Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4.1 The Freshman

The Dish: Buffy gets her ass kicked all the way to Sunday.

It's the dawn of the new era. Buffy, Willow and Oz are going to college and our fearless Slayer is...fearful. While Oz easily fits in with his band, and Willow does backflips at the fountain of knowledge that promises to be post-secondary education, Buffy feels like she is drowning in the sea of activists, religious zealots and horny frat boys that are crammed into the quad. Meeting her Celine Dion-loving, tooth-grinding, way too perky roommate Kathy doesn't help matters. Buffy gets so flustered, she throws a book at a cute TA named Riley (accidentally).

The first day of classes doesn't go much better for our Slayer, as she promptly gets humiliated and kicked out of Pop Culture. Though Psych 101 is taught by the frightening Maggie Walsh, at least Buffy's in that one with her friends, and familiar face Riley is there too. Still, Buffy doesn't feel any ease until she meets Eddie, a shy, Human Bondage-loving freshman who has lost his way in the quad. The two lost souls bond as they make their way back to their dorms and say good night.

The next day, Buffy looks for Eddie in Psych, but he's nowhere to be found. Ordinarily, a college student skipping class is par for the course, but this IS the Hellmouth and Buffy is worried. She goes to the unemployed Giles's home, only to find herself interrupting a post-coital moment between him and his 'friend' Olivia. Buffy asks Giles's help, but Giles insists that Buffy is an adult and has to take care of things herself. Buffy is hurt.

But not wrong about Eddie! He was taken by a douchey gang of vampires, led by a blonde bitch named Sunday. Their MO is to kill freshmen, take their shit, and leave a fake note from their victims, saying the pressure was 'too much'. They kill and vamp Eddie, and use him as bait to surround Buffy. The pressures of college have gotten to Buffy, and the girl is not at her fighting best. Sunday kicks Buffy's ass, nearly breaking her arm, and Buffy has no choice but to run away. While they don't get Buffy, Sunday and the gang still takes her stuff and leaves a fake note.

The injured puppy Slayer doesn't want to drag Willow and Oz back into Scooby business, as they're both loving the college experience. Dejected, Buffy goes back home only to find out Joyce has turned her room into a storage closet for the gallery. Buffy then goes to The Bronze, where she bumps into Xander, back from his cross-country trip. Turns out it didn't go as planned, as the engine literally fell out of his car early in the trip, and he had to spend the summer dishwashing/stripping in order to pay for a new vehicle. Now he's back at home at his parents', living in the basement and paying rent. The two share a sad-sack moment, until Buffy tells Xander about Sunday. This lights a fire under the young stripper's ass, and he says 'let's put this bitch in the ground'.

Research leads Buffy and Xander to a frat house that was condemned right around the time freshmen went missing. They scale the roof of the house and see Sunday and company rifling through Buffy's things. While Xander goes off in search of weapons and backup, Buffy continues to spy on the vamps...until she crashes through the glass floor, right at their feet. There's a rumble and things do not look good for our heroine, even when the Scoobies burst in to aid her. But when Sunday breaks Buffy's Class Protector award, that gives our Slayer all the fighting fuel she needs, and she makes quick, satisfying work of putting that bitch in the ground. With all the vamps slain, but one who got away, the Scoobies gather Buffy's stuff to move it back. They end up bumping into a weapon-toting Giles who feels terrible at having dismissed Buffy's need for help. Meanwhile across campus, the vamp who escaped gets tasered by a masked group of military men. Welcome to college, Scoobies.

Liz's BITES:
* It's a brave new world for the Scooby Gang, as Angel and Cordelia are gone and college has started. Honestly, it's a bit of a come-down from last season's epicness, but I'm still intrigued at what directions it will go. Buffy has always been the centre of the universe with her friends and her calling, but in college she's a fish out of water. I think Buffy perfectly captured how lost so many kids feel when they start post-secondary. For most, the worst that happens is they bomb their first test, but for the Slayer, it means getting her ass KICKED by...

* The LAMEST vampire gang ever. That Sunday bitch is one of the most annoying creatures ever to come across my TV screen. She's a badass like Danny Zuko and the Greasers are badasses -- honestly, she all but sings and dances about it. And -- WHOA! -- what about that ridiculous surfer dude? He was so one-dimensional and pointless -- though I did enjoy the 'monster sarcasm rally' line. And yes, we've established Buffy is off her game, but do you expect me to believe that a Slayer who has battled a child-killing demon with a fever, who stopped a freaking ASCENSION, gets taken down by these posers? Weak.

* Apparently, Sunday and the Greasers, and any vampire really, can just march into a dorm room without invitation? Would it not be considered a home? And I get their whole targeting skittish freshmen thing, because nobody on campus would question someone freaking out and splitting. Totally, I've seen it happen when I was in school. But ummm, what about these kids' PARENTS?

* Let's talk about the real villain of this episode, shall we? The positively EVIL prof who kicked Buffy out of class. What a dick. He best be careful. Authority figures who are mean to Buffy tend to get eaten by giant snakes.

* Then there's the other prof, the evil bitch-monster of death, Maggie Walsh. I like her. Now that Cordelia's off in LA, I'm going through bitch withdrawal. Plus, anyone who tosses out a mean stereotype about jocks wins automatic brownie points with me.

* Kathy, Kathy, Kathy. I can take the Celine Dion posters -- the woman IS a Canadian icon -- and I can put up with the hyper-perky attitude if I have enough wine in me, but the TEETH GRINDING? Deal breaker. Methinks the tooth fairy needs to put a mouth guard under Kathy's pillow so our Slayer can get some sleep.

* Does Eddie remind anyone else of a 'Book of Mormon' version of Ken from the 'Anne' episode? Dweeby clothes, a polite attitude that borders on creepy? When I first saw this episode, I thought Eddie was a demon right from the get-go. Plus he's into bondage. Freak. Sigh, I miss the kink cage.

* Willow wasn't a big part of this episode, but I was so happy for her, that she finally gets to be in her element, where learning and intelligence are cool. Did you notice Buffy's face when Riley referred to her as 'Willow's friend'? Loved it.

* Riley. Meh.

* Xander worked as a stripper. A stripper. And we DIDN'T GET TO SEE IT? How sadistic are the writers? Though I will say, they totally make up for it by giving Xander one of my favourite phrases in the world: 'let's put this bitch in the ground'.

* It looks like the arc of Season 4 is going to have something to do with those demon-hunting army dudes. I hope they realize they have rogue Slayer/giant snake shoes to fill.

* OMG will you get a load of freaking GILES? So, no longer a Watcher, no longer a librarian, what's a man to do but bang a hot -- like smoking hot -- British chick in the middle of the day? I dig it. I firmly believe that Giles's speech to Buffy about independence was less about teaching a lesson and more about getting the cockblocking Slayer the Hellmouth at his apartment. So he could get the Hellmouth back in Olivia.

* It's time to award the first Fashion Slayer of Season 4. I absolutely loved all of Buffy's flirty, girly clothes. But I have to give it to my man Giles, for his 'gentleman of leisure' bathrobe. Deeeelish.

Well, my lovely readers, hard to believe we've started Season 4. But we have, and I am dying to know your thoughts. What do you think of the Scoobies in college? Is Sunday really as lame as I say she is? Did you fall asleep when Riley introduced himself? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Dish later;
Liz

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Best and Worst of Season Three

Hello, hello, my lovely readers. What a ride Season 3 has been. We've had a snazzy, post-modern vampire, a brand new Slayer who went rogue, Willow and Xander lost their virginity, Buffy and Angel broke up, the gang graduated high school, and, oh yeah, there was a germophobic, evil Mayor who turned into a giant snake.

Obviously, I can't just dive straight into Season 4, without recapping some of the highlights -- and few lowlights -- of this stellar season. You'll read my Top 3 Best Moments of each of the main characters, as well as a few bonus ones. Then you'll be treated to my Best/Worst and Favourite/Least Favourite Episode. To top it all off, I will crown the Fashion Slayer of Season 3. Here we go:

Best Moments:

Buffy
1. Killing the Mayor in 'Graduation Day Part 2' -- This was no cheesy graveyard brawl with the Gorch brothers. This battle defines epic, and it was all because of Buffy's battle prowess. This little blonde girl moulds the entire graduating class into an army, preys on the Mayor's weakness for Faith to antagonize him, and ultimately tricks the ascended Mayor/snake into chasing her out the school, which she -- well, Giles -- BLOWS UP. Graduation day indeed.
2. Battling Faith to the death in 'Graduation Day Part 1' -- Last season, there was a critical moment when Buffy could not kill the evil Angel, and as a result he killed Ms. Calendar. The rest of the season, Buffy had to steel herself up to kill her one true love. Gone is that anguish this season. When Angel is facing certain death, and the only cure is the blood of a Slayer, Buffy decides once and for all that Faith has gotta go. So she puts big sister's clothes on and kicks the brunette Slayer's ASS, winning the fight (almost).
3. Stopping Jonathan from killing himself in 'Earshot' -- Buffy bursts in moments before Jonathan is about to kill himself -- or take out the entire school, as Buffy originally believed. She relied on no Slayer strength whatsoever, but listened to Jonathan share his pain, and talked to him. No magic Slayer powers gave her the gifts to save Jonathan, it was pure Buffy Summers.

Xander
1. Staring down Jack O'Toole in 'The Zeppo' -- Feeling useless and emasculated after having been benched to fight the apocalypse, Xander runs into trouble when a charming, kind-of zombie tries to blow up the school. Instead of panicking, flailing his arms, and making a self-deprecating quip, Xander calls Jack O'Toole's bluff, and gets him to defuse the bomb out of sheer badassness.
2. Buying Cordelia's prom dress in 'The Prom' -- For most of the season, Xander got on my nerves. He cheats on Cordelia, and then has the gall to get crabby and jealous when she sets her sights on Wesley. But when he finds out that her family lost all their money and she can't afford a prom dress, he quietly buys it for her, giving her the high school moment she had always dreamed of. That's a stand-up guy right there.
3. Helping Buffy save Angel in 'Amends' -- Xander has always disliked Angel because of Buffy's love for him, and the fact that he tortured a bunch of his friends doesn't help. But when Buffy is terrified of Angel dying via demon haunting around the holidays, Xander puts aside his feelings and helps out a friend in need, and that is his true power.

Willow
1. Coming into her own in 'Doppelgangland' -- Fed up with being pushed around by an entitled jock, and being called a dog-geyser by her friends, Willow doesn't know what to do. But when her vampire self from another dimension shows up and starts wreaking havoc, Willow realizes there is something to be said for having the girl-balls to stand up and demand respect. For a time, she's able to fool a group of vampires into thinking she's one of them, and even punches Anya. Our girl-nerd has become a woman less-nerd.
2. Standing up to Faith in 'Choices' -- Kidnapped and confronted by a rogue Slayer, most people would be shaking in their boots but Willow looks Faith square in the eye and tells her that she's a waste of a Slayer. Even when Faith pulls a knife on her, Willow stands her ground.
3. Calling Buffy out for being a bad friend, then immediately comforting her in 'Consequences' -- One of the hardest things in the world to do is tell a friend that you're angry with them. But when Buffy ditched Willow for Faith on multiple occasions, Willow tells Buffy exactly how she feels. Then when Buffy breaks down in tears and confesses Allan's death, Willow drops her anger in a split second and is there for her friend. What an amazing woman.

Cordelia
1. Scaring off Lyle Gorch in 'Homecoming' -- Okay, so a butterfly would spook Lyle Gorch, but Cordelia didn't know that. After getting caught up in a twisted hunting game called Slayer Fest '98, Cordelia has had it up to here and vampire or not, that Gorch asshole is getting put in his place. And she pulled the whole speech off with only a spatula as a weapon.
2. Kissing Wesley in 'Graduation Day Part 2' -- For almost half a season, we were treated to Cordelia turning up the heat to nab the new Watcher. It was delightful to watch, but I was so proud of her for going for it, and kissing the man of her dreams. The fact that the kiss royally sucked doesn't shake my pride in Queen C.
3. Being compassionate to Buffy in 'Helpless' -- Cordelia has never liked Buffy and has publicly blamed her for all the bad luck that has come her way. But when a goon shoves Buffy across the quad, Cordelia girly-pummels him into oblivion. Then later, she walks into a very tense moment between Buffy and Giles, and when the shaken Buffy asks for a ride home, Cordelia says yes without even batting an eye. She can be bitchy, but she has a heart of gold.

Angel
1. Dancing with Buffy in 'The Prom' -- I'm of two minds about Angel's decision to break up with Buffy right before the prom. On the one hand, I firmly believe that if you are definitely going to break up with someone, you shouldn't wait for a convenient time, you should just do it. But before the freaking PROM? Harsh. Though the breakup needed to happen, Angel realized how important the prom was to Buffy and he showed up to give her that one perfect high school moment she so desperately wanted.
2. Playing Faith the fool in 'Enemies' -- The guy had me fooled too, I'll be honest. Angel played his part perfectly, and was able to get major details about the bad guys' plans. Even though Buffy suffered more in their charade, with Angel making out with Faith right in front of her, it was much easier for her to act hurt than him to act like he was enjoying breaking her heart. But the vamp did what needed to be done.
3. Admitting his desire for Buffy and allowing himself to be saved in 'Amends' -- Angel has always been the stoic brooder, man of the shadows. He saves people, not the other way around. But when he gets haunted by demons of his past and decides to kill himself, Angel admits to Buffy that a part of him doesn't care if he loses his soul because he wants to be with Buffy so badly. Then he breaks down, and lets Buffy save him. A real man (or vampire) is one who will let himself be rescued.

Oz
1. Takes Willow back in 'Amends' -- After Smoochiegate, Oz was under no obligation to get back together with Willow, and he took some serious time (a whole episode!) to contemplate his decision. But ultimately he decides that he needs to be with her, and his speech where he takes her back moves me to tears. That is true love right there.
2. Destroys the pedestal in 'Choices' -- When a mission to steal the Box of Gavrok, a critical element to the Mayor's Ascension, goes awry and Willow gets kidnapped, Wesley proposes the idea of keeping the box and destroying it, and sacrificing Willow as a result. Oz's Willow. Instead of pulling a Buffy and ranting and raving at Wesley, Oz simply gets out of his chair and hurls the pedestal needed to destroy the box across the room, making the decision. What a man/werewolf.
3. Panics in 'Graduation Day Part One' -- Oz told Willow that he wants their first time to be because they both NEED it. When Willow is panicking about the prospect of death via Ascension, and grows increasingly frustrated that Oz doesn't share this worry, Oz kisses her like there's no tomorrow -- because there is a good chance there won't be one. And the two make love for the first time. Sigh.

Giles
1. Bangs Joyce on the hood of a cop car in 'Band Candy' -- I think this sentence speaks for itself.
2. Plays the rebel in 'Bad Girls' -- Having recently been fired and replaced by keener newbie Wesley, Giles gets to be the rebel for the first time in years. He revels in Buffy and Faith's rejection of their new pompous-ass Watcher, and happily sits back and watches Wesley hang himself out to dry. Delicious.
3. Dismissing the Watcher's Council's orders and saving Buffy in 'Helpless' - Having realized his betrayal to Buffy after being complicit in an archaic ritual enforced by the Watcher's Council, Giles stands up to the jerkface Quentin Travers and tells Buffy about the ritual after rescuing her from a psychotic vampire. Such a good dad!

Faith
Saving Buffy in 'Consquences' -- So what if she goes rogue two seconds later. Faith showed that she really does have humanity when Mr. Trick was about to kill Buffy, leaving Faith an easy escape, but she saves the good Slayer instead. A rare moment where I have been proud of Faith.

Mayor Richard Wilkins III
Calling out Buffy and Angel's relationship in 'Choices' -- A great tactic for throwing your enemy off their game, but in this case, the Mayor spoke pure honesty. He addressed a major elephant in the room, one none of her friends had the balls to say, that Buffy and Angel just don't work. The crazy thing is that I got the sense a small part of him actually cared for these star-crossed lovers. What a complex, fabulous villain.

Joyce
See Giles's #1.

Best/Worst and Favourite/Least Favourite Episode

Worst AND Least Favourite: 'Beauty and the Beasts'
Did I mention how much I loved this season? So much that there was only ONE crappy episode, and so it has the honour of being both the worst, and least liked by Liz. And it wasn't even a total horror show like 'Bad Eggs', but it certainly was not good. Introducing a bunch of new characters we don't care about and will never see again is always a bad idea. Add in a heavy-handed domestic violence message, rip off The Hulk, and you've got yourself a Worst/Least Favourite episode distinction.

Best Episode; 'Enemies'
Liz trivia fact: This was the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I ever saw. I had no idea what the hell was happening, but I knew I had stumbled onto something phenomenal. The acting and writing in this episode are so on point, that the audience is completely fooled by Buffy and Angel's rouse. The climactic scene in Angel's mansion with Buffy in Chains -- still my favourite band -- was so deliciously intense, when Buffy tells Faith that she's better than her and Faith gets hit with the big reveal. Television doesn't get much more gripping than that.

Favourite Episode: 'Doppelgangland'
This should be no surprise, given my love for Willow. Getting to see her grow up and really come into her own skin was such a treat, but that's not just why this episode is my favourite. It has so much stuff I like -- bullies getting punished, leather, the kink cage, Willow discovering her beautiful breasts and making Giles uncomfortable, BDSM references, Cordelia's sparkly dress. A yummy 43 minutes for this sick and twisted blogger.

Season 3's Fashion Slayer

Here's the season's scorecard:

Buffy
* Sexy black tai chi outfit ('Revelations')
* Vulnerable homage to Little Red Riding Hood ('Helpless')
* Slutty 'bad Slayer' clubbing outfit ('Bad Girls')
* Cow-print jammies ('Earshot')
* Big sister Faith-killing clothes ('Graduation Day Part One')

Cordelia
* Rambo-chick leather jacket ('Dead Man's Party')
* Homecoming Queen green dress ('Homecoming')
* Rescue mission sweater ('Lover's Walk')
* Wesley-catching sparkly dress ('Doppelgangland')
* Wesley-repelling blue and white dress ('Graduation Day Part Two')

Willow
* Dominatrix of my dreams get-up ('The Wish')
* Oz-cums-first red dress ('Amends')
* 'I don't give a fuck' jammies to school ('The Zeppo')
* Hippie coat ('Enemies')
* Wiccan-sexy pink dress ('Choices')

Oz
* Peep show tee ('Anne')
* Disappearing 'psychic' tee ('Beauty and the Beasts')

Joyce
* Wild-child, Juice Newton coat ('Band Candy')
* MOO button ('Gingerbread')

Xander
* Nighthawk leather jacket ('Dead Man's Party')

Giles
* 'I don't give a fuck' Sisters of Zhe-hunting sweater ('The Zeppo')

Mr. Trick
* Almost Buffy-killing tie ('Consquences')

The Scooby Gang
* Prom attire ('The Prom') -- Come on, how could I pick just one?

Lots of sexiness to pick from and it is a three-way tie for our leading ladies -- wouldn't mind seeing them three-way tied up in the kink cage -- but there can only be ONE. And it goes to Queen C. Cordelia has delighted and aroused us with her wardrobe for three straight seasons and she is going out with a bang -- just not from Wesley. If you want a specific outfit, it has to be the stunning green dress she wore to 'Homecoming'. Fifteen years later, I am STILL bemoaning her loss of the crown.

That's all for me and Season 3, my lovely readers. Please post a comment and let me know what you thought of the Best and Worst of Season 3 blog. Did I miss any key moments? What are your favourite episodes? Did I crown the right Fashion Slayer? Post a comment and let me know. Come back next Tuesday for my first Season 4 blog.

Dish later;
Liz

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.22 Graduation Day Part 2

The Dish: Mayor Richard Wilkins III shows the graduating class his giant snake.

Buffy is in a pickle. She killed Faith, but the brunette threw herself off the balcony, meaning Angel won't get her Slayer blood to cure the poison. Buffy goes back to the mansion and tells Angel to take HER blood. After a little domestic abuse on her part, Angel relents and feeds off his one true love. Cured, he rushes the unconscious Buffy to the hospital...

Which looks like a Slayer infirmary. The devastated Mayor is also there, doting on Faith. She was found not actually dead, but in a coma, probably for life. While Buffy recuperates, after almost being smothered by the Mayor in her sleep, she has a dream in which Faith tells her that no matter what, the Mayor will always have human weakness. Come morning, Buffy is mostly healed and ready for war.

She rallies the gang and tells them to get EVERYONE on board. This means everyone from Percy to Harmony to Jonathan -- the ENTIRE school. Xander's military training is called upon. Explosives are smuggled. Shit's going down.

While the Scoobies prepare for battle, Wesley and Cordelia take a private moment to steal a kiss...and it's horrendous. Meanwhile, Angel tells Buffy that after the battle, he doesn't plan on saying goodbye to her, he's just gonna go. Things go slightly better for Willow, as she and Oz take advantage of some pre-battle downtime to get it on in the back of his van.

The graduation ceremony starts, and much to the chagrin of the Class of '99, the Mayor delivers his entire speech before the Ascension. That's when an eclipse occurs, throwing Sunnydale into darkness and the Mayor transforms into a GIANT, Basilisk-esque snake demon. The war is on. Buffy and the graduating class strip off their maroon robes, and they're all armed to the teeth with weapons. Larry and Xander head up the flame unit. Principal Snyder yells at the Mayor-cum-snake for ruining the graduation, and gets eaten as a result. Buffy orders her troops to turn their attention to the Mayor's vampire minions and the students attack in full force. Wesley gets knocked down early and Harmony gets bit, but Jonathan and Cordelia, and many others keep the fanged ones at bay.

It's time for Buffy to square off against the Mayor. Remembering what Faith said about human weakness, she taunts the Mayor with the knife he gave Faith, now caked in her blood. That does the trick, and the Mayor/snake chases Buffy throughout the school, destroying the entire building in his wake. Buffy leads him right to the library, which is packed to the brim with explosives. Buffy jumps out the window, runs to safety beside Giles, who touts a gigantic detonator. BOOM! Giles blows up the entire school, killing the Mayor.

The day is saved. True to form, Angel watches Buffy in the shadows, but she sees him and the two share a silent goodbye. Buffy then joins her friends and they take a moment to deal with the fact that they not only survived the Ascension, but high school itself . They're taking a moment. And they're done.

Liz's BITES:
* What an epic finale to an epic season. I loved the final battle. It was basically a big middle finger to high school hell, a theme at the forefront of this show. Think about it, Buffy makes an army out of teens who have gone through their entire lives in divided camps -- Percy, Jonathan, Harmony, Larry. My favourite part of the entire episode was when the vampires yelled 'GET THE KIDS', and that shocked look on their faces when those kids charge THEM. That scene gives me chills every time. Then, the whole thing ends with the entire misery factory getting blown to smithereens. I'm with Oz, forget the Ascension, the Scoobies survived HIGH SCHOOL.

* So that's it for Mayor Richard Wilkins III. At the beginning of the ep, I almost felt sorry for him, mourning his comatose surrogate daughter, Faith. But then he goes and calls Buffy a whore, and I'm all LET'S GET THIS GUY! The CGI for the Ascension was a little cheesy, as was the 'well gosh', but I loved how putty the ascended Mayor was in Buffy's hands when she taunted him with the knife. Great strategic move on Buffy's part. What a warrior.

* Let's talk about this dream with Faith. Some might think that it was the actual Faith in Buffy's dream. I don't. Evil or not, if someone put me in a coma, I wouldn't show up in their subconscious as a philosophical sweetie-pie. No, I think Faith's tranquility was Buffy STILL believing that deep down, there's still some good in her and that's why upon waking, she kisses Faith's forehead.

* RIP Larry!

* And RIP Principal Snyder, even though you were a dick. This episode, the man was in fine form, trying to squeeze out any last power of the graduating class he could. 'I saw that gesture, you see me after graduation'. I'll say this for the guy, he died sticking to his PRINCIPALS. Heyo.

* Jonathan was on like Donkey Kong. In this episode, the guy smuggled explosives into the school, full-on tackled a vamp AND protected Cordelia during the explosion. A round of applause is in order.

* In other words, Jonathan was the exact opposite of Wesley. Case in point, the new Watcher gets knocked flat on his back about three seconds into the battle. Still, I was very proud of Wesley for sticking around to fight, even though he no longer had any official business in Sunnydale.

* And it took some real balls to stick around after the disaster that was his kiss with Cordelia. We've been waiting for this for half the season, but sometimes it just ain't meant to be. Poor hot people. These things are good to know before you commit to a life with someone. That's why you should all have sex before marriage, kiddos.

* While Cordelia may not have ended the season with much success in the love department, she certainly had it on the battlefield. Congrats on staking your first vamp, Cordelia.

* Speaking of vamps, how freaking erotic was that Angel feeding off Buffy scene? In many ways, it was basically the opposite to their lovemaking encounter last season, as Angel loses himself in Buffy once again, but instead of losing his soul, he keeps his life. And...just putting this out there... I think he gave Buffy the big O. Goodness, I almost had one just watching these two.

* Gotta love Giles. In the span of about two minutes, the guy goes from Ripper-Giles, blowing up a public institution to father-Giles, presenting Buffy with her diploma he fished out of the wreckage. Whose eyes DIDN'T well up with tears?

* Remember the very first episode, when Willow was a cowering little wallflower, shaking in her nerdy boots at CORDELIA? Gone is that girl, and replaced is a BADASS who had sex in the back of a van with her rocker boyfriend during school hours and was late to her graduation as a result. Ya done me proud, Willow.

* It's time to give out the final Fashion Slayer award for Season 3, and of course it has to go to Cordelia, for her oh-so sophisticated blue and white dress. Her kiss with Wesley may not have been a success, but that hot little number certainly was. Congrats on your last Fashion Slayer award, Queen C. We'll miss you!

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers and that's all for Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Much like Season 2, I'm not quite ready to put it to bed yet, so next week you'll be treated to a Best and Worst of Season 3 blog. See you then. But before you leave, post a comment and let me know what you thought of the episode. Get off on the final battle as much as I did? Who will you miss most -- Faith, the Mayor, Larry, Snyder? Wish it would have worked out for Wesley and Cordy?

Dish later;
Liz

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.21 Graduation Day Part 1.

The Dish: Angel gets the pointy end of a poison arrow; Faith gets the pointy end of her bitchin' knife; Willow gets the pointy end of Oz.

It's the end of a high school era for the Scooby Gang, with graduation only one day away. While Willow chases down anyone and everyone for yearbook signatures, and Cordelia laments over the icky maroon colour of the graduation robes, Buffy feels removed from the hype. Mainly on account of the fact that instead of donning maroon, she'll be donning weapons as she goes to fight the Mayor during his Ascension...something they still know precious little about. Xander then drops the bomb that Buffy WILL in fact be maroon-clad in battle -- the Mayor is the commencement speaker at the graduation.

Xander shares this information with Anya, after she asks him out on Date #2 and he asks for a rain cheque on account of the fact he might be dead. As soon as he says 'Ascension' that puts the fear of the Hellmouth into Anya. As a 1000+-year-old ex-vengeance demon, she's actually seen an Ascension. She relays her account of it to the Scoobies, stating that the sorcerer who last achieved Ascension became a BIGASS demon who massacred an entire village. The Scoobies' meeting is broken up by the Mayor himself, who shows up at the library to taunt the gang, causing Giles to futilely ram a sword through his chest. Everyone's in panic mode now. Willow looks in vain for a spell to stop the Ascension, but takes a break to LOSE HER VIRGINITY TO OZ.

Team Bad Guy also gears up for the party of the season. The Mayor consumes the contents of the infamous Box of Gavrok -- roughly a billion face-sucking spiders -- and Faith kills a seemingly innocent professor. Buffy hears about this and does recon at the dead prof's house. Angel arrives on the scene as back-up, at the request of Giles. This leads to a lovers' quarrel between Buffy and Angel, in the middle of the street. However, it's interrupted by Faith shooting Angel through the chest with an arrow. She misses...but she tells her minion consort that she meant to.

Buffy gets her wounded ex to the library, along with the prof's notes. Good news! Wesley goes through the notes and it turns out the prof was a volcano expert who found remnants of the last ascended demon. That means the Mayor will lose his invincibility once he achieves Ascension. Bad news! The arrow Faith shot Angel with was poisonous. And the good vampire's fading fast.

Buffy and Giles take Angel to the comfort of his own home while Wesley contacts the Watcher's Council for info on mystical poisons and their antidotes. He hits a dead end, and delivers the message to Buffy that the Council will not help, and she is ordered to forget about Angel and focus on fighting the Mayor. Fat chance. Buffy promptly QUITS the Watcher's Council. She rallies the gang at the school and they look for the cure themselves. While Xander declines Anya's offer to skip town with her, Willow and Oz find the poison. It's called 'killer of the undead', used on vampires and there's only one cure -- the blood of a Slayer. Buffy decides right then and there, the time has come to kill Faith.

She tracks Faith down to her apartment, and the two Slayers duke it out. It's messy, it's dirty, it's brutal. Eventually the two crash through the window onto the balcony. Buffy gets the upper-hand and pulls out FAITH's knife, stabbing the brunette Slayer right through the gut. But Faith is always one to go out swinging and jumps off the balcony, right onto a moving vehicle. Buffy may have been able to kill Faith, but she won't save Angel. To be continued.

Liz's BITES
* Dear me, we are officially in Final Battle territory and the epic Season 3 features two: Buffy vs. The Mayor and Buffy vs. Faith. This made 'Graduation Day Part 1' not just a 'getting ready' episode, but a conclusion to the Battle of the Slayers. All season long, the tension between devil may care Faith and by the book Buffy was mounting and mounting up until this point, and it's BUFFY who's the instigator. She is willing to kill for her man. And what a fight it is! Knock-down, drag-out deliciousness, with handcuffs to boot. Unlike Season 2, with evil Angel, Buffy doesn't hesitate, and RAMS Faith's knife right through her. Love it.

* That just makes it an even bigger shame that Buffy didn't succeed in her goal of getting Faith's blood. But seriously, how did she plain on dragging Faith's corpse all the way across town without raising suspicion? Let's remember, Buffy has been interrogated by police for the murders of at least THREE people.

* WILLOW AND OZ HAD SEX! WILLOW AND OZ HAD SEX!

* I thought it was super-cool how the Scoobies finally got the skinny on the Ascension via Anya. What a creative, non-contrived way of doing it. Anya has become an increasingly prominent role in the Buffyverse as a fantastic gray area character, as we've seen her transition from bad guy vengeance demon to basically harmless human.

* Make that hilarious human. Anya's attempts at ingratiating herself into teen life are treasured comedy in such a serious episode, and we see some real heart emerging in this character, like how she came back for Xander. I love her line when he declines to go with her, 'Fine I hope you die. Wait, aren't we gonna kiss?'

* I always appreciate when we get to see RIPPER come out, like when Giles stabbed the Mayor. Such a hot scene.

* While Wesley will never reach Giles's level of sexy badassness, I definitely warmed up to him when he immediately offered to tap the Council's resources to help cure Angel.

* Oh poor poisoned Angel. This episode just goes to show how nothing good comes from an ex remaining in your life. When Buffy and Angel have that fight in the street, it was positively CRINGEWORTHY, because Buffy was so irrational but she was making perfect sense. Honestly, if I were her, I would have welcomed the arrow to Angel's chest just because it stopped the argument.

* WILLOW AND OZ HAD SEX! WILLOW AND OZ HAD SEX!

* This episode provided another (arguably healthy) break-up for Buffy, with the Watcher's Council. At the best of times, those bureaucratic assholes have been no help to the Slayer. At the worst, they are downright dangerous, liked when they almost got Joyce killed. Again, it takes Angel in peril to make Buffy wake up, smell the coffee, and make the right choice. 'I prefer to think of it as graduation'. Bad. Ass.

* I didn't really get the point of the Mayor-Snyder exchange, in which the Mayor says he 'owes' Snyder. Does that mean he's going to welcome Snyder to Team Bad Guy once he achieves Ascension? Or will he kill the bigoted rodent man?

* So, it finally happened. Willow and Oz had sex. Willow is no longer a virgin. Oh, I am positively giddy. Remember way back when Oz said their first time should be because they both NEEDED it to? Oh boy, did they need it to this episode, because for all they know, they'll die at graduation. It gave me chills when Oz just rushed at Willow like that. And their scene of post-coital bliss is one of my favourite scenes of the entire show. My whole body was tingling at how Oz stroked Willow's hair. Did anyone notice he did the same thing later, when they were looking up Faith's address, and Willow has to gather herself before she returned to the task at hand?

* This epic episode deserves an epic Fashion Slayer, and of course it has to be Buffy, for her 'I'm gonna kill Faith' leather jacket and red leather pants. Big sister clothes indeed.

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? What did you think of the Buffy vs. Faith fight? Sad to see Anya skip town? Doing back flips that our innocent little redhead is no longer innocent? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Dish later;
Liz

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.20 The Prom

The Dish: Hellhounds want to rip my prom dress off! Welcome to Prom 2006 1999!

It's prom time at Sunnydale High, and everyone's excited. Even ex-vengeance demon Anya, who's so desperate for a date she asks the even more desperate Xander, who obviously accepts. Giles grows increasingly frustrated with the Scooby Gang, who are thinking less about the impending Ascension and more about the perfect prom dress. If only a demon would wake these kids up! Careful what you wish for, Giles, as that's exactly what happens. Once again, Xander confronts Cordelia at the dress shoppe, where it's revealed that she's working there to pay for her prom dress after her dad lost all his money to the tax man. That's when a hellhound attacks and nearly mauls a tuxedo-clad kid to death before bizarrely turning around and fleeing the scene.

Meanwhile, Buffy's world is falling apart. The Mayor's candor about her and Angel's relationship has left her vampire boyfriend with some deep thoughts. After Buffy talks about getting 'the girlfriend drawer' at his place and leaving behind a 'Buffy and Angel forever' doodle, Angel's definitely concerned. That gets amped up when Joyce drops by unannounced and tells him that Buffy will never be able to see the doomed relationship for what it is and HE needs to be the one to break it off. This culminates in him breaking up with Buffy in the sewers. Angel tells her that he'll never be able to give her the life she deserves -- a life in daylight, orgasms, etc. He also drops the bomb that after the Ascension, he's skipping town. Buffy is understandably devastated.

That's what makes Tucker Wells's timing impeccable. He's the misanthrope behind the hellhounds. As a completely logical reaction to being rejected for a prom date, he has trained a small army of hellhounds to attack anyone in formal wear, and he plans to unleash them at the prom. After insisting that her much happier friends attend the prom, Buffy confronts Tucker solo. While she makes quick work of subduing the wuss, she's too late and he's already sent them to the school. Buffy catches up with the hounds just before they ruin everyone's prom. She kills them, and shows up in all her gorgeous splendor just in time for Prom '99!

And what a prom it is. Xander suffers through having Anya regale him with vengeance demon stories, and Wesley drools over Cordelia in her sexy dress -- that Xander adorably paid for -- until Giles tells him to nut up and ask her to dance. What really turns the night into a Cinderella moment for Buffy is during the awards, when Jonathan presents her with the new category of 'Class Protector', given to Buffy on behalf of the entire graduating class. As if that's not sweet enough, Angel shows up to dance with Buffy. Talk about a perfect high school moment.

Liz's BITES:
* Well, in this FANTASTIC episode, it is officially The End for Buffy and Angel. I have to confess, they have never been my favourite couple, compared to Willow and Oz, and other couples to come, but I really felt how much they loved each other. You'd have to be made of stone not to. That loss of a first love is what made this break-up so crushing, and Buffy's reaction is exactly what I would expect, and what I've had myself. First the numbness -- 'this isn't real' -- and then the crippling heartbreak -- 'I'm trying to keep from dying'. When she collapses onto Willow's lap, I don't know who cried harder, her or me. And right before the prom!

* The whole hellhound storyline was kinda meh. It was basically just a relief from the relationship drama, and I'm really grateful they didn't make it a 'creature feature' episode, with us seeing Willow and Oz interrogating the friend, etc. I find it very interesting how in the recent 'Earshot', a student about to commit mass-murder was taken with grave seriousness, but here it's just a mere piss-off before the prom. And WHAT happened to Tucker? Did Buffy just leave him chained up and released him to the care of the Sunnydale police after the prom? What did she tell them?

* Buffy should be mighty grateful she has people like Willow and Giles in her life. Both of them are smart cookies and know that ultimately, Buffy and Angel shouldn't be together, but when Angel's inevitable break-up actually happens, there's no 'it's for the best' from either redhead or ex-Watcher. All they can see is a crushed Buffy. Willow does her best friendly duties by bashing Angel, but is so lost and empathetic when Buffy bursts into tears. And that scene between Buffy and Giles in the kink cage was so moving. Giles 1.0 would be overjoyed at Bufy's decision to put aside her feelings to fight the hellhounds. But fatherly Giles is primarily concerned with Buffy's emotional well-being when he finds out about the break-up, even if he can't do much to help. 'I understand this situation requires ice cream of some kind'...oh did my heart melt.

* I have been MIGHTY hard on Xander, both during and post-Smoochiegate. With pride, I declare him fully redeemed. The Xan-man shows genuine sensitivity at the big reveal that Cordelia's broke, even though it's a perfect opportunity to rub her misery in her face. And when he PAID FOR HER PROM DRESS! Awwwww. Oh my stars, that was so sweet. Well, duh!

* Sweetness aside, this begs the question... where the Hellmouth does Xander get all his money? He has made it no secret that his parents are assholes and broke ones to boot, and Xander has no income to speak of. So how does he pay for both Cordelia's dress and his rental tux? Methinks Xander might be a 'creature of the night' if ya know what I mean.

* Anya rocks. A 1000+-year-old demon who can FULLY see the silliness of investing so much into a school dance...but still wants to go anyway! How priceless was Xander's face when Anya was going on and on with her vengeance demon stories? So much that the poor guy was actually happy to see Cordelia and Wesley. TOGETHER!

* Speaking of which, HALLELUJAH! Wesley finally made a move on Cordelia and asked her to dance. I think Giles spoke for us all when he said to Wesley, 'Just have at it and stop fluttering about.'

* Ah, Wesley. Does anyone else wonder how he has justified his presence at the school? As Watcher, Giles has still always fulfilled the role of legitimate librarian. Is Wesley playing the role of Giles's assistant? Somehow I don't think he would go for that. Then does nobody question a late 20s/early 30s well-dressed Brit heading to the library every morning? Not only that, but he's CHAPERONE at the prom.

* Yay, Jonathan. He got a date to prom!

*Double-yay Jonathan, for presenting Buffy with the Class Protector award. That was such a moving scene. Buffy finally got her perfect high school moment. *tear*

* While on the topic of awards, it's time for the Fashion Slayer. The winner is...THE SCOOBY GANG! From Cordelia's perfect dress to Willow's 'look at those' to Oz's snazzy suit to Buffy's girly princessness, everyone looked positively fab. Scoobies, take a bow.

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Heart permanently broken for Buffy and Angel? Wondering what the hell happened to Tucker? Who really had the best prom dress? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Dish later;
Liz

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.19 Choices

The Dish: Everyone wants to get their hands on the Mayor's box.

Being a spoiled child sure is nice, as Faith learns for the first time when her Mayor-daddy gives her a present in the form of a gorgeous, menacing knife. But he doesn't just give gifts out willy-nilly. Faith is expected to go to the airport to retrieve a package crucial to the Mayor's Ascension. Upon arrival, Faith makes quick work of killing the delivery man, and retrieves what looks like a bigass, ancient box. The Mayor is positively giddy to receive it but warns Faith, DO NOT OPEN THAT BOX.

While Principal Snyder's on an anti-drug kick and Buffy starts to question her future with Angel, the Scooby Gang makes plans for theirs, post-high school. Xander's going to pull a Jack Kerouac, and I don't mean he's going to mistreat women, whine a lot, and write an overrated book, but backpack across the country. Willow's been accepted to posh schools all over the world and is trying to pick which one to attend. And our good Slayer herself, Buffy, has been accepted to North Western and really wants to go. There's just this small Ascension problem. Being accepted to a good school puts a fire under her ass, and Buffy bursts into the library to tell Giles and Wesley that she's done lying in wait and wants to take the fight to the Mayor. Giles backs up her plan, and that night Buffy goes to City Hall for a recon mission. That's where she sees Faith with the Box.

Giles informs her that it's the Box of Gavrok, capable of unspeakable evils, something they definitely do NOT want in the Mayor's possession. The plan is for Buffy and Angel to steal it, bringing Willow along to disable any magic alarms that may be protecting the Box. Giles and Wesley will drive the getaway car. Oz and Xander will prepare a spell to destroy the Box. Xander goes to the main drag to shop for ingredients and spots Cordelia shopping for prom dresses. He can't resist a little mean-spirited banter, and dismisses her acceptance into quality colleges as having been paid for by Daddy. Cordelia actually seems hurt.

That night, the plan's afoot. As Xander and Oz diligently prep the spell, Giles and Wesley drop off the rest of the Scoobies, who scale the roof of City Hall and easily spot the box. Willow effortlessly performs the spell, and the magic alarm is disabled. Work done, she books it out of there. Buffy and Angel break into the Mayor's office to nab the Box, but they didn't count on an ACTUAL alarm and are quickly fighting for their lives against a horde of minions. They get away with the box and hide in the bushes, while Giles and Wesley's decoy van fools the vamps. Mission: Successful. Only a teeny problem -- Faith kidnaps Willow.

Chaos reigns at Scooby headquarters as Buffy and Xander tear Wesley a new one for suggesting they leave Willow with Team Bad Guy and go ahead with the plan to destroy the Box. Oz settles everything by SMASHING the pedestal needed for the spell and the gang decides to call the Mayor to arrange a trade. Back at City Hall, Willow kills her vampire watchdog and instead of escaping, breaks into the Mayor's office and discovers the Books of Ascension. She pores over them until being caught by Faith. Willow calls Faith out for being a world-class bitch and almost takes a knifing for it, but the Mayor breaks it up with news of the trade.

The Scoobies arrange for it to be in the school cafeteria, blocking off all the entrances but one. Team Bad Guy shows up, with Faith holding Willow at knife-point. Buffy and the Mayor meet each other for the first time, but before the trade, the Mayor takes the opportunity to call out the flaws in Buffy and Angel's relationship. As an immortal, the Mayor had to watch his wife age while he remained the same, and it destroyed them, and he can't help but feel that the same will happen for Buffy and Angel. Sore spots hit, the trade is made clean and simple. Except Snyder then bursts in with a handful of cops, thinking the clandestine meeting is a drug deal. One cop is hit with a cold dose of reality when he opens the Box of Gavrok, only to have a giant spider emerge and rip his face off. Another spider escapes before Buffy closes the box, and now Good Guy and Bad Guy alike are looking to stop the spiders. One gets the Mayor, but his invincibility makes it impossible to kill him. The spider moves on to Buffy, jumping on her back, but she smashes it dead into the ground. Faith spots another one crawling up the wall and hurls her knife at it, killing it instantly. The bad guys leave with the Box in hand, but Buffy takes Faith's knife.

After the fact, Willow tells her war story to Buffy and Giles. Giles is giddy to learn Willow got her hands on the Books of Ascension, and almost faints with pleasure when the redhead hands him a few key pages she tore from the books. The next day, Willow tells Buffy that what she wants to do with her life is fight evil, and as a result, Willow will be joining Buffy at UCSunnydale next year. Buffy is overjoyed. However, not so much with the Mayor's words about her and Angel. In a private moment, Buffy and Angel assure each other they'll be okay but the look on their faces says that neither believe that. Sucks to be them.

Liz's BITES:
* Wowzers, what a doozy of an episode. 'Choices' marks the beginning of the end for Season 3 and its final battle. For the first time, Buffy and the Mayor meet each other face to face. Such formidable adversaries these two are. More than ever, Buffy showed real warlike instinct in planning her Box-snatching mission, with maps and stuff. I have to tip my hat to the Mayor for being a fantastic villain, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say the BEST villain the series has ever seen. He relishes the opportunity to hit his opponent where it hurts, when he dissects Buffy and Angel's relationship and exposes its cracks. The crazy thing is that I detect a note of fatherly caring from the Mayor. It is just that which makes him a fantastic villain, his ability to completely tune into the emotions of others, as he can use it against them. And how creepy were those spiders? Graduation Day will definitely be interesting. I think that's the first time anyone's ever said that.

* This was definitely Willow's night for suave. The girl is a forced to be reckoned with. Not only was she integral in the Box-snatching mission, but she DUSTED HER FIRST VAMP, with a pencil of all things -- which is a throwback to the 'Gingerbread', 'what are you gonna do, float a pencil on them?' episode. That confrontation scene with Faith was pants-moisteningly fabulous. Willow calls Faith out for being a bad person and beautifully encapsulates what I've been thinking from the get-go -- just because you had a shitty childhood doesn't give you the right to be a total asshole. Yes, certain ex-boyfriends, I'm talking to you too. Sure, Willow took a punch and had a knife pulled on her, but notice how Faith HAD to insist that the Mayor cared for her? Willow really got to her. To top everything off, being taken hostage really shows Willow where she belongs and as a result, forgoes all the Ivy League schools she was accepted into, in favour of of staying in Sunnydale to fight evil. I think Buffy speaks for us all when she says 'I think I kind of love you', Willow.

* Woe is me, it looks like the beginning of the end for Buffy and Angel. Buffy is about to be a Grown-Up, and that means she has to think about her future. Even before the Mayor's candor, Angel's immortality, and Buffy's lack of it, plagued Buffy's thoughts. Talk about problems, and the whole no sex thing barely gets broached this episode. What really kicks 'Choices' into high gear is when Buffy wants to defeat the Mayor and survive the Ascension so she can go away to school, and in that moment, she ain't thinking about her vamp-beau. You'll be okay, Buffy and Angel? What, are you on My Lunch?

* Oh, Principal Snyder. In this episode he's on an inexplicable drug witch-hunt, but it added great humour to this tense episode. Man, that dude has some great lines. Case in point -- 'why couldn't you just be dealing drugs like normal people?' Love it.

* I know Buffy's plan was a hasty one, but don't you think 'what happens to Willow after she performs the spell?' should have been explicitly thought out and planned? Some friends.

* Team Bad Guy also deserves a helping of shitty plan humble pie. Sure, the Box of Gavrok was protected by both a magic alarm and a real one. But just leaving it sitting on the desk, in plain sight? If it were me, I would have hidden it many layers underground with like a bajillion minions guarding it. It's a good thing I'm not looking for an Ascension or BEWARE WORLD!

* When Xander and Cordelia start in on each other, I wanted to hurl my laptop across the room. How many iterations of this must we be subjected to? But things took a turn for the interesting when Cordelia seemed legitimately hurt after the encounter in the dress shoppe. And THEN we find out Queen C WORKS there? I am so intrigued.

* Oz moved me to tears this episode, in a scene I'll never forget. The guy is silent as a mouse as the Scoobies argue over sacrificing his girlfriend to the cause, when he gets up and SMASHES the pedestal, the only way to destroy the box. That speaks louder than words. Oz, you are quite the human. Er, werewolf.

* You know who's NOT? Effing Wesley. He's not completely in the realm of insanity when he suggests that one life and a destroyed Box of Gavrok would benefit literally thousands of people. But that one life belongs to WILLOW. This new Watcher really needs to be punched. After he has sex with Cordelia. Or during.

* Wasn't it adorable how Faith carried around her present from the Mayor like a kid does a beloved teddy bear? Joking aside, it really WAS a bitching knife.

* It's Fashion Slayer award time and it goes to the woman of the hour herself, Willow, for her Wiccan-sexy pink dress she wears to Operation Grab the Mayor's Box. But seriously, for the love of God, what's with all the overalls? Does the costume designer have a farmer cousin who gives them away for free?

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the episode? Agree or disagree with my claim that the Mayor is the best villain of the series thus far? On a scale of somewhat aroused to passed out, how much did you love Willow? Anyone else ready to sock Wesley in the face? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Dish later;
Liz



Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.18 Earshot

The Dish: It doesn't take a mind reader like Buffy to know I've got KINK CAGE on the brain.

While out patrolling, Buffy encounters two mouthless demons. One gets away, but she makes neat work of slaying the other but unbeknownst to her, she is branded with its mark. Buffy notices it the next day at school, and brings it to Giles, giving him some much needed reprieve from his fruitless Ascension research. He informs Buffy that due to her exposure to the demon, she has become infected and will eventually possess an 'aspect of the demon'. This sends Buffy into a tailspin. The girl has enough on her worry plate, what with watching her soulmate suck face with her mortal enemy last week. Now she also has to fear the growth of a tail, horns, or even a DEMON WIENER!

While trying to make idle chatter with the Scooby Gang, it's obvious that Xander is extremely jealous of Cordelia and Wesley's mutual attraction for each other. Though he says nothing, Buffy overhears him think as much and that's when the light bulb goes off -- the 'aspect of the demon' is the power of telepathy. Buffy is thrilled and wastes no time in using it to score extra brownie points with her English teacher...much to the chagrin of teacher's pet Nancy. Buffy takes things a step further by visiting Angel and not-so-subtly mentioning Faith in an attempt to read his inner-most thoughts. Unfortunately, she hits a big ole brick wall. Telepathy doesn't work on vampires. Still, Angel assures her that in the 200+ years he's been 'alive', he's only loved one person -- and it ain't the slut-o-rama Slayer, that's for sure.

Buffy excitedly shares her power with the Scooby Gang, but doesn't receive the reaction she's hoping for. While Cordelia is an open book and vocalizes her thoughts seconds after she has them, both Xander and Wesley flee the room in fear of Buffy hearing any more from their dirty minds. Willow starts to worry that Buffy will no longer need her as a friend, and runs off upset with Oz in tow. Buffy quickly realizes that she can't control whose thoughts she hears and this culminates in the cafeteria when everyone's thoughts become a suffocating cacophony, but one evil voice resounds above the crowd: 'This time tomorrow, I'll kill you all.' And Buffy hits the ground.

When she comes to, Buffy finds herself on the grass outside, surrounded by the concerned Scoobies. She tells them about the will-be killer before Giles takes her home. Slayerless and ex-Watcherless, Willow steps up to the plate and cross-references the list of people in the cafeteria with FBI serial killer profiles, and they whittle the list down. Everyone from popular jocks to creepy teachers to the wimpy Jonathan and the now openly gay Larry get interrogated by the Scooby Gang but they come up short. The only person they can't seem to find is Freddy Iverson, pessimistic editor of the school paper.

While Buffy is bed-ridden, and Joyce's attempts to NOT think about boning Giles twice on a cop car prove futile, Angel prowls the streets in search of the other demon who escaped. Giles's research has unearthed that the only way to reverse the 'aspect of the demon' effects are to drink a concoction containing the demon's heart. Angel has very little trouble and in no time, is at Buffy's, holding her in his arms and feeding her a telepathic demon heart milkshake. In no time, Buffy is back on her feet and at school just in time to go confront Freddy with the gang. They discover that the reason behind his skittishness is fear of backlash at an unfavourable review he published on Dingoes Ate My Baby --- Oz immediately assures him it's fair. On top of Freddy's considerably large pile of hate mail, Cordelia finds a letter from a student, apologizing for the horrible thing he is about to do -- and that student is JONATHAN.

The gang fans out to find the pint-sized almost-killer. Buffy sees him up in the clock tower, and bursts in to find him holding a semi-automatic. Jonathan declares he is sick of either being picked on or ignored and wants the pain to go away. Using no Slayer strength, Buffy just listens to him, and when he's finished, she tells him that every single person in the school has their own pain. Jonathan softens and hands the gun over to Buffy. When she mentions that he dodged a bullet -- HEYO -- by not committing mass murder, he gives her a puzzled look. Jonathan had no intention of murdering anybody...he was going to kill himself.

With the killer still on the loose, Xander puts his priorities in order and decides to sneak into the kitchen for an illicit snack...only to find the lunch lady pouring a shitload of rat poison into food about to be served to students. Xander runs into the caf, going apeshit and swatting food out of people's hands. The lunch lady goes after him with a meat cleaver but Buffy shows up in the nick of time and makes quick work of kicking her ass. With the day saved, all is right with the world. Except Giles's nose, after he hits a tree when Buffy calls him out for banging her mom. Shoulda seen that cumming, Giles.

Liz's BITES:
* Ah, the last popcorn episode of the season. I can't say 'Earshot' was perfect, but gosh darn it, I love a good whodunnit, er, whoWILLdunnit. The writers did a fabulous job incorporating a topical issue into the show -- so much that this episode was aired much later out of sensitivity to the then-recent Columbine shootings -- without resorting to medicine theatrics. With so much time spent on the Faith/Mayor storyline, I was quite pleased to see an ensemble episode, with all hands on deck, and I was happy to see the return of old regulars like Larry and especially Jonathan. The whole concept of this episode was a nice reversal from the usual creature feature fare -- typically the school is affected by the Hellmouth, but this time, the Hellmouth actually HELPS fight the mortal bad guy, via Buffy's telepathy.

* Before I dig too much deeper, I have to get this off my chest. The would-be killer was the freaking LUNCH LADY? WTF? I know that this episode had way more layers than just the killer story but SOME motive would be nice. Anything!

* A big congratulations is in order to Larry, for coming out. It's so nice to see a bully shed his douchebaggery in such a courageous way.

* OR in a scared-straight way ala Percy. I loved him clamoring for Willow's approval, and her reciprocal loving but firm demeanor. What a good Domme our Willow is. Maybe SHE should own Percy's ass...in the kink cage.

* Willow also became the Domme of the killer plot, with Buffy out of commission and Giles dedicating his efforts to restoring his Slayer back to health. I thought it was a stroke of brilliance for her to use FBI serial killer profiles to help suss out the prime suspects. See, Willow, Buffy DOES need you. By the by, what's with Willow always being the one to interrogate Jonathan? Remember the 'Go Fish' peeing in the pool incident? That poor boy must be as scared of Willow as Percy. Another submissive for the kink cage!

* I must say, Freddy Iverson made one crappy red herring. Did anyone for a fraction of a second REALLY suspect it was him? It seems like the only reason he was in the episode at all was because all the other recurring students were tapped out. Bore snore.

* Nancy also didn't add much in the way of viable suspects. Still, I kind of enjoyed her in a looser curls, looks like she's 40, Tracy Flick kind of way. I SO wished the episode would have had a tag of her attempting to run up the stairs like Buffy.

* I was tickled lady-parts pink to get confirmation that Wesley is just as into Cordelia as she's into him. What's the ruling on him hooking up with her? She's a high school senior. If she's not of age now, she certainly will be soon. Plus, Wesley isn't HER Watcher. Go for it! And make the increasingly cloying Xander all kinds of jeally.

* By the way, Cordelia was absolutely hilarious this episode. The girl sure speaks her mind, as the telepathic Buffy can tell firsthand. No thoughts are kept secret with Queen C.

* Okay, it's time to talk about The Scene between Buffy and Jonathan. That, more than anything, is what forever imprints this episode in my memory. Here, Buffy proves to be a REAL hero, not just a Slayer. She uses absolutely no powers when convincing Jonathan to give her the gun. Though the mind reading was more a curse than a blessing, it did give Buffy a new outlook on the pain of her fellow students, of her fellow humans. In turn, she shares this with Jonathan and it saves his life. And good god, how much did your stomach plummet when Jonathan gave the big reveal that he planned to kill HIMSELF? Brilliant scene.

* Nothing -- NOTHING -- tops the ending when Buffy oh-so casually calls out Giles for boning Joyce. Ripper crashing into a tree = priceless.

* When our Slayer isn't confronting her mother's former lovers, she is suffering from telepathy at home in ADORABLE cow-print jammies. Buffy wins this week's Fashion Slayer award. I hope that makes up for the permanent mental image of your mother making sweet love to your Watcher on the hood of a police car. If not, rest assure my dear Buffy, I certainly enjoyed it.

That's all for me this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of the ep? Still shaking from that emotional scene between Buffy and Jonathan? Think the red herrings were kinda lame? Have ANY clue what the lunch lady's motivation was? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.

Dish later;
Liz