Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Return of Buffy Wednesday

At last.

12 June 2008

It's with mixed feelings that I type this here. First off, I have yet to finish blogging all the "Angel"s from last week, and I have continued to feel a mixture of animosity, affection, and apathy toward the show. Secondly, starting "Buffy" Season Seven is both sad and daunting to me, because I know there's no more episodes coming.* I don't want it to end, and I have been known (whether this admission makes me look romantic or pathetic) to drive slower at the end of a date to keep it going a little longer.

But thirdly, it's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and I've so anticipated the show that I feel like one of the die-hard fans, coming back to the season premiere after a tense and lengthy summer break.

So, we have "Lessons," which was written by Joss Whedon. A good start.

It begins with an attractive girl running through the streets of Istanbul. She is being chased by men in black cloaks, and they eventually catch up with her, stabbing her with a dagger.

Then we're back in Sunnydale. Buffy is training Dawn in the cemetery, showing her combat moves. A vampire comes out of the ground and his dusting is part of the training.

Across the pond in England, Willow has been staying with Giles. The coven that gave him their power last season has been teaching her how to control her magical abilities, but she's still not quite herself.

The crux of this first episode is the opening of a new Sunnydale High School, on the ruins of the old one. Xander is part of the construction crew, trying to finish it up as classes are beginning. Buffy, Xander, and Dawn go to school together in the morning, sort of like a family. And to my surprise, Buffy gives Dawn a cellphone so they can stay in communication.Buffy is still overprotective of Dawn, and worried about the high school. She meets Robin Wood, the new principal. He's a young, bald-headed smooth-looking black dude with an earring, and immediately I wondered, "Is he evil? And if not, is he a new potential love interest for Buffy?"

Buffy goes into the Ladies Room, and finds a strange object, sort of Indian-like. Immediately after, a couple of dead people show up, berating Buffy for not having saved them.

We also catch up with Anya, who is still split with Xander, and still hip-deep in the vengeance demon business. She sees Halfrek socially,

Buffy rushes into Dawn's classroom, but only manages to humiliate her. A moment later, Dawn has a vision of a dead student attacking her, and goes to the bathroom to calm herself. She finds a goth girl in there, also afraid of a dead person that tormented her. A moment later, the floor collapses, dropping Dawn and Goth Girl into the basement. Down there is a third student, Latino Kid, and Dawn shows some leadership skills in banding them together to get out of there.

Dawn calls Buffy on her cellphone, telling her where she is. Buffy goes down there, but finds Spike instead. Spike looks way different, with lots of grown-out curly brown hair, and is stark raving mad, talking to himself and making no sense. Spike does say a bit about a talisman, and Buffy remembers the object she saw in the bathroom. Buffy calls Xander and tells him what's happening and to find the talisman in the Girls' bathroom and destroy it. Perhaps due to their last encounter, Buffy leaves Spike to his ravings him and goes looking for her sister.

Three dead people attack Dawn, Goth Girl, and Mexi-kid, and they hold their own until Buffy arrives and fights the beings. Xander finds the talisman, breaks it, and the living corpses disappear. Buffy accompanies the trio of high schoolers upstairs and sends them back to class. Principal Wood notices this and compliments her, noticing she has a way with students. He asks if she wouldn't consider a job as a part-time counselor, and she accepts. I'm sure Dawn will be thrilled to have Buffy around at school too.

Finally, Spike is still down in the basement, talking to himself. But, we see, he's not talking to himself. He's talking to Warren, who morphs into Glory, who morphs into Adam, who morphs into the Mayor . . . the major villains of each of the previous seasons. They're telling Spike how weak he is and how strong they are, offering torment in the guise of comfort as it becomes Drusilla, and then the Master, and finally Buffy herself. Both tyranist and I recognised this shape-shifting creature as The First Evil, which tormented Angel in Season Three's "Amends." Chilling stuff. The end.

Good stuff, kids. This season looks to be a good one.

Immediately after, we watched "Beneath You," written by Douglas Petrie.

It starts with a familiar scene, this time in Germany. An athletic young woman is on the run from cloaked evildoers. She tries to defend herself, but is also stabbed to death. As she dies, she says, "From beneath you, it devours."

Buffy wakes up, having seen what just happened in her dream. It makes me wonder if she saw last week's too. Buffy goes to the high school, where she gets a little cubicle of her own (I had a job once where they called them "pods," which never failed to disturb me).

A young dark-haired woman is walking her dog at night, when a hole opens up in the ground and pulls her dog in. She runs away, and bumps into Xander, who's out for a walk or something. She tells him what happened and he takes her to Buffy's house (I don't know if it was closer, or if he thought Buffy could do something about it). The woman's name is Nancy, and she tells Buffy and Dawn her tale of woe. Before Buffy can decide what to do, Spike shows up, with his hair short and white again. He offers to help them track down the beastie, and while Dawn and Xander still give him the cold shoulder, Buffy agrees.

Back in England, it's time for Willow to go back home. Giles reassures her that she's needed there (but, unfortunately, it looks like he isn't), though her friends may not welcome her back at first.

Buffy and Spike go to where the dog disappeared. There's nothing there now. Buffy is jumpy around Spike, after their encounter last season, and Spike says he has changed since that night. He doesn't explain that he got a soul, though.

Xander takes Nancy to her house, and there's a nice moment of tension when she asks him if he wants to go out sometime. As much as I have liked Anya in the past, I was more than willing to accept Nancy as a new love interest for Xander. It will be interesting to see if I'm as welcoming to other new characters coming into the gang's life. Then, the ground begins to shake, and a gigantic worm bursts through the floor, trying to get at Nancy.

When the worm leaves them alone, Nancy tells Xander how this is so typical of her life. She lost her dog, and she recently lost her piece-of-crap boyfriend. He was abusive, she tells him, and Xander asks her if she might have, I don't know, sort of, wished that something would happen to him . . . like, become a worm or something.

Xander tells Buffy the situation, and they go to the Bronze, where Anya's been hanging out, getting women to make horrible wishes. Sure enough, Anya turned Nancy's boyfriend into a Sluggoth demon, which are a cross between a worm and Rosie O'Donnell. When Anya looks at Spike, she realises he's changed, and asks how he got "it." I guess he doesn't want Buffy to know what he's done, because he attacks Anya, and Buffy jumps between them and starts pounding on Spike. He eggs her on, apparently feeling he deserves the beating for what he (almost) did to her.

Nancy is freaked out by all this and heads out the door. In the alley behind the Bronze, the worm demon shows up again, going after her. Xander demands that Anya stop the worm, canceling her wish, changing him back to a dude again. I told tyranist, "Find Anya's pendant and smash it!" but I don't think she had one on her.

In the alley, the worm tries to eat Nancy, but Buffy (and Spike) attack it and keep it away from her. Spike grabs a pipe and swings it at the worm just as it turns back into a confused, naked ex-boyfriend. Spike stabs the guy with it (not fatally, it seems), and writhes in pain as the chip in his head does what it does so well.

Anya tells Xander she will pay for undoing the wish, while they get the ex-boyfriend to the hospital. Spike starts acting insane again, and runs into a church. Buffy goes after him. From his ravings, she learns that he was only pretending to be the same old Spike, and that he went to find the missing piece so that she would accept him. She doesn't understand (because he really is talking a lot of nonsense, responding to voices from the past that are reminding him of what he's done. Finally, Buffy understands that he got his soul back. He goes to the big cross at the end of the church and embraces it. His skin sizzles at its touch, and Buffy is horrified by the sight. Or by the knowledge of what Spike has become? The end.

I really don't know a lot about Buffy's seventh season. Most of what I know came from my cousin and the internet, but I honestly have no idea if Buffy and Spike will get together again, if Anya and Xander will too, if that Nancy girl is a love interest for Xander, or if Giles is gone for good. I look forward to finding out the answers to these--and many more--questions in the coming months. I only hope they aren't over too soon.

Rish "The Last Season" Outfield

*Well, there's twenty more coming, but you know what I mean. And yes, there's technically the gorram comic book, but again, you know what I mean.

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