Friday, July 11, 2008

Buf-gel Wednesday

After not getting together last week, and being told we wouldn't be able to next week either, I really wanted a Buffy Wednesday this week. Luckily, we fit it in on Thursday.

We were caught up on both "Buffy" and "Angel" (meaning, we'd watched the same amount of episodes of each, though I see that BTVS this season was airing two weeks before "Angel" started, which puts us technically behind), so we tried to switch off again, like we used to do. The first "Buffy" we watched was called "Help," written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner (and directed by HALLOWEEN II helmer Rick Rosenthal).

Buffy is nervous about her job as a counselor at the high school, and she should be, as a long string of students with problems come to see her. I don't know how many were important, but most significant seems to be a girl named Cassie, who comes in and tells her she's going to die on Friday.

Cassie isn't particularly scared about it, but seems resigned to it, and not really generous with the details. Buffy is concerned, but Cassie leaves, after warning Buffy not to spill anything on her shirt. When Buffy goes to tell Principal Wood about it, he tells her it's just normal teenage behaviour, and then she spills coffee on her shirt.

Buffy thinks Cassie may be able to see the future, and asks Dawn to befriend her and report on her activities. Willow discovers Cassie has a website dedicated to her morbid death poetry (I so wish that had existed when I was in high school) and that her father has a criminal history and is a drunk.

Willow and Xander go to wherever Tara is buried, and Willow pays her respects. They seem a lot closer now, due to what they shared last season, and I'll be damned if I wasn't wishing those two kids could get together, lesbianism be damned. I mentioned to tyranist that they seemed like the kind of couple who would date around and then end up marrying each other once their searching was through. Tyranist mentioned to me that I know less about relationships than a monk by day, serial killer by night . . . which seemed a little bit hurtfulDawn does hang out with Cassie, and finds that her friend Mike is constantly asking her to the big upcoming dance, but she's always telling him no. She suspects that Mike will kill her, but Buffy suspects the father.

Buffy and Xander go to his house and basically accuse him of hurting his daughter. He is a pitiable lout and complains about how he only sees Cassie one weekend a month (and that weekend has just passed), and they leave. Cassie is lurking in the yard and tells Buffy it's not her father that does it. She gives a speech about all the things she'd like to do with her life, but won't be able to. Cassie doesn't plan to do it herself; all she knows is that coins are involved and there's no way to avoid it.

I thought that maybe she was one of those pre-credits girls, who is hunted down and killed by dudes in hoods, but I was wrong. We see a circle of dudes in red cloaks, surrounded by coins, who are burning a photograph of Cassie, and that makes me suspect those guys.

Buffy goes down to the school basement to visit Spike, who delivers his usual thankless crazy person scene. He has no useful information about Cassie, and as I have difficulties with characters who are mentally ill (River Tam was the only character I never liked on "Firefly"), I hope this all ends soon.

Buffy questions Cassie's buddy Mike if he's angry that Cassie won't go to the dance with him, but he's already thinking about getting in Dawn's pants. Which I have to admit is understandable. Buffy also notices when a bunch of coins falls out of some kid's locker, and threatens to pummell the owner of the locker/coins. He's a gimpy-looking kid, who reveals that yes, he's part of a sinister organisation that wants to bring Cassie harm.

Tyranist told me he liked Cassie, and I knew who she was when I saw her name (Azura Skye) in the opening credits, but now I can't figure out what I know her from. My best guess is that she was in the rather awful ONE MISSED CALL remake earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Dawn and Cassie are walking together, and Cassie tells Dawn that while she knows she's only hanging out with her because Buffy told her to, she appreciates the friendship. See, now I'm liking Cassie too. Dawn tells her they are really friends, then this kid that looks like one of the sons on "Home Improvement" distracts Dawn by asking her if she has a date to the dance (when she says no, he laughs about it), and when Dawn looks around, Cassie is gone.

"Home Improvement" kid is the ringleader of our merry band of hooded douchebags, and they take Cassie to their circle of coins in the school library to summon forth a demon that will bring them riches. Cassie is the intended sacrifice for said demon. In the middle of the summoning, one of the hooded dudes takes down his hood and reveals himself to be Buffy. She begins to kick "Home Improvement"'s ass, but then the demon shows up. While Buffy grapples with it, HomeImprovement decides to go ahead and sacrifice Cassie, but he is stopped by Spike, who has shown up to save the girl.

The demon bites HomeImprovement, Buffy kills the demon, and Cassie tells Spike, "Someday, she'll tell you," which seems to only point to one thing. I hope I'm alive to see it.

Buffy and Cassie leave the school, and in the middle of Buffy's speech that one person can make a difference, Cassie drops dead. It turns out that she had a congenital heart defect that her mother was keeping from her, and would've died no matter what. Buffy can't help but blame herself, though, but Dawn is glad she got to make a friend (however briefly), and comments, seemingly prophetically, that there are some people that are beyond help. The end.

This was a nice, sad, stand-alone episode. Tyranist commented that Anya, who I'd complained about in my last post (and who he also agreed ought to go), wasn't even in the episode, and I thought that was pretty interesting.

He also hoped that Cassie's character (ooh, I just got that, she was named Cassandra, right? After the Greek Cassandra, who was just like her?) could be a new regular on the show, but I'm thinking her death may prevent that from happening.

Next, we turned to "Angel," and the episode "Slouching Toward Bethlehem," written by Jeffrey Bell. Its title comes from that awesome Yeats poem "The Second Coming," which I actually had printed out and tacked up at my desk at work, until people read the title and got the wrong idea. Ah well.

It starts with Connor saving a family from some vampires, then sneaking into the Hyperion Hotel, just in time for Cordelia's return and confusion. She doesn't remember anyone, including herself. She seems remarkably skittish. Angel tries to reassure her that they are friends and that she works there, and when Lorne starts to come in, they hurry her out of the room so she doesn't see his demony, changing-every-other-episode face.

Cordelia is surprised to hear her own voice on the answering machine message when the phone rings, but since everyone's voice sounds strange to them when they hear it recorded, I wonder if a real amnesiac would recognise it. Regardless, Angel takes her upstairs to the room they've been keeping her stuff in. True to form, she has about eight hundred photos of herself, including one with Angel and a baby.

Gunn and Fred go out to slay demons, and Cordelia tries to figure out who she was before all this. She wanders through the hotel, narrowly missing a demon Lorne is counseling, narrowly missing seeing Angel with bottles of blood, and seeing Fred and Gunn, covered in demonblood (gee, I hope it was blood) and talking about killing those pesky babies.

Well, Cordelia jumps to some awful conclusion, and runs away. She is attacked by a couple of the disposable ninjas Wolfram & Hart keeps employed, and fights them off rather handily.* Angel tries to explain, but Cordelia accidentally sets off his vampire face when she brushes his hand with a crucifix. Well, as you can imagine, that doesn't do much to reassure her, nor does the sight of Lorne coming into the lobby. The gang explain the whole situation to her, but she doesn't believe them.

They tell her to sing for Lorne, so he can read her aura, and I suggested to tyranist that she sing "The Greatest Love Of All," since my niece had been over watching BTVS the day before and watched "The Puppet Show" in which Cordy sang that. To my surprise, that WAS the song she sang, and Lorne freaks out immediately as she's singing it. He gets up and runs out of the room, which is the typical reaction to Cordelia's singing, but probably bodes ill of her destiny.

Angel goes to find out what Lorne saw (Lorne doesn't tell him, but uses the words "horrible" and "evil," which could be describing the Apocalypse, her death, or one of tyranist's baby pictures). While Angel is out of the room, Cordelia takes off, out the door.

She runs into the demonguy that Lorne was meeting with, a balding dude whose face opens up like something in a Guillermo del Toro moist dream (okay, it's sort of like the Predator, but it's more repugnant than an MTV reality show). It attacks her and she's saved . . . by Connor. Connor basically says, "Come with me if you want to live," and takes her away from the nasty Angel mansion and its creepy inhabitants.

We get to check in with our ne'er-do-wells across town, Wesley and Lilah, who are pillow-talking. Wesley refers to what they're in as a "RELATIONSHIP," and apparently loses a bet between them and owes her a dollar. She gets a phone call, and he feigns sleep while she goes into the bathroom to answer it. It's her evil cronies over at the evil lawfirm, letting her know about Cordelia and where she's going. Wesley overhears, of course.

Connor takes Cordelia to some kind of abandoned warehouse, where he's been living lately, and she seems to think this is better than the hotel. She gets along with Connor, who seems to be more honest with her, and though it doesn't really work for me, it seems to for her.

Back at Angel Investigations, Angel is trying to figure out where Cordelia might have gone (and who killed Lorne's vaginamonster friend), when Wesley walks in. He tells them where Cordelia is and that Wolfram & Hart want her for whatever she knows about the Powers That Be.

Meanwhile, Cordelia and Connor are attacked by these lawfirm military dudes. They fight, and Angel and Company arrives, and they fight too. When only the goodies are left standing, Angel tells Cordelia to come back with her, but she prefers to stay with Connor, "because he tells the truth." I wonder if this is really Cordelia at all, or if it's some alien that took her body, while the real one is still up in Elysium somewhere.

Angel and Company trudge back to the hotel, where they find Lorne, tied to a chair, with some kind of gouge in his forehead. It would seem that Evillawyerwoman Lilah knew Wesley would be listening, so she used him to tip Angel off, so the Wolfram & Hart dudes could get at Lorne and find out what he saw in Cordelia's aura. They used some kind of brain-leeching demon to get the information out of him.

When Wesley finds out, he's furious at Lilah, since she tricked him, and Angel will probably think he was in on it. Guy just can't catch a break. She does tell him that she had her men spare Lorne's life because he was Wesley's friend, and that he should take comfort in that.

So, that's where we leave things, with Cordelia safe in Connor's care, and Angel upset as usual. The end.

You know, great title or not, this wasn't my favourite episode of the season. Tyranist seemed even more frustrated than I did about Cordelia's new alliance, and her interpretation of what all the A.I. folks did. I do like how they took steps to further complicate Wesley's return to the fold, and now I'm starting to wonder if they're just making up excuses to keep him apart from Angel, the way they used to do with Buffy & Angel, then Angel & Cordelia. I will keep watching to see where they go next, though I gotta admit that I'm a lot less invested in the show than I used to be.

Rish Outfield

*I thought this was something left over from her Powers That Be stage, but tyranist told me Cordelia has been able to do this stuff for a long time.

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