Thursday, May 08, 2008

Buffy Wedn--Thursday

8 May 2008

We couldn't get together last night, so we got together on a Thursday this week. We watched two "Buffy" episodes tonight, and either I'm still soured from the last "Angel" we saw, or these weren't great episodes.

My cousin, his wife, and I drove for six hours on Sunday, coming back from a wedding, and while we spent a while talking about "Star Trek," the majority of our time was spent talking about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Twas my cousin who proclaimed BTVS as "the greatest show of all time," not long ago, and got me saying it too. But I was totally interested in what his wife had to say about it, as I've gotten to know her a little (mostly through him) and have been lending him my boxed set DVDs, then finding out what she thought of each episode.

I've made it no secret that I don't understand women one iota, and I've found that their thought process is simply different from mine, so I like to hear them speak (intelligently) about why they feel a certain way. It was she I asked about Kirsten Dunst's behaviour in SPIDER-MAN 3 (chiefly, what the devil was going through her head?), and I very much enjoyed hearing her defend Buffy, Willow, and--gasp!--Cordelia, while finding out her opinions on Xander, Angel, Oz, and Spike's actions.*

So, the first of the two we watched was called "As You Were," written and directed by Douglas Petrie.

In it, Buffy is still working at Doublemeat Palace, and there's a new coworker who always talks about college--actually, he talks like a big, overeducated tool, but his conversation makes Buffy think about college--and Buffy mentions that she's reapplying for school.

She goes home, and Spike is waiting for her behind that tree he always hides behind. Buffy says he can't go in the house, so he tells her to come outside . . . and they have sex. Ah, I get it, you can say stuff like that on UPN, apparently.

When Buffy finally goes in the house, she gives Dawn a mashed bag of Doublemeat dinner, which has been going on a while, apparently. Dawn isn't thrilled, but Willow comes downstairs and offers to take Buffy to the Bronze for a little relaxation. She's too sad to play dodgeball, so Willow takes Dawn instead.

At the Bronze, Xander and Anya are still planning their wedding, which we find out, is in one week. Anya's demon guests and Xander's horrible family will both be staying at their house and that only adds to the list of headaches they've got to deal with.

The next day, Buffy gets a rejection letter from UC-Sunnydale. The bastards didn't accept my application either. She goes to work, and who should come to the register but a Mister Riley Finn, formerly of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," now of "South American Demon Chasers" on the Discovery Channel. He's got a scar across his face now and asks Buffy to help him on a mission in town.

She abandons her post and goes outside with him (no idea if that means she was fired or not), where he lets her know what they're up against: a big mass-murdering demon that breeds like a trailer park inhabitant. It's been drawn to the Hellmouth, and they've got to kill it before it lays its eggs.

In fact, there it is on the streetcorner set. Buffy and Riley fight it, and it escapes, but not before Riley tags it with a transmitter. They go to Riley's vehicle and follow it, catching each other up on what's gone on since Riley left.

In my favourite exchange of the episode, Riley is talking about all his adventures in the past year and how they might compare to Buffy's and she asks, "Did you die?" When he says "No," she says, "I win."

Riley drives to a big dam we've never seen before, and the two of them rappel down it. Tyranist really hates Riley, and revealed to me that he despises him more than even Harmony Kendall. When they get to the bottom, the demon jumps out and they fight it. Buffy saves Riley, and then a woman--a tall supermodel type--also rappels down to join them. Her name is Sam, also a soldier, and she also starts fighting the demon.

Finally Buffy goes over, puts it in a headlock, and breaks its neck. The two soldiers react with displeasure and we find out they needed the creature alive to find out where its lair was. Riley apparently left that part out of the catch-up conversation.

Oh, and Sam is his wife. We both left that part out.

Buffy takes them back to her house, where they great Willow and Dawn. Willow tells Buffy that she is willing to hate Sam and be cold to her for Buffy, who isn't allowed to act that way for protocol reasons.
Riley and Sam tell us what's up with the demon and that a character known as The Doctor is trying to sell its eggs here in town. Riley asks Willow to cast a spell to find the eggs and/or Doctor, but Willow explains her situation, and Sam is all understanding and, like, totally supportive of Willow's problem, explaining that she knew a pair of shaman that had the exact same addition and it destroyed them. Sam makes a good impression on everyone, and treats Dawn like a grownup, which she likes. Xander asks Riley about being married, about what their wedding was like, and for last minute marriage tips.

Xander seems to think Riley is alright, and really, I'm cool with this. I don't know if Xander ever saw Riley as a rival in the way he looked at Angel, but with the guy married and out of the picture, there's a lot to like about the man. And this is actually the case with tyranist as well--no, no, since he got married, he sucks more than ever, I'm talking about his blinding hatred of Riley, or Marc Blucas, as he prefers to call him. As a guest star, only appearing in this one episode, sure to go away before "Grrr, arrgh," tyr doesn't find Riley smarmy or obnoxious, and is able to talk about how handsome and tall he is, and how he hopes Riley has a good and fruitful life. It's almost nice, really.

Later, Buffy and Sam go patrolling together, and Sam can't stop talking about how much she admires Buffy and wishes she can be like her and how Riley only has good things to say about her and how impressed she is that Buffy can be the Slayer and also have a life and how good CRUEL INTENTIONS was and how much the sequels sucked. She asks about Buffy's lovelife and Buffy claims not to have one. Then Sam goes on and on about how it's better Buffy is with no guy than the wrong guy and that it would totally suck if she hooked up, with, say, a zombie or a ghoul with an English accent or--

Finally, Buffy suggests they split up, and goes straight to Spike's crypt. She asks him if he knows someone called The Doctor, but is more interested in feeling . . . well, it's hard to know what she thinks or feels, because soon she and Spike are naked, and snoring away in post-coital exhaustion.

And that's when Riley walks in. Buffy is embarrassed, but Spike is proud about the situation and taunts Riley about it. Then Riley calls him The Doctor and asks for the eggs. Spike pretends not to know what Riley is talking about, but sure enough, in the basement of Spike's crypt are several ALIEN-looking eggs.

Well, Buffy is not happy about this turn of events, and Spike feels the pressing need to be elsewhere, so he leaves Riley and Buffy alone together. Well, alone together with tons of hatching monster eggs. They do a little fighting, then toss a grenade the demons' way, and blow the basement up.

Riley asks Buffy if he should do her a favour and eliminate Spike, but Buffy has to admit that she's seeing Spike and as effed-up as the relationship is, it's what she's got going on in her life. But Riley takes this in stride and tells her she's doing the best she can with the cards she's been dealt, and yeah, the guy is totally non-hatable (as much as it's strange to agree with tyranist on Riley Finn).

Oh, and Buffy apologises for how things ended in "Into the Woods," and Riley pretends it's no big deal. He and Sam go away, but say real goodbyes this time and on good terms, and are lifted away by a helicopter in a big, expensive-looking special effects shot.

Buffy then goes to Spike's crypt, which is burnt-out and ruined, but he doesn't seem too upset about it. Also not too upset is Buffy to find out he was The Doctor and selling demon eggs behind her back. As she puts it, she knew what he was when she got involved with him.*** But, she tells him--yet again--that it's over between them. This time, though, it feels more permanent. She says she can't ever love him****, and she's using him, and it makes her feel bad to do that. The clincher for me is that she calls him "William," and then walks away. As far as I can remember, only Faith ever called him that (and she was in Buffy's body at the time), so it struck me as somehow stronger than just calling him by his vampire name. The end.

I told tyranist after watching this that I thought it was a pretty mediocre episode. But now, after recapping it, I don't know what it is I didn't like. He told me I was just internalising the breakup with Spike, and he may be right.

The second episode we watched was "Hell's Bells" which was written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner. It's the big wedding episode, but I was pretty darn sure no wedding would take place. How did I know? Well, there's that mystery song from "Once More With Feeling" where Anya sings "I'll be Misses Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins Harris," and I thought it would be geeky of me to go onto Anya's page on wikipedia and make sure they had her full name there. Well, they did . . . but there was no "Harris" at the end of it. Whoops.

The whole episode takes place in the pouring rain. An omen, perhaps. Buffy and Willow each have bright green bridesmaid dresses (with long, unnecessary sleeves), and it is revealed that Xander asked Willow to be Best Man. Now that's class.

Xander's family has been told that Anya's demon guests are circus people, and they've been fighting like bats and frogs. Xander's father and mother, who we spend time with for the first time in this episode, are a drunken lout and cringing sycophant, respectively. Xander's Uncle Rory is also a loudmouth idiot and was played by the teacher who died in "The Wonder Years."

Buffy tries to be in all places at once, helping everyone, tying Xander's bow tie, reassuring people, keeping Xander's dad away from the booze, and greeting people. Among the guests is Spike, who has shown up with a black-haired chick who looks familiar, but I couldn't place her. Also, D'Hoffrin, the guy who made Anya a vengeance demon comes. I believe he was giving away the bride, which is pretty clever.

Willow and Tara are both at the wedding, and seem to be getting along really well. I'm really pulling for those two . . . he said, through fear-clenched teeth. Anya is Season-Three-cute with her made-up vows and nervousness about saying the right thing when it's time for her to speak.

Willow is also really lovable as she hugs Xander and makes a joke about how seeing him in her tux makes her relieved she found out she was gay.

And then, an old man shows up at the wedding. He looks afraid and in a hurry, and as soon as he took Xander aside, I knew who he was going to turn out to be. I was both right and wrong.

It seems that he is Xander Harris, from many years in the future, returned through time to warn the young Xander not to go through with the wedding. Through a magic sphere, he shows Xander a vision of his future: with him an unhappy father of bratty and half-demon children, unable to work because of an injury he suffered trying (and failing) to save Buffy, constantly being belittled and judged and lied to, hated by his own children, hated by himself, until ultimately, he attacks her.

Xander returns to the present, shaken and horrified. I remember when this same thing happened to me when I was seventeen, and there's not a day that goes by when I don't wish I had done the righteous thing and jumped off the Sky Ride at Lagoon to my death. Xander goes into the kitchen, and when Willow comes in to check on him, he doesn't confide in her. Instead, he takes off into the downpour outside, saying nothing to anybody.

Spike tells Buffy he brought the date to make her jealous. She tells him it worked, but she's not getting back together with him. He sees that it would be unwise to press her, so he leaves.

The time of the ceremony begins, and Xander is nowhere to be found. Buffy tries to stall Anya and the guests, but eventually the guests start to fight and Anya starts to worry. She hears that Xander is gone and is confronted by the old man Xander Harris. He laughs at her pain, and reveals himself to be a demon that Anya punished many years before, there for his own revenge. He plans to kill Anya, but Xander returns (a soaked mess) and pushes him away. Buffy kills the hell out of the guy (the demon, not Xander--this is not "Angel" we're watching), and Anya tells him that the visions he showed her weren't real, that they should still get married.

But Xander isn't ready. He was freaked out by what the demon showed him and thinks he rushed things and doesn't want to end up like his parents. He takes off to spend the night in a motel, leaving Anya mortified and heartbroken in front of her many guests. The last thing we see is D'Hoffrin comforting Anya. Comforting her with the possibility of becoming a vengeance demon again. The end.

So, they didn't get married, which is a shame. Despite knowing the truth, Xander called the wedding off. I thought he might spit in Anya's face then punch her in the stomach, but we were watching "Buffy," not "Angel."****

I don't know if that was the right decision or not, folks. Xander and Anya have had little to do this season, but as tyranist sometimes points out, they are the only real adults on the show, now that Giles is gone. For them to fall in love and stay together and ultimately get married would've been a nice progression on a series that has seen literally every single one of its characters fall in love, get together, split up, and seek someone new during its run (with the exception of Dawn, but hey, remember that kid she dated for, like, three episodes in Season Two, but then he turned into a monster in the Halloween episode and tried to eat her when she turned into a butterfly because of her Ethan Rayne costume, and then she broke up with him when they reverted to human form?). But I don't really know what is coming next, and it may be that it was part of their master plan and where it goes will be as brilliant as the Angelus arc in 1998. At least I hope so.

Tyranist told me we are only a half-dozen episodes away from finishing Season Six, and I have to admit that I was happy to hear it. Defend it though I have in the last several posts, all this misery and unpleasantness has really taken its toll, and I do hope that Joss grabs the reigns again and steers the stagecoach back toward Little Rock.

'Cause, you know, everybody loves Little Rock.

Rish Ebeneezer Outfield

*She's only on Season Three, which I just finished rewatching. Ryan, my cousin, is considering stopping at a certain point (before the darkness of Season Five and the utter misery of Season Six begins), and I'll be darned if "Graduation Day, Part 2" isn't the perfect place to quit. If one has to, that is.

**Why can't girls ever be like this with me?

***Why are girls constantly like this with me?

****Am I making too big a deal of that? It's fine if you think so, but I took my mom out for Mother's Day dinner today, and I found myself thinking about that awful last moment of the last "Angel" I watched, and it really disturbed me, even two weeks later. I may be wrong to be so bothered by it, but I plan to keep dwelling on as long as I can anyway.

No comments: