Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Buff-gel Wednesday (8 August)

This is sort of a cheat because we watched an "Angel" before Buffy Wednesday.

The "Angel" we watched was called "Room with a View," and it was a little uncomfortable for me, because we were watching it with a bunch of people, including an older woman who'd never seen "Angel" before.

This episode was mostly about Cordelia, and I found myself really liking her, which is a shock. Basically, her apartment is a shithole, and Doyle uses his connections to find her a better one. What she gets is a spacious, affordable, and beautiful apartment . . . that happens to be haunted by an insufferably nasty old woman.

She torments poor Cordelia until she's a wreck, but is unwilling to move away (which I found charming), and eventually tries to convince her to kill herself. In the end, Cordelia is reminded of how much of a gigantic bitch she used to be in high school, and turns the tables on the ghost, who had bricked up her own son in one of the walls. After dispatching his mother's spirit, the son's ghost (named Dennis) stays in the place, and so does Cordelia.

There was also a subplot involving demon loan sharks out for Doyle's neck, and it is revealed that Angel knows nothing of Doyle's shady past, but that someday, the story will be told.

This was a really good episode. They broke with the formula I complained about in my last post (or maybe every post), and I dug it. Two of the five episodes we've watched have been very good, and while I'd rather watch "Buffy," I wouldn't mind seeing more along the lines of this one.

A couple of days later, we got two "Buffy"s, and while I don't think either will be in the running for best episode of the season, they were both good.

First up was "Wild At Heart," which finally reveals what is up with the rather odd-looking girl Oz seems to have a fixation for. Her name is Veruca, and guess what, she's also a werewolf. Oz is drawn to her (especially when he finds out the truth), which vexes Willow greatly, and for some reason, he declines to tell Willow about Veruca's gift/curse/ability, or the fact that they woke up in the woods together, scratched and naked.

Willow talks to both Buffy and Xander about Oz's straying eyes, and I fully expected her to talk to Giles next (or call up Angel on the phone), since she talked to the whole cast except Oz about her worries about Oz.

Also, we caught a brief glimpse of Spike, who is captured by the masked soldier-types we've seen lurking around all season long. And Buffy gets closer to T.A. Reily Finn and the horrid Professor Walsh.

Oz, meanwhile, is struggling with his attraction to Veruca, who completely embraces her lupine nature, and has a frank sexual attitude reminiscent of a skankier version of Faith. But she isn't even slutty in an attractive way, there's something really, really dirty about her. In a way, she reminds me of the fat girl at my job who got her stomach stapled then had sex (or tried to have sex) with all the guys who had slighted her before.*

Oz has been locking himself in a crypt during his Three Nights of Fur, and he persuades Veruca to join him, to protect her potential human victims. Unfortunately, Willow couldn't ask for a worse sight than walking in to find the two of them in the cage together, naked and . . . well, naked. He tries to explain, and to her credit, she listens to at least part of his explanation before "Dawson's Creek"ing it out of there. She is clearly devastated by this, 'cause she walks out in traffic and is nearly flattened by a car. Before night falls, Buffy and Oz go after Veruca, knowing that Willow will be her next target.

Willow, meanwhile, has broken out of her daze, and begins casting a blackest magic curse on Oz and Veruca, the intent of which is anything but subtle and the furthest thing from pure. At the last moment, she changes her mind, and stops the spell. Veruca is standing behind her, not at all surprised at what's going on. As the sun is going down (though shouldn't it be when the moon comes up?), she locks the door and waits for her transformation. Oz arrives just in time and they both wolf out and fight. Oz tears Veruca's throat out, then turns on Willow. Buffy arrives and shoots Oz with a tranquilizer, putting him to sleep.

The next day, Oz is packing his things. I guess his plan was just to leave without saying goodbye, but Willow confronts him before he can go. he's worried about the beast inside him and the animal impulses he felt around Veruca, and needs some time alone to sort it all out. Willow doesn't want him to go, but he flees to his van. For a moment, it looks like he might change his mind, then he drives away. The end.

Look, I've never been a huge fan of the Oz and Willow relationship**, for reasons I've already explained, but I gotta tell you . . . this was the first episode in the whole run where I felt genuine FEAR for the characters. Sure, I've been afraid for poor Buffy before, and when Giles was being tortured and Drusilla pretended to be Ms. Calendar scared me too . . . but when Willow got all Lord-and-Master-Satan-please-hear-my-cry-of-vengeance, I was freaking out. It didn't hurt that I'd heard Oz was leaving the show, never to return, but dang, girl, Willow is good people, and what she was up to was seriously ungood.

And there's another strength of Joss's writing: good people do bad things sometimes. Evil people do good things. Smart people do stupid things. Sweet people do nasty things. Heck, by that logic, I may someday do something brilliant and heroic and impressive and successful.

I could begin my rant about the soulless, uninterestingly perfect characters that I've seen pop up in youth-oriented entertainment over the last decade, and how insulting, fabricated, and-yet-somehow bland it all is . . . but I won't.

I once pledged my soul to Satan in exchange for the death of radio personality Paul Harvey. But Satan said Harvey was untouchable, having beaten me to it by several years.

I sense I'm digressing here. The second "Buffy" was called "The Initiative," and right out of the box, I knew something was different. Turns out that Seth Green was no longer in the opening credits, and has been replaced, surprisingly, by James Marsters as Spike. This made me pretty happy, actually, because Spike is everything I wish I could be . . . except for his tendency to get his arse kicked. That I can do already.

In this episode, we meet Riley Finn's two frat bros, who lust after Buffy, while Riley just thinks she's peculiar. Willow is depressed over Oz having been replaced by Spike, and Professor Walsh makes it worse by being less sympathetic to her situation than the Red Skull would be.*** Buffy decides to take Willow to a party at the guys' frathouse to cheer her up.

Meanwhile, Spike is being held, along with several demons and vampires, in a big underground containment unit and research facility. This industrious group is known as The Initiative and they drop a packet of blood into Spike's cell for him to eat, but he is warned that it is drugged by another inmate. Spike pretends to be drugged and when they come in to get him, he escapes. He gets back to his lair to find Harmony there, redecorating (it wasn't until tyranist pointed out that she was putting a unicorn poster up amid the Gothic decor that I started laughing). Instead of giving her the attention she craves, Spike leaves Harmony to go after Buffy again.

Riley is still thinking about Buffy, and when our man Parker boasts about bedding her, Riley decks him. With that, he realises that he really likes her. At the party that night, he tries to woo Buffy (with Willow's semi-reluctant help), but comes across as awkward and bumbling. Now I see why people occasionally refer to this show as Science Fiction.

Xander and Giles haven't much to do lately (Giles has even taken to attending the Bronze, hoping to remain relevant), but Xander stumbles across Harmony, who is heartbroken over Spike. Xander and Harmony fight, but it is the girliest, slappiest confrontation the world has ever known. If anyone besides the audience witnessed it, Xander might never have sex again.

Regardless, Xander finds Buffy at the party and warns her that Spike is after her (to her credit, she doesn't roll her eyes), leaving Riley alone. But he's not quite alone, for it is revealed that he is a he is a sort of commander within The Initiative, which is led by Professor Walsh. They have a gigantic underground facility and go out after their escaped quarry, Spike.

Buffy and Reily run into each other and each tries to get rid of the other before Spike shows up. Spike, however, has gone to Buffy's dorm to find her, and when he knocks, Willow invites him in.

He attacks her, but is unable to perform. Willow tries to reassure him that it happens to everybody, but he just can't figure out why he can't kill her. Spike also says, "Don't patronize me," with "patron" rhyming with "matron," rather than the correcter "patronise," which apparently gives away that he's not British. Darn.

Willow screams while trying to escape Spike, bringing both Buffy and the Initiative. Because they want to capture Willow as well, Buffy fights Riley and the soldier-types, who amid the dark, flashing lights, and confusion, aren't able to identify her.**** Spike escapes, and the Initiative guys leave also. It seems they did some work on him, implanting an inhibitor that prevents him from killing people. We'll have to see where that goes.

I'm a little late getting this post done, and we'll see if I do better next week. I'm thinking I might go fishing this afternoon, which I hardly ever do. And I don't know why I shared that with you. Blog to you later.

Rish "The Uninitiative" Outfield

*Sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision being creeped out the times her advances swung my way. I turned her down, and she moved on to the next guy, but I suppose I could've taken her up on it. But how would that have been? I mean, sex with a person who hates all men and was horrible to me even when she was rotund wouldn't really be something to brag about with the guys in between Super Bowl commercials, is it?

**I just realised I made this lofty statement, but I've been a fan of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" for, what, three months? I wholeheartedly apologise for that comment.

***'Cause Red Skull was a Nazi and Willow is Jewish, see?

****Tyranist was pretty sure Riley recognised Buffy, but I don't know if he's right or not.

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