Saturday, September 08, 2007

Buffy Marathon (Part 1)

The other day, I was watching "Spaced," and it looked as though things were going to go Tim's way for once. He goes into his room, kneels, and closing his eyes says, "I'm not really a praying man, but if you could please let this work out for me, I promise I'll be very grateful."

When he stands up, we discover his prayer was to a poster . . . of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

8 September 2007

So, Tyranist and I just got done with an unprecedented amount of "Buffy" watching, eclipsing our previous record of four episodes with an epic six show marathon.

I thought it would be wiser to split this into two entries, so that they'd see the light of publishing while Al Gore was still President. With that in mind, I'd better get started.

The first episode was called "Doomed," and it picked up precisely where "Hush" left off. Basically, Riley and Buffy have their big talk about who they are and what they do at night. Oddly, Riley's never heard of The Slayer, but he's pretty much the only one. An earthquake strikes while they're in mid-conversation, and Buffy begins to fear that it portents something very bad (the last time there was an earthquake was when the Hellmouth opened--the first time--and she briefly died).

Meanwhile, Spike is still living with Xander, and he is quite miserable about it (even forced to wear Xander's clothes when he accidentally shrinks his own).

Willow goes to a frat party and discovers the body of a student, with a mysterious symbol (an eye in a triangle) carved in his chest. Buffy discovers this same symbol on a crypt in the cemetery, and finds a demon, in the process of gathering objects to bring about the end of the world.

Spike is feeling particularly useless, and tries to kill himself by jumping on a stake. He fails. To cheer him up, Willow and Xander take him along on their patrol. When they run into a demon, Spike discovers he can attack it without feeling any pain: his conditioning only works with regards to humans.

Buffy fears the worst about her relationship with Riley and attempts to break up with him (a couple times, actually). He's bloody persistent, though, and insists that she try and find some positive in life and that the two of them were made for each other, considering the line of work they're in.

Giles has one of the objects and the demons beat him up and steal it. The demons' plan is to reopen the Hellmouth (under the burned-out remains of Sunnydale High School) by tossing in their gathered objects and then tossing themselves in. Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Spike battle them, and ultimately, Riley shows up and helps save the day. It looks like he and Bufanda are unbroken-up, but now the gang knows he's part of the Initiative.

Spike comes out of this with a new lease on life, discovering that he can fight--and kill--demons to get the thrill he used to get out of hunting human beings. Somehow this is less encouraging to Xander and Willow, but if everybody gets along, we have no more fun.

Despite being written by Marti Noxon, David Fury, and Jane Espenson, this wasn't the tightest or most amusing episode of the season. I wonder if that had something to do with the three different writers. It was interesting to see the change in Riley Finn here as more confident around Buffy and less awkward and stammery (which I found endearing, like I think I said). It marked Marc Blucas's addition to the opening titles (as Riley), and prompted tyranist to say, "Blucas!" every time he saw it.

The episode ended, and we made the mistake of watching the special features on that disc (we being tyranist). It spoiled a bit of what was to come, but even more, it teased it to the point where we couldn't do our usual transition to the "Angel" episode that originally followed it. Nope, we popped in the next "Buffy" disc and went right on through.

First of those was "A New Man," what may be our first Giles-centric episode. It starts with Buffy's nineteenth birthday party, where she introduces Riley to everyone as her boyfriend. Giles feels out of place at the party, and only feels worse when Buffy mentions that Professor Walsh is the smartest person she knows.

Speaking of Professor Walsh (boo! hiss!), she discovers that Buffy is the Slayer and brings her in for a little Welcome To The Initiative interview. Riley is daunted when he reveals that he's had seventeen kills in his career and discovers Buffy had more kills than that between season three and making CRUEL INTENTIONS. He is even more intimidated when they do a little practice sparring and she practically kicks him across the room (I believe it was in this episode that he referred to her as strong as Spider-man).

Giles meets with Professor Walsh and finds her incredibly rude. She claims Buffy's recklessness is due to the lack of a positive male role model. She also hates fuzzy ducklings, never quiets her cellphone, and was glad when "Firefly" was cancelled. Giles didn't know that Riley was in the Initiative, and is even more unhappy when Xander and Willow tell him that Walsh is its leader.

To make matters worse, he runs into Ethan Rayne, the mischievous baddie behind "Halloween" (the episode, not the movie . . . or movies now) and "Band Candy." Rayne takes Giles to a bar where they get drunk and talk about all manner of things, including how afraid demons are of the Initiative and of something there called 314. For a moment, Rayne claims to have poisoned Giles's drink, but that turns out to be a joke.

What isn't a joke, though, is the state Giles wakes up in: Oklahoma. No, actually, it's almost as bad: he's been transformed into a big, unrecognisable, horned demon. He's so strong he's unable to use the telephone or put a shirt on, and when he goes over to Xander's, Xander thinks he's being attacked by the demon and throws things at him. Giles can only communicate in demon language, and is forced to flee. He finds Spike, who is moving into a crypt in the cemetery, and Spike immediately recognises him, also speaking that language (Giles is a Fyarl Demon, apparently, and Spike used to hang out with a couple). In return for money, Spike says he will help Giles find Ethan Rayne and return to human form.

Buffy and Company, meanwhile, think that this demon has attacked Giles before it went after Xander. And Buffy and Company now includes Riley.

Giles is feeling more and more demonish, and when he happens to see Professor Walsh walking down the street, he takes the opportunity to leap out at her, causing her much fright and me much delight. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to hate Maggie Walsh as much as I do, but I was glad that tyranist felt that way too.

Giles and Spike track Ethan Rayne down to his motel room. Around that same time, Buffy and Riley figure out he's in town and where he's staying. Unable to control his rage, Demon Giles attacks Rayne, and might indeed have torn his head off and shat down his neck, had Buffy not arrived to stop him. She immediately begins battling the demon, and has the chance to kill him, but stops.

Awesomely, Buffy only needed to look in Giles's eyes to know it was him. Ethan Rayne is forced to change Giles back, and Riley uses his contacts in the government to have him arrested and made to participate in naked human pyramids and such. Buffy and Giles have a nice moment where she promises to keep him in the loop, and he warns her that there's something about Professor Walsh he doesn't trust.

Back at Initiative headquarters, Walsh debriefs Riley before disappearing behind a door number 314. The end.

This episode was a lot of fun. Jane Espenson wrote this one, and it's outstanding that there are so many writers (not just Joss and Marti Noxon) who produce great scripts. Giles is one of my fav'ritest characters and it was good to see him lumber around as a big horny demon. I will miss him when he's gone. Heck, I will miss them all when they're gone.

Part of what kept us burning through the Buffy-sodes was the momentum this Initiative/Riley/Professor Walsh/Spike intrigue brought us. We really should've watched "Angel," but I can't quite explain the madness that overtook us.

The third episode we saw was "The I In Team." In it, Buffy is welcomed into the Initiative, impressing Professor Walsh with her athletic abilities. She gets to go on a tour of the facilities, but is unlike the rest of the soldiers in that she asks a lot of questions. And wears pink. Riley's buddy Forrest--who I'm sure I've not previously mentioned, but he went on to play D.L. in "Heroes"--is getting less and less thrilled with Riley's growing affection for Buffy, and the fact that she's on her way to being his new second-in-command.

Giles goes to Spike's crypt to give him the money he owes him (from last episode), but Spike is very antisocial, reminding him (and us) that he is evil and doesn't want to be part of the Scooby Gang. Willow's new friend, Tara, does seem interested in joining the group, or joining Willow, anyhow. She and Willow have been getting together to practice magic, and I'm not altogether sure how obvious it is that Tara has romantic interest in her. If I were just a typical January 2000 viewer, would I have picked up on it right away, or just had my suspicions, or would I have been clueless, like I was about all the ex-girlfriends tyranist had that became lesbians?

In this episode, we find out what's behind door number 314. There's some kind of Frankensteinian patchwork of human/demon/computer there, a huge man-creature that Professor Walsh calls Adam.

They are given a mission to capture something called a Polgara demon without harming its stinger-like wrist spikes, so the Initiative can study them. Buffy and Riley easily take the demon down, and afterward, they carry on their adventure to the bedroom. Disturbingly, Professor Walsh watches their coupling via a hidden camera in Riley's bedroom.

In the morning, Riley reveals that he takes some kind of vitamin supplement every day, and Buffy reveals that local demons are scared of something the Initiative's up to called 314. Buffy gets a call from Professor Walsh, who sends her on a mission by herself. To help, she gives her a nifty electricity-shooting weapon and camera and heart monitor to wear.

In another part of the Fox Lot, the Initiative discovers Spike and shoot him with a tracking device. Spike goes crawling back to Giles to have the device removed, giving him what's left of the money as a sort of trade-off. Riley and Forrest almost track Spike down, but Xander flushes the transmitter down the loo before they find it.

Meanwhile, Buffy goes into the sewers after her quarry, which turn out to be two big demons with battle-axes. When she fires her weapon, it not only doesn't work, but a gate drops down, trapping her with the demons. They attack her, and the heart monitor drops to zero.

When Riley gets back to Initiative Headquarters, Professor Walsh tells him the bad news: Buffy rushed off on her own, and the poor, stupid girl foolishly got herself killed. You mustn't blame yourself, darling, now come be evil with me. I could be your mommy, you know. Life would be oh so much better if you'd just forget about that silly girl. Now let me get you out of those wet clothes.

Unfortunately for Walsh, Buffy picks up the fallen camera and heart monitor after dispatching the demons and tells the Professor that she's going to kick her arse so hard she'll even be wincing in reruns. The stunned Riley sees this and storms out, despite Walsh's ordering him to stop and give her twenty.

Professor Walsh enters her secret lab behind door 314 and we see that Adam is now complete. They've sewn the Polgara demon arm with the retractable spike onto him, and the first thing he uses it for is to kill Professor Walsh, who he refers to as his mother. The end.

For most people, three "Buffy"s would be an active, productive night. But as I found out when confronting Christianne Morris about being willing to make out with most of the people in our apartment complex, I am not most people.

To Be Continued . . .

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