Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.3 Faith, Hope and Trick

The Dish: There's a new Slayer in town, and she's not into cloven guys.


I wish I was best friends with a Slayer in high school. Not so she could protect me or introduce me to cute vampires, but so she could get expelled from school and have enough free time to make me a delicious picnic for my lunch break. Alas, I am not so lucky as the Scoobies, who step down the rabbit hole (cross the street) into a world of gingham blankets and potato salad. As the Scoobies munch on their outdoor feast, they notice a reasonably dollsome dude making eyes at Buffy. Willow explains that he is Scott Hope, and has had a crush on Buffy since last year. Things take a turn for the hot and heavy when Scott walks by and says 'hi' to Buffy.


That night, a limousine pulls into the drive-thru of the local Happy Burger. In it is a well-dressed black vampire named Mr. Trick who is thrilled to be on the Hellmouth. He is reminded by his companion, a cloven-handed dude who remains shrouded in darkness, that their sole purpose is to kill the Slayer. This idea whets Trick's appetite, and he makes a meal out of the drive-thru worker. As if the poor kid didn't have it bad enough already.


While Trick makes his way through Sunnydale's fast food employees, Buffy dreams about Angel. They're at the Bronze dancing intimately, when Buffy's Claddagh ring slips off her finger. Angel picks it up and proceeds to crush it in his hands, which begin to drip with blood and before long, his entire body is bleeding and his face rots away. Buffy awakes with a start and reaches into her nightstand drawer, producing the Claddagh ring. She holds it tight.


Things definitely perk up when the day goes on. After a deliciously satisfying meeting with Snyder, Buffy is reinstated at Sunnydale High. She has a lot of make-up exams to take, but she stops by to visit Giles first. As usual, the Watcher is busy with another project. This time, it's a spell to ensure that Acathla remains forever napping and it involves sensitive questions about Buffy killing Angel. Buffy gives a brief, emotionless summary of the events, minus the part where his soul was restored.


After a hard day back at school, Buffy enjoys a little relaxation with the gang at the Bronze. Captain Normal (Scott) spots Buffy and asks her to dance. Haunted by memories of Angel, Buffy clams up but Scott takes it well and makes himself scarce.


It wouldn't be a proper night out without a vampire attack. Cordelia spots an unsuspecting, albeit Slut-o-rama, girl leaving with a disco-happy obvious vampire. Buffy and crew follow them out but when the vampire attacks, the girl...fights back? She notices Buffy and introduces herself as Faith. She dusts the vamp, and Oz can keep his limbs because there is a new Slayer in town.


Back at the Bronze, Faith regales the gang -- particularly a drooling Xander -- with sexy, badass vampire slaying stories. Basically, Faith is the polar opposite of Kendra, who she replaced when Kendra died. Faith is all about 'living large' and being 'five by five'. In other less douchey words, she skipped out on her Watcher because she wants to Slayer-party with Buffy. This idea looks like it sounds as dandy to Buffy as killing Angel again.


The next day, Buffy takes Faith to meet Giles who is charmed by the new Slayer just like the rest of the Scoobies, much to Buffy's irritation. The negative vibes only continue when Buffy is strong-armed into inviting Faith over for dinner.


While Buffy takes another make-up exam, Xander and Willow give Faith a tour of the school. They bump into Scott and Miss Slut-o-rama gives him some five-by-five flirtation. Doesn't she know, Scott is Buffy's not-boyfriend?


In yet another empty warehouse-type building, of which Sunnydale seems to have no short supply, Cloven-Dude and Mr. Trick discuss plans to kill the Slayer. As fate would have it, the Slayer they're after is actually Faith, who put the serious hurt on Cloven-Dude. When we finally get to see his face, it would appear that Faith made an almost-successful attempt at gouging out his eye. Trick reminds him that there's another Slayer in the mix.


Another Slayer who is positively pouty at Faith having charmed ANOTHER important person in her life, this time Joyce. Joyce laps up Faith's enthusiastic attitude towards slaying, and in a private moment with Buffy, purposes the idea of Faith taking over the slaying entirely. During the conversation, it comes out that the only reason Faith is a Slayer too is because Buffy died and this obviously leaves Joyce shaken. For the first time, Buffy points out a positive aspect of Faith's presence and it will be that she'll have some back-up on patrolling.


This feeling of positivity lasts about 1.4 seconds during Buffy and Faith's first patrol together. Faith picks up on Buffy's tense attitude and carelessly asks if it's about Angel (Xander and Willow filled her in). She then proceeds to call Buffy out for having not moved on. This crosses a line and Buffy gets in Faith's face. A Slayer battle royale is about to ensue, until they are attacked by a gang of vampires. While Faith corners one and pummels the undead crap out of it, Buffy is left to fight the rest of them on her own. She barely succeeds at doing so, and bitches Faith out for not having her back.


The next day, Buffy fills Giles in on the details of their patrol, mentioning that one of the vampires mentioned someone named 'Kakistos'. According to Giles's research, Kakistos is one of the oldest living vampires, and him and Cloven-Dude are one and the same. Buffy finds it awfully odd that Kakistos's arrival to town perfectly syncs up with Faith's. Giles decides to call Faith's Watcher and Buffy goes to find Faith and ask her if she knows anything about Kakistos.


In the hall, Buffy is stopped by Scott who goes for broke and asks Buffy out. When Buffy accepts, Scott is overjoyed and gives her a gift...a Claddagh ring. Yikes. The poor guy correctly reads the horrified look on Buffy's face and bails. Giles witnesses this exchange, and lets Buffy collect herself before he drops the bomb that Faith's Watcher is dead.


Buffy goes to visit Faith, who's staying at the world's skeaziest motel, and interrogates her about Kakistos and her dead Watcher. Faith confesses that she watched Kakistos brutally murder her Watcher and barely got away with her life. When Buffy tells Faith that Kakistos is in town, Faith flips her shit and hastily begins to pack. This time it's Buffy who calls Faith out on not dealing with her problems, but the two are interrupted by the arrival of Kakistos and his minions.


The Slayers run for their lives and quickly escape their cloven pursuer. A little too easily, as they discover that they have been led right to Kakistos's layer. While Buffy fights off the minions, Faith is paralyzed with shock and Kakistos beats her to a pulp. After Buffy stakes the last minion, she turns her attention to Kakistos. Mr. Trick, who has watched the whole rumble from the shadows, doesn't much like Kakistos's odds and books it. Buffy distracts Kakistos and Faith steels up all her courage and rams a pointed beam right through his cloven heart. The two winded Slayers recover and go off in search of a snack.


When the dust has settled, so to speak, it is decided by the Watcher's Council that Faith will remain in Sunnydale and fight alongside Buffy. Buffy is proud of Faith for having put her demons behind her and does the same, revealing to Giles and Willow that Angel was cured before she had to kill him. Willow begs Giles to help with the Acathla-binding spell and Giles tells her that there was no spell. He made it up to help Buffy work through her problems. Awwwwwww.


A huge weight has been lifted off Buffy's shoulders and she is now ready to put Angel behind her. She tracks down Scott and apologizes for her behaviour, asking him if he'll reconsider that date. Of course he says yes.


There's only one thing left for Buffy to do before she moves on. She revisits the mansion and stands over the spot where she killed Angel. She removes her ring and lays it there, forever ridding herself of her first love.


Or so she thinks. Hours later, the ground rumbles and Angel materializes. He took the highway out of hell and is back (in nothing!).


Liz's BITES:
* What a jam-packed episode, holy cow. New Slayer! Buffy's back in school! Angel's back from hell! I'll start with my one itty-bitty criticism of the episode, and it's that I found Kakistos to be on the lame side. I thought his cloven hands looked fifty shades of silly and we hear lots of stories about his brutality, but don't get to see any onscreen. I know it's supposed to be more ominous that we don't hear the details of how he murdered Faith's Watcher, but that just resulted in me not being scared of him at all. But really, he was just there to give Faith some humanity and make her more relatable to Buffy. Speaking of Faith, man am I excited by her. We've never seen anyone push Buffy's buttons like this and even though they were united in the end, you know there's just a bubbly cauldron full of conflict ready to boil over. And I can't wait!


* While I may not have been wowed by Kakistos, I certainly was with his right-hand man, Mr. Trick. What a cool cat! Every vampire we've seen has one single goal in place -- kill the Slayer, end the world, go home to Kansas. Mr. Trick, on the other hand, has big plans. Global plans. He wants to use Sunnydale as a home-base and turn it into a vampire empire. Trick is the anti-The Master and I am just tickled pink.


* However, I am left lukewarm by Scott. Yes, he clearly likes Buffy very much and seems like a nice boy. But other that that...what is there? Really THAT is the sole appeal. He's a nice, normal boy. Scotty doesn't know. But let's get rid of him soon, please? Not necessarily in a Hellmouthy way (though I wouldn't exactly cry if that were to happen) but let's just not give him too much screen time.


* The scene that moved me the most was when Giles revealed that there was no binding spell. We have seen time and time again that he cares for Buffy, but this is going above and beyond. He's not just fighting for her life, he's fighting for her emotional well-being. What a guy!


* It's about the time to give out the weekly Fashion Slayer award and it goes to the new Slayer herself, Faith, for her skin-tight leather pants she wore on patrol. Badass and in your face, they're the perfect choice for this alligator-wrassling, nude-sleeping, new Slayer.


That does it for me this week my lovely readers. What did you think about the episode? Excited by the presence of Faith? What about Mr. Trick? Think Scotty's a tad on the lame side? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.


Dish later;
Liz

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.2 Dead Man's Party

The Dish: Sometimes it takes a horde of zombies crashing your party to know who your true friends are.


Buffy's back in Sunnydale. All is right with the world...right? Ha! Buffy and Joyce skirt around each other like me and the mouse who lives in my kitchen. They share a brief conversation about the new hideous tribal mask Joyce hangs in her room -- it's Nigerian! -- until Buffy announces she wants to link up with the Scoobies, and Joyce is all too happy to let her go.


The last time we left the Scoobies they were failing miserably at patrolling in Buffy's absence. But NOW...they're still failing miserably, but they're in sexy leather jackets and have walkie-talkies. Buffy arrives as they attempt to take a vamp down, but just take each other down instead. She dusts the vampire, and they head over to Giles's to announce Buffy's return.


When he sees Buffy, Giles Britishly maintains his composure, but a private moment makes it clear that he is positively brimming with relief and happiness. Seems like he's the only one. Buffy seemed to bring the awkwardness from home with her to the Scoobies. After such an emotional summer, nobody really knows what to say to each other. Buffy innocently strong-arms Willow into a girly coffee date...and that's about it.


Hey Buffy, don't feel too bad. There's another person delighted about your return -- Principal Snyder. In a meeting with Joyce and Buffy, the bigoted rodent man callously refuses to readmit Buffy, despite the fact that she was cleared of the murder charge -- oh yeah, that. Joyce is livid and threatens to take the matter to the ominous Mayor.


Things go from bad to worse to worst day since I sent my boyfriend to hell, for Buffy. After the unsuccessful meeting with Snyder, she goes to meet Willow for coffee only to get stood up. Then, when Buffy arrives home she is greeted by the odious Pat. Pat is a book club friend of Joyce's who took it upon herself to look after Ms. Summers while Buffy was off on her 'flight of fancy'. The woman seems to take delight, bordering on sexual arousal, in regaling Buffy with just how miserable she made Joyce.


A cheesed-off Buffy relays Pat's passive aggressive well-wishes to Joyce. Joyce then changes the subject -- she wants to have a welcome-back dinner for Buffy with the Scoobies tomorrow. Buffy indulges her mother by going down to the basement to hunt for the 'company plates' and stumbles upon a framed picture of her, Willow and Xander during happier times -- that was apparently so special it had to be kept in the safe space of a dusty old basement shelf. In other news, Buffy also happens to stumble on a dead cat. Ummm, I've never had the pleasure, but I assume a dead cat would be quite stinky. When was the last time they were in the basement? The Valentine's Day scavenger hunt?


In the least uncomfortable moment between mother and daughter yet, Joyce and Buffy bury stinky old Patches in the garden. Silly ladies. In the Hellmouth nothing's ever that simple. Indeed, over night as Joyce sleeps, the eyes on the Nigerian mask glow RED. My hunch is that means NOT GOOD. I'm bang on, as the cat comes back (the very next day) to life...as a zombie.


In a scene that's sole purpose is to fulfill David Boreanaz's contract requirements, Buffy has another dream about Angel. They're at an empty Sunnydale High and Buffy's scared about seeing her friends and Angel says she should be. Let's move on.


Things aren't much better in the morning, as Buffy and Joyce kick it off with a fight about Buffy going to an all girls' school. The mother-daughter bonding time is interrupted by the return of Patches, who darts into the house and camps out under Joyce's bed. Giles is called in to remove the zombie pest, and he plans to take it back to the library for research. Buffy wants to go, but Giles reminds her that she is banned from school grounds.


During the Buffyless research gathering (shindig?), the Scoobs discuss their reticence about Joyce's dinner, and specifically having to spend all night repressing their feelings of anger or betrayal towards Buffy. Xander especially seems particularly ticked with the Slayer. The teens decide to throw a blanket over the drama by turning the night into a full-on hootenanny, Dingoes and all.


You know you're about to have a really shitty party when the first guest to arrive is freaking Pat. She all but throws a Tupperware container of empanadas at Buffy's head on her way to greet her bestie Joyce. If that's not enough to throw Buffy off, the arrival of Dingoes Ate My Baby certainly is.


In no time flat, the Summers' living room is transformed into Party Villa (how can I rock you?). While the Scoobies are happy at having escaped a brie-filled gathering, Buffy longs for just that. She pulls Willow aside and asks if Willow's been avoiding her. Willow denies it, but her tone suggests otherwise. She trots off, leaving Buffy to meander over to Xander and Cordelia who would rather by making out than chitchatting with the runaway Slayer.


Meanwhile across town, a car crash victim returns from the dead, eyes flashing red like the Nigerian mask. At the hospital, a team of doctor's try in vain to revive a burn victim...until he's revived as a zombie and kills everyone in the room. In Joyce's room, the mask's eyes flash again and a horde of zombies make their way towards the Summers' home. At the library, Giles reads as much in his research and hightails it to the hootenanny.


Joyce is too busy working her way through peach schnapps with Pat to care about the abundance of pot-smoking and underage drinking occurring in the next room. In a moment of tipsy candor, she admits to Bitchface that things are so uncomfortable, she almost wishes Buffy hadn't come back. Buffy picks that unfortunate moment to overhear and runs upstairs. Feeling overwhelmed, she starts to pack a duffle bag. Willow walks in and upon seeing the bag, all her feelings of betrayal come bubbling to the surface. Buffy really committed a friend foul -- much worse than a fiesta foul.


Giles drives like a madman -- or, a British librarian version of a madman -- to the Summers' house and so distracted by mocking Joyce's horrible (and lethal) taste in art to notice that he just hit someone! Horrified, Giles gets out of the car to discover that the 'someone' is actually a zombie, who attacks him. In the scuffle, Giles's keys fall out of his pocket and he has to hotwire his car, narrowly escaping zombification.


In the midst of Buffy and Willow's heart to heart, Joyce enters and is enraged to see Buffy's duffle bag. Buffy can't handle the confrontation and flees to the party. Joyce and Willow follow, and the hootenanny fun is halted when Joyce chews Buffy out for running away. Buffy tries to defend herself, until Xander steps in and backs Joyce up. Buffy chokes back tears as she has it out with Xander, and the two almost come to blows. Until the zombies attack.


All bad blood is forgotten as the Scoobies band together to fight off the zombies. Despite stabbing and beating them with various objects -- I liked Jonathan menacingly holding the guitar -- the zombies won't die. In the midst of the melee, a zombie attacks Pat. What a sweetie.


As Joyce and most of the Scoobies take refuge in Joyce's room, they find an unconscious Pat. Once safe inside, they check her pulse and discover she's dead. Or maybe not, as her eyes flash zombie-red.


Giles arrives on the scene, and narrowly avoids attack from a terrified, ski pole-brandishing Cordelia and Oz. He explains to them that the zombies are after that butt-ugly mask and if one of them gets their hands on it, they become the 'demon incarnate'. As Cordelia puts it, worse than a zombie.


Of course, guess which empanda-baking zombie gets her bitchy hands on it? Zombie Pat puts on the mask and it molds to her face, making her the demon incarnate. This means that she now has the power to disorient anyone who looks at her. Buffy finds this out the hard way, with a boot to the face. But our Slayer quickly recovers and attacks Zombie Pat. The two crash out the bedroom window and topple to the ground.


Turns out it's a little hard to fight someone you can't look at. Luckily for Buffy, Oz runs outside to relay Giles's warning -- don't look at the zombie (derp, derp). Zombie Pat disorients Oz and Buffy picks up the cat-burying shovel and STABS it right into Pat's eyes. She, and all the other zombies, vanish into thin air. Sometimes it just takes a zombie attack to reignite a friendship. Everyone makes up and can now fully enjoy Buffy being back.


If only Buffy were back at school. Giles barges into Snyder's office and spends all of five seconds trying to reason with the impotent Nazi before pushing him against the wall and threatening him and making me wet.


Now that all is right with the Scoobies, Buffy and Willow finally have their girly coffee date and catch up. I half-listen as I think sexy thoughts about Giles. Freak!


Liz's BITES:
* Let's get this party started! This 'Dead Man's Party' that is. Last episode's 'Anne' got all the heavy stuff out of the way and set us up for a FABULOUS popcorn episode. This is the first time the Hellmouth has shown us zombies and they did not disappoint. Yes, I know they break my rule that a demon must talk, but this wasn't your standard creature-feature episode. This was more about the Scoobies' feelings of betrayal and anger at Buffy's actions. When two characters are feuding, I almost ALWAYS take a side but I can't in this instance, because I can see where everyone is coming from. We've seen things through Buffy's perspective, but now we get everyone else's and we realize that Buffy really left them holding the bag. The scenes with Willow were particularly resonant, because I've tearful 'you've hurt me' conversations with close friends that are terrifying because you realize that while you might both have valid feelings, they could end the friendship. Thankfully in my case, these heart to hearts have only proved to strengthen the relationships, and this holds true for Buffy and Willow. Even if they do share in some innocent teasing at the end.


* URRRRGH I HATE PAT! People like her just make my skin crawl. She enters Joyce's life under a veil of friendly concern, when really she's a nosy, sad little bitch who feeds off Joyce's misery to make herself feel more important. I wish Buffy would have stabbed her between the eyes BEFORE she was a zombie.


* Every now and then I feel like the show teaches a life lesson in a Hellmouthy way. Do you remember the ill-fated Laura who went for a smoke in the school basement only to be attacked by a nightmare demon? I bet she'll think twice before sparking up a cancer stick again. This week's example is Joyce. The lesson? Don't let your daughter's friends throw a hootenanny in your living room complete with narcotics consumption, fiesta fouls -- a term that would go on ten years later to give birth to the cloying 'party foul' -- and teenagers doing SHOTS. If you allow this to happen, zombies will attack and break every single window in your entire house. I bet that little hootenanny set Joyce back tens of thousands of dollars in damages. And you know what? It's a good thing the zombies showed up when they did or else these kids might really have hurt themselves.


* Oh what a treat it was to see Ripper again. When he mocked Joyce (and Americans) it was adorable. When he hot-wired his car, he certainly got my engine going. Heyo. And when he threatened Snyder, he made me...well you read The Dish. Oh Ripper, lock me up in your kink cage any day.


* All that is left now if for me to award a Fashion Slayer. Cordelia make think the Rambo look is 'so over' but I disagree and the award goes to...Rambo-Chick and Nighthawk (Cordelia and Xander) for their badass leather jackets. This is the first time a couple has won the award. Congrats, you crazy kids.


That's all for me this week my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Zombies + Hellmouth = awesomeness? Hate Pat as much as I do? Way too turned on by Giles? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.


Dish later;
Liz







Monday, 7 July 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.1 Anne

The Dish: A runaway Buffy gets sent to hell...and doesn't even get to have makeup sex with Angel.


The Scooby Gang is the most earnest group of teens I have ever come across. While most kids would be spending their summer nights smoking pot, drinking, or plain old-fashioned boning, the Scoobies are out in full force patrolling the cemeteries every night in Buffy's absence. The fact that they just let a vampire get away -- and it's clear he's not the first -- does nothing to falter their determinism. Still, they question when, or if, Buffy will return. School starts tomorrow.


Buffy coming back? Uhh, yeah right. She's too busy looking all sexy-contemplative on a beach with Angel. PSYCH! That's just a dream. Buffy wakes up and finds herself very much alone, in a shitty apartment, in a shitty, scummy-looking city.


Turns out that what Buffy did last summer was work at a diner. Is it a rule that all American TV dramas MUST have at least one scene in a diner? Anyway, it's clear Buffy is balls-out miserable. She doesn't even sock a trucker in the face when he grabs her ass. No, she just shuffles over to the next table to wait on a white-trash couple, who ask what they can buy with about forty cents in change -- because we live in 1924 when that was possible. They explain that they just spent on their money on THE TACKIEST TATTOOS on the face of the earth -- on their arms, each have half a heart bearing the other's name, Ricky and Lily. Now that's romance. 'The Notebook' can suck it. Lily thinks she recognizes Buffy, or 'Anne' as Buffy's nametag denotes, from somewhere. Buffy clams up and leaves work.


Summer sure was fun, but don't you miss evil egg assignments, 1950s poltergeists and 'roid-raging fish monsters? That's right, it's another year at Sunnydale High. Xander and Cordelia are both nervous as hell to see each other after a summer apart, and this results in a stiff, awkward reunion. Oz gives Willow a shock when he shows up for classes. Turns out he has to repeat the year, but he gets to be with his girl. Aww, isn't academic failure just adorable? Meanwhile, Giles has spent the summer fruitlessly trying to track down Buffy and plans to catch a flight to chase down yet another lead.


As Buffy aimlessly wanders the streets, she happens upon an elderly homeless lady who mumbles 'I'm no one'. Buffy keeps walking until she's approached by Lily from the diner, who calls Buffy by name. Before Lily met up with her man Ricky, she called herself Chanterelle and was in the vampire-worshipping cult along with Buffy's old buddy Ford. If it wasn't for Buffy, she would be dead. In the midst of their conversation, an elderly homeless man walks right in between them and into traffic, muttering 'I'm no one'. Odd, huh? Well 'No one' is about to get hit by a car, but Buffy runs into the street and pushes him out of the way, taking the impact herself. Thanks to her Slayer strength, she's fine and shakes off the small crowd of concerned citizens.


If anything, Buffy is more shaken about being recognized than being hit by a car. She breaks into a run and crashes headlong into Ken, a do-gooder frequently seen chatting with the local homeless youth, passing out fliers to a group home. He gives Buffy such a flier, urging her to seek help as he doesn't want her to be drained with despair, as he's seen happen to so many a teen. We're then treated to a montage of the neighbourhood's hard-on-their-luck teens and left with the horrifying question, could this be Buffy?


At the Bronze, the Scoobies bemoan the loss of their Slayer bestie and that their patrolling efforts are becoming increasingly ineffective. Xander is also still smarting from his lukewarm interaction with Cordelia. Speak of the hottie-devil, Cordy strolls into the Bronze with her gal-pals and that's when Xander gets a stroke of genius -- we use Cordelia as vampire-bait.


Giles returns from another unsuccessful Buffy-seeking mission and checks in on Joyce, who's clearly not doing well. Joyce needs someone to blame for Buffy's departure -- perhaps maybe she blames herself? -- and she settles on Giles. He's crushed.


There's trouble in Buffy's shithole neighbourhood. Lily goes to Buffy in a panic -- Ricky's missing! Buffy really doesn't want to get involved but Lily appeals to her Slayer sensibilities. What if something supernatural took him?


Buffy agrees to help look for Ricky so they check out the blood clinic, where he and Lily have visited a few times to earn a couple bucks. The nurse checks the files and says Ricky hasn't been in. Buffy and Lily decide to split up and scour the neighbourhood. As they leave, the nurse watches them go and do we detect a hint of suspiciousness?

As Buffy combs the alleys, she trips over an elderly, dead homeless man. Such an occurrence might normally be met with a shrug of the shoulders, but not this time. The man has a tattoo -- half a heart that says Lily. This old man is Ricky!


Buffy meets up with Lily at her apartment and breaks the news. Lily puts up a wall of denial. There's no way an old man could be Ricky. When Buffy insists that something Hellmouthy must have got him, Lily has the gall to blame Buffy and she storms out in a huff. Unsure of what to do, Lily pouts on the streets until she's approached by Ken. He has good news, and it ain't about Jesus. Turns out Ricky's staying at the group home and gosh darn it, he's waiting for Lily. That's not 'roid-raging fishy at all, no sirry. The stupidly optimistic Lily doesn't see it that way, however, and goes off with Ken.


Buffy's Slayer interests have officially been piqued and she breaks into the blood clinic to investigate. In Ricky's file, along with dozens of others, she sees a note that says 'candidate'. The nurse catches her and Buffy makes with the threats, until the good nurse confesses that she gives 'them' the names of the healthy ones. Who, Buffy asks?


Ken! Is the answer. At the group home, he ushers a robed Lily into a special room for her 'cleansing', which is an odd turn of phrase as the pool she's expected to submerge herself in looks positively filthy.


Back in Sunnydale, the Cordy-as-bait plan is on. There's only one problem -- Cordy doesn't want to be bait. This leads to a full-on couple's spat in the middle of the graveyard, during which the vampire in question sneaks up behind Willow and attacks. This brings the argument to a halt, as Xander protects Willow. The vampire turns his attentions on Xander now and attacks. Cordelia's killer-girlfriend instincts kick in and she tackles the vampire, who falls on top of Xander, who dusts the vamp. Cordelia collapses on Xander and the two share a passionate reconciliation.


Buffy storms into the group home, and blasphemously cockblocks Lily's cleansing ceremony. The jig is up, Ken. He responds by pushing Lily into the pool which is actually a portal, and it sucks Lily in. Buffy attacks Ken and the two go flying into the portal as well.


When they arrive at their destination, Ken removes his human face, literally, and reveals that he is totally a demon. He gives Buffy and Lily the tour of their new home, a factory with hundreds of workers in drab robes like Lily's, slaving away under the supervising eye of whip-wielding demons who look just like Ken.


Ken explains to the girls that they're in hell, where they work as factory slaves until they're too old to be of any use, upon which they're spat back out to earth, where they die. The twist is that time moves faster in hell -- one hundred years is equal to one day. That explains Ricky's rapid aging process.


The factory foreman lines up the newest crop of victims, going down the line and asking them who they are -- the correct answer is 'no one'. When he gets to Buffy, she gives a snarky Slayer retort and attacks. With the foreman incapacitated, she and the teens take refuge under the stairs where she leaves Lily in charge of getting everyone to safety.


The guards give chase and Buffy leads them throughout the factory, much to the dismay of Ken. As she fights the guards off, Lily leads the teens to safety. Almost. Ken grabs her and drags her back to the factory, holding her at knifepoint. He lets her go to berate Buffy, upon which Lily PUSHES him off the balcony, where he lands in a heap.


Buffy and Lily run away, and Buffy uses her Slayer strength to lift a freaking iron gate that the teens can scurry under. Ken, with a mashed-up face, arrives on the scene a fraction of a second too late, and gets crushed under the gate. Buffy decapitates him and joins the others at the portal. Once back at the group home, the portal seals itself and the day is saved.


When the dust has settled, it's clear to Buffy that she needs to leave town. Lily, in need of a place and a new identity, takes over the apartment and Buffy's job. She even asks if she can be 'Anne'.


Poor Joyce. Her daughter's missing and now her dishwasher's broken! A knock at the door snaps Joyce out of her DIY frenzy. She answers the door, and it's Buffy. They hug. I cry. Welcome to Season 3.




Liz's BITES:
* I was mildly pleased with the premiere episode of Season 3. As a rule, I don't like it when characters are taken out of their environment, like Buffy living in ShitCity, and I don't like when characters are split up from one another, like the entire A plot only involving one major character. However, I was entertained by the episode. The featured creature Ken was a passable villain. First of all, he can speak which puts him leagues ahead of some of the other duds we've seen. And I like his two-faced nature -- the group home square by day, hell recruiter by night. I also liked the relationship between Buffy and Lily, who are polar opposites. Despite her ups and downs with Joyce, Buffy has had a pretty stable home life whereas it's clear Lily has been a runaway for a long time. However, Buffy is nothing if not independent, and Lily has always relied on others to take care of her. I believe it was Lily's reliance on Buffy that reminded Buffy she is needed and that is what caused her to return to Sunnydale.


* Okay, so in hell a hundred years is equal to one day. Buffy and the others were down there for at least an hour, so if my math is correct, shouldn't she now be in her twenties? Or if you escape hell, does the aging process not take hold. Can anyone clear this up for me?


* I love how the characters' problems can range from 'I got sucked into hell' to 'My girlfriend's back from summer vacation and I'm not sure if she likes me anymore', and have BOTH be entertaining. I thought Xander's insecurities were so sweet, and what's even more adorable is that they were MATCHED by Cordelia. I only wish the episode spent more time on them.


* I hate it when a bully doesn't get punished. I really wanted to see those ass-grabby truckers on the receiving end of Buffy's vengeance.


* It's time to award the season's first Fashion Slayer. Who will it be? Buffy in her waitress smock? Lily in her cleansing robe? Nope, the winner is...OZ! For his '25 cent peep show' graphic tee. I would pay more than a quarter for that, Oz.


That concludes my first Season 3 blog, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Where does Ken rank on your demon list? Can anyone clear up that hell aging thing? Happy to see the romance is still alive between Xander and Cordelia? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.


Dish later;
Liz



Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Best and Worst of Season 2

Hello my lovely readers. I can't believe we've made it all the way through Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- one of the best seasons of the best shows on TV. It wouldn't be doing the season justice to just finish up and dive right into Season 3.


So I have a special treat for you. I'm going to give you my Top 3 Best Moments for each of the main characters (and a few bonus ones too). Then I'm going to officially declare the Best/Worst Episode and my Favourite/Least Favourite Episode (they're different). AND, I am going to crown the Fashion Slayer for Season 2. Let's get to it:


Best Moments:


Buffy
1. Sending Angel to hell in Becoming Pt. 2. What a heartbreaker that was. As the Slayer, that was the hardest decision she has ever had to make and JUST when she got the love of her life back. But make it she did, and saved the world. Tough stuff for anyone, let alone a seventeen-year-old.


2. Slaying the Judge with a rocket launcher in Innocence. How BADASS was that?! On the one hand, she's a teen in a mall who just went through a rough breakup and on the other...she is the Slayer who kills an invincible demon with a weapon stolen from the army. Action movie heroes everywhere are green with envy.


3. Giving Angel her virginity in Surprise. Buffy is having the shittiest birthday EVER -- Angel might leave town, Spike and Dru are back, and they've conjured up a new enemy that can't be killed. Kinda sucks. But amidst all the fray, Buffy and Angel's love has reached a fever pitch and Buffy makes a conscious decision to take it to the next level. In retrospect, wooops...but it seemed like a good decision at the time.


Xander
1. Staring Angel down in Killed By Death. Here, more than ever before, Xander proves that he is not a wise-cracking little pissant to be pushed around...he is loyal to the end, and nobody -- NOBODY -- will screw with those he loves. Angel has proved to be the toughest adversary for the gang yet but there is NO WAY Xander will let him get to Buffy. 'You're gonna die, and I'm gonna be there'.


2. Rejecting a bewitched Buffy in Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. Even though Xander has accepted that Buffy doesn't return his feelings, and he has since moved on to date other women, he has always -- will always? -- carried a torch for her. When Buffy throws herself at him, Xander is beyond tempted but ultimately he knows she would never do this if she weren't enchanted. So he makes the manly, right decision and turns her down. So proud of you, Xand.


3. A tie between punching out the frat dude in Reptile Boy and punching out Larry in Halloween. I hate bullies. I like it when their victims enact revenge. It turns me on.


Willow
1. Shedding her ghost costume in Halloween. When she did that, she shed all of her shy-girl insecurities -- at least in that moment. In this episode, Willow was given a forced promotion from sidekick to girl in charge and she came through and saved the day. She was tough, didn't put up with anyone's crap, and was a true badass rockstar both inside and out, in that sexy-as-Hellmouth costume.


2. Kissing Oz in Phases. Relationships are new territory for Willow so she reverts back to being shy and meek. But when Oz ain't giving her the goods, Willow realizes she has to seize the day, as a wise best friend once told her, tell Oz how she feels...and show him too. Sigh!


3. Letting Xander go in Inca Mummy Girl. Deep down, Willow has known Xander doesn't return her feelings, but it has never been confirmed so she still holds hope. After she overhears Xander blatantly say Willow is forever in the friend zone, she makes a crazy mature decision for a person of her age, and tells him to take Ampata to the dance as his date. She lets him go.


Cordelia
1. Taking Xander back and chewing out the popular bitches in Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. Up until this point, Cordy has rode the fence between Queen Bee of the high school and member of the Scooby Gang/Xander's makeout buddy. When forced to make a choice, she opts for popularity...until she realizes how much she loves Xander and how vapid her clique is. So she publicly dumps the bitches and takes back her man. That's my girl.


2. Proving herself as a full-fledged Scooby in Killed By Death. Not only does she play to her wheelhouse by flirtatiously distracted the hospital security guard, but buckles down and does research. She is so adorably proud when she finds the skinny on Der Kindestod...and so am I!


3. Calling Buffy out in When She Was Bad. All of Buffy's friends pussyfooted around her shitty behaviour because, boo-freaking-hoo, she temporarily died. Well not Cordy, who calls Buffy out for being a world class bitch. There's only room for one bitch in Sunnydale, and it ain't some whiny vampire slayer.


Angel
1. Killing Jenny in Passion. Up until now, we've only heard stories of Angel's brutality, and all we've seen him do is play head-games with Buffy but now he amps things up hard-core. From the cat-and-mouse chase he gave Jenny to cruelly arranging her in Giles's apartment to make it look like a seduction, we have never seen this level of evil on the show.


2. Choosing Team Good Guy in Becoming Pt. 1. Angel was a shell of a being for many years, haunted by the ghosts of his sadistic past. But when Whistler takes him to watch Buffy get called as the next Slayer, Angel finds a kindred spirit in his isolation and falls in love instantly. He turns his entire life around, making him the Angel we know and love.


3. Giving Buffy the Claddagh ring in Surprise. Ummm best girlfriend birthday gift ever? It's jewelry, it's beautiful, but the meaning is what makes the gift...Angel is in love.


Giles
1. Comforting Buffy by 'lying to her' in Lie to Me. Here we really see the strengthening father-daughter dynamic between Giles and Buffy. As a Slayer, Buffy has never before had to deal with a gray area of right and wrong. It's a bit much for her to handle so when she asks if it gets easier, Giles lies to her in the sweetest way possible.


2. Beats the stuffing out of Ethan in Halloween. Other than an attraction to Jenny, the only role Giles has served is the stuffy librarian/Watcher, always with his head in a book and a nagging word for Buffy. But when books won't save the day, Giles uses BRUTE FORCE to get it done and in doing so, defines 'sexy librarian'. Yummy.


3. Tries to kill Angel in Passion. Yes, this is a foolhardy decision but it shows another layer of who Giles is. He is loyal and passionate and the death of his beloved is more than enough for Ripper to come out of hiding.


Here are some bonus moments from other significant characters:


Spike: Killing the Annoying One in School Hard.
Oz: Falling in love at first sight with the Eskimo parka-clad Willow in Inca Mummy Girl.
Jenny: Telling Giles she wants to sleep with him in The Dark Age.
Joyce: Hitting Spike over the head with an axe in School Hard.


Best/Worst and Favourite/Least Favourite Episodes:


All season long you have heard me rant about the episodes I hated and rave about the ones I loved and there are four episodes that deserve special distinction. You may be asking, isn't best and favourite, or worst and least-favourite, one and the same? The answer is no. The best and worst are the episodes earn their titles purely on quality whereas the favourite and least favourite ones are crowned based on my personal feelings about them.


Worst Episode: BAD EGGS
I don't know how such an excellent show can have such an epic train wreck as this. Other than some graveyard hanky-panky between Buffy and Angel, there was absolutely NOTHING entertaining about it. The Gorch brothers were lame and a waste of time, but they look like the second coming of Angel and Spike compared to the BEZOAR. Seriously, 'my homework attacked me' is what's going on in this episode. Loyal readers will know that in the Buffyverse I detest demons that can't talk because they only provide conflict on the most basic level, to kill others. Think about this season's great demons -- Ampata, Norman Pfister, TED. They were all scary, tension-mounting...and verbal. The Bezoar gets double lame-o points for not being able to move. How is an impotent demon, confined to a basement, scary? It's not. The only thing scary about Bad Eggs is how bad it really is.


Best Episode: Passion
My skin is still pulsating from how TENSE this episode was. The Fatal Attraction-esque head games Angel played on the Scoobies were deliciously sick. Giles and Jenny were getting back together, at Buffy's blessing, and they were FINALLY going to make love. Then Angel goes and screws that all up. My reaction to Giles discovering Jenny's body was not unlike Willow's reaction to the news, although I believe I was able to succeed in not collapsing on the floor. We have never seen the death of a major character and it rocks the show on its very core. When Buffy and Giles collapse to the ground in tears, the show struck an emotional chord few others have come even close to hitting. That is why it's the best episode of the season.


Least Favourite Episode: Reptile Boy (surprise, surprise)
Unlike Bad Eggs, this episode had some great moments. It was Cordy-centric which is always a plus, it featured Xander's aforementioned punch-out, and we saw an angry Willow for the first time. But oh, how I hated this episode. First of all, the demon Machida was a giant snake that couldn't talk AND confined to a basement. Zzzzzzzz. But the REAL reason I hated this episode was because I hate fraternities. When Buffy saw she was at a party hosted by grunting apes who drink like douchey fishes and perform disgusting rituals, she should have said something or left, Angel problems aside. But she didn't and I couldn't stomach it. Angel, awaken Acathla and send me to hell any day, I would rather go there than to a 'wasteland of elitism, hazing and puke'.


Favourite Episode: Halloween
This episode was so much fun, and everyone got to shine as you can see by HALF the major characters getting one of their best moments from this episode. I really like it when the bad guy is a real-live HUMAN BEING -- Cain, Amy, ETHAN. I just love Halloween so the whole spell of being transformed into your costume was just so fun and original. Buffy was hilarious as a noblewoman and Xander was badass and hot as a soldier. We had Giles kick Ethan's ass and Willow take charge...AND have Oz see her in her rocker costume. Cordelia was a perfect bitch and Angel was a stand-up boyfriend. Spike was in the mix and I was happy as a clam. TV at its finest!


Season 2's FASHION SLAYER


The moment you have all been waiting for. Here is Fashion Slayer award scorecard:


Buffy
* Slutty sexy-dance dress (When She Was Bad)
* Cordelia-rule violating black dress (Reptile Boy)
* A ROCKET LAUNCHER (Innocence)
* Larry-repellant burgundy mini-skirt and blue cleavage top (Phases)
* Clingy black top (Passion)
* Flu-chic gray wrap top (Killed By Death)
* 'I'm hot but eff off' black top and silver pants (I Only Have Eyes for You)
* Boohoo Kendra's dead green trench coat (Becoming Pt. 1)


Willow
* Eskimo costume (Inca Mummy Girl)
* Rocker girl costume (Halloween)
* Flirty gray sweater (What's My Line? Pt. 2)


Cordelia
* Trend-setting bear backpack (Bad Eggs)
* Red breakup dress (Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered)


Drusilla
* Slinky white nightgown (Lie to Me)
* Red party dress (Surprise)


Giles
* Sperm-resembling Mark of Eyghon tattoo (Lie to Me)


Jenny
* Adorable swishy skirt and holey knit top (Some Assembly Required)


Joyce
* Sexy date-night dress (Ted)


Kendra
* Magenta MC Hammer pants (What's My Line? Pt. 1)


Oz
* Identity-stealing 'Larry' bowling shirt (Becoming Pt. 2)


Spike
* Iconic leather coat (School Hard)


Xander
* SPEEDO (Go Fish)


So it would appear that Buffy is, far and away, the winner of the Season 2 Fashion Slayer, right? WRONG! The only reason Spike isn't winning the award week after week is that he ALWAYS wears the leather coat. That coat completely defines badass and embodies all of who Spike is, AND it makes me swoon. How many other articles of clothing can say that?


There you have it, Spike is the Season 2 Fashion Slayer.




Well, that's all for the Best and Worst of Season 2, my lovely readers. What are your thoughts? Am I missing any key moments? What's your favourite episode? Who wins YOUR Fashion Slayer award? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog. Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians!


Dish later;
Liz

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2.22 Becoming Pt. 2

The Dish: 'Angel, I love you...but go to hell.'

We pick up right where we left off, with Buffy kneeling over Kendra's corpse, being held at gunpoint by a cop. She sees an unconscious Xander and freaks out, but is dragged out of the library by the cop, who promptly arrests her. Buffy's case certainly isn't aided by the arrival of Principal Snyder, worst character witness ever. Unfortunately, Buffy has no time to abide by the law...she's got an apocalypse-happy ex to deal with.

Being the fab friend that she is, Buffy first visits the hospital to check in on her friends. She even dresses all stealth in a toque and oversized jacket...good enough to deflect suspicion from the deeply stupid Sunnydale police. Buffy's relieved to find Xander alive and well, but for a cast on his arm. The relief is short-lived when Xander takes Buffy to Willow, lying in a bed, still unconscious. Cordelia shows up, unharmed. All will be well (kinda) as long as Willow wakes up. But where's Giles?

Seems his Watcher's brain is needed by the forces of evil. When it comes to Acathla, Angel ain't done his book learnin' and he needs Giles to give him the key to wake the demon up. Although, the sadist in Angel is looking forward to this being somewhat of a challenge...because he has a real woody for torture.

While the police question Joyce about her daughter's whereabouts, Buffy stops by Giles's apartment. She doesn't find a Watcher, but a Whistler. Not in the mood for pleasantries, Buffy violently demands the good demon tell her what he knows about Acathla. He cryptically tells her that the sword isn't enough.

Looks like the cops aren't too stupid after all. As Buffy's walking, a patrol car pulls up beside her and the cop tries to apprehend her. The key word being 'tries', as Buffy is saved by...Spike? Is this a trick? Not a chance. Spike's growing anger towards Angel, and Drusilla making goo-goo eyes at him, has reached a fever pitch. The blond vamp wants things to be how they were before, and he certainly doesn't want to have to live in the hell on earth Angel is after. Spike wants to strike an alliance with Buffy. Also if that doesn't convince her, Spike confirms that the bad guys have Giles.

Buffy is suspicious, but intrigued. They seek refuge at the Summers residence and are met by Joyce, having just returned from searching for Buffy. Joyce is shaken and confused...her daughter is wanted for murder after all. As Buffy fumbles through another lie, they are attacked by one of Angel's minions. Buffy stakes him and Joyce is shocked...what the hell just happened? Buffy has no choice but to come out...'Mom, I'm a vampire slayer'.

Angel continues his torture of Giles which, as far as we can see, consists of tying him to a chair and walking around him menacingly -- no stop, it's too much!

Back at the hospital, Cordelia gives Xander a private moment with Willow. He grasps his unconscious best friend's hand and, holding back tears, tells her she needs to wake up because he loves her. And wake up she does! But it's not because of Xander...Oz just showed up. Xander discreetly slips out, as Oz rushes to the bedside of his awakened sweetheart. Nerd love chokes me up every time.

Willow calls Buffy to let her know she's okay, while Joyce and Spike sit awkwardly in the living room, waiting for her. Buffy returns and plays 'Let's Make a Deal' with Spike while a confused Joyce peppers the negotiation with questions. Simply put, Spike agrees to help Buffy kill Angel if he and Dru can walk. Not good enough for Buffy, as Drusilla did just kill Kendra, much to Spike's glowing pride. Buffy adds in Giles's safety for Dru's. Spike agrees and heads back to the mansion.

Joyce is not so agreeable and to be fair, it's a lot to handle. Buffy grows increasingly exasperated at Joyce's suggestions of involving the police. Time is of the essence, and Buffy cannot afford to spend it explaining the details of her calling to her mother. All the years of lying and brush-ups with authority come boiling to the surface as Joyce puts her foot down and tells Buffy that if she leaves the house, she can't come back. A heartbroken Buffy looks her mother square in the eye...and leaves.

Meanwhile, the Scoobies are hatching a plan of their own. Congregated around Willow's bedside, she declares that she wants to attempt to curse Angel again. This is met with extreme reticence from Xander because, hatred from Angel aside, Willow JUST woke up from coming in second place in a bout with a bookshelf. However, Willow has her Resolved Face (TM) on and will not take no for an answer. She tasks Oz and Cordy with reclaiming her things from the library and Xander with getting to Buffy before the big smackdown and catching her up to speed. Aaand BREAK!

Much like a pet hamster, Angel has grown bored of playing with his Giles. The Watcher is stubborn and throughout hours of non-descript torture, will not give up the goods on Acathla. Angel's hit his limit and is ready to waste Giles when Spike rolls in -- still pretending to be stuck in the wheelchair -- and reasons with Angel. A dead Watcher equals a useless Acathla and clearly torture isn't the way to get Giles to sing. Spike calls in Drusilla for help.

Buffy returns to the library to retrieve the sword. It should be noted that the sword is in a gym bag full of weapons not ten feet from where Kendra's body was found...and the police didn't think this bag o' weapons MIGHT be evidence? *Head smacks forehead* Back to our regular programming, Buffy is caught by Principal Snyder. WHY is he still at the school? Are my childhood notions true, and principals really do live at school? The impotent Nazi wields the one itty bit of power he has, and proudly announces that Buffy is expelled. After she leaves with the sword, Snyder makes a call, leaving a message for the mayor that he has good news. Ooooh, do I smell some foreshadowing for Season 3?

Back at the mansion, Drusilla starts to play a mind-game with Giles. Isn't it ironic that her own mind is such a shit-show, but she can manipulate other's? She hypnotizes Giles into thinking that she's actually Jenny. Giles is thrilled to see his deceased paramour and confesses to her that Angel's blood is the key to waking Acathla. Ding ding, Team Bad Guy scores a point. Team Giles also scores a point, as Drusilla seems quite eager to continue kissing him, even after he's served his purpose. I would be tempted too.

Buffy heads back to Giles's place and Whistler gives her the same info about the blood. Only Angel's blood can open it and only Angel's blood can close it. It would be easiest for everyone if Angel was a pile of dust before he has the chance to try.

Dawn has come and Buffy heads to battle. Xander meets up with her on the way to the mansion and is about to tell her Willow's plan...but he can't bring himself to do it. His hatred for Angel and his still-not-quashed love for Buffy is too strong. He lies.

As Willow, Oz and Cordy start the curse from her hospital bed, Angel starts the ritual for awakening Acathla, with Spike, Dru and the minions looking on. Angel draws blood from his hand, ready to bring forth hell on earth. That's when Buffy shows up. Angel regards her with mild annoyance -- does she really think she can singlehandedly fight him AND a room full of minions? Cue Spike. He gets up from his wheelchair and gives Angel an oh-so satisfying whack on the head. Drusilla goes apeshit and attacks Spike. Chaos has officially ensued.

As Willow and co. continue the spell and Xander escorts a weak Giles to safety, Angel takes advantage of the melee to approach Acathla. He places his bloody hand on the sword and it takes on a mystic glow. The sword loosens and Angel pulls it out, ready to stab Buffy with it. Oh yes, he is.

Major mojo is happening at the hospital. As the Scoobies progress with the spell, Willow's head snaps back and she goes totally off-script reciting the spell in Latin, while Oz and Cordelia look on. Back at the mansion, Angel and Buffy engage in a full-on sword fight. As weapons clash and clang, Spike has Drusilla in a chokehold. She passes out and he scoops her up in his arms. As Spike watches Slayer and vampire go at it medieval-style, he sees that Buffy is clearly losing. Oh well, he held up his end of the bargain. Spike carries Dru out of the mansion and gets the hell out of Sunnydale.

Things do not look good for our heroine. Angel has disarmed Buffy and has her on the ground at swordpoint. He mockingly tells her she has nothing left but, like Whistler said, she's got one more thing: HER. She grabs Angel's sword and smashes the end in his face. The fight resumes.

At the hospital, the spell is working as the Orb of Thesela levitates and Willow goes limp, reverting back to a normal high schooler. Looks like the spell worked. Indeed, as Angel and Buffy fight and she gains the upper hand, Angel's eyes flash. 'Buffy?' he asks softly. Angel has his soul back.

Relief overcomes Buffy as she embraces her returned, disoriented lover. The war is over, everything can go back to how it was, right? Wrong. Behind Angel, Buffy sees Acathla's mouth open to a swirling vortex. Buffy was too late and she knows what she has to do. She kisses Angel longingly and tells him she loves him. She tells him to close his eyes and when he does, Buffy plunges the sword into her lover. Angel looks at her shocked for a moment, until the vortex closes, taking Angel with it. Buffy sent her soul mate to hell to save the world.

While the world may be saved, Buffy's world is still certainly in turmoil. Expelled from school, wanted by the police, and kicked out of her home by her own mother....kinda sucks. There's nothing left for Buffy to do but leave town. So she does. The end of Season 2.

Liz's BITES:
* That Buffy has had a tough year. She has to deal with a principal who has it out for her AND a new baddie in town in the form of Spike. On the boy front, she has to deal with Angel's constant aloofness and when she FINALLY gets to date him and make love to him, he loses his soul. Then Buffy has to gear up for killing the only man she has ever loved and when she's finally ready to do it...she gets him back but has to send him to hell anyway. Harsh. Screw Romeo and Juliet, this is a real tragedy. The range of emotions in that final scene from mortal hatred to blissful relief to gutwrenching heartbreak makes this one of the best scenes of one of the best shows television has ever seen. That final scene is why I do this blog.

* I LOVE unlikely alliances so I was positively giddy when Spike approached Buffy. Of all the balls-out bad guys we have seen on the Hellmouth, Spike is the one who FEELS the most. His love for Drusilla rivals any we have seen from the humans. She's his kryptonite and that's why we love Spike. Also, he and Joyce have the most delicious awkward chemistry I have ever seen.

* Let's talk about this 'torture' that Angel subjects Giles to. Umm....what torture? Because I keep hearing big promises of torture but all I get are threats and a bound, heavily breathing Giles with a gash on his forehead. I get it, Buffy is a network show and any torture scenes aren't going to rival Game of Thrones, but should we not get SOME idea what exactly Angel did? In a near-perfect episode, this was the only part I give the lame stamp.

* It was subtle, but I thought Willow and Oz had a beautiful moment in the hospital. When Willow woke up, she wasn't comforted by her teary-eyed best friend Xander, but by her boyfriend Oz. This shows real growth in Willow, growth you can't fake. We see the bloom of real love with these two.

* Speaking of Xander, how controversial was his decision to tell Buffy 'kick his ass', instead of revealing that Willow was performing the curse again? On the one hand, I think it was underhanded and a little despicable. Willow was put in real danger for trying to perform the curse the first time, and when she miraculously woke up, Xander should have honoured her decision to try again. Some might say Xander was acting selfishly, out of his jealousy of Buffy's feelings for Angel, but I think we were met with pragmatic Xander. Angel is, after all, trying to destroy the damn world. Having Buffy stall so Willow can complete the curse is just more time for Angel to awaken Acathla. Dusting him plain and simple would ensure the safety of the world. So I ultimately side with Xander on this one.

* Did anyone else think Joyce was jumping the gun just a little when she kicked Buffy out of her home? I understand she's been through a lot, with Buffy's delinquent past, and matters weren't helped by Buffy's 'have another drink' retort...or shoving Joyce across the room. But Joyce, that's your DAUGHTER. The Liz Channel does not approve that message.

* Ready for the final Fashion Slayer award of Season 2? The winner is...BUFFY! For the revival of her sad-sack overalls.

* No I'm totally kidding. Barf. The REAL winner of the Fashion Slayer award is...OZ! For his bowling shirt that says 'Larry'. Why does he have a shirt that says someone else's name? How did he get it? Did it belong to Larry the Closeted Gay/Not Werewolf? So many questions, and that is the mystery that is Oz. Also, he looked dead sexy in that shirt.

Can you believe it, that is IT for Season 2, my lovely readers. What did you think of this rollercoaster of an episode? Are you STILL heartbroken for Buffy and Angel? Love Giles, but want to see him tortured dammit? Xander's decision -- life-saving or selfish? Post a comment and let me know.

This has been such an epic season, I'm not ready to kiss it goodbye, tell it I love it, stab it and send it to hell just yet. So instead of diving straight into Season 3 next week, instead I am going to do a 'Best and Worst of Season 2' blog where I'll award each character with their Top 3 Best Moments, give my personal Favourite and Least Favourite episodes, and ultimately crown the Best and Worst Episode of Season 2. Aaand as a bonus, give the Top Fashion Slayer award of Season 2. Check it out next Tuesday.

Dish later;
Liz

Monday, 16 June 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2.21 Becoming Pt. 1

The Dish: It's the end of the world as we know it...at least, if Angel gets his way.

A mysterious man's voiceover opens the episode, talking about moments that define us. Indeed, we are taken back to a defining moment of Angel's -- the moment he became a vampire. Sporting long hair and a shitty Irish accent, we see the drunken young lad get ejected from the local tavern and become bewitched by the velvet-voiced Darla. She promises to take him to worlds he can't imagine and Angel is totes game, probably thinking she means a good boning. Darla feeds off Angel and gets him to feed off her, and to any local Irish passersby, it would appear as little more than a frisky couple giving into their carnal desires in a back alley.

While the present-day Angel stalks Buffy as she patrols, Giles gets a call from the curator of the natural history museum -- home of the fighting Incan mummy girl -- about an ancient relic that was recently discovered. A bigass ancient relic, to be precise. Giles discovers some pictographs and a door, meaning it is most likely a tomb. Chances are something new is brewing in the Hellmouth.

Anybody else miss Oz? He and Willow are getting super-cuddly, as she sits on his lap in the caf, and they discuss finals with the rest of the Scoobies. On account of having to worry about her murderous ex, Buffy is behind in her studies (excuses, excuses) and Willow agrees to help her. Snyder thunders in and chews out the cuddly couple -- bonerkiller -- and Buffy, revealing his true heart's desire to see her expelled.

Another flashback shows Angel, now a full-fledged sadistic vampire, finishing off his latest meal in the form of a priest. A sweet, pretty gypsy girl walks into the confessional and that girl is none other than Drusilla. She confesses to Father Angel about her telepathic visions and Angel confirms her worst fears, that she is the spawn of Satan. Welcome to the beginning of the end for your sanity, Dru.

Indeed you'd have to be insane to neglect a boyfriend as hot as Spike, which is what Drusilla does. She would much prefer to plot with Angel over how to knock over a natural history museum. Seems the pair are quite interested in the tomb.

Much more interested than Buffy is in finals. In the computer lab, she struggles through her study session with Willow. Things perk up slightly when the klutzy Slayer drops her pencil and finds an old floppy disk of Jenny's. You know, the one that fell right around the time Angel killed her? Buffy and Willow waste no time in checking out the contents of the disk and find...the restoration spell.

The very spell the good gypsy tribe folks cast on Angel when he killed Drusilla, restoring his soul -- but taking away his Irish accent. Willow wants to try to curse Angel again and Buffy is all for that plan. This causes some strife with Xander, who won't be satisfied unless Angel is a ball of dust. He accuses Buffy of wanting to forget all about the atrocities Angel committed, like murdering Jenny, so she can get her boyfriend back. Harsh. But true.

Angel ain't the only one with a god-awful Irish accent. Welcome back, Kendra. Slayerette #2 surprises Buffy and tells her that her Watcher sent her to Sunnydale as there's a dark power about to rise.

Too right you are, Kendra's Watcher. Angel and Dru kill the natural history museum curator and have their minions steal the tomb. Once back at the mansion, Angel explains to a bored Spike that this is the tomb of the demon Acathla, whose mission was to bring forth hell on earth. Unfortunately for Acathla, a valiant knight stopped him, and Acthala turned to a stone statue that kind of looks like a gargoyle in Disney's iteration of Hunchback of Notre Dame. The statue is complete with a sword in its chest and only a worthy candidate can pull it out, thus opening the gates to hell. And Angel thinks he's the man for the job.

Word of Acathla's stolen tomb reaches the Scoobies, putting a rush order on Buffy and Angel's final smackdown. The plan is for Buffy to try and keep Angel at bay while Willow attempts the soul restoration spell, but if need be Buffy WILL kill her former lover. Kendra opens her bag of tricks and gives Buffy a sword that was blessed by the knight who slayed Acathla. Giles says time is somewhat on their side, as Angel has to perform his own ritual to bring forth the aforementioned demon.

Easier said than done. The ritual calls for the blood of a human sacrifice, so Angel's minions bring him a bound, random shirtless hottie. Angel feeds off the half-nudist and approaches the sword, grasping it with his blood-soaked hands. The damn thing won't budge, much to Angel's fury and Spike's delight. Turns out what Angel lacks in Irish accents...he also lacks in Acathla worthiness.


Still, Angel's doing better than he was a couple years ago. Cursed with a soul and haunted by his murderous vampire past, Angel stumbles through the streets looking for a rat to feed off. He is approached by a mysterious man named Whistler, the dude doing the voiceover at the beginning of the episode. Whistler explains that like Angel, he's a demon but he's not evil and that Angel has a choice: he can live like a vagrant for the rest of his life or he can be part of Team Good Guy.


Angel follows Whistler to Los Angeles and that's where he sees his soul-mate Buffy get called as the next Slayer. In the blink of an eye, she goes from shallow, care-free teen, to bearing the weight of the world on her shoulders. Angel watches her hone her skills and witnesses her getting berated by her parents for violating curfew. He sees her alone, vulnerable, and he falls in love with her.


Buffy hasn't had it easy, that's for sure. Today's demon: FINALS. Buffy sits in class taking her test, when a mysterious cloaked figure enters the room. It is one of Angel's minions and she has a message for Buffy: come to the graveyard tonight.


While Buffy goes to face off against Angel for the last time, Kendra guards the library where the Scoobies, led by Willow, start the restoration spell. When Buffy arrives at the graveyard, she rumbles with Angel before he stops and laughingly tell her that she's been had. Angel is nothing more than a distraction tactic. Buffy bolts to the school.


As Willow's in the middle of her spell, Angel's minions attack in full force. Cordelia escapes, but Willow is crushed beneath a bookshelf and rendered unconscious. The minions kidnap Giles and Drusilla enters. She hypnotizes Kendra before slashing her throat with her nail.


Buffy arrives at the school and runs into the library to find that she is too late. She kneels over the body of her friend and fellow Slayer. A gun cocks behind her, and a cop yells 'FREEZE'. To be continued.


Liz's BITES:
* This was a pretty darn fascinating episode. A lot of the present-day plot was obvious lead-up to the grand finale, and I didn't really care to see the annoying Kendra again but I still had fun. It was interesting seeing the flashbacks of Angel's life that chronicled him going from drunken ne'er-do-well to sadistic vampire to shell of a being to the Angel we know now. The most interesting of these flashbacks for me was when Angel saw Buffy and had an instant connection with her. They are such kindred souls, both being ripped out of their world and forced to make a choice, and a sacrifice. Seeing Angel choose to join Whistler in doing some good, and seeing Angel fall for Buffy even before he met her, makes it all the more heartbreaking that Angel lost his soul AGAIN.


* What a cool cat Whistler is. I was so intrigued in the Phases episode that someone, like Oz the werewolf, can be a demon but still be on Team Good Guy. This adds another layer to the Buffy world and makes us question the seemingly black-and-white relationship between human and demon.


* Let's talk about the show's biggest badass: Willow. I loved the moment when she was helping Buffy study and she chewed her out for having a defeatist attitude. This is the Willow who was quivering in her clunky 90s shoes when Buffy first asked to sit with her at lunch. And how about that restoration spell? This is a girl who's never done magic in her life but wants to pop her magic cherry by restoring someone's SOUL? Bad. Ass.


* Once again, our Slayer reclaims the Fashion Slayer Award for that iconic green trench coat. Poor Buffy will probably want to throw it away, associating it with memories of being duped by Angel, putting all her friends in mortal danger, and costing Kendra her life...and if she does, my closet awaits!


That's all for me, my lovely readers. What did you think of this episode? Interested to see Angel's past? Digging the Whistler? Think Willow rivals Spike for show's biggest badass? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.


Dish later;
Liz

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2.20 Go Fish

The Dish: There's something fishy going on with the school swim team.


Oh, athletic achievements. Winning the big game/meet is really as close as one can come to being a god. There should be a national holiday. Well, the Sunnydale High swim team will settle for a party on the beach. Yes, much to Cordelia's sheer admiration and Xander's sarcastic dismay, it looks like the swim team is headed for glory.


While they bicker, Buffy sits alone moping (AGAIN). She's approached by swim jock Cameron and we finally get to see old, flirty Buffy come back. Their sweet moment is short-lived by someone's screams. They run over to investigate to find the rest of the swim-team assholes bullying poor, swim-team reject Jonathan. Buffy stops them and Jonathan stalks off in embarrassment.


Two of the ringleaders, Douchey Dee and Douchey Dumb, aka Dodd and Gage -- were their parents HIGH when they named them? -- walk down the beach licking their wounds. Gage smells something particularly foul -- like douche, perhaps? He looks around and finds Dodd nowhere in sight. Gage goes off looking for him and walks right by Dodd's clothing...and his eviscerated skin.


Back at school, Willow is having the time of her life teaching computer class. Except that Gage refuses to do any work. Principal Snyder stops by and totally doesn't tell Willow to cut Gage the Swim Champ some slack so he can maintain his GPA and stay on the team.


Meanwhile Buffy is happy to be distracted from her Angel woes by riding to school with Cameron, who actually appears to be a nice jock -- I didn't know America made such an animal. Turns out they don't, as America's Next Top Rapist tries to lock Buffy in his car so he can grope her. Bad idea. She stops him by snapping his wrist and slamming his face into the steering wheel, breaking his nose.


This doesn't sit well with Snyder, who is a witness to the event. While Cameron gets patched up by Nurse Greenleigh who 'always takes care of her boys', and I vomit at that sentiment, Buffy gets chewed out by Snyder and Coach Marin for not only not being a 'team player' but for leading Cameron on with her provocative outfit.


Buffy is enraged and vents to the Scoobies at the library but they have bigger fish to fry...teehee. Giles informs them about Dodd's eviscerated remains, stating that Snyder wants to keep it quiet from the students. All signs point to demon, which means Research Party. I'll bring the cocaine!


The Scoobies aren't the only ones staying after hours at the school. Xander bumps into Cameron and his big, ugly, bruised nose. They had just taken a soak in the steam room and are on the way to the cafeteria. As Xander contemplates soda options, he hears Cameron's blood-curdling scream. He runs into the caf to find that Cameron too has been eviscerated and in his place stands a demon that looks like a human/fish hybrid. Xander runs out of the caf in horror.


Back at the library, Xander relays his trauma and after some unnecessary teasing from Cordelia for his less-than-manly reaction, the Scoobies put their Sherlock hats on. They conclude that someone is obviously targeting the swim team as Dodd and Cameron were the best and second best members. That means if there's a hit list on the team, Gage is next as he's number three.


A private investigator Buffy ain't, as she does a horrible job at tailing Gage to keep him safe. Willow, on the other hand, is an interrogatress extraordinaire. The Scoobies suspect someone might be trying to enact revenge on the swim team...someone like the bullied Jonathan. Willow corners him and Jonathan actually pleads guilty to the accusation. Unfortunately he did not enact said revenge by turning to the black arts, but by peeing in the pool.


Meanwhile, Xander overhears Coach Marin confiding in Snyder that he's worried about the championship, with two of his best players missing. Snyder assures the coach that they'll find a new member somewhere, and this gives Xander an idea.


Buffy continues her pathetic stalking attempts at the Bronze until Gage gets so fed up, he confronts Buffy and tells her to leave him alone. He leaves the Bronze in anger and is immediately attacked by Angel. Buffy runs out to save Gage, but apparently didn't need to. Gage's blood tastes funky and Angel tosses the jock aside, spits out the blood and runs off.


So what's with the blood? Buffy suspects steroids, and Willow and Cordelia back up her theory while watching the swim team practice. It would totally explain their behavioural changes and their recent winning streak. The conversation is cut short when Xander shows up...as the latest member of the swim team, showing off his own member in a Speedo. Cordelia's eyes turn into little hearts at her man's new jock status (and his rocking bod). Xander tells the girls that he joined the team to go undercover and keep an eye on Gage when Buffy can't.


Like in the steam room. After the soak, Xander leaves Gage to contemplate the challenge of tying his shoelaces. Xander gives the A-Okay to Buffy who waits for Gage outside the locker room. She hears him scream and runs in to witness Gage's skin tear apart and fall off his body. Gage turns into the same fish demon as Dodd and Cameron and attacks Buffy. Coach Marin shows up and saves her, as 'Gage' slips into the drain.


Nurse Greenleigh patches Buffy up while Coach Marin plays dumb about the steroids. Yeah, right. Willow does someone online digging and finds out that all the swim team members turned fishies were treated for various steroid-related symptoms by Nurse Greenleigh. Xander agrees to do some detective work and finds out where the members are getting the roids/how they're taking it. He asks the boys at the next steam room session and a member named Sean informs him they're taking them right now. Yep, the roids are in the steam.


Did anyone really believe that Coach Marin and Nurse Greenleigh were innocent? Because they are fifty shades of not. The good nurse implores the coach to stop his dastardly plan before more boys turn into monsters. Coach Logic accuses her of not being a team player and throws her down a sewer grate -- which is conveniently in his office -- sacrificing her to the demons as dinner.


Moments later, Buffy arrives to interrogate the coach. This time however, Coach Marin takes the opportunity for one of the those scenes where the bad guy sits the hero down and, over a nice pot of English breakfast tea, lays out his entire scheme. Apparently back in the day, the Soviet Union treated their Olympic swimmers to experiments with fish DNA in order to create the perfect team. No scientist could ever duplicate it, but this ordinary swim coach somehow figured it out...and hence why, one by one, the boys are turning into demons. Of course, Buffy now knows too much so Coach Marin pulls a gun on her, forcing her into the sewer so she can be a sex slave for the demons. Yes, you are reading this correctly.


Meanwhile, Giles locks up all the other players in the library kink cage, to keep them safe. Tickets to that, please. All the players except Sean, who Xander and Cordelia discover fishified in the pool. Xander grows worried when Buffy hasn't returned from her visit to the coach.


So Xander goes to investigate and walks in on Coach Marin with his gun in his hand. Thank god I mean his literal gun. Xander wrestles it out of the coach's hands and pulls Buffy out of the sewer. Coach Marin recovers and attacks them. The teens dodge the coach who falls headlong into the sewer and is immediately attacked by his former team members.


All is well once again. Xander and the rest of the team are being treated for their steroids exposure, Buffy was saved from becoming a fishy sex toy, and the fish-demons can find peace in the ocean. Say hi to Nemo for me.


Liz's BITES:
* In many ways, this episode was a lot of fun. It harkens back to Season One, where the characters would experience a high school issue, like the need for a team to win, but with a Hellmouth twist. Angel even reprised his role as the hot vamp who lurks in the shadows and does little more than provide some key bit of information. The whole detective work aspect of the episode was a ball, especially Willow with her glee at interrogating Jonathan. However, these contained episodes really depend on the creature-of-the-week to make them great and this one kind of drops the ball. I just don't buy Coach Marin as a mastermind. Do you seriously expect me to believe that nobody at ALL could figure out these Soviet documents except a fat swim coach? Let's bend reality for a minute and believe that this is plausible. Okay, so doesn't setting his players up to win the championship seem a little small time? I could understand if it was one of the team members because winning the championship could lead to scholarships and a swimming career. But what does Coach Marin have to gain other than a pat on the back? Also, at the end Buffy mentions that the demons are now free to go 'home', meaning the ocean. What was forcing them to stay once they were fishified? Did they want company? Lots of plotholes with this story. I would love it if anyone with an explanation could leave me a comment.


* I was so proud of our Slayer this episode. As much as I loved last week's, I did not want another mopey Buffy but she really came out of her shell and made an effort with Cameron before he showed his true colours. I was tickled pink when she broke his schnoz.


* However I was quite disappointed in the Scoobies for their small reaction to Cameron's behaviour. Even if one of my friends was the Slayer I would still be livid that this predator would try anything like that. Demon on your hands or not, this is serious. Bad form, guys, bad form.


* Angel's reaction to the steroids-contaminated blood raises some thought-provoking questions. Can vampires taste all blood contaminants/diseases? Would they be able to taste AIDs in someone's blood and would its taste be affected? Do vampires have blood preference type, as in 'oh I ate a delicious diner waitress the other night...O positive, yum'? Again, anyone with insight please leave me a comment.


* A word to all sports coaches, like the deceased Coach Marin: There is no such thing as giving 110%. That is both mathematically and physically impossible. Believing otherwise makes you an idiot.


* Speaking of Coach Marin...Okay, so he gives Buffy to the fish-demons to satisfy their sexual needs. However, Buffy gets saved and Coach Marin is the one to get trapped with the demons. It has been established that they are full from feeding off the nurse, so when they attack Coach Marin are they doing it for...sexual purposes?


* If so, the demons and I have opposite tastes in men. I much prefer jock-hating nerds in Speedos. That's right, the nearly naked Xander takes the crown from long-time champion Buffy and becomes this weeks Fashion Slayer. If only he didn't dive into a pool laced with Jonathan-pee.


That will be all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Confused about the demons? Proud of Buffy? Really, really like the idea of free speech but think '110%' should still be banned? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.


Dish later;


Liz