Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

I believe I've complained about how manly and ultra-cool my Uncle John is before. I do everything wrong and he does everything right. He is loved by all and is real darn fond of himself, whereas I, well, I can't even stand to be around me. He's really Superman to my Bizarro, or Bruce Willis to my Mister Glass. And sometimes I despise him for it.

But the tables turned, however briefly, at Sunday dinner at my mom's house.* We were having our meal around the table, and my sister complained that the Ranch dressing was really runny.

Uncle John mentioned that that was because the bottle needed shaking. So John, take-charge leader that he is, grabbed the Ranch dressing bottle and shook it up. And up.

And up.

I guess he didn't bother to tighten the cap, or the raw strength with which he shook it forced the lid right off because there was a micro explosion from that side of the table.
My mother, the baby, John's wife, and my niece were spattered with Ranch dressing. My sister and John were both covered in it. It got everywhere, on people's faces and plates, in their drinks, the table, the floor, the wall, and even the ceiling fan.
And not a drop got on me or my food.Rish "Lucky the Leprechaun" Outfield

*Wow, what an overlong set-up. It's not like this is even a great story, and I apologise. It's like my one-time friend Chris said: That was a long ride for such a short trip. Or something. I can't really remember what Chris said anymore. Don't get old, boys and girls.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Post-Buffy post (and Top Five list)

So, I guess I could look back on the series and decide what my ten favourite episodes would be.

1. Once More With Feeling (Season 6)
2. Innocence (Season 2)
3. Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered (Season 2)
4. Hush (Season 4)
5. The Prom (Season 3)
6. Dopplegangland (Season 2)
7. Tabula Rasa (Season 6)
8. Becoming Part II (Season 2)
9. The Zeppo (Season 3)
10. Fool For Love (Season 5)

"The Body" really ought to be on the list, but it's just not one I enjoyed, you know what I mean? I might not even watch it again, or starting to watch it, I might turn it off. I also had "Earshot," "The Gift," and "Who Are You?" on my short list, and might have come up with more if left to my own devices.I thought I'd do a "Buffy"-related Top Five list or two, and
asked tyranist and Evil Cousin Ryan for their Top Five Buffy Characters.

Mine could possibly be:
1. Xander
2. Giles
3. Willow
4. Spike
5. Angelus

I probably would have put Anya Jenkins on the list, but for some reason, I grew to quite hate her in the last thirty episodes or so. Too bad.

Tyranist said (though his math may be off):
1. Buffy
2. Giles
3. Xander
4. Willow
5. Anya
5. Dawn

Ryan said (though he had the caveat of that they were in no order and only based on seasons one through five):

Having said that, there seems no point in figuring out winners this time around. Maybe I'll let the Top Fives lay fallow for a while.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Angel Thursday (25 September)

And then, there was one.

Show, that is. Tyranist and I finished "Buffy" last week, and even though he mentioned a hesitation to continue watching "Angel," I sure as hell wanted to finish out Season Four, and find out how they'd bring Spike back next season. So we had one of those marathon things.

Aside: In looking up "Angel" on wikipedia, I learned that Season Four had two different show runners. One, David Simkins, left partway through the season, and Jeffrey Bell replaced him. Considering how much better the season got as the year went on, I gotta think that Bell was a good choice. Either that or Joss Whedon began to spend more time on "Angel," after FOX killed "Firefly."

Well, I was totally thrilled with our "Angel" marathon, and when tyranist suggested we stay up until two to finish out the season, I didn't whine and beg him to reconsider, but was happy to.

I pity the fool that has to blog these, but I gotta say, the watching them was such a pleasure that I almost don't mind the work ahead of me. Almost.

First up was "Players," somehow written by Sarah Fain, Elizabeth Craft, and Jeffrey Bell.

It begins immediately after the last episode, with Cordelia stepping out, dressed all provocatively, and very, very pregnant. But it's not as ominous as we were led to believe, as Cordelia pretends to be as confused as everyone as to how this could be happening, and they all marvel together at the magickal pregnancy.

As if to interrupt our narrative, Gwen the electricity girl arrives at Angel Investigations, needing help to rescue a kidnapped girl. A moment before she entered, Gunn had felt slighted by the gang, and Gwen recruits him to assist her, taking advantage of his need to do some good.

Morimoto, a Japanese businessman, has kidnapped the daughter of a rival, and Gwen and Gunn get all dressed up and go to a party Morimoto is throwing. They nearly get thrown out, but Gunn smooth talks his way in, and they see the little girl, several bodyguards around her. Gwen causes a distraction and Gunn steals the child away, fighting with her bodyguards before discovering that the child is Morimoto's own daughter.

Gwen, meanwhile, has slipped into the vault in back and has found what she's looking for: a high-tech invention that can help her control her powers. When Gunn discovers he's been tricked, she explains how hard it has been not to be able to touch anyone, and he helps her escape. Later, she uses the device, and not only is she able to touch people, she's also able to have sexual intercourse with Gunn. A fine time is had by . . . well, both.

Back at Angel Investigations, Connor calls Cordelia on her trying to get him to kill Angelus. She explains that she only wants to protect her baby, and is (rather easily) able to sway him back to her side. Downstairs, Angel and Wesley and Fred are trying to remember what Angel saw in the book Lilah had, but as it's in an ancient and foreign tongue, he's not able to find out what it said about the Beast's master. They call this person/creature The Master, but that was "Buffy"'s first season Big Bad, and I'm reluctant to do that.

Basically, Lorne has found out about a ritual he can perform to restore his power to read people's auras, and promises Cordelia to find out what he can about her pregnancy as soon as it's done. He goes down alone to what I thought was the hotel's parking garage and prepares the ritual. Cordelia approaches him stealthfully, wanting to prevent it.

Just as she raises a knife, the lights go on, and Angel, Fred, and Wesley step out, pointing guns at her. The whole ritual thing was a ruse, and she stepped right into it. The end.

Not much to say about this one. Mostly filler, and I complained that we were in exactly the same spot that we were the last episode at the end of this one. Tyranist disagreed, but hey, he does that.

Next up was "Inside Out," written and directed by Steven S. DeKnight.

Cordelia looks at the four confronting her. Angel reveals that earlier, she used the same phrase as the Beast's master did in his/Angelus's head, making him suspicious of him. Suddenly, Connor appears to save the day. He fights Gunn, Wesley, and Fred, and Fred's rifle goes off, shooting Angel with a tranquiliser dart. Connor grabs Cordelia and whisks her away to safety.

At this point, tyranist paused the DVD (okay, it could have been any number of points during any number of episodes) and began to rant and foam at the mouth over how much he hates Connor and why Connor is still alive and all manner of filth . . . and you know what? I'm just gonna come right out and say it: by the end of the night, I kinda LIKED Connor.

So there.

The folks at Angel Investigations think about Cordelia's betrayal and wonder if it is even Cordelia that's been living among them. They remember the memory retrieval they did on her and that it was then she started acting strange. Or was the amnesia Cordelia not her, and that was why she had amnesia. And the stuff that Angel/Angelus was blamed for, like killing that guy in the locked room and killing Lilah, was probably Cordelia too.

Cordelia and Connor find a new hideout, and she thanks him for saving her life from those evil people and that nasty vampire father of his. At this point, I wonder if the fact that he KNOWS their weapons were full of tranquilisers instead of live rounds might sway him to realise she's not on the up and up, but Connor just nods and goes along with everything she tells him.

Angel, meanwhile, is bummed out that his would-be girlfriend is now a would-be world destroyer. Wesley thinks Angel should go to the Powers That Be and ask them just who and what Cordelia is and how to stop her. Angel doesn't want to, though, because, well, the Powers have proven to be bastards in the past. But Angel remembers Skip, the cool demon guy, from a season or two ago, and decides to go talk to him.

What follows was certainly odd: Skip, who was cheery and refreshingly amiable in the previous episodes, reveals that to just be an act, and is a giant tool now. He won't help Angel, but will beat him up. So Angel grabs one of Skip's "horns," for lack of a better word, breaks it off, and forces Skip to return with him to our dimension.

The others cast a spell to prevent Skip from leaving, and have another spell to torture him if he doesn't tell them what he knows. So Skip gives us a couple of overdue revelations: Cordelia is being controlled by another being, which was all part of of a greater plan, one responsible for Cordelia becoming a higher being and getting the visions in the first place, for Angel and Darla being able to conceive a child, for Wesley going off to the dark side, for Lorne and Fred coming to this dimension from Pylea, for Gunn joining their gang, for "Buffy" going off to UPN, heck, even for the WB originally buying "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" back in '96 instead of FOX, who would have canceled it long before.

To tyranist's credit, at no point during this speech did he cry "bullshit."

According to Skip--and I suppose we have to take his word for it--Connor's impossible birth was designed to impregnate Cordelia with the very being that's controlling her. When she has the "baby," it will probably kill her, and if it doesn't, the baby surely will destroy the world.

Meanwhile, Cordelia has a plan to have the baby immediately: there's a spell the two of them can cast, but she'll need Connor's help. So he goes out and rescues a virgin girl from a vampire, then decks her and takes her back to the hideout. Apparently, the blood of a virgin is necessary for this rite.

Then, something surprising* happens: Connor's mother Darla appears before him. She tells him he's good--better than what he's doing--and tries to get him to let the girl go.

She claims that the Powers That Be sent her to him, and I don't know if she's really there or just some dubious manifestation of Connor's conscience, and if it's possible Darla is some kind of angel now, but like Number 6 on BSG, only Connor can see her.

Back at Angel camp, Wesley and Lorne figure out where Cordelia is, and Angel leaves the others there to guard Skip while he goes off to find her. His purpose: kill Cordelia before the baby can be born.

Darla tries to get through to Connor, and then Cordelia comes in and starts pulling the other way. Connor can't deal with the stress, and finally drags the girl into the magical circle, where Cordelia cuts her throat. When Connor looks at the dead virgin girl, she looks like his mother.

Cordelia puts the girl's blood on her stomach, and the ground begins to shake. Labour has begun.

Back at the hotel, the shaking walls free Skip and he attacks. Wesley pulls out a pistol and shoots Skip, the bullets bouncing off harmlessly. Finally Wesley aims for the hole in Skip's head where Angel broke off the horn, fires, and Skip is no more.

Angel arrives at Cordelia's hideout, armed with a clothes hanger.

Okay, that was in tremendously bad taste. I'm sorry. It was a sword.

Connor stands up and defends her, and they fight yet again. Angel defeats his son, but he's too late: an intense light comes from Cordelia, and the baby is born.

Or rather, the fully-grown woman is born: Gina Torres in all her Amazon glory. When Angel looks at her, he drops his sword and kneels, beginning to worship her. The end.

An interesting episode, though I don't understand it at all. At least the character of Connor is consistent, huh?

I didn't know how many we were going to watch, but tyranist was willing to continue on to "Shiny Happy People," written by Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft.

So, the baby has been born, and she is Gina Torres. Instead of laughing and proclaiming this world hers for the crushing (as Suri Cruise reportedly did when she was born), she smiles and thanks Cordelia for bringing her into the world. She turns to Connor and Angel, both kneeling before her. She forgives Angel for trying to kill her, and both her followers have big, rapturous grins on their faces.

The four of them go back to the hotel (Cordelia is alive, but comatose), and as soon as Ginatorres arrives, Gunn, Fred, Lorne, and Wesley all kneel and worship her too.

Ginatorres is gentle and kind, bringing joy and inner peace to everyone who looks upon her. Cordelia is in a coma, but they put her in a bed, a holy woman for bringing the new Saviour into the world. Ginatorres explains that when Angel went through the trials to save Darla's life a couple seasons ago, she was watching, and gave Darla the power to have a special child. Then, when Cordelia rose to a higher plane, Ginatorres realised she had found the other piece of the puzzle, and orchestrated events so that the special pair would get together and bring Ginatorres into the world. It's all very complicated, but Ginatorres explains that everything is about to get a whole lot simpler.

Because we need our obligatory fight scene in every episode, we see a bunch of vampires hanging out at a bowling alley, complaining about the sun being back. Enter Angel and company, as well as Ginatorres.

You know what, I'm just gonna call her Jasmine. She explains that, because she was just born, she has no name, and someone should come up with one for her. When she mentions how much she enjoys the smell of night-blooming jasmine, Fred suggests that maybe Jasmine should be her name.

So, when the vampires see Jasmine, they attack her. One manages to scratch her arm before Jasmine's acolytes brutally turn them to dust. They go outside, and everyone who looks upon Jasmine begins to worship her. She bumps into a man, who falls down, and she helps him up in a demonstration of her kindness.

As Jasmine walks on, her entourage following, the man she helped up squints at her, then pulls out a knife to kill her with it. Angel stops him in time, vamps out, and begins to brutally pummel the guy so fiercely, you'd think he was in a hospital bed.

Jasmine stops Angel, touching the injured man's face, then announces that she forgives him. Everyone looks on in awe and rapture, but obviously that man saw something the rest of them couldn't.

They go back to the hotel, and Fred volunteers to wash the blood off Jasmine's blouse. Lorne decorates a room and presents it to Jasmine. Connor regrets not protecting his "child" from the attackers, but Jasmine shows that her injury has completely healed. She explains to him how special he is and that he was predestined to be her father, and honestly, it's the only time we've ever seen the kid with a smile on his face.

Angel goes outside (among the night-blooming jasmine), and begins to brood. When Jasmine comes out to visit him, he reveals that he's so darn happy being around her that he's afraid the Angelus curse will kick in again. She comforts him and quells his fears.

Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Fred is scrubbing at the bloodstains in the sink, trying--almost obsessively--to get the blouse clean. Hours later, it is revealed that she is still at it, still trying to please Jasmine. When Fred finally comes in to present the blouse to her, Wesley compliments her on her work, and she cries. It never came completely clean, even though she scrubbed until her fingers bled, so she went out and bought another blouse just like it. She hopes, pitifully, that it will be enough.

I don't know about tyranist, because I murdered him the other day, but I was getting more tense and nervous as the show went on, sure another shoe would drop, but freaked at how long it was taking.

Well, the other shoe drops when Fred presents the "cleaned" blouse to Jasmine. When she looks at her, holy god . . . standing in Jasmine's place is a rotting corpse, maggots covering her flesh and pouring out of her empty eye sockets. I literally screamed like the little girl I am. Fred reacts with more grace, turning and weeping and making a hasty exit. Everyone makes excuses for Fred, and continue grinning and nodding, all to ready for the Jim Jones Cocktails.

She goes into the room where Cordelia is "sleeping," and tries to figure out what to do. Angel comes in, and she asks him if he doesn't think it's strange that he went to kill the unborn Jasmine, knowing she would destroy the world, only to worship her instead. Angel doesn't think it's strange at all, actually.

At this point, we paused the DVD and postulated what had happened to break the spell on Fred. In retrospect, it's blatantly obvious (well, not blatant, but at least fairly obvious), but at the time, I thought that Fred had been insane once and none of the others were, and that the guy on the street must have had mental issues as well. Tyranist's theory was that it was all Connor's fault somehow.

So, Fred sneaks away and goes to the hospital where the guy who attacked Jasmine is being kept. He's in a room with his face bandaged, and Fred asks him what he saw, and if he had any history of mental illness (great minds think alike, apparently). He thinks she's calling him crazy, and unwraps his face, revealing some kind of sickening growth where Jasmine touched him.**

When Fred returns to the hotel, there is a throng of people there, looking to be near Jasmine, even if it means sleeping on the floor or toilet stalls. She takes Wesley aside and reveals to him what she saw. He nods, and immediately tells Jasmine about the traitor they have in their midst. Fred grabs a crossbow from the weapons cabinet and fires it at Jasmine, but Angel takes the bolt for her (in the shoulder). The others--led by Connor--begin to close in on on Fred like a frat boy at an Indigo Girls concert, and she grabs Lorne and holds a knife to his throat.

I thought he was a rather unwise hostage to pick, since he's literally the only character they've established can survive without a head, but it was all a bluff anyway, and she backs him to the door then runs for it.

Angel and the others think Fred has turned into Fredgelus and must be killed, but Jasmine, ever the picture of love and forgiveness, tells them they should try to help her instead.

The next morning, a skittish Fred goes into a diner and orders breakfast. On the television, the morning show presents their very special guest, Jasmine the Wonderful. As soon as she appears and gives her message of peace and tolerance, everyone in the diner kneel and worship her. Everyone except Fred, that is. The end.

Well, folks, I ain't gonna salt-coat it. This was easily the best episode of "Angel" of the season. I'd put it right up next to "I Will Remember You" as the best "Angel" ever. And heck, while I'm showering Jasminesque praise: it was better than ANY of the BTVS episodes this season.

Feel free to disagree, but wow, I literally had no idea what was going to happen through this one, and could not wait to find out what happened next. It's strange that neither Joss nor the longtime writers wrote this one, and yet it came out so well. Of course, it touched upon favourite topics of mine: pod people, individuality, evil babies, brain-washing religions, creatures masquerading as beautiful people, bowling, loneliness, and of course, lots and lots of maggots.


Rish "Night Blooming" Outfield

*Only surprising if you didn't see her name in the opening credits, of course. Can somebody tell me just why this is necessary?

**It looks like Bridgette Bardot compared to Jasmine's face, though.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

So Clay Aiken is gay?

The Howdy Doody-looking singer came out in People magazine this week, according to those naughty tabloid scandal-mongers.I don't believe it! No way, it's impossible. That's like saying that Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Chuck Norris, or Steve McQueen, or Freddie Mercury is gay. I just don't believe it. I refuse to believe it.

It's all a lie.

Like global warming. Or the moon landing.

Rish "The Straight Paul Lynde" Outfield

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So, Now that "Buffy Wednesdays" are done . . .

Tyranist and I need to talk about what to do with ourselves.

Rish Chester Outfield

Monday, September 22, 2008

Buffy Season 1 . . . point five?

I was looking up the various failed "Buffy" spin-offs on Monday, hoping for a little good news. And I got it, sort of. It seems that the presentation reel made in 2005 for the "Buffy Animated Series" had somehow been leaked onto YouTube last month, and it was the first I'd heard of it.

Of course, the bad news was that the show was never picked up, as Fox's venue for the show (Fox Kids, I think it was called) went away, and no one else wanted it. Jeph Loeb was going to be the showrunner, and in all the times I've talked with him, I never thought to ask him about this show.

They got as far as making a short pilot, which I'll post below, and nearly all the cast had signed on to voice their characters (including Charisma Carpenter, Kristine Sutherland, and Armin Shimmerman), with only Sarah Michelle Gellar being the holdout. It was supposed to take place during the first season of BTVS, with David Boreanaz voicing Angel and Michelle Trachtenberg somehow voicing Dawn.*

Boy, that's some good stuff.

I'm not really that big a fan of cartoons, but I laughed aloud while watching this, and absolutely can't wait to show it to my sister's seven year old. The possibilities a show like this would have offered are--or rather, were pretty darn limitless, and I can't see how on earth this animated series could have failed.

Except by not being made at all.

Well, at least we can see this much, and feel even worse than we did before. But there's a minuscule chance that, now that it's available to see, someone somewhere will decide this show is exactly what they've been looking for, and give it a home.

I can hope that something like that could happen.

And while I'm at it, I'd really like to be a staff writer for the show. I can already see a last-day-of-school evil yearbook episode and a glimpse at a pre-Slayer Faith interlude in my head. Tyranist showed me a comic that revealed how Dawn first discovered her sister was a superhero, and that would be a natural to throw into this show. And I doubt anyone's written a first encounter between Miss Calendar and Angel now that we know her true connection to the man.

I'd better stop before I actually get a pen and start writing these down.

Rish "Future Staff Writer With Cool Made-Up Title" Outfield

*I think setting it in early Season Two (before "Surprise" and "Innocence") would work better, 'cause Cordelia would know about Buffy's powers, and you could have Spike and Drusilla occasionally pop up, or even Kendra, if you wanted to go that way.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Last Buffy Wednesday (17 September)

So, despite my constant stalling and feet-dragging, tyranist and I finally reached the last two episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

First up was "End of Days," written by Jane Espenson and Douglas Petrie. I would've expected Marti Noxon to handle this one, but she's not been writing them this season (unless he works on all of them the way Joss usually does).

So, Buffy pulls the weapon (which we'll call The Scythe, because that's what I think it's called) out of the stone, signifying that she is to wield Excalibur. That is why I am your king. Immediately, Caleb is afraid, but the First (still in Buffy guise) has him reveal to Buffy that the others were just blown up in a trap in the sewers. Buffy goes after them.

At the site of the explosion (which, apparently, was seen on television but has been deleted from the DVD release*), a couple of the girls are dead, but Skinny Amanda and Kennedy come to and pull Faith's unconscious (but still amazingly alive) body out from under the water and carry her to safety.**

They're not safe for long, though, as an Ubervamp shows up, snarling at them. The girls think just maybe they can take it on if they work together, but two more appear, and they begin to doubt. But then, Buffy also appears, her cool Scythe in hand, and she slices and dices those Ubervamps into dust-flavoured julian fries.

Buffy takes Faith and the girls back to her house, and they apologise for kicking her out the way they did. Buffy blames it on the writers and forgives them, then goes to Giles and Willow and shows them her new weapon. They do some computer research on it while Buffy goes up to see how Faith is doing.

There's something about the Scythe weapon that the Slayers comment on when they touch it, it feels like it belongs to them, and it may help Faith recover. I'm fairly certain this is the weapon Melanka Fray wields in Joss's "Fray" comic book, which tyranist let me read. Faith is bummed that she let the girls down, or let Buffy down, or let herself down, and Buffy makes her feel better.

Then she goes down to the basement and does the same for Spike, telling him how much she appreciated his words to her the night before and staying by her side like that. He mentions that it was the most intimate he had ever been with anyone, and there was no sex involved. And I'm reminded of the old Arab proverb that says when the beast looked upon beauty and beauty stayed his hand, he was as one dead.

Buffy also goes and gives Xander a speech about how important he is, and the special task she's given him. He doesn't want to do whatever it is, and wants to fight at Buffy's side for the last episode, but she convinces him to do it.

Not long after, Xander and Dawn go out to his car to look for something (it might have been a crossbow, as Dawn mentions she doesn't like crossbows after what happened to Miss Kitty Fantastico), and he puts a chloroform rag over her mouth, knocking her out so he can drive her out of Sunnydale and to safety.

Dawn awakens as they're driving, and Xander gives her the letter Buffy wrote to her. Before she finishes the letter, she pulls out a taser and zaps poor Xander with it, the car spins out of control, and both of them die in flames and broken glass.

Oh wait, that's probably what should have happened, but no, he just passes out and she is somehow able to drive from the passenger side, turning the car around and heading back to Sunnydale.

Caleb and the First Evil have a conversation, where he's really contrite for having failed her/it (I call it "her" because she always looks like Buffy now). To make it up to her, or maybe because it's just kinky, he offers to let the First enter into his body, so it can feel and touch and experience puppy-throttling first-hand. This never really goes anywhere (at least that I remember), but it was an interesting concept, and I've got to give it to both Nathan Fillion and Sarah Gellar that despite their more-iconic personas, they were both convincingly scary.

Andrew and Anya have gone to the grocery store, which was abandoned, and grabbed lots of free food. They get the idea to go to the hospital and do the same, because cafeterias always have the best jello. No, actually, it's because there will be plenty of medical supplies for the taking.

They go there, and Anya tells Andrew about the impending apocalypse in Season Three, and how she got the hell out of town, but this time, she's going to stay there, because she's gotten to understand human beings enough to know that there are some things worth fighting for, maybe even dying for. I guess this scene shows us how much she has grown as a person from when she was first introduced. And from that day on, she was as one dead.

I'm not really sure how Giles and Willow's research leads Buffy to the cemetery, but she goes there and actually enters the pyramid-shaped crypt that's been in the background of, oh, half of all the episodes. Inside, she finds a woman who mentions that she's from an organisation older than the Watchers that also try to help the Slayer line. You see, back in the Beginning of Days, when the African shadow dudes created the first Slayer, they made sure there was only one at a time, so that they couldn't team up and rule the men or something (it's kind of like the Sith rules in the Prequels), but it doesn't have to be that way. With that Scythe weapon, Buffy could actually--

But urk, before the woman can finish her exposition, Father Caleb appears behind her and snaps her neck. Serves her right for not having a penis, right?

Caleb fights Buffy, and I'm going to say that he's even faster and stronger than he was before, now that he has the First Evil in him (it might not have been true, but it makes the story better). In fact, he manages to throw Buffy down and take the Scythe away from her. Before he can deliver the killing blow, however, a fist comes out of nowhere and knocks Caleb to the ground.

Who could it be?

My niece couldn't guess, but she hadn't seen "Special Guest Star David Boreanaz" at the beginning of the episode, giving things away like I thought they had learned to avoid.Buffy kisses Angel, and it's like no time has passed. But we see that Spike was there too, maybe hanging back to give Buffy aid if she needed it (or maybe because it was just written that way in the script), and the First Evil reminds him (and us, as if we needed reminding) that she's never gonna feel for him what she feels for Angel. The end.

This wasn't much of an actual episode, really, so much as it was a set up for the series finale, which I'll just go on to right now.

"Chosen" is the last episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and they got some nobody named Whedon to write and direct it. I was really hoping for one of those writers who worked on one episode back in Season One to do the last one. Ah well.

It begins immediately after Buffy and Angel's reunion, with Caleb getting back up (I guess he was stabbed too), black blood oozing from his eyes. Buffy tells Angel that this is her fight, so he steps back and watches her move. I guess Spike has buggered off by this point.

Caleb strikes again, and Buffy battles him before swinging her weapon and axing him right in the crotch for it. Uncomfortable, ain't it? It was also uncomfortable to describe that to my seven year old, but she didn't seem to mind so much.

Buffy slices Caleb in two, leaving him finally and truly dead. Now that they're alone again, Angel tells Buffy why he came (besides the fact that it's the end of the series and he needs to cameo): someone in Los Angeles knew of Buffy's upcoming battle and gave Angel an amulet/necklace thing that is destined to be carried by someone who's more than human but has gained a soul. Buffy knows who it's for, and Angel offers to fight alongside her--which might have been interesting, no?--but Buffy tells him to gather his forces in L.A. to stop the outflow of evil in case she fails.

Angel then leaves, but not before a romantic moment of contemplation of a future together that should have been irritating, but only served to show that Spike simply can't fit into Buffy's heart, when two-thirds of it are permanently roped off for Angel's return.

Buffy comes back to her house and finds Dawn waiting for her there, upset at Buffy's attempt to protect her. Buffy goes to the basement, where Spike is whacking a punching bag he's drawn Angel's face onto. She gives him the amulet and he dismisses her, still angry about what he witnessed. But he's quick to give up on his anger when it looks like she's actually going to leave. We don't know what happens next (Joss says it's up to the viewer to decide if they talked, fought, had sex, or just did that sleeping thing they did two episodes ago), but when the sun comes up, Buffy leaves his side and starts upstairs.

She is met by Father Caleb, and then by herself, both guises of the First Evil. It tells her to run away while she still can, and Buffy tells the First to get out of her face. Which, I didn't realise until later, was a pun. She decides that, because the First told her to flee, it's afraid she will win.

Buffy rallies everybody together, and explains her plan, which includes going to the high school and opening up the Hellmouth seal themselves. Willow is going to cast a spell, and she's really nervous about it. She tells Kennedy that it's the biggest spell she's ever cast, and asks her to kill her if she becomes Dark Willow in the process. Kennedy agrees . . . and you know, if I ever become Dark Outfield again, I'd like you to kill me too.

Or at least try.

Principal Wood and Faith have a scene together, where she tries to brush him off the way she does all her sexual partners. He promises to surprise her before this is all over.

So, daytime arrives, and they all go to the high school in a school bus (Spike goes too, but hides under his coat). Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Giles have a nostalgic moment before going their separate ways. Everyone has their orders. Willow and Kennedy are casting a spell on the Scythe in the principal's office, Giles and Wood are guarding the main exit to the Hellmouth, Xander and Dawn are guarding a secondary exit, Anya and Andrew are guarding a tertiary exit, Wesley and Cordelia are on another show, and everybody else is going down into the basement to attack.

All the girls cut their hands and use their own blood to open the seal, which leads to a gigantic underground cave, where Saruman's forces mine and pull down trees and make weapons. Well, actually, they're thousands of Ubervamps that waste no time spotting the intruders and attacking in all their terrible, CGI glory.

Upstairs, Willow casts a spell on the Scythe, and we find out what Buffy's plan was: using the essence of the Slayer weapon, Willow is going to activate every single Potential on earth. Literally every girl who COULD be a Slayer will become a Slayer.

Willow's power grows and overtakes her, but instead of turning all black and veiny, her hair goes white and she becomes a much less-frightening version of Galadriel in that movie series I've already referred to a little too much. I guess she was able to tap into positive, white magic, or maybe just the positive white part of herself.

Kennedy and the other Potentials become Slayers in a burst of light (and I just realised we've never seen this moment before). All across the globe, girls receive an unbelievable amount of power***, and down under the seal, the battle begins in earnest, with our girls able to kill Ubervamps right and left, as hundreds more arrive to take each fallen's place.

Kennedy arrives underground, hacking and slashing Ubervamps with the Scythe. She passes it to Buffy, who ends up getting stabbed and passing it to Faith while she recovers. The Ubervamps skitter and leap, managing to take down a couple of the ex-Potentials, including poor skinny Amanda.

A couple of Ubervamps make it past the girls to reach the surface, but Giles and Principal Wood battle them. Several Bringers also fight, and Xander, Dawn, Andrew, and Anya fight those. Unfortunately, one Bringer manages to kill Anya, cutting her almost in half. An Ubervamp skewers Principal Wood before Giles can kill it, but the damage is done.

The First Evil appears in Buffy's form to taunt her, and Buffy stands again, knocking ubervamps into the air in another LOTR-like scene. Spike wears the amulet he was prophesied to wear, and it begins to glow. It sends a burst of energy upward, punching a hole into the ceiling and into the daylight. Then, a huge ray of sunshine comes down, prisming in the amulet and turning all the Ubervamps in the caves to dust.

The cavern walls begin to crumble, and Buffy orders her army to flee. Spike stands there, bathed in sunlight, yet somehow still alive, but his skin begins to crackle and char from the exposure. Buffy takes his hand and tells him she loves him. His hand bursts into flames, and he says, "No you don't." He smiles and thanks her for saying it, then he turns to dust.

Upstairs, everyone is running for the schoolbus, while the school falls down around them. Xander tries to get Anya, who is lying just a couple of feet away, but can't find her. Everyone, including Principal Wood, manage to board the bus, and it takes off without Buffy.

Buffy gets out of the school via the roof, and runs along its rooftop, then onto the Sunnydale main street, trying to catch up with the bus. Behind her, the entire town of Sunnydale collapses into the earth. Finally, Buffy jumps from the Sun Theater onto the bus and holds on until it gets to safety.

On the outskirts of town, the bus stops. Everyone gets out to look at the gigantic crater that used to be their town. Xander asks Andrew what happened with Anya, and Andrew tells him she sacrificed her life to save his. This gives Xander comfort for some reason, and it's a nice moment.

Within the bus, the dying Principal Wood asks Faith if they made it, and she tries to comfort him too. He goes still, and when she reaches to close his eyes, he blinks and says, "Surprise." Also a nice moment.

The main group stands together, looking at the crater and contemplating their loss. Giles suggests they go to Cleveland, where the other Hellmouth is, and when Dawn asks her sister what they'll do now, Buffy starts to smile. The end.

Well, there you go. The end of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Unless you read the comics, or dream of a world where it goes on forever.

I gotta say, I didn't find myself nearly as moved--or satisfied--by this series finale as much as I did the one on the WB ("The Gift"), or even last year's season finale ("Grave"). I don't know if it genuinely wasn't as good an episode (though I vote for no), or if I just built it up in my head, and maybe expected too much.

Even with all the fan outcry about Season Six being too depressing or dark or unpleasant, I think it was a better year than Season Seven was. That's just me, of course.

But the series itself, taken as a big astounding whole, is more than amazing. My cousin and I spent a night recently, trying to name our favourite episodes from each season, and were shocked each time one of us came up with another truly awesome episode the other hadn't remembered. With "Firefly," the show I continually refer to as the best television show ever made, it's easy to remember each and every episode, and perhaps it was easier for Joss to keep the quality up, since he basically knew it was doomed from the start. But with "Buffy," where the year stretches out beyond December, and the years stretch out beyond that, it has to be a monumental task to stay focused and stay enthusiastic and stay creative and stay excited and stay inspired. And, even though I complained a bit about episodes I found weak, or storylines that went where I didn't want them (or worse, went nowhere), that's not what I'll remember when I think of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

I'll probably think of tyranist and me, in his living room, week after week, watching something funny, scary, romantic, exciting, depressing, and unique, and letting it carry us away. I doubt Wednesdays will ever be the same.

Rish Buffy Outfield

*I checked out the TV version, just to see, and yeah, there are about two seconds of extra footage, the explosion, bodies flying, that the DVD didn't have.

**Weird that it took a heck of a lot less than this to kill Buffy the first time, but Faith appears to be part Terminator.

***With an infinite number of new Slayers created, with absolutely no preamble or explanation, training, or a Watcher to help guide them, I can't help but wonder how many Faiths, Dark Willows, Anyankas, and Glorificuses were just loosed on the world. But hey, I'm happy for the cute kid at bat who got to knock one out of the park.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

Around here, they have these machines called Red Boxes. They're DVD rental vending machines, where you put in money and pick from, I don't know, a hundred titles or so. Well, I went by one of those Red Boxes the other day, and they had a new, awful-looking direct-to-video Steven Segal film there, entitled PISTOL WHIPPED.

I looked at it for a second, then walked away, my appetite for renting something mysteriously evaporated.

Now, I don't really care that it's a Steven Segal movie so much (though that alone ought to qualify this for a STOTW), or even that he looks cross-eyed on the cover (I'll try and find a cover scan to stick on here). I just found "Pistol Whipped" to be a really stupid title.And maybe it isn't. Maybe it's just me. But I'm going to count it anyway.

Rish "Cool Whipped" Outfield

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Buffy Wednesday Continued

Tyranist and I continued watching "Buffy" well beyond the usual two, three, or even four episodes we usually take in on a Wednesday. He said he was willing to stay up until three if it meant getting through them all. That sort of dedication should be lauded, but instead, I detest myself for my weakness.

Next up was "Dirty Girls," written by Drew CLOVERFIELD Goddard and Joss WONDER WOMAN R.I.P. Whedon. It begins with a new Potential running through the woods, being chased by Bringers. She runs into the street and is picked up by a pickup truck (hence the name, I guess), being driven by a young man dressed as a priest. He's got Nathan Fillion's face, but speaks with the creepy cadence of a Southern preacher.

His name is Father Caleb, and he seems supportive for about two seconds before he begins commenting on the corruption of this generation, especially young women, and refers to her as a whore. The Potential tries to get out of the truck, but the door handle's been removed (surely for this very reason). He's got a ring on his finger that he holds up to the cigarette lighter . . . and then to her neck. It burns a gross symbol onto her, and he tells her to go to the Slayer and give her a message. Then he stabs her in the stomach and tosses her out onto the road.

The next car to come along is Willow and Faith, coming back from L.A.. They pick up the girl and take her to the hospital, where Willow stays with her. Faith goes to the cemetery to find Buffy, and the first thing she finds is Spike attacking a girl. She fights with Spike until he tells her that he knows who she is. She knows who he is too, and he insists they're on the same side. She tells him she's not bad anymore and Buffy comes out and defends Spike. There's a beautifully surreal moment where Faith wonders if somehow Buffy has gone bad, and that makes her the Good Slayer now, but when she sees that the girl Spike was chasing is a vampire (and stakes her), she puts two and two together.*

Apparently there are too many Potentials to stay at Buffy's and many are at Xander's place, and have never felt the touch of a man. Or maybe that's just a dream.

Buffy takes Faith back to her own house, where she greets Dawn with recognition (I wonder what they're relationship was like). Pretty much everyone there eyes her with distrust, but there's a lot of that going around, as Buffy looks at Giles that way too.

Caleb is headquartered in a big wine cellar at a vineyard on the outskirts of town, and the First Evil appears to him, looking like Buffy. He was the one, it seems, who blew up the Watchers Council, and he appears to have deep-seated and unapologetic issues with women. For example, he asks the First Evil to take the form of pretty young things he's killed over the years, so that he can relive their murders. The First has found a real match made in heaven with this guy.

For the uninitiated, Andrew explains Faith's history of violence and unpredictability, culminating in her unprovoked attack on poor Mister Spock. The Potentials point out that it was a vulcanologist, not a Vulcan, but I think the point is made.

Faith goes down to the basement for a cigarette (see, she's still bad!), and finds Spike there. She mentions that she met him once before while she was in Buffy's body, and there seems to be some kind of chemistry between them. Of course Buffy comes in at that point, but I didn't really want to see Faith and Spike hook up. I'm not sure who I'd like to see Faith hook up with. Kennedy maybe.

Buffy goes to work, and Principal Wood tells her she's fired. Guess that first date could've gone better. Maybe she should've considered putting out.

Actually, Principal Wood thinks Buffy should focus on her real job, which is protecting the world from demons and vampires, and lets her know that the high school might not be open much longer anyway.

Buffy goes to the hospital to see Shannon, the downed Potential. Willow points out the symbol burned into her neck (and isn't in this episode much, probably 'cause she was off making the "Angel" crossover). The message Caleb had for Buffy is that he has something of hers.

Well, Buffy wants to find out what it is (she thinks it might be another girl, and Giles thinks it might be a stapler), so she and Faith follow a Bringer back to its lair, which is in the vineyard. There's some tension between them (not sexual this time), and Faith asks if she'd rather she weren't there. I'm not sure if Buffy can see how she's become abrasive and is pushing people away, but she does thank Faith for being there (and I get the impression Faith has a pretty thick skin, I wish I could've seen what her relationship with her Watcher was like).

Knowing where Caleb is holed-up, Buffy tells the Potentials they're going to go in there in-force, and do as much killing as is necessary to get back what he took. The girls are scared and many of them have never been tested in battle. Giles thinks they need a better plan than that, but Buffy is set in her plan.

Later, Xander gives the nervous girls a much more effective speech, where he tells them how great Buffy is and that she's died saving the world twice and they owe her their loyalty. It was lovely, and Faith artfully undercuts it with "Damn, I never knew you were so cool."

So, Buffy, Spike, and Faith take the strongest Potentials (and Xander) to the vineyard, leaving Xander and Faith to guard the door in case it's a trap. Well, there's plenty of Bringers there, and the fight is on, but once Caleb steps out . . . it's fair to say the fight is finished.

This guy is unbelievably powerful, and takes Buffy out with one deft move, smashing her against the wall. He mocks the idea of goodness and Slayers in general, and I NEVER would have believed Nathan Fillion could be so scary. I love the dude, and have remarked on the several times I've seen him in person that he's kind of goofy-looking, but wow, Caleb is a truly chilling being. He grins while attacking, headbutting Spike and smashing him into a wine barrel. He backhands Kennedy unconscious, snaps Rona The Potential With Tude's arm like a dry branch, and does the same to another Potential's neck. Faith fares a little better, getting a few punches in before she's down for the count. He preaches constantly, having a gay old time, and before Buffy can recover and fight him a second time, he kills Molly the Cockney Potential with her own knife. Buffy does manage to knock Caleb down, and everybody moves to retreat.

Xander helps Kennedy to her feet, but is grabbed by Caleb. He recognises Xander as "the one who sees everything," and sticks his thumb in Xander's eye, popping it like a bloody grape. Spike pushes Caleb out of the way and Buffy grabs Xander and gets him out of there. Caleb just watches, smirking, and does not follow.

The survivors are battered and bruised, and obviously Buffy feels responsible. Caleb boasts to the First Evil about how easy it all was, and that he'll kill them all before the end. Buffy goes walking alone, the weight of the world she normally carries even heavier than usual. The end.

This one, my friends, had the darkest ending since . . . well, probably since the Dark Willow stuff, if not the Buffy-finds-her-mom-on-the-couch show. And it's weird, the Xander eye thing was just inexpressibly horrible. I knew, too, that at some point in the series he started wearing an eyepatch, but until it happened, I had completely forgotten about it.

And I don't know if it was because it was Xander or because it's an eye (hey, we've all been poked in the eye before and know how sensitive that is), but it was a moment that just bothered the hell out of me. When I related it to my niece (as she insists I do every Saturday when I see her), I was emotional in describing the scene to her** and she gasped, "So Xander died?"

No, he didn't die, but the eye thing is a permanent mutilation that, well, it's just one of those things that we've not seen a lot of, and I'm grateful for it.

Again, we probably should have quit there (we both had a lot of stuff to watch, and we've completely abandoned "Twin Peaks," which I was so keen on watching through just a few weeks ago), but tyranist wanted to continue, and I didn't even try to stop him.

The next episode was called "Empty Places," written by Drew Z. Greenberg, and begins with the people of Sunnydale quickly packing up and clearing out of town. Even Clem, Spike's floppy demon friend, is in the line of cars headed out. Buffy encounters him while on her long walk, and he suggests she leave too...the apocalypse is really coming this time.

Willow and Giles get everything the police have on Father Caleb, and when they leave, the cops--influenced by the Hellmouth and itching to do some violence--decide to go after the escaped prisoner who has apparently been seen in Sunnydale.

Willow sits beside Xander in the hospital, holding his hand, and just being there for him. He makes light of the situation, but it's all Willow can do to not break down. It's a great moment, and Buffy comes by to get the paperwork, but leaves to give it to the others, leaving them alone.

The Potentials are really freaked now that Caleb is going to get them all. Buffy thinks the police information might help, but she's becoming increasingly tired and humourless. Kennedy wonders how Caleb was able to render Buffy "useless in just one punch," but regrets saying it. Buffy gets up and leaves the house.

She goes to the high school (now closed) and packs up her desk. And Caleb walks in, mocking her tears. The guy is just as bad as it gets, kids. He tells Buffy that history is going to remember these days, and the role Buffy played in the changing world. When Buffy tries to fight him, he simply picks her and throws her through the window, then goes his way.

Giles and Dawn are doing research, and he sees the symbol of Caleb's brand in one of them. There's a church up north that was suddenly abandoned, and asks Spike to go there an investigate. Giles's reasoning is that Spike's the only one strong enough to handle himself if there's trouble (though I believe there's a second Slayer around with just as much history of following Giles's orders). Because Andrew is still annoying, he sends him along with Spike.

Seeing how stressed out the girls are, Faith takes them to the Bronze, where they party it up and dance and drink. A group of cops come in and arrest Faith (who all the girls now love).

When Buffy staggers home--the poor girl claims to have actually enjoyed being knocked unconscious for the rest it gave her--Giles tells her where he sent Spike (she's unhappy with that decision) and where Faith took the girls (ditto that). She goes back out into the night to get them for another attack on Caleb Manor.

Faith "resists arrest" and ends up getting billy clubbed by several cops, but she and the other girls start beating them up. Buffy walks up just as the last cop goes down. Of course she accuses Faith of being irresponsible, and Faith reminds her of the vineyard incident in return.

Spike and Andrew ride Spike's motorcycle to the abandoned church and are attacked by a priest who's hiding there. He has that Caleb mark burned on his cheek and explains that Caleb was there a while back and discovered an inscription on a secret wall in the church. The priest ran and hid while Caleb killed all the other priests there. The inscription reads "It is not for thee, but for her alone to wield."

Principal Wood meets Faith when she goes back to Buffy's, and they discover they have a thing or two in common. Xander comes in (with Willow and Anya), and pretty much the whole gang is gathered to hear Buffy's announcement: they're going to go to the vineyard again and attack Caleb. She's convinced that there's something there he's protecting, his power center, and that needs to be knocked out.

But nobody agrees with her. First it's Faith, then Wood, then Giles, then Rona, then Kennedy, all telling her the plan (or she herself) is flawed. Even Willow says she's worried about Buffy's judgment, and then Anya throws in a particular grimy pair of cents that Buffy always thinks she's better than everybody else, but she's not.

Of course we turn to Xander to clear everything up, and after last week's "up with Buffy" speech, you know he'll know what to say. But he isn't with her either. Rona the Potential with Tude thinks Faith should be in charge, and Kennedy thinks there should be a vote. But Buffy won't stand for any vote, and looks around for someone to see it her way (or at least to see reason). Nobody gives on this (you'd think Giles could at least say, "We'll come up with a plan, we'll do some research and find Caleb's weakness, or at least wait until Spike comes back to find out if he learned anything we can use," but he--and everyone else--just stares at the floor while Buffy feels betrayed), and finally Dawn stands up and tells Buffy that it's her house too, and "I need you to leave."

Buffy tells Faith to protect the girls and walks out into the night. The end.

Again with the dark, sober unpleasant endings. Now, tyranist was pretty sure that Buffy's plan was exactly what Caleb wanted her to do, in order to kill more of the girls or I don't know what.*** I wasn't so sure, and it was really hard to watch people (including the other three core characters) turn their back on her in that moment.

I guess it's natural for people to argue or disagree, but it always bothers me when it happens on "Buffy." I don't know why, but that's probably the main reason I didn't like "Dead Man's Party" or any of the inner-strife episodes from Seasons 5 and 6. It may be that I've just grown too close to these characters, and am now thinking of them as real friends of mine. And it sucks to see your friends fight.

Tyranist didn't think that was a good note to end the night on (and he was probably right), so we went on to the next disc . . . the last disc of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Only three more to go, and the first of those was "Touched," written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner.

Everybody at Buffy's house is arguing and trying to talk over each other. Faith suggests that they gets some rest and think about things tomorrow.

All over Sunnydale, people are packing up and leaving town. Buffy walks through the night until she goes into an abandoned house to sleep. Turns out it's not abandoned, but she tells the owner to leave.

Andrew and Spike are stuck in the church when the sun comes up, and as much as he'd like to get back and help Buffy, they apparently have no cellphones or transportation (other than his motorcycle).

The second Potential town meeting goes as badly as the first, with everyone arguing about what they should do next. Kennedy is particularly hostile, and thank M. Night Shyamalan that Rona the Tude Queen isn't there to make me want to shed blood. Finally Faith tells everyone to shut up, that they put her in charge and she's giving the orders now. Her plan is to capture a Bringer and find out what it knows about the First Evil's weaknesses.

They use Kennedy as bait and capture one of the three Bringers that go after her (good thing it wasn't Caleb or an Ubervamp, huh?), killing the other two. Unfortunately, Bringers have no tongues.

Dawn thinks they should cast a spell to read its mind, and Willow gathers the ingredients. Spike and . . . the other one return and he asks where Buffy is. They stutter through an explanation of what happened, and he calls them a bunch of ungrateful traitors and a couple other colourful insults. He and Faith have a fight nearly as pointless as the ones from the MATRIX sequels.

Spike leaves, but smells her out, going down the block to find her. He finds her upstairs in the house she appropriated, lying in bed. He disses Faith and the others, and tells her what he learned at the church. She finds no comfort there. He tells her Caleb is hiding something at the vineyard, but Buffy is sort of broken. He tells her she's not one to give up, and the others took something from her, but she can take it back.

Willow casts the spell on the Bringer, and it begins to talk through Andrew. He explains that the Bringers are preparing the way for the inevitable war, working to destroy the Slayer line, storing up weapons for the battle, and obey their mop-topped leader Caleb. They make it elaborate about the weapons stockpile and it begins to wax poetic about how many of them there are out there. Giles cuts the Bringer's throat, and I have to wonder if he was just frustrated, foolish, or if that was genuinely all the Bringer had to tell them.

They figure out where the Bringer was talking about and Faith plans on going there tomorrow morning. As soon as she's alone in her room, the First appears to her in the form of the Mayor. He tells her what a good job she's doing and how smart she was to kick Buffy out. It's weird, 'cause the First Mayor is pretty much exactly the way the real Mayor was, affectionate, oddly old-fashioned, even-tempered, and yet a bad guy. He tells Faith that she took what Buffy wanted (respect, leadership, big hair), and she'll use it as an excuse to kill her.

Spike tries to explain to Buffy that she can't give up. She tells him she's tired, and she never gets close to people because she always has to stand alone. He talks about how he sees her, how she's the only thing he's ever been sure of in his long unlife full of mistakes and bad decisions. He tells her he loves her and that she's a hell of a woman, and to get some rest. She tells him to stay with her and hold her, and he does.

Principal Wood hears Faith talking to herself and asks if she's alright. She brushes him off, afraid of looking vulnerable, then tells him it was the First. They exchange experiences and fears, and he tells her nobody wants to be alone, that everybody wants to be touched. And then they start touching, and I mean in a ask-the-kids-to-go-to-their-rooms sort of way.

Kennedy maneuvers it so that she and Willow get a romantic night alone as well, and it gets all kissy and stuff too. Willow is afraid of letting loose, that she'll lose control. But Kennedy tells her to trust her and just let go, and I guess she does. There's a great deal of groping and kissing in the scene, and I'd say more, but I might start to blush. And we can't have that.

Downstairs, Xander and Anya hear all the sex going on around them and are jealous. So they do it too. Seems there's just something in the air, and I told tyranist I prayed Giles and Andrew didn't end up in a room together.

Spike just holds Buffy, and it seems to be exactly what she needs.

The First Evil (looking like Buffy) sees all that's going on, and while Caleb dismisses it as sins of the flesh and all that, she wishes she could touch and be touched. For about a quarter of a second, I almost pity the First. Then it says it wishes it could take some innocent neck and feel what that's like to snap it.

The next morning, Spike awakens to find Buffy gone, a note (that we don't get to read) in her place. Buffy has gone to the vineyard, where she surprises Caleb (and the First), asking what he has that belongs to her. He tries to fight her, but she just stays out of his way, Spider-manning around while he punches and kicks walls, wine barrels, and the air. As far as I remember, he doesn't lay a hand on her, and she discovers a trapdoor leading down below the wine cellar.

She slips through it and finds some sort of . . . blade weapon device thing halfway imbedded in stone there. Perhaps the Excalibur for Slayers?

Elsewhere, Faith takes a few of the Potentials to the sewers, where the Bringers have their arsenal. It turns out to be a trap, and several Bringers pop out, fighting our girls. The girls hold their own . . . but that wasn't the trap. The trap was the cache of explosives and the timer counting down right in front of them. The end.

Well, that was interesting. And another cliffhanger.

Tyranist said we couldn't quit there, and was more than willing to sacrifice a night of sleep and stay up till two or three if he had to to get through it all. I've got to say that it's just a curly black hair short of a bona fide miracle that we didn't finish the whole series tonight. I had to practically beg to get tyranist to--you know what, I DID beg. I begged him to give me one more night, like the Phil Collins song. One more Buffy Wednesday, which we could celebrate in style, making an evening of it, and watch the retrospect documentaries afterward.

And I could tell he wasn't happy about it, but somehow I got through to him and he turned it off. A couple days later he told me he was just going to watch it all himself, but I seriously doubted he would. He's had the DVDs for years and not watched them.

Because I knew there was no way he'd let me postpone "The Last Buffy Wednesday" another week or two, I did what I could to finish up these blog posts before the week was through. As it stands, I've got about ten minutes before it's time to head for his place.

Maybe I can stretch that to twenty.

Rish Outfield

*Hey, I love Faith, really, but I wonder sometimes if she could put one and one together.

**She seven and has never seen "Firefly." Sadly, I think Caleb loses a bit of his menace when I describe him as "The guy who plays Captain Hammer."

***Sure enough, he mentions as much to the First Evil, sure that Buffy will come running like a veal to the slaughter.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Babysitter of the Year

It's not a secret that I'm no good with children and I detest babies, but I do tend to get along with my sisters' kids. I think I've talked about by niece from time to time (and truly, while talking "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" with tyranist was nice, talking about it with a seven year old was great), but I babysat my sister's kid yesterday (and briefly today), and that boy is unbelievably well-behaved and cool. I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but the kid is literally always happy. He only needs a toy or a bit of food or someone to talk to him and he smiles pretty much constantly. He enjoys looking at the fish in my aquarium, so I hold him near it each time he comes to visit.

But I've got a confession to make. At one point yesterday, I just propped him up in his carseat in front of the fishtank, while I went off and did my own thing. I came back and checked on him after an hour, and he was happily watching the fish swim around, so I just left him there.He really is a great kid, and he deserves better.

Heck, Hitler and Eva Braun's kid probably deserve better than me, but I digress.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Roller Ghoster

Not too long ago, we went to the amusement park, and I lost my cellphone. But who cares, they're evil anyway.

The thing is, there was a full (or nearly-full) moon, and I managed to snap a picture of it as it rose over the lovely white roller coaster.

But I did something wrong and the picture came out all blurry.
For some reason, I liked that better.

Happy Halloween, kids.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Buffy Wednesday (10 September 2008)

Tyranist and I got together with the plan to watch two, maybe three episodes of BTVS. We certainly didn't intend to finish out the show (although I wouldn't put it past tyranist . . . he really does have the brain of a supervillain), but almost did just that.

So, here I stand (sit, actually), at the edge of the end of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." My cousin, six or seven months ago, proclaimed it to be the greatest TV show of all time, and I don't know how much weight that carries (considering his number two seems to be "The Power Puff Girls"), but I've been pretty inclined to agree with him.

I've been pretty lax when it comes to the Whedon Wednesday blogging lately, usually finishing up each post two weeks after starting it, but I promise to work harder on this one, and get it in sooner, if not better, than the last few.

So I'm starting early (as in, early in the morning), just a few minutes after arriving home from tyranist's, moving my bowels, and checking my email.

First up in our viewing schedule was "Get It Done," written and directed by Doug Petrie. I have to be completely honest and admit that I actually blogged about the next episode first, having forgotten that I ever even saw this one. Maybe I should go to Wikipedia first thing every time instead of at the end to find out our writer and such.

This episode begins with a dream in which Buffy is warned by the First Slayer (yeah, her again) that what she's doing is not enough. She welcomes Principal Wood into her cadre, team, whatever we're calling it, and she also appears to have gained another half dozen Potential Slayers.

Kennedy seems to have been put in charge of training the Potentials when Buffy's not around, and the authority appears to have gone to her head. She's become a rather attractive drill sergeant, shouting orders, demanding push-ups, and calling one girl--with the awful name Chloe--"a maggot." I thought it was pretty sweet.

Unfortunately, Chloe goes upstairs and hangs herself. Kennedy regrets her actions, but the First Evil appears again--this time in the form of Chloe--and tells the other girls to follow her lead, that suicide is a much better way to go out than it has planned for them. Buffy gives everybody a pep-talk, where she announces that Chloe was stupid and nobody should listen to the First's lies.

Principal Wood comes to the house and glares at Spike. He brought a bag that belonged to his mother that was supposed to have been carried on from Slayer to Slayer. It's got weapons in it and some strange box that only a Slayer can open. In the box is a device I can't really describe except to say that it casts shadows on a wall as it spins around and the shadows tell a story. The story it tells is that of how the First Slayer came about.

It also opens a portal, which Buffy jumps through. There was some kind of instruction manual that explained that one makes a trade with the portal, and as soon as she's through, a big demon monster creature comes through and starts wailing on those present. Spike decides to go after it (putting on that black leather duster he took from Principal Wood's mother, and lighting up a cigarette), thinking that if he shoves it through the portal again, Buffy will come out.

In the other dimension, Buffy meets the trio of men who first created the Slayer line. They are aborigines of some sort and to fight evil, they took a village girl and gave her the power of a demon (or demons). I interpreted it that way, but hey, I could be wrong, as it's a little bit cryptic and a lot symbolic. Buffy is angry at their actions, calling them cowardly, and I guess it's because they did this to the girl (and ultimately to Buffy) against her will.

The Slayer Makers offer Buffy greater power, if she will become part demon, but she refuses. Before parting, they show her a vision . . . you know that Hellmouth seal under the high school? Well, on the other side are about a gazillion Ubervamps waiting to get out and run free in our world. Gulp.

Meanwhile, Spike goes out, thrashes the demon quite soundly, and brings its dead body back to Buffy's to stick in the portal. But the portal has closed, so Willow has to use magic to try and open it again. She's not really succeeding, so she grabs on to Kennedy and sucks out her energy.* Instantly, Willow's hair turns black again (her eyes too) and she opens the portal. Spike puts the demon in, Buffy comes out, and it closes up again.

Kennedy is freaked out at what Willow did, and Willow apologises, explaining that Kennedy was the strongest one there, and that's why she's so afraid to use magic. Looks like Willow's gonna be sleeping alone tonight. The end.

Seeing the poor Potential hanging there was the first in a line of really harsh moments in tonight's "Buffy"s. If there weren't only a handful of episodes left, there would've been time to mourn for the character and examine how her death affected the others (particularly Kennedy, who called her a maggot and liked it), many of whom don't even have names.

There was probably a lot more going on in this episode than I mentioned, but I really didn't like it (except for the maggot thing and the momentary return of Dark Willow, but neither of those aspects were satisfactorily explored), and as I said, I found it rather forgettable. Sorry, Doug.

Next up was "Storyteller," written by Jane Espenson. I probably ought to mention that my aforementioned cousin has only seen a couple of episodes from Season Seven, but two of them were this one and the one that followed, so I had a pretty good idea what was coming on these two.

"Storyteller" focuses mostly on Andrew as he tries to document the goings-on at Buffy's house with his handy video camera. He offers his own personal insight on the Slayer and those around her, and we see into his head a couple of disquieting times. His idea is that, since the fate of the world pretty much hangs in the balance, that history will want to know what they're doing there . . . assuming there are people left to watch the documentary.

His constant shooting and commentary irritates most everyone (particularly Buffy), but a couple of them, such as Spike, seem to find it amusing. Andrew asks Xander and Anya embarrassing details about their almost-wedding, and it gets them talking about their relationship. It becomes apparent that there may be a way to salvage things between them. Which is cool.

Andrew explains his past to the viewers, and we get to see a couple of flashbacks, both as things really happened, and as he retells them (for example, Andrew apparently was able to hold his own against Dark Willow at the end of last season, and was the real brains behind the Evil Trio). Not a heck of a lot happens with his scenes, but we do progress the narrative when we're away from him.

For example, Buffy goes to work and finds the school at the brink of disaster. Many Hellmouthy things are happening at the same time (such as a girl turning invisible because nobody notices her), and she explains to Principal Wood that everything is coming to a head, mentioning her dream about the thousands of Ubervamps waiting to escape the seal down below them.

Speaking of which, a bunch of students become possessed and go down to the seal and begin the process of reopening it. Buffy goes to Andrew and asks him the circumstances under which it was opened the first time. We see Andrew and Jonathan in hiding in Mexico, and the First Evil appearing to Andrew in the form of Warren, suggesting he obtain a special knife to be used in a ritual.

That knife is now in Buffy's kitchen, and Willow sees there are symbols or words carved into it. She does some translating and tells Buffy what she knows. Buffy then takes Andrew to the school with her, telling him it's his chance to undo the damage he once did. Spike and Principal Wood go too, and find many students running amok, burning and graphitti-ing and attacking people.

On a brighter note, Xander and Anya have a little bit of old-times-sake sex, after which she feels like she can finally move on with her life. It looks like Xander, however, feels differently.

While Spike and the Principal fight the students, Buffy takes Andrew down to the basement. She asks him about killing Jonathan, and he tells her a story where Jonathan attacked him and Andrew only killed him in self defence. Students have turned themselves into Bringers, and Buffy thrashes them nicely. Buffy asks Andrew for the Jonathan-killing story again, and he tells her a version where he was possessed at the time and didn't have control over his actions.

Buffy pulls out Andrew's knife and tells him his blood can close the seal. Andrew begins to plead for his life, crying, and finally admits that he killed Jonathan of his own free will, knowing what he was doing. His tears hit the seal and it closes. Turns out that it wasn't his blood that was necessary to shut it down after all.

Principal Wood sees his opportunity to kill Spike amid the violence with the students, but when the seal closes, the students turn back to normal. Except for the ones who have faded away, killed one another, become Bringers, or exploded, I suppose.

Buffy takes a contrite and repentant Andrew back to her house, and he seems to be a changed man. The end.

This was the closest we've had to a stand-alone episode in a while, and while I liked it more than the shadow puppet one, I find myself frustrated that not more is going on in each episode. It may be that I'm just freaked that the show is about to end, but there's a log of stuff I still don't know, and if "Buffy" stops airing new episodes, I probably will never find out.**
So, our third episode of the evening was "Lies My Parents Told Me," written by David Fury and Drew Goddard, and directed by Fury.

It begins with a flashback. Principal Robin Wood, a little boy, is watching his mother fight with Spike in Central Park in New York.
Spike is really enjoying their tussle, but doesn't know the kid is there. He heads off into the night, and the Slayer feels she has to go after him. She tells the boy to go to her Watcher and stay until she gets back. Before she heads to the subway--and her own demise--she tells Wood "The mission is what matters."

Spike, Buffy, and Principal Wood, in the here-and-now are fighting vampires together. Spike saves Wood, and seems oblivious to the hatred radiating off the man. Or it could be that being around Buffy's friends for so many years, he's just used to it.

Spike is still staying in the basement, chaining himself up in case The First uses the trigger (which is an olde English folk song) to turn him to its will again. Buffy tells Giles that she had Spike's chip removed, and he's very disappointed with her judgment. Buffy wants to figure out how to de-trigger Spike, but Giles and Principal Wood both think Spike oughtta become the contents of a dustbin.

Willow figures out a spell that can go into Spike's mind and let him know what the trigger is. When she casts it, we get another flashback, this one to his days of being William the romantic, lonely poet, living with his doting mother and dreaming about the awful, horrible Cecily (who a lot of people say is the vengeance demon Halfrek). William's mother is ill (with tuberculosis), but still comforts him, singing "Early One Morning" to him.

This is the song that's been triggering his episodes, and it does so then, with him snarling and vamping out, nearly attacking Dawn before he can be restrained.

Back in Spike flashback land, we see what happened immediately after he came back as a vampire. Knowing how close he was to his mother, I expected an even more unpleasant scene of matricide than we saw when Angelus came back. But I was surprised. Vampire William seems to be exactly like regular William, only more confident. Drusilla is at his side, planning the reign of terror that would be their legacy, and Spike says it will be marvelous what the three of them will accomplish. See, he wants to make his mother a vampire too, sharing the gift he's been given.

His mother enters the room, hearing them talking, and is distraught that William's been gone for days with nary a word. William explains that he has become a vampire, and that he wants to make it so she's not sick anymore and never has to age another day. She is afraid, but he bites her, to share the gift he's been given.

These flashback scenes are totally bizarre, kids. It's as though the writers wanted to make Spike a thorough and complete opposite of Angel, and show that somehow he kept a hell of a lot more of his humanity than any other vampire I can remember seeing on the show. It may be that it was just the most interesting (and unpleasant) twist they could come up with, but it seems to insinuate that Spike didn't become a monster by having a demon come inside him when he became undead, but learned to be a monster through bloodshed and the company of truly evil vampires like Drusilla, Angelus, Darla, and Count Chocula. I don't have a problem with it, actually, it just strikes me as very strange.

Well, Principal Wood sees that Giles is of a similar mindset, and takes him aside, asking him to help him get rid of Spike. He tells him that Spike killed his mother, and he has a plan for reve--er, justice. But he'll need Giles' help.

Willow gets a phone call from someone named Fred, and tells Buffy that there's something she has to leave town to do. I don't believe she explains exactly what's going on--perhaps Buffy would be too distracted knowing Angelus was back, or maybe Buffy would want to go with her--but she says she'll return as soon as possible.

Now, had we been watching these in slightly different order, I guess this would have led in to the last "Angel" we watched, "Orpheus." Maybe that would've been better, but it would have ruined the surprise of seeing Willow when . . . her name first appeared in the opening credits. Grrrrr.

Giles asks Buffy if he can pretend to be her Watcher again, and they go to the cemetery (or probably one of many Sunnydale cemeteries) for a bit of training and advice. A vampire comes up out of the ground and Giles asks Buffy not to kill it yet, just grappling with it. A war is coming and he asks her if she is ready to make the hard decisions--unlike in Season Five when she was unwilling to sacrifice Dawn to stop Glory--and she insists she is.

Then Giles reminds her of Spike. Spike is a tool of the First that can be triggered at any time, but Buffy is unwilling to remove that tool from her enemy's hands. Then Buffy realises that this was all a distraction, so that Spike could be eliminated, and she kills the vampire and runs off.

Principal Wood takes Spike to his workshop, where, once they're inside, he reveals has crosses covering the walls. There's a drawer full of armaments and a computer on a table, and Wood tells Spike he murdered his mother. "I murdered a lot of people's mothers," Spike says, but understands that Wood wants his vengeance.

But Wood doesn't want this Spike, he wants the Spike from 1977 . . . the soulless monster. He turns to the computer and pulls up the song "Early One Morning," which changes Spike once more. Then Wood attacks.

We flash back again to see what happened after William sired his mother. She seems delighted to be healthy and alive, and can't wait to get away from her boring, sentimental, despised, pathetic weakling of a son. He is hurt by her words, but she just gets worse and worse, mocking him for being a mama's boy, and insisting that he wanted to be far more than just her son, and now that he's turned her into a vampire, he'll get his wish. It's some vile stuff, and he's horrified to hear it, and he apologises for he did, then stakes her.

Only then does Spike--in the 21st Century--come out of his funk, and throws Principal Wood clear across the room. Spike tells Wood that that he did him a favour with this little ruse. For years, he's carried the sting of his mother's last words with him, but now he understands that it was the demon inside her talking, not his mother. His mother loved him, unlike Wood's mother, who was a Slayer, and incapable of looking beyond the mission, the fight against evil. He goes over and turns on "Early One Morning" again. But the trigger's been broken.***

Buffy arrives to find Spike putting on his black jacket. Principal Wood is alive in the workshop, and Spike tells her that the next time he tries anything like that, he's dead. Buffy goes in and tells him how she lost her own mother a couple of years back, but that there's a war coming, and they need Spike to help fight it. Despite any personal feelings or vendettas, the mission is what matters.

Buffy goes home, and Giles tells her that it had to be done. She tells him that their plan failed and that Spike is still alive, so he tries to stress his point once again. She tells him she can't learn anything from Giles anymore. The end.

Wow. There's a lot to think about in this episode. Tyranist and I might have discussed everyone's motivations and what it all means for Giles and Buffy's relationship (as well as the Spike/Buffy, Spike/Wood, and Wood/Buffy ones), had we had time to discuss anything except for how long it would take to press the PLAY button on the next episode.

I guess "Lies My Parents Told Me" is about Spike and his mother, Wood and his mother, and Buffy and her "father." The ending shows us that Buffy has far eclipsed her teacher in most ways, and it's sad, because the Giles/Buffy relationship was probably my favourite of the whole series (a close second was probably the Willow/Xander one, and it's embarrassing how thrilled I still get at the ice cream scene in Season Two, or those several fleeting moments in Season Three where they sort of did get together. Hell, suppose I'll always have Vampire Xander and Vampire Willow, if I really wanted those two as a couple.

Spike is a really complicated character, made even more so in this episode. It seems like a long time ago that I saw "Fool For Love," Season Five's Spike origin episode. I remember talking to my cousin about it, and he said, "What did you think of what happened with Spike's mother?" As we chatted, I realised there must have been more to Spike's origin I didn't know about, and I imagined Spike must have eaten his mother, the same way Angel ate his family. But you know, this really puts Spike in a different light. I know it's a ret-con, but the thought that he wasn't at all different after becoming a vampire, just a bit more confident, is pretty enlightening.

And I remember theorising once that deep down, Spike is still that dopey, poetry-writing loser, where as deep down, Angel was the godless womanising drunkard. If anything, this episode reinforced that silly idea I had, and unless we're to accept that the demon that went into Spike was somehow a lesser one, or that he retained a portion of his soul all along, I guess I'll stick to it.

And Buffy is complicated too, though I have to wonder if that is by design or by accident over the years. In this episode, I'm not sure we ever really see Buffy's reasoning for trusting in Spike or keeping him around. I know that in real life, people don't have reasons for a lot of the things that they do (much less feel), and I remember having some pretty prolonged attraction/affection/love for a couple of girls who were really unworthy of such feeling. I mooned over them, and pursued them, and I supposed had my own little horrible Cecilys in them, where my affection was never returned and I loathe myself for feeling it now. But feel it I did, and while I don't know what Buffy Summers feels for Spike, exactly, she clearly feels something. And maybe she hates herself for it too. Or used to hate herself for it.

"Someday, she will tell you."

I thank god I still don't know what this phrase means. Guess that's one tiny revelation that has not been spoiled for me. Yet.

To Be Continued...

*I'd suck out her energy too. But hey, I'm a pervert.

**And maybe that's an opening to talk about the comic books. Sure, people have made a big deal about Joss doing a Season Eight in comic form, but it's just not the same, and I'm sure there are many who don't consider any of the comic books to be canon. Tyranist has several, and I've read some of the "further adventures" books, and while some have been good (the story that took place between the movie and the first episode was particularly great), there's a temptation to just ignore them all (same with the novels), since they'll never be as important (or reach the level of acceptance) as the filmed works.
It's like the "Star Trek" novels and comics. I saw William Shatner wrote (or "wrote," if you prefer) a book detailing Captain Kirk's first meeting with Spock at the Academy. While the story sounds just up my alley, and I really enjoyed another of the books Shatner wrote (or "wrote," if you continue to prefer), won't this book be rended moot, or imaginary, or incorrect when the J.J. Abrahms movie comes out next summer?
Not that I expect there to be any more "Buffy." There's little chance for any of that to continue. Unless "Dollhouse" is a breakaway hit, I suppose (though my ex-friend Jeff is constantly announcing its demise, months before it's even set to air). It's just that if the comics say that Warren or Cordelia or Dobson or Uncle Ben are still alive, I doubt the majority of fans are going to lend that any credence. And if . . .
You know, I think tyranist has the first "Buffy: Season 8" trade. Maybe I'll just read that, and then make up my mind.

***We do get a moment where we are led to believe that Spike, in his right mind and with his soul intact, kills Principal Wood in much the same way that Angel leapt upon Wesley in that last season episode that kept me away from the show for a month or so . . . but it was just a fake-out on the writers' part, so I didn't mention it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

So today, me and Nina went for a drive (I'd been saving up for a month and a half to buy a gallon of gas), and on the way home, she pointed out some dude running down the sidewalk. "Look at that guy."

There was this man, one of those guys with absolutely zero percent body fat--like a swimmer's body--dressed all in bright dayglow yellow, out for a run. But there was something strange about the way he was running. He was keeping his arms in a fixed position and was only using his lower legs to propel him, in some kind of exercising method of movement that was utterly alien . . . unless you've ever pooped your pants before. It was like he was literally clenching his buttocks for dear life while he ran, and it was one of the most bizarre things I'd ever seen (and I've used the public transport system in Los Angeles).

We watched him until the light changed, but I probably could've sat there and watched him go, marveling until he disappeared into the distance.

"Gotta admire the dedication of that man," Nina said. "He was just raped and yet he still gets out there and does his daily run."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Top Five Batman Villains

I was at a loss as to what to submit for the Top Five list this week, but I saw that DARK KNIGHT is still in the Top Five at the box office, so I thought I'd do a Batman related one (or two).

This week, it's everybody's Top Five Batman Villains. I also asked that they explain why they picked Egghead for number one.

I gave it a bit of thought, and my list would have to be:
1. The Joker
2. Catwoman
3. Harley Quinn
4. Ra's Al Ghul
5. Two-Face

Since Evil Cousin Ryan and tyranist always answer first, I tried to give everybody else a head start and sent them the request at night, then sent the other two the request in the morning. Tyranist and Ryan still ended up getting their lists back to me first.

Tyranist really surprised me with his list. I mean seriously, the Mad Hatter?
1. Scarecrow
2. Penguin
3. Joker
4. Harley Quinn
5. Mad Hatter

Then Cousin Ryan hit me with:
1. Ra's al Ghul
2. Two-Face
3. Joker & Harley Quinn
4. Clayface
5. Bane

I never know how to tabulate these suckers when people list two together. Still can't figure it out.
I was surprised to see that Beta Ray Charles, who's bowed out of the last couple of lists, was next to respond. And not only that, but he actually explained his number one choice, as I requested. His list:
1. Two-Face
2. Joker
3. Catwoman
4. Mr. Freeze
5. Ra's al Ghul
In BRC's words: "The dichotomy of Two-Face makes him interesting. He's a psychopath, but also has his messed up sense of honor."

Jeff responded next, with a three-page explanation of how he doesn't know the comics, so he'd have to go by the movies, and he hasn't seen all of the movies, but he used to watch the Adam West TV series and that would have to be factored in, so he probably would do better to list EVERY Batman villain he was familiar with, and narrow it down from there. And when he finally did that, he had a list of eleven he liked, which he not only narrowed down to five, but had to specify which actor's version he was referring to. Jeff's ultimate top five was:
1) Joker - Heath Ledger
2) Ra's Al Ghul - Liam Neeson
3) Joker - Jack Nicholson
4) Two Face/Dent - Aaron Eckhart
5) Burg. Meredith as Penguin

I am physically exhausted after reading his list.

Prison Guard Johnny was last to respond, also putting actors for each role. His list was:
1.Joker (Jack Nicholson)
2.Joker (Heath Ledger)
3.Riddler (Jim Carey)
4.Two Face (Tommy Lee Jones
5.Cat Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer)

Well, unless somebody else gets back to me, it looks like our winners are:
1. THE JOKER (no surprise there)
2. TWO-FACE (number two, where he'd want to be)

Rish "The Clown Prince of Dorks" Outfield