around town to find out if anyone’s seen Harmony. Whenever she has a chance, she checks her messages, hoping for one from Parker. He hasn’t left any. Spike, on the other hand, has achieved his goal and has made it into the crypt. Right away he finds a big green gem on a chain. Harmony follows him in and asks if she can take some of the other treasures there.

He puts the gem around his neck and tests its power by reaching for a cross. It burns him, indicating that the gem hasn’t done what it’s supposed to. Harmony babbles about France as she puts on jewelry and accessories she’s found. Spike gets fed up and stakes her…but the wound immediately closes. He realizes one of the rings she put on is the Gem of Amara, and it’s made her invulnerable. He grabs it from her and says he’s going outside.

The Scoobies continue helping Giles organize his place. While Oz admires his record collection, Xander’s shocked to see that Giles has a TV. “He’s shallow, like us!” he exclaims. It even works. And it’s helpful – it lets them see a news report about tunneling near UC Sunnydale’s campus, which gives them a clue about where Spike’s been hanging out and what he’s been up to.

On campus, Buffy comes across Parker, who’s chatting with a classmate, giving her the same monologue he gave Buffy about living in the moment. He seems confused about why he would have called Buffy within a couple days of sleeping with her. She suggests that they do something that night, but he has plans. In general, he’s very casual about things and doesn’t seem interested in spending more time with Buffy.

He tells her their night together was fun and indicates that he doesn’t want anything beyond it. He asks if she really wants a commitment right now. He thought he was pretty clear that their hookup wasn’t going to lead to anything else. Buffy’s hurt but thinks she made some mistake that drove him away. As Parker heads off, Spike arrives and mocks Buffy for being pathetic. Then he punches her. It’s the middle of the day, so it’s understandable that Buffy’s off her game – she didn’t expect any vampires to ambush her. They fight and she’s able to stake him, but the gem keeps him from dying.

Giles, Oz, and Willow head into the tunnel and find Harmony, who’s moping about how her life has turned out. Xander goes to Buffy’s room, brushing Anya off when she shows up to try to talk to him again. Harmony tells the others that Spike has the gem. She would have given it to him if he’d asked instead of just taking it. He’s her “platinum baby.” Giles asks where he went.

Buffy and Spike continue fighting, and though he’s not affected by sunlight or stakes anymore, he’s still at the mercy of her Slayer strength. Xander finds them and tries to help out, but Spike knocks him out within seconds. He mocks Buffy about her disappointing sexual experience with Parker, wondering if she was too strong for a human. He brings up Angel, which just refuels Buffy’s desire to kill him. She grabs his hand and starts to pull off the gem. He tells her if she does, they’ll both burn. She’s willing to take the chance, so she yanks it off. Nothing happens to her, but he has to run for the shadows before he burns in the sunlight.

The Scoobies regroup at Giles’, where Giles says they need to destroy the ring before another vampire snags it and becomes invulnerable. Buffy and Oz wordlessly agree about what they should do with it. Since Oz is going to L.A. for a gig, he’ll take it to Angel. (Willow has to spell it out for Xander.)

That night, Buffy worries that she’s doomed to always have guys turn evil after she sleeps with them. Willow tries to cheer her up, telling her that Parker manipulated her and there’s nothing wrong with her. Buffy still has some hope that she and Parker could work things out. I think Willow will remind her every time she needs it that she should stay far away from him. Buffy, Anya, and Harmony all end the night moping alone about their guy troubles.

Thoughts: I’m not sure Willow’s oversized wool coat with applique flowers is really necessary in Southern California.

I absolutely, 100% do not ever want to know what a fungus demon is.

Spike’s level of willpower is impressive – I’m surprised he held out so long before trying to kill Harmony.

I wish these three deleted moments had made it into the episode:

Willow: “You know what else I love about college? How when the professor comes in, the class gets all quiet.”
Buffy: “Oh, I hate that. I’m always like, what? Did something scary come in? Do I have to kill it?”

Devon: “Man, that looked like Harmony. Weird. I saw her get bit at graduation. I didn’t tell you?”

Buffy: “I mean, I thought Spike and Dru were a forever kind of deal, didn’t you? Where’s the commitment?”
Giles: “I’m disillusioned. I shall never love again.”

September 6, 2022

ER 11.17, Back in the World: Keep Moving Forward

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

I’m Steve now. You’re welcome

Summary: Kirk has returned to the ER and is asking for Neela. She’s supposed to be done with her shift, but Abby tells her to tend to him first. Pratt asks if Neela’s talked to Gallant since she helped arrange for Jamila to be treated at County. Pratt insists on talking to Gallant the next time he’s in touch, since Neela didn’t give him the chance during their previous phone call.

He takes an interest in a woman named Olivia who’s talking to a patient who came in with a minor stab wound. Even though someone has already taken care of the patient, Pratt gets involved in the case so he has an excuse to talk to Olivia. She’s with a group called Ceasefire that tries to prevent violence. She’s surprised Pratt hasn’t heard of it, since County sees so many shooting victims. Pratt just gets to take advantage of another excuse to try to talk to her more. She’s not interested.

Sam gets stuck in traffic while driving Alex to school. He tells her that Steve (who never returned after “Drive”) wrote him a letter and claims he’s coming to visit soon. Sam tries to gently remind Alex that Steve often makes promises that he doesn’t keep. Neela agrees to examine Kirk again even though she’s never found a major problem with him. Dubenko tells her that Jamila has arrived, and he’d like to talk to Gallant. Neela’s shocked to learn that Gallant came to Chicago with Jamila.

Carter’s finally using his family’s fortune for health care: He’s making plans to build a clinic. He’s working with County, and Anspaugh and Weaver are directly involved. Everything seems like it’s going great, but Carter’s disappointed that an HIV/AIDS care plan has been scrapped. He doesn’t care if it’s too hard to staff that part of the clinic – he won’t sign off on pretty grounds and a restaurant if it means patients with HIV and AIDS can’t get the treatment they need.

Paramedics bring in a 12-year-old named Victor who has a gunshot wound. He explains that he had a gun in his pocket for protection and it accidentally went off. Neela leaves Gallant a message, wanting to know if he’s really in Chicago. Abby busts her for ditching Kirk, but Neela thinks this is more important. She lies that she knew Gallant was coming. She admits that she has feelings for him, though she’s not sure how they developed when they’ve only spoken once in the past year. Their letters were all “speculative,” so nothing could have formed there.

Neela confides that she’s furious that Gallant came back to Chicago and didn’t reach out to her. But she also feels like she’s fooled herself into thinking he would want to get in touch. Abby’s like, “I don’t think you need my input on this conversation you’re having with yourself.” Neela wonders if she’s pathetic for making up a love life she doesn’t really have. Abby thinks it makes sense that her friendship with Gallant led to romantic feelings.

Gallant goes to see Jackson’s family and give his daughter the llama he bought her. Back at County, Pratt notices a scar on Victor’s stomach. Apparently he’s been shot before. His mother, Mrs. Hopkins, arrives and isn’t surprised to hear that Victor had a gun on him. She reminds him that she told him to keep the safety on.

Sam explains to Susan that Victor is an “aspiring vigilante.” His mother gave him the gun. Time for a social worker to get involved! Susan tells Sam that someone called for her, sounding agitated. She got a similar call the day before. Sam thinks it was a patient she took care of last week and there’s nothing to worry about. Luka overhears and suspects she’s keeping something from him.

Neela tries to keep her cool while talking to Kirk, who doesn’t seem to want to accept that he has a muscle spasm and won’t heal overnight. He keeps coming back because he believes in Neela and thinks she can fix him. She agrees to do a full exam, during which she discovers that he’s wearing a unitard under his clothes. She tells him to change into a gown, but he says he can’t. His wife used to call him Clark, like Clark Kent. She said she saw through his facade to his “secret strength.” She died a few months ago. Now he wears a superhero unitard on bad days to make him feel better.

Sam tells Luka that she thinks Steve is the one who’s been calling her. She doesn’t want to run away again, and she also doesn’t want Luka to take this on, since it’s her problem. He corrects that it’s their problem. Pratt presents Victor’s case to Carter, and the two learn more about his problems. He insulted a classmate who shot him on his way home from school last year. The shooter only spent a few months in juvie and is now back at school. Mrs. Hopkins didn’t know what to do to protect her son, so she gave him a gun.

As Neela hands off all her cases to Luka so she can leave, Carter starts talking to Haleh and Lily about Gallant’s rumored return to the States. The nurses think he went to Texas to visit his parents. Once she’s done with her shift, Neela goes out to the roach coach to get her usual daily order. She spots Gallant coming over from the El and runs into his arms. Just friends, eh?

They go to popular County hangout Ike’s to talk about why Gallant didn’t tell Neela he was in Chicago. He says he was only at County briefly because he had to go do something. He came back to see her. He thought it would be easier to leave without seeing her, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. She tells him everyone wanted him to visit, but he feels strange “being back in the world.” He doesn’t want to answer a bunch of questions about what it’s like in Iraq.

Neela asks how long he can stay. Gallant has to fly back in the morning, since he was only given enough time to get Jamila settled. Frank calls to bug Neela about a chart, but she brushes him off. She asks Gallant about a scar on his forehead, which he says wasn’t from anything major. She ignores a page as he tells her about going to see Jackson’s family. It hurt him to have to show up in uniform because he knows Jackson’s wife had to get the news about his death from men in uniform.

Kirk won’t leave County and won’t listen when Abby tells him that Neela’s gone for the day. She decides to track Neela down and make her deal with him. Steve shows up and Luka intercepts him before he can see Sam. Pratt asks Olivia to talk to Victor, hoping she can work her anti-violence magic on him and get him off that path before he goes too far down it.

Neela and Gallant play pool and flirt until Abby shows up. She changes her mind about getting Neela to deal with Kirk, since Neela’s having a good time. Olivia talks to Victor and Mrs. Hopkins, trying to convince the boy that he can be tough by staying away from trouble instead of getting in the middle of it. Maybe one day he can be the president and fix schools so kids don’t have to live in fear. Victor wants to be a pilot instead, but either way, he’ll need to stay out of trouble.

He doesn’t know how to avoid bad kids since they follow him around. Olivia volunteers Pratt to walk him to school for a week. Pratt objects, but you know he’ll go along with this if it means Olivia might go out with him. She tells Victor that if he gives up his gun, she’ll have someone walk him both to and from school every day after that. Each week, that someone will be bigger and scarier.

Steve insists on seeing Sam, and Luka struggles to keep him calm until she’s available. As Victor’s being taken up for surgery, Sam examines him and finds that he has some tingling in one of his legs. She looks at his x-rays and sees that the bullet is missing a chip. Ray wants to keep things moving, but Sam’s worried that they’ll be operating in the wrong place. Ray protests, so Sam sends him to talk to Carter. She spots Luka with Steve and almost walks away, then goes to talk to her ex on her own.

She tells Steve that her relationship with Luka is serious, and he claims to be glad that it’s working out for her. He asks if anyone’s called or come looking for him. It’s nothing big; he just owes someone money. He asks to borrow some from Sam so he can take Alex on a short trip. After that, he may not see Alex for a while. Sam reminds him that Alex has school. Steve doubts he’ll miss much, since he’s in the third grade. She tells him that Alex is in the fifth grade. She won’t agree to the trip, and surprisingly, Steve backs down. She offers to let him see Alex (with her present), but Steve says he needs to get going. She also agrees to give him money.

Gallant and Neela discuss her struggles to adjust to her role as an intern. She’s trying to figure out who she is after being seen a certain way for so long. He tells her she can be someone different if she wants. At County, Frank tells Luka that he got bad vibes from Steve and had a detective friend look him up. There’s a warrant out for his arrest in Colorado.

Luka approaches Sam to discuss that with her, but she rushes off to make sure Ray did what she told him to. He did, and Sam was right about a bullet fragment being in an artery. He and Pratt both praise her for making a good catch. She returns to Luka, who tells her that Steve committed a robbery and someone got hurt, so he’s in a lot of trouble. Luka wants to call the police, but Sam won’t send her son’s father to prison.

Susan bugs Sam to work a few hours of overtime, refusing to take no for an answer. People have lives, Susan. It’s not her fault you’re short-handed. Luka tells Sam he’ll go home and relieve Alex’s sitter. Susan wants to emerge from her baby cocoon and have more of a social life, so she invites Carter to bring Wendall over for dinner with her and Chuck. Carter accepts the invitation but declines for Wendall, who stopped talking to him after Kem’s phone call. He admits that he feels like he’s “fallen off the tracks” and hasn’t been able to get back on.

Olivia asks Pratt to call her office after Victor’s surgery and let her know how he’s doing. She also fully intends to make him walk Victor to school for a week. Pratt complains that he’s busy, but she won’t accept that as an excuse. Stopping violence is like containing an epidemic with vaccines and medication. Ceasefire reacts to every shooting, even ones where there are no injuries, and arranges a neighborhood response any time a gun is fired. If they stigmatize violence, death rates will drop. It’s working, and she invites Pratt to come by the organization and see for himself.

Neela takes Gallant to her and Ray’s apartment so they can change clothes and then go to dinner. Meanwhile, Luka goes home and catches Steve about to leave with a bunch of his and Sam’s stuff. Alex let him in, and Steve sent the sitter home, then robbed the place. Luka tells him to put everything back. Steve argues that he gets to take back things he gave Sam. Luka decides not to fight him and just go inside.

Steve stops him, and though Luka warns him not to start anything, Steve hits him. Alex comes out just in time to see Steve and Luka fighting. He has a bag with him and says Steve is taking him on a beach trip. He thinks Sam told Steve it was okay. Luka tries to send Alex back inside, but Steve reminds him that Alex isn’t his kid. Luka quietly tells Steve he’s not going anywhere with Alex, and he shouldn’t want to, considering the trouble Steve is in. Steve tells Alex to go back in; they’ll take their trip another time. Aww, now Luka looks like the bad guy.

Neela and Gallant both get changed, and though he’s just wearing a T-shirt and jeans, she’s put on a nice dress. As she turns off the lights to leave, he catches her arm to make her stop. They start kissing and their new outfits quickly come off. Pratt will be soooooo happy that Neela finally got some, since that’s what he’s been wanting for her for a while.

Later that night, while Neela’s asleep, Gallant writes a letter. She wakes up as he gets back in bed and asks about the wound on his arm that was still bandaged when we first joined him in Iraq. He tells her that he had to run into a firefight to get to a patient. He never expected to be in the middle of combat. That firefight is also how he got the scar on his forehead. He wound up having to shoot an Iraqi soldier to protect himself and his patient. Neela’s desire to be someone different resonates with him because he just wants to go back to who he was. “All we can do is keep moving forward,” she says.

The next morning, they go to County to see Jamila before Gallant has to fly back to Iraq. Neela gets paged to the ER, but Gallant doesn’t want to go with her; he says it’s because he doesn’t have time to talk to everyone, but he obviously doesn’t feel comfortable doing it. She’s been paged to help take care of Kirk, whose back pain was actually a rare symptom of a heart problem. She feels horrible for missing it, but it sounds like it’s a hard symptom to catch.

Sam tries to talk to Alex, who’s angry that she wouldn’t let him go off with Steve. She tells him that she, Alex, and Luka are a team now, and Luka had to make a decision last night. He made the one that was best for Alex. Sam assures Alex that it’s okay for him to feel sad. He starts to let out his sadness, and instead of pushing her away, he hugs her.

Neela asks Chuny to call the burn unit so she can let Gallant know she’s been pulled into a trauma. She doesn’t have time, though, and she declines when Abby offers to take over for her. Gallant comes by the trauma room, so Pratt ducks out to talk to him. Gallant has to leave to catch his plane, but he gives Pratt a letter to give to Neela. She’s not supposed to open it unless something happens to him. Pratt says nothing will, but Gallant wants her to have it just in case.

Neela moves with the trauma team as they rush Kirk out of the ER and into an elevator. She and Gallant don’t have time to say goodbye to each other, but they’re able to exchange looks that say how much they’ll miss each other. Luka drives Alex to school, though Alex won’t talk to him. That night, Neela puts Gallant’s letter in a box where she’ll hopefully never have to get it back out. Gallant returns to his camp in Iraq with his own envelope from Neela. She gave him a piece of her jewelry to remind him of her. They both meet medevac helicopters, doing similar jobs in very different places, still thinking of each other.

Thoughts: Steve is now being played by Garret Dillahunt (who I like a lot better in the role). Mrs. Hopkins is played by Adina Porter.

If Neela thinks she only made up a possible relationship with Gallant, County staff is feeding that delusion. Throughout the whole first half of the episode, everyone asks her if she’s seen him.

I want to hug Kirk. What a sweet guy.

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.

July 9, 2022

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

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

Everyone say hi to Katie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts: Bob is played by Michael Cudlitz.

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

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

February 12, 2022

Buffy 2.14, Innocence: He’s Got (No) Soul and He’s Super Bad

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

This is how everyone should channel their feelings after a bad breakup

Summary: The Judge has been reassembled, which means Spike and Drusilla have a virtually unstoppable killing machine. Spike should be happy, but he isn’t: Angel and Buffy are still alive, and they know where to find Spike and Drusilla. Drusilla thinks they’re fine staying put, since Angel won’t try to face off with the Judge again. The Judge says he’s preparing, but Spike thinks he’s being lazy. The Judge explains that his strength grows every time he kills someone. Drusilla suddenly starts moaning and says Angel’s name. Then she starts laughing.

Buffy wakes up alone in Angel’s bed. He’s still outside, in pain. He figures out what’s happening to him as a woman who’s stepped out for a smoke comes to check on him. Angel gets up, totally fine, and says the pain is gone. He turns to her, vamped out, and bites her neck, then exhales the smoke from her lungs. “I feel just fine,” he says.

Buffy sneaks into the house in the morning, which is weird because she told Joyce she was spending the night at Willow’s, so she doesn’t need to pretend she was already home. Joyce asks if something’s wrong, since Buffy looks… She trails off. The other Scoobies (and Jenny) are in the library already, worrying about Buffy, since she hasn’t checked in. Xander wants to storm the factory, but Cordelia knows that would just lead to fear and death. Giles and Jenny agree, but Willow sides with Xander.

Before anyone can walk into a certain-death situation, Buffy arrives. The group confirms that no one’s heard from Angel. Buffy tells the others that the Judge has been reassembled. She lies that after she and Angel escaped him, they split up in the sewer tunnels. Giles says their top priority is stopping the Judge, but he and Buffy know that’s beyond something she can do on her own. The kids head to class and Jenny offers to look up info on the Judge on the Internet. Willow worries that Angel went after the Judge by himself. Buffy doesn’t think so, but she’d really like him to get in touch. They don’t notice Jenny eavesdropping on them.

Back at the factory, Drusilla’s naming the stars, even though she can’t see them, and also, it’s daytime. She tells Spike she named them all the same, so there’s “terrible confusion.” He asks if she can see what happens to Angel. Angel arrives just then and makes up a story about getting his break by filling in for a Broadway star. He says he’s not going anywhere until the streets are rid of scum like Spike.

The Judge approaches to try to kill the victim who escaped the night before, but when he touches Angel, nothing happens. Angel taunts that the Judge must be broken. The Judge says Angel can’t be burned – there’s no humanity in him. Drusilla realizes what that means: The good, kind Angel is gone, and the evil, murderous, soulless Angelus is back.

Spike and Drusilla are happy to have their old murder buddy back. Angelus lights a cigarette, in case it wasn’t clear that he’s a bad guy again. Drusilla can’t wait to feed and play with her family. Spike’s glad he doesn’t have to watch Angelus be Buffy’s “lap dog” anymore. Plus, now there are four of them, including the Judge, which is a great ratio against the Slayer. Angelus is more interested in killing her than destroying humanity. Spike’s like, “You realize letting the Judge kill everyone will also kill her, right?” But Angelus wants them to hold off for a night. He’s going to mess with Buffy first. He wants her to pay for making him feel human.

Off looking for Angel, Buffy calls Willow in the library. Willow tries to convince her that Angel’s fine and she doesn’t need to worry. “Say hi for me,” is Xander’s only contribution. Willow reports that Buffy can’t find Angel anywhere, but Giles doesn’t think that means anything, since he’s disappeared before. Willow notes that Buffy’s recent dreams have made her more anxious.

Xander and Cordelia haven’t had any success finding information in Giles’ books. Cordelia has found a book that mentions the Judge, but it just repeats what they already know – he can’t be stopped by any weapons, and it took an army to defeat him the last time. Xander says they need to find a weak spot. They talk about how he was willing to rush into danger to rescue Buffy, something Cordelia thinks he would never do for her. Xander wants to kiss and make up, and though Cordelia doesn’t want to make up, she’s okay with the kissing part.

They start making out, and when they pull apart, Xander sees that Willow has caught them. He follows her into the hallway, where she says she knew this was happening. Well, not in the sense that she had any idea it was happening, but in the sense that something was off with Xander and Cordelia. They were fighting more than usual.

Willow thinks this is unnatural. When they were kids, she and Xander had a We Hate Cordelia Club; he was the treasurer. Xander promises that he was going to tell her, but she thinks he was too ashamed. He says she’s overreacting – they were just kissing. It doesn’t mean anything. Willow sadly replies that it means Xander would rather be with someone he hates than with Willow.

Buffy goes home after an unsuccessful search, then decides to go back to Angel’s place. She’s shocked to find him there. At first he acts like he’s still Angel, but she starts sensing that something’s wrong when he says he didn’t want to stick around after they had sex. “You got a lot to learn about men, kiddo,” he tells her. “Although I guess you proved that last night.” He doesn’t want to talk about their night together, beyond saying, “It happened.”

Buffy emotionally asks if she wasn’t good. Angelus laughs and says she was great, a real pro. She needs to lighten up. They had a good time, but that doesn’t mean they have to turn it into anything meaningful. Buffy says it was meaningful, at least to her. “It’s not like I’ve never been there before,” Angelus says. He should have known she couldn’t handle it. As he leaves, she whispers that she loves him. “Love you, too,” he replies casually, adding that he’ll call her.

Jenny meets up with Enyos, who tells her that for their people, vengeance is alive. It’s something that’s passed down through generations. She promises that she tried to keep Angel and Buffy apart, but she couldn’t control everything. She thinks Angel could help stop the Judge, but Enyos says it’s too late. Angel was cursed to suffer and live like a human. One moment of happiness would mean a moment of not being plagued by his soul. He had that moment, and now his soul is gone.

Enyos wanted to stop that from happening, but now he thinks things were set up to unfold like this. Jenny says Buffy loves Angel, and Enyos replies that she’ll have to kill him. Jenny notes that he could kill her first. Things have spiraled out of control. Enyos reminds her that they don’t serve justice – they serve vengeance. She tells him they’re all fools.

Willow went home to mope for a while, but she’s back at the school now, since the Scoobies need her. She doesn’t want to talk to Xander about his relationship with Cordelia, and she thinks he has “gross emotional problems,” but she can put all that aside for now. He tells her they still don’t have anything useful to help them take down the Judge – no weapons or armies. Suddenly, Xander gets an idea. Then it grows into a plan.

Before they can go back to the library, the lights go out. Angelus shows up and tells Xander and Willow he needs to show them something. He sends Xander to get the other Scoobies, then asks Willow to come closer. Xander’s down the hall already when he realizes something’s wrong. As he turns back to Willow, Jenny arrives holding a cross and tells her to get away from Angelus. He grabs Willow, showing his vamp face, and the three realize that he’s Angelus again.

He has a message for Buffy, who arrives just then and says he can give it to her himself. He tells her it’s not really a message, but the discovery of all her friends’ bodies. Buffy thinks Angelus must still have something inside him that remembers who he was. “Dream on, schoolgirl,” he says. “Your boyfriend is dead.” Xander takes the cross from Jenny and creeps up behind Angelus as Buffy tries to get him to let go of Willow. Xander thrusts the cross at Angelus, who drops Willow and starts to leave. On his way out, he kisses Buffy and tells her, “Things are about to get very interesting.”

The Scoobies regroup in the library and confirm that Angel is Angelus again and they’re all in danger. Buffy’s silent, looking at the ring he gave her. She thinks she should have known from the way he talked to her at his place. Willow asks how Jenny knew that he was Angelus. Jenny just says she saw his vamp face. Giles wishes they knew what triggered Angel to revert to Angelus. Buffy says she doesn’t know and runs off. Giles keeps pressing the issue, but Willow quietly tells him to shut up.

Cordelia recaps the situation for us: The Judge is unkillable, Angelus is on his team, and Buffy’s a mess. She thinks this is rock bottom. “I have a plan,” Xander announces. “Oh, no, here’s a lower place,” Cordelia replies. Willow asks what Xander’s plan is, but he says this is something for him and Cordelia to handle. He does need a bigger vehicle than Cordelia’s, though, so Willow volunteers Oz’s van. Cordelia asks how she’s supposed to participate. Xander won’t give her details, just telling her to meet him in an hour, wearing something “trashy…er.” Giles is still worried about Buffy, but Jenny says they should leave her alone for a while.

Angelus returns to the factory to gloat about how he hurt Buffy’s feelings. Spike is like, “Remember how we used to kill people? Let’s kill people.” Drusilla guesses that Angelus doesn’t want to do that just yet – he wants to hurt Buffy like he once hurt Drusilla. Spike’s worried that Buffy will ruin their plans, but Angelus says Spike can’t take her out. She’s too strong. They need to “work from the inside. To kill this girl…you have to love her.”

Buffy goes home, upset, and seeing the cross necklace Angel once gave her doesn’t help. She takes off her claddagh ring and sobs on her bed. When she falls asleep, she dreams about having sex with Angel, how gentle and loving he was. Then she sees him turn into Angelus. The dream moves to a funeral, where Angel tells her, “You have to know what to see.” Buffy turns to the woman next to her, who lifts up her veil to reveal that she’s Jenny.

In the morning, Buffy storms into Jenny’s classroom and slams her down on her desk. Giles sends everyone out of the room as Buffy asks Jenny if she’s responsible for Angel’s transformation. Giles thinks she’s making crazy accusations, but Jenny confirms that she knew something would happen. She was sent to watch Buffy and was told to keep her and Angel apart. He was supposed to pay for what he did to her people. Buffy asks what she was supposed to be paying for.

Jenny repeats that she didn’t know what would happen until after it was done. If she’d known, she would have told Buffy. Buffy realizes this is her fault. Giles is confused, so Jenny explains that Angel was cursed to lose his soul if he had one moment of true happiness. Giles is still confused, but a look from Buffy makes him realize why she thinks she’s responsible for this.

She asks Jenny to curse Angel again and give him back his soul. Jenny says she can’t – her people don’t have that kind of magic anymore. Buffy demands to be taken to someone who can help. That person is Enyos, but unfortunately, Angelus gets to him first.

Xander, Willow, Cordelia, and Oz go to an Army base so Xander and Cordelia can steal something. (Security there isn’t great.) When they get caught, Xander pretends he’s a private who brought a date to the base because apparently girls get turned on by looking at guns. The soldier who caught them doesn’t want to let them go, but Xander busts him for some violations and threatens to turn him in.

He and Cordelia head into the armory, where he explains that he retained all the military knowledge he got when he turned into a soldier on Halloween. Cordelia asks if looking at guns really makes girls want to have sex. Does it make Xander want to? “I’m 17. Looking at linoleum makes me wanna have sex,” he replies.

Back in the van, Oz asks Willow if the Scoobies steal weapons from the Army a lot. “Well, we don’t have cable, so we have to make our own fun,” she replies. She suggests that they make out, shocking Oz. He says he thinks about it sometimes, and it’s something he’d really like, but the time isn’t right. He knows she’s trying to make Xander jealous or get revenge on him. Oz doesn’t want that to be the reason they kiss for the first time. In his fantasies, when he kisses Willow, she kisses him back. He can wait until it’s right.

Jenny takes Buffy and Giles to see Enyos, but he’s dead. Angelus has used his blood to write on the wall, “Was it good for you too?” Giles knows he’s messing with Buffy’s head, but she says he’s actually making things easier. She knows that she needs to kill Angelus.

At the factory, the Judge is ready to take some more lives. Spike is still out of commission, so Angelus and Drusilla are leaving him behind while they enact their plan. Spike asks what will happen if Buffy shows up. Angelus says he’ll give her a kiss. Then he comments that the Judge looks spiffy. Meanwhile, Xander delivers the stolen weapon to the library, joking that it’s a late birthday present for Buffy. Jenny offers her help, but Buffy tells her to leave. Giles backs her up.

The Scoobies go to the factory, even though they’ve already guessed that the Judge won’t be there. Spike hides in the shadows as they try to figure out where the Judge might want to attack a bunch of people at once. They guess correctly: the movie theater at the mall. The Judge proves that he really has powered up, since he’s able to burn people without even touching them. He just zaps them with electricity. Angelus tells some minions to lock the exits, then tells the Judge to go ahead and do his thing.

The Scoobies bring in their weapon as the Judge uses his powers to zap a bunch of people at once. He breaks the connection when an arrow flies into his chest. Buffy’s across the lobby with a crossbow, which the Judge says won’t stop him – no weapon forged will. “That was then. This is now,” she replies, picking up a rocket launcher.

Angelus and Drusilla realize they need to get out of the way fast, but the Judge isn’t familiar with modern weaponry. “What’s that do?” he asks. Well, it fires a rocket into you and turns you into rubble. But you wouldn’t understand that because you’re dead now. The Scoobies pick up the pieces (Cordelia: “Our job sucks!”) as Buffy goes after Angelus.

The fire from the blast sets off sprinklers, so when Buffy finds Angelus, they face off in a downpour. He tells her the worst part of this was pretending he loved her. If he’d known how easily she would “give it up,” he wouldn’t have bothered. Buffy says he’s not Angel, so what he’s saying won’t hurt her. He says it doesn’t matter – she made him the man he is today. That sets Buffy off, and she really starts fighting. Meanwhile, Oz finds one of the Judge’s arms and announces, “Uh…arm.”

Buffy and Angelus keep fighting, and he taunts that he knows she wants to beat him up. She gets in some good hits, but when she pulls out a stake to finish him off, she can’t bring herself to use it. Angelus taunts her for not being able to kill her boyfriend. Instead, she kicks him in the…little Angeluses. “Give me time,” she says as she walks away.

Giles drives Buffy home, warning her that Angelus is going to target her personally. She thinks Giles is disappointed in her. He promises he isn’t. Buffy still blames herself for Angel’s transformation, but Giles doesn’t. She couldn’t have known what would happen. They’re in for some tough times, and Giles will only offer his support and respect.

Later that night, Buffy and Joyce watch an old movie. Joyce brings in some cupcakes and asks Buffy what she did for her birthday. “I got older,” Buffy says. Joyce thinks she looks the same. She lights a candle in a cupcake and wishes her daughter a happy birthday. Instead of making a wish and blowing out the candle, Buffy says she’ll just let it burn.

Thoughts: This may be an unpopular opinion but at this point in his career, I think David Boreanaz was a better actor as Angelus than as Angel. His take on Angel is dull. His Angelus is truly entertaining.

I love the specificity that Xander was the treasurer of the We Hate Cordelia Club, not the president or vice president. (I assume Willow was one and Jesse was the other.)

I also love that Xander’s the one who comes up with the plan to take down the Judge. He doesn’t get to prove his worth to the Scoobies often enough. And though he’s not as intelligent as Willow, he was smart enough to apply “it took an army” to modern weaponry.

February 5, 2022

Buffy 2.13, Surprise: One Minute of Happiness

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

Use protection, guys! Wait, never mind

Summary: Buffy wakes up in the middle of the night and goes to get some water. Drusilla follows without her noticing. Buffy opens a door and ends up in the Bronze, where Willow is talking to a monkey in French. Joyce is also there, and she asks Buffy if she really thinks she’s ready. She drops the mug she’s holding and it shatters. Buffy spots Angel, but before she can reach him, Drusilla stakes him through the back and he turns to dust. “Happy birthday, Buffy,” Drusilla says. In case it wasn’t clear that that was a dream, Buffy wakes up in her bed.

In the morning, she goes to Angel’s lair to make sure he’s okay. He’s fine, and also shirtless. She tells him she dreamed that Drusilla was alive and killed him. It felt real, but Angel promises it wasn’t. Buffy reminds him that the dreams she had about the Master came true. He says not all of her dreams are prophetic. For example, the dream she had about opening an office-supply warehouse with Giles probably won’t come true.

Still, Buffy’s worried that Drusilla’s alive. Angel promises she isn’t (wrong!), then kisses her to take her mind off of things. They start making out, and Buffy tries to slam on the brakes so she can go to school, but Angel’s not done with the kissing. He asks her what she wants for her birthday, and she tells him to surprise her. Buffy likes seeing him first thing in the morning, which is actually his bedtime. She’s finding it harder and harder to say goodbye to him every night.

At school, Buffy tells Willow about this conversation. Willow thinks Angel’s cool and would never push Buffy to do anything she’s not comfortable with. But Buffy’s wrestling with her feelings of wanting to sleep with him and her uncertainty whether she should take that leap. She knows wanting to have sex isn’t a good justification for doing it, but she’s also worried she’ll never feel this way again. Willow gives her the advice Buffy once gave her: carpe diem. (Buffy: “Fish of the day?”) Buffy decides it’s time to go for it.

The girls spot Oz, and Buffy asks if Willow has felt any “sparkage” with him. Willow’s hesitant because Oz is a senior. Buffy points out that him being a whole year older than her is nothing: “My boyfriend had a bicentennial.” She doesn’t want Willow to wait around forever for Xander to realize she’s a good match. Willow’s worried that talking to Oz will lead to awkwardness, but Buffy says she needs to at least try and see what happens.

So Willow approaches Oz, who’s playing his guitar, and uses his band as a conversation starter. He announces that he’s going to ask her out for the next night, but he’s a little nervous. To help with that, Willow tells him she’ll say yes. He asks her out, but she remembers that she already has plans – the Scoobies are throwing Buffy a surprise birthday party. She invites him to come as her date.

Xander is trying to extend the same invitation to Cordelia, who’s upset that she’s expected to cook for the party. By “cook” she means buying chips and dip. Xander awkwardly tries to suggest that they go to the party together. They keep meeting up to make out, so maybe they should bite the bullet and admit that they’re dating. Cordelia objects that they can’t call it dating until they actually go on a date, where he’ll have to pay. Xander agrees to that, mostly because he’s sick of hiding their…relationship or whatever from his friends. Cordelia says it’s shameful for her to be open about their…relationship? I guess?

Xander meets up with Giles as Buffy and Jenny head their way. Buffy tells the others about her Drusilla dream, which she’s still trying to convince herself wasn’t prophetic. Giles says they should be on alert just in case, but Buffy shouldn’t worry too much. She says that since Angel’s involved, she’s automatically going to worry too much.

Dalton delivers a package to Spike, who hasn’t completely recovered from the church fire and is using a wheelchair to get around. He and Drusilla are throwing a party in their lair, but he’s not excited about it. He complains that Sunnydale is cursed for them because of Buffy and Angel. Drusilla promises that she has “good games” for everyone. She has a fit over some flowers and tears them apart. Spike calms her down and lets her take a peek at one of her presents. Whatever it is, “it reeks of death.” Drusilla predicts this will be the best party ever because it’ll be the last.

The next day is Buffy’s 17th birthday. She asks Joyce about trying again to get her driver’s license. Joyce asks if she really thinks she’s ready, then drops her plate like she did the mug in Buffy’s dream. At school, Jenny gets a visit from a man named Enyos, who’s annoyed that she hasn’t been in touch more. (They don’t directly mention it in this episode, but he’s her uncle.) She’s ignoring her responsibility to her people. An elder has read in the signs that something is different. Jenny promises that the curse is still in place.

Enyos disagrees – the elder says “his” pain isn’t as strong anymore. Jenny reluctantly tells him that there’s a girl. Angel is still suffering, but he’s trying to make amends for his past deeds. He even saved Jenny’s life. Enyos reminds her that Angel killed their tribe’s most beloved daughter. His pain should be eternal. He shouldn’t get even one minute of happiness from Buffy – that would be too much. Jenny is still Janna of the Kalderash people, a Romani. She needs to prove her loyalty. No more watching – she needs to make sure Angel loses Buffy.

In the library, Buffy tells Giles about her conversation with Joyce and how similar it was to her dream. Xander and Willow try to cheer her up, since it’s her birthday, but she can’t stop worrying about Drusilla. Giles reminds her that dreams aren’t actually prophecies – she dreamed that the Master rose, but she stopped him. That means they can protect Angel.

Giles says he’ll read up on Drusilla, and Buffy can meet him back at the library that night to catch up. After Buffy leaves, Willow and Xander lament that they’ll have to cancel her surprise party. Giles tells them the party is still on. Yes, Buffy and Angel might be in danger, but they can still have some fun. He’s learned from living on the Hellmouth that there’s never really a good time to relax. Buffy’s only going to turn 17 once, and she deserves a fun night.

Buffy returns to the school that night and runs into Jenny, who tells her Giles has changed their plans and wants to meet her somewhere else. She offers to give Buffy a ride. They end up at the Bronze, where Dalton is outside, getting another package for Spike and Drusilla. Buffy fights some vampires while Dalton runs off. Inside, the Scoobies are waiting for the birthday girl, who makes a grand entrance by flying through a window with a vampire. After she stakes him, Cordelia jumps out and yells, “Surprise!” “That pretty much sums it up,” Oz comments.

Buffy’s really touched that her friends arranged the whole party for her. Oz is confused but not scared about learning that vampires are real. Xander tells him Willow will fill him in on the details. Willow starts to ease into it, but Oz says, “Actually, it explains a lot.” Jenny brings in a package that was left behind, a big metal arm. It grabs Buffy around the throat, and Angel has to wrestle it back into its box.

He knows what they’re dealing with and what it means. There’s a legend about a demon that can be brought forth to get rid of all humanity. The righteous will be separated from the wicked, and the righteous will be destroyed. The demon is called the Judge, a name Giles is familiar with. The Judge couldn’t be killed, but an army dismembered him and buried pieces of him around the world. Drusilla must be having the pieces brought together so she can reassemble the Judge and bring an end to humanity.

Giles announces that they need to get the arm out of town. Jenny nominates Angel to do the job, though it’ll require a months-long trip. Angel agrees that it should be him, and that he should leave as soon as possible. Sorry about your birthday, Buffy. Jenny offers to drive Angel to the docks so he can take a cargo ship to a remote part of Asia where the arm will never be found.

Drusilla is very disappointed in Dalton for losing the arm. She breaks his glasses, then tells him to make a wish before she blows out the candles. Spike suggests giving him a chance to find the arm before she does anything to him (or, more specifically, his eyes). Dalton promises that he can get it back. Drusilla agrees, then puts his glasses back on him.

Buffy goes to the docks with Angel to say goodbye. He promises he’ll come back, but she’s worried that they won’t live long enough to be reunited. He reminds her that life is uncertain. He gives her her birthday present, a claddagh ring. It’s a sign of devotion in his Irish heritage, and if she wears it with the heart pointing towards her, it means she belongs to someone.

Buffy asks Angel not to go, though they both know he has to. After they share a long kiss goodbye, he’s about to say something when they’re attacked by two vampires. While Buffy and Angel are distracted, Dalton comes in and steals the Judge’s arm. Angel is able to tackle him, but another vampire grabs the box and runs off. Buffy winds up in the water, and Angel jumps in after her.

The Scoobies wait for Buffy in the library, worried that she’s not back and sad that she has to say goodbye to Angel. Xander thinks this is for the best, because what kind of life would Buffy and Angel have together? She’ll lose interest in him eventually. Xander also imagines himself swooping in and sweeping Buffy off her feet.

Buffy arrives and announces that Drusilla got the arm. Jenny took Angel to get dry clothes (Buffy had a change of clothes at school, for some reason). Giles has learned that the Judge burns people alive once they’ve been judged righteous. Someone who’s truly evil can survive his touch because they have no humanity left, but humans will definitely die. Xander jokes that they can send Cordelia to fight him.

Buffy asks how they stop the Judge without an army. Giles’ texts say that “no weapon forged” can defeat him. Their best option is to stop Drusilla from reassembling him. The Scoobies will have to work all night, so they call their parents to pretend they’re spending the night at each other’s houses. They settle in for a long study session, though Willow’s distracted by thoughts of Oz.

Angel arrives as Buffy is falling asleep in Giles’ office. He knows Buffy hasn’t been sleeping well recently – not because he’s been in bed with her, but because she told him about her dreams. Buffy’s having another one right now: She’s in Spike and Drusilla’s lair, as is Jenny, though Buffy only sees her from behind. She finds the pieces of the Judge, but before she can do anything, Drusilla gets her attention and puts a knife to Angel’s throat. Buffy wakes up yelling her boyfriend’s name.

Drusilla starts the party at her and Spike’s place as Spike brings her the last piece of the Judge. He emerges from his boxes, reassembled. He thinks Drusilla and Spike have some humanity in them, since they’re in love, but Spike doesn’t think that means anything. The Judge tells some minions to bring Dalton to him so he can practice killing. He puts his hand on Dalton’s chest and burns him into nothing. Drusilla’s thrilled.

Buffy tells Giles that she thinks she knows where Spike and Drusilla are. She and Angel are going to check out their lair while the other Scoobies look into places where they might be accepting shipments of the pieces of the Judge. They need to stop Spike and Drusilla from getting all the boxes in one place.

Angel and Buffy go to the old factory where Spike and Drusilla are living, and Buffy recognizes the setup from her dream. They realize they’re too late and the Judge has already been reassembled. The Judge spots them and some minions capture the intruders. Angel offers himself up as the Judge’s next victim instead of Buffy, but Spike tells him that’s a waste of energy since they’re both going to die.

Drusilla wants Buffy to go first so Angel has to watch her die. As Buffy tries to fight the Judge without touching him, Angel pulls a chain that brings down a bunch of TVs hanging up together. This is somehow enough to provide a barrier and distraction that allows Buffy and Angel to escape into the sewer. Drusilla sends minions after them, but they’re not good at tracking people.

Buffy and Angel run to his place to hide out and dry out from the rain they’ve just run through. He gives her some clothes and tells her to warm up in his bed. She’s still upset that he almost left town – she feels like she lost him without actually losing him. She remembers what he said about life being uncertain and how they can’t be sure of anything.

He starts to say what he wanted to tell her on the docks: He loves her. They both have tried to stop feeling the way they do about each other, but they can’t do it. They start kissing, and though Angel thinks they shouldn’t go too far, Buffy’s ready. They have sex (off-screen) and fall asleep in his bed. Sometime later, Angel wakes up gasping. He runs outside, groaning in pain and yelling Buffy’s name. Inside, she’s still asleep. To be continued…

Thoughts: Vincent Schiavelli, who plays Enyos, also played Lanny in “Humbug.” Brian Thompson, who plays the Judge, also played Luke.

Oz and Willow are adorable together. ADORABLE.

Finding out who Jenny really was during the original run of the series felt like such a betrayal. There’s a lot to be said for watching a show without any knowledge of what’s going to happen, which is so much harder to do now that you can find so many spoilers on the Internet. The same goes for the ending of this episode and the whole “one minute of happiness” thing. We knew it meant consequences, but we had no idea what they would be.

August 3, 2021

ER 9.4, Walk Like a Man: Mikey Doesn’t Like It

Posted in TV tagged , , at 5:00 pm by Jenn

Abby can’t take on more work – it’ll cut into her time dealing with her boyfriend

Summary: We start the episode with a literal bang – someone’s having sex. It’s just not clear at first who’s having that sex. Oh, it’s Luka. Right, this is that stretch where he suddenly becomes a womanizer. It doesn’t appear to be working out well for him, since he doesn’t seem fulfilled. At County, Abby declares time of death on some fish in a new aquarium in the ER waiting area. This is the third time this week – she keeps restocking the tank, but they keep dying. Carter suggests that she find someone else to take care of the fish, since she’s obviously doing something wrong. In response, she drops a fish corpse in his coffee.

The new security measures have patients waiting in a different spot, behind bullet-proof glass, and the hospital’s beautification committee has decorated with the aquarium. That only took two weeks. Fish are more important to the hospital than security, apparently. (I accidentally typed “sexurity.” I have Luka on the brain.) Abby, Susan, and Chen went out again the night before, but Abby won’t tell Carter what they did. He probably just wants to know if Abby drank.

The ER is slow, since another hospital reopened. This allows the staff to gather for a TV broadcast that’s about to start. Susan’s hungover from the night before, and various people offer her remedies. The broadcast begins, featuring Weaver giving two reporters flu shots in the ambulance bay. While she’s giving the injections, she gives a little PSA about why people should get the shots. But the talking distracts her, and she accidentally injects the male reporter using the same needle she used on the female reporter. Save that one for the blooper reel!

The staff has set up a spot where a nurse can triage patients when they come to the ER, so hopefully that means no more smallpox patients sitting in the waiting area for hours. Pratt flirts with the current triage nurse, but he strikes out when he calls her by the wrong name. Abby goes to get her next patient, who leaves her husband and son behind in the waiting area. The boy is whining, and his father doesn’t have any sympathy for him. Gallant tries to intervene, but the father yells at him and goes back to telling the kid to shut up. I don’t know who I feel worse for, the kid or Gallant.

Pratt teases Gallant for trying to help while Chen tells Susan she’s thinking about taking karate classes. Pratt flirts with her next. Dude, keep it in your pants during work hours. Stella has returned yet again, but since she has actual medical problems, as Gallant previously determined, no one urges him to get rid of her this time. The male reporter has to undergo blood tests to make sure Weaver didn’t accidentally infect him with something the female reporter might have. The male reporter is worried because the female reporter used to date “a bisexual.” Shut up, bro.

Weaver complains to the staff that they don’t have enough nurses on duty to reach acceptable nurse-to-patient ratios. Susan offers to take a look at the schedule, but Weaver ignores her and tells Randi to call Haleh and make her come in. It’s supposed to be Haleh’s day off, but since she’s the nurse manager, she’s expected to fill in when needed. Susan tells Weaver that Haleh resigned from that role in September, and her replacement resigned last week. Weaver asks Abby to come by her office later. “Dr. Romano’s office?” Abby clarifies. Ooh, not smart.

Gallant examines Stella, and though he’s probably really tired of having to treat her, he doesn’t let it show. He tells Carter that she has shortness of breath, which could indicate congestive heart failure. He wants her to be admitted for monitoring, but Carter thinks he’s jumping the gun. She’ll have to undergo some tests before they take that route. Stella asks if she can smoke a cigarette first.

Carter asks Susan about her hangover, probably angling for details about the ladies’ night out. Susan teases that Abby hasn’t cheated on him “since that stripper named Thor.” Carter expresses his concern that Abby’s been tempted to drink while going bar-hopping with her new friends. It turns out Susan didn’t know Abby’s an alcoholic. She says Abby doesn’t drink that much. Carter wonders how much “that much” is.

Abby catches them talking and asks Susan what that was about. Susan tells her that Carter let it slip that Abby’s an alcoholic. She thinks it’s sweet that he’s concerned about Abby. Abby’s apologetic for not mentioning her addiction to Susan, but Susan says it’s none of her business. She’s been enjoying hanging out and will let Abby and Carter deal with their issues on their own. Abby says it’s not a huge secret, and she’s sorry for dragging Susan into it.

By now they’re in the restroom, where they hear someone in a stall drop a syringe on the floor. It’s Weaver, and she clearly doesn’t want to talk about what the syringe is for. Now Abby and Susan have something new to talk about. Susan jokes that she was probably just practicing giving flu shots. She brushes off an impatient guy from the waiting area, who then wonders where the nearest bar is. Abby is a little shaken, and she tells Susan she just doesn’t talk about her alcoholism much. Susan says she’s there if Abby wants to talk, but she understands if Abby doesn’t.

Kayson gives Stella a surgical consult and tells Gallant she doesn’t need surgery. “Do you still work here?” he asks when he spots Pratt. Gallant pushes back against Kayson’s decision, but Kayson isn’t about to listen to a puny med student. He complains to Carter that Gallant called for a consult and now won’t accept Kayson’s advice. He’s already done all he can for Stella. After Kayson leaves, Gallant tells Carter that he doesn’t feel right just releasing Stella. Her condition could have changed since Kayson last treated her, and they should monitor her. Carter agrees to let her stay for a little while.

Abby pulls Carter aside to tell him she talked to Susan. Before they can get into anything more, Luka summons her for help with a patient. Carter joins Pratt to treat a man named Felix. Pratt introduces Carter to the concept of the DBI, the Dirtball Index. It seems like the more tattoos a person has, the higher they rate in the index. I would rate Pratt pretty high, whether or not he has any tattoos. Gallant notes that Felix is in the military.

Elizabeth tries to talk to her patient’s husband, Thomas, about the operation his wife, Margaret, needs. Thomas doesn’t feel right signing the consent form, since Margaret usually makes these kinds of decisions. When Margaret wakes up in the ER, she tells Elizabeth she can’t have an operation and be on bed rest; Thomas has Alzheimer’s and she has to take care of him. She asks to wait and see if she gets better without surgery. Elizabeth warns that her splenic injury could cause her to bleed to death.

Carter teases Pratt by creating his own acronym, PERR (pupils equal, round, and reactive). A couple of Felix’s friends come into his trauma room and tell the doctors that they went partying last night. They just got home on leave. Carter asks if the guys did anything other than drink. Felix is showing signs that he may have taken drugs, and Carter wonders if his friends slipped him something. They get defensive, saying Felix is their friend. Gallant calms them and tries to bond with them over having military experience. They look down on him for being in med school while they were jumping out of helicopters.

Luka and Abby’s patient is Marlene, a preteen who’s had multiple UTIs. Her mother, Janet, comments on Luka’s accent. He jokes that he’s from Idaho. Marlene gets uneasy and sends her mother to get her something to eat. While waiting for her labs, Marlene hangs out with Abby and tells her they came to the city to go to Shedd Aquarium. Abby has a good substitute for her.

Gallant tells Felix’s friends that there’s something toxic in his system, whether or not they gave him anything. Felix is awake now, but he can’t see anything. Abby takes Marlene to see the new fish tank, and they discuss why the fish might be dying. Marlene thinks Abby’s overfeeding them, or someone else is feeding them after Abby does. Abby suggests that they’re just a warning to patients that they’re entering a house of death. They start talking about Marlene’s family; her parents are getting divorced. Abby tries to be positive about Marlene just living with her mom now. Abby grew up with just her mother, and that was…great. Really great.

Susan catches Janet buttoning up her shirt as she leaves a storage closet. Moments later, Luka emerges, telling Susan he’s looking for an x-ray he misplaced. Yeah, Susan’s not that dumb. She tells Abby what she saw, amused even though doctors shouldn’t be hooking up with patients’ family members. Abby says this isn’t the kind of thing he normally does. Susan thinks she should talk to him, which is…such a bad idea.

Felix has no alcohol in his system, and his tox screen came back negative, so the doctors aren’t sure why he can’t see. Gallant suggests quinine, an anti-malarial medication Felix would have taken while on deployment in the Phillippines. He would have had to take a lot of it. Pratt offers to talk to Felix, but Carter thinks Gallant should do it. “Give it your best shot, Mikey,” Pratt says.

Susan interrupts Luka while he’s flirting with Janet and asks why Marlene is still there, since she seems to just have a simple UTI. Luka thinks something else is going on, so he’s waiting for test results, but Susan suspects that he’s keeping them around so he can hook up with Janet again. She finally tells him to keep it in his pants and do his job. Pratt approaches as she leaves, giving Luka the test results he really was waiting for. It turns out Marlene does have something wrong with her beyond the UTI.

Gallant chats with Felix, whose vision is starting to come back. Felix quickly gets defensive when Gallant suggests that he took too much quinine. He thinks Felix came home from deployment expecting everything to be the same as when he left, and instead discovered that it wasn’t – like maybe his girlfriend (who doesn’t seem too concerned that her boyfriend is in the hospital, since she hasn’t shown up yet) doesn’t want to be his girlfriend anymore.

Felix admits that his girlfriend got tired of waiting for him to come home. Gallant wants Felix to talk to someone from psych, but since he’s in Special Forces, he can’t have that on his record. He made a split-second bad decision, and it won’t happen again. Gallant agrees to get him a clinic appointment that won’t go on his record. Felix promises that he’ll be okay from now on.

Luka tells Marlene and Janet that Marlene may have chronic renal failure. Abby’s bedside manner and quick connection with Marlene help the girl stay positive, but Janet guesses that this might be serious. Abby makes dinner plans with Carter, who is trying very, very hard not to ask her if she’s been drinking with her friends. He also feels bad about revealing her alcoholism to Susan. Abby doesn’t care about that.

The triage nurse interrupts to give Abby her time sheet, which confuses Abby. Jerry tells her that Weaver sent out a memo. Abby skipped their meeting because she had rounds, so she doesn’t know what’s going on. Jerry asks if Carter and Abby are fighting – not because he wants to gossip, but because he wants to help them “navigate love’s wavy waters.” Carter responds by trashing an origami swan Jerry made and was so proud of.

Someone went over Gallant’s head and called psych for Felix, who’s going to be moved to a locked ward. Gallant goes looking for the culprit, Pratt. Gallant wrote on Felix’s chart that his overdose was accidental, but Pratt knows no one would take that much quinine without meaning to harm himself. Gallant confronts Pratt for making the call without consulting him. Pratt calls him “brother man” and says he was just keeping an eye out for Gallant. Gallant replies that he has enough brothers and doesn’t need another one.

Pratt says he was trying to protect Gallant from a malpractice suit. Gallant complains that Pratt keeps riding him, and Pratt urges him to learn how to stick up for himself. If Gallant has brothers, trust me, he knows how to stick up for himself. Gallant says he told Kayson what he thought. Pratt argues that Gallant didn’t make Kayson hear him. Gallant tells Pratt that they’re different people, but Pratt disagrees. They’re both trying to fit in. The difference between them is that Pratt is being a man, and Gallant isn’t.

Abby suddenly summons Gallant to help Stella, who’s crashing. He and Carter try to shock her heart back into rhythm in the hallway where she’s been waiting for a bed. They move her into a trauma room and Pratt takes over helping Carter. Kayson arrives, calling Stella “the girl who cried wolf.” Yeah, and now her heart isn’t beating, so shut up and do your job.

Margaret agreed to have surgery, and Elizabeth tells Thomas that she’s now on a ventilator. In the middle of the conversation, Thomas gets confused about who and what they’re talking about. Stella has now been unresponsive for 40 minutes, and though Gallant wants to keep trying to save her, Kayson and Carter agree that it’s not possible. Gallant tells them she didn’t have any family. Good, then Kayson won’t get sued.

He defends his decision not to do anything by saying that most patients with Stella’s symptoms don’t get this bad. Gallant says he let Kayson miss the signs. Kayson argues that Stella was a hypochondriac, but Gallant accuses him of just not wanting to deal with her. If they’d admitted her, they could have detected how bad her heart problems were and fixed them. Kayson says Gallant should have spoken up. Pratt notes that he did. Kayson doesn’t want to hear from him.

Carter points out that Gallant is a fourth-year med student while Kayson is chief of cardiology. Kayson says he gave Gallant his expertise and guidance. Yeah, but it was wrong! This isn’t a defense! Gallant loses his cool, saying that Kayson’s expertise and guidance got him and Stella nowhere. “Easy, son,” Kayson says, either not knowing or not caring that a white person should never call a Black man “son.” Carter tells Pratt to take Gallant somewhere to calm down before Gallant says something that will ruin his career.

As they leave, Kayson continues trying to pass the buck, saying that Carter should have put Stella on a monitor. Carter replies that Kayson should have paid more attention. Kayson argues that patient care is about taking calculated risks. Abby speaks up that she thought it was about taking care of the patient. Kayson complains that people in the ER always stick together. Yeah, how dare they have each other’s backs and defend each other’s decisions! You can’t have a productive workplace when the employees do that!

In the hallway, Pratt calls Gallant “Mikey” again and praises him for being a man. Gallant doesn’t want to hear it. He starts to leave, pushing Pratt off of him. Abby and Carter try to calm them both down, but Pratt keeps following Gallant. Finally, Gallant turns around and punches him in the face. “Do not call me Mikey,” he spits out. Hold on, I have to rewind and watch Pratt get nailed a few more times.

Susan gives Pratt an ice pack as he downplays the fight, saying he knows how to take a punch. “So that’s what you were doing on the floor,” she comments. Carter tells him to give Gallant some more time before he attempts another conversation. Abby has officially been made nurse manager, though she doesn’t want the position, even with the raise it comes with. Weaver doesn’t care. Susan presents her with a present Romano sent over: a cactus with a note that reads, “Your 15 minutes is up.”

Carter checks on Gallant, who’s gone back to the trauma room where Stella’s body is laying. He jokes that Pratt wants Gallant to hit him on the other side of the face to even things out. Gallant tells him that Stella has been alone since her daughter died in a car accident. Carter says that Kayson knows what really happened today – he was to blame. But Gallant says he backed down and didn’t advocate for his patient enough. He always backs down. The staff is supposed to fight for their patients’ lives, but they always end up fighting each other instead.

Carter admits that he could have tried harder with Kayson, too. Gallant takes responsibility – Stella was his patient and trusted him. She’d be alive if Gallant hadn’t been so scared of being wrong. Carter tells him everyone gets scared, even Pratt. That has to be why he’s so arrogant. Everyone who comes to County is scared, but they learn to work through it. Gallant asks when that happens. Carter says it’s as soon as they kill someone. “I just did,” Gallant whispers. Carter disagrees, hopeful that Gallant will never lose anyone again.

Luka has to tell his new fling that her daughter needs surgery. They might have a malpractice case on their hands, since Marlene’s doctor back home never caught her kidney problems while treating all her UTIs. On the plus side, Luka has learned his lesson about sleeping with a patient’s mother. As he goes to give the mother and daughter the news, Abby spots Carter leaving earlier than expected. He doesn’t want to talk, but she’d like him to come right out and say whatever’s bothering him. Carter says he agreed not to try to fix her, so he’ll “shut up and wait for the car wreck.”

She follows him to the El station, asking what he means. He tells her that it’s obvious this relationship is going to crash and burn. Abby wishes he’d come to her earlier and said something, but Carter didn’t want to come across like an overprotective boyfriend. She tells him she’s only drinking a little, and not to get drunk. She usually has one or two drinks. Everything’s under control.

Carter doesn’t understand why she wants to go back to behavior that could lead to disaster. Abby points out that she was drinking last year, and he knew, so it shouldn’t be a problem now. She used to drink because she was miserable – she was in a bad marriage and had a life she didn’t want. Now she has a life she enjoys, and drinking casually with friends helps her feel like she’s past the bad part. She wishes Carter had faith in her judgment. Carter still doesn’t want to have this discussion, and when Abby asks him to stay and talk to her, he instead gets on a train.

Abby returns to County, where Luka’s finishing up talking to Janet about Marlene’s prognosis. Suddenly Janet doesn’t want to be around him. Abby checks on Marlene, who wonders if her illness will help her parents get back together. This girl is both the most optimistic and most naïve patient we’ve seen in a long time, and I don’t think Abby knows what to do with her.

In the lounge, Weaver tells Susan that Abby is the new nurse manager, and she’d like Susan to tell her if Abby isn’t fulfilling her new duties well. Susan asks if Weaver’s okay. Weaver downplays her mistake on the newscast, then tries to deny that anything happened in the bathroom. Susan won’t let it drop, so Weaver just says she’s taking hormones. Outside the lounge, she asks Gallant about the altercation she heard he had. He admits that he hit Pratt. “In that case, I’ll overlook it,” she says. Chen says good night to Gallant, calling him “Iron Mike.”

Pratt tries to get Gallant to talk to him, apologizing for interfering in Felix’s case. He also knows that Gallant only punched him because he was mad at Kayson, not because he had it out for Pratt personally. Yeah, that’s not true, buddy. Pratt good-naturedly warns that next time, he’ll hit back. This is Pratt’s way of saying there are no hard feelings, and Gallant has clearly calmed down. He asks Pratt to say hi to Leon for him. As Gallant leaves, Pratt feeds the fish in the aquarium. Mystery solved!

Carter arrives at Abby’s place just as she’s getting home. He tells her he’s made his opinion about her drinking clear, so he won’t bring it up again, but his real problem is that she hid it from him. She promises not to hide it anymore. Carter apologizes for ditching her, but he needed some time to figure out where they stand. Okay, but you could have said that, bozo. Anyway, I guess she wants to keep going with this. No, I don’t know why.

Thoughts: I know I said it before but I really like Abby and Susan’s friendship. There’s no jealousy that one is dating the other’s ex. There’s no awkwardness because one’s a doctor and one’s a nurse. Susan doesn’t shame Abby for being an alcoholic. They just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. It’s refreshing.

I also really like how Abby treats Marlene. She doesn’t talk down to her or treat her like a child. And even though Abby has to be really busy, she acts like she has as much time as Marlene needs from her.

They missed a great opportunity to have an M&M about Stella’s case, resulting in some sort of consequences for Kayson sucking, but no. He gets away with it. Even worse, he’s still in five more episodes.

Once again, I don’t get Abby and Carter’s relationship. There’s no way she would want to be with someone she feels is constantly judging her. And I don’t think his good qualities outweigh that.

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