We should have been forever

The Killer in Me - Willow as Warren smiling

The Killer in Me (Drew Z. Greenberg)

This is the Buffy has a cold episode. It has three separate story-lines of varying degrees of interest. The Spike story is as engaging as any Spike story this season although the funniest joke came about because of this line: “Who you gonna call?” Both Andy and I said “Ghostbusters” and then Spike spoke again “God, that phrase is never gonna be useable again, is it?” (very funny Drew).

Giles had a wonderful exchange with Buffy at the beginning and I reckon her description of the vision quest was pretty accurate although she appears to have omitted mention of the gourd.

I am obviously a keen and close watcher (ho ho) because I was blissfully unaware first time viewing that Giles was behaving out of character and that many many people thought he might be the First. Oh well.

The Killer in Me - Giles

Giles being pounced on by “a teenager, a powerful former demon, and two big geeks” was very funny and although Giles’s line: “you think I’m evil…if I bring a group of girls on a camping trip and don’t touch them?” was ooc, it was still the second funniest joke in the episode.

My initial reaction to the Willow story-line is that it was well acted and nicely dramatic.

I don’t understand why Joss & co thought that Willow should get over Tara and find a new partner over the course of S7. If you remove my bias towards Tara, it still doesn’t make sense. The death of Tara resulted in Willow doing unspeakable things (that’s obviously a turn of phrase because Willow blabs it all over the place as if it wasn’t that important (including in LA)). But, anyway, why should she get over it and move on?

I actually find Iyari Limon quite appealing as Kennedy. She’s okay. She’s no Seth Green or Amber Benson but she is okay.

What isn’t okay is her behaviour. From the very beginning she has behaved in an inappropriate and pushy manner. From the moment she sees Willow she is flirting with her. And in this episode she fakes illness and asks intrusive questions. I totally understand the dislike of her character because of these reasons but, don’t blame her, blame the writers. However, I do draw the line at Kennedy being Prince Charming and kissing Willow’s misery away.

Kennedy likes to get into everybody's personal space.

Kennedy likes to get into everybody's personal space.

Amy’s involvement doesn’t make sense and her motivation even less so. Amy is jealous of Willow’s ability? How could she know? Amy was a rat for most of the time that Willow developed as a witch. True, she had ensouled Angel but floating a pencil was hard work and we only saw her doing that after Amy was ratted. I would totally have believed any explanation from Amy that involved her being upset at being a rat for three years.

The Killer in Me - Adam Busch plays Willow

So the best thing about this episode is that Tara and Willow’s feelings about her were directly referenced.

Writing all this down makes me realise that on a superficial level this episode dealt with a lot of issues in an easy to swallow way. However, digestion is bloody hard.

Still funny

Still funny

Do people ever think you’re weird?

Potential (Rebecca Rand Kirshner)

And as for those trousers

And as for those trousers

This follow up to “Showtime” was also pretty poor with more tedious speeches by Buffy. Maybe it’s SMG’s choice but her arm crossing to connote stern seriousness is becoming parodic.

Andrew’s dialogue is getting repetitive with a variation of his “now I’m good” speech from “Bring on the Night” turning up here.

The First is in “remission”? And the town is still “lousy with Bringers”? Oh dear.

Andy noted that Molly’s English accent is now becoming a highlight of each episode which is sadly true.

Georgia‘s comment that the potentials are “like a powerful new addition to the mythology” is a fair one if that is what I wanted to see in the show. However, I want the Scoobies not the newbies. And not one of them looks fifteen.

potential - dawn

Dawn was in danger of getting an interesting storyline. Although I don’t think I would have wanted her to be a potential slayer, she desperately needed a stronger purpose on the show. Even in the comics she still isn’t that interesting.

potential - xander kisses dawn's forehead

Since Xander is my least favourite Scooby: he bugs me a lot of the time particularly when he gets all judgey towards the others. However, his speech about being not being special but extraordinary is rather lovely.

I don’t really understand why Willow is frequently not allowed to do magic without great consequences occurring  (i.e. black eyes) whereas if it suits the plot she is allowed to do locator spells.

Here endeth the lesson

Showtime (David Fury)

showtime - potentials and eve

This was pretty dreadful.

The Potentials:

  • I like to think it was just unfortunate that this poor episode coincided with Felicia Day’s first appearance as Vi
  • the sudden influx of Potentials made me think we had missed an episode out
  • never mind that they are all girls, just the sheer number of them will lead to bathroom problems
  • generally they were all highly irritating
  • I understand that Eve’s accent was as awful as Molly’s
  • Rona’s whinging was too much

Why is Spike still alive? I mean that the writers ought to have found a good reason why the First hasn’t disposed of him rather than relying on the fact that the character is popular.

And, bummer, after I said nice things last time about Kennedy and Andrew, it’s a shame that the latter was so blimming annoying this time with his unfunny interjections. I imagine that the character bible was rewritten to say that Andrew should be “amusingly nerdy” but clearly not all the writers got it right. Kennedy is still a great Potential but I really don’t like her flirting with Willow and, it’s not (just) because she’s not Tara, it’s because it just seems inappropriate and implausible.

Telepathy! We know that Willow has the power but not that Buffy can instigate it. If the Scoobies can communicate in such a cool way then why don’t they do it all the time? Nonsense.

showtime - buffy and the ubervamp - whipped

What a lousy plan! Willow could have had a relapse or died or been possessed; Xander came close to being killed and, as for a lesson…, look, there’s THE Slayer getting whipped and the Potentials, who for the most part didn’t even know they were special until sometime between “Bring on the Night” and this, are supposed to be impressed? Some lesson.

Beljoxa’s Eye: all that fuss to get into another dimension (with vortex) including Anya being willing to prostitute herself (which is just plain nasty thing to do to her character (see also “Sleeper’)) and it turns out to be a non-threatening cheap rubber multi-eyed thingy. OK, there were two funny lines delivered impeccably by Emma Caulfield but, oh, what have they done to Anya?

Sorry to barge in. We have a slight apocalypse.

Bring on the Night (Marti Noxon and Douglas Petrie)

bring on the night - potentials

The Potentials have arrived and only one of them isn’t annoying. So far.

Why, oh why, did it have be Annabelle that ran? If it had been Molly then we would have been spared any more of Clara Bryant’s atrocious English accent. Even Dick Van Dyke and Juliet Landau’s were better. It was so bad that it occasionally sounded Australian. Also we don’t say trash, we say rubbish, but we do say biscuits for cookies so, in the course of two lines of dialogue, it’s was one all.

This is going to be a weird sentence but I like Kennedy. So far. She’s feisty and has spoken sensibly. So far. I do take issue with her flirting with Willow because that is one heck of a lesbidar she has. After all, some people even now still maintain that Willow isn’t gay.

bring on the night - willow

Dawn and Anya’s behaviour in this was awful. Really unattractive and horrible. Dawn is now annoying me. It would be hard to sell the terrible dialogue she has had in this and the previous episode about Buffy’s “illness” at the best of times but she is failing.

Coupling Dawn and Anya’s meanness with Spike being used as a punchbag made this unpleasantly violent to watch.

The fight scenes were well done (fighting and hitting vulnerable people is different) although I am concerned about just how Buffy is going to beat this single uber-vamp.

Buffy has dreams. Buffy’s dreams are always significant. Does Buffy tell her friends about her dreams? Of course not.

Oh dear, Willow has been possessed by the First Evil and really, really doesn’t want to do magic anymore. Great. I can’t say that I’m sad that she eventually gets over this.

"with the magic going all aah and me going all eeee and everything getting all rrrr"

"with the magic going all aah and me going all eeee and everything getting all rrrr"

“Sorry to barge in. We have a slight apocalypse” but not the one that is happening up the road in LA.

bring on the night - giles

Once I stop thinking that Andrew is weak and was far too easily led to commit murder, I find him amusingly nerdy. His interjection of “and it cost them their lives!” was very funny. And this was great too: “I admit I went over to the dark side, but just to pick up a few things, and now I’m back”.

bring on the night - andrew

Giles is awfully negative, isn’t he? Maybe he was trying to get Buffy pepped up to get her to make the first of many speeches (I do remember that from S7). This was in a call to arms that required full attention because it starts off unpromisingly.

Determined face - we'll see this again

Determined face - we'll see this again

Warren killed Tara. I didn’t do it. And he was aiming for Buffy anyway.

Never Leave Me (Drew Goddard)

Andrew can’t help himself by mentioning Patrick Swayze. Tom Lenk is excellent as Andrew, by the way. It’s a pity that Andrew is a character I have little time for. Or that I think I have little time for although time will tell if I revise that opinion.

Tying a super strong vampire to a chair was always a good idea, I don’t think.

Are all American butcher shops like that? Super busy and with a ticketing system?

I love that Andrew is terrified of Willow and how she plays up to that. It’s a nice contrast with Willow’s attempt at being mean in “Doppelgangland”. This Willow knows how to be scary but still adds an “ok?”

never leave me - Willow and Andrew

I have reached a stage where I plain cringe when women hit men (because, obviously, I already cringe when men hit women!) and so I didn’t enjoy Xander and Anya’s good cop, bad cop routine.

Spike in shackles. The imagery is complete.

never leave me - Spike

Eye roll: “You like men who hurt you”. Buffy denies this, thank goodness.

What the hell was that with Principal Wood and Jonathan’s body?

Duh, duh, duh, Buffy has sussed it; it’s the First.

I know Buffy is low budget but that Watchers’ Council explosion is pretty awful stuff.

never leave me - explosion

Man, I hate playing vampire towns

Sleeper (David Fury and Jane Espenson)

sleeper - the cast

I still like S7! And although I don’t have much to say about this particular episode I still enjoyed it for the most part. It was Spike-centric and I simply don’t have much to say about him or his relationship with Buffy.

I don’t want to think too hard about this (I’ll leave that to others) but isn’t Buffy’s attitude to Spike in “Sleeper” rather different from her attitude to Anya in “Selfless”?

The moment when Buffy/the First encourages Spike to kill is shocking.

I didn’t like the way that Anya came onto Spike after he catches her snooping in his room. I realise that it is supposed to be funny and it is because Emma and James are good at being funny but it is tacky. And this: “I got it. No problem, I understand. You think I’m fat.” is just idiotic and not funny at all (because I guess it was supposed to be ironic [insert twisted face smiley]).

Aimee Mann! Two songs and a line! OK, the line is annoying because she knows Sunnydale has vampires and it’s not supposed to be common knowledge. But, Aimee Mann!

Sleeper - Aimee

And it was nice to see Giles again albeit briefly.

Anchovies, anchovies, you’re so delicious. I love you more than all the other fishes.

Conversations With Dead People (Jane Espenson & Drew Goddard)

conversations with dead people - joyce

One of the signs of great writing is to introduce a stranger into a cast of familiar characters and have the audience care about the interactions between the stranger and the well-known. This failed miserably in “The Message” (written by Joss Whedon and Tim Minear) where Jonathan M. Woodward played Tracey so it isn’t Woodward that made the trick work. Joss wrote the scenes between Buffy and Holden so it’s obviously something he can’t pull off every time. Andy made the point that Buffy clearly doesn’t remember Holden at all so she has no advantage over us (via in-jokes and shared memories, for example). This suggests to me that “The Message” didn’t work because the Browncoats remembered Tracey while we didn’t. Plus the story was execrable.

Although Jane Espenson and Drew Goddard are credited with writing the episode it was actually broken down like this: JE wrote Dawn’s story, DG wrote the Trio’s, Marti Noxon wrote Willow’s and Joss Whedon wrote Buffy’s. I wonder what happened to the person who wrote Xander’s… It is rather a kick in the chops that after six seasons the writers thought that Xander didn’t have a role to play in this important episode.

Spike has no dialogue and yet his story is told effectively and ends horrifically when he is revealed as a killer again.

Horror is the name of the game as Dawn’s story unfolds. It may be classic horror but it was also genuinely scary and revealed how resourceful and brave she can be. Such wasted potential.

conversations with dead people - dawn

I loved the character interaction between Buffy and Holden. The actors played off each other well. It is sometimes easy to open up to strangers. The look of sadness, dismay and thoughtfulness on Buffy’s face after she dusts Holden is nicely played by SMG who is, shall I say it again?, absolutely fabulous as Buffy.

conversations with dead people - buffy

“She’s sorry she couldn’t come herself.” says Cassie, “She’s in dispute.” said Andy. Only a handful know the whole truth about Amber Benson’s absence but it is a great loss to BtVS that she wasn’t in this. There is no doubt in my mind that if Amber had been in this then it would have been awesome and the episode would probably be in my top ten. Tara egging on Willow to commit suicide, Willow’s dawning comprehension, Tara’s mocking “Oh, baby, you left such a big hole. It hurt so bad.” – all of that would have been amazing. The great “what if?” of BtVS. However, despite the oddity of Cassie (a character who Willow had never even met) being used to get at Willow, this still packs a punch. Alyson Hannigan is particularly good as she realises she has been had.

conversations with dead people - willow

When Jonathan and Andrew appeared on my screen I gave a Pavlovian groan but their story was compelling and Andrew’s murder of Jonathan after being easily tricked by “Warren” was excellent drama. Unfortunately, the arrival of Andrew leads to the marginalization of other characters in his favour.

conversations with dead people - andrew and warren

This was a fantastic episode and S7 continues to confound my memory of it. However, there is more Andrew to come and a bunch of Potentials and maybe my memory of them is not wrong. On the other hand, Faith!

Goodbye tiny man

Goodbye tiny man

It’s not coddling. Now go to your closet.

Him (Drew Z. Greenberg)

Him - Willow and Anya
This rehash of season 2’s “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” is quite dreadful for the first two thirds. Women fighting over men is so flipping tedious and (really!) there was no need to tell the story again. It only picks up when Willow and Anya become affected because Alyson Hannigan and Emma Caulfield do funny very well indeed (I was going to point at “Triangle” for evidence and then I read my earlier reaction).

W: This isn’t about his physical presence. It’s about his heart.
A: His physical presence has a penis!
W: I can work around it!

I like the t-shirt and waistcoat look.

I like the t-shirt and waistcoat look.

Sarah Michelle Gellar seemed off as if she couldn’t quite engage with a character who was bewitched in to doing the dirty on her sister and seducing a schoolboy while in a position of authority (despite being “extremely youthful. And peppy”): maybe SMG was as unamused as me. Also, as StephenT asks, does RJ know what effect the jacket has? Urgh, skeevy all round.

Poor Dawn,

Well, I guess you guys could use my help. Willow’s not very good with the practical strategizing – except when she’s evil. And Dawn – she’s not really good for anything.

She amply demonstrates this in a series of excruciating and humiliating and unfunny scenes: trying to make “Him” notice her and trying out for cheerleading, (bloody hell) sexy dancing and, naturally, a cat fight.

It was nice to see LouAnne from Girltrash! Riki Lindhome has such a distinctive face.

And look in that shop window, isn’t that Spike’s reflection?

And look in that shop window, isn’t that Spike’s reflection?

The bazooka is funny.

The bazooka is funny.

I think we already know what Lady Hacksaway wants

Selfless” (Drew Goddard)

selfless-anya

This is another excellent episode. It focused on Anya and I think it must be the first one to do so. She had to wait a long time since her first appearance in “The Wish”.

I was snorting with derision when Buffy announced that she had to kill Anya. “Just like all those times she should have killed Spike,” I sneered. However, by the time she had reminded Xander that she did actually kill Angel, she had convinced me.

While she was reminding Xander of that she also mentioned that he and Willow had been rather unsupportive at the time (“Do you remember cheering me on? Both of you. Do you remember giving me Willow’s message: kick his ass.”) Not many other shows would reference something that happened four and a half years of broadcast time ago so casually.  The scene wouldn’t really work at all if you didn’t know anything of Buffy’s relationship with Angel. I felt a bit sorry for Willow. She barely got to defend herself and Buffy had bottled it up for years.

Anyway, moving back to Anya, Emma Caulfield is marvellous again. She gets to be comedy Swedish, anguished vengeance demon, hardened vengeance demon, singing human, resigned and weary demon, and sad lonely human. And she gets to kiss a bunny.

selfless-anya-and-bunny

There was a lot of Willow to like, except for grimly angry Willow (Alyson Hannigan just cannot sell that to me), particularly chilling was the way she turned on the terrified woman as she used magic to prevent a spider attack.

selfless-willow

I am very sad to see Hallie go although a consequence of that is getting fannish about D’Hoffyn’s remark to Anya and from beneath her, it devours.

Even Spike’s scene didn’t bother me. It was alleviating to see an actual manifestation of his visions (that we think are his visions anyway) in the form of soft-spoken, white-wearing Buffy. [Who, by the way, has been wearing some horrible trousers this season. Were they the fashion back in the day? All the way to 2002!]

“I am Aud.” Best line of the show, perfectly delivered. Best visual of the eppy was the sight of Buffy balancing a pot of pencils on her head.

Selfless - Buffy balancing a pot of pencils on her head

The fight between Buffy and Anya was pretty good but, I’ll say it again, nothing matches a Buffy/Faith dust-up.

Bold statement: all in all, this was an episode up there with the best. Actually, not that bold, after all.

selfless-dhoffyn-and-anya