Friday, April 18, 2008

Fairly Short Buffy Post

About halfway through the "Tabula Rasa" BTVS post, I realised it was going to be extra long and sprawling. After going on and on in the last one, I dedicated myself to burning through this one like an enchilada through stomach lining. Wish me luck.

So, we moved on to the next disc, and it had three episodes on it, all with interchangable titles you could complete the sentence, "Man, I got so ______ at the party last night, I don't know who I got pregnant!" with. We figured that probably meant they were a trilogy, like "Angel" just had, so we vowed to watch them all.

The first was "Smashed," written by Drew Z. Greenberg (who I didn't recognise, and when I looked him up, I saw this was his first BTVS).

So, Tara has moved out, and Willow is unhappy about it, but still unwilling to blame magic or herself. As proof of this, she sees Amy the rat in her little cage, and knows she can change her back to human. She casts a spell (rather simple for her now) and Amy reverts to her previous form, albeit with a different haircolour. Amy and Willow seem to hit it off immediately, and just as immediately, my Spider-Sense starts tingling.*

I don't remember much about Amy, really, except that she seemed a nice girl in the, what, third episode of the show, and the next time we see her she is magically convincing her teachers she did her homework. I suppose the most telling incident is her transforming herself into a rat to escape the angry mob, leaving Buffy and Willow to be burned at the stake, but still, I was surprised at what a bad egg Amy is.

The Geek Squad--wait, that's copyrighted--The Geek Troupe steal a big mystical diamond from the museum with the help of a freezing ray that they have developed. We're not sure what they need the diamond for, but it's part of their plan for world domination and dorky male mischief.

Also, Spike follows Buffy around, and in a repeat from last week, she won't have nuthin' to do wif him, despite their kissing. She calls him "a thing," tells him to go away or she'll kick his arse, and he insists she really wants him around. So she punches him, and by reflex, he punches her back. To his surprise, he feels no pain from his chip.

Liberated, Spike heads to the one alley in Sunnydale, and grabs a chick to eat, but his chip incapacitates him as usual. Spike then goes to the Three Geek Villians' hideout to have Warren look at his chip. He won't tell Warren what the chip is for, but Warren insists the chip is working perfectly.

He puts three and two together and realises that Buffy no longer qualifies as human now. In his own words (before and in this episode), "she came back wrong."

Let me take this opportunity to say just one thing about Spike both loving and hating Buffy at the same time: it's totally a unique relationship compared to anything I've seen before. Sure, you can have the typical Sam & Diane love/hate thing, or you can have the
but what's strange is that he is in love with her, and yet seems to legitimately hate her at the same time. I've talked with my cousin a time or three about how, if I were Joss, I would work as hard as I could to make Spike different from Angel, since the comparisons are inevitable. Angel was almost always suave and mysterious, but Spike is a more fallible comedic foil. Angel seems to be a good person who strives to overcome an evil nature, but Spike strikes me (at least most of the time) as a legitimately evil creature who just keeps on doing good, whether by choice or by circumstance. And yet, I've no doubt that Spike actually loved Drusilla (as gross as she was), and seems to not only love Buffy, but finds little reason to pretend he doesn't.

Wait, that came out wrong too, since Spike seems to be unhappy that he digs the Slayer and wishes he could just go back to being her mortal enemy again.

Heck, maybe he's like all of us, and doesn't know exactly why he does what he does, or feels what he feels. That seems pretty easy to relate to.

It could be that we look to the people that Spike and Angel were before becoming vampires (William and Liam) as a bedrock for who they are today. Liam was a shifty layabout, a drunkard, and really popular with the ladies. From what I've seen, William was well-to-do, an educated dreamer, and a romantic failure of Rishoutfieldian proportions. And you build on that, I suppose.

Damn, I wish I hadn't detoured. Let's pretend I didn't.

Tara has her daddy/daughter weekend visit with Dawn, and takes her out for ice cream and a movie. She asks about Willow, and assures Dawn she'll always be there for her, even though she's not under the same roof anymore.

Willow continues to use magic, even when others, like Xander are worried about it. To her it's no big deal, and even when Anya is her usual blunt self and says, "Everyone knows that Tara left you because you were using too much magic, but here you are, still using magic for ordinary things."**

Back away from her good influences, Willow tells Amy what she's missed since Season Three, and they decide to go out and see the town. Of course, that includes the Bronze, and Amy being the sweet lil enabler that she is, encourages Willow to use all the magic she can. In the Bronze, Willow and Amy cast spells to make people attracted to them, to play pool without cues, to get back at a couple of dudes that insult them, and turn the male-fronted band into a female one. Willow then comments that there have to be bigger places they can go.

Tara is dropping Dawn off at home, but when she sees that Willow and Buffy aren't home, sits on the couch and watches TV with Dawn until one of them returns.

So, Spike goes and picks a fight with Buffy. She hits him, he hits her back. He tells her that she's a freak, who doesn't fit in anywhere, just like him. She gets angry and they fight, really, quite a bit. She throws him through the door of an abandoned house, and they keep whaling on each other until . . . well, they start doing something else. It struck me as particularly explicit, when the walls start cracking and the ceiling falls down, and the humpin' and pumpin' continues unabated, but hey, maybe that's just me. The end

Then begins "Wrecked," written by Marti Noxon. Morning has come, and Tara realises no one has come home. Buffy awakens and realises what she has done (apparently multiple times), and feels dirty and
ashamed. He tells her everything has changed now, and she can't treat him like dirt anymore. She tells him nothing has changed
and punches him. He's stuck there 'cause the sun is up, but she leaves immediately.

You know, I've talked to a handful of Buffy fans, and found that a lot of them really don't like the turns things take in the Sixth Season. Sarah Michelle Gellar remarked at last month's Buffy retrospective that she felt the character went astray and didn't get back to who she was supposed to be until Joss took the reigns again. Being too new to the show, I can't say that I dislike this season--some of the storylines have been disturbing, but the drama, conflict, and moral ambiguity of the last few episodes has really fascinated me. But that may just be my taste; those three qualities are a big part of why I consider "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" to be the best show of that franchise.

Anyhoo, Willow and Amy return to the Summers house, stinking of cigarettes, cheap perfume, and black magic, finding Tara and Dawn making breakfast. Amy actually boasts about what a mind-blowing witch Willow is, and Tara stutters a bit before marching for the door.

Buffy also comes in, and Dawn sees the bruises (you should see the other guy; Spike's back was covered in scratches). She just knew Buffy was fighting evil, which is why she didn't call. Willow goes to bed, Amy goes home, and Buffy goes to the magic shop, where Xander and Anya are doing their demon research and wedding plans, respectively. When Buffy mentions that Willow is sleeping off her night out with Amy, Xander gives some of that Season Two "Ah, Tara left her for the magic-dabbling, so Willow conjures up a friend who'll let her do all the magic she wants" talk that is somewhat ugly to hear, but 100% Grade A certified bullshit free.

Buffy gives an interesting little rebuttal about how Willow is going through a tough time right now, and she may have made a mistake last night, but who are we to judge?

Cut immediately to Amy and Willow walking down the street, talking about how draining their magic was the night before. Amy says, and I quote, "I know this guy, and he knows spells that last for days. And the burnout factor is, like, nothing." At this point, I believe tyranist started to complain about the nylon thin drug metaphor. But oh, it didn't stop there.

You see, there's a warlock called Rack who lives in a "cloaked" location that can't be seen, and has a waiting room where the junkies wait hours for their turn. He's a long-haired, scary-faced dude who senses that Willow has true power. He puts his hands on her and does something, a revolting energy-transfer, soul rape-type thing, and the next thing you know, Amy is spinning around and Willow is flopping like a beached shark on the ceiling. She has a hallucination or an out of body experience featuring a bestial creature and herself, black-eyed, eventually finding herself on the floor of her own room back home.

In my favourite part of the episode, she takes some of Tara's clothes and magically fills them out SLEEPING BEAUTY-style, having them hold her like Tara used to. Later, she tells Dawn she'd like to take her out for dinner and a movie, still feeling bad for leaving her the other night.

Buffy comes home and hears a rattling upstairs. It's an ominious sound and I thought, "Uh oh, Spike's about to get disinvited again." But it turns out it's Amy, filling her pockets with Willow's magic stuff. She's as twitchy as a junebug, really needing her fix, and claims Willow would understand her stealing, what with her addiction and all. Amy bets Willow is at Rack's right now, and when Buffy asks how to find the place, Amy says you just have to feel it out, then runs off to vomit.

Willow and Dawn, however, are just walking down the street after dinner, talking about Tara. Since there's a few minutes before the movie, Willow says she needs to stop in someplace. Sure enough, Willow takes her to Rack's waiting room and says she'll be out before the movie starts at nine.

At five minutes to eleven, Willow comes out, having floated around the room in some kind of lightning bubble, traveling through time and space and seeing the demon beastie again. Her eyes are black, which NEVER ceases to disturb me. Willow tries to pretend everything is okay, but she's stoned to the gills, and even mocks Dawnie for wanting to go home. They walk down the alley, and are followed by the demon beastie from Willow's visions.

Buffy, meanwhile, has gone to Spike to get him to help her find Rack's. He is familiar with the man and his methods, and they hit the streets together. While they're looking, Buffy refers to the previous night's activities as the most degrading of her life. But Spike says it's her true self that she allowed to slip out, and now that he's seen it, he's got the advantage. Buffy tells Spike if he tells anyone about their tryst, she will kill him.*** Actually, there's a lot more of that kind of talk, but eventually, they hear Dawn scream and run in that direction.

The demon beastie confronts them, asking Willow why she summoned him, and coming after Dawn. They leap into a car which Willow starts up with magic, and flee. Willow drives it right into a wall, though, and both of them are injured. They stagger out of the ruined car (which, sadly enough, belonged to a kindly old man who took a night watchman job so he could put his granddaughter through college), and the demon appears again, throwing Dawn around and breaking her arm.

Buffy appears and does battle with the demon (which is remarkably tough), and Willow ends up using some kind of spell (the eye-blackening kind) to burn it up. Spike gets Dawn to safety and Willow keeps asking if she's okay. Finally Dawn stops and slaps her. Willow collapses on the ground, crying about how she's ruined everything. Spike leads Dawn away and Buffy helps Willow up, who says she needs help before really breaking down into hysterical sobbing.

Dang, it's some rough, rough stuff to watch. Like "The Body," it's so raw and real that I can see why people flinch away from it. Plus, it probably reminds everyone of incidents from their own lives, so I don't fault people for not wanting to feel that way.

Once home, Buffy asks Willow for the whys, and Willow admits she was to blame, that she couldn't get enough of magic, and that's why Tara left. Buffy seems very adult as she listens to Willow talk about how she used to be nobody and magic made her somebody, and that she wanted to forget all her problems and her selfish, thoughtless behaviour accomplished that. Buffy tells her she understands, thinking of shagging Spike (which I don't think is exactly the same thing, but may be deluding myself), and when Willow promises it won't happen again, Buffy seems to be thinking the same thing.

Willow spends the night sweating and writhing on the bed, and Buffy spends the night hanging garlic cloves in her room. The end.

Tyranist and I spent hours postponing the next episode, "Gone," because we knew the darkness of the show was going to get very, very thick, and with a title like that, hey, it had to be right at our doorstep. But when we finally began the episode, written and directed by David Fury, we found we had been granted a short stay of execution by the Governator.

The next one begins with Buffy gathering up all the magic-related items in the house, so Willow won't be tempted. Dawn, strangely, is angry at Buffy for this, and won't speak to her.

Spike, however, will speak to her, and comes over (braving sunlight, even) to pay Buffy a vist. He says he left his cigarette lighter, and Buffy just happens to have it in her pocket. He comments that he likes her hair, and Xander sees an almost kiss between them. Amusingly, Xander tells Spike to give it up already, and that "only a complete loser would ever hook up with you."

A woman from Social Services (who I believe was Corbin Bernsen's secretary on "L.A. Law") comes to the door, to meet with Buffy about Dawn's situation. Buffy says and does just about everything one could do to make their encounter a bad one, including not knowing what day of the week it is, pointing to some of Willow's herbs and calling it "magic weed," mentioning that Willow lives there and is gay, and handing Spike his blanket. The lady, Doris, tells Buffy that Dawn's grades have slipped and she's putting Buffy on probation, which could lead to her losing Dawn to the Ned Flanders family.

Meanwhile, the dastardly trio (Warren, Jonathan, and the guy I always have to look up, Andrew) have developed, using the diamond they stole a couple episodes back, an invisibility ray. It turns whatever it shoots as invisible as my reason for being, and with a flick of a switch, can bring it back again.

Buffy, stressed, sort of freaks out and cuts off her hair. I do have to wonder, was Giles' leaving the best thing? Surely Willow's descent into heroin addiction would've still happened, but gosh, he did have a way of putting things into perspective.

I even went as far as to say that Spike should move in, maybe stay downstairs, since it would be another adult that SS Doris could see was there. Tyranist did not agree, and though I don't remember his exact argument, I believe it hinged on both Spike's propensity for evil, and my quite unnatural attraction to him.

Buffy goes to a stylist to get her hair fixed, and the Geek Trio happens to be outside, about to make themselves invisible and free in a bikini wax salon. They see Buffy, and cartoon hijinks ensue as they fight over the ray gun and accidentally blast Buffy and her surroundings with it.

Buffy goes to the Magic Box, where Xander and Anya are planning on where to seat people at their wedding (I was amused that Anya wanted to invite D'Hoffrin, the vengeance demon dude we saw a couple years back). Amazingly, Buffy is reacting to being invisible with some kind of childlike joy. She jokes around with Xander and Anya and, as I observed several times, is acting like a fifteen year old.

Buffy goes off to make mischief, and Anya comments that no enemy of the Slayer would turn her invisible (making her even more of a threat), but a friend . . . Xander goes over to talk to Willow, who is working on her laptop like a good little Luddite. He tries to be understanding, but she gets more than a little angry when he suggests she might have turned Buffy invisible. A lot of that going around, I think.

Again, I think it's neat that Xander has become a grownup, since he was always the least mature of the bunch. But maybe I have deviant sexual feelings about Xander too. I'm starting to get paranoid about this.

Buffy goes to Social Services and plays tricks on Doris. She types "All work and no play make Doris a dull girl" in Dawn's case file. Her boss thinks she's losing her mind and schedules a new appointment with Buffy.

Willow finds paint scrapings from the van that the Terrible Trio drive around in, and some tire marks. She also gives Xander a partly-invisible traffic cone for him to study. Anya discovers that the cone is turning into a pudding-like substance, and it will probably happen to Buffy too.

Spike is in his crypt, watching TV, and InvisiBuffy comes in to mess with him too. However, "messing," in his case, turns out to be something you do without your pants. Xander comes in mid-pelvic thrust, and Spike claims he was doing push-ups. As soon as Xander's gone, Spike mentions that Buffy's only there because she
can't be seen. She claims she's finally free now, but he throws her out.

Buffy gets home, but her invisibility freaks out Dawn. She hears Xander's answering machine message about the deadly consequences of staying invisible.

Willow does a trace on the van, and though she's tempted to use magic, she doesn't. She goes to their house (is it Andrew's house? I can't recall), and letting herself in, finds the plans for the invisibility ray. But the three villains are already invisible, and grab her.

They call Buffy's house and arrange to trade Willow for . . . well, I don't really understand that part. Regardless, they meet at an arcade, with Willow being the only participant who's actually visible. Warren promises to revisible Buffy, but Willow realises that the gun is set for molecular dissolution and warns her. An invisible fight ensues, and Willow ends up zapping them all with the gun (on the right setting), revealing to Buffy who her tormenters have been all this time.

Nobody has any idea who Andrew is, so it's not just me.

The trio escapes through the back door and Buffy and Willow (with the invisibility gun) walk down the street, talking. Buffy says that when she heard Xander's warning that she would die if she stayed invisible, she was afraid . . . a good first step from the girl who didn't want to be alive just a short while ago. Not exactly a rollicking way to go, but a happy ending nonetheless.

I really have nothing more to say about this episode. It wasn't one of my favourites, but there's really nothing wrong with it, if you can get past Buffy's strange behaviour. But like I said, with a title like "Gone," tyranist and I feared the worst (even putting this episode off for several hours). We had nothing to worry about, I suppose.

But now we have to wait for the other shoe to drop.

Rish "Cliffhanger" Outfield

*Or maybe that's just my underwear.

**Also, Anya says something later in the episode about how Willow grew up all innocent and repressed, and now that she's got a taste of the power of the Dark Side of the Force, she just can't get enough. I guess Anya should know, but I can't help think of my own upbringing, and how there was/is what I term "Bishop's Daughter Syndrome," that essentially states that the girl with the strictest religious upbringing in the neighbourhood . . . would also be the most rebellious, and often sluttiest girl in town.
Hey, I don't make the rules, folks, I just kill by them.

***If she really means it (and it certainly seemed like she did), I gotta say, folks, she really did come back wrong.

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