Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.16 Doppelgangland

The Dish: Don't you just wish you could live in a world with people in chains you could ride like ponies? Willow does.

It looks like Anya the vengeance demon is out of a job. After the Cordelia wish, where Giles smashed her pendant, Anya's boss D'Hoffryn strips her of her powers, and she is forced to carry out the rest of her days as a mortal teen at Sunnydale High. This does not bode well for Anya, and she seeks Willow's help in performing a spell to get the necklace back. Anya's timing is impeccable, as a little foray into the black arts is just what Willow needs. The poor redhead has not had the best day as she became the homework bitch for a domineering jock named Percy, not invited to Oz's away gig because he didn't think she'd want to miss school AND to top it all off, Buffy deigned to call Willow 'reliable'. Willow meets Anya at the school and the two start the spell, but when Willow catches a glimpse at the horror show that was the Cordelia wish world, she leaves posthaste, leaving Anya high and dry. The former vengeance demon smashes a plate used in the spell, and in doing so, unknowingly transports Vampire Willow into their world.

And Vampire Willow is none too pleased about the state of Sunnydale, what with humans happily running around all willy-nilly. She goes to the Bronze, horrified that it isn't a vampire bondage torture chamber, and vents her frustration by carelessly tossing Percy across the club. When Xander and Buffy approach, Vampire Willow gropes Xander until she finds out he's human, and snarls at her arch-nemesis Buffy, before getting the eff out of there. Buffy and Xander are left speechless and numb at Willow's vampire face. They think their best friend is dead.

Meanwhile, Faith has been playing double agent for the Mayor, trying to find out anything she can about the Scoobies' plan to fight him. Reporting back at her bitchin' new pad, Faith tells the Mayor about Willow's attempts to hack into his personal files. The good politician puts a hit out on Willow and sends his vampire minions to finish the redhead off. Unfortunately for them, they stumble upon Vampire Willow instead. The pale-faced dominatrix tortures the minions into becoming HER minions, and their first mission is to storm the Bronze. Anya happens to be there, drowning her sorrows in soft drinks, and offers Vampire Willow a chance to go back to the world she loves so much.

Real human Willow shows up at the library to find the Scoobies heartbroken at her death. When she convinces them that she's very much alive, confusion ensues but they can't dwell on the why for long. Angel shows up, after having snuck out of the Bronze, and tells the gang about Vampire Willow's holding pattern. The Scoobies sans Willow rush off, and that's when Vampire Willow shows up. After lots of hands and licking, real Willow is able to shoot her vamp counterpart with the Oz tranquilizer and lock her in the kink cage. The Scoobies reassemble and come up with the plan for real Willow to dress up in the vamp's clothes and they'll try and take back the Bronze.

Vampire Willow wakes up in the kink cage, dressed in Willow's hideously wholesome clothes. Things go from bad to worse when Cordelia shows up and takes advantage of Willow's bound state to lecture her about stealing Xander. Eventually, Cordelia lets Willow out and the vampire chases her throughout the school, but luckily Cordy is saved by the 'brave' Wesley.

At the Bronze, Willow tries her gosh darn hardest to convince the vamps she's one of them, but they ain't biting -- oh yes I did. Once Willow's made, the gang storms in and an all-out brawl ensues. Willow's thrilled to punch out Anya but her celebration is short-lived when Vampire Willow shows up and attacks her. Buffy is about to stake Vampire Willow but real Willow stops her at the last second, unable to let her die. Instead, the gang agrees to cast a spell to send Vampire Willow back to her world, where she is promptly staked by Oz upon arrival. The next day, Willow is left feeling the guilt for the sins of her vampire counterpart. That is, until a petrified Percy presents her with a mountain of completed homework and an apple. Nobody messes with the Mistress of Pain.

Liz's BITES:
* In 'The Zeppo', we saw Xander forever part with the high school boy he was, and become the man he is. Now it's Willow's turn -- only, girl way. Unlike Xander, Willow didn't have much growing to do as she's already done so much. She's gone from shy nerd to girlfriend of a werewolf rocker dude, and she's becoming a more powerful witch every day. The evil Mayor even has a hit out on her because she poses such a threat. Still, all it takes is some intimidation from an asshole jock, and Willow reverts right back to that pushover wallflower she once was. Insult is added to injury when she realizes that her friends still pretty much see her as an old reliable dog/geyser person. Enter Vampire Willow who may be an evil, psychotic, kinda gay dominatrix but dammit, bitch gets what she wants. Even though Willow is horrified that there's a vampire walking around in her face, through this counterpart she learns that if she wants respect, she has to command it, and she does. Congrats on your first punch by the way, Willow. You kicked that ex-vengeance demon's ass!

* Let this be a lesson to all you privileged jock bullies out there. Try and mess with the school nerd and she'll dress like a dominatrix and make you her bitch in front of the whole school. On second thought, that sounds awesome. Never mind. But you're still a dick, Percy.

* Speaking of all things kink, I was tickled fifty shades of pink at all the sadomasochistic imagery this episode. Percy: Until the end of the school year, I own your ass. Vampire Willow: In my world there were people in changes and we could ride them like ponies. Willow: Like Oz and I play 'Mistress of Pain' every night. Did anyone else go to a sexy visual place? Multiple times?

* Even though the Mayor/Faith storyline wasn't the focal point of the episode, I'm really happy they kept them in, especially with Season 3 being almost over. I also LOVED the relationship dynamic between our good Mayor and our bad Slayer. I always got the impression that Faith was jealous of the father-daughter relationship between Buffy and Giles, and now the brunette Slayer gets to have one of her own. Faith isn't used to being treated well by men, and even expects that she'll have to pay for her new digs with sex. When the Mayor shoots her down, citing that he's a family man, I completely forgot they were evil and just wanted them to be happy.

* Awesome villains abound this episode, as I am so enthralled by this Anya chick and I can't wait to see more of her. Geeze Louise it must suck going from an all-powerful vengeance demon to a boring, run-of-the-mill teenager -- especially one who's flunking math. First human lesson, Anya -- when ordering a beer, next time say 'please'. What, were you married to a troll or something?

* We don't get to see it often, but it always melts my heart to sees Giles's love for Willow. Though they don't nearly have the sort of father-daughter dynamic Giles has with Buffy, I think Giles is especially protective of Willow because he sees a lot of himself in her. Throughout this season, we've seen Giles keep a watchful eye over Willow as she progresses in her magic skills, and I believe he's thinking of his Ripper days. I also got a kick out of the awkward sexual moments between Giles and Willow, like when he gave her a very un-Gilesy hug at having found out she's alive...and then backing off immediately after. Also his expressions during the 'Mistress of Pain' and 'gosh, look at those' lines were PRICELESS. Anybody think that if Willow was a few years older and not a student, something might go down between them? Delicious food for thought.

* Even though we obviously knew the whole time Willow wasn't dead, my heart broke for Buffy and Xander, especially Buffy. Buffy really values her friendship with Willow and truly believed that her calling Willow reliable was what got her friend killed. I think this is spill-over from their only recently recovered friendship from the last couple episodes. Why can't we have more women on TV with a friendship like these two?

* Welcome back, Oz! After a brief hiatus while we were dealing with Faith, my favourite bass-playing werewolf is back. Even though he has a small part, it was very important. I so enjoyed the look of pride on his face as he watches his girlfriend pretend to be a vampire and command the Bronze like she owns it. You've nabbed yourself a keeper, Willow.

* Everyone was so on point this episode, and it wouldn't be The Liz Channel if I didn't talk about my girl Cordy. I'm so happy we're continuing along this Cordelia-Wesley plotline. I thought she was fabulous, showing up at the library in the middle of the night in a skin-tight outfit, hoping that Wesley is there.

* It is those reasons that make Cordelia the winner of this week's Fashion Slayer award. That sparkly, 'come hither, Wesley' dress was beyond stunning. That candy-ass new Watcher better count his lucky stars and hop on that train quick.

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Thrilled to see Willow come out of her shell in such a kink-tastic way? Adore the Mayor-Faith relationship? Where does Percy rank in the list of Sunnydale bullies who really needs his ass KICKED? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Dish later;

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.15 Consequences

The Dish: Faith must face the consequences of killing Allan...that every man in town wants to tie her up. What a bummer.

Of all the classes Faith has ditched in her life, she most certainly should have attended How to Dispose of a Body 101, as evidence by Allan's body being discovered about three seconds after she dumped it. This sends Buffy into a panic, especially because Wesley wants his Slayers to investigate the murder. Tension is mounting at an alarming rate between Buffy and Faith, as Buffy is desperate to tell someone about Allan's death, while Faith assures her that if the truth comes out, they'll BOTH go down.

While the Mayor is mildly saddened by the loss of his deputy, he perks right up when Mr. Trick delivers the coroner's report, confirming Allan died via stake. The two are so celebratory, they don't notice those meddling Slayers poking around Allan's office. The fact that Mayor Wilkins is confirmed to be on Team Bad Guy is the least of Buffy's worries, as Faith is spinning out of control. The brunette Slayer dismisses Allan's death when held in comparison to the hundreds of people the Slayers have saved.

The cops are onto Buffy and Faith, and both girls arrive home to an interrogation. Buffy is at a loss, and turns to Willow for help. All tension between the two besties is forgotten, and Willow urges Buffy to go Giles. She does, but Faith gets there first...and pins the murder on Buffy. Buffy is shocked and horrified, but when Faith leaves, Giles reveals that the slut-o-rama is a shitty liar, and he believes Buffy's version. Unfortunately, Wesley overhears everything. The next day, the Scoobies meet sans new Watcher and over a discussion of who should reach out to Faith, it is revealed that Xander slept with her. Willow is crushed, and so is Xander himself when Buffy tells him that all Faith's conquests are nothing more than a big joke to her.

Xander tries talking to Faith anyway, but Faith turns on him. She almost rapes him, and threatens to kill him, but Angel shows up and knocks Faith out. The vamp takes her back to the mansion where he chains her up...but just to talk, he swears. Of all the Scoobies, Angel is the one who ultimately has the greatest connection with Faith, as he's the only one to kill a human being. He even makes a teeny bit of progress at cracking her shell, before Wesley and the Watcher's Council burst in. They beat the crap out of Angel and arrest Faith. More bondage!

Wesley's brilliant plan is to take Faith to England for a trial before the Watcher's Council, but her evading capture puts a wrench in that. The Scoobies are livid when they find out, and they split up to find Faith. Buffy finds her at the docks, looking to get the hell outta Sunnydale. Buffy tries to reason with Faith, and ends up decking her when Faith says some bitchy stuff about Angel and Buffy's lust/bloodlust, but the potential girl-fight is interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Trick and his posse. The Mayor is none too pleased about the Slayers discovering his affiliations to the forces of darkness, and has ordered his right-hand man to kill them. While Faith fights off the minions, Mr. Trick almost kills Buffy via strangulation with a snazzy tie. But Faith comes through in the end and stakes Trick, saving Buffy's life, and comes back into town with her. While Buffy and the Scoobies breathe a sigh of relief that Faith is on the road to recovery, the brunette Slayer shows up at the Mayor's office. And she wants Trick's job.

Liz's BITES:
*  At the end of last week's 'Bad Girls', we really saw the differences between Buffy and Faith, and 'Consequences', yet another stellar Season 3 episode, highlights these differences even more. For all of Faith's bravado, she is just a chicken shit, quaking in her massive, uglyass boots at being caught for Allan's murder. As much as I wanted to smack Faith REPEATEDLY for her behaviour, at the end of the day, I'm with Buffy when I believe Faith isn't a lost cause. Same as last week, I truly believe that feigning callous indifference is easier for Faith than having to take responsibility for her actions. The problem is that the longer she convinces herself she doesn't care...THE LESS SHE STARTS TO CARE, and the easier it is to descend to evil, and eventually wind up at the Mayor's doorstep. That brings us to Buffy. Faith would believe that Buffy is a scared little girl, wanting to run to Mommy and ex-Watcher-daddy but Buffy is the brave one. It takes a lot of guts to say you made a huge mistake, particularly a murderous one. Not only does Buffy do it because it's the right thing, but because she NEEDS to do it. That code of right and wrong runs through her body like blood. This sets the stage for a very epic Slayer vs. Slayer rest of Season 3.

* Did anyone notice Faith continuing her HORRENDOUS murder cover-up by having an absolute SCREAMING match with Buffy in the street? I KILLED ALLAN BUT YOU BETTER NOT TELL ANYBODY! Makes the Detective's work easier, that's for sure. Which presents a problem for Buffy, as it's the same guy who interrogated her for the murders of Ted and Kendra. That guy should get his own parking spot in the Summers' garage.

* Dear me, my heart positively plummeted for the split second when it looked like Giles believed Faith's version of events. But sure as Hellmouth, the Watcher came through. Ex-Watcher I should say.

* The current Watcher is someone I want to currently punch in the face. Last week, Wesley was a basically harmless, pompous doof desperate to prove himself and failing miserably. Does the Watcher's Council give a merit badge for sealing a rogue Slayer's fate? Wesley needs to nut up and be a man instead of getting down on his knees for Quentin Travers with an open mouth.

* My favourite part of the entire episode was the confrontation scene between Buffy and Willow. This show is ahead of its time when it comes to depicting REAL female friendship. I've said it before, Willow is the BEST friend in the world. She was really hurt by Buffy's actions, and unleashes those emotions on Buffy, but all that melts away in a split second when she realizes her friend needs her help. Now THAT deserves a merit badge.

* Willow just had it going on this episode. We rarely see the caring computer nerd take a tough love stance on anything, but she held her ground when she stated her belief that Faith belongs behind bars. And it's not because Willow's a jealous bitch, but she loves her friends and is hellbent on their safety. What a woman!

* Speaking of women, I am tickled pink to see Cordelia finally move on from her 'I hate Xander' ranting and raving. Though Wesley may not be my favourite person in the world -- see above -- I completely get the appeal for Cordy. There's not many eligible men in Sweatydale so when an older, reasonably dollsome, British man strolls into town, a scorned single girl HAS to make a move, am I right? Can't wait to see more on this.

* Man alive, that scene between Xander and Faith was INTENSE. 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' may be all about vampires and demons, but its brilliance is in the REAL LIFE scary moments. How many TV dramas, past and present, have depicted women in some form of sexual danger? It was refreshing to see a man in this situation, because that can happen too and shouldn't be ignored. If Angel hadn't shown up, do I believe Faith would have killed Xander? No. But every fibre in my soul says that she would have raped him and that is truly chilling.

* Along with being out of the Scooby Gang, Faith is out of my good books too. All that sexy as hell bondage imagery was wasted because I didn't even care, I was that angry with her. I DIDN'T CARE ABOUT BONDAGE! Look at the effect this evil Slayer has on me.

* RIP Mr. Trick. The Buffyverse lost a fabulous villain. Yet the blow was severely cushioned by this intriguing development with Faith. I just hope this means she starts wearing snazzy suits!

* And that brings me to my Fashion Slayer award. How could it not go to the late, great Mr. Trick? I don't think anyone has tried to strangle the Slayer with a fashion accessory so Mr. Trick wins for his almost Buffy-killing tie.

* My answers to Faith's questions: Lights on, kinks.

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Fascinated as hell at Faith's fall from grace? Wesley and Cordy, potential cutest couple? Miss Mr. Trick? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.14 Bad Girls

The Dish: Buffy gets seduced by Faith's badass ways and the result is 2 girls, 1 corpse.

With the end of high school in sight, the Scoobies begin to contemplate their future, or lack thereof. As for Buffy, she's stuck contemplating her less than thrilling present, with the arrival of the shiny, new Watcher, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. WWP is basically a young version of Giles, if Giles was a nebbish douche, and I think the former Watcher would feel the same. Wesley tells Buffy about the arrival of El Eliminati, a vampire cult who served the powerful demon Balthazar. Though Wesley assures Buffy and Giles that Balthazar is very much dead, El Eliminati are still after his amulet, and Wesley suggests Buffy kill them. True to form, Faith shows up late to the meeting and promptly turns on her heel after her introduction to Wesley.

The Slayers aren't the only enemies of El Eliminati. None other than Mayor Richard Wilkins III wants them out of the way in time for his mysterious 'Ascension', and he relays as much to right-hand men Mr. Trick and the ever-so keen Allan. Wilkins's best case scenario is that the Slayers and the El Eliminati take each other out. Buffy works on at least half of that plan, as she goes to the tomb where the amulet is located but narrowly misses a cadre of the El Eliminati. Faith shows up and follows the vamp gang into a manhole. Buffy reluctantly follows and an all-out rumble ensues with Buffy almost getting drowned -- again. But she recovers, and nabs the amulet.

This lights a wild-child fire in Buffy, the likes of which we have never seen. Much to Willow's dismay, Buffy skips out on a test for an impromptu slaying session with Faith that culminates in them partying at the Bronze. Angel shows up and informs Buffy that word on the street is that Balthazar is very much alive, and that the amulet will restore his strength. New dork on the block, Wesley, shows up and Angel takes the amulet off him for safekeeping. Buffy grabs Faith and they follow Angel's lead to an abandoned warehouse, where they see Balthazar in all his obese, bathtub-bound glory. The Slayers brilliantly decide to break into a nearby sporting goods store to stock up on weapons...and they promptly get arrested. They use Slayer strength to evade the cops, and Buffy is super-relieved the next morning when there's nothing about it in the papers.

After ditching Willow AGAIN, Buffy continues her badass streak with Faith and they decide to put Fatty Balthy in the ground. They're especially motivated because the El Eliminati have kidnapped both current and former Watcher and are holding them hostage. On the way to Balthazar's layer, the Slayers are constantly attacked by the El Eliminati. They get so used to staking them, Faith doesn't notice that the next person to get in her path is ALLAN and not a vampire. She stakes the poor deputy mayor, and with a sickening CRUNCH, Allan is dead. Faith splits, but later goes back, and Buffy has no choice but to leave and deal with Balthazar. With Angel and a freed Giles holding off the El Eliminati, Buffy throws the fat baby out with the bathwater, and electrocutes Balthazar in his tub. But not before he delivers the ominous message that 'when he rises, you'll wish I killed you all'.

While puzzled at the absence of Allan, the Mayor is thrilled at the news of Balthazar's death, and especially thrilled at having achieved his goal of being invincible. Now there's nothing standing between him and the Ascension. Except maybe a couple of Slayers, who are now very much divided. Buffy goes to Faith to discuss what they're going to do about the whole murdering Allan debacle, but Faith callously informs a shocked Buffy that she dumped Allan's body, and feels no remorse for killing him. Poor dweeby Allan.

Liz's BITES:
* Oooooh what a deliciously tumultuous episode. I love this exploration into Buffy's character. Up until very recently, Buffy's calling has always been a massive chore and she has felt bound by it as opposed to empowered. Enter Faith, who gets off on it and Buffy starts to embrace her inner badass. Living through her second drowning makes Buffy feel as invincible as the Mayor, and petty obligations like school just go by the wayside. Slaying becomes an ecstasy-like drug, but like all drugs, the comedown is hard and fast. Unlike all drugs, said comedown is a dead Allan. In the blink of an eye, Buffy and Faith's differences are immediately brought to the centre. Buffy wants to do the right thing and deal with the situation, and Faith sluffs it off. I have to say, however, that I don't believe she doesn't care about accidentally killing Allan. When she went back for the body, it wasn't strictly for disposal. Faith looked at him with a boatload of remorse in her eyes. Still, convincing herself it's nothing is a shitload better than dealing with the consequences.

* Oh, where to start with Mr. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce? While Quentin Travers made my blood boil, his pet Wesley is so hopeless and awkward, I almost felt bad for the guy. Almost. Wesley's greenness really shows the biggest flaw in the Watcher's Council which is that they're a bunch of academics with no practical experience in a world where that can cost you your life. Think about it, there is only ever one acting Watcher per Slayer so most are just left to study in the classroom or fight vampires in 'controlled circumstances'. Wesley is STILL probably wearing the egg on his face from so emphatically failing his first mission in Sunnydale. What I loved about him most was the rebellious nature he brought out in Giles. Giles has either lived his life as the dark, violent Ripper or following the rules as librarian/Watcher, but now he's a mirthful mix between the two. Free of his obligations to the Council, Giles gets to delight in Wesley's horrible reception from the Slayers. But notice how calm Giles is in the face of certain death? Our Ripper's not gone completely.

* Oh my poor Willow! As enthralled as I was with Buffy, I wanted to punch her in her stupid face for being such a shitty friend to Willow. First she ditches a chemistry study session, which can be excused for amulet rescue mission. But still, Buff, you don't own a cell phone? Oh, it's the 90s. Well, I'm sure you could have found a phone with a rotary dial, geeze. Anyways, that was nothing compared to the scene in Buffy's room where Buffy uses some bullshit excuse about safety to keep Willow from coming on patrol with her and her new slut-o-rama bestie, Faith. This leaves Willow to feel like the Woody to Faith's Buzz Lightyear. I would have worn your protection talisman, Willow!

* Xander showed such growth in the last episode, I was a little disappointed to him reverting back to his self-deprecating perma-loser self during the college discussion with the gang. It just seemed like a way to shoehorn Cordelia in so she could make fun of him. Speaking of which, I said as much last week, Cordelia needs a new thing besides needling Xander. I want more for my girl.

* I know Balthazar is in direct violation of my rule that the featured creature CAN'T be trapped in a warehouse/basement, and dependent on his minions to do his bidding. But dammit, I liked the obese demon. He was just so GROSS, with the way he just sat in his huge bath and had his minions pour hot water over him. Blech! But awesome!

* Oh, how giddy I was to see the return of my favourite couple of the series, the Mayor and Mr. Trick. Sorry, Willow and Oz, you've been dethroned. Well, maybe not quite but I still love this evil politician and his snazzy-dressed vamp sidekick. I love how they can go from wholesome discussions about The Family Circus to bloodcurdling evil doers in the blink of an eye. I am so psyched to see this Ascension storyline progress. Who's for a root beer?

* I thought Joyce was adorable in her small part this episode, discussing waffles. I love the line she says to Buffy, 'they only don't have calories if I don't make them for you'. So sweet. And she's only got about a million-gabajillion waffles to go before fully making up for almost burning her daughter at the stake.

*  What's with the recent, ever-present Sunnydale police? Last week, they were trying to save Xander from Jack O'Toole, and now they're hot like a shot when it comes to catching Buffy and Faith breaking into the store. Can't control our demon population, but dammit if we can't save our youth from making bad choices? Hmmm. Well, points for trying.

* Ummmm, since when are Buffy and Angel kissing again? They clearly planted a be-careful smooch right in the lower centre of each other's faces. They best proceed with caution. They've been celibate so long, a little kiss might be all Angel needs to have a premature 'moment of true happiness' right in his pants.

* It's time to award a Fashion Slayer and I've gotta give it to the Buffster herself. Her wardrobe had it going ON this episode. I'm torn between her adorable good-girl purple coat and her slutty, badass Slayer top and pants she had when she ditched school. Ah, you readers know me. Slutty always wins. Congrats, B.

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Dig Buffy as a rebel? Love or hate Wesley? Are the Mayor and Mr. Trick in contention for best Buffy couple? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Dish later;

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.13 The Zeppo

The Dish: Xander stands up to undead bullies by having a little Faith.

When the gang battles demon girl-group the Sisters of Jhe, and Xander gets in the way, he's benched from Scooby duty. To make things worse, he pisses off school bully Jack O'Toole, and all in front of a smug Cordelia. Xander questions what it means to be 'cool' and decides he needs his own 'thing'. His 'thing' is the tackiest hand-me down car you ever did see, but it attracts the attention of a random, reasonably dollsome, bimbo...and all in front of a less-than-smug Cordelia.

Giles's research on the Sisters of Jhe reveals that they are an apocalyptic cult whose mission is to reopen the Hellmouth. While Werewolf Oz howls at the moon, Giles, Buffy and Willow go into full-out research mode. Willy the Snitch tips Buffy off that the Sisters' plan is going to happen TONIGHT so she goes to Angel in a panic. Angel volunteers to fight on the front lines and in yet another heart-warming moment between the couple, Buffy says she can't watch him die again.

While out cruising with the bimbo, who proves to only be into Xander for his car, Xander DINGS it into another car...Jack O'Toole's. O'Toole pulls a knife on him but when Xander vouches for him in front of the cops, O'Toole changes his tune and is now Xander's best friend. The new besties drive to the graveyard to get O'Toole's 'boys', who turn out to be a bunch of dead dudes. Xander chauffeurs this undead motley crew around as they discuss plans to 'bake a cake'. After the boys break into a hardware store, they decide they want to initiate Xander into the gang. This means he has to die. 

Xander drives off in terror, just in time to rescue Faith from a particularly nasty Sister of Jhe. The two take refuge in Faith's motel room, and Xander takes refuge in FAITH. After the brunette Slayer takes his V-card and promptly kicks him out, Xander sees the boys' stolen goods in the back of his car and realizes that 'baking a cake' means building a bomb! He finds them in the streets and grabs one member while still driving. The dude reveals the bomb is in...the school.

Sunnydale High's got bigger problems than a bomb. The Sisters of Jhe have successfully opened the Hellmouth, and all hands are on deck in the library, fighting the demons that have been spat out. Xander is able to take out the other two undead dudes, ironically helped by a Sister of Jhe. He finds the bomb in the basement but O'Toole intervenes. The two rassle -- but not in a gay way -- but Xander backs off and stares O'Toole down. O'Toole is thrown off by Xander's sudden calmness at a bomb about to detonate in a matter of seconds, and ends up diffusing it. Xander coolly strides out and O'Toole mutters some threats before getting mauled by a not-so-tranquilized Oz.

The next day, the Scoobies are a little worse for wear, but they have successfully stopped the apocalypse, much to the oblivion of the entire world. Xander keeps mum about the events of his evening. When Cordy zeroes in on him for some more insults, Xander just smiles and walks away. Like a badass.

Liz's BITES:
* I'll get into the issues I had with this episode, but I ultimately had a good time with 'The Zeppo'. I loved the juxtaposition between the epic, the world is LITERALLY ending, Buffy and gang storyline and the wacky, ludicrous high-jinks Xander gets himself into. The melodrama and the comedy were a delicious swirl I much appreciated because the show rarely gets that silly, but it pulls it off. How many Kleenexes have we gone through watching Buffy and Angel's relationship saga, but here it is SO over-the-top, and beautifully undercut by Xander. I wouldn't want this tone in every episode, but I quite enjoyed it here.

* Let's talk about the man of the hour, shall we? This episode was completely Xander-centric and I loved him in this. I have been growing increasingly annoyed with post-Smoochiegate Xander, for not being a man and owning his faults. In this episode he BECOMES a man and it's not just because he BECUMS in Faith. Yeah I went there, deal with it. I don't believe it was losing his virginity that gave Xander the confidence to stand up to the bullies and figure out what to do. His first instinct is to rely on Buffy, but when she's too busy drowning in Angel's tears, and everyone else is dealing with a teeny apocalypse problem, Xander realizes he is completely on his own, and the guy gets the job DONE. I was delighted in his lone wolf badassness, fighting off the 'boys' and that face-off with O'Toole in the basement made my girly parts tingle. I would also like to point out that just as much as the Scoobies, Xander SAVED the day. Fat lot of good the Scoobs would be able to do if they're blown to smithereens. Xander stopped that.

* Okay, let's get into my minor criticisms, shall we? First of all, the whole episode hinges on the fact that Xander is a liability to the Scooby Gang. Since WHEN? He doesn't have the powers or knowledge of anyone else in the group, but he works hard and has proven a more or less competent ally in the field of battle. Valentine's Day spell aside, if anyone can find an instance of Xander getting in the way, please let me know. Furthermore, the Scoobies go on and on about how this is the WORST evil they have ever faced, but they thumb their noses at Xander helping? Especially with being down a man, courtesy of Werewolf Oz, wouldn't they want all the help they can get? This seems like flimsy plot contrivance for the sole purpose of giving Xander his own storyline.

* That being said, maybe the Scoobies have a point. When the bimbo, who is never NAMED, shows up, Xander just invites her into his car. That's a stupid enough move in the real world, but the HELLMOUTH? Xander Harris, how stupid can you be? Remember the praying mantis teacher? Does the Incan mummy girl ring a bell? Count your lucky stars this one just proved to be a car slut.

* So from what I gather, O'Toole and his 'boys' are part of some gang. Obviously not a very good one, if they keep dropping like flies. But WHAT gang? What gang of white dudes consists of a Dawson Leary lookalike with a knife named Katie, a twelve-year-old high school student in a cheap suit, a senior citizen high school student, and a jock who is the spitting image of Darryl Epps. If Darryl cracked a smile, he and Bob could be TWINS. And if it's SO easy for some o'tool like O'Toole to raise the dead, why was it such a gargantuan effort from brainiacs Chris and Eric to do it in 'Some Assembly Required'. Maybe they just needed Grandpappy's spell...

* Let's talk about sex, baby. So Xander gives it up to Faith. I sincerely hope the lad used a condom, but if so, GOOD FOR HIM! Not all virginity loss has to be love and fireworks and a dulcet choir of little birdies. Sometimes you're young and the opportunity presents itself, and you just want to get LAID. I hope Xander doesn't expect this to go any further, as the sheets barely had time to dry before Faith kicks him out. Also, did anyone else notice how Xander stroked Faith's arm, in a sweet, protective way. That is NOT the kind of thing a sexually inexperienced man does, but it was hot all the same.

* Well we got to Xander's current gal-pal, let's discuss the former. First of all, does Cordelia have super-hearing? When she witnessed the exchange with O'Toole at the beginning of the episode, she was HALFWAY across the quad. How the hell did she hear everything perfectly? Also, what was with the references? Jimmy Olsen, the Zeppo? Even I had to look up what the Zeppo even meant! Maybe since she's been single she's been watching a lot of old movies and TV. Speaking of her being single, I was in her corner for so long after Smoochiegate. But it has been MONTHS and I hate to say, you're starting to sound a bit like a broken record, Cordy. Move on. 

* If I were Buffy and Willy told me all was doomed, make every last moment count, blah blah blah, you know what I would do? BONE ANGEL! What does it matter if he loses his soul if hell is about to be brought forth, and we're all gonna die anyway?

* I absolutely love when Giles gets petty. The whole jelly donut rant was hilarious. Maybe he has time for that now that he doesn't have to worry about his stuffy quota for the Watcher's Council.

* Speaking of Giles, have we EVER seen him dressed remotely casual? He certainly was at the beginning, when they were fighting the Sisters of Jhe. I thought it was a sexy break from the tweed. And what's with Willow the tryhard bookworm wearing pajama pants to school? The sign is nigh, so dammit I'm wearing PJs? Giles and Willow tie for the Fashion Slayer award, for their 'I don't give a fuck' wardrobe attitude.

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Love or hate the silly? Proud of the Xan-man? Think a dressed-down Giles is hot or not? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Dish later;

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.12 Helpless

The Dish: Giles pokes Buffy with his big needle.

While things are heating up AGAIN between Buffy and Angel, the talk of the town is Buffy's upcoming 18th birthday. The big ticket item this year is NOT losing her virginity to a would-be psychopath but the simple father-daughter tradition of Hank taking Buffy to the ice show. Unfortunately, quarterly sales reports or some yuppie mumbo-jumbo are more important than his daughter's birthday, and Hank cancels the plans.

Buffy is crushed, and what's worse is that she seems to be off her game in the Slayer department. After a vampire almost stakes her with HER OWN STAKE, and she ends up being rescued from a school bully by CORDELIA, Buffy seriously starts to panic that she's lost her powers. The gang gets into research mode, but Giles seems oddly dismissive of his Slayer's fears.

It might have something to do with an upcoming tradition in the Watcher's Council. Every year on a Slayer's 18th birthday, she is stripped of her powers and lured into a confined setting where she is forced to fight a vampire, using aptitude and cunning alone. Giles has been hypnotizing Buffy and injecting her with muscle relaxants, the reason for her sudden weakness. The setting for Buffy's particular test is an abandoned B+B turned Addams Family fun-house, courtesy of the formidable Quentin Travers and his two assistants. The vampire Buffy is to face is Zachary Kralik, a pill-addicted, criminally insane, momma-killing mysoginist -- BEFORE he was a vampire. The assisstants have him locked up in a strait jacket, but Kralik breaks free and goes after Buffy on his own.

He finds her roaming the streets, just another terrified girl walking home at night. Buffy narrowly escapes Kralik, courtesy of Giles who picks her up. He confesses the ritual to Buffy and she feels betrayed and heartbroken. When she arrives home, Buffy sees that Kralik has kidnapped Joyce.

The weakened Buffy goes to the B+B, armed to the teeth with weapons. Kralik chases Buffy throughout the house and ALMOST kills her, but needs his pills first. Buffy grabs them and Kralik gives chase. He eventually catches up to her and grabs the pills, grasping for a glass of water. He drinks, but then starts to burn up and eventually bursts into dust. Turns out that water was a tad on the HOLY side, courtesy of our resourceful Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Quentin informs an understandably bitchy Buffy that she passed the test with flying colours. The same can't be said for Giles, who has proven to be more of a father-figure than a Watcher. He's fired from the Council, but Buffy shows forgiveness, and allows Giles to tend to her wounds.

Liz's BITES:
* Another swing and a hit for Season 3. We have seen the relationship between Buffy and Giles evolving for a long time, and Quentin is not wrong when he says that Giles has a father's love for Buffy. When Giles confesses, I haven't seen Buffy more destroyed since when she had to send Angel to hell. Compared to Giles's betrayal, Hank's absenteeism is nothing more than a bee sting. On Giles's end, he is torn apart as this father figure and his commitment to the Council. When he ultimately makes his choice, Giles gets fired but it is a small price to pay for winning Buffy's trust back. If he got to keep his job, but Buffy no longer trusted him, I don't think Giles would be able to live with himself.

* How delicious a villain was Zachary Kralik? Maybe it was because Buffy lost her powers and we saw her have to fight him as a NORMAL PERSON, but I was more afraid of Kralik than I was of any other vampire/demon the show has seen thus far. But he was also kind of CHARMING. I was clamoring to see what he would do next. Though I absolutely adored his killing scene, I kinda wish he stuck around for a few more episodes. What a bucket of mother-hating fun!

* Speaking of villains, I decree that Hank Summers now joins their ranks. Too busy to see your daughter on her birthday? Simply evil.

* So we FINALLY got to meet the Watcher's Council. Oh, how I wished Ripper would come out and sock Quentin in the face. It's fascinating to compare their stuffy, backwards ways to the leave-no-man-behind, everyone's a valuable member of the team, Scooby Gang dynamic. Quentin Travers is the living, breathing example of bureaucratic bullshit. He's some higher-up fuddy-duddy in a tweed suit who has no clue of the day-to-day Hellmouth dynamic, but thinks he's in a position to tell them how it's done. I would suggest locking him in the kink cage, but he's not good enough for that.

* Let's get to some characters I like, shall we? Though my girl Cordelia wasn't front and centre in this episode, I was really proud of her. Good for her for PHYSICALLY standing up to that abusive asshole, even if it was in the most stereotypically girly way possible. I also thought she showed real compassion for Buffy, a girl Cordelia cannot stand, when she saw how upset Buffy was and agreed to drive her home. Also, since when does Cordelia make MIDNIGHT trips to the library? Weird, but I dig it.

* I'm no Superman fan, but I thought the nerdy banter on Kryptonite between Xander and Oz was adorable. What a witty, subtle way to show that these guys are now cool with each other after Smoochiegate.

* This whole Slayer test thing raised a question for me: Who is older between Buffy and Faith? I always thought Faith was older because of her life experience, specifically involving men. But if she is, she would have undergone the test already and I'm sure she would have told Buffy about it. Unless she didn't know she was being tested? Another explanation is that she turned 18 in between the time her Watcher was killed and she arrived in Sunnydale, and the test just got lost in the chaos. Either that, or Buffy is older.

* With regards to that opening scene between Buffy and Angel...is sparring the Slayer version of dry-humping? If so, guaranteed Angel will retain his soul. Nobody achieves a moment of true happiness as a result of dry-humping. Nobody.

* As much as my heart was warmed and fuzzied by the scene between Buffy and Angel where he confesses he saw Buffy get called, and loved her instantly, I was quite dismayed at Angel letting the weakened Buffy walk home by herself. I'm all for female independence...but I'm also all for some damn CHIVALRY. Seriously Angel, it's SUNNYDALE!

* When I was a kid and I saw this episode, all I wanted was a red coat like Buffy's, and to be chased through the streets by a psychotic vampire, only to be rescued by Giles. Though my only complaint about this stellar episode is the heavy-handed Red Riding Hood references -- a basket of weapons for Granny, really? -- Buffy looked sexy-vulnerable in that gorgeous red coat, and wins my Fashion Slayer award.

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Think Giles owes Buffy a trip to the ice show...for life? Who's the most evil -- Kralik, Hank, or Quentin? For the love of God, can someone PLEASE tell me which Slayer is older? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Dish later;

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.11 Gingerbread

The Dish: Oh my god Moooooom, get out of my room and stop trying to burn me at the stake!

Mothers. I love them, I admire them, I think their job is the hardest in the world, blah blah blah. But seriously, what the hell is up with their uncanny ability to show up at the worst possible time? Joyce Summers is no exception, as she crashes Buffy's patrol, travel mug and the whole nine yards. Nine yards of what? our curious Buffy might ask, except she has to slay Mr. Sanderson From The Bank, who's now a vampire. As her daughter performs her sacred duty, Joyce wanders over to a playground where she finds a broken toy truck, a creepy merry-go-round...and the bodies of two little children. Buzz meet kill.

Buffy tries to comfort a distraught Joyce as the cops comb the scene, but her mother is beyond comforting. Joyce has seen the monsters, but never the victims and the fact that they're kids doesn't help. Maybe instead of turning to your daughter in tragic times, you might want to turn to a certain British librarian instead, huh Joyce?

Well if you won't, Buffy will. The next day at school, Buffy is in full Slayer attack mode, furious at the heinous nature of the crime, and especially that her mother had to witness its aftermath. She rants and raves to Giles, and shows him a symbol drawn on the kids' hands. It's a triangle with a little squiggly line drawn through it, and it makes Giles's brow go mighty furrowy. According to him, the symbol doesn't point to monster, it points to the occult...as in people, people with souls. Sooo, who's hungry?

Not Xander. You know when someone wants to keep things from being awkward and tense...and just ends up making them hard-core awkward and tense? That's our Mr. Harris, trying to be all buddy-buddy with Oz, who stays typically silent. They sit down at a table with Willow and...Amy? As in, almost-got-everyone-killed-with-a-love-spell Amy? Well she's a brunette now, so all is forgiven. Buffy shows up and brings the Scoobies plus Amy up to speed on the events of last night. While the gang reels at the murder of kids, and Willow reels at Joyce actually caring to spend time with Buffy, Joyce actually shows up. Okay seriously, moms, what's the deal? Joyce takes Buffy out into the hall, and it's clear the Slayer wishes the Hellmouth would open up and swallow her whole. The bad just keeps on coming because instead of letting the Scoobies do their jobs, Joyce decides to involve the whole town, and has organized a vigil at City Hall. Honestly, Joyce honey, ONE round with Giles in the kink cage, you'll forget all about the dead kids.

That night at City Hall, everyone and their concerned parent is there. Willow is shocked that HER concerned parent is there, Dr. Sheila Rosenberg herself. Sheila's been a little out of the loop on all things Willow, as she just notices her not-so-new haircut, and forgets Buffy's name. Willow does catch a break in that Sheila has no idea about her daughter's mystical activities, as the rumour that witches killed the kids is swirling like wild fire. Mayor Richard Shadyass Wilkins III calls everyone's attention and introduces Joyce. When she takes the podium, Joyce goes off-script from the usual 'this is a good town' fodder, and calls out Sunnydale for being a breeding ground for supernatural activity. During her speech of all things bad, she lumps Slayers in with demons and witches. Giles is shocked and Buffy is horrified. You totally never support my goals, Mom!

Spooky candles, eerie skulls, scary chants. A boy with eyeliner who we've never seen before sits amongst this sea of occult paraphernalia. Could he be the killer? Let's hope not, because he's joined by Amy and...Willow? The three sit and chant around a large drawing of the triangle symbol. The one that marked the two dead kids. What is going on?!

The next day at school, we find out the boy is named Michael and he's in big trouble with Sunnydale's lesser-minded douche folk. Some steroid-monkey and his friends slam Michael into the lockers and accuse him of killing the kids. Amy tries to stand up for him, but it takes Buffy getting in the faces of the bullies for them to go away. Amy and Michael are grateful, and leave just in time for Cordelia to swoop in. Ever the girl with clear perspective, Cordelia uses the child murders as a platform for why 'freaks and losers' like the Scoobies should be shunned. It would appear that Buffy has bigger problems than local bullies and scorned former Scoobies, as Giles approaches and shares that all signs really are pointing to witches as the guilty party. He needs a book that Willow borrowed so he can continue his research.

Buffy goes in search of the redhead, and finds an indignant Xander, tired of being made to feel guilty because of the Smoochiegate incident. Good to see the young lad has his priorities straight in these troubled times. Buffy has little sympathy for her friend, and spots Willow's notebook. Specifically, she spots the symbol in Willow's notebook. Yikes! Willow returns from her pee, and Buffy demands to know why her friend is carrying around a symbol that appeared on murder victims. Before Willow can respond, the teens are interrupted by some commotion in the halls.

Every student watches their worst nightmares unfold before their very eyes, as the cops open the lockers one by one, and examine their contents. In my day, they were after the good old-fashioned marijuana pot, but the Sunnydale police are after a different kind of herb...a witch herb. While Cordelia is livid at the cops pawing at her imported hair spray, and Xander fears the discovery of his Playboy collection, goody two-shoes Willow is the one in real trouble, as her locker is full to the brim with witchy stuff. A gleeful Principal Snyder demands to see Willow in his office, but before she goes, Willow insists to Buffy that the symbol is not dangerous. It's actually part of a protection spell that she was working on for Buffy's birthday, with Michael and Amy.

Buffy hightails it to the library to find the cops pillaging Giles's books, and confiscating them en masse. The librarian is enraged and his temperature is brought to a boiling point by the arrival of the smug Principal Snyder. The bigoted rodent man is happier than a pig in poop at being able to exert some serious power over the Scooby Gang, completely backed up by MOO, Mothers Opposed to the Occult. His icing on the cake is that MOO's founder is none other than...Joyce Summers. BOO, Buffy yells. No, MOO, Snyder corrects.

At the Rosenberg household, Sheila wants to have a 'serious talk' with Willow. Mrs. Rosenberg's version of this is to rattle off a bunch of psychology statistics and cap it all off with grounding Willow indefinitely. Willow is understandably upset and lashes out, yelling provocative declarations about Beelzebub and being filled with naughty evil. This whips Sheila into a frenzy, and she banishes Willow to her room, while also forbidding her to hang out with 'Bunny' Summers.

'Bunny' finds just as much trouble in her own home. Amidst a sea of placards, petitions, and MOO buttons, Buffy calls out Joyce for ordering the raid on the school. Joyce is flip, and dismisses Buffy's claims that they need Giles's confiscated books to fight the murderer. While she's at it, Joyce questions Buffy's entire ability to keep the town safe, pointing out that the mortality rate isn't decreasing, and that Sunnydale doesn't seem to be running out of vampires. Buffy is extremely hurt and stalks out. After her exit, the two DEAD KIDS appear and tell Joyce that she needs to kill the 'bad girls', and Joyce agrees. Dear me, that woman is suffering from major sex with Giles withdrawal.

A dejected Buffy gazes at the vigil set up at the playground, and is more than happy at the arrival of Angel. The two embrace and Buffy tells her soulmate what Joyce said. Angel assures her that Joyce is wrong, and that just because they never fully conquer evil doesn't mean they should give up fighting. Buffy is touched, and Angel makes a comment about the kids' poor parents. Yeah, have any of these MOO-gilantes thought to check on THEM?

You know things have hit rock bottom when Giles is reduced to using a COMPUTER to conduct his research. Like so many tecnology-inepts before him -- and after him -- Giles thinks that yelling at the computer will get him what he wants. Xander and Oz show up with good news and bad news -- they've found Giles's books...locked up at City Hall. Buffy bursts in full of piss and Slayer-vinegar. She slams one of the MOO posters down and starts asking questions -- Where did these kids go to school? Who are their parents? What are their NAMES? The gang is baffled to realize they don't have a single answer. They decide to do some online digging, and enlist Willow's help via the computer. Though she may be trapped in her room, and forbidden to come to THE phone -- how 90s-quaint -- Willow is able to link them to several articles about similar instances of murdered children, each dating back exactly 50 years. What's super-creepy is that all the articles feature pictures of...the same kids. Little demon camera whores!

This gives Giles a theory that, in a nut-shell, fairy tales are real. He says that some demons don't cause destruction by attack but by letting humans attack each other. He points out the Salem witch trials, and that the earliest article about the kids names them as 'Hans and Greta'. All of a sudden, a beaten and bloodied Michael bursts in and informs the group that MOO is now taking people out of their homes for a massive trial at City Hall. Anyone suspected of 'witch activity' is not safe. That means Willow.

Confined to her room, Willow keeps perusing the Internet for more articles. Sheila bursts in and confiscates the laptop and tells Willow that all she can do is let her go with love. Ummm wtf, says Willow. At this point, Sheila is joined by a few glowering members of MOO. Moments later, Xander and Oz burst in to find the room empty, with obvious signs of a struggle.

Buffy and Giles go to the Summers home to try and talk some sense into Joyce. Personally, I think that ship sailed the moment she started listening to dead children. Indeed, Joyce and some members of MOO subdue Buffy and Giles with chloroform, while they are cheered on by Hans and Greta.

At City Hall, Buffy awakens to find herself tied to a stake, surrounded by Giles's books, along with Willow and Amy. After Joyce gives Sheila a good-job wallop on the back, and they make lunch plans, Joyce hands her a torch, and Sheila sets the books aflame. I'm no parent, but as far as punishments go, this seems a little extreme.

You wanna talk extreme? Try Mrs. Chase taking away all of Cordelia's black clothes and scented candles. This horrific turn of events sends Queen C over to Buffy's where she finds an unconscious Giles. She slaps him awake and the unlikely pair set off toward City Hall, stopping at Giles's to get the few supplies MOO weren't able to confiscate. Forget texting and driving, how about magicking and driving? Giles gets Cordelia to grind ingredients into a mortar and pestle as he babbles an incantation. He explains to Cordelia that he's trying to cast a spell to get the demon to reveal its true self, and scare the MOO sheep straight.

Xander and Oz burst into City Hall to find the burning room guarded by the MOO menfolk. They try to blend in, but do a piss-poor job of it and wind up getting chased throughout the building. The beer-bellied dads of Sunnydale are no match for a werewolf and a spry nerd, and the pair are able to crawl into the vents, eluding their captors.

As Buffy, Willow and Amy come closer and closer to burning to death, it's clear the 'Hey I'm your daughter' argument is going nowhere. So Amy decides to try a little magic, by turning HERSELF into a rat and escaping. So much for sisters-in-arms. Buffy and Willow try to use this to scare MOO into letting them go, but the group is having nothing of it. Just when Willow starts to catch fire, Giles and Cordelia burst in. Cordelia grabs the fire hose and sprays the crowd, almost forgetting to save the burning girls. Water is fun, isn't it, Cordy? Giles finishes his incantation and the dead children become one with each other -- gross! -- turning into a massive-ass demon. Giles's plan does the trick and members of MOO flee the scene in terror, except Joyce who is positively stupified. Buffy is able to tear her stake out of the ground and stab the demon in the neck. Too bad she didn't miss and hit Sheila Rosenberg. Bitch.

The day is saved and all is well. Unless you're Amy. It's a little hard to turn yourself back into a person if you can't form words. Buffy and Willow try to turn her back, but are only able to conjure up some hair-band concert purple smoke. That's okay. I never really liked her anyway.

Liz's BITES:
* After the epic Russian novel that was last week's 'Amends', 'Gingerbread' hits the spot as the perfect popcorn episode. I loved the whole 'fairy tales are real' twist because it made things so much more tense to have characters turn on each other, rather than just battle a generic demon. The witches red herring was a cool idea, and I loved that for a split second, we thought Willow might be up to some nefarious activities. Hellmouthiness aside, what this episode really boiled down to was Buffy's constant fear that Joyce doesn't understand her, nor approve of what she does. It takes Joyce literally burning her daughter at the stake for Buffy to clue in that she is under some sort of spell. If it had been any other adult spearheading MOO -- say PAT (bitch!) -- I bet Buffy would have clued in instantly. The conversation where Joyce calls Buffy's calling 'fruitless' is crushing to watch because Buffy is not hurt as the Slayer, but as a daughter.

* Seeing Willow as the 'troubled teen' was a fun role reversal and I enjoyed getting a deeper glimpse into her home life. We've seen Buffy's parents, heard about Xander's dysfunctional family but have heard little about Willow's. I really understood Willow's indignation when Sheila went from neglectful parent to smother-mother in the blink of an eye, all the while blaming Willow. The redhead's tirade would actually be quite funny if I didn't feel so bad for her.

* I didn't really understand Xander's Oz-fear throughout half the episode. It was like a subplot that didn't quite make it. First of all, shut up Xander, if you didn't want this you shouldn't have kissed Willow. But the guy's all skittish around Oz for the first half of the episode, but then when shit hits the fan, they're 'save the day' buddies. Is the point that when friends are in danger, anyone can band together? I think they just needed to fill a couple extra minutes of the episode. I will say that when they fell through the ceiling, it was quite humorous.

* I so enjoyed the unlikely chemistry of Giles and Cordelia. Wouldn't that be such a great cop show? She could slap him, he could rip barrettes out of her hair. I'd be happier than Principal Snyder at a locker raid.

* It's time to award a Fashion Slayer for the week. Honestly, nobody really stood out to me as wearing a must-have piece of clothing. So I'm giving it to Joyce for the MOO button. Any grown woman who can wear an animal noise button must have a strong sense of self. Even if she hears fairy tale voices in her head.

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Eager for Buffy to take down Goldilocks next? Wish Xander would shut his whiny mouth? Think Willow should buy a red leather jacket and tell Sheila that she's TEARING HER APART? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Dish later;

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.10 Amends

The Dish: Jenny Calendar wants Angel to be a ho ho ho.

Everyone should have some place to go on Christmas. For the ill-fated Daniel, it's the hell away from Angel. In a flashback to Angel's early vampire days, this Daniel fellow runs through the streets of Dublin in sheer terror. Unfortunately, Angel catches up to the poor lad, and turns him into his Christmas dinner. That's when present-day Angel wakes up in a cold sweat.

When I have a bad dream, I just watch porn but Angel decides to head out to the main drag to escape his own head...and runs head long into Buffy, who's out for some Christmas shopping. The two haven't seen each other since the Spike incident, and things are mighty awkward. Whenever I run into exes, I always pray for a friend to materialize as an escape, and it's Angel's lucky day -- Daniel appears behind Buffy. Angel freaks out and runs off leaving Buffy confused and worried. Cheer up, B, at least you won the break-up!

It's the last day of school before the holidays. The gang discusses plans -- Buffy and Joyce will have tree, nog, roast beast; Xander will sleep outside to avoid his drunken family shitshow -- a fact a scorned Cordelia loudly shares; Cordy herself will be skiing in Aspen; Willow will be Jewish, and also missing Oz. Speak of the werewolf-devil, Oz cautiously approaches the group and asks to speak to the redhead in private. The two duck into an empty classroom and Oz says that while Willow's relationship with Xander will always make him nervous, he can't bear to live without her. OZ AND WILLOW ARE BACK TOGETHER! Oh, I am filled with the fuzzy, warm Hanukkah spirit.

Angel certainly isn't. The poor vampire has another nightmare, only this time it's of scary, chanty monks with X's over their eyes.

These demon-monks are almost as ugly as the patch of dead Christmas trees Buffy stumbles upon as she's out shopping with Joyce. Shockingly, Buffy gives them a pass. She suggests that they invite Giles to Christmas dinner and Joyce immediately shuts that idea down -- hey, sipping egg nog with a British librarian I banged on a cop car sounds like a gay old time to me, but I've been told I'm a weirdo. However, Joyce does suggest that Buffy invite Faith, because nothing says Merry Christmas like spending it with someone you beat the crap out of. Good daughter Buffy obliges and drops in on Faith in her shithole room. Things are tres tense between the two Slayers and the interaction ends with Faith declining the invitation to go to some 'cool party' -- in her head.

Don't you just HATE it when your peaceful evening gets ruined by the presence of the vampire who slaughtered your girlfriend and tortured you for hours on end? Giles can relate, as a distraught Angel shows up at his door. Angel tells Giles about recent events, and wants to know why he came back from hell. Giles is understandably snippy but allows the vampire to come on, albeit at crossbow-point. Upon entry, Angel sees Jenny Calendar right behind Giles, and freaks out. Giles has no idea what Angel is babbling about, and Angel gets his tortured soul ass the hell outta there.

So what's a haunted vampire supposed to do but sleep? Bad idea, Angel. The poor guy is regaled with another flashback of his wicked, wicked ways. This time it's at a Downton Abbey-esque party, where he has a helpless maid cornered under the stairs. Evil Angel forces himself on the ridiculously adorable maid and feeds on her. When he looks up, he sees...Buffy?

When Angel wakes up he is crazy scared, and the presence of Jenny and Daniel don't help either. Now they have upgraded to talking to Angel, reminding him of the atrocities he committed against them. Across town, Buffy awakes in her bed with a start, and it's clear she was privy to Angel's dream as well.

Terrified and unsure of what to do, Buffy meets Giles at the library. Slayer assures Watcher that she is no longer seeing Angel, but they can't stay away from each other if they're having the same dream. Giles agrees and the two get to work, only to be joined by Xander, who wants to prove that his caring for Buffy goes way deeper than his hatred for Angel. Willow shows up too and the Scoobies undergo an all-night research party, pizzas and all. In the midst of all this, Willow confesses to Buffy that while she is over-the-moon to be back with Oz, she's nervous to spend time with him alone because she wants him to trust her again. Buffy tells her friend that she just needs to let Oz know he comes first.

As the night progresses, and the research doesn't, the gang finds different corners of the library to fall asleep. After a night of being haunted by his former victims, who remind him of his sadism as well as the fact that he was a drunken ne'er-do-well BEFORE he was a vampire, Angel too succumbs to exhaustion.

Tonight's dream, however, is no killing flashback but a hot-as-hell sex dream, where Angel and Buffy go at it like there's no tomorrow. Both Angel and Buffy toss and turn, sharing this blissful dream like they once shared each other's bodies. However, nothing kills your boner (or girl-boner) like chanty demon-monks. They show up, and in the dream, Angel bites Buffy. He wakes with a start to find another horny, beautiful woman...Jenny Calendar. She urges Angel to take Buffy -- he knows he wants too -- so he can become the monster he is supposed to be. I fully support this plan.

Luckily, things are going much better on Buffy's end. Giles finds the demon-monks in one of his books. These bruisers are called the 'The Bringers' and they work for the First Evil, not even a tangible demon, but the essence of evil, the reason why it exists. The First can conjure manifestations of the deceased -- like Daniel and Jenny. It is likely that the First is behind Angel's return from hell, so he can finish Buffy off once and for all -- like in the dream, wink wink -- and Soulless Angel has always proved to be a loyal servant of evil.

So Buffy's best plan of attack is to find these Bringers. She and Xander go sniffing around Willy's vampire bar but Willy doesn't have much to offer. All he can tell the gang is that demons who dwell underground are skipping town in fear. The teens leave and Buffy is at a loss of what to do. Xander comforts her, telling her to take a break and enjoy the Christmas season. Maybe she could take a nap, and have another steamy sex dream!

Speaking of steamy...Oz shows up at Willow's place, video tapes in hand, ready for a stay-in date night. He's in for a very sexy awakening, when he sees Willow in a skin-tight red dress, curled up on the couch, as Barry White plays in the background. See, Willow took Buffy's advice and wants to prove to Oz that he cums first. This throws Oz for a loop, and as turned on as he may be, he confesses to Willow that he's not ready to have sex with her yet. The sweetest werewolf alive doesn't want their first time to be about proving anything, but because they need it to happen. What about ME, Oz? I need this to happen. Still, it's quite sweet when the two cuddle up on the couch, fully reunited in every sense of the word.

Buffy follows Xander's advice and decks the halls with gay apparel, alongside her mother. There's a knock at the door, and Buffy answers it to find Faith standing on her doorstep. Turns out Faith's 'party' was lame so she thought she'd come over. The brunette Slayer, bearing crappy gifts, is greeted with open arms by the Summers women. Buffy jets upstairs to get her gifts, only to find a mentally deteriorating Angel waiting for her. She can't understand her former lover's incoherent ranting. Once again, Jenny materializes and urges him to take Buffy right then and there. Angel yells for Buffy to stay away from him, and dives out her window. He high-tails it back to the mansion and knows that he has to do something before he succumbs to his desires for Buffy. Jenny, on behalf of the First, is not pleased to learn that Angel's plan is suicide by sunrise. Nor am I. Round Two of Buffy and Angel boning sounds like a much better idea.

At Giles's, he and Buffy kick their research into top gear. Giles skims a passage about the Bringers that mentions that wherever they dwell, nothing will grow above or below. Remember those dead Christmas trees? Buffy certainly does, and she knows that's where the Bringers call home. She gets her ass over to dead section of the tree lot and digs frantically. When she slips underground, Buffy finds the Bringers in a full-on chant fest. She wittily announces her presence and the Bringers run away with a Lyle Gorch level of chicken shit-ness. That's when Buffy sees the Jenny manifestation for the first time, and the dead techno-pagan shifts into a giant, enveloping, holographic-looking demon who tells Buffy that Angel will be dead by sunrise.

Buffy books it to the mansion, and finds Angel alone on a hill, waiting for day. She tries desperately to get Angel to safety, but the vampire is adamant that he needs to die. Angel confesses that he wanted nothing more than to listen to Jenny, and lose himself in Buffy, and that all he has ever brought to the world is destruction and despair. Buffy pleads with Angel and argues that alive, he has the power to make amends for the sins of his past. The two end up brawling, with Angel knocking Buffy to the ground and shaking her. Gone is all traces of a Slayer, and what remains is Buffy, in tears, hopelessly in love. That's when snow starts to fall. Angel and Buffy stop their fighting and stare at it in amazement. The sun never rises.

As each member of the gang peers outside in wonder at this crazy weather phenomenon, Buffy and Angel walk the dark, empty streets hand in hand. I guess snow is all it takes to defeat the First. Too bad the Scoobies don't live in Canada. One winter here, and the First won't be looking so bad!

Liz's BITES:
* We got to see Jenny again! Oh how I enjoyed yet another Season Three episode. That stupid 'Beasts' episode aside, I have been crazy-impressed with every offering from this season. 'Amends' gets MAJOR points from this girl for bringing Jenny back, especially as an evil, devil-on-the-shoulder, sex coach. I'm not normally a fan of Christmas episodes, so really delving into Angel's psyche was a brilliant way of combating the standard holiday fare. Oh, how I felt sorry for that vampire. Imagine a non-stop haunting of all the shitty things you've done to people. It's enough to make anyone lay out in the sun -- even though us humans would just get a sun burn. I'm so glad they addressed the big elephant's boner in the room, and Angel copped to the fact that even though he knows sleeping with Buffy will bring forth unspeakable terror, the red-blooded MAN in him still wants to...and Buffy wants that as well. The fact that these two soulmates can't make love to each other is positively crushing. But there's always evil dreams, courtesy of the First.

* Oh how giddy I am that Oz and Willow are back together. I'm calling it right now, favourite couple on the show...by far. I also have to say, Oz is the master of the world's sweetest rejections. Last year, there was him turning Willow down for a van makeout session because he knew she wanted to make Xander jealous.  This year, he turns her down for sex and it is the sweetest thing I have ever seen. Oh, I am chomping at the bit waiting for this werewolf and redheaded witch to get it on!

* Bringers, come on, you couldn't have put up a BIT of a fight?

* Did anyone else feel bad for Xander? Don't get me wrong, I'm still pissed at him for breaking Cordy's heart, but the poor guy was sleeping OUTSIDE on Christmas.

* It's time to award a Fashion Slayer for the week, and WILLOW gets it again. Oh, slowly but surely, our girl is trading her god-awful wardrobe in for some sexy outfits, like the Oz-cums-first red dress she was sporting. Keep it up, Willow...if you know what I mean.

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Happy to see Jenny again? CRAZY happy that Oz and Willow are back together? Too distracted by the obviously fake snow to really enjoy the ending? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Dish later;