Saturday, August 30, 2008

Buffy Wednesday (August 27)

Tyranist and I caught three episodes of BTVS this week. Sadly, it means we are now more than halfway through the last season.

First up was "Potential," by Rebecca Rand Kirshner. I should remember who Kirshner is (she wrote "Tabula Rasa"), but I always forget.

The show started with Buffy and her potential Slayers (including a Chinese one, who only speaks subtitled Mandarin) walking through the cemetery. Spike jumps out and attacks the girls, all part of their training, and Buffy critiques their actions. For now, the First Evil is apparently napping, but it will rear its ugly head(s) again soon, more powerful than ever.

Buffy goes to school, where Amanda, the skinny girl she talked to about beating up bullies in "Help" shows up again.

Willow is told by the English coven we have never seen that another Potential is right there in Sunnydale, previously undetected. Dawn and Andrew are both relegated to standing around while the super-normals train or instruct or cast spells or work out. Willow prepares to cast a spell to locate this Potential, who will be sought out by a glowing ball of light. I'm going to come out now that I am all for glowing balls of light. I don't know, maybe I'll change my mind as I grow older, but for now, they're just cool.

Well, Willow casts the spell, and the ball floats around, then zooms straight for Dawn, who is standing by the door. The ball hits her, and knocks her down, and we realise that Dawn is the other Potential Slayer.

But of course, I mean, hey, why shouldn't she be? When Buffy died, I thought it only natural that Dawn should be the next Slayer, since she's made up of Buffy DNA, right?

Well, Dawn takes the news badly. In order for her to become the next Slayer, Buffy's gotta die, right?* Also, a Slayer tends to have a very short lifespan. After all, Buffy was killed, what, a year after being "chosen?" Dawn goes upstairs, then takes off out the window. Buffy never would've done that at her age.

Dawn finds Amanda from school on the sidewalk, who tells her that she was attacked at the school . . . by what appeared to be a vampire. She says she'd heard rumours that Ms. Summers knew about such things and was looking for her. Dawn says she believes her and asks her to take her to the classroom, where she claims she locked the vampire.

Buffy takes the girls (and Spike) to the local demon bar (I wonder if Sunnydale has more than one), and shows them how to get information from the demons there. Later, they go to a crypt where a vampire is sleeping. Buffy tussles with it, showing the girls how to keep their heads in battle, then she ducks out of the crypt, leaving the girls to fend for themselves.

It's maybe not the best way to teach a lesson, but it gets the point across. And anyway, they kill the vampire without any casualties, so I guess it worked out.

Xander and Willow, back at . . . well, their house, discover that Dawn has snuck out, and Willow casts a locator spell to find her.

Dawn and Amanda go to the school, and find the vampire hiding in wait for them. It chases them around and Dawn does her best to wallop it with a fire extinguisher. They board themselves up a science classroom while the vampire tries to get them.

Even worse, the Bringers (them pesky minions of the First Evil) show up to capture/kill the Potential Slayer. Dawn thinks fast and uses the gas jets to burn them, and sees that they were after Amanda, not her.

Xander and Willow and Buffy and . . . pretty much everyone who's not evil or dead arrive at the school. The vampire attacks again, and Dawn gives the stake she was using to Amanda, telling her that she's the one to kill it. She does, and Buffy takes care of the Bringers.

As they leave, it is revealed that Amanda was at the door when Willow cast her spell, and it went THROUGH Dawn to get to Amanda. Suddenly, Amanda is special, and the other Potentials immediately bond with her. Dawn ends up feeling unspecial and like an outsider again, but quickly volunteers to do some research on the computer. The real Potentials (and Buffy) continue training, leaving her alone.

Then Xander comes by, and tells her he knows how she feels. Ever since "Welcome to the Hellmouth," he's been the normal, ordinary guy, surrounded by Slayers, or smart people, or vampires, or witches, or werewolves, or ex-demons, or whatever Cordelia was, but that he can see that she's special even without powers or a unique heritage.** It's a nice moment between them, and it makes Dawn feel better, and hey, sometimes that's all you need. The end.

I didn't particularly like this episode . . . until the end. The Xander speech was a good one, and Dawn is a sweet character, and that made up for a lot. I think tyranist felt like it was the best scene Xander ever had, and while I can't go that far, it was nice.

Next up was "The Killer In Me," written by Drew Greenberg. It began with Giles taking the Potential girls out into the desert for a vision quest. We never see the girls, though, which I assumed was a cost-cutting measure.*** And something else we never see . . . Giles touching anything. They even explain that someone else has to drive for him because he let his drivers license expire. I believe this was another of those "tyranist pauses the tape" moments.

Kennedy is too sick to go, but Giles and all the girls drive off into the desert. Spike is still chained down in the basement (fairly sure the First Evil is going to take him over again), but it seems he's been having problems with his brain chip: it's been causing him pain when he's, I don't know, sitting on the couch or taking a slash. In other words, it's malfunctioning.
She decides to call Riley, but when she calls the number he gave her, she gets a flower shop answering machine, and leaves a cryptic message (I believe it involved the Army of the Twelve Monkeys and "Merry Christmas") before hanging up. Meanwhile, Spike writhes on the floor.

So, Kennedy wasn't really sick, she just didn't want to go with the squares on their silly vision quest, but preferred to stay and hang with Willow. I should find that irritating as hell, but for some reason, I was cool with it. She tells Willow she needs to take her somewhere and show her something important, and that somewhere turns out to be at the Bronze, and that something turns out to be her patented seduction routine.

She talks to Willow about how she became a lesbian, and at first Willow is very defensive about it, but warms rather quickly. Much as I have to this character. Willow tells Kennedy about Tara and Kennedy tells Willow why she finds her so attractive. A little drunk, they return to their already-shared bedroom, and kiss.

But something strange happens: when they part, it's no longer Willow standing there, but Warren. Kennedy freaks out, Willow sees herself in the mirror and she freaks out, they go downstairs, and everybody else freaks out. Willow/Warren tries to explain what has happened to her, and eventually convinces everyone that she's who she says she is.

Willow thinks--and it makes perfect sense--that this is something she has done to herself, through that magic that has a tendency to go a little screwy. She takes off alone, but Kennedy follows her.

Because Buffy doesn't know what else to do, she and Spike go to where the Initiative headquarters used to be. I thought it was all filled in with concrete, but apparently they just closed the doors and got the hel-ck out of Dodge. It is dark in there, and there are still bodies (of both demons and men) decaying on the floor. But something else lurks there, a demon that didn't die, perhaps, and it leaps upon Buffy when she's distracted by another of Spike's disabling chip-malfunctions.

As soon as Buffy takes the monster out, lights come on around them, and a bunch of Initiative dudes arrive, led by a black guy we've not seen before. He's on orders from Agent Finn to help Buffy out and take care of Spike's chip. And by "take care of," they give her the option of repairing the chip or removing it.

Back at Buffy's house, the phone rings and the Watcher we saw attacked in the episode Giles died in is calling, warning them what he saw. Xander and Anya decide that Giles must be the First Evil, since no one can remember him touching anything (Anya even asks if anyone hugged Giles, not that there's an excuse for not doing it), and they load into the car, taking Dawn and Andrew with them.

Andrew is attempting to endear himself to us by being dorky and shunned by the rest of the group, and I hope it starts working soon, 'cause he strikes me as quite useless and even more annoying. We'll see.

Willow goes to the college campus, where--speaking of useless and annoying--that Wicca group that she used to visit still meets. Well, I guess she met Tara there, so the group wasn't totally useless. None of the girls look familiar to me . . . except one. It's Amy, who has joined the group to get control of her mini-addiction to magic. Or so she claims. She apologises to Willow for what she did, and Willow is a bit distracted by having man parts, but accepts it anyway. Oh, and none of the girls can help Willow, 'cause they're, like, still into incense and black outfits and not shaving their legs.

Willow says something rather un-Willowlike and realises that she not only looks like Warren, but she's becoming like him. She storms off and when Kennedy tries to follow, she puts up a magic shield there. I can't tell you how many times a girl has done that to me (and often, they weren't even witches). So Kennedy goes back to talk to Amy, and finds that not only does Amy know who she is, but she seems a heck of a lot less contrite when she's not in front of her little Wiccy buddies.

In the desert, we find Giles sitting by himself beside a campfire, the Potentials still unseen in their tents or in the wilderness. Xander and Anya and Dawnie and the other guy jump out and tackle Giles. They are all surprised to find that he has physical form, and Giles is surprised they thought he was evil (and that Andrew got grabby with his crotch). Even though it's not explained until the next episode, I'll just say that Giles had heard the Bringer's squeaky shoes and caught the axe when it was swung at his head. He pulled it away and killed the Bringer with it, end of story.

Ho hum.

Wilren goes to the gun shop where he bought the pistol that killed Tara. The gun shop owner recognises "him" and sells him another pistol.

Amy reveals to Kennedy that SHE was the one who caused this to happen to Willow, just to bring her down a peg or three. She cast a spell that would turn Willow into what she most feared, and is quite proud of how it worked out. Her reasons are a) she's a really horrible person, b) it's not fair that Willow gets to be loved after all that she's done, and c) she's a really horrible person. To prove her sincerity, she magically transports Kennedy to Buffy's backyard, just as Wilren comes around the corner, saying the same thing Warren did when he shot Buffy (and Tara).

Kennedy is able to talk Wilren out of shooting her, and Willow cries, realising that when she kissed Kennedy, she finally and truly let Tara be dead in her heart. It's odd to see Warren cry like that, and I gotta admit they did a good job in making the actors behave believably.

Kennedy theorises that because it works in the fairy tales, she can break the spell the same way here. She kisses Wilren . . . who becomes Willow again. And it's funny, I'm perfectly fine with that. The end.

I might ought to talk about how much I didn't want Kennedy to show up on the show, how bothered I was that they would give Willow another love interest so soon, and what a stupid first name Kennedy is (for a boy or a girl), but I'm running low on time, so I'll just leave it for later. Or never.

The third episode we watched was called "First Date," written by Jane Espenson.

After explaining how he didn't die when we saw him die, Giles finds out that Buffy has had Spike's brain-chip removed. He doesn't think that was a wise decision, but Buffy explains that Spike has a soul now, and more importantly, he was able to kill people just fine under the First Evil's influence even with a chip. I guess Giles doesn't really have a say in anything now that he has become Mr. So Timid And Adviceless That We Thought He Was Dead.

And . . .

Basically, this show was about a couple of first dates. Xander meets this Ashanti-looking chick in a hardware store and they seem to hit it off enough that he asks her to dinner and she accepts.

Anya is not at all pleased with this turn of events and would've much preferred that Xander commit seppuku or join a monastery,
and I gotta wonder if maybe there isn't still some potential for a semi-happy ending between those two.

Also, Buffy starts to believe that Principal Wood is up to no good, and goes snooping about his office. When caught, he asks her out to dinner too. She accepts, but doesn't know if she's interested in him or suspicious of him. Spike does the complete opposite of Anya, and tells her to go out and have a nice date with the man. It's weird how all over the board Spike has been this season.

While they're gone, Jonathan appears in front of Andrew, obviously the First Evil again, and tells him it's not too late to kill all the Potentials and get to live forever in peace and happiness (or whatever their deal was when the First was Warren).

"Jonathan" tells Andrew where the gun Willow bought last episode is, and it appears that Andrew's going along with it for about three seconds, before he begins to ask the First if it has any weaknesses he should be aware of. It would seem that Andrew told Willow what was going on, and she put a wire on him, so they could find out what it is planning. The only thing that we learn before it disappears is that it's not time for Spike to play his part yet.

Principal Wood (who I think I'll just call "Wood" from now on) takes Buffy to this hole-in-the-wall restaurant that just happens to go through one of the thousands of dark alleys crawling with vampires that Sunnydale boasts (honest, I think it's on their tourism brochures). The vampires jump out, and while Buffy takes them on, so does Wood, managing to dust one or two.

It turns out that he's a rogue demon hunter, like our man Wesley was, and has been fighting them his whole life, like your man Gunn was. His mother was a Slayer, who was killed by a vampire when he was just a boy, and he was raised by her Watcher. I think this took tyranist completely by surprise, but I think I heard someone mention that the disco Slayer Spike killed in the subway had a son that showed up on the series later, so I sort of knew. I think this makes Buffy more interested in Wood romantically, and probably opens up her world a little knowing that there have been Slayers who had children.

Cut to: Xander's date, also in a restaurant. This Ashanti-looking girl really seems to be into him, and he can't believe it, since every chick to ever show interest in Xander has either been a demon, an ex-demon, or worse, Cordelia Chase.

Sadly (and it's not sad at all, but pretty darn funny), the Ashanti-looking girl also turns out to be a demon, that takes Xander down to the seal under the high school, ties him up, and cuts into him with a knife, hoping to open it up again. Poor guy.

Xander did manage to send Willow a text message when the date started to go south, and she interprets it that his companion is probably a demon. Spike goes to the restaurant to get Buffy, and meets Principal Wood there. They are introduced, but Buffy doesn't tell Wood Spike is a vampire, and sure as hell doesn't tell Wood which vampire Spike is. Though it's possible she doesn't know. I mean, there's probably a new Slayer called more often than the Olympics.

They drive to the school and rescue Xander, killing Ashanti good and proper, and revealing Spike to be a vampire. Wood doesn't understand why Buffy would allow him to live, and is uncomfortable to see they have some kind of "thing" between them.**** Principal Wood goes home, and the First Evil appears to him in the form of his dead mother (it may be at this moment that the home viewers first realise which Slayer his mother was, and that we've seen her before*****). It tells him that he just met her killer that night, and hopes he is man enough to do something about it. The end.

I still feel like these episodes are moving rather slowly, but I am still enjoying the ride. To the complaints that this seventh season has too many characters, I may have to agree on that one, but I'm not really complaining. To have many, many regular characters is to create something intricate and special, but more importantly, leaves it open to kill a few of them off. Which, knowing Joss Whedon as well as I do, I'm sure will happen anytime soon.

Rish Sebastian Outfield

*At this point, tyranist insisted that Faith has to die, not Buffy, for the next Slayer to be called. While the show has never said anything to support that statement, he does know what's coming at the end and I don't so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

**Of course, Dawn has only existed as something other than a ball of light for two years, but I'm glad he didn't mention that small detail.

***Turns out I was right. Hoorah for me.

****Notice I didn't say "thang" between them? I think I'm growing as a person.

*****Although to be absolutely fair . . . she ain't the same actress. I checked.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. Connery

Today is Sir Sean Connery's birthday. Seventy-eight bloody years old.I am reminded of a game my buddy Matthew and I played once, called Lesser of Two Evils.* It was a sick trade-off of moral conundrums and sadistic choices, of an increasingly difficult and twisted scale. We came up with twisted, funny, and/or titillating scenarios and the other had to choose what he would do, all involving the people we knew from work. I never played "doctor" with Karen Jensen down the street, but it's possibly the only game I would have enjoyed more.

On my turn, I asked Matthew that at our upcoming office Christmas party, Nance, the resident sleazeball/ladies man was going to have his way with one of Matthew's friends, Kathy Frazier. But before it happens, she asks Matthew his advice. If he tells her not to do it, Sean Connery will die that very night. Of course, if he says nothing, then Nance will do what he does to all women, leaving them a hollow, sticky shell of their former selves.

Matthew thought about it for a minute, then said, "Look, I'll tell you the truth: I like Kathy Frazier . . . but I LOVE Sean Connery. So, no."

I think, Doc, that says it all.

So, in honour of Sir Sean, I asked around for the Top Five Sean Connery flicks.

My picks would be:
3. ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE O' THIEVES (should this count?)

Hey, it's a damn fine movie. But I do have to say that Sir Sean has made so many truly terrible films that you could easily make a Bottom Five list and have some left over to spare (ZARDOZ, anyone?).

Tyranist was the first to respond. With his list, he just took the easy way out.

1. You Only Live Twice
2. Dr No
3. Goldfinger
4. Diamonds Are Forever/From Russia with Love I (tie)
5. Thunderball/Never Say Never Again (tie)

Lawyerboy Ian gave me this (mentioning that it was really tough):
1. Untouchables
2. Goldfinger
3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
4. Dr. No
5. The Rock

Evil Cousin Ryan sent me this list:
1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
2. You Only Live Twice
3. Diamonds are Forever
4. The Avengers
5. The Rock

My buddy Rhett also sent me his list. His number one was no surprise, considering he's the only person I know who named one of their children Kurgen.
1. Highlander
2. Medicine Man
3. The Hunt for Red October
4. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
5. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

That makes me wonder why I didn't consider HIGHLANDER on mine.

Prison Guard Johnny responded (for a change), sending me:
1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
2. The Rock
3. From Russia with Love
4. The Hunt for Red October
5. Time Bandits

Merrill sent me his list, along with a commentary. He explained that, while he loves Sean Connery, he doesn't love a lot of his pictures. And he also reminded me of the ENTRAPMENT moment with Catherine Zeta-Jones and the laser beam that made me wonder why I don't own that film.

1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
2. Dragonheart
3. Entrapment
4. Time Bandits
5. Darby O'Gill and the Little People

I expected a couple more responses, but they never came. That puts our winners as:

So, here's to you, Sean, and may you have many, many more birthdays. You're the man now, dog.

Rish Outfield Connery

*Just between you and me, we played it more than once. Man, I miss that guy.

Somewhat Disturbing Thing of the Week

At Comic-Con, Merrill stood in line for the "Heroes" show (which we ultimately missed out on), and someone came up to him offering a mask from the movie THE STRANGERS. Merrill did what he did the entire weekend, and asked for three, since he has three children.

When he showed me this I told him, "Just wait, dude, you're going to come downstairs one morning to find your children in the kitchen with the masks on their heads and knives in their hands." He laughed, and told me I was a buttplug, and we went on our merry way.

But a few days ago, Merrill sent me this photo, and I thought it only right to share it with you.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Angel Wednesday (August 20)

So, we actually got together and watched some Whedonverse this Wednes--Whedonverse Wednesday, I like the sound of that.

First up was "Angel" episode "Long Day's Journey." Heck, they're all "Angel" episodes. This one was written by Mere Smith, and before the show started, tyranist and I talked about what happened in the last episode. Basically, we couldn't really remember where we stood, story-wise. I shouldn't have an excuse, since I just blogged about them not too long ago, but it had just been too long in between episodes.

When we felt caught up, we started things going. Basically, the last time we met our intrepid heroes, there was a Black Beast roaming around, and Angel revealed that he knew Cordelia bumped uglies with Connor. This one takes place not long after, with Angel cooped up in his room, growling at Lorne when he tries to talk to him about it.

Electric Gwen, the slutty thief from "Ground State," who has a shocking touch shows up again. She's being hired by a man who needs her to steal protective amulets. Well, he REALLY needs these amulets, 'cause the Black Beast shows up and rips the man open, taking something from his chest amid a lot of white light.

Wesley has done some research and tells us that the little girl at Wolfram & Hart's was their only way of communicating with the "Senior Partners," so they're effectively nullified as a threat. Also, the little girl was one of five totems called the Ra-Tet.

Lorne finds out another of the totems was just killed, and Gwen shows up to tell them what she knows. Cordelia comes over too, but things are strained between her and Angel. Gwen's guy was another Ra-Tetter, so they join forces.

They find out where one more of them is, and go to the cave where he hangs out. Too late, the Beast has been there too. Luckily for us bloggers, the fifth Ra-tet guy shows up in the cave and explains everything for us: the Black Beast wants to use the five of them to blacken out the sun, so vampires and monsters and Billy Corgan can hang out and party all day long. This guy, Manny, has the last piece necessary for the Beast to accomplish this, and asks for their help.

Instead of going to the hotel, they go to Gwen's hideout, which is an awesome apartment hidden inside a rundown empty building. The apartment has a ultra-secure room to use in a panic or emergency, like that Jodie Foster movie I forget the name of, and they stick Manny in there.

Everybody pairs off for guard duty. Gwen is sorry for killing (then unkilling) Gunn, and Cordelia and Angel bicker a bit, each drinking something, then fall asleep. Obviously they were drugged, 'cause when everybody realises it, Manny has been turned into beef chuck.

They argue for a minute about whose fault it was, then play the security video footage . . . which has been erased.

Turns out the Black Beast has to complete a ritual using the pieces he claimed from each of the dead totems, so there's still chance to save our sunlight. Fred comes up with the idea to open up a portal to get rid of the Beast, and she and Wesley work together to plan for this.

Cordelia has a vision in which the Beast is talking to someone, standing around corpses dressed like it's centuries ago. She feels she knows the person the Beast was chatting with, so pretty much everyone is now convinced that Connor is no good.

Tyranist's been saying that for a hell of a long time, but I do try to block it out.

Well, as if backing up the theory, the Black Beast shows up at Connor's warehouse, and smashes him to the ground. Angel and company arrive, and run upstairs to prevent it from doing its ritual. Fred and Wesley open the portal while Angel and Gunn push the Beast through. It disappears, but dammit, like two seconds later it shows up again, and finishes what it started.

Outside, the sun goes all eclipsey, and Edgar Winter can finally enjoy a nice afternoon on the town.

The Beast turns to Angel and asks him to join it. Angel refuses and the Beast leaves them alone. Cordelia realises that the person in her vision was Angelus.

Angel has no memory of the experience with the Beast, and I don't really get that, since part of his curse was to remember fully what he did when he was Angelus.

Of course, that's actually about a thousand years ago, Angel-wise, and he's lost and gained his soul a couple times since then, so I'm willing to accept it . . . barely.

Wesley realises that the Black Beast probably has some kind of power over Angel, and it was him who killed Manny and got the last totem piece and canceled "Firefly," without remembering that he did it. He suggests that Angelus might know about the Beast's history and weaknesses, so it's not Angel that they need, but his dark, evil self. The end.

This was yet another unsatisfying episode, but the show has become very very serialised by this point, so we're not gonna get much satisfaction for a while. That's fine, since I was happy to watch another episode or two immediately after.

Next up was "Awakening," written by David Fury and Steven S. DeKnight.

People are going crazy in light of--or rather, in dark of--the blackening of the sun. Vampires are diggin' it, though,

Both Wesley and Gwen have taken off, and Angel sings to Lorne to see why he can't remember what Angelus did.

Lorne thinks it's a memory Angelus has somehow buried (which makes not a lick of sense to me, but ah well), and Angel severely doesn't want Angelus to return. Connor is happy to have a new reason to hate Angel, and yells at everyone else for thinking the Beast was his fault. Tyranist pauses the DVD to call Connor something called a schmear.

Wesley tracks down a shaman and forces him to help him take Angel's soul away. He takes the shaman to the hotel, and tries to convince Angel that this is the way to go. Angel refuses, reminding him that Wesley has never faced Angelus before, and that Angelus is actually smarter than he is, since he'll think of things--and actually do them--that Angel would never even imagine.

Cordelia goes in to talk to Angel, mentioning that soon the plants will all die (I don't know why I remembered that detail, but I just had to share it). She tells him she agrees with him, having been the only one of the group who has actually met Angelus, and tells him they'll find another way to bring back the sun and stop the Beast.

Well, I don't know if that was her intention, but somehow, this convinces Angel to go ahead with the ritual. He has the guys build him a big steel cage in the basement, and gets in it. There's a red line drawn on the ground around the bars, and no one is to cross that safety zone.

Before the ritual is performed, he speaks to Connor alone. He tells the boy that no matter what he says or does as Angelus, that that is not his father. He is, and he loves him. Connor pauses, seemingly touched by this statement, then tells Angel he'll be the first to kill Angelus if he steps out of line.

Tyranist again pauses the DVD. Any idea what a "fucktard" is?

The shaman has a glass bottle Angel's soul will go into, and gets in the cage with him. He then begins the ritual.* A second later, he stops, pulls out a knife, and tries to kill him. Angel stops the shaman, who proclaims that he is a servant of The Beast and would never help them. In fact, he uses his knife to kill himself, ha ha.

Wesley apologises for bringing the shaman there, and Angel comments that that's the first time he's ever heard Wesley apologise. I don't know if that's the case, but they seem closer because of it.

They discover the shaman has writing all over his body (tattooed?) that gives them information about The Beast, and a weapon that can destroy it. Cordelia gets a vision about it--a sword--and knows where it's being kept. Turns out there's a cave underneath Los Angeles that can lead them to the weapon (it's not quite as lame as it sounds--the cave is heavily booby-trapped, and the sword isn't actually hidden there, but is accessible via a mystic doorway). Angel, Cordelia, Wesley, and Connor go there, and manage to make it through the Indy Jonesy traps and puzzles, but only by working together.

Angel reaches his destination and reaches into something called a hub to remove the sword. That too is booby trapped, and Cordelia is nearly killed in the process. Angel rescues her and they have a tender moment where they hug and she apologises for boning Connor and he says he doesn't care what they've done in the past and they proclaim their love for one another and swap spit. And nobody in Vegas or Atlantic City would take odds on Connor standing there to witness this . . . it was that much of a foregone conclusion.

Well, Connor takes off in a huff and Angel goes after him, and the boy is nearly killed by traps, but still pauses to fight with his father, before making it out alive.

When Angel and company get back to the hotel, Fred tells them her research has shown that the Black Beast can be killed by the sword, and that will release the energies it's using to cloud the sun. It's dangerous, but Angel calls it a plan, and before he and Cordy can kiss again, the Beast shows up there, eager for a fight.

The Beast is really tough, and manages to grab the sword and break it in two. When it moves to kill Angel, Connor shows up and also starts fighting it. Distracted, the Beast turns on the boy, giving Angel the opening he needs to take the broken sword and stab the Beast right through the noggin with it. The Beast dies, rather spectacularly, and the sun comes out again.

Connor admits that Cordelia loves his father instead of him, and grudgingly congratulates Angel on his victory. Everybody but him go outside to enjoy the returned sunlight. The Cordelia comes back, and Barry White must be playing somewhere, because talk turns to kissing and kissing turns to all sorts of doin' it.

Tyranist and I are wondering what Angel may have forgotten here, but it's already too late. He gets a happy face, and then he begins to shudder in pain and confusion, as his soul goes off to join those of anyone involved in a reality show.

Suddenly, we're back in the cage under Angel Investigations. The shaman still stands over Angel, and a glowing red light has filled the bottle he provided. Everything we've just seen was all in Angel's head, a roundabout way of naturally losing his soul. Angelus has returned. The end.

This was quite an interesting episode, and while I didn't hate it with the fiery, raisin-smelling passion that tyranist did, I do have to admit that a lot of this show was a pretty big cheat. No, the Beast isn't defeated and no, the sun didn't come back, and no, Connor and his father didn't make nice, and no, Wesley didn't apologize. But dude, I'm so happy to have Angelus back, that I'm not in a complaining mood.

And up next is our SILENCE OF THE LAMBS episode, which I know tyranist didn't like much better, but would absolutely be the show I would want to write if I were on the "Angel" writing staff. And it were five years ago.

That show was called "Soulless," and was written by Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft. Hmmm. Also, it was directed by Samwise Gamgee. Hmmm2.

Angelus sits in his cage alone, and upstairs, the group (led by Wesley) puts the globe holding Angel's soul in the Hyperion safe. They exchange warnings, then Wesley goes down to the basement to talk to the vampire.

I really ought to go into detail, 'cause I frickin loved this episode, but I'm too lazy and too far behind. Basically, Angelus knows everything Angel knows about Wesley, and uses it against him, trying to intimidate him, trying to humiliate him.

He mentions what a disappointment Wesley is to his father, and how he must feel knowing that he loves Fred, while she prefers the company of brown, bald men. There are cameras trained on Angelus to monitor him constantly, but it only serves to open up everybody's secrets to those who watch the feed.

Cordelia also speaks with Angelus, and he takes the opportunity to reveal to everyone that not only did she have sex with Connor, but that she was also the closest thing he had to a mother. Angelus also mocks Angel, who had this happy fantasy where everyone worked together and the whole family was reunited, before he achieved that whole happiness thing.

Fred and Gunn go down to feed the vampire, making sure they don't cross the red line, but Fred is unwise enough to push a cart over the line, which Angelus kicks into her, then grabs her when she falls. He could easily have killed her then, but Wesley shoots him with a tranquiliser and he goes down.

In a scene I still don't understand, Fred thanks Wesley for saving her, and they end up kissing. Then Gunn walks in and decides to beat up Wesley (again). They start fighting, and Fred steps between them to stop the fight, and ends up getting one of Gunn's elbows in the face. Believe me, that stops the fight, but you can chalk that little triumph up to Angelus, who grins happily from his cage.

Connor fights vampires outside where they pretty much have free reign now, but when he returns, people look at him funny and I believe the term "mother fucker" is used. Could be wrong, though. He goes in to see Angelus, and I don't know what he expected, but the vampire is happy to see him, proclaiming himself his real father. He rubs it in how Connor's fake father killed himself rather than live with him, and how he killed his real mother coming out, and predictably, Connor lunges toward him to fight him.

But Cordelia stops him and sends him away (to his room with no dinner and no Nintendo). She turns off the camera and tells Angelus she'll give herself to him if he'll help them take down the Beast. Somehow she convinces him she's telling the truth, and she goes upstairs to let them know the vampire is ready to talk.

When Wesley goes down, Angelus tells him that centuries prior, the Black Beast came to him for help, because a trio of sorceresses were after it. Angelus didn't join with the Beast, and it was banished by the three women.

Turns out these women--or was it their descendants?--still live in the area, and Wesley takes Cordelia and Connor to visit them. Unfortunately, they've already been murdered by the Beast, along with their families. Connor takes this hard . . . and I believe tyranist called him a scrotal cyst when he did. Not sure his reasoning there, but hey, he just doesn't like Connor.

Everybody comes back to the hotel, and Cordelia tells Angelus that with the Beast still out there, the deal is off, and she'll turn him back into Angel. He shrugs and tells her he's pretty sure he'll still get to see the end of the world. And it's not just a bluff, either, because when the safe is opened to retrieve Angel's soul, they find it empty. The end.

I really dug this episode. Sure, it was very Hannibal Lecteresque, with the good guys having to visit the bad guy in his cell to ask for advice in stopping another bad guy, and the delight Angelus took in messing with heads. Come to think of it, maybe it was a little too much like SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.


Even though we weren't remotely close (it seems) to resolving the Black Beast story arc, I am quite enjoying it. Tyranist seems to feel the opposite, but I am happy to see Angelus continue for another episode (or more). As I may have mentioned it before, after Wesley, he's my favourite character on the show.

But I'm twisted that way.

Rish "The Cannibal" Outfield

*I had to wonder how smart it was to get inside the cage with Angel, knowing what he was about to unleash. But I can barely finish my story about horny teenage bees, let alone write a TV show.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

not really even a post

Today, THE DARK KNIGHT pushed past STAR WARS on the all-time box office list. It's now second after TITANIC.

I don't know how I feel about that.

If Lucas would rerelease the Trilogy every few years instead of just put out a different home video version, he wouldn't need to worry about TITANIC, let alone DARK KNIGHT. But ah well.

Rish Outfield

Post-script: I went to a furniture and appliances store for a water filter today, and STAR WARS was playing on one of their display monitors. It was at the scene where Han Solo says, "It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense," and I gotta tell you, I've seen STAR WARS more times than you and all of your brothers and sisters put together, and I was tempted to just forget about the filter and sit and watch the movie right there. If it had been the Death Star attack at the end, I know I would've stuck around to watch it. As much as I enjoyed DARK KNIGHT, there is absolutely nothing in cinema like STAR WARS, take that as you will.
Well, I guess there's EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, if you've got to be technical.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

My friend Big Anklevich and I have a short fiction podcast, The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine. Every other week, we get together and record an audio version of a short story someone has sent to us. This last week, we thought we'd get ahead by reading three stories, knowing that the audio files take a long time to edit.

We didn't quite manage three, though.

B.A. and I read through a particularly good scary story, "Woman Called Witch," with me voicing the narrator and the titular creepy old lady. B.A. was the voice of three bank robbers, and glanced around like a Catholic schoolgirl with a Ouija board every time he was called upon to swear, but actually did a pretty good job.

We read through the whole thing in fairly record time, finishing the story after just under forty-eight minutes recording. We were going to move on to the next story, but B.A. checked the file and made an unpleasant realisation: he hadn't had the computer recording from the microphones we'd been holding during the reading.

What came out was a tinny, echoey, static-filled mess, causing my friend to curse in a slightly more realistic way when we heard it. We had to start over and do the story from scratch.

On the positive side, it only took us thirty-nine minutes to get through it the second time.

On the negative (besides the obvious), we both agreed that parts of the story had been much better the first time through.

If you can call any version of my old woman voice "better" than anything else.

Rish "Get It Right the Nth Time" Outfield

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Buffy Wednesday (August 6th)

Tyranist and I did burn through a few more "Buffy"s the last time I went to his place. With this group, we're a few steps closer to "Buffy" being over forever. I am sad to think about it.

We watched "Sleeper," written by David Fury and Jane Espenson. I may save this for another blog post, but I probably shouldn't, since it picks up right where "Conversations with Dead People" left off.

Spike buries the woman he killed at the end of last episode in a shallow grave, so we can assume that wasn't just a trick or a ghost.

Willow comes home from the library and finds Buffy's living room
completely thrashed. Dawn tells her that she spoke to her mother, but NOT what Joyce told her, and Willow tells her it was a trick, that something similar happened to her, but not to trust it.

We also travel to England, where a man is--ah hell, a Watcher discovers his charge dead, and then is stabbed as well by more of those robe-wearing dudes from earlier in the season.

Buffy goes to talk to Xander about what the Psyche Major vampire told her, and they wonder if Xander's new roommate might be eating people at night. They remind us that Spike still has his chip, in addition to his soul, but wonder about the validity of both.

Spike comes home, but he doesn't seem to have any memory of what he did that night, or of killing Buffy's classmate. Spike goes to his room, which appears to just be a guest room with the windows covered up. Buffy asks Xander to keep an eye on Spike, but when it's time for him to go to work, he calls up Anya to guard him. She is reluctant, but in my estimation, she should be grateful she's even still on the show.

Anya wonders if Spike keeps mementos of his kills like all the serial killers she regularly has tea with, and sneaks into his room to look through his things.

Of course he wakes up, and of course he sleeps naked. She then reminds me why she's still on the show by claiming she wants to have sex with him (again). Spike turns her down (either because of his newfound soul or because he saw through her lie, I don't know which), and goes back to sleep. When he wakes up, he gives her the whole "it's not you it's me," which leads me to believe it was the former. Then he goes out into the night.

Anya calls Buffy and tells her Spike is gone. Buffy follows him down the absolute crowdedest outdoor shopping area in Sunnydale history. Nay, it's the largest gathering we have ever seen on the show, graduation day included, all out for a bit of shopping on a Thursday evening. I have no idea why they would've sprung for so many extras, unless it was a "Be On Buffy" promotion through the fanclub and everyone in that scene was there for free.

I once did that, to be a part of a certain costumed superhero movie, so I'd understand.

So anyway, Spike goes to this Santa Monica Promenade-type place where he picks up on a ready and willing chick, and takes her to a dark alley. Buffy follows. Pardon my French, but the girl is so fucking creepy and darkly forward, that I was absolutely sure she was either a revenant or another vampire.

But I guess not. Mid-kiss, Spike looks up and sees Buffy there, and she encourages him to kill the girl. He does, and I am mighty disturbed.

The fake Buffy in the alley turns into Spike, and I start wondering if Spike never killed anyone, but it was this creature that can look like anyone it wants. Later it is explained, but I was confused for . . . well, pretty much this whole seventh season so far. Spike sometimes seems utterly insane and other times seems quite coherent, so it made perfect sense that one Spike is the First Evil and one Spike is real.

So, the real Buffy apparently only saw Spike go off with the spooky chick, but she confronts him when he gets home, accusing him of killing her and Holden the Psych Major. Spike denies it, saying that yes, he gets together and talks with women, but it's just a poor substitute for who he'd like to be with. This doesn't convince Buffy, so he reminds her that he has a chip in his head, and that since he got a soul, he dwells on the people he killed before, and would never do it again. Buffy is still not convinced, and tells him that Holden told her Spike sired him. Spike suggests that Holden was lying, that he'd remember if he'd tasted human blood, and . . .

Look, poor Spike really doesn't stand a chance in this scene. It's like getting in a conversation with my cousin's man-hating sister. No matter what logic is placed in front of her, she's always going to sweep it away with either a "You have no idea what you're talking about" or a "That is so typical of a guy to say that." The thing is, Buffy would much rather believe Holden or an evil ghost than her ex-lover, and really wants to believe that Spike is killing again.

I don't know why, but it rewatching this scene and the one that followed it, there is a cold determination in her, despite what those around her say, reminding me a bit of Xander's relentless loathing of Angel in the second and third seasons. It ain't pretty, and if I didn't really like David Fury and Jane Espenson's work, I'd say the fault lies in the writing.

Buffy goes home and Willow uses her handy computer to check if blood-drained corpses have been found. They haven't, but there have been ten disappearances of young women recently (what the Sunnydale police department refers to as "your standard week in November").
Spike, meanwhile, gets a flash of memory about the girl he killed in "Conversations with Dead People." He wants to go out on the town, but Xander won't let him. So Spike knocks Xander out, much to the pain in his noggin, and hits the streets. He goes to the Bronze and asks people if they remember the girl. Up in the rafters, he watches people dance to Aimee Mann, and is joined by an attractive lass who hits on him. When he spurns her advances, she reveals herself as a vampire and tells him he turned her into one.

Xander awakens and calls Buffy, telling her Spike is gone. Somehow she knows he went to the Bronze--oh, because for one short season, all Sunnydale had was the Bronze--and goes there. She asks the bouncer at the door if he's seen Spike, and he tells her she ought not to bother with the Billy Idol wannabe, since he's in there every night with a different girl. The bouncer is actually a pretty cool dude, which reminds me that the writers aren't bad at all.

Spike fights the lady vampire, I guess because she wants to kill the people dancing, and eventually he dusts her. Aimee Mann doesn't like vampire towns, but finishes her song. Spike uses a payphone to call someone, which is revealed to be Buffy, but was shot in such a way that we're somewhat doubtful.* He tells her he remembers things and to meet him at a house.

They go in the basement, but Buffy suspects a trap. And I guess we do too. The other Spike is down there, telling Spike that he's going to have to kill Buffy, even though that wasn't next in the order of things to do. Buffy explains that he thinks he killed a bunch of people and buried them here, and then the Other Spike begins to sing an old folk tune. I guess it's Spike's trigger, 'cause he vamps out and attacks Buffy.

All around them, the people Spike killed come out of the ground as vampires, and attack Buffy. She is overpowered, and they hold her for Spike to kill. That's an interesting action, since he doesn't talk to them and none of them (can) talk either. Is it just an instinct to serve their sire rather than feed for themselves? Are they in some kind of thrall of the First Evil too? Can they see the Other Spike?

Regardless, Spike tastes Buffy's blood (she got a cut on her arm), and it reminds him of all he's done in the past episode and snaps him out of it. Buffy pulls away from the new vampires and kills them all.

She turns to Spike, who tells her to stake him for his crimes. Only now does Buffy realise that something has been manipulating Spike the way she and her friends were manipulated, and she has pity on him, taking him back to her place. Her theory is that, whatever evil is in in town, Spike's been around it the most, and may offer useful insights.

Well, Xander and company aren't exactly thrilled with the idea (though Willow doesn't really say much), and I sure miss the good old days of Season Five, when Dawn had some interesting (and sweet) connection with Spike. Too bad that went away, but if I had to write an official reason for the change, I'd say that she's now a lot less naive, and has seen enough nastiness in Spike (and other vampires) to harden her heart toward him.

I do wonder, now that my wondering cap is on, how Dawn took the whole Season 2 Angel/Angelus stuff and if she ever spent any time with him. And if she did, did she know he was a vampire? And how did she find out?

Anyway, the episode ends back in England, where Giles comes to the home of the Watcher who was attacked. He finds the girl dead, and the Watcher near death. "Gather them," the man says, while a black-robed figure sneaks up behind Rupert Giles and swings an axe at the back of his head. The end.

Well, this episode was a long way from satisfying. It wasn't bad, but it brought up questions that weren't answered to my satisfaction (and still haven't been).

I still have a great amount of affection for Spike, and I was pretty moved when I recounted his pleas for Buffy to stake him to my seven year old niece. I am quite a softie, and I can't imagine what my own children would think of me, if they were to exist.

So, next up was "Never Leave Me," written by Drew CLOVERFIELD Goddard. This was the first episode to air in 2003, and would have been blogged a long time ago if somehow blogger didn't have an error and wipe out my entire recap while still claiming to be saving it.

Andrew is talking to the ghost of Warren . . .

We have established that these aren't really the people they appear to be, right? So it's not really Warren or Drusilla or Joyce or Buffy, even though it can sound like them and know things they would know (like lines from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK)? Okay, just clearing that up.

. . . who is encouraging him to do more evil. "Warren" becomes "Jonathan," and explains that his blood wasn't enough to open the seal under the high school. Andrew doesn't want to kill any more people, and is incapable of killing a piglet, but he offers to go buy some pig's blood at the butcher shop.

Back at home, Buffy ties Spike to a chair. This sort of thing seems to happen to him a lot (the only thing that happens to him more often is torture), and I wonder if there was ever any tying when he and Buffy were together. Spike is a lot more vampirish now that he's tasted human blood (and Buffy's, at that), but Willow volunteers to go to the butcher shop and get him some pig's blood to drink. I think you can see where this is going.

Yes, Andrew and Willow bump into each other at the butcher shop, and he is (understandably) quite afraid of her. She takes him back to Buffy's, where Xander and Anya (happy to have something to do this week), tie him to a chair and play good cop/bad cop to find out what he knows. He's not really forthcoming, and I could've stood to see him smacked around a bit more.

Buffy calls in sick at work, then calls Quentin Travers at the Watcher Academy (or whatever you'd call it) in London. I guess she's trying to get in touch with Giles, and as soon as Travers hangs up, we see that he's in a big room filled with Watchers, and they don't know where Giles is. He tells them to prepare themselves for what's to come, gathering all their forces together . . . and then the building they're all in explodes. Damn faulty wiring.

Buffy and Spike have a conversation while she feeds him the blood, and he tells her what he did to get his soul, and why he did it. He explains that, with a soul, he now knows that she was using him last season, and that she hated herself for it. He hates himself for the things he's done, so they have something in common. Also, who is Andrew?

Spike is much more calm and lucid now, but the second Buffy leaves the room, the Other Spike shows up and taunts him. Buffy hears him singing as she comes back in, but Spike is now vicious and breaks through his bonds. Instead of attacking Buffy, though, he Robocops through the wall and grabs Andrew in the next room, and bites him.

Buffy knocks Spike out, rescuing Andrew, and suspects that the song she overheard is Spike's trigger. Something about fruity oaty bars, I didn't quite catch it all.

Spike is chained up in the basement, and he tries to rouse Buffy into staking him, but she tells him she's not giving up on him yet. It's interesting how many second chances she's given Spike versus how many she gave Angel, but I guess with Angel, it was Twoo Wuv, I don't know.

Buffy's house is attacked by the evil dudes in hoods and robes. We see that they have no eyes, or rather, X's sewn, gouged, or grown there. Willow is knocked out, Xander and Dawn fight a couple of them (yeah, Dawn), and Buffy kills several of the hooded dudes.** I guess the invaders were really after their two allies, because when the smoke clears, they've tried to get to Andrew, who is still tied to a chair, and have succeeded in stealing Spike away.

Buffy has seen these guys before, in the episode "Amends," and explains to the others what the First Evil was/is, and pieces begin making sense to them now.

We see Principal Wood acting strange, disposing of Jonathan's body from the school basement. That's where The First's hooded minions (I think I'll just call 'em "hoodies" from now on) take Spike to the seal when Jonathan died. They cut into his flesh, bleeding him onto the seal. Oh, and the First takes the form of Buffy when it does this, 'cause, it's duller, it'll hurt more.

Spike's blood opens up a gateway, and a white-skinned, bat-like savage vampire comes out. According to The First, this is a "real vampire." According to the end credits, this is "The Ubervamp." Uh oh.

Next episode was "Bring on the Night," written by Marti Noxon and Douglas Petrie. I can't quite imagine what the title refers to, but I like it.

I've made this complaint before--and with only a dozen episodes left to go, I hope I don't have to again--but I really could've done without the "Special Guest Star Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles" at the very start of the episode. I know it's probably contractual and all, but they've stopped doing that shite on "Angel," and they cast it aside in one episode of "Buffy" last season. If there's a surprise appearance by someone in the show, please wait until the end titles to reveal that to us. Okay?

So, the group--which at this stage is Buffy, Xander, Willow, Anya, Dawn, and a still-tied Andrew--discuss The First Evil, not really getting anywhere. Joyce appears before Buffy, telling her she needs her rest, and Buffy awakens, having "dreamt" it.

Down under the high school, Spike is still alive (I guess they've never established what bleeding a vampire out completely will do, but it makes some sense that it's not enough to kill them, as Angel spent literally months without eating and only ended up with a skin condition), and is . . . big surprise here . . . being tortured.

I'm reminded of this Fred Dreyer show in the Eighties called "Hunter." I never watched the show, but my friend Rafael was a big fan of it, and he explained that pretty much every season, Hunter's partner DeeDee would get raped. Seriously, poor Stephanie Kramer had it in her contract or something. And they'd even play off that in the ads: "This week, DeeDee is raped again! Will Hunter go to far in bringing the perpetrator to justice?"

I don't suppose you could get away with a show like that anymore.

Well, maybe on the Lifetime Network. Only DeeDee would get raped every week. The Hunter would be the one that did it.

ANYWAY, the Ubervamp is slavering and bestial, and is apparently the Boogeyman, only for vampires. The First stands by and watches the torture, this time choosing Drusilla's form because . . . well, she used to be on the show. Spike's head is repeatedly dunked in the water, and it's not clear what The First wants from him, except to see him suffer for, what? For not killing Buffy when he had the chance? For not losing his mind completely? For joining the other side? Or maybe there's something about Spike that we don't know yet, some reason he is worth torturing but not killing. Hmmm.

Andrew eventually tells the gang what he knows, and leads Buffy to the place under the high school where he and Jonathan dug up the seal. She and Dawn cover it back up, and run into Principal Wood there, who also has a shovel. They both awkwardly explain why they're there, and I guess it's supposed to be comical, but I still can't tell if Wood is a goodie or a baddie.

They don't run into Spike down there, so I don't know where, exactly, the First Evil is hanging out. To find out, Willow casts a locator spell, but ends up getting possessed instead. In the thirty seconds or so that she's out of control, she attacks Buffy, Xander, and Anya, so when she comes back to herself, she is afraid EvilCassie is right, and she can't use magic anymore.

And then, Giles shows up at Buffy's house, apparently quite alive. With him, he's brought three girls, all would-be Slayers (or Potentials, as tyranist--who has seen the final episode--refers to them).

Nobody hugs Giles (guess they saw the opening credits too), and he explains what he knows: the First Evil has been killing all the potential Slayers and has wiped out the Watchers Council, so that no one will be around to replace Buffy (and Faith) when it's her turn. Almost all the Council's records have been destroyed, so we don't know a great deal about The First. It can only appear as one who's died, and seems to have no weaknesses. And only Buffy has even the slightest chance of leading us to victory because none of our abilities or knowledge is even remotely useful or of help so Buffy needs to carry the weight of the world on her little back, and did I mention that nobody hugged Giles?

The potentials don't seem entirely convinced that they're safe there, but the Summers home does become something of a sorority house now, with the girls hanging out together and chattering, braiding hair and having pillow fights, and one of them thinking Willow is peachy-keen.

Buffy talks to Giles about the dead Christmas trees in "Amends," and the two of them go to where that tree lot above the cave where the First was HQ'ed. Sure enough, they find it, and Buffy falls through some wood planks and finds herself face to face with the Ubervamp. This creature begins to thrash her soundly, but she sees an opening and stakes it in the heart. Nothing happens.

Finally, she makes a retreat, climbing up the hole she fell through. Because it's daytime outside, the Ubervamp cannot pursue, and she escapes (guess that's where Spike's being held). She pulls herself out of the hole without assistance, and they know that when sunset comes, the Ubervamp will come for them.

Oh, Buffy still has to go to work, and is worried and exhausted (her mother shows up again to tell her to take a rest, 'cause she's gonna need it), surely in over her head this time.

The First Evil (in the guise of Drusilla) continues to torment Spike, and assures him that the pain will stop if he joins their side. Surely the First has no use for a plain old vampire when it's got the Ubervamp at its side, right? Maybe Spike has some part to play in all this, for good or ill.

So, nightfall approaches and Buffy and Company prepare for an attack. The Potentials are given weapons, and Andrew--still tied to a chair--asks to be untied and armed as well. Giles says that nobody is going to be able to really help, that it's all up to Buffy (didn't he know a really powerful magical redhead once?), and one of the Potentials can't take the pressure, and flees into the rapidly-darkening street.

Something also tells me she probably wouldn't have been the next up to bat after Faith.

Buffy goes after her, but the Ubervamp finds her first. She lasts about as long as Rish Outfield in the bedroom, and after killing her, the Ubervamp turns to Buffy. Our poor heroine is beaten down like a cross-eyed foster child, and only gets a breather when she knocks a bunch of steel beams onto the creature.

It pops up again like . . . well, you in the bedroom, and commences to thrash her again. Finally it throws her through a wall, then goes back to its home to abuse Spike.

Bruised and battered, Buffy goes home, and everyone around her is even more convinced they won't be able to win. Finally, she stands up and tells them that even though this is the worst baddie they've faced, and she's scared and hurt, she's not quitting. Instead, they're going to rally together and attack the enemy themselves. The end.

An enjoyable episode, really.

I did get the impression, though, that these episodes were padded, and rather slow to give us any real plot development. I remember last season on "Angel" that we got three episodes' worth of story in four episodes, but I don't recall it happening on "Buffy" until now. In both cases, once things get going, they REALLY get going, but it would disappoint if you were watching them week to week and not a great deal happened. On DVD, we can at least take in three or four and see some major story movement, and on that note, I'm sorta happy to see them all these years later instead of "live."

Although I mentioned it several times, I feel I have to mention that tyranist stopped the tape time and again, both of us convinced that Giles is not Giles, but is rather a manifestation of the First Evil. It's one of those things where, once you suspect it, you see it in everything, like gayity or religion. The main problem was probably that we had no explanation of how he survived his murder two episodes ago. That, mixed with the fact that no one hugged or touched him (I found it telling that Buffy had to pull herself out of the hole she fell into, when Giles could easily have given her a hand), and they already established that the First could only impersonate people but had no physical presence.*** Of course Giles wasn't dead--after all, if they killed him the BBC couldn't make the six series of "Ripper" we all know and love--but they sure as hell made it look like he was.

Grrr, argggh, it still bothers me.

And with this episode, the dread Kennedy has reared her ugly head. And you know, it wasn't ugly at all. I not only found her attractive, I had absolutely no problem with her character. If my young, idealistic me could see me now . . . I'm sure I'd have at least one knife wound in me today.

The last episode of our little marathon--for I'll give you a confession that all the "Buffy"s I blogged about in the last post were actually from this night--was called "Showtime," written by David "They Got the Mustard Out" Fury.****

A girl--obviously a Potential--arrives at the bus station and is immediately attacked by one of the First's minions. But Buffy appears to rescue her, killing the shite out of the hooded bad guys. All the Potentials have names, but I don't know if I should bother learning them or not (except for Kennedy, of course).

There is one, Molly, who stands out a bit because of her oddly-round face, strong Southern accent, and the fact that her name is Molly. When I mentioned how disturbed I was by the name Molly (there's a creepy child called that on "Deep Space Nine," and another one on "Heroes"), tyranist told me that he nearly named his daughter that, he was so fond of it.

I'm not sure if his little girl would be grateful or disappointed to hear that. Poor Nigella.

Molly is very negative, and encourages the other girls to share their doubts about Buffy's ability to protect them. All the Potentials are worried and inexperienced, except for Kennedy, and I have to wonder: where are the Potentials like Kendra, who was raised up from toddlerhood to carry a stake, know vampire lore, and wear a chastity belt?

And speaking of Kennedy, she has decided that she will sleep with Willow. And by that, I mean share a room with her.

And by that, I mean become her luvah.

Kennedy is pretty excited about Willow's powers (and by "excited," I mean...), trying to get her to demonstrate them, but Willow is still skittish about using magic.

Oh crap. Hey, I looked up the episode just now, and I was totally wrong. The name of the round-faced girl is Eve, not Molly. Molly, it turns out, is one of the Potentials introduced last episode (and is also in this one). Sorry.

Now, do I go back and change all the references to Molly, including my rant on how unsettled I am by that name? Or do I recognise that, had my recaps not been mysteriously wiped-out, that I likely would have just gone about my day, not knowing I had the names wrong until we watched an episode and Molly was in it?

Kids, Molly is really Eve. From this point on.

Andrew whines--even more than usual--that he's learned his lesson and wants to fight at their side. The gang finally unties Andrew, but threaten him with bodily harm if he betrays them.

The Summers basement is turned into a training room, but Eve questions what the point of any of it is, since they're all gonna die anyway.

Giles knows about an oracle they can go to for information about The First and the Ubervamp. He and and Anya go together to speak to the oracle, which (after a lot of steps to get there), ends up being a big bunch of eyes.

The oracle tells them that The First Evil cannot die, but has recently been given way more freedom than it has in the past. The reason for this was that the line of Slayers was disrupted. Disrupted when Buffy was brought back from the dead? Or when . . . she was brought back from the dead?

I believe it was the latter, as Anya feels that what the First is doing is partly her fault. It's an interesting idea, that's for sure.

Willow gets a call about another Potential who has come to town but not checked in, and Buffy and Xander head to the motel where she was staying. They find her, already dead, and discover that she is Eve, the round-faced drawler.

They head back, and reveal Eve to be The First Evil again, who was hanging out with them to find out their weaknesses and bring everyone down. This seems to have worked, as the girls are even more convinced they're dead meat now. Willow, Buffy, and Xander somehow communicate telepathically that they have a plan, but don't let the girls know about it. The telepathy thing is revealed later, very similar to something Joss did in "Astonishing X-men" which kicked so much ass, there's still a hoofprint on my pantaloons.

Spike is still suffering, and the First dispatches the Ubervamp (which actually has a species name--a Turok-Han--that I'm never going to use) to go kill everybody at the Summers place. The First's minions go along as well, surrounding the house.

Buffy hands out weapons, and Willow psyches herself up to use magic. When the Ubervamp smashes through the door, Willow puts a
bubble around him, and everyone runs out the back door. There's fighting with the minions, and before long, the Ubervamp pushes through Willow's magic shield.

Buffy splits off of everyone else (though I don't believe Giles and Anya are back yet) to lure the Ubervamp away, while Xander takes all the girls to a construction site, where immense lifts are set up, almost like risers for a concert or event. The Potentials (and Dawn and Willow) climb up them, but the Ubervamp didn't go after Buffy, but comes into the site like it's just arrived at a Sunday buffet.

Buffy arrives to fight the Ubervamp, and Xander turns lights on so the girls can see what Buffy is doing. Buffy gets severely thrashed, but she just keeps getting up, again and again, tiring the creature until she grabs a cable, wraps it around the Ubervamp's neck, and beheads it. Dust.

Exhausted, Buffy tells the girls that this is what the war against The First will be like: lots of pain, lots of struggle, but in the end, a triumph. "Thus endeth the lesson," she says, which I associate with THE UNTOUCHABLES, but is probably from some old philosopher, like Plato, or Socrates, or Sun Tzu, or Denise Richards. The Potentials begin to hope once again.

Spike, still tied and bloody, has no hope when he sees Buffy arrive in front of him. Only when she cuts his bonds and helps him up, practically carrying him to safety, does he accept that it's really her, that she came for him. The end.

Originally, I had a rant here about how Spike is no longer my favourite character on the show, but I don't think I'll write it again. It certainly has been old hat seeing Spike get tortured like that. I like that some of it was psychological torture, but for the most part, we've seen it again and again, the beatings and the cuttings, and even the swollen eye. He really is the closest thing we've got to the old-fashioned damsel in distress in these episodes, even being rescued by Buffy at the end. But I was glad to see it happen.

Both "Angel" and "Buffy" are doing lengthy arcs right now with a powerful evil stronger than they've ever faced before. And in both series, I'm wondering where Faith is in all this. I've heard people complain about the Potentials showing up in this season and stealing a lot of thunder, and we'll have to see if that's truly the case. The only thing I do know is that I spend way too much time on these things (especially this one), even though we're waiting twice as long between episodes.

I'll work on that.

The first thing, not the second.

Rish Outfield

*Dude, maybe it was directed badly. I don't recognize the guy's name, but I can't see why we would be mislead as to the phone conversation, and then have Buffy in a totally different location than right outside the Bronze, where she was established as being the last time we saw her. Besides, if the bouncer told her Spike came there every night, why wouldn't she have gone in to look for him?

**I guess we can assume that they're not human, 'cause a) Buffy kills them with no compunctions, and b) how could they see to fight with no eyes?

***Despite throwing poor Dawn around her house in "Conversations with Dead People" and breaking windows and running electronics. Hmmm.

****With this, I announce a moratorium on that little nickname. If I introduce him again, it will be as David "Next Up, Who's Gay?" Fury, from his line in "Doctor Horrible."

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Chocolate Salty Balls Have Run Out

Isaac Hayes is dead. Hayes was found not alive in his Memphis home today, next to his treadmill. He was sixty-five.
I'm a fan of the theme to SHAFT (for which the man won an Oscar), but mostly I--and heck, my whole generation--knew Hayes as Chef on "South Park." He provided me with a great deal of joy through that character, so I will try not to be unkind now that he is dead.

However, I do have to wonder if he pooped his pants.

Sorry, I kinda had to go there.

Rish "Mr. Sensitivity" Outfield

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Buff-gel Wednesday (30 July)

So, next up on "Angel," tyranist and I watched the episode "Apocalypse, Nowish," written by Steven S. DeKnight.

Cordelia has another vision of this big black demon, and all around her, the fan has been turned on, and something brown and foul is starting to hit it. In town, paranormal activity is off the chart, and Angel Investigations has too much work to possibly solve it all.

Wesley has his hands full with his business too (though we don't see its goings-on) and with Lilah Morgan, who puts on a Fred Burkle costume for some kinky sex. Understandably, it has the opposite effect on Wesley and he proclaims their affair over.*

Angel meets with Cordelia (who now has her memory back) and she tells him that although she loves him, when she was floating around with the white-robed saints or whatever, she saw all that he had done, both good and bad, throughout his life. That's too much for her, I guess, and she just needs time. I only hope it's not more than a season and a half, 'cause that's all we got.

Then she has yet another vision of this big bad demon that's on its way. Angel remembers that Wolfram & Hart stole Lorne's impression of Cordelia's mind, so he goes to threaten Lilah in her office.

Fred and Gunn are growing distant, due to their vengeance experience two episodes ago, and she goes off alone to the diner they often hang out in.

Cordelia and Connor, still the best o' friends despite the longing looks the boy gives her 24/7 (and the peepholes in random locations around her room), go for a walk and end up in the alley where Connor was born. He had been told the story (though you gotta wonder what alterations Holtz made to it) and they share a moment before the ground starts rumbling and that huge black-skinned demon bursts through the ground in that very spot.

Well, Connor leaps into action to defend his lady fair, but this thing wipes up the walls with him, leaving Connor-shaped dents in concrete and dumpsters. Then it stalks off into the night.

Fred mopes at the diner, her waitress trying to cheer her up, and then the ground starts to shake. An earthquake hits--a fairly major one--shattering windows, and making everyone at Angel Investigations quite nervous.

Gunn decides to go looking for Fred, but Wesley arrives to share what he knows about these end-of-the-world portents. Gunn tries to throw down with him despite his claiming to be there to help, and Angel steps between them, wanting to discuss what he found out from Lilah Morgan.

So, the incidents around town are all centralising on a dance club in downtown and the four of them (including Lorne) decide to go there and check it out. All the young pretty people at the club are dead, murdered by the huge demon (which I believe the show refers to as The Beast, but I called Glory from "Buffy" Season Five "The Blond Beast," and I don't want to cause confusion. Maybe it would be okay to call this one The Black Beast. What do you think?), which is still there, waiting for them.

Angel attacks it, but fares only a little better than Connor did, owing, probably, to the assistance of Wesley and Gunn, who shoot it with guns and crossbows, hit with axes, and shout out mathematical problems in an attempt to find its weakness.

Angel starts to gain the upper hand, but The Black Beast stabs him in the throat (Wesley has to feel sympathy pains there) and tosses him off the roof of the building. The others go down to help him (though the guy has gotta be about ninety times tougher than any vampire we've ever seen to survive that), leaving the Beast to arrange the dead bodies in some kind of formation, then sending a huge blaze up into the sky, which starts to rain down all over L.A..**

Connor is pretty badly hurt and Cordelia somehow gets him home to tend to him. Because the Beast rose from his birthplace, Connor thinks he is somehow responsible for what's happening. Either because the world is ending around them, or to make him feel better, Cordelia starts to kiss him and . . . well, one thing leads to another, and another beast is created. A beast with two backs.

Gunn and Wesley find Angel injured but alive, and concerned for his lady love, he gets over to Cordelia's as fast as he can. So fast, in fact, that he happens upon his son and his would-be woman in flagrante delicto. Of course, he's not exactly thrilled with the sight. The end.

Also not thrilled with the sight was tyranist. He was rather freaked out by it, in fact. I guess in his mind, Cordelia was the closest thing Connor had to a mother, and tyranist can't imagine anyone making love to his mother.*** I guess I'm a little more forgiving, since Connor can't have any memory of Cordelia, and he certainly hasn't had much in the way of love interests. At least not in his first seventeen years.

Don't get me wrong, I ain't jumping up and down cheering at the overdue coupling of Connor and Cordy, I guess I have just taken a step back from pretty much all of these characters, so if things like this happen, it's not as jarring. It's kind of become my philosophy of life as well, since the cesspool doesn't appear to be freshening up any time soon.

We didn't watch "Buffy" next, but I'll switch over to it, just so I'm not as overwhelmed next post. "Conversations with Dead People" was up in the rotation, and it was written by Jane Espenson and Drew Goddard. We hadn't watched "Buffy" in a long, long time, and I had heard a lot about this particular show, so I had high expectations.

Oddly, it actually starts out with the title--something I don't remember ANY of the previous episodes doing. We get intercutting of experiences most of our characters have on this particular night (save Anya and Xander, who don't appear in the episode), each involving a dead person.

Buffy is in the cemetery (a big one this time) and the vampire who comes out of the ground turns out to be Holden, a guy she went to high school with. He's played by Jonathan Woodward, who was Tracey in "Firefly" episode "The Message." In college, he was a Psych Major, and during their fight, he starts to psychoanalyse Buffy. It's actually pretty entertaining.

Willow is at the school library, studying, when Cassie, the future-seeing girl from two or three episodes ago, shows up and starts talking to her. To me, it made little sense, since Willow didn't interact with Cassie in that episode, but Cassie explains that she's a ghost and has a message from Tara from the other side. Because Willow killed people, she's not allowed to see Tara, but Cassie can speak for her.

Dawn is home alone, and her house gets invaded by a sinister presence. The radio and television keep playing, and a voice calls out to her. Something black and evil is in the house, but there seems to be good there too, in the form of Dawn's mother. But damn, if even Joyce isn't horrifying to behold.

Spike's scenes are without dialogue, a woman coming onto him at the Bronze, him slinking around with her, and I assumed, since everybody else was interacting with a ghost, that she was someone he used to knew, maybe possibly even his mother (since my cousin often talks about an episode where Spike talks to his mother, and I've never seen that one). Spike seems pretty confident and sane in these scenes, much like the old Spike/William the Bloody.

Holden the Psychologist Vampire tells Buffy she cuts herself off from other people because she feels superior to them, then beats herself up for the pride. They talk about her lack of success in relationships and Holden laughs when she mentions Spike. I couldn't have predicted why, but the reason was that Spike sired him. As in within the last couple of days.

Jonathan and Andrew come back to Sunnydale, complaining about what Mexico was like, and on a mission to unearth some artifact of power underneath the new high school. Andrew is even more annoying than usual, but Jonathan seems quite repentant, thinking they are back in Sunnydale to do good.

He is at peace with himself, and even wants to talk to Buffy and Company and let them know what's happening. He doesn't have the whole picture though, as Andrew has been secretly communing with the death third member of their trifecta: Warren Mears. As before he died, the two of them are plotting against Jonathan, some kind of plan to both become gods or something. After they've dug up this underground seal, Andrew stabs Jonathan, killing him and shedding his blood to open the seal up.

Dawn should run away from her house, but for some reason, she stays and faces her fears. She calls out to her mother and is rewarded when Joyce appears, all in white, happy to see her little girl so grown up. But Joyce has a warning: Buffy is not to be trusted. Buffy is going to turn bad, and Dawn must keep away from her.

Back in the library, it's nice (for Willow and for us) to hear the message Tara presents, how she still sings like they did in "Once More With Feeling," even if Willow can't hear her, and Willow is comforted by the news. But Tara also has a warning: Willow absolutely cannot use magic anymore.

If she does, she will kill everyone around her, maybe even the whole world. Willow argues that Giles told her that the magic wasn't evil, but a part of her, and Cassie tells Willow that she'll lose control if she ever casts a spell again. In fact, the best thing she can do for her friends would be to kill herself.

Well, Willow's pretty sure Tara would never say that, and calls Cassie's bluff, realising that this ghost probably isn't who she says she is. In fact, what she's talking to is The First Evil. It makes a couple of chilling threats and then disappears.

Buffy and Holden fight, and she stakes him to dust.

Spike takes the girl from the bar out, leans in for some smooching, and murders her, drinking her blood. The end.

Wow, this was a scary one. There were a couple of moments featuring Joyce Summers that really freaked me out. One in particular was when Dawn was sitting on the floor, focused on something, and as the camera moves up, we see her mother sprawled dead on the couch behind her, like Buffy found her when she died. Dawn never even sees it, and in the next shot, the body is gone.

I wasn't entirely sure what was going on throughout this one, but I imagine that was by design. We were supposed to be amused, frightened, moved, concerned, suspicious, and surprised, so perhaps that's why it felt so uneven.

Tyranist and I talked about what would've happened had someone dead visited with Xander and Anya. We both agreed that it would have to be Halfrek that talked to Anya, but as far as Xander went, I couldn't think of anybody . . . except maybe that guy from the very first episode who was supposed to be his best pal. Jesse, wasn't it? I guess having him show up would be even less effective than a girl who only appeared once a few episodes back, but it might have been cool.

Come to think of it, that would've been a nice opportunity to reflect on how much Xander has changed since--

Oh wait, these aren't really the dead people, are they? They're some kind of evil representation of the person that has died, twisted puppets speaking for the First Evil.

Okay, never mind.

Oh, and in having lunch with tyranist today, he mentioned that Dawn used magic to cast out the evil spirit that was keeping "her mother" from talking to her. I had completely forgotten about that, and he figured that it was significant in that it showed that Dawn has magical ability.

Next up on "Angel" was the show "Habeas Corpses," which is a terrible title . . . but also kinda cute. Better than "Apocalypse, Nowish," anyway. It was written by Jeffrey Bell, who I always have to look up. Apparently, he's got a new CBS show next season called "Harper's Island" that he's running. Sad to think that it will probably outlast "Dollhouse."

It begins not long after the last episode. Fred comes back to the hotel to make sure Gunn is alright. He returns, and it would appear that a little end of the world is all that it takes to put their relationship back together again. I'll try to keep that in mind.

Angel also comes back, telling the others that Cordelia is fine. He goes to his room and mopes, which is the version of Angel I like to see most.

Over at Connor's, he wakes up happy, but finds Cordelia sort of overflowing with regret at what she did the night before,**** especially considering the world did not end. She explains that it was a spur-of-the-moment, fleeting thing and won't happen again, and Connor feels rejected. Sadness.

Wesley goes home and Lilah comes to make sure he made it through the fiery night okay, and you know, I guess it shows that she really does care about him, and more importantly, about someone besides herself. But Wesley tells her they're through (again) and that the night before showed him which side he belongs on.

Cordelia goes to talk to Angel and finds him cold, and doesn't know why. She explains where the Beast came from, but that doesn't seem to help. I sure as hell don't know what it means.

Connor goes to see Lilah at her office, wanting to know what the lawfirm knows about the Black Beast. While they are trading threats, guess who should show up downstairs, throwing security guards against pillars and stomping on the heads of pricey lawyers?

If you guessed Jesus H. Christ, doing that whole Second Coming thing, you'd be only a little bit wrong.

So, the Beast mindlessly kills pretty much everyone in its path, including irritating supporting character Gavin, who dies so ignominiously, I no longer have to guess what that word means. The Beast comes upstairs and is not bothered by Lilah shooting it or trying to make a deal with it (I wonder how it would've responded to her ever-useful seduction routine). Connor also attacks it, giving Lilah the chance to make a break for it, and is flung against the wall like so much monkey dung.

Lilah calls Wesley for help, and he does come, quick as he can. You know, it may be possible for that relationship to be salvaged too, though I'm not sure if there's any point in it. Lilah hides while the Beast continues to kill lawyers (I hope it's not to late to issue this guy a medal), and when Wesley arrives, he tosses a hand grenade at it, which only makes it grunt, but enables them to slip out a hidden escape hatch in one of the supply closets.

It drops them down into the underground tunnels below the building and Wesley tells her to get out of town and go somewhere where even the Beast cannot find her. I'm thinking Idaho. She also mentions, a tiny bit late, that Angel's son is still in the building.

Wesley lets Angel know, and the entire gang goes there and uses Lilah's escape hatch to get inside the building.

Meanwhile, Connor comes to, and finds the Black Beast gone. Not gone, however, are all the dead W&H employees throughout the building. Oh, and not dead, but undead. For reasons I still don't understand, all the corpses in the building (Gavin's in particular) are reanimated as zombies.

So, everyone is attacked. Angel finds Connor, but there are just a shload of zombies gorping around, and they have to find an alternate means of escape (I mean, besides the alternate means of escape they used the first time). Angel remembers last season, when he went up into "the white room," and they load into the elevator and go there.

That turns out to be where the Beast has gone, though, and has attacked the little girl that's up there. It is sucking out her lifeforce, but before she dies, she uses her magic to send Angel and Co. back to Angel Investigations.

To be honest, I had no memory of a little girl and I only vaguely remembered the white room, but ah well.

Oh, and when I asked just why in the hell the dead lawyers became zombies, tyranist reminded me that Holland Manners had explained that even after a Wolfram & Hart employee dies, they still have to serve the senior partners. I don't like it, but I'll accept that explanation.

So, everyone is safe in the hotel, and for once, Gunn isn't a total nozzle toward Wesley. Angel, however, tells Cordelia to take her boyfriend and get the hell out of his home. With that, she sorta realises why he was so cold to her before. The end.

I believe that was the last "Angel" episode we watched, back in the olden days, before women could vote and the world was black and white. I didn't particularly like this episode, but the stuff with the Beast is interesting. I was thinking that, had the shows still been on the same network, now would be a good time to give Buffy a call and ask for her help in taking this bastage down.

But then I remembered that there is a Slayer on "Angel," and it's not the Death Metal band. We'll see if I'm right about this.

Tyranist and I did burn through a few more "Buffy"s during our get-together. I may save them for another blog post, though.

Rish "By The Time This Is Blogged, We'll Be In Flying Cars" Outfield

*Tyranist speculated that it was that dollar bill, with whatever she wrote on it, when he used the word "relationship." I don't know if he's right or not, but I came close to feeling sorry for Lilah, evillawyerwoman or not. But hey, I probably have a mancrush on Wesley, so there's that.

**As a side note, I do remember the night in 2002 when this happened. I was acutally out of town that night in November. My grandmother in Las Vegas was still alive and invited me and my uncles to Thanksgiving dinner, so I drove down the night before and stayed at her house. My Uncle Ali asked me, "Aren't you glad you got out of California?" as we sat down to eat, and I told him, "Hell no, L.A.'s about a thousand times better than Vegas. Only a third of the girls there are whores, as opposed to half of the ones here. And the whores in L.A. are higher quality." He said, "No, no, didn't you hear? Los Angeles is on fire. It's raining from the sky or something." Then my grandmother started to rant in broken English about the lesbians drawing God's wrath, and it became just another family get-together. I spent another day in Vegas, and like on "Angel," when I got back, everyone was fine and there was almost no evidence of that it had ever happened.

***Come to think of it, my mind doesn't immediately go there either.

****You know, I sure wouldn't have minded seeing more of that look throughout my life, but ah well.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Comic-Con Post 8: The Final Chapter

In retrospect, I believe we left Saturday's Comic-Con shortly after the Joe Hill signing. We trudged back to the car, drove around, and stopped at a Taco Bell to eat. There we found a woman who told us all about the "Heroes" panel we had missed (and may have given Merrill her panties, I don't know). The thing with the convention is, though it technically begins at 10:00am and ends at 6:00pm, there are presentations, screenings, and activities throughout the night, the last one Saturday beginning at 2:15am (which I guess is actually Sunday).

But fighting our way through crowds, finding and walking from our parking spots, and the drive, in addition to the San Diego heat, takes a lot out of a couple of pudgy dudes, and we took off early. Maybe we should have gone to the masquerade, or at least watched it on the monitors, but we had a long drive to look forward to the next day, so that was Saturday.

Sunday is often the least eventful day at Comic-Con. There are fewer panels, fewer attendees, and the schedule is truncated, probably to give people the time to pack up their stuff and make their lengthy trek back to Santa Monica or Redlands. It was this day that I decided to sacrifice much of my day to standing in line to buy toys. I ended up next to a Mexican family, and to pass the time, I asked the guy what all the superheroes, movies, and STAR WARS characters are called in Spanish.

Merrill, I believe, walked around and got free stuff, and claims to have checked out THE LITTLE MERMAID: A NEW BEGINNING before dismissing it as crap. My theory is that he wept like the little fat girl he is, reliving his happier days as a child of the sea.

At this point, I ought to mention that Merrill really regrets/regretted even sticking around for Sunday. He and I were sort of hurting for money, and he thought Sunday was so lame that we should've headed for home on Saturday night and not spent another night at the motel. Of course, had we done that, he wouldn't have gotten that "Pushing Daisies" bag he was so sure his wife would love (I believe her exact words when he presented it to her was "And what am I supposed to do with that?").

The only panels I really had any interest in were the Horror-related ones, and Merrill reluctantly came along. We went to the presentation of Paramount's* new FRIDAY THE 13TH remake.

It stars Amanda Righetti (who I interviewed at last year's Comic-Con) and Jared Padalecki, as well as newcomer Derek Mears as Jason Voorhees. The producers were also on hand, but as you can imagine, the majority of the questions were about their intentions in remaking the beloved franchise, or directed at Mears.
During this, Merrill leaned over and said, "If they tell us they're exploring Jason's motivations so we feel sorry for him, I'm leaving." Then he went into fetal position and started reading a book (though it may have just been a front to hide his LITTLE MERMAID tears and humming the new songs. The presentation wasn't very long, and they had brought a trailer and a clip, which I found interesting (it seems much more a remake of FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH PART TWO than the first one, though he does get the hockey mask).But even more interesting was when they started talking about how the movie gets into Jason's head, his thought process, his rationale for doing what he does. This Jason, they claimed, is much scarier than the old one, because he's smart and fast, and you understand him, even sympathise with him.

There was a distracting boom as Merrill broke the sound barrier getting out of there.

After that, in the same hall, Wes Craven came out to talk about his new film 25/8. When I heard about it, it sounded like a veritable remake of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, but in listening to Wes talk, it not only sounds much more original, but like something I'd enjoy seeing.It tells the story of a man with multiple personalities, one of whom is a serial killer. He dies, and each of those personalities transfers itself to a baby that is born that very night. Cut to several years later when the seven babies are all in high school, and the personalities begin to emerge, though we know not which one is the murderer.

I'm not able to describe the film the way Wes did--in a way that makes people think it sounds good--but I will say that the clips they showed made the film look scary and fun. I wish him success.

Lastly, David Goyer came out to give a presentation on his 2009 horror film THE UNBORN.

I'd met Goyer once before after a screening of BLADE: TRINITY, where he seemed like a fairly cool dude, and not entirely to blame for the awfulness of that film. But I hadn't noticed that first time that he has those kind of arm-covering tattoos that appear almost to be sleeves.
The film looked ridiculously scary, telling the story of a dubiously attractive girl who originally had a twin in utero, but he died (or maybe he was absorbed like Thad Beaumont's in "The Dark Half." And were we to understand that that's what happened to Charles Xavier's sister Cassandra as well?), and now that she's a very hot teenager, the twin is trying to come out again.

Odette Yustman plays the girl, and sure enough, she was dubiously attractive in person too. She was in CLOVERFIELD, which you might have seen, and WALK HARD, which you probably didn't, and this was the best photo I could get of her:
I do have to admit, though, that I became a little bit fixated on Justman, though, thinking about how everybody says that Megan Fox from TRANSFORMERS should play Wonder Woman, and that I would cast this girl, since she hasn't become a household name yet. And heck, she looks the part. In fact, I'm going to stick a picture a professional took at the panel on here, so you can actually see her.
Besides, there's just something nicer about her than Megan Fox. Like this girl would feel bad about stomping your heart into little bits. You know what I mean?

Actress Meagan Good was also on the panel, and I think Merrill was more impressed by her than the CLOVERFIELD girl.After that, we wandered around the main hall for a few minutes, hoping to find really great deals like we did the last time we came. Basically, the vendors are so eager to not have to pack up their stuff and haul it out of there that they're willing to get rid of it at actually-reasonable prices. Merrill and I literally filled my little car with toys and comics and junk when we left in 2006, and except for bumping into Jason Mewes amid the throng, there wasn't much of note that we saw or bought. Basically, most of our crap-buying money had been spent on the motel and the extra gas to and from Temecula.

So, we left Comic-Con International and went back to the car, long before they so rudely kick people out at the end of a day.

The drive home was fairly uneventful. I drove most of the way, which I don't really mind, and at one point, we raised our seats up as high as they could go so the tips of our heads poked out the sunroof. Just like two years ago, it was fearfully hot driving through the desert, yet it started to rain really hard passing Baker ("Home of the world's largest thermometer!").

We spoke into the night and through to the next morning, and I guess tiredness brings the privacy barriers down because he told me all sorts of things I might have been wiser not to know about his life and his marriage. He also farted a great deal, and I gotta admit that after eight hours or so, I started to yell at him every time he did it, since he could have rolled the gorram window down as a courtesy or something.

Though I have painted Merrill as a Neanderthal, he did use the word "benighted" when describing the nation of Brazil, so he may be handsome, suave, and athletic, but the bastard is also smart. When he writes something good or uses a word like that, it makes it impossible for me to feel superior to him, and I wish he'd stop.

We got home before the sun came up (which did NOT happen last time), and I'm sure we both slept the sleep of the dead when we hit the sheets. Unlike last time, Merrill did not talk about how we were going to have a better time next year, or what kind of things we'll do for next year's Comic-Con differently, so I guess that means that he doesn't want to do it again.

I sort of can't blame him, because it was an uncomfortable, expensive experience, but a part of me hopes that it will be like child-bearing, and he'll forget the pain, tears, straining, pressure, swelling, kicks, exertion and wetness, and only remember the good stuff, come July 2009.

We'll see.

Rish Quint Outfield

*It could technically be a New Line property now, but New Line isn't really a studio anymore, and I went to the IMDB to check, and it says Paramount there.