Thursday, June 21, 2007

21 June 2007

Another week, another Buffy Wednesday.

It's Summer Solstice today, the longest day of the year. I may actually get a full night's sleep out of it.*

This week, we had two episodes, which is how I like it. In reading through a couple of my old posts, I'm beginning to realise that I say pretty much the same thing in every one of these "Buffy" posts. I was even going to comment that I thought Buffy might be short for Bufanda, and I think I've done that one already too.

So, the episodes this week were "Doppelgangland" and "Enemies."

The first, written by Joss Whedon, was a great show (which, again, is something I say way too often). In it, Anya returns and hatches a plan to retrieve her wish-granting necklace. She manipulates Willow into casting a spell which opens a rift into the parallel universe that was created in "The Wish" (probably my personal favourite episode of this season), and the evil, leather-clad vampire version of Willow Rosenberg is accidentally transported into our universe, mere seconds before she would've died in her own.

What we get is a merry bout with mistaken identity, as Willow, who is used as a doormat by teachers, principals, students, and Slayers alike, is suddenly wandering around with guile, intimidation, and mean-spiritedness, daring people to get in her way.

Oh, and Alyson Hannigan is even paler than usual.

In this show, Willow has learned to magically make objects float, and she is also assigned to be a tutor to a popular jock, who also walks all over her. Of course, he learns a little humility in the end, and may be a semi-recurring character now.

Vamp Slayer Faith takes another step towards the dark side as she informs the Mayor what Giles and Company are up to, and doesn't seem concerned when Mr. Mayor orders Willow's vampiric execution for attempting to break into his computer files.

There is a moment when Faith, who looks better than she ever did on the show for some reason, is all giggly and jumping on the bed, and I thought, "I like this character. I don't know why, though."

The vampire assassins find Vampire Willow, and she turns out to be tougher than they are, putting them to work for her instead. It was laugh-out-loud funny when our heroes encounter the vampire Willow, think she has been turned into one of the undead, and then find the real one . . . hugging her unabashedly. THAT's probably not something I say every week: this show is, without exception, always damned funny.

As amusing as it is to see Vampire Willow wander around a Sunnydale that's back to being . . . well, Sunny, they somehow manage to make us feel sorry for her. Yeah, I don't really get it myself. Oh, and here we get our first glimpse of lesbianic Willow, though it is her evil self that swings both ways.

They do switch the Willows' outfits and make our Willow pretend to be evil, which is also amusing, and Anya seems to be the only one smart enough to recognise that she's human. That will be an interesting character too, if she comes around again.

In the end, Cordelia frees Vampire Willow, is rescued by Wesley, and no real harm is done. I was hoping we'd see Vampire Willow again, but as I said, they took her out of her reality just as she was about to be killed. They return her to the exact same moment. Nice.

Great stuff, which I know I've said before. My only regret is that we didn't get to see some kind of confrontation between Vampire Willow and (our universe's) Angel, who was kept as a pet/plaything in her reality.

The second episode, "Enemies," actually started out weak (Uh oh, I thought, Here we go. After all those great episodes in a row, we had to hit a bad one sometime. And here it is.), with Angel and Buffy all horned out but unable to do anything about it. Then Faith and Buffy encounter a demon who wants to sell them "The Books of Ascension," which could come in quite handy for our side, or the Mayor's side.

Unbeknownst to our heroes, Faith sets out on her own to obtain the books before Buffy can. She kills the demon and brings the books to her new boss. She and the Mayor have a chummy, almost daughter/father relationship.

The Mayor is fascinating, in that he's an ageless character with smugness and endless reserviours of evil, yet he's a germophobe and seems to have an odd sort of warmth for Faith. Oh, and he's recently been made invulnerable to harm. For reasons we are never shown, he wants Angel on their side, so Faith goes to see Angel and tries to seduce him (knowing that it would remove his soul once again). It doesn't work, but Buffy walks in just at the wrong time . . . as people are wont to do in the world of televised entertainment.

So, the Mayor conjures up a great-looking, truly scary demon (in the kind of hood and cloak combination I could actually name if I did a little internet research . . . damn) with blue skin and scary reflective eyes. He has a way to turn Angel bad again without having to take anyone's clothes off. Faith visits Angel again, and when he reaches out to her, she turns on him, spattering him with blood, and causing the return of . . . oh yeah, Bad Angel.

I gotta say, I was happy to see him. The character just comes alive when he gets to be supercold and calculating. He and Faith go to see the Mayor, where Bad Angel (I know his name is Angelus, but I hope you don't mind if I continue calling him "Bad Angel") vows to kill Buffy. He and Faith head to the Summers house and get Buffy to go to their hideout with them, before Angel knocks her one over the head.

They tie Buffy up and plan to torture her. Bad Angel and Faith enter into a torrid embrace, and our girl Buffy just has to respond in horror. It's pretty mean. But even though Faith taunts Buffy, Buffy doesn't take it. Buffy sugar-coats nothing, and frankly tells her she's better than Faith, even with all this going on. It's pretty darn tense, and I don't know how we'll get out of this one.

Faith rubs it in Buffy's face that the Mayor is going to undergo an ascension on Graduation Day and life is gonna get really really bleak for everybody that Buffy loves. Faithie sneers and laughs, and then Angel reveals that she has been had: he's not Bad Angel at all; it was all an act to find out where her true allegiences lie.

The shock was amazing, in that they had me as utterly convinced as they did Faith. I applauded, we cheered, and tyranist paused the DVD and we talked about it for the next five minutes.

I may have mentioned it before: tyranist is the smartest person I know. Maybe I've ever known. I mean, hey, me, something of a prodigy, learned Right from Left when I was nineteen years old, but tyranist just blows me away. You've heard of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle? Morons! And he didn't see it coming. So good on us, Joss.*

A great, wonderful, cruel and surprising twist.

So, Angel reveals himself, Buffy unties herself, and Faith flees, running back to the Mayor, who tries, rather unsuccessfully, to comfort her. The creepy blue demon was actually working for Giles, whom he owed a favour, and it was all part of a fiendish plan. Which couldn't have been more successful.

Man, I love this show. Have I said THAT before?

Rish "Dr. Originality" Outfield

*Whoops, I've just been told that it's not actually any longer than a regular day, there's just more daylight in it. No wonder I feel so tired.

**Or good on you, I don't remember what the saying is.

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