Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Buffy Wednesday (9 January 2008)

This week, tyranist and I were able to catch three episodes, which was nice. Two "Angel"s and a "Buffy."

First up was "Blood Money," by Shawn Ryan (who wrote the second-to-last episode) and Mere Smith (who wrote the last episode).

In it, Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn are all bored without work to do,* and they decide to just create their own P.I. business, without Angel. Cordelia still gets visions, right? Like the one she has in this episode of a fire-breathing monster in the sewers that we never see.

Angel "accidentally" bumps into a blond woman named Anne who runs a shelter for wayward/runaway/troubled youths. She is attractive. It's funny, I commented to tyranist that Anne was Buffy's middle name, but I didn't make the connection that this was the same girl from the episode of the same name (who was also the second season chick who thought vampires were cool).

Well, it was no accident, as Angel seems to be stalking this woman, taking her picture, following her around, and stealing her wallet.
Suddenly, Angel and I seem more alike than ever before.

It turns out that Wolfram & Hart have befriended Anne (specifically Prettyboylawyer Lindsay McDonald), and are really excited about hosting a celebrity banquet to raise cash for the center.

Angel goes to interrogate Merl, a demon he's gone to before for information. He tells what he knows. Afterward, Angel goes to see Anne and convince her that W&H are up to no good, and will steal that money, either most or all of it. She doesn't believe him, and is less than enamoured when she finds out he's been following her, but he says he has proof.

A craggy-faced demon named Boone* shows up, asking about Angel (immediately, I thought he was the vampire hunter from that last unresolved flashback, but I was wrong), strongarming him to talk. Everybody strongarms Merl. He tells what he knows.

Angel shows up like a serial killer in Evillawyerwoman Lilah Morgan's back seat, seemingly just to toy with her. Boone also shows up at Wolfram & Hart, volunteering to kill Angel for them. They have a past, and he has a grudge, and even though the senior partners have decreed that Angel not be killed, Lindsay can't pass up the chance to have Angel out of the way.

Lindsay and Lilah drop in on Merl and threaten him. He tells what he knows.

Oh, looking in on our other main characters, having had a success in the offscreen confrontation with the firebreathing Rosie Perez, Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn decide to rent an office for their new business.

Lindsay also arrives, claiming that Angel is the baddie here (and pointing out that he's a vampire). Boone also shows up after a tussle, and Angel heads out the door.

Walking down the promenade, Lindsay and Lilah talk about Angel ruining their plans to bilk the shelter out of its money, and just as they start talking about their plans to kick blind people in the nuts and tear gas pet stores, they realise that Angel is probably recording them, gathering his so-called evidence. Whoops.

Angel does come back to Anne, and admits that he's a vampire, but one of the good ones. He tells her he has proof in the form of a videotape that he wants her to play at the fundraiser. She gives him a noncommittal answer and he tells her any cash from Wolfram & Hart is blood money. She says her people need that money.

The fundraiser appears to be a wild success. People, including soap opera stars, are donating generously, and a sweet/"sweet" tribute to Holland Manners is played. Evillawyerdude Lindsay has a hooded psychic in the wings to tell him if Angel shows up, but a few minutes later, the demon takes down his hood and is revealed to be Angel. Boone is also there, and they start to fight.

Anne decides to play the tape Angel gave her and Lindsay and Lilah make something of a scene rushing to stop it. Turns out, it's just another of Cordelia's awful audition tapes ("Duck, Magnum, duck!"), but the damage is done: everybody is looking at Lindsay and Lilah like they've shat their pants, including their boss.***

To make matters worse, Angel and Boone were just pretend fightin', and Boone has stolen all the event's donations.

Angel later confronts him and they fight for real. We don't see the fight, but Angel brings Anne the money, and it's got blood all over it. She gets to keep it all, and has no problem with it being blood money (quite literally, this time). The end.

This episode was a little uneven, but very entertaining. I like the darker, solo Angel. I surprises me they've kept it going this way so long, but I'm happy with it. We also find out in this episode that the reason Wolfram & Hart doesn't want Angel killed is because he has a major role to play (for good or ill) in the coming Armageddon.

So, then we got to our Buffy episode. It's interesting how certain "Buffy"s are better than their accompanying "Angel"s, and sometimes the opposite is true. I guess that means they've split the creative team pretty equally (if one show were consistently good and the other consistently crap, well, someone picked teams wrong)

The episode was called "Blood Ties" (wow, "Blood Money" and "Blood Ties," was that a coincidence?), by someone named Steven S. DeKnight. I looked him up. He's written five "Buffy"s and twelve "Angel"s, but this was his first (he also went on to write fifteen "Smallville" episodes too).

The conversation continues from last week's show (sans English bastards, however). Glory the Blond Beast is the god of a demon dimension (a hellgod, they call her), and she's in human form, sucking the sanity out of humans to keep her body. Yes, just like Demi Moore, kids. When the gang is worried about finding the key, Buffy decides to tell them all about Dawn being . . . whatever Dawn is.

Oh, this was a Dawn episode. Tyranist and I both really like her.

Due to this knowledge, the group all treat Dawn differently. Anya tells her she makes "a very pretty little girl." Giles has been writing his innermost thoughts in a notebook ("I feel terrible about it, but I find Christina Cole more attractive in that 'Buffy' rip-off than Buffy herself..."), but he hides it in a drawer when Dawn walks by.

Glory gets ahold of the Knights of the Bungpoolpottinghamnottingshire and kills or sanity drains them. More will come, though, apparently. This makes me sad.

Oh, I forgot, it's Buffy's twentieth birthday. And I didn't get her anything. She has a little get-together, and when Dawn gives her a picture of them from a vacation that never happened, everyone starts acting weird again. Dawn goes up to her room, and sneaks out the window.

She finds Spike standing in the front yard as usual, holding a box of chocolates for somebody. When Dawn takes off to steal Giles's notebook, Spike decides to go with her to protect the girl from rapists and vampires and Margot Kidder and stuff.

They break into the Magic Box, and read Giles's diary entry together. This is how Dawn finds out she's not really Dawn Summers, and that Giles refers to her as "The Key," and that crazy people know the truth about her, and that snakes want to eat her,
and that Glory wants to kill her, and that she gets paid less than all the other cast members.

She takes this badly. The first thing she does is go home and cut herself with a knife. How can she bleed if she's not real? The poor girl throws an absolute fit, throwing things, and screaming, and tearing up her diaries, and burning them in the trashcan. Seriously, it's like me when they canceled "The Single Guy" with Jonathan Silverman.

Buffy is mad at Spike, but he tells her she would've gone without him and hey . . . Margot Kidder? Buffy hears the smoke alarm going off due to Dawn's unusual bonfire, and finds that the girl has gone out the window again.****

Dawn goes to the hospital, to talk to crazy people about her origins. She finds one of the Knights of the B-word there and he says crazy stuff we don't really understand ("...she played Lois Lane once, but she was lurking in the backyard with no teeth"). Handsome intern Ben finds her and she tells him about being a Key. Maybe not the wisest course of action, because he tells her to run before Glory gets there. In a bizarre turn, Glory arrives THROUGH Ben's body, transforming from him into her.

She doesn't know what they've been talking about, though, and threatens Dawn to tell her what's happening. Dawn asks her questions about this Key she's searching for, but Glory realises the girl is seeking information rather than knowing it. She decides to suck out Dawn's sanity, but Buffy arrives just in time.

She punches Glory a couple of times, and the Blond Beast mocks her about it. Spike also tries to fight Glory, but it's Willow and Tara who are really the threat to her: they cast a spell Scotty-beaming her to another place.

It would be nice if she sent Glory to the world without shrimp, or wherever Vin Diesel's career went. But I have a feeling we'll see her again, and soon.

Dawn tells Buffy that Glory arrived while she was talking to Ben, but seems to remember him leaving and Glory coming in afterward, not how it really happened. Both of them injured, Buffy shows Dawn that they share the same blood, and that makes them sisters as much as anything else. The end.

I really enjoyed this one too. The girl (Dawn/Michelle Trachtenenenburger) is great, and I honestly do not know how they manage to present her as a believably willfull rebellious teen without making her a spoiled, infuriating, shrill, unsympathetic, self-absorbed, unwatchable little choad like teenagers in other media (like DAN IN REAL LIFE, or several sitcoms, or WAR OF THE WORLDS, or practically every other teen drama on the WB before or after). I gotta hand it Joss once again, and will continue to do so until something changes.

You know, it's hard for me to avoid spoilers, especially for a show that's been off the air for a couple of years. Mostly, they come from the internet, and I found out about Tara from a certain Joss Whedon himself, but tyranist gave me one (that may or may not have actually been a spoiler) during tonight's show. He told me that Handsome Doctor/Intern/Male Nurse Ben is Glory's brother, and also a god. When I bawled about the spoilage, he told me the show had already revealed that, and to kindly keep the mucus off his new couch. It may be that Ben's identity HAS already been revealed on the show (it certainly was in the episode we watched), but I hadn't caught it yet. Ah well.

Next he's gonna tell me that Dawn's not really Buffy's sister or that Buffy married Freddie Prinze Junior or something. Grain of salt, boys.

Last, we watched "Happy Anniversary," an "Angel" episode quite unlike the others. It was written by show runner David Greenwalt, and it felt like a pilot for another spinoff show to me (to both of us, actually), though I can't imagine that it was.

Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn have a new office and no cases. After a while, Wesley's girlfriend Virginia shows up and tells them about a case they could take. But that's the B-story.

A-Story: Lorne the destiny-reading karaoke bar host goes to Angel's hotel and tells him that there was a nerdy human singing the night before, and when he looked into the guy, he saw that the world will be ending pronto. Spider-man is out of town, so he came to Angel for help.

The end of the world singer is named Gene, and he seems like a geeky graduate student/physicist, except that he has a really attractive red-haired girlfriend.

It is their first anniversary that night, but she confides in a friend that she's going to break up with Gene because . . . I don't honestly remember. Was it that he wasn't dedicated enough to her or something? I could look it up, but then I'd have to figure out her name too and dammit, that's just too much work.

The girlfriend will sleep with Gene one last time, then drop the bomb on him. Unbeknownst to them, Gene has heard all this and heads off to work on his experiment again.

We also follow Angel and Lorne around karaoke bars, a college campus, a Pez dispenser repair shop, and a library, to track Gene down. Shockingly, they insinuate that Lorne is not gay in this episode. I have nothing worth saying about this turn.

The show seems to be more about Gene than anything else (along with a cast of supporting characters), which is why I said it seemed like the setup for a spin-off show.

Anyway, Gene has been working on this experiment that should freeze time in a bubble, but he can't quite get the formula right. Turns out there are a couple of demons that want humanity wiped out, and they change Gene's formula so that it will work.

In a jiffy (nobody says that anymore, isn't that sad?), Gene's device is fully functional, and he decides that he'll take his equipment back to his place and create a time bubble around the two of them together, thus keeping the status quo forever. This is every man's dream, folks. The status quo part, I mean (though the red-haired girlfriend in your bed part isn't far off). It is this time-freezing that will cause the end of the world.

Back on the Wesley/Cordelia/Gunn front, they have to stop a demon that's tormenting a very rich family. They do, and Wesley figures out that one of the family members employed the demon to do her dirty work. The Angel-less team does well for themselves.

The demons harass Angel and he and Lorne talk about the issues in his life right now (such as firing his staff, and the Darla stuff, and the bad dream he had that he'd be on a Fox show called "Bones" that was just like fifteen other shows on the air right now). They rush to Gene's place to stop him, but more demons show up and they have to fight them.

In bed with the woman he loves, Gene activates his device, and
the bubble appears around them. But then it expands, and threatens to envelop the whole world. Angel gets past the demons and stops the machine just in time. Time reasserts itself and Gene is distraught at almost ending the world. I guess his girlfriend still breaks up with him, but I don't really remember. The spin-off never got off the ground.

Back on the B-story, over at the All New, All Different Angel Investigations, a celebratory party is going on. A new client comes in during all this and needs their help. He asks which one of them is Angel, and Wesley says, "Oh, it's just a name."

Great ending. Tyranist and I have talked (okay, I talked, he just laid there, trying not to be sick) about how well these episodes seem to end, usually with a great line (sometimes funny, sometimes pretty darn sad), and then a black screen. I hope my life ends that way. And soon.

Although this was one of my poorer (and sillier) recaps, I can't really express to you how much I've enjoyed watching "Buff-gel." I'd say it was the highpoint of each week, but that's an exaggeration. There are no highpoints in my weeks.

Almost a tradition now, Tyranist always tells me "I'm going to kick you out now" at the end of our Buffy Wednesdays together. I'd find that amusing if it didn't end so often with a knee, shoe, or fist to the groin.

Rish "Midpoint of Your Week" Outfield

*Wait, doesn't Cordelia have an unrealistic acting career, and Gunn, doesn't he have cool urban gang stuff on his plate?

**I didn't realise it at the time, but Boone is played by Mark Rolston, who portrayed Drake in ALIENS and Boggs ("Boggs didn't put anything in Andy's mouth") in SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION.

***I guess it gets them in trouble, but I didn't find their behaviour much more embarrassing than regular party antics.

****My little sister used to do this all the time (the window, not the bonfire), but I hope Dawn doesn't come back with a little Dawn nine months after all this.

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