Thursday, May 17, 2007

Buffy Wednesday (16 May)

Tyranist and I only had time and energy for one "Buffy" episode this week, because I was sick and he was tired, and because we watched the Pang Brothers' The Eye beforehand. The episode was called "Revelations," and I'm happy to say that it was very, very good. Maybe the best show of the season so far.

To be brief, a demon shows up in Sunnydale around the same time a new Watcher comes to town (only the second one we've ever seen--third if you count Donald Sutherland), there to mentor Faith and belittle pretty much everyone else. She's played by Serena Scott Thomas, who I told tyranist was in the beginning of Goldeneye, but was actually in The World Is Not Enough, and is so straightlaced and stodgy, she makes Giles look like Willie Nelson. She's quite critical of him, his methods, and his library, and it's only natural that we immediately dislike her.

It turns out there's a mystical glove of great power buried in one of Sunnydale's cemeteries, and the episode features a four-pronged race to get it, the participants being Gwendolyn Post (the new Watcher), the Scooby Gang, Lagos the demon, and Angel.

Cordelia and Oz have nothing to do in this episode either, but everybody else does. Xander and Willow try to keep things platonic between them, but don't seem to be able to keep their hands off of each other (or lips, to be more specific). In other romantic news, Buffy and Angel have been seeing a lot of each other, and Xander happens to stumble upon them just as they kiss for the first time since Angel's resurrection/rebirth/return.

He does not take it well. We see more of his bitter and petty side in this episode, and just as I leaned over to tell tyranist that there's nothing the writers could do to make me dislike Xander, he expressed how unlikable Xander has become on the show. Ah well.

Xander cites Bad Angel's murder of Ms. Calender as an example of why the vampire is no good, but tyranist and I discussed it and we both agree that Xander had little to no connection with the teacher, and has simply hated Angel out of jealousy and spite since the beginning, being justified in his feelings when Angel went bad.

And it is strange, but the show is done well enough that I'm occasionally tempted to get on Angel's side and root for him to succeed. Then they take his shirt off and and have him do slow-motion yoga with Buffy and I'm reminded why I despised him in the first place.

The gang stage a sort of intervention, confronting Buffy with their knowledge of her deception. Buffy tries to explain her motivation, and only Willow (feeling guilty about keeping a secret of her own) manages to put a positive spin on the conversation.

Giles is supportive of Buffy's decision in public, but in private he reprimands her, reminding Buffy that Bad Angel tortured him for hours and that she has never had any respect for Giles as a person or a Watcher (which has to hurt, since half the episodes this season have been about somebody telling Buffy she's out of line or calling her on her failings). I have to admit that I had forgotten about Giles being tortured and I'm glad the show brought it up again.

So, the new watcher goes and talks to Faith at her motel room, and we see that she may be a good teacher after all. It was at this point when tyranist and I leaned over and began talking about whether the new watcher was a villain or not. She could have just been a character like Principal Snyder, who makes life difficult for our heroes, but is not a bad guy per se. Or she could've been brought in as a potential love interest for Giles. Or, like any number of new students, teachers, and authority figures, she might have been introduced just so they could kill her later on down the line. Still, something about her didn't seem right, and our suspicions were justified five minutes later when she clocks Giles over the head and goes off to get the glove for herself.

Xander and Faith have a little talk, where he lets her know Angel is bad news and that Buffy can't be trusted to do what's smart with him around (I think this is when tyranist was really starting to despise Xander, and I was seeing in him a cooler, handsomer, better-written Rish Wesley Outfield). Those two arrive at the library, finding Giles unconscious, and putting two and two together, Faith goes out to slay Angel the no-good vampire.

Meanwhile, Gwendolyn Post confronts Angel in his hideout. She doesn't realise that he isn't human, so he survives her attempt on his life. Just as he's about to pound her into the ground, Faith bursts in, sees the vampire attacking her watcher, and she joins the fray. Just as she's about to put an end to any potential "Angel" spin-offs, Buffy enters and stops her.

The two Slayers fight.

I don't know, I just expect Buffy to be able to take out just about anybody, since she has more experience (as a Slayer, that is), but Faith held her own. It was like one of those olde tyme comic book battles, where the two opponents are exactly evenly matched for some reason, and neither fanbase need get upset. Well, Faith has more meat on her bones, maybe that explains it.

Whilst they're tussling, Gwendolyn Post puts on the glove and shows her true evil colours. Lightning begins striking the glove, which she shoots at our heroes. Faith draws her fire as Buffy picks up a big piece of broken glass and throws it at Post, severing her gloved arm. Very cool. Another barrage of lightning rains down, consuming the evil watcher. The threat is gone.

We later learn that Mrs. Post was thrown out of the international Watcher organisation for dabbling with dark powers, and Faith learns that she can trust only herself. It was something of a downer ending, as Buffy tried to let her know she can always count on her, despite her occasional character flaws, but Faith dismisses her, preferring (it seems) to be alone. And that's what life is, a series of down endings.

This was a really good episode, folks. I chatted with tyranist about it, trying to determine if this was the best show of the year, or if that was "Anne," the season opener. My money's on this one.

So far.