Sunday, March 16, 2008

Buff-gel Wednesday continued

BTVS episode "Bargaining Part Two" starts up immediately after (though on the DVD and its original presentation, it was just after the commercial break), with the Buffybot being menaced by many bikers and Anya and Tara catching up to Xander and Willow. Willow is heartbroken that their one shot at bringing back Buffy failed. They split up again, promising to meet back at the magic shop with Dawn and Spike. I guess they figure the Buffybot is a lost cause, and if she ain't, she'll make it back eventually.

HumanBuffy, now buried alive, punches a fist through the lid of her coffin and begins the arduous task of clawing her way out.

Sunnydale is being besieged by bikers, cars are being battered, buildings are being burned, fire hydrants are being raped. Spike and Dawn are still at the Summers' house, hoping they don't get picked next. Spike decides to take Dawn and flee. He knocks one of the bikers off his motorcycle and he and Dawn ride away on it. I haven't mentioned it, but it's pretty cool the way he protects Dawn and she trusts him so much, despite the one episode last season where she inexplicably hated him.

Anya and Tara make it back to the shop alright. Tara summons a ball of blue light to find Willow and lead her back to the Magic Box. In the woods, Xander starts questioning the resurrection spell and the snake that came out of Willow's mouth, and the cuts that are no longer on her arms (okay, I was the one who questioned that part), and she "gets all avoidy" on him. Tara's messenger light arrives, saving Willow the indignity of explaining herself.

Buffy emerges from her grave, dressed in nice funereal attire (tyranist pointed out that her dress was split in the back, which was either a mistake or particularly clever). She is confused, lost, skittish like an animal, reminding us a bit of Angel when he came back from the dead. She stumbles back into town, seeing flames and demons all around.

Following the blue ball of light, Xander and Willow make it to the others and they talk about their options, now that Willow is weakened, and Giles, Spike, and the Buffybot are not around.

Speaking of the Buffybot, in the center of town, the demon bikers have brought the android as a sort of trophy, and chaining its/her arms and legs, they draw and quarter the poor thing.

The flesh-and-blood Buffy witnesses this, and the bikers go after her. She runs.
Later, Spike and Dawn find the Buffybot and she tells Dawn there is another Buffy. Dawn somehow knows what this means, and runs off on her own looking for her sister.

Meanwhile, Willow takes charge of the group, and they all arm themselves and go out looking for Dawn. Anya tells Xander they should tell everyone about their engagement, but Xander still doesn't think it's the right time. Tara tells Willow that maybe all the destruction around town is due to them meddling with powers they don't understand. I guess it's a valid concern, but Willow doesn't really consider it.

Suddenly, Buffy appears before them. They assume it's the Buffybot, but Willow knows better. They see Buffy's condition and her scratched up hands and realise that the spell worked, but she came back to life six feet under ground.

Before they can get through to her, though, the demons show up. The gang tries to talk tough, but the demon leader has a plan to do some pretty horrible stuff to the women and . . . well, rather than talking about it, let's just say that Buffy comes to her senses long enough to royally thrash on the bastard.

All the other demons join the fray, hitting Buffy with baseball bats and chains and stuff, but she's having none of it. She takes them all out while the others alternate between fighting and looking on in awe. When all have fallen, Buffy runs off.

Unfortunately, the demon biker leader is not dead, and he pops back up once she's gone. Everyone fights him, and finally, Tara kills him with an axe. If anything earns her the right to be in the opening titles, this should've been it. But ah well.

Buffy sees the tower Glory's minions built at the end of last season, and remembers how she died there. Dawn too sees the tower and heads toward it. They meet at the top, where they were parted. Buffy seems to contemplate walking off the top again and Dawn begs her to stay.* Buffy asks, "Is this hell?" and yeah, everything she's seen might lend itself to that interpretation, wouldn't it?

The tower begins to sway, and it starts falling apart. Buffy springs into action, saving Dawn, and getting them to safety before the whole thing collapses. Dawn embraces her, happy that she's back, but Buffy just stares, a blank, unreadable look on her face. The end.

I enjoyed these episodes, partly because I just enjoy the characters so much, but also because a couple of new questions are raised, and a thread or two has already been laid to unravel later in the season. I promise to only say this, let me see, SEVEN more times, but I'm really jealous of those who got to see these episodes new. I know more than I wish I did about what's going to happen in the weeks to come, and a lot of that's my own fault.

You know, now is probably a good time to mention that a lot of people have said that they don't like Season Six. That it's too dark, too melancholy, too uneven, too depressing, or too ignored by Joss to measure up to what came before. I absolutely adore melancholy, though, and unless I'm given reason not to, I fully expect to love Season Six.

Grr, arggh, I can't believe I'm only halfway through this damn blog post. But I made my bed . . .

Angel's next episode was called "That Vision Thing," written by Jeffrey Bell, who I don't know. Turns out this was his first episode of this show, and won't be the last. He also wrote for "The X-Files" and "Alias."

So, the evil accounting lawyer from Wolfram & Hart (which I know is a bit redundant) that told Angel they were going to kick him out of the hotel comes around, and even though he plays Jin on "Lost," I wanted Gunn to shoot him or Angel to stomp on his neck. He goes back to W&H and we find he's working with (or around) Evillawyerchick Lilah Morgan, who I think has appeared in enough episodes by now to just be referred to as Lilah Morgan.

Cordelia gets a particularly painful vision about a coin and a demon (or demons) with claws. Wesley, Angel, and Gunn go after it, but we discover that Cordelia has clawmarks on her from the vision.

Our heroes find the coin in a shop run by and old man and his wife, who turn out to be demons. They are easily defeated and the coin is retrieved.

But no sooner does that happen than Cordie gets a new vision, this one of a mystical key, and this time, the vision gives her really revolting sores on her face. She's really suffering, and everybody wonders why Ye Olde Powers That Be would do this to her.

I wondered if they had abandoned the whole Wesley-is-in-charge-of-Angel-Investigations subplot, but had my answer when Wesley sends Angel out to retrieve the key and heads over to ask Lorne about Cordelia's situation.

Back at Wolfram & Hart, Lilah Morgan is in her office. She looks very different than last season, so much so that I irritated tyranist by pointing it out every time she was on screen. Lilah has employed an Indian dude who looks remarkably like Kumar in the HAROLD AND KUMAR flicks, who wears a fez. Under the fez, he's got an oversized, exposed brain. He uses this brain to send Cordelia's new visions, and he does so for our amusement.

This vision is of a fiery place and, sure enough, Cordelia ends up with burns on her arms and face. The poor girl is in agony, and I gotta hand it to Charisma Carpenter, she really sold it. Even her voice was all hoarse, and she looks absolutely awful (which is impressive for someone who was hired for her attractiveness). Lorne is there to witness the latest vision, and announces that these aren't legitimate visions, but have been special deliveried by Wolfram & Hart.

Angel appears magically in Lilah Morgan's office, but before he can do much threatening (really, would it be unP.C. for him to sock her once in the jaw or stomach?), she tells him he needs to use the retrieved key and coin to rescue a prisoner from one of those demon dimensions that seem to be so prevalent on the show. If he refuses, well, Cordelia isn't likely to survive.

Wesley has done a little research on the items and discovered that the coin and key are light magic items, and their protectors also good. Whoever this prisoner is, he is likely to be very bad. But Angel doesn't really have a choice, and puts the key in the coin and opens a portal to the other dimension. He had armed himself for combat, but the weapons don't go with him.

He is in a big dark room with a burning cage in the middle of it. Inside the cage is the form of a man, apparently suffering as I will for quite some time after my death in the not-too-distant future. There is also a guard, a big, black warrior-type, who looks very formidable, until he introduces himself as Skip and seems like a pretty friendly bloke. He tells Angel that they are not enemies, but should be on the same side. Regardless, Angel has to fight Skip, and knocks him out pretty quickly.

Back in the good old U.S.ofA., Angel loads the freed prisoner into his convertible and drives to the big drainage ditches outside L.A. where Schwarzenegger drove his motorcycle in T2. Lilah and her goons are waiting, with Kumar sitting safe in the back of a limo.

Angel turns the prisoner (who we don't really see) over to Lilah and Lilah has Kumar reverse the damage to Cordelia. As soon as he gets word that she's okay, Angel tells Lilah that Cordelia is off limits to her from now on. As a coda to their little transaction, Angel grabs a piece of rebar and javelins it into the back of the limo and into Kumar's brain. I think (hope) it's safe to say that he is dead. The prisoner, whoever he was, is still alive, though, and something tells me he'll be trouble before too long.

Still down in Honduras, Darla the extremely pregnant vampire ends the show with her meeting with the holy man. He performs a little ritual using her blood and determines that she's gonna have to carry this baby to term. She resolves, unhappily, to go up to L.A. town to visit the baby's father. The end.

This was good stuff. I know I say that a lot, but it really was. There has been talk that "Buffy" and "Angel" suffered in the eight months or so that Joss was working on "Firefly," but I haven't seen evidence of it yet. Be nice if I never do.

The last episode we watched that night (now a long time in the past, it seems), was the "Buffy" episode "Afterlife," by Jane Espenson.

It picks up only a few minutes later, as the gang goes to Buffy's house and finds her and Dawn there. Buffy is confused and
tries to get used to the changes, such as Willow and Tara sleeping in her mom's bedroom, and Michelle Trachtenberg being seven feet tall, and Giles having gone away, and being alive again.

Spike arrives, furious that Dawn slipped away from him. However, he goes quiet when he sees Buffy. He sees the blood on her hands and realises how she got it, since he climbed out of a grave once too. He tells Buffy that it's been 147 days (which, as bad as my math is, seems like a lot longer than three months) since she died, and she tells him it was longer where she was.

The gang throws many questions at Buffy, but she can only tell them that she's okay, she just needs to sleep. Spike slinks away while the others talk, and Dawn plays a sort of mother role, protecting Buffy and dismissing the questions. Willow says that the important thing is that they got Buffy out of Hell.

Spike grabs Xander as he leaves, questioning why he was left out of the loop. Xander doesn't have an answer, but Spike does: Willow knew there was a chance that what they brought back wouldn't BE Buffy, but someone or something else, and they'd have to destroy it. Xander can't believe Willow would've ever . . . but it makes a sort of chilling sense.

Spike says there is always consequences with magic. I really wanted to get to a point that tyranist brought up later, and I guess now is a good time. The sky was particularly starry and the moon was a fingernail, and I made some kind of remark about Willow thinking she had more control over magic (or maybe being more tempted by magic) than most people, but she was so guilty over the thought of Buffy burning in Hell that she was willing to do anything. But tyranist said that Willow knew DAMN well what she was doing, and just wanted Buffy back, regardless of the cost. It was a disturbing thing to hear my friend say (especially since he loves Willow--and who doesn't?), but it was something that was actually kind of plausible.

Anyway, Willow tells Tara she talked to Giles and he's coming back from England, then they talk about things. Is Buffy alright? Why wasn't she grateful they brought her back from the dead? Will things go back to normal?

In Buffy's room, she walks around like she's in a stupor, and glancing at a bunch of photographs on her wall, the faces all become skulls.** A little while later, Willow and Tara are awakened by Buffy, her eyes white, yelling about them being children. "Did you cut its throat? Did you pat its head?" she demands, and throws a glass against the wall.

Then she is gone. The glass is gone and Buffy is sleeping peacefully in her own bed. Tara is confused, and Willow says she doesn't know what the apparition meant. They also see some kind of computer-generated shape moving across the wall.

Willow calls Xander (who isn't Giles, so I don't know how he could help), and tells him what happened. While they're talking, Anya comes into the room, with dead white eyes and cutting her face with a knife . . . and I shrieked like the little girl I am inside. This time it really was Anya (which I don't quite get), but she goes back to normal almost instantly.

The next day, everyone decides that Buffy must've brought a demon with her from Hell/demon dimension, and that they need to kill it. They decide to do research and find out what they're dealing with an how to destroy it. Buffy tries to help, but ends up sitting in silence most of the time. She goes off to patrol, leaving everyone else to continue their discussion. Oh, and Dawn appears to be possessed now.

Buffy walks through the cemetery by herself. Having spent the majority of my life now in differing degrees of misery, I can understand what Buffy's going through. However, I have not been brought back to life as she has, nor am I a Slayer, or a blonde chick, or . . . wait, I had a point, what was it? Oh, I can sympathise with Buffy, walking alone with her thoughts.***

Back at the magic shop, "Evil Dead" Dawn calls the others stupid children with blood on their hands. She breathes fire and collapses.

Buffy goes to visit Spike in his crypt, where he has been moping. She doesn't say anything, really, but he talks, telling her he wishes he had protected Dawn so she didn't have to kill herself, and that he saves her every night in his mind, though it, of course means nothing. She just sits there.

Willow finds in one of the books the answer: they created this demon as a sort of byproduct of the resurrection spell. It doesn't have a physical form and will eventually disappear unless it kills the subject of the original spell. Unfortunately, it hears her say this, and takes off to go kill Buffy.

When it finds her, she's defenceless against it, since it has no physical form. It gives her this big speech about how she's the one who doesn't belong, and beats her up. But back at the Magic Box, Willow and Tara cast a spell to give the demon physical form. Willow's eyes go black again at the end of the spell, and the demon becomes a white skinned devilcrone.

And Buffy cuts its head off.

The next day, everything seems back to normal. Dawn goes off to school and Buffy somewhat resumed as Dawn heads to school the next day and Buffy sees her off. Dawn says that all anybody wants is to see Buffy happy. So Buffy goes to see the others, and thanks them for bringing her out of Hell.****

But Buffy's already-phony smile fades as soon as she goes out into the alley. It's day, but Spike is hanging out there, having fled when the tenderness began inside. For some reason ("A whisper in a dead man's ear, that doesn't make it real"), she opens up to him, and talks about how much at peace she was when she died, how she was in a good place where she felt safe and happy. She thinks she was in Heaven, but her friends took her away from all that, and now she's here. Here, in Hell. The end.

I asked tyranist if he knew where Buffy had been, and he said he did. I too knew, mostly from my cousin telling me last summer, but also from the song. Yes, I have listened to the musical episode soundtrack so many times I know half the lyrics by heart, even if I don't know their context, or even how far off that particular show is.

So, that brings us to the end of this lengthy "Buffy" blog. Sadly, I am writing this on June 22nd, 2011, so it did take longer than I intended. Still, I am anxious to continue with the show and can't wait for the singing to take place.

I love this show. I love the characters, the universe, the dialogue, the emotion and caring that the writers, actors, and boom operator brings to it. I even went on YouTube and watched the poor-quality original pilot shot so long ago the characters might actually have been in high school at the time.

Folks, I've wanted to be a professional writer for nearly as long as I've been a loser. My friends and I used to kick around ideas for a TV series and all the many things we'd do on it. I suppose I can imagine people loving a show I created as much as we love Joss's . . . but then, my imagination is a hell of a lot stronger than yours.

"Rishy The Vampire Viewer" Outfield

*It was difficult not to notice how much taller Dawn is than Buffy in these scenes, especially when they flash back to last season . . . and she wasn't.

**Alarming as it might seem, this is actually how I see the world, if I rise before ten a.m..

***I am reminded of a teenaged time when I had lots of friends, and they were all pairing off and finding happiness, and I was constantly overcome with the need to take lonely walks and stew in my unhappiness, which was all the more vivid amid all the joy and young love my friends were experiencing. Of course, in later years, I would find more excuses to feel sorry for myself, once my friends were all gone. Ahh, youth.

****Oh, and Willow has apparently slain a muppet (it might have been Elmo) and is wearing the creature's pelt. Tyranist pointed this out to me, but it was frighteningly apparent in the scene.

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